Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Meijer Trip 6/30/09

This one was a lot of fun! I spent a total of $6.35 for everything in the picture!!! There are 10 boxes of spaghetti, 6 jars of salsa, 5 packages of pepperoni slices, 3 bags of broccoli slaw, 2 packages of croutons, 3 containers of chip dip, and a bottle of barbecue sauce. (and a partridge in a pear tree.) All of this was done using a list from The Grocery Game. If you sign up, please use my email address as a referral. It is the single best resource out there for groceries. Then if you combine it with another coupon match up site like Mommy Snacks, then you can really do some damage!

I would say that I'm pretty much all stocked up again. Other than a few things here and there, along with a weekly trip for milk, eggs, and super deals, I could probably last another two months without doing any shopping. But the idea is to keep doing similar trips every single week so that you never run low on things.

Monday, June 29, 2009

New Button!

Well, kinda. My button isn't working just yet. If you copy it, it ends up showing up as picture not available. But I swear it's out there. I don't know if photo bucket is having trouble or what's going on.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mid Year Maybes

Well, here it is. The middle of the year. I'm weird, I accept it. But this is a time when I like to reflect on my resolutions from the beginning of the year. Am I on track with my goals. Or have they turned into . . . maybe I'll get it done?

If your to-do list has a case of the maybes, then it's time to dust it off and freshen it up. Throw out all of those goals that are no longer applicable. I'm laid off, so eating a healthy lunch is no longer an item on my list for now. Since I'm home at lunch time, I eat healthier. Of course, that's assuming I remember to eat at all in between chasing my little guy up the stairs and sorting my coupons.

I also update my list by re-evaluating my goals. Yeah, at the beginning of the year, losing 40 pounds during 2009 sounded great. Now that we're halfway there and I've lost 3 pounds, I need to revise where I expect I'll be. This keeps the goal reachable, but still something to work towards. If I just go right ahead and revise it down to 20, I won't give myself the chance to use the excuse that I'll never reach my goal so I might as well not even try.

Lastly, throw in a couple new small goals that fit your plan for right now. I'm going to add in a goal of stretching out to loosen up my muscles on a regular basis. Also note that I say "on a regular basis." Yeah, I want to do it every day. Two times a day if I can. But saying every day just isn't realistic. So long as I do it on a regular basis, I can constantly redefine what "regular" is, based on my schedule at whatever point in time.

Keeping goals and revisiting them regularly helps keep you in touch with what you want to accomplish. It is always satisfying to reflect on the prior year and know that you completed some of things that you wanted to. So spend some time with your list now so you won't feel like kicking yourself at the end of the year. I always find it surprising that I end up accomplishing a lot of my goals. New ones pop up every day. Seeing some crossed off and completed is a wondeful feeling.

Schedule

I'm starting to follow some trends from other blogs that are fun. So here is my schedule for now. I'm sure I'll find other things to add in too!

Sunday - CVS/Walgreens $5 Challenge - spend $5 or less out of pocket
Monday - Muffin Tin Monday - create something interesting with a muffin pan
Time Out Tuesday - a short personal post about my family
Wordless Wednesday - a picture is worth a thousand words

Let me know if you see other things out there that you're interested in seeing on my page too.

Walgreens $5 Challenge 6/28

Transaction 1
Dry Idea deoderant 2.99 - $1MQ = 1.99 & 2RR

Kellogg's Cereal 1.99 - $1MQ = .99

2 cans of Pringles 1.98 - $1MQ = .98

Wrigleys Gum (buy 3) 1.29 * 3 = 3.87 - BOGO MQ =2.58 - Walgreens coupon = .72

(be sure to hand over the MQ before the store coupon on the gum to get larger amount off for the BOGO.)

Total = 4.68 & 2RR


Transaction 2
3 bars of Yardley Soap to use for felting project .69 w/ store coupon = 2.07

Use $2RR from above
Total = .07

Total OOP = 4.75 plus tax

See other scenarios (mostly for CVS) at:

http://kingdomfirstmom.com/

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Felted Soap


Starting tomorrow, Yardley's Bar Soap will be on sale at Walgreens for 69 cents. I thought this would be a good time to match it to a craft project I seen the other day. Felted soap. I'm going to try it. It looks pretty easy. Here's the link for the instructions.




Felting soap is a good way to make a pretty craft for a gift or is perfectly nice to stick in a soap dish in your guest bathroom, or use it yourself. The good thing about felting soap is not only does it look pretty, it will also make your soap last longer. It also will lather up for you much easier, and the wool is always going to shrink to the size of the soap as it gets used and gets smaller. I can't wait to try this project!
If you make soap to sell, use your own soap and add it to your inventory. You could even do this with soaps that don't turn out quite the way you want. You can hide the way it looks, but still sell your perfectly good soap.

Good Deals on Baby Clothes

I think that Target has the absolute best deal on baby clothes. Better than Walmart even. I just got the cutest little t-shirt and shorts set for only 6.99. And that's not even a sale price. It has a skull and crossbones on it and says "Trouble Maker." And I found a cute little t-shirt on the sale rack that has AC/DC on it. I'm not a fan, but I'm mildly goth, and this is the closest I can get to gothing up my little guy. There just isn't a huge selection out there. Spencer's has a few cute things, but they're all too expensive, and some of them, although cute and funny . . . I just can't bring myself to dress my one year old in t-shirts or onesies that have curse words on them.

Although I like Target's clothing for babies better because of the prices and styles, Walmart is the only place that I've seen preemie clothes if you happen to need those.

