Sunday Coupon Insert Preview | July 27, 2014

As a reminder, the value of the coupons that you find in your newspaper may vary from the value in the provided link! In addition, all of the stores in my area double coupons up to $.99 (so a $.75 coupon has a value of $1.50). If the stores in your area don’t double or your paper is more expensive, you may not find the coupons as valuable as I do!

Check out Sunday Coupon Preview for the complete listing of coupons. There should be 5 inserts this week: 2 SmartSource inserts, 2 Redplum inserts and a Proctor & Gamble insert.

Don’t understand the terms or abbreviations that I use? Be sure to read my Coupon Lingo post!

Coupons of Note

:: SmartSource Coupons

Speed Stick B1G1 free gear antiperspirant/deodorant or body spray up to $4.29: there are always good deals on Speed Stick at the drug stores. This coupon should make the deals even better!

Purell $1/1 8oz+ advanced hand sanitizer bottle: We will see plenty of good deals on this as we get closer to Back To School time

Mitchum $2/1 coupon: this is not on the national lists, but is supposed to be in the inserts in many regions.

:: RedPlum Coupons

Axe B1G1 coupons: if you have someone that likes Axe (yuck!), at least you can save some money on it!

Ragu $.60/2 products: use this coupon to get 3 for $0.47 each at CVS next week!

:: Proctor & Gamble Coupons

the standard coupons but there is a nice $2/1 Tide coupon that should come in handy

So how many copies of the paper would I buy?

If I were building a stockpile: 2 – 4

Now that I am in stockpile-maintenance mode: 2 – 3

We are starting to see the return of some good coupons!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the 2014 Coupon Insert Schedule

8 Tips To Make Affording a Cruise Possible

8 Tips To Make Affording a Cruise Possible

Would you love to take a cruise but are afraid it’s just out of reach financially? Cruises are in reality one of the most inexpensive vacations people can take. They are also a ton of fun. We took the family on a Disney Cruise last year and we all still consider it the best vacation that they have ever had!

With a little bit of planning and research you can be on your way to an amazing getaway!  Here are some tips on affording a cruise:

Plan Ahead – You’ve seen lots of lists online stating when the best time is to book airfare or a hotel room to see the best prices. When it comes to cruises, booking far in advance can yield the best savings, especially if you have a family. Even 12-18 months out is not too far in advance to make reservations. Start planning your vacation and doing your research now and you can save a bundle!

Subscribe to Newsletters – Sign up to receive newsletters from cruise lines or travel websites that interest you. They regularly send out specials like “kids sail free” or free onboard credit. If they have any last minute specials you’ll find out about them first through these newsletters. You can also like their Facebook pages to discover promotions.

Pay as you Go – One of the best features of paying for a cruise is that you don’t have to pay the entire balance at once. When you make a reservation you can pay a deposit and then pay as you go. Most final payments are due by 60 days before sailing. This is a great way to space out payments without putting the trip on a credit card and having to pay interest. If you can pay the total at once, you may be able to get a discount as well. Call the cruise line to find out what’s available.

Book an Interior Room – The least expensive rooms on a ship are the interior rooms. The downside is you won’t have a window but if all you plan to do is sleep in the room you won’t really miss out. Before sailing or when you check in ask if there are any complimentary upgrades available. If rooms haven’t sold you may be able to move into a better room for no additional cost!

Be Flexible – You’ll get the best price on a cruise if you can be flexible. Cruising around holidays and school vacations will be the most expensive. Caribbean cruises in the spring will be expensive, but if you can go in summer you’ll likely find better deals. European cruises in the winter will also net a big savings. It may not be ideal but it can save a lot of money.  We went on a cruise to the Bahamas in August and I can honestly say that the only “bad” day that we had was when we were in port at Nassau. We chose not to do a shore excursion (see below for why) and instead spent some time walking around doing some shopping and taking a quick carriage ride, then we went back to the ship to enjoy the pool.  It was HOT (but not miserable).

