Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Vacation - Who needs sleep?!

Since school got out (a month and a half ago) I've been pretty busy. Obviously I've taken up couponing and I think I've finally got the hang of it. While I was in Idaho I showed my mom the ropes and ended up buying 20 boxes of cereal for about $30.00. I'd have to subtract items from the actual receipt to get the exact total, but that's pretty close. The price per ounce was all between $.06 and $.08!! I was pretty proud of myself : )

I also began selling Park Lane Jewelry. So, while I was up North, I held two parties at my sisters' houses. I'm hoping that business will "pick up" after everyone is home from vacation and no longer spending money on travel. We'll see.

I also helped plan a family reunion for my mom's side of the family. We were in charge this year and wanted to "spice" things up a bit. My SIL suggested that we do some kind of game show - like the newlywed game. I knew my aunts and uncles wouldn't really want to be put on the spot that much, so I ended up changing the format into a family history quiz bowl. We had two teams of 5 and held three rounds - so I guess we actually had 6 teams! I came up with "buzzers" for each team - one team had $1 recorders from Walmart and the other team had freezer jam jars with beans inside to shake. Just a suggestion if you like the idea - the shakers don't make noise as quickly as the recorders, so there was some contention among the older players (the aunts and uncles!! I think it was leftover from childhood - lol) - so maybe Taboo buzzers and recorders. It was helpful for each team to have a different sound!

In short - I spent ALOT of time on the road and playing with children. I had a few headaches and hardly any sleep. So, since my return I've been a little sick - today's special - Sinuses :(

I've come up with a couple of story ideas and have discovered a few new books - and rediscovered a series I started a few years ago - I 'll be back with my experiments in the quest soon.

Friday, June 10, 2011

This Week's Haul was AWESOME!!

So I probably don't need to go shopping again for another month - or I probably shouldn't, one of the two. Here's what I got this week -minus Winco (coupon-free) and Target (I lost the receipt - sigh).
A few of the pictured items are from Target, but I have a few things in the fridge from the other stores, so it all works out - wish I could find that receipt!!

I spent $111.31 and saved $232.34 - that's 68% savings!! That's if you take Albertson's, Vons, Rite Aid's, etc.'s prices for granted. I don't, so I would calculate my savings much lower - based on what I could/would have paid at Target/Winco - of course I couldn't have bought all this stuff there for these prices, but still. Not counted in the purchase total is $100 of giftcards from Albertsons that earned me a $20.00 coupon. One of those gift cards (Sears) is a gift. The others are money waiting in my pocket to be spent - earmarked for certain stores (Disney(land), Joannes, Barnes&Noble).

I forgot to mention that the pineapple is from Food4Less - my only purchase there - 3 lbs/$.99 - woot woot!!
I got the mini watermelons @ Albertsons - on sale for $1.69 each + $.55 coupon for each - wahoo!!

I purchased 98 items in 11 transactions at 6 stores. Here's the complete list, since you can't see everything in the picture -and I forgot to include 3 bags worth from Albertsons:

Cake Mix 1
Frosting Can 1
Velveeta Shells & Cheese (1 ser.) 4
Macaroni & Cheese Boxes 2
Hunts Snack Packs (4pk) 2
Knorr Sides 2
Ritz Crackerfuls 1
Pompeian Olive Oil (16 oz) 2
Bumble Bee Chckn Salad Kit 2
Kraft Mini Marshmallows 1
Freschetta Pizza 1
Whole Fryer Chickens 2 (6+ lbs)
Donation 1
Stride Gum 1
Orbit Gum 1
Reeses Peanut Butter Cup 2
Maalox 90ct. 1
Blink eye drops (15 mL) 1
Aveeno 18 oz lotion 1
Aveeno 85 SPF sunscreen 2

Ronzoni Pasta 10
Crisco Olive Oil 1
Captain Crunch 1
Oscar Meyer Roasted Turkey 1 lb.  2
Mini Watermelon (5 lbs+ each) 2

Hormel Kids Complete 1
Honey Mustard 1
Twizzlers 2
Hormel complete 1
Spam 2
Ragu 2
Gatorade  4
Wheat Thins Stix 1
Kit Kat (King Size) 4
Bisquik (5.1 oz) 10
Betty Crocker potato pouch 1
Hamburger Helper 9
WW Ice Cream Cup 1
Grapes 2 (4.7 lbs)
Pineapples 2 (6lbs)

A&W Rootbeer 12 Pack 2
7up 12 Pack 2
Reach Toothbrush 2 pack 2
Caramel 1

ALL 50 oz 2
Colgate 1

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Love the Coupons!!