Alpha Inventions

Hello all. I've been using Alpha Inventions for a few days now and my blog hits are waaay up. If you are visiting me from their page, will you please leave a comment? It's hard to tell how many of the hits are due to them posting my page on theirs, and how many are actual real people viewing my site. So just say hi and let me know where you're from. And if you have a blog or webpage, leave the link and I'll check it out.

http://www.alphainventions.com/

Oops!

Well, with all of the super deals on groceries at Kroger and Meijer this week, I've had to work on reorganizing my pantry. I had to cook dinner while I still had things out and all over the place. So I just cleared off a burner on the stove and heated some hotdogs. Well . . . it turns out that sugar and heat don't go well together. I thought it was pushed back enough, but my big Rubbermaid container full of sugar was sitting too close to the heat and a hole melted into the side of it. Sugar came pouring out, and onto the hot burner . . . and went up in flames!!! OMG. It was a very small fire, but the sugar kept pouring out and kept it going. I didn't have enough hands! But hubby helped me, and we pretty much had it taken care of before the smoke alarm even went off.

So I've learnt two things from this incident. #1 Sugar ignites. #2 stockpile is in need of baking soda.

Sunday Coupons

There are two inserts in the Sunday paper tomorrow.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Alpha Inventions

Ok, I have to tell everyone about this awesome site. I'm still trying to figure out if it works well from my end. That is, using it as a resource to advertise my blog. However, as a general user, it's a lot of fun. Go to the web page in my side bar under business resources, and hang out. A new blog will pop up every couple minutes. It allows you to preview blogs to find new and interesting ones that you may like.

Have fun, and I hope you find some interesting new sites to add to your daily reading. If you happen to be out there, please take a minute and enter my blog address in the top bar to help me get some more traffic.

Man Decorates Basement with $10 Worth of Sharpie

Check out this article! Talk about creativity and frugality! It's pretty amazing.

http://www.kentucky.com/147/story/532854.html

Beelines

I found a really awesome small business blog. It is at http://beelines.typepad.com/beelines/. It has a ton of marketing information. I'm actually a bit overwhelmed with it. But it's exactly the information I need at the stage my business is in right now. It appears to be a very useful resource. I'm going to be taking some bits of advice, and I will post on specific things when I see how they pan out. The problem I see with this blog is that some things aren't quite specific enough to help guide me in the direction to come up with the types of ideas they mention.

Good News! - Muffin Tin Mac

I used one of my precooked and frozen macaroni and cheese portions to feed my little guy for lunch today. It was wonderful! I took one out, stuck it in the microwave for one minute and it was the perfect temperature and tasted good. I'm so happy to have such a quick and easy lunch option for him now. He took one bite and said, "mmmmmm," and smiled at me really big.

All Done

Whew, that was rough. But it's done now, so back to the fun stuff tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Under Construction

I'm working on my buttons tonight. It's coming along pretty well. Time consuming though. Check out my candle website at www.lmfcandles.com. I've put about thirty hours into fixing that site up. I've got a lot of content to add still. I'll be taking pictures of my things tomorrow and I'll hopefully have it looking much nicer by the end of the week. But at least I've got a header and buttons that I love, and all of the buttons seem to be working correctly.

I'm pretty excited that I found a Batman style font to use for my Business Mommy buttons. Although my hubby pointed out an important dilemma that I need to share. The initials for Business Mommy are not very pleasant. So if I ever want to use an emblem, I need to put some thought into what to use. Should it just be a big B. Or a big M. It certainly can't be both together. I'm thinking a big M would probably be best. Because it's also the initial for my last name.

I have mentioned before that I've been doing tons of research that I will be including soon. I've found some really amazing stuff. I wish I could share it all right now, but then I would never get the web design complete, and that's the hard part, so I really need to do that first. Expect to see several posts each day though. Just to give you a preview of what's to come . . . I've come across a wonderful artist that I'm going to be posting about. She has some really amazing products and ideas. I will probably be incorporating her ideas into quite a few posts. I'm trying to contact her to get some one on one advice that would be useful to all of us. I've also found quite a few blogs, and quite a few new tools that have been super helpful for me. I can't wait to share! But like I said, gotta get the hard stuff done first. I tell you, it's great being able to use free blog software, but it sure is tough if you want things to be a certain way. That's why so many blogs run down the page for so long. It's very difficult to put in extra elements. Thanks to Carrie at Money Saving Methods on my sidebar for giving me help with figuring out how to put in a bar of links across the top. That was not part of a standard template.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Inspiration

As you may be able to tell, I've been making some changes around here. I thought it might be helpful to some to show how to take a stupid, simple, minor thing and just run with it to make it completely new and cool. Well, cool to me and I'm a dork, so whatever that means.

I was working on making a new header for this blog. I was mostly looking at mildly decorative or typewriter fonts. Something that says "business." Well, I came across this really neat font with the sunburst, or whatever you want to call it. It made me think of super heros. I didn't think much of it, but still wanted to see what it would look like. So I tried it. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Business Mommy is not merely a businesswoman and a mommy. Suddenly she's a SUPERHERO! (Queue fanfare type orchestra music.) And it makes perfect sense. So then I had to add the super hero commentary on the sidebar there. I may get a little annoying for a few days with superhero speak, but I'm sure it's just a phase that will pass once I get used to seeing my new header.

And the moral of this story is . . . allow your creativity to leap out when it wants to. And roll with it. Creativity is one of those things that you never really know where you'll end up. One tiny little spark could turn into something that changes your entire outlook on a project. Maybe it will end up working. Maybe it won't. But you won't know if you don't try.