Seek Alternative Departure Ports – There are numerous ports in the United States to depart from however most cruises leave from Miami or Ft. Lauderdale. Instead consider leaving from Galveston, Texas, New Orleans, or even Puerto Rico. Not only can you save on the cruise but you also may save on airfare to get there.

Limit Shore Excursions – A big cost in cruising is the port activities. When we went on our cruise, most of port excursions were about $150 – $200 per person! With a family of 5, that could have added up to $1000 to our trip for just a single day! Instead of choosing an activity at every port, pick just one or two activities, and spend the other days and time exploring on your own! Check to see if your cruise still has a full itinerary on port days as this is often a great way to do some of the activities on the ship that are often more crowded!

Stick With What’s Included There are lots of ways that cruise lines can add to the cost of your vacation. It’s easy to rack up a bill before you know it. Instead of buying lots of fancy drinks or eating in the specialty restaurants stick to the food and drink choices that are included. You’ll save a lot of money this way. If you know that you will want to have beer or wine on your cruise, check to see if your cruise line will allow you to bring your own (to enjoy in your room or for a corking fee in the restaurants).

With a little bit of planning and enough lead time you can have a wonderful cruise experience without breaking the bank!

Do you have any other tips on affording a cruise to add?

15 Tips For Shopping At The Grocery Store!

mindi cherry grocery

We talk about how to shop at the grocery stores all the time.  We talk about how to get the best deals, how to use coupons and so much more.  What we don’t talk about that often is how NOT to make other shoppers want to kill you!

I recently launched to site Etiquette Help (seriously – make sure you read through all the archives and Like Etiquette Help on Facebook), but this is one post that I particularly love.

From my 15 Grocery Store Manners | 15 Tips! post

  1. Slow Down – Breaking the land speed record with a grocery cart is not necessary nor is it acceptable in the grocery store. Slow down and be careful around those blind corners.
  2. 20 Items or Less – Why is it that every time an express lane opens, someone with an entire cart full of items jumps over? Seriously folks, the sign is pretty straight forward.
  3. Have Your Money Ready – Nobody wants to wait while you write out your check or dig for your debit card. Consider those around you and have those things ready when you get up there. You wait in line anyway, so use it to prepare for your turn when you get there.
  4. Let common sense prevail – If you are standing there with an entire cart full of items and the guy behind you has a diet Coke, let him pass. If I need to tell you why, you should never enter a retail establishment again…ever.
  5. When a new line opens, be fair – We all have seen it. Five people are in line and the line next to you that had been closed opens. Then the cart at the back of the line runs over to take the first spot in the new line. Again, did we not cover this in kindergarten? A new line is not an invitation to race those in front of you. Be fair and let the people that have waited the longest get the next register.

See the rest of the tips on Etiquette Help!

Easy Homemade Natural Toilet Bowl Scrub

Easy Homemade Natural Toilet Bowl Scrub

Whether you discovered you are out at the last minute or you are trying to rid your house of chemicals, this Homemade Natural Toilet Bowl Scrub is sure to come in handy. Not only is it very inexpensive to throw together, it is always handy if you are out of your regular cleaner. Plus the bonus of being natural means you have no fear of chemicals in your home and will feel better about telling your kids to get in there and clean too.

The benefits to using this homemade cleanser versus store bought varieties are wide ranged. The lack of unnecessary chemicals in your home and near your children is likely the most important factor to consider. The other factor is how inexpensive this is to make overall. While essential oils can be a bit of an expense up front, they go a long way and will be used in many other batches in the future. If you figure the cost of all ingredients over 10-15 batches you will quickly see how cost effective this is for your family.

One note: you will want to store this in a glass container, as essential oils can tend to degrade plastic. Get yourself a few Mason jars to store this!

