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Summertime Spending

Summertime Spending

Is it summer yet? How many days left of school?  When does vacation start? Are these questions you and your family are asking yourselves? Have you thought about how you can continue (or start) to save money for your family throughout the summer time, or are you just focusing on how you can spend it? Summer is a great time to start couponing, and developing the practice of saving money.  This is a great life lesson for your kids as well as you!

Here are some suggestions for some lifelong spending habits you can teach your kids all in one summer:

  • Make a list before you shop. Let the kids help form the list, and/or write it for you, as you dictate.
  • Find coupons on the internet that you can print to take to the store to use.  Some sites in which you can find coupons to print are at
  • Check your local grocery store’s website, such as Krogers, Brookshires, Albertsons, Target, etc.
  • Check Facebook pages for products you purchase.
  • Cut coupons from your Sunday newspaper’s coupon inserts. Even younger kids can do this to help out. Just make sure they don’t cut off the expiration dates and bar codes!
  • Let your child calculate the price of each item that goes in the cart when shopping. They can use the calculator on their phone or yours, depending on their age. Let them guess before you go in how much they think you’ll spend, and/or how much they think you’ll save with coupons.
  • Decide to put all the money you save from coupon usage in a jar or savings account throughout a certain time period, and use it at the end of the summer, or if you save all year, use it for summertime fun. I kept track of my coupon savings one year and it was well over $1000, so it does add up!
  • Send expired coupons to military bases since they can use them at their commissary stores. To find locations or adopt a base, check out http://ocpnet.org/ . You will not have to pay overseas postage to mail coupons to these bases. Kids can help prepare these coupons to mail, as well as feel good about helping out military families.
  • Try shopping online for things other than groceries. If your teen likes to surf the internet, have him/her search for clearance deals if you’re looking for a particular product. Use Swagbucks (www.swagbucks.com) search engine. You earn points during random searches, and turn those points in for gift cards.
  • Check out my FB page, ClipIt, where you will find online specials, clearance alerts,  restaurant deals, and more!
  • If you have teenagers, give them a challenge to find the best online deal for a certain vacation destination, sporting event, or whatever your family may be planning for the summer. Reward them in some way for finding the best deal.

Hopefully some of these ideas will get your wheels turning and motivate you to get started on either couponing, and/or saving money by shopping online, and doing some investigating in summer planning for your family.  You might even find that kids of all ages will be just as interested in how to develop these habits that can be used for a lifetime.

A fun lunch for the kids

I’m always looking for things that are easy, cheap, and fun to make for my kids. One of my mommy friends posted a photo in our mommy group on facebook a photo of hot dogs cut up with pasta through them. It looked weird and a little gross. In other words, perfect for my three little boys! So I decided to wing it. i boiled a pan of water. As it was boiling, I sliced up cold hot dogs (that I scored at price chopper for a cool $2 with an in-store coupon) and slid raw angel hair noodles through them. I cooked them according to the angel hair directions. The end result? These cool looking things my kids have dubbed “alien hot dogs:”

I served them with ketchup and my kids emptied their plates! The only change I would make is to cook them with thin spaghetti instead of angel hair, as I prefer to cook my hot dogs extra hot. The best part about this meal is that it only cost me $3 to make in its entirety! And it’s totally kid approved:

Help Yourself

Help Yourself

Is anyone used to writing 2012 yet? Being a stay at home Mom, I don’t normally write the date that much, at least not like when I worked outside the home at a paying job. However, I have been writing the date a lot this month! You ask why? I’ll tell you! My husband and I have been recording the stats for our strolls on the treadmill each day! Yes, we bought one in November, on Black Friday (awesome deal, with no coupon required, only very early rising from the bed), and have been hitting it hard, compared to b.t. (before treadmill). We have come to the realization that no one can help lose the weight for us, but that we have to do it ourselves, if we really want to lose it. We should know this, since we lost weight before Grant was born, including a 50lb combined effort.

This brings me to the topic of today. Over the past several months, I have heard numerous people make such remarks as, “I have no money,” “I live paycheck to paycheck,” “I can’t get out of this,” “I can’t get ahead,” among many other similar comments. While I’ve been called the queen of complaining in the past, and still do my fair share (although I’ve tried to cut down on that habit), I have pondered why all of these people, from various places and positions, are asking themselves the same question. My conclusion is that they haven’t taken drastic measures, or what may seem like drastic measures to them.

I become weary listening to people complain constantly that they have no money, can’t get ahead, and meanwhile, some of them just keep asking for handouts, from anyone that will hand out to them. I hear a lot of these comments made in regard to couponing. “I don’t have time,” is a remark made from many, when I ask them if they know how much money they could save a year. How many hours of TV do you watch? Can you cut coupons while you watch TV?  What are your priorities, saving money on household goods and groceries, or stopping by the convenience store on a regular basis to get snacks and drinks? I’m not being ugly, I’m being honest. As a stay at home Mom, I believe it’s my job to help our household save money!  Another comment that I hear, “I cut out coupons and then forget them at home.” I ask myself, how could you take the time to do something, and then not remember to bring them? Put them in your vehicle as soon as you cut them out, put the envelope in your purse with your debit card, where you can’t forget them. There are several solutions to this problem.

