Deals of the Week 12/14/08-12/20/08

>> Saturday, December 20, 2008

I used my Grocery Game lists to shop at Walgreens and Kroger this week.

Walgreens
I had a $5 Register Reward that was about to expire so I stopped in to get a few things I needed.
Original Price:$16.63
Total OOP after sales and coupons: $9.59
I was supposed to get another $5 in Register Rewards but it didn't print. The manager was very apologetic and just refunded me the $5 making my real OOP:$4.13

Kroger
Original Price:$78.83
Total OOP after sales and coupons: $49.97
Earned $2 OYNO

Weekly Summary: I paid $54.10 for $95.46 worth of products. A 43% savings.

For more great deals be sure to check out The Centsible Sawyers Drugstore Divas.

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FREE 8x10 Print from Walgreen's Photo

>> Friday, December 19, 2008

Get a FREE 8x10 Print from Walgreen's Photo when you use the code FREEGIFT.
Only one code per order and one use per account through December 20th. Get your free 8x10 here.

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Click and Earn

About a month ago I shared some information about Swagbucks with you. I had just learned about this program where you can win points while searching the web. I had read about other people's experience using Swagbucks and it sounded like something I wanted to give a try. After just a month of using it for my online searches I have accumulated enough points to get a $5 gift card to Amazon.com. At this rate I should be able to take care of a few Christmas presents next year with gift cards earned through Swagbucks. To make your Swagbucks winnings accumulate even faster you can invite your friends to become members as well. When they win points you win too. I have found this to be so easy to use. So go here to check it out for yourself. Start earning your Swagbucks for next year's Christmas gifts.

Another click and earn site I use is MyPoints. I occasionally shop through MyPoints but mostly I just earn my points by clicking and reading the emails. It only takes a couple of minutes of my time each day. I just completed my first year as a MyPoints member and earned enough points to get a $25 Target gift card which I used for Christmas presents, a $10 Papa John's gift card which I included in my "adopted college student's" Christmas care package, and a $10 CVS gift card which makes my CVS deals even sweeter. MyPoints also has a friend referral program which you can utilize by inviting your friends via email. If you're not already earning MyPoints go here to sign up.

Ebates is another site I use. With Ebates you earn cash back when you click through the Ebates website to make your online purchase. The percentage you earn back varies from store to store. Right now Ebates has a $10 sign up bonus for new members who join and make a purchase by December 31, 2008. In November I received my first payment from Ebates for $10.52. And with a holiday promotion combined with my online shopping I've done this holiday season I already have $15.55 in earnings to look forward to in this next payment cycle. Ebates also has a referral program in which you will receive a cash reward when your referral makes their first qualifying purchase. If your not an Ebates member go here to sign up.

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Walgreen's 2 Day Doorbuster Sale

>> Thursday, December 18, 2008

Walgreen's has a 2 Day Doorbuster Sale going on December 19th & 2oth. Here's a list of the deals you will find.

Buy 1 at $6.99 Get 1 FREE
Webkinz Lil’ Kinz Pet

Buy 2 at $6.99 Get 2 FREE Sale

Toys for Girls and Boys

Buy 1 at $6.99 Get 2 FREE
Candle or Diffuser
A Café Gel Candle, 11 oz.
Patriot Candles Mini Reed Diffuser

50% Off Sale
The Color Workshop Cosmetic Case
Reg. $9.99 and up.

50% Off Sale Men’s Razor or Groomer
Remington Code or Titanium 6 in 1 Grooming Kit
Norelco Cordless
Limit 1 each

50% Off Sale
W Photo SD Memory Card
1 to 4GB.

50% Off Outdoor Lighted Christmas Decorations, Light Sets and Trees

50% Off Sale
Digital Picture Frames
3.5 in……… $29.99
7 in………... $39.99

2/$5 Sale
Red Baron Pizza
22 oz.
Limit 4

79¢ Sale
2 Liter Soda
A&W, 7 Up, Sunkist, Canada Dry orHawaiian Punch
Limit 4

Buy $10 of Individual or Boxed Hallmark Christmas Cards and receive $5 in Register Rewards.
Good on your NEXT in-store purchase.

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Living Frugally: Putting It To The Test

I wanted to share a little bit about how I came to the place in my life where I'm making a conscious effort to live more frugally, which in turn led to me blogging about it. My husband and I have been married for 14 years. For several years early on we lived fairly frugally because we just didn't have much choice. I had graduated college just 7 months before we met and still hadn't found a job in my field and he had stopped taking classes and was working full time. We were engaged 4 months after we started dating and married 7 months later. We both worked as servers in a restaurant and there just was not much extra money. We both had some debt when we met, mostly credit card but I also had a small student loan. We decided we didn't want to start our marriage loaded down with debt so we focused on putting every extra cent into elimating that debt. We started our marriage with almost every last penny paid off and took care of the rest shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, we didn't get rid of the credit cards completely and over the years that surely cost us a lot of money. We mostly just kept the credit cards for emergencies. There was virtually nothing leftover to save so there was no emergency fund to fall back on. If the cars needed repaired or an emergency arose, we had to use the credit card. There were a lot of money saving skills that we just didn't have then.