That brings me to another very important issue with creativity. It can be scary to let it loose and put it on display for the world to see. It's something that was a part of you. It shows a tiny bit of your soul. And suddenly you're making it public. What if people laugh? What if they think it's stupid? WHO CARES?!!!! I had those fears for the longest time. It is so worth it to stop caring what others think of your creativity and just create. Even if no one else benefits from it, you will. Life is very different when you let your mind wander and see what happens. It's easier said than done. But if BUSINESS MOMMY can do it, you can too.

(Please note, any reference to BUSINESS MOMMY must now be made using a deep announcer type voice.) (and note to self, I need a cape.)

Kool-Aid Fun



Well, from my Meijer trip yesterday I have 80 packets of Kool Aid mix. You heard me right. 80. So how am I ever going to drink all of that Kool Aid? Well, the short and sweet answer is that I'm going to add vodka to it. However, that makes me sound like an alcoholic. My point is, I will never get through 80 packets of Kool Aid in the method it was intended to be used, all on my own. So I am going to be on a Kool Aid Quest. It's pretty easy to find drink recipes online. I found one I can't wait to try. Berry Blue Kool Aid with Raspberry Pucker and vodka. Oh yeah.

I'm hoping to also find some interesting different ways to use it. There have got to be marinade and desert recipes. Maybe a strawberry viniagrette. We'll see. Whatever I don't find, I'll be experimenting with. So if you come over for dinner at my house and go home with a blue tongue and don't remember eating anything blue, you'll know why.

Tee-hee. I was just going to post a picture of the regular Kool Aid man, but I seen this picture and thought it went well with my vodka comment. LOL.

Funny Story


Ok, you know how I've been starting to freeze more things. On Sunday I cut up a whole bag of onions and put them on a baking sheet, then stuck them in the freezer. The idea is to wait until they freeze, then take them off the baking sheet and pack them in freezer bags. Well, when I was putting my macaroni and cheese muffin tin in the freezer, I didn't see my tray of onions. At first I just figured that they fell in between something. Could be a mess, but I was in a hurry, so I figured I would deal with it later. (A mentality that gets me in trouble time and time again.)
But anyway, I didn't think much of it until late last night. I was laying in bed and noticed that the blanket smelled like onions. So I started wondering what could have happened. Now I've done some crazy things in my day by accident. (Like the time I was running late for work and grabbed a soda and put it in my purse only to realize later that the can was open, and best of all, that I had shoved it in there upside down. So it was the equivalent of sitting there and dumping a can of pop into my purse. Yay me.) So knowing me, and knowing how busy I am and how I sometimes make stupid absent minded mistakes, I told my hubby that he should just check me straight into the mental hospital if it turns out that I put the tray of onions into the washer.

Well, I found the onion tray today. When I closed the lid on the freezer, they froze to the lid. So when I was rushing around, I only looked down into the freezer and not at the lid. It was above my head the whole time. So now my big mystery is why the blankets smell like onions. I think I might have pulled the blankets out of the dryer after chopping the onions. My hands smelled oniony for a few hours no matter how many times I washed them, so that's all I can figure.

Light My Fire Candles


Whew! I've been working up a sweat today. It's Tuesday, so that means my candle shop is open for business in my garage. It started the day in pretty bad shape. Now it's starting to look ok. I've got so much work to do in there. All I can say is PLEEEEEEAAAAASSSSE give me business so I can afford climate control in there. LOL. Well, by the time I have enough business to be able to afford climate control, hopefully I'll my own little shop in a real little shop rather than in my garage. Maybe an employee or two would be nice too. But all of that will come in time.
So other than whining about the heat and wishful thinking about my future little shop, I want to focus on getting going with a small business. Where do you start? There are so many things to do. Making product, creating a website, taking pictures of your product, advertising, taxes, legal stuff, etc, etc, etc. You'll find that the list never ends. As soon as one thing is done, three more items get put on the list. But that's good. It means that doors are opening. Whether it be opportunities or ideas, both are very good.
So where do you start? I think absolutely number one is to have a good process to create your product. Know enough about what you're doing that you can do it without thinking. I've found that when I'm making my candles, I have the routine down so well that there are only certain points within the process where I have to give it my full concentration. Otherwise my mind is working on all sorts of other things. It helps me to stay focused on my ultimate goals of becoming a millionaire and running Yankee Candle Company into the ground with my superior but more affordable candles. Then next step, TOTAL WORLD DOMINATION. WAHAHAHA.
Ok. Back to reality. My shop is still in process, so it still looks kind of rough around the edges (ignore the edges, that's the rest of the garage, lol) but it's my little shop. I made it. I created everything in it. The things I didn't create myself, I put much thought into if it would be right for my business. If you see something that interests you, zip over to my candle website, www.lmfcandles.com and look around. Email me if you have any questions or want to place an order.
DISCOUNT CODE: BUSINESS MOMMY

Refer to the above code and I will give you 10% off of your order!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Muffin Tin Monday


Muffin Tin Monday is a blog club where you use your muffin tin in a creative way. No rules, whatever. The ones I've seen have been using their muffin tins to portion out a variety of snacks as a meal for a kid. My Mondays will be a little different. So here's the first one.

In my quest to stockpile with my freezer and create fast, easy heat and eat meals, this one worked out great. I was making macaroni and cheese with hot dog pieces in it for my little guy. I decided that since I already had the stove on, instead of cooking one box, I cooked two. After I pulled out enough for us to eat for dinner today, I used the muffin pan to separate out single servings for later. It's in the freezer now, and once it's frozen I will take them out of the cups and put them in freezer bags. Be sure to use cooking spray on the muffin pan first.

The next (dozen) times I want to cook up mac and cheese for Dawson, all I'll have to do is throw a portion into a dish and microwave. Two words. E. Z.

Shopping Success!

