Saturday, May 21, 2011

Not Extreme Couponing, but Mission Possible, After All


  • She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar

  • She looketh well to the ways of her household
In an effort to help myself and hopefully, some of you readers, get back on track with out savings at the grocery store, I'm reviving my "Mission Possible" series.


Our mission, should we choose to accept it, (and you know we will) is to take
the resources we have available to us--coupons, rebates, Extra Care Bucks (ECB),
Register Rewards (RR) and weekly ad circulars--to get the things our families
need and can use, all while keeping our total out-of-pocket (OOP) as low as
possible. We fulfill our tasks at drugstores, grocery stores, dollar stores, and
wherever we can find those bargains and frugal finds that benefit our families





I admit it, I haven't been couponing much, (or at all) in quite some time. I had convinced myself that it just wasn't worth the time or effort involved since I'd moved back home, with fewer stores, higher prices, and no double, not to mention smaller coupon denominations. But it hasn't been just couponing, I haven't worked on my stockpile of anything, even just watching sales. If I happen to notice that something is on sale, I may buy extra, but I've been in blah blah mode for while, and I decided to work my way out of it.

The first thing I did was get my coupons in order, which involved clearing out my coupon stash, because 95% of them were expired. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't even call it a stash. I tried going back my small organizer, but I really like to be able to see my coupons, so I pulled my binder and set it all back up.

And then I went shopping.

The first shopping trip I made after getting my coupons in order, I used one coupon. One. But I persevered, and yesterday I went to Brookshire Brothers and used eleven coupons, and had about a 20% savings. It's not extreme couponing, but I had a smile on my face when I got out to the parking lot and looked at that long list of (-)'s on my cash register tape.

I didn't take pictures, but here is a breakdown of what I bought:

1 bag of lentils, $.39, from the clearance bin
1 bag of garbanzo beans, $.39, also from the clearance bin. I hope to cook these and attempt to make hummus.
1 store brand brown rice, $.69
1 Prices' pimento cheese, on sale for $2.79
3 Philadelphia cream cheese cooking sauces, $2.99, I had one coupon for a free one, and two for $1.50 off, so I paid $2.98 for all three, making them an average of $1.00each
1 18-ct carton of eggs, $2.36
1 Challenge Tuscan style spreadable butter, on sale for $1.49
6 Yoplait yogurts, 3/$2, $4 total, I had a $.40 coupon. Not much savings, but it paid the tax on this item, anyway
1 pkg Bagel Bites, $2.49, less $1 MQ (manufacturer's coupon), or $1.49
1 Hormel ready meal, on sale for $2.29, less $.55 coupon, or $1.74
2 Starkist tuna pouches, $1.35, less 2 $.50 coupons, or $.85 each
2 pkgs Tyson grilled chicken fajita strips, on sale $6.99, less 2 $1MQ, or $5.99 each
1 pkg Tyson honey bbq wings, on sale $6.99, less $1 MQ, or $5.99 each

My total, with tax, came to 39.94, and I saved $11.94 with coupons, plus an undetermined amount on the sale and clearance items.

Not extreme, but a decent savings in the end.

How have you done on your Mission Possible lately?

Until next time...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Frugal Friday--Ebates--Shop Online and Earn Cash Back


  • Who can find a virtuous woman? her price is far above rubies

  • She looketh well to the ways of her household


In today's economy, and with gasoline prices rising exponentially, one of the ways I try to save a little money is to shop on line. I can compare prices and find items that aren't always available in my small hometown. And a way to make it even better is to shop online and earn money back while I'm doing it.


I've been shopping online using the Ebates program for a couple of years now, and while I certainly haven't gotten rich doing it, the program has helped me to save a little, and these days, every little bit helps.


The way Ebates works is, you sign up online for an Ebates account, usually through a referral link. Once you get your account set up, anytime you want to shop online, go to Ebates first and see if the merchant is one of the thousands of Ebates participants. If so, your screen will display any coupon codes available (free shipping, % discounts, etc) as well the rebate percentage from that merchant. Click through to the merchant's site through the Ebate link; shop as usual; if you make a purchase, your rebate amount will be credited to your Ebate account within a day or two of confirmation from the merchant; then once a quarter (four times a year) Ebate will send you your rebate total for the previous quarter. I have mine credited to my paypal account, but you can have an actual check mailed to you if prefer--you can even have your rebate sent directly to a favorite charity if you so choose.


Sound complicated? Let me break it down for you. Earlier this week my son asked me if I had ever heard of a certain men's cologne. He had received a sample of it inside a gift pack of cologne that he'd gotten for Christmas and he liked it. Instead of running all over town looking for this cologne, I went to Ebates, and from there to FragranceNet.com. Found the cologne, and some for me, and qualified for free shipping because of the dollar amount I spent. That particular day, FragranceNet.com had a 12% rebate rate with Ebates. This morning I had an email telling me that 12% of my purchase had been credited to my Ebates account. This will accrue during the quarter, and later this summer I will get this money in my paypal account, or, as Ebates says in their advertising, I can get "a big, fat check".


The percentage you receive varies according to the merchant. 12% is a high rate, usually the places I shop credit 2-3%, but there are specials each week--sometimes double rebates, sometimes certain merchants run a rebate "special". You can subscribe to emails from Ebates so that they will notify you if your favorite merchants are running a special. Or not, it's up to you.