Yesterday I went shopping with my "new" coupon program and here are the results:

Target: spent $31.22
           saved $25.35 (45%)
I made 2 transactions and used 7 coupons. I earned a $5.00 gift card from the first transaction which I applied to the second.

It may not look like much, but the water filters are usually 3 for $20 and I got them for $9.00!! The Chex Mix was on clearance and I saved $1 on the two bags, but it was still a little expensive. All in all, a good haul!!

RiteAid: spent $29.13
            saved $16.70 (36%) and earned $9.98 in UpRewards to spend later
            + both of the conditioners I purchased (for free w/ rewards bucks) have manufacturer's rebates for the full purchase price - and there is no limit listed. I'm not sure if they'll honor both, but getting them for free and then getting a rebate for one of them is still a GREAT deal.
My only regret is that I wish that I had checked the price for the Eucerin at Target. I knew it was more expensive sure by how much. I bought it on sale and with two coupons - it was the same as buying at Target, not on sale, with the coupons. I still saved money, just not as much. I would have spent next to nothing if I hadn't bought the Eucerin :(

Monday, May 30, 2011

Money, Money, Money - Making it and (hopefully) saving it

So I am not so good at saving money - I make too many impulse purchases and buy things even if I don't really have the money for them. Sigh. I am really trying to be better - I would love to be out of debt someday. AND, since I am a California teacher I am looking forward to further pay cuts and loss of income - We already take 10 furlough days in my district and since I'll be moving to the high school next year, I'll be losing my stipends for coaching soccer and TLL (read semi-department chair). Not a huge loss, but big enough. Add to that the increase in my health insurance premium ($100 more per month next year!!) and the increase in gas and grocery prices and you'd think I would be panicking. (No worries, I kind of am - my muscles NEVER relax - gah!) However, there is hope in sight. I am trying to budget - my sister (Mrs Tips) and her husband have paid off a ton of debt by budgeting and living on less - and I am trying to make better use of my money. I am also trying to make wiser decisions about the extra money I make.


How do I make extra money, you ask. I spend time online and on my phone. This past week I have redeemed survey points for a $25 gift certificate for Old Navy and 3 magazine subscriptions. In the past I have used my points for books, gift cards and merchandise (not the best deal!!). Here are my survey sites: zoompanel, hpsurveys, erewards, and emiles. Give me your email address (either through email if you know me, or in the comments if you don't) and I'll send you an invitation to the sites. Some of them you may be able to sign up for without an invitation, but wouldn't you want me to earn points too? Thanks for your support :~)

I also use ShopKick on my smartphone. I have already redeemed points for a $10 Target Gift Card.  If you download this app, enter the promo code: ape321 within 24 hours of downloading it and I'll receive 50 kickbucks - and so will you!!

I also recommend signing up for store reward cards. I purchased a new printer at Office Max a few months ago and earned $46 in reward dollars - these work just like cash at the store!! Recycling toner cartridges is also a money maker. I've also used quite a few reward checks at Staples.

Okay, some of my tips for saving money:
  1. Eat at home and Cook from scratch - check - I prefer eating at home and I almost always cook from scratch!! Yay me!
  2. Watch your utilities - check - I keep the lights off most of the time and I really try not to use my air conditioner too much (but I did grow up in Idaho and now I live in the California desert - can you say 113 degrees Fahrenheit?!)
  3. Shop sales and use coupons - working on this.
I tried the CouponMom method of couponing for a while, and I can see how it would be useful if you lived in the right area, but in SoCal she doesn't include ads for the stores that have the best loss-leaders and other deals. SO, I have switched to KrazyCouponLady and I'm trying their tips and organization method. I purchased a large, cloth-bound zipper binder. If I have to carry a binder around to the stores, I want it to be easy, so I got one with a strap, etc. Mine has a zipper pocket on the front also, but this one is the same model. Then, I spent ALL DAY on Saturday looking for trading card sleeves (I finally found them at Target, but not the one nearest me, argh!) and organizing my coupons. Now I am ready to plan.