Well, today's trip was so much fun! This is what the couponing is all about. Being able to get a ton for my money. I don't have a picture because hubby put away everything before I had a chance. But I won't complain. So let's see, my total was exactly $18.00. My booty was made up of 80 packets of Kool-Aid, 20 boxes of Kraft Mac & Cheese, 4 bags of sugar, I splurged on 1 box of raw cane sugar, 2 boxes of Super Pretzels, 4 Edwards Pie Singles, and 2 packs of Ball Park hot dogs.

Grocery Game has the Kroger list up now too and tomorrow's shopping promises to be almost as fun. A couple highlights are Hefty Zip Lock bags for 69 cents, Hunts Manwich for 24 cents, Ragu pasta sauce for 28 cents a jar, and Oscar Meyer hot dogs for 58 cents.

Meijer Shopping List

The Meijer list is up on Grocery Game now! I'm actually going to do my shopping today. They have some super awesome deals this week. Kroger does too, but the Grocery Game list isn't posted yet, so I'll wait until that is ready.

One absolutely amazing deal at Meijer is on the Kool-Aid. Becky from Nickels N Dimes has a great scenario. This is so awesome I can't even believe. They'll probably run out early, so be sure to get there and stock up. Or get a raincheck if they're out. Becky has a picture posted so click the Nickels N Dimes link to see exactly how great of a deal this is and how useful it is for stockpiling purposes. You really have to see it to totally understand!

Buy 20 packs of Kool Aid, get a 5box pack of macaroni and cheese free. Use your coupons for $2 off of sugar when you buy 10 packs of Kool Aid. If you have two of those coupons you end up getting 20 packs of Kool Aid, 1 5pk of mac and cheese, and 2 bags of sugar all for $1.49. I'll have to see it to believe it. Wow!

You will need to see Grocery Game or another match up site like Mommy Snacks to get the full details and lists, but a couple examples of super deals I'll be getting are Super Pretzels for 20 cents a box, and Edwards Pie Singles for free. Free pie. Does life get any better?

Personal Schedule

Well, I've been fighting it for a while. Since I've been laid off I've tried to stay on the same schedule as my husband. But I am so not a morning person. I've finally decided that I should be working my natural schedule so that I can be more productive. I'll see how this goes for a little while and change plans if necessary. That means I'll be sleeping from about 6am to noon. Which actually should work out halfway decent. I'll be able to pack lunch for my hubby and fix him coffee, then wake him up for work, feed him breakfast, then hop into bed just as he's getting ready for work. So far tonight has worked out pretty well. I managed to spend a few hours making candles, then sorted my little guys clothes for storage. He's over a year old now. And I finally took a few minutes to make labels for the bins and sort them by size. Which made me realize, OMG, my little one is getting so big. Some outfits he only wore once. Which is such a shame since so many of them are so cute. But that just means that I need to have a dozen more.

So my piece of advice in this post . . . know who you are and go with it. After all, that's a big part of the reason to work for yourself. If you accept who you are and work within that, then you'll most likely be more successful than if you try to do things the way everyone else does just because.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

It's Coupon Day!!!

Hello all. It's Sunday, and of number one importance is that today is Father's Day. I hope everyone has fun in whatever events or traditions that you have planned.

Second of all, it's coupon day!!!! Be sure to grab your extra Sunday papers. Small local papers tend to be cheaper. I can get a Hamilton Journal News for 1.25, but a Cincinnati Enquirer is usually 1.50. Sometimes my Kroger has sales on the Enquirer. So long as you have one paper that is giving you the news you want, grab your extras from whatever is cheapest. I will be buying three extras today.

In order to make the couponing easier, I have put together a schedule of what to expect to be able to make the most of the deals.

Sunday - buy your extra papers, clip and organize coupons while watching tv, read blogs

Monday - read blogs

Tuesday - print your grocery lists from The Grocery Game and pull the coupons that you need to use, read blogs

Wednesday - Game Day! Go grocery shopping. Be sure to have a bit of a plan to allow for the coupon rules for whatever store(s) you shop at. Read blogs

Thursday - preview ads for the upcoming week, read blogs

Friday - read blogs, see coupon list at Taylortown and figure out how many papers you intend to buy on Sunday, read blogs

Saturday - read blogs

Anytime you have very specific shopping in mind, be sure to check deals first. Yesterday I went to a Reds game and needed to stop by Kohl's to get a Reds shirt. Before I left the house, I did a quick search online and found a printable coupon for 15% off all purchases at Kohl's. Two minutes of computer time turned into almost $10 of savings. We also made sure to eat before going to the game because we knew eating at the game would be expensive. We were able to keep snacks to a minimum. We had already allowed for a(n) (un)healthy indulgence of beer in the budget while we were there.

Small Business Advertising

If you have a small business and would like to advertise on my blog, please send me an email.

I list for free, there are just a few requirements that I have. First of all, you have to have a website. Even the most basic of websites will qualify. If don't have one and need to put together something cheap, then use blogspot. It's a free account. That's what I use for this blog. You can have a page up and running in probably half an hour. Just be sure to put in some details about what you do and how to contact you. Ideally you will also have some pricing information and pictures help too. But a standard template will allow you to do all of this pretty easily, even if you don't have many computer skills.

Second of all, I would like you to promote my blog to your friends and family and anyone else that you think would be interested. Nothing official here. Just share when you're able.

Lastly, I would like you to become a member of my small business meetup group. This is for the purpose of sharing info with others. Helping you, and getting your comments to help others is greatly beneficial to all of us. If you can come to meetings, great. If not, just be willing to let us give you advice and help, and also be willing to give others advice and opinions. You don't need specialized knowledge of any type. Your input on things as simple as looking at an ad someone created and letting them know what you think of it is so helpful.