I know that this is legit. I've used them in the past, and received my "big fat check" (via paypal). Right now, Ebates is running a deal, if you sign up through my referral link (by clicking on the words "referral link", or clicking on the icon at the top of the post, or the one on the top right sidebar), I will receive a $5.00 referral fee credited to my account, once you have your account set up and actually make a purchase through Ebates. And once you do that, you can refer your friends and get promotional referral fees for yourself.


At any rate, Ebates is one more small way that I can "get my frugal on".


Until next time...


This post is linked to:


Frugal Friday at Life as Mom


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Garden Update--May 17



  • Who can find a virtuous woman? her price is far above rubies

  • ...with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard


It's been a couple of weeks since I showed an update on my garden. Right now my container plants are doing well...




...the New Zealand spinach is coming right along. This is a vine that can be harvested and eaten raw or cooked, just like traditional spinach, but doesn't bolt in hot weather--and important factor here in the deep south!




At the top is rosemary--sprouting at last(!) and then basil, ready to burst--I've pulled a little of this to thin it and share with my mom, and am planning to pull some more to share and possibly transplant to one of the raised beds. Bottom right is another New Zealand spinach.





I moved the morning glory/periwinkle combo to the eastern side of the house, to get the full morning light...




and the paint plant and hostas are growing the doing well, too. They're next to the patio this week but they'll be relocated to the front porch tomorrow, where they'll have lots of shade and indirect light.




Unfortunately, the rest of the garden doesn't seem to be doing as well. While the rest of the country is flooding, we're hurting for rain and the wind is blowing like it's March, drying everything out even more.





This bed looks pitiful--my plan of attack for it is more fertilizer, more plants, and maybe some mulch to keep it from drying out so quick.




Last week hubby was home an installed a little "fence" for the cucumbers to climb--it was originally supposed to go right in the middle, but the ones on the back side were climbing the tomatoes, so we moved it back a little. They were looking great, but for some reason they are really droopy looking today. There are lots of blooms underneath the leaves, but so far no signs of anything else.




Tomatoes are growing--on a combination of some old tomato cages and a stake...




...and can you see the one cute little tomato? The rest have blooms, but no tomatoes yet.




I have a few blackberries starting to turn---and no ripening blueberries, the birds ate into my little cluster I was nursing along, so my husband and I ate the last two, just to keep the birds from getting them all!




And last but not least, the new space-age looking sprinkler we got this week--it has a wide enough path to cover the garden beds and the berry bushes--and only $29.95 at Tractor Supply!



I think everything needs a little feeding--a friend posted on her Facebook wall that someone told her to mix up powdered milk and water her plants with it, and that it made her garden grow like it was on steroids, so I'm going to try that this week and see what happens.






How is your garden going this week?



This post is linked to:


Tuesday Garden Party at an Oregon Cottage

Outdoor Wednesday at A Southern Daydreamer

Frugal Gardening 101 at Amy's Finer Things, Getting Freedom From Debt, and Smockity Frocks

Get Your Garden Growing at It's a Blog Party

Until next time...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Spring Garden--Update, May 3rd



  • Who can find a virtuous woman? her price is far above rubies

  • ...with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard
Just a quick update on the state of my garden and plants. It's not as advanced as I wish it were, but it's definitely coming along. We finally got some rain--everyone else is flooding, but we've had nothing for weeks until we got a little last week and yesterday/last night. No watering today, at least!

On the back porch in my potting area, I have several things started. On the left is some basil I started from seed--they sprouted up a storm, it needs thinning out, but I'm hoping to transplant some of it to the garden. To the right are two hostas, and above to the left what I call a "paint plant"--it looks like it has splashes of paint on a dark green background. The smallest one on the top left is supposed to be rosemary, but so far it just looks like a pot of dirt! The hosta and paint plant will be moved the front porch this week, it doesn't get much direct light, and these two do well in the shade.



This pot will go on the patio next to a carport post, it has a combination of morning glory vines started from seed, and a couple of periwinkles that will bush out and provide shade for the bottom of the vines when they start to get leggy.




These are transplanted New Zealand spinach--an edible vine, the dark green leaves can be used raw or cooked, just like spinach, but it doesn't bolt and keeps growing right up until cold weather. The vine will freeze and die, but it re-seeds all around the original. These are transplants I took from the grass around my mother's last year's vine.





My favorite, these wave petunias have bloomed continuously since I potted them 2 or 3 weeks ago.




Garden bed # 2 has a few cucumbers...




...and a couple of varieties of tomato plants.





My original raised bed from fall is still kind of a "hodge-podge". These are blackberry bushes that I ordered and stuck here to "heel in" during the winter. They'll get transplanted this fall...





...along with these blueberries that looked like sticks when I showed my last update. I thought I had lost a couple of these, they are a couple of different varieties, and some of them budded out a lot later than the others.




This Swiss chard I planted from seed last fall. It froze pretty well over the winter, but I cut it back to just above ground level, and it's come back completely.




Watermelons--in a "normal" garden, these should be 8 feet apart, so I planted these around the edges at one end so that they could vine over into the grass. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!





My lemon tree that I think I lost--but it has some "suckers" coming up from the root, I'm hoping that one or more of these can be grown into a new tree.




Blueberry bush we planted last fall--it's till a baby, but it's making real blueberries!





And blackberries, also planted in the fall--blooms and a few berries have started to form.





And last but not least, "fruit" of the pesky armadillo--they are tearing up my yard! They are truly a pest!


How is your garden coming along?



This post is linked to:



Tuesday Garden Party at an Oregon Cottage




Outdoor Wednesday at A Southern Daydreamer




Until next time...

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