Easy Natural Homemade Toilet Bowl Scrub

Ingredients

Directions:

  1. In medium air tight glass container, mix together all ingredients
  2. Use 1/4-1/2 Cup in toilet bowl and let sit for a few minutes.
  3. Use a toilet brush to scrub off any stains

You can pour this into the toilet itself or could even make it a bit thinner for spraying onto your toilet bowl if you wish. Add a bit of water or vinegar to thin it out a bit more if desired. The homemade natural toilet bowl cleaner will not only cleanse and disinfect the toilet, but leave your bathroom smelling great thanks to the lemon essential oil. If you prefer a scrub you can add ¼ Cup baking soda to the mix to thicken it and use a gloved hand to scrub the toilet with instead.

Sunday Coupon Insert Preview | No Coupons on July 20, 2014

As a reminder, the value of the coupons that you find in your newspaper may vary from the value in the provided link! In addition, all of the stores in my area double coupons up to $.99 (so a $.75 coupon has a value of $1.50). If the stores in your area don’t double or your paper is more expensive, you may not find the coupons as valuable as I do!

Check out Sunday Coupon Preview for the complete listing of coupons. There should be NO INSERTS this week (July 20, 2014). Enjoy the week off from clipping!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the 2014 Coupon Insert Schedule

How To Get Started With Meal Planning

Getting started with meal planning

How to Get Started on Meal-Planning

Meal Planning is one of the biggest ways you can save money in your family’s food budget. The problem is, for  someone who has never made out a meal plan, the idea can be overwhelming. You may not know where to start or how to do it effectively. Here are some tips to get you started on meal-planning

How to Get Started on Meal Planning

Get the right tools together. You will need a weekly planner, either one that is on paper in a book or one that is on a dry erase board and a notebook to jot down ideas and shopping lists. You will need this to be able to effectively organize and make sure you plan meals and snacks for all days.

Sit down and make a list of all meals your family loves and that fit within your budget. Ask them for input if you need ideas. This is not for scheduling, but more so you have a group of recipes to choose from for your planning. Make sure you include snacks, desserts, breakfast, lunches and dinner. Don’t worry if you don’t make it very often, this is more for brain-storming.

Now that you have those two things in order, these are the steps you should take each week you meal plan:

  1. Check local ads for what is on sale so you can build your meals around that. Make sure to include any coupon deals as well.
  2. Make sure to take into account any leftovers you could have from these meals and make plans for them either this week or the next (stick them in the freezer if you can to save them for when you need them).
  3. Note days that will be especially busy. Make sure to plan for fast meals these days.
  4. Make a list for what you will need from the store. Note amounts you will need so you don’t buy too much or too little.
  5. Make out your weekly plan. You may want to display it where others can see so you won’t have to hear the, “What’s for dinner?’ question every night.
  6. When you get home from the store, do some of the prep work for meals (you might want to check out my Freezer to Crockpot series!). This will save you time in the evenings and for meals like breakfast as well.

To make it easier to plan meals, try doing daily themes. You could do Meatless Mondays or Taco Tuesday. This just means you will be rotating something into that slot for that day each week and it will cut down on the time spent figuring things out. If you are making family favorites on those days, your family might even look forward to those days!

If you are stumped on meal ideas, try searching online. There are so many recipes to make that fit a budget-minded meal planner. Just follow me on Pinterest for so many meal ideas!

Don’t make too much work for yourself to start. Coming up with a whole month of meals can be daunting. Instead, pick a day each week to plan the meals your family will be enjoying for the following week. Once you have that mastered, if you still want to, move onto monthly planning.

What are your best tips for meal planning?

Ways To Save Money On Your Cell Phone Bill

save-money-on-cellphones

Save Money on Cellphones

Want to find a way to cut your expenses in your budget but you aren’t sure which part to look at? Maybe it’s time to take a good look at that cell phone bill.

Don’t just look at the amount, look at what you are spending money on; the breakdown of the bill. Do you pay for a data package? Do you pay for texting? Do you pay for extras like games and other apps?

Did you know that if you pay $30 per month in “extras” on your smartphone or cellphone including a data package or any of the above, that’s costing you an extra $360 per year! Do you really use that data package that much to be needing to spend that much per year on it?