This is my living room floor after spending Thursday evening and most of Friday cutting and sorting coupons:

 As you can see, it was quite a mess! This was 3-1/2 months worth of coupons!! At first I was going to use the method I grew up with: envelopes (or a coupon organizer) with the coupons sorted by general categories. I had them already to go and was putting them in an organizer when I realized that it would take me forever to dig through each pile to find the brand, price and expiration date I wanted to use. Gah!! So, I googled "coupon organization" and discovered The Krazy Coupon Lady. I liked the idea of using trading card sleeves and being able to flip through the pages and SEE all my coupons without digging. She/they also use more specific categories and include a printable category PDF to help you get organized. I had heard of the idea before, but didn't really see how it would benefit me until I tried the envelope method again. So, here are the supplies I ended up using:
 And here's how it looks on the inside - note the barely visible pocket on the left:
 Finally, the fruits of my labor (two days of labor!!!):
My suggestion is to NOT cut out all 3+ months worth of coupons at one time. I had a 4-day weekend and so far I've used 2-1/2 days on this project! Now on to the list-making and shopping. Without a large family, I don't have as much to buy, but I plan to donate items and finish getting my year's supply of food (more on that in another post!) I'll let you know about my successes as they occur :~D

I'm sure that you have money-saving - and money-making ideas. Let me know what works for you!!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Parable of the Lost Sheep - an object lesson

A couple of weeks ago my mom told me about the Sunday School lesson she was preparing for her church class (6-7 year-olds). She wanted to have the kids really think about the parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15: 3-7 & Matthew 18: 7-14), and before she taught the lesson on Sunday. To prepare the kids for the lesson, she made 100 sheep for each child, numbered each sheep 1-100 and put the child's name on each sheep. She then took one sheep from each child's pile (a different number for each child) and wrote them a letter telling them that they needed to find their missing sheep and be ready to tell her the number on Sunday. If they could tell her the correct number, she would give them a candy bar. On Sunday she emphasized the importance of one soul to the Savior and helped them to feel His love for each one of them - the object lesson was an introduction to this.

My sister blogged about this lesson on MrsTips and shared her own adaptation from this week as well. For a more complete description, a link to the sheep page, and variations on the object lesson, click here to visit MrsTips and see her post on the lesson.

Thanks Mom (and Sis) for sharing this fantastic object lesson, commentary and your testimonies of the Savior and his love and care for each one of us. <3 <3 <3

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Moving...Not a Good Time to Start a Blog

Okay, so I'm moving classrooms right now - really schools - and I haven't had a lot of time to take pictures and work on any projects. Right now I'm collecting boxes and boxing up my classroom library - then I'm hoping to move on to EVERYTHING else. I have about 600 books in my classroom library - 2 full bookshelves - and I think I'll finally have enough boxes tomorrow to finish the job.

My move is to the high school. I have been teaching middle school for 7 years and now I'm movin' to the big time! (lol) I didn't choose the move, but I'm looking forward to teaching high school. It's what I prepared for. I student taught Senior English and then was hired to teach middle school Drama. After teaching Drama for 4 years it was time to move on. So, I have taught 7th grade English for the past 3 years and while I like the kids, middle school is definitely not my scene. I will miss my soccer team and the kids, but not the incessant talking-while-I'm talking (especially common in 7th grade!).

Coming soon:
~Do it yourself wall-art
~Classroom projects and my philosophy
~A cheap and easy backsplash
~My hair :-D

Remember to experiment upon the words - all of them!!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Well, hello there!

Introducing...me.  I was inspired to start this blog by a scripture in the Book of Mormon. I know that you aren't all Mormons, so just bear with me. One of my favorite scriptures in the Book of Mormon is a chapter about faith. The prophet, Alma, is teaching the poor Zoramites whose afflictions has humbled them. He wants the people to not just have faith, but to earn a perfect knowledge of gospel principles. He tells them, "But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words" (Alma 32:27). Alma continues and tells the people that by exercising faith and acting upon that faith they can receive a "perfect knowledge" of the principle upon which they are exercising faith (Alma 32:29). Okay, thanks for bearing with me on the scriptural front. I don't mean to say that this blog will be solely about my spiritual experiments, although there will be some of that, but I wanted you to know whence the inspiration.

 This blog is about all of my experiments - on all of the words I come across in my readings (and craftings). I love the idea that I can experiment and share. As a woman, a Latter-day Saint (Mormon) and a member of my crazy family - I have always sought perfection. In books, movies and video games I have always loved a good quest - hence the Quest for Perfection.