An example of how this worked in the past was an ad that a member submitted to have reviewed. It was two pages long and I provided some input to reduce it to one page. Then we looked it over in a meeting and came up with some minor details to make the flyer more effective. It was very useful for that business owner. It was also very useful to all of us who helped because we seen what kind of points others made about that particular flyer so that we could apply those points to our own advertisements.

If you don't already have a business but are thinking about starting one, or are just interested in hanging out, you are absolutely invited to attend the meetups. All input is helpful.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Stockpiling Sense

Although it was nice being able to live off of my stockpile for two whole months instead of having to grocery shopping, I missed out on a lot of good deals. Nothing extra, extra super. But quite a few things that would have been nice to have. My main reason for not going out was pure laziness. I just didn't feel like it. Then earlier today it hit me. I hadn't been going out because I hadn't been buying as many papers. For me, I think I need to be buying five papers a week. If I only plan to get a couple things, then it really isn't even worth the time, energy, and gas to do it. However if I'm able to get five of each of several items, then it is worth my while.

Everyone is different in how they want to shop. My point is that you should try to figure out what type of shopper you are. If the store is on your way home or if you have other reasons to go out, maybe grabbing two or three deals works out fine for you.

Swap Tree

This is an AWESOME!!!! new site that I found out about.  www.swaptree.com.  Set up an account and you can trade books, dvds, and cds for free.  All you do is list the items that you have and want to get rid of, then list the items that you want.  The site automatically finds matches, then coordinates the trade.  Once the trade is accepted by you and the other party, you mail them your item, they mail you theirs.  This is a great way to get rid of your old media that you no longer want in exchange for new things.  Not brand new of course.  But new to you.  I just set up my first trade.  I'll be getting a movie that I love but have had a hard time finding.  And getting rid of something I don't so much like.

I'm still in awe from this site.  I'm going to be going through my whole dvd collection this weekend.  And my cds too.  (Can we say crap left over from the ex?!!)  I am so excited about refreshing my collections and only having to pay shipping.

If you don't know specifically what you want, it still works.  Put in the item that you have, then it pops up a list of the things people have that want the item you're offering.  Then you can shop through the list.  

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Work in Progress

I have been researching some new blogs all day. I'm still working on it, but wanted to say that I've found some truly awesome ones! Within the next few days, look for a bunch of new ones to show up on my blog list. I will write up a little preview of each one when I add them too.

Sunday Coupons

There will be two inserts in the paper this weekend.  If you're beginning to stockpile, then I recommend buying five papers.  If you're already into it, then you probably know how many you need for your family.  I'll probably be buying three papers.  I still have some things stockpiled, but there are other things I depleted during my two months of no shopping.  

Kroger Trip 6/18/09 and Stockpiling

I didn't take a picture, but I had a pretty decent Kroger trip today.  I spent more than my normal budget, but this was also a stockpile trip since I haven't done a real shopping trip in almost two months.  So spending almost $40 was still good.  Plus, that included some cat food, and my silly babies have to have the good stuff.  

A couple items of note . . . I got 4 gallons of milk for 75 cents each.  (See the Hip 2 Save link on my sidebar for info on how to get those milk coupons.  You may have to see older posts on that site.)  I also got yogurt 4 for a dollar.  (Also on the Hip 2 Save site.)  50 cent paper towels, and 29 cent Kraft salad dressing.  That is just some of the highlights.  I did splurge on a couple things that we needed.  Like I said, no grocery shopping for two months.  So we were low on a few things.

I'm also trying the freezing eggs experiment.  I messed up a little bit.  I got extra large eggs, and those don't fit in the ice cube trays the right way.  One extra large egg filled 1.5 ice cube spaces.  So when I use them I'll use one cube that has a yolk, and one that doesn't for it to equal a whole egg.  I think that I read that medium eggs are the ones to freeze because they fill one ice cube slot perfectly.

I've started freezing other items too.  So far so good.  My family only uses a third of a thing of pasta and sauce for dinner.  So I split the jar of Ragu into three different containers and froze it.  I cooked some up last night, and it was just like normal.  I also froze my leftover pasta last night.  It froze up nicely.  I'll let you know how it thaws.  For my next pasta meal, all I have to do is grab a freezer bag of sauce and a freezer bag of pasta and throw it in a pot and warm it.  I have a stockpile of frozen meatballs, so I'll throw those in too.  So let's do the math.  If I remember correctly, I got the pasta for 19 cents, the Ragu for 80 cents, and meatballs for 1.25.  I use an entire pack of meatballs in a third of pasta and sauce.  So the total for the meal is 1.58.  Pretty good.  And I've still got the Green Giant steamers that I got for free after coupons from early in the year.  

Review - Caregivers Marketplace

If you haven't already, make sure you sign up for The Caregivers Marketplace.  There is a link for them on my sidebar.  This is a free account.  All you do is go in and print off the rebate form, then do your shopping as usual.  If there are things you buy that are on the list, fill out the form, send in your receipts, and you'll get cash back.  There are all sorts of everyday items on the list.  I use it mostly for diapers and pull ups.  I also sometimes buy diabetic foods for my grandparents.  Glucerna products are on the list.  Check it out and see if this can get you some extra money.  I got my first rebate back a couple weeks ago.  It was $11.00 for things I had to buy.  There are no limits.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Festival Prep

Ok, I thought it might be a good idea to share my pre festival thoughts for any others who are thinking of going the festival route with your crafts or small business ideas.

There are many things that need to go with me to the festival. It's a little over an hour away, so I need to get it all there in one trip. The check list is very important. First, the basics. I need my tent. Tent stakes are important. This particular place is in the grass, so I can stake it. If not I would need to bring gallon bottles of water to weight it down. I need tables and chairs. I need my incense display.