Consider Your Extras

Take a good hard look at those extras on your bill. Do you need to download 3 new games a month? Are you really using that data package? Let’s look at the numbers…if you download 3 apps a month for $3 each, spend $30 a month on a data package, and spend $15 a month on a texting package, that adds up to $648 a year! Look over all of these things and decide what you could possibly cut out.

Look at a Different Plan

You may have a commitment to your cell phone provider until your contract is up but after that, all other plans are free game. Straight Talk offers a monthly plan as low as $30 (including texting and data!), Verizon offers a pay as you go plan that starts at $45 per month and also includes data and texting. Would something like that be something you could get by on?

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you are getting the best deal for your dollar and you are getting all the things you actually need!

Which cell phone provider do you use? How much do you spend on your cell phone bill in a month?

Sunday Coupon Insert Preview | July 6, 2014

As a reminder, the value of the coupons that you find in your newspaper may vary from the value in the provided link! In addition, all of the stores in my area double coupons up to $.99 (so a $.75 coupon has a value of $1.50). If the stores in your area don’t double or your paper is more expensive, you may not find the coupons as valuable as I do!

Check out Sunday Coupon Preview for the complete listing of coupons. There should be 1 insert this week: a Proctor & Gamble insert

Don’t understand the terms or abbreviations that I use? Be sure to read my Coupon Lingo post!

Coupons of Note

:: Proctor & Gamble Coupons

Pantene coupons: 3 nice high-value coupons!

Tide coupons: there are some nice high-value coupons that we haven’t seen for a while, including a B1G1 Tide Oxi coupon with a maximum value of $12.99!

So how many copies of the paper would I buy?

If I were building a stockpile: 4 – 5

Now that I am in stockpile-maintenance mode: 3 – 4

If you use Tide, you are going to want to pick up extra copies of the paper. The B1G1 Tide Oxi coupon can make for for SERIOUS savings!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the 2014 Coupon Insert Schedule

How To Start A Vegetable Garden Inexpensively

How to Start a Garden Inexpensively

If you know how to start a garden, you can grow vegetables in your backyard garden on the cheap and not only feed your family, but you can afford to feed your community as well. Vegetable plants can be a bit pricey if you purchase them one plant at a time, so here are some great tips to start a vegetable garden inexpensively.

To start a vegetable garden you will need quality plants or seeds and great potting soil. Even if you are in an area where you can garden right into the ground, you will need to amend the soil to give the plant all the nutrients it might need.

If you will be gardening in containers or a raised bed, you will need a good potting soil mix. Buying organic potting soil can get expensive, so here is a great inexpensive recipe for organic potting soil. Now, you will have to purchase everything initially, but the bags of fertilizers go a very long way and are a great bang for the buck.

Use this mix to amend your garden soil too and watch your plants thrive.

Organic Potting Soil

  • 1/3 Potting Soil
  • 1/3 Vermiculite
  • 1/3 Compost or Earthworm Castings
  • 1 cup Bone Meal
  • 1 cup Blood Meal

When thinking about what you want to plant in your garden, plant 80% of what you family normally eats on a daily basis and 20% on veggies you would love to try. You can buy plants that are ready to be transplanted into your garden once all dangers of frost have passed. Better yet, you can get a head start and start seeds indoors if you have the garden bug early or sow them directly into the garden once it has warmed up.

The most cost-effective way to garden is always going to be buy purchasing seed packets and growing them yourself. A vegetable seed packet runs less than $2 each and tends to have 10-50 seeds per packet. That is just pennies per seed! One of the best things about gardening with seeds is that you can try different varieties of the same vegetable and see which one your family loves better. If you are a fan of tomatoes, you can try five different kinds of seeds and have spent less than $10 for over 250 seeds – that is a ton of tomatoes growing in your yard!

If you want to use starter plants you find in the nursery, the best way to go is to look for those that are in 4- or 6-packs. These are usually $1-2 per 6-pack making each plant less than $0.50. One thing to remember is that if you plant 6 squash plants you will have more squash than you will know what to do with and will be able to give some to every neighbor you know! Whereas a 6-pack of spinach will give your family enough new leaves to eat a salad a few times a week. Make sure you know the yield of the plant before you plant more than a couple plants!