If you want to be drastic, write down your daily expenses. Do you have any idea how much money you spend per month, and what you spend it on? My husband and I did this several years ago. We took old business cards that we no longer needed, and each day we wrote on the back of a new business card, what money we spent and assigned it to a category. Throughout the month, we transferred this to an Excel spreadsheet and at the end of the month; we knew exactly where we stood on expenditures. This was somewhat of a drastic measure, considering that we had to take time to write things down every day for a month, but it provided us a great picture of where we stood, and showed us things that we could cut back on as needed. Food is a major expense in most households. If it is in yours, too, then quit eating out. Make a meal schedule and know what you’re going to be eating each night, and eat at home. Spending $17-$20 for fast food for the 3 of us is not my idea of a fabulous supper. It depresses me to think that I just spent that much money on junk and it rarely ever happens in our house for supper. One drastic measure I have taken this month is making out a meal plan for the month. It is in Excel, can be adjusted as needed, and I love the idea of knowing what I’m going to be having for supper each night. To me, there is nothing worse than waking up in the morning and having not a clue as to what I’m cooking that evening. I am loving my schedule and once I’ve made it through January, I’m going to be making out the additional months, and if it needs tweaking, it can easily be changed anytime.

In the Bible, it states in 1 Corinthians 9:7, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  I firmly believe that if we give back to God first, then we will be blessed beyond our own comprehension. We have witnessed this many times for ourselves, over the years.  I urge those of you who are finding that times are hard, to give first, and with a cheerful heart, and as a result, you will reap the benefits of being a cheerful giver. Start small and you will see results. You will be helping yourself, as well as helping others! What drastic measures are you willing to take in 2012, to help yourself?

Benefits of couponing

My first shopping trip with heavy couponing

My mom and I are making one of our weekly-ish shopping trips. We’re feeling particularly happy because our favorite Price Chopper cashier–a young lanky guy with long earrings named Nick–is on duty and we have just bee-lined it for his register. We are just about cashed out when a lady gets in line behind us. Enthralled, she watches as Nick carefully scans each of the coupons. Her concentration increases as she notices that we are saving just as much as we are spending. “That’s amazing,” She says. ‘I wish I had time to do that!.”

What that lady–and many people who have had the unfortunate pleasure of getting in line behind us–do not understand is that it doesn’t have to be time consuming. I spend about two hours a week going through websites, clipping and organizing coupons. My shopping trips on a good day usually average about an hour a store. While that seems like quite a bit of time…I am saving at least 50% on almost every trip I do. A normal Price Chopper trip averages between $70-90 saved by shopping the sales and coupons. That’s huge for this family of five where that $70 would be better served going towards preschool tuition or Easter baskets! I’d say that’s time well spent!

Using my own family as an example, I wanted to share with all of you wonderful clip ‘n crazy readers exactly what benefits those 2 hours a week have been:

  • Healthier eating (We can now afford more fresh produce and meat since couponing)
  • A more abundant Christmas (toy coupons, Walgreen’s buy one get one toy sale, candy sales, and wrapping supply sales & coupons were a major part of this)
  • More family time (teaching my mom how to coupon and our weekly shopping trips have brought us closer together)
  • Learning experiences for my children (my oldest loves to help me pick out coupons and is starting to learn the value of a dollar-this goes to my loving husband, as well!)
  • Expanding my network (I’ve met many friends through my couponing endeavors, and became closer to some current friends through teaching them the basics)

Considering everything, I don’t think the proper sentiment is “I wish I had time to do that.” In my opinion, its more like “Why wouldn’t you not want to make time for this?”

Don’t Be a Turkey!

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, turkeys usually come to mind for most people, along with families and thoughts of being thankful.  While these ideas are things that everyone would like to think about, I’m going to touch on a few things that you might not have thought of, in regard to the coupon world.

Don’t be a turkey….instead……

 

  • Pass out some coupons to people in the stores where you shop. If you have never done this, here’s how it works. When you are doing your shopping, notice when people are on the same aisle as you, and if they are taking something off the shelf that you have a coupon for, offer it to them. It will be an unexpected surprise for almost anyone, and it will make you feel good, too!
  • How many coupon inserts do you get each week? For some of you, only one, and for others, anywhere from 2-20. Use some of those coupons that you don’t use for yourself (or even some that you regularly use) and buy some of those items to donate to either a local food bank, or fix a basket up and give it to someone at your church, or someone in need that you know.
  • Share your leftover coupons with a friend or neighbor, instead of throwing them away.
  • Add up your savings from using coupons and use those savings to treat a family to a Thanksgiving meal or turkey. Another suggestion would be to use to buy a family something they absolutely need.

Regardless of what you choose to do this Thanksgiving season, realize how much you have and that others are in worse situations than what you may be in at this time. Be grateful for what you have and share some of your wealth, no matter how small or large.

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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