A few years into our marriage , tax time rolled around and we discovered that the company had messed up the federal withholdings on my husbands income and we owed the government a chunk of change that we did not have. My wonderful parents gave us the money and we learned our lesson the hard way that we had to figure out a way to save up an emergency fund. I was determined to never have to go to my parents for a bail out again.

As the years passed, my husband worked his way up the ladder of restaurant management and our income increased. When we had our first child in 2000, I was able to become a SAHM and even though money was tight, it was also manageable. We kept an emergency fund, had a mortagage and car payments and felt we were doing okay. We tried to never charge too much on credit cards but from time to time we'd slip and carry a balance for a few months.

A few years ago, we had our first wake up call that we'd gotten a little too comfortable with the new income level. We had 2 children to shop for and I was guilty of wanting to buy my girls cute little matching outfits, my husband bought a car we really couldn't comfortably afford as well as an expensive life insurance policy because he wanted the girls and I to be taken care of in case something happened to him. And suddenly, it seemed, we were starting to have trouble getting by each month. I had heard about Dave Ramsey from someone I went to church with. I bought Total Money Makeover and read it and suggested following his plan to my husband. He balked at giving up the credit cards but agreed to implement some changes to correct our financial situation. But we didn't fully commit to the plan. We sold the too expensive car, dropped the insurance policy and just had the one offered through my husband's work and I reigned in my clothes shopping. We made a few other small adjustments and, once again, felt like we were doing okay.

Shortly after that, my husband received a promotion and we moved to an area with a higher cost of living. Thankfully the promotion brought a pay increase which helped balance out the cost of living difference. Still we had those credit cards and sometimes the balance would creep up on us. Early this year, when my husband got his W-2s he was looking at it and commented that we should be able to save more than we were. I agreed and suggested Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover again. He agreed to it so I reread the book and then he read it. Then, we sat down and drew up our plan. We had a mortgate, $8000 in car debt, and $1800 in credit card debt. We also had about a month and a half of living expenses in an emergency fund and a good start on retirement savings. Retirement savings is the one thing we are good at. We made our first budget and were quite amazed to see how much money we were wasting each month. Note: I've always handled the money and never had much knowledge about budgeting. Each month I would write down all the money we owed for bills and then try to make whatever was left cover all the rest. Not a super budget plan by any means. So, we started looking at things we could cut out and reduce the expense of so we could save more and eliminate debt.

As soon as we received our tax return we eliminated the credit card debt. And we did make the commitment this time around to stop using credit cards. Then we began attacking the car debt as well as trying to build up the emergency fund. To create more money to do this we cut our grocery budget. I learned how to really use coupons to my advantage. We also stopped taking my husbands pants to the cleaners to have them cleaned and pressed. He continued to take his shirts because he likes them super starched but by me taking over washing and ironing the pants we saved ourselves $800 a year. We also changed my cell phone to a pay as you go plan. This saved us over $400 a year. We also began budgeting for items like clothing, entertainment, meals out, gifts, etc. We knew what we could spend and would not go over it. No more impulse buys that really add up. We had a plan and it was working.

On September 3rd of this year my husband lost his job due to restructuring, another company suffering the impact of all the problems with todays economy. We did not freak out. We had 3months of expenses in the emergency fun and had reduced the car debt to $4000. I also had an almost fully funded Christmas account so that was not going to be a worry. I knew I could cut the grocery budget some more and still have plenty, especially since I already had a stockpile to work with. We made a few more small cuts in things like entertainment, meals out, etc. and figured we could make more dramatic cuts if it looked like this period of unemployment was going to drag on. My husband also received a severance package which we promptly put into savings. We were able to live off of what we had in our checking account up until the last week of November when we finally had to dip into savings.

My husband spent his days the last few months working on finding a new job. I don't know if I've ever been as proud of him as during the last few months. He did not get down. He did not slack off. He just kept moving forward. He started his new job on December 8th. We are incredibly grateful that he has a job. This job does come with a significant decrease in pay from the last job though. While in training, he's making almost 40% less than he did at his last job. His pay will increase over the next 6 months to a year but it will still be 25%-30% less than he made before. So now we get to put all that we've learned about living frugally to the test. We know we can pay our bills but we're going to have to get creative to come up with extra money to save. But I'm confident we can do this because we've learned the skills and have access to the resources to do it. And I am so thankful to have these skills to pass onto my children so that they can go into their adult lives fully equipped with the knowledge to successfully manage their money.

All of these experiences led me to create this blog. At first, just because I was wanting to share all the great deals with others who would appreciate them but now even more I want to share what I've learned and what I continue to learn with others. I hope you will find what I share to be useful.

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Free Lego Magazine Subscription

>> Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Get a free subscription to Lego Magazine for the Lego fan in your life. Click on your country of residence on the right to sign up.

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