Only buy 1-2 single plants that are $2-10 if it is something that will either yield a lot of vegetables or is your favorite vegetable. This can either be an artichoke plant in a gallon container or a rare variety of basil that is already 10” tall. Don’t impulse buy on these individual plants or your will blow your vegetable garden budget in under 10 minutes flat!

Keep your expenses down when starting your vegetable garden with making your own organic potting soil and using seeds. For plant markers, use popsicle sticks. If you need containers, use everything from an old wheelbarrow or anything that can have drainage holes. I’ve seen the most creative veggie gardens come out of using inexpensive containers and a little imagination.

Happy gardening!

You might want to check out these other gardening tips:

Simple Homemade Fabric Softener Recipe

Simple Homemade Fabric Softener Recipe

Have you ever left home for work only to find a sock clinging to your pant leg, or perhaps your skirt clinging to your slip so you couldn’t pull it down? We have all suffered at one point or another from static cling, but we have also suffered from scratchy stiff clothing as well. Fabric softener is a staple item in most pantries, but it can become a costly thing to have.

This simple homemade fabric softener recipe is a great cost effective solution that allows you to save money while continuing to provide your family with soft and pleasant smelling clothing fresh from the dryer.

This recipe is widely popular and has been found all over the Internet and Pinterest over the past few years, and we have tested it out and adapted it to suit our preferences. Using Hair Conditioner as a base in this solution gives you the opportunity to choose a different scent with every batch you make, and to use up those bottles you had picked up for free using coupons. {We prefer Suave or VO5 for this as they are inexpensive and come in a wide variety of scents.}

SIMPLE HOMEMADE FABRIC SOFTENER

INGREDIENTS
6 Cups Water
3 Cups Vinegar
2 Cups Hair Conditioner

DIRECTIONS
Mix all ingredients together well in air tight container or empty bottle.
Use 1/4-1/2 Cup per load of laundry.

We tend to stay with a little less at 1/4-1/3 cup at most in our laundry but some prefer using the larger amount of ½ cup per load. If you have a fabric softener ball from past purchases, you can pour it into that and toss directly into laundry. Otherwise pour into the fabric softener slot on your washing machine. The clean or rain scents are the most popular in our home to make this with, but we have also used the strawberry and peach scents of hair conditioner and loved the fresh smell it added to our clothing as it washed.

Have you ever made your own fabric softener?

15 Unique Uses For Baking Soda

uses-for-baking-soda

15 Unique Uses for Baking Soda

Baking Soda is an amazing little thing to have in your household. Not only can you bake with it and clean with it, the possibilities with it are almost endless!

And one of the best parts is that little box of Baking Soda costs less than $1. Inexpensive and so useful! Sounds like the perfect thing to keep in your stockpile! But if you are stuck to find uses for baking soda beyond those mentioned above, keep reading! Below you will find 15 unique uses for baking soda I bet you never would have guessed existed.