Then decorations. I need table clothes. Display shelves. Drapy fabric to add visual interest. Christmas lights for the evening hours.

Then I need my actual merchandise. I need saran wrap to get my fragrance oil racks transported without everything falling out. I need my incense, all piled in one Rubbermaid box for the drive. And I need my incense bottles. Incense bottles are new for me this year. I need to pack them so they don't get broken or scratched. Bubble wrap would be best, but I don't have that and I'm not buying it unless I'm shipping something. So getting my bottles packed up will be my biggest chore in the morning.

Then comes the little odds and ends. Most importantly, cash box and start up money to make change from. $40 in singles and fives is usually more than enough. I always keep an eye out for things I want to get at the festival in case I suddenly need to break a twenty. That way it's an easy decision where to go. For my things I also need to remember to grab the clips that go with my incense bottles, a lighter or two, and tealights. I also like to bring my battery starter. The thing for the car if it dies. It has a cigarette lighter outlet on it and I can plug my cell phone into it to charge. I also have an adapter to use any normal plug in it. Sometimes this is great for hot days when I want to bring my fan.

Last but not least, a cooler with plenty of soda and snacks so I won't be tempted to spend all of my profits on festival food. I intend to indulge on the banana split bar. And maybe a pork chop sandwich. But that's it. I believe there's also a Kroger within walking distance at this location, so if I run out of soda, I still won't have to pay festival prices.

So that's my list. And the festival runs late, so I probably won't be posting again until Sunday. I'll update you on how it goes. I may post on Twitter if I figure out how to do that from my phone.

Light My Fire Candles - FREE GIFT

As noted in a prior post, I will be at the Banana Split Festival in Wilmington on Friday and Saturday (6/12, 6/13) this week with my candle booth. If you stop by and let me know that you read about it on this blog, then I will have a free gift for you!

Sunday Coupons

There will be one insert in the paper this Sunday. I won't be buying any extras this week. If you go to the Hip 2 Save link on my sidebar, there is a link posted about the specific coupons that will be in the insert. If there is anything you need to stock up on, go ahead and buy extras. Just one of the $2 off Huggies coupons makes it more than worth the money of buying the whole paper.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Topic Review

I have posted on The Grocery Game before, however there are new people reading, and for others that have been following and may have forgotten, I want to have a review. The topic review is going to become a regular feature in my blog for items that I find very important and beneficial to know about.

www.thegrocerygame.com

This is a wonderful web page that will help to save you literally hundreds of dollars at the grocery store. I have personally probably saved more than $600 on groceries so far this year. Plus, I'm eating better than I used to, and only buying name brands rather than generics. There is a fee for the service. You can get the first month for 99 cents as a trial to see if you like it. So long as you're actually using it, I can't imagine not falling in love with it. After that it depends on how many stores you want to use. One store costs $10 for 2 months. I use 2 stores for $15 for 2 months. I am signed up for Kroger and Meijer.

The basic idea of the site is that all sales for the grocery stores are tracked. Terri is the name of the woman who runs the site. She has figured out a system to how the grocery stores have sales. On top of tracking her system, she keeps an eye on coupon matchups for the items on sale. The big thing that distinguishes her site from others that do match ups is that she also keeps track of the unadvertised sales.

After two months of using The Grocery Game, I had saved enough money to be able to buy a deep freezer. After six months of using this service, I got to a lull in my personal motivation to deal with coupons, along with lack of really great sales in the grocery stores. However, due to using the site, I've been able to live off of my stockpile for almost two months without needing to do grocery shopping. I've run out for milk and eggs. That's it. Well, and beer.

Yesterday I had a wonderful experience at Meijer due to the list of sales and coupon matchups. I was able to buy enough cleaners, (toilet bowl cleaners, floor cleaners, bathroom cleaners, kitchen cleaners) to last for probably three months. And the total I spend was less than $3.50. I had to do two transactions, but one was a bit under $2, and the other was a bit under $1.50. In the past when I was in need of cleaning supplies, it usually messed up my whole budget for the week because cleaning supplies are so expensive. No more! Now I only buy them when they are on sale, and then I only have to spend a few bucks to stock up for several months at a time.

This is just one example. A very small example. Grab you Lysol cleaning supply coupons and head to Meijer and you'll see what I mean. And if you do decide to sign up for The Grocery Game, please use my email address as your referral. smartbusinessmommy@gmail.com

Web Page - Getting Started

First off, if you've been following my blog, you've probably noticed that some time will go by without any posts. Then I go crazy for a couple days. I'm trying to start posting everyday. I have a schedule that I will be implementing in the near future. However, I have some thoughts and ideals that I've been compiling in my head, so I need to get all of that out first. LOL.

Ok, on to the topic.

Anyone who has or wants to start a small business really needs to have a web page. This can be much easier and cheaper than you may expect. If you don't have time or funds or knowledge to do anything else, then I very highly recommend that you use Blog Spot to get SOMETHING out there. This is the program I'm using to write this blog. You can also see how I'm using it to do build my candle website at www.lmfcandles.com. Note that my candle website does not use blogspot in the url. There is a secret to this. I will share later. But the absolute priority is to get something out there. There are some more advanced ways to customize a blog page. There are all sorts of ways to add to it. I will be going over certain items one step at a time in the future. But first priority, get your blog page set up and going, and get a corresponding gmail address up and going.

For your blog, once you pick a template and get it set up, just add a text box with a basic description of what your business is at this point. Then add a url that says what gmail address you're using for your business. Make sure you use a special gmail address. It will make things easier in the long run.

There are a few limitations with using Blog spot for your web page. For additional features, you have to either pay someone to create different aspects for you, learn some html yourself, or find places online (or friends) that already have the code set up and figure out how to implement it in to the html code. It can be time consuming and frustrating. But it isn't necessary. It's just a way that allows you add more customization if you want or need it.

Another issue with using blog spot . . . don't plan to be able to sell online. The easiest way to handle sales is to tell people to email you, then set up something through pay pal. There is also a way around this, but it's more complicated and I will go into it in a separate post at a later date. The absolute, most important thing is just to get your web page up and running. Customers need a place to go to learn about your product and/or services. Even if it is in an absolute basic format, having something online adds legitimacy to your business. It lets people know that you care enough about what you're doing to have something out there. And it lets people read a little bit about what you have on their own time.

So get to work on this! I will post the next step in about two weeks. It should only take about an hour or two of your time to have a very basic web page started up. Play around with it as much as you want. Add photos, links, etc. The important thing is just to have the web page and at least some very basic content.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Donations

My hubby had a good money saving tip for me today. I have no idea if it works. There's really no way to tell if it works. But I figure that it sounds good and is worth a try.

I'm better about it now, but I used to be a speed demon. I've only gotten two tickets in my entire life, but it's more a matter of not getting caught. But speeding tickets are very expensive. They also raise insurance rates. Plus, it ruins the whole day, so who needs that? So I don't speed anymore. However, I have an older car, and it is my opinion that the two times I got caught, it was because the cop seen my old car, and I look young for my age, so I truly think they figured that I was a younger person in need of a lesson. Plus, the surrounding circumstances were such that I didn't expect to get pulled over even when I did notice that a cop was watching. Regardless . . . let me get to the point.

My hubby is donating to the Highway Patrol. He showed me in the envelope today that the donation gets him a card to carry in his wallet, and a sticker to go on the car. Of course, it's not going to get anyone out of a DUI, or anything crazy. But if it's a situation that could go either way, hopefully the cop will see that and decide to go with giving you a warning. That's the theory anyway.

And now for the disclaimer . . . I have nothing against cops. I have nothing against cops pulling people over for breaking the law. I do have personal opinions on the difference between being an endangerment vs. making money for the county/city/state. But this is not a blog about my political views. I hold all officers of the law in high regard. They provide a valuable and necessary service to our communities. I am merely pointing out that a minor traffic violation where the mood of the officer could make a difference between a warning and a ticket, showing your support with a sticker on your car could help to sway the officer's mood in a direction that is more positive to your personal outcome.

Kmart Doubles

You will need to search for more details. Deal matching and coupon rules aren't my specialty. But I have to let you know that there is an awesome sale going on right now. Kmart is doing a super double promotion. This means that any coupon up to $2 will be doubled. I made a killing today.

Here are a few caveats. Please do further research. Like I said, I'm not an expert on this, but I will share my knowledge. They are only allowing 10 coupons per customer, per day. There are a couple ways around this. The easy one is to split up your family and give them their own order, coupons, and money. The other way is to find your Sunday paper insert from last week. There is a Kmart page in the P&G one. In the fine print it says that the maximum is 75 coupons per customer per day. BIG difference. I was at Middletown Kmart today to argue it out with them. (Expect to have to argue if you want to do it, also expect that you might lose.) I won today. But they also told me that they were one of the stores that was limiting it to ten. Personally, I don't think they can get away with limiting it if you have it in writing. I was prepared to tell them that I get the Hamilton paper, and if it's in the Hamilton paper, and the store in Middletown, and in Hamilton is setting those limits, then which store does the 75 apply to? After that, my response would be "ok, I'll be talking to corporate to find out what's going on." I really don't know if it will work. But it always helps to go prepared with a couple of come backs if the store manager doesn't know the rules. This is true with ALL coupon shopping.

Another thing I noticed in both of the Kmarts in my area . . . the prices don't match other prices I've seen online from people who do specialize in the coupon matching. And the things that end up free, they're pretty much out of. I also didn't receive my Catalina coupons on P&G products. So I'm going to have to call the catalina company and figure out what to do. I've heard that they will mail you the coupon. And it amounts to $14, so it's worth the trouble. $14 is a week of groceries for my family. I'm going to do what I can.

Banana Split Festival in Wilmington

The Banana Split Festival is this weekend and I will have my candle booth set up. Well. I'll incense and fragrance oils. Candles don't do so good in the heat. I lost a lot of perfectly good candles last year to melt down and fading from being in the sun and heat.

On top of doing craft vending, summer festivals can be a great weekend activity. There are a couple things to keep in mind though. Food is expensive. Sometimes it's fine. A good pork chop sandwich is an idulgence that we usually submit too at festivals. It's thick and filling, and for what you get, the price is ok. Other things, not so much. One thing that I like to do is stop at McDonalds or something beforehand. That way it's a treat to eat out, but not too expensive. Then at the festival, a couple things may tempt us, but we aren't starving, so we only pick a couple things that are only available at festivals. And since I have a booth, I always bring a cooler filled with soda and/or beer. I just can't spend $3 for a bottle of pop.

Crafts are usually priced fairly at festivals. If you know what you like and are planning to spend a little on handmade goods, go for it. The quality is usually better than you'll get at a big box store, and you never know when you'll come across something that you like again.

The Banana Split Festival in particular is pretty fun. They have a make your own banana split bar. You get to add the toppings yourself. And last year when I was there, there was even a vendor that had a monkey. LOL. A live monkey. The kind like what was in Friends. It cost a quarter to shake his hand or something. And of course, music. I don't think I've been to a festival that hasn't had live bands.

More Stockpiling Tips

Check out the Hip 2 Save blog on my side bar. There is a post there asking for tips on what foods can be frozen, and how to do it. There are lots of good ideas.