  1. Use baking soda to get the onion smell out of your hands. Simply sprinkle some baking soda over your hands after you cut up an onion and scrub with water. Then wash off and your hands will smell no more!
  2. Use it to clean the top of your stove. Mix baking soda with a little bit of water to form a paste. Rub over the top of your stove to remove any grime. Wipe off with water and follow by wiping with a little bit of vinegar to remove any leftover streaks and make it shiny.
  3. Use it to clean baby and toddler toys. Fill a sink up with warm water and add 1/8 cup of baking soda. Wash and rinse off the toys.
  4. Keep your shoes smelling fresh. Have someone in your household with smelly feet? Simply sprinkle a little baking soda inside their shoes to keep them fresh and odor free.
  5. Save yourself from itchy bug bites. Did you get bit by a wasp, bee, or mosquito or get into some poison ivy? Make a thick paste with water and baking soda and spread over rashes and bites to keep them from itching.
  6. Have heartburn? Mix 4 ounces of water with a half of a teaspoon of baking soda and drink. Heartburn gone!
  7. Gargle with it! Use the same mixture as the above (1/2 teaspoon baking soda to 4 ounces water) and use as a mouth wash. It will not only keep your breath fresh but it will help relieve the pain from any canker sores you have.
  8. Keep flowers fresh. The next time you get fresh flowers, add a teaspoon of baking soda into the vase with the water to keep your flowers fresh longer.
  9. Un-smell your dish rags. Pour a little baking soda into a sink full of warm water and soak your dish towels and rags, they should lose that “dirty” smell!
  10. Stop the rabbits. Sprinkle a little baking soda around your garden or your flowerbeds to prevent rabbits from entering and eating all your plants and flowers.
  11. Make fluffy omelets. Add ½ teaspoon to each 3 eggs that you scramble and they will come out fluffier!
  12. Clean up greasy stains. Have some oily or greasy stains on your garage floor? Sprinkle baking soda over them and it will absorb the grease.
  13. Use while soaking beans. Do you make homemade beans by soaking dried beans? Next time, sprinkle a little baking soda in with the soaking beans and it will help with the digestion issues such as gas and bloating that sometimes come along with beans.
  14. Remove water rings. Make a paste of baking soda and water and scrub onto water rings on wooden tables. It will take them right off!
  15. Get rid of ants. If you are having a problem with an ant invasion, mix one part baking soda and one part salt together and sprinkle where ever the ants are entering your home.

As I mentioned above, one of the best things about baking soda is that is very inexpensive, and yet still can do all of these things and more!

What are you favorite uses for baking soda?

Make sure to check out my Uses for Vinegar and my Homemade Cleaning recipes posts as well for some more frugal and unique ideas!

What Is On Sale The Month of July

What Is On Sale in July

July is a hot month in more ways than one. This month is all about enjoying the warm summer weather. Vacations, cookouts, fireworks, and outdoor fun are on the menu. You may not want to spend a lot of time shopping, but the deals you can catch this month make it worth getting out of the bathing suit and into the store!

Here is what is on sale in July:

:: Grocery and Drugstore Deals in July

In- season produce: apricots, blueberries, cantaloupes, cherries, corn, Crenshaw melons, cucumbers, green beans, figs, nectarines, peaches, plums, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelons yellow squash, zucchini. Farmer’s markets are overstocked during July and you will find wonderful deals.

July 4th Sales: Charcoal, hot dogs, hamburgers, burger and dog buns, corn on the cob, chips, sodas, patriotic décor, citronella candles, paper plates and red Solo cups as well as anything else that will be used for cookouts, Fourth of July and being outside.

Summer Fun: swim rings and water wings, sunscreen, bug spray, lawn darts, Frisbees, swimming diapers, sun hats.

:: Other July Sales

Mid-Summer: look for low prices as stores try to get rid of summer products before marking them down for clearance after Labor Day. Since July is considered the peak of summer, all kinds of things will be considered seasonal and holiday-related. Take advantage of these great opportunities to shop on seasonal items. Food products, sunglasses, and bathing suits are often on sale during the month of July.

In the Home: kitchen gadgets (ice cream maker, ice pop molds), food storage, and cleaning products. Retailers know that you aren’t spending much time in the house, so they aren’t offering a lot of in the home sales during July. You’ll find the biggest savings on anything related to the holiday and being outside.

Gym Memberships: Since so many folks are out and about during the summer, gym attendance drops. You can get great deals on memberships when gyms are actively recruiting!

Fireworks: If fireworks are legal in your state, you can get great deals for next year during the week after the 4th of July.

Garden Clearance: Springtime is when most people buy seeds to plant in the garden, so you can find great clearance prices on seeds, seed starting kits, and other garden supplies in July.

Camping Equipment: This is the season when vacations and camping are most popular. Retailers know that unless they want to mark down these items for clearance after Labor Day, this is the month to offer good deals and sell as much as possible.