Now that I've mastered deal shopping, internet offers, and mystery shopping, I'm going to try to master something new. I'm going to attempt to make several meals at once and then freeze them so that when it's dinner time, I can just heat and eat. I'm hoping to also be able to pack lunches for hubby. The biggest thing that I'm worried about is my weight. If I'm making all of this food, smelling it cooking will make me want to eat it. But we'll see how it goes. It would be so nice to not have to mess with dinner on a nightly basis. I don't know if I'll ever get up to the skill level of some people. I swear, some people say that they only cook once a month, then heat and eat for the entire month. I don't think I have that kind of freezer space. I do think I will invest in a vacuum sealer this week though. I eat a lot of rice and veggies. It would be cool to have it in separate portions. It would also be good for my family if I can figure out the pasta and sauce thing. I love pasta, but I always fix too much and it always ends up going to waste.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Stockpiling Eggs

Eggs are a difficult thing to stockpile. I've not yet tried it myself, but I will be in the very near future. Egg prices are good right now.

Use ice cube trays and crack each one into a separate spot in the tray. Once they are frozen, remove from tray and store them in a freezer bag. This should definitely work for using eggs in recipes. As far as using them to make scrambled eggs, I won't vouch for it until I've tried it. I don't know if freezing them would affect the taste. And obviously you can't hard boil them!

Stockpiling Success

Well, I haven't been too much into the deal shopping for the past two months. I've saved all of my coupons and flip through to find what I really need if I know there's a coupon. But I haven't been all into it the way I was earlier on. The weather, along with a lack of super good deals has kept me away. Don't get me wrong, there have still been some excellent deals out there. But I'm stocked up. So nothing I really needed.

So here's the point that I'm trying to make. I have not done normal grocery shopping for a month and a half!!!! My family has been eating solely from our stockpile. I've made grocery trips just to grab milk and eggs.

So if you think about it, I've pretty much spent about $15 a week from January until early April. Then throughout April and May, I've spent about $5 a week. All of this made possible by using The Grocery Game and investing in a deep freezer to have room to stockpile. That calculates out to $220 for the year so far. In the very beginning, I did spend more than $15 a week though. So that wouldn't really be my number. But if I do $50 a month at GFS to stock up on meat, then my regular $15 a week for everything else, then it keeps my family in enough food to live off of for a while. Just think if we had been able to do this back when gas was up over $4 a gallon and food prices were outrageous.

Costco

As I stated in my previous post about GFS, I rarely buy normal groceries at any warehouse. However, there are great deals to be had in other sections. At Costco I particularly LOVE their bakery. It's not always the cheapest, but the quality is outstanding. I really like their half sheet cakes that are $16. You get to pick a design, the cake type, frosting type and a filling. And they are so yummy! Much cheaper than having a cake made somewhere else. Everything that I've ever tried from their bakery is absolutely delicious. Not always necessarily a frugal price, but for the quality, the price is fair.

Another thing that I love about Costco is their ready to bake pizzas. Good price, excellent quality. Just be prepared to bake it the same day you buy it because it probably won't fit in your fridge. Their fresh produce is priced well too. They also carry turkey burgers in their freezer section and tortilla encrusted tilapia. Both very yummy.

Lastly, the main reason I like to go to Costco is because of everything else in the store. All of their kitchen items, clothing, gifts, electronics, etc have great prices. Toys are a great buy at Christmas time.

So generally, if you stay away from traditional groceries and continue to use coupons at regular grocery stores, then Costco is an excellent deal. If you buy the cakes, you've pretty much already recouped your member fee just by getting two cakes there instead of somewhere else.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Meijer Deals

Here's a highlight of a few deals at Meijer that I'll be getting.  See Grocery Game or Mommy Snacks for a complete list.

Barilla Pasta - 79 cents - no coupon needed!

Bisquick Baking Mix - 1.99 minus .60 MQ from 5/31 (doubles to $1) = 99 cents

Cheerios - Buy 3 boxes for $6 minus $1 off of 3 MQ from 5/31 = 1.67 per box

Hamburger Helper - Buy 3 boxes for $3 minus $1 off of 3 MQ from 5/31 = 67 cents per box

GFS

I usually don't do any grocery shopping in bulk sizes anymore.  With coupons most things end up being priced better in small quantities.  However, I have found a few things that are worth stocking up on at GFS.  Be sure to use your $5 off of a $50 purchase from your Entertainment Book.  

Charcoal - Huge bags of charcoal were priced at $7.49 when I was there yesterday.  A normal sized bag usually costs $10 at the grocery store.

Deli meat - I got an entire 10 pound thing of turkey.  They sliced it for me and I stuck half of it the freezer when I got home.  It cost $12.  Excellent price.  All of their deli meats are priced much lower than they are at the grocery store.

Hamburgers - you can get 20 hamburger patties for $10 right now.  This is a sale price, but the regular price is $12.99 I think.  And on top of that, they're delicious.  

Nacho cheese - I don't remember the price, but you can get a huge can for a great price.  I like to get this and add it to other items when I'm cooking.  A couple spoonfuls in macaroni and cheese makes it a lot creamier.  Add some salsa and jalapenos if you want mac with a kick.  It would make it good for a simple gourmet option if you're having people over.  It's also good for cheesy potatoes.

Bags - I use the white lunch size bags in my candle shop.  They also have the plastic t-shirt style bags.  You don't have to be a food vendor to find good deals on things you can use.  The white bags are good too if you want to make labels with your logo on them to stick to them, or use rubber stamps to make them pretty.  Make your own gift bags by cutting them down some.  Just punch holes on each side and use ribbons to make the straps.