Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holiday Tech

I was asked how technology has helped me prepare for the holidays this year. OMG. What in the world would I do without technology? This year in particular has been great. I've been following blogs and printing coupons and catching deals all year long. It's only December 8th, and I've had most of my Christmas shopping done for several weeks now!!! And on top of that, I have a nice little program on my iphone that helps me keep track of the presents that I've bought so I don't forget that I have things stowed away.

On top of that, I use my computer to store all of my cookie recipes. I use facebook to keep in contact with all of my family and friends. I research all of the activities going on in the area to determine if we want to add anything new to the family traditions. And most importantly, what in the world would I do without technology to entertain me and the kids while hubby is watching yet another (eye roll) NCIS marathon? It's crazy how much I depend on technology.

After the holidays are over and everything is calming down, I like to get on my computer and upload all the photos and videos that I've compiled throughout the holiday parties we've attended. Then I order pictures and posters and photo collages and photo mugs to remember the happy times we all shared.

http://bit.ly/BDIntelGive

http://intel.ly/IntelSite

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Learning Process

I've been continuing to do a gazillion mystery shops. I have so many scheduled right now that it's getting a bit difficult to keep track of. It's very important to have a good way to know what you're supposed to be doing and when. If you're just going to casually do one here and there, no biggie. But if you're trying to create a regular source of extra income like I am, it can get complicated. Dozens of companies with different jobs in different areas. Am I supposed to be at the restaurant on this side of town today? Or the other one I signed up for over on the other side of town? Very important to keep track. I use a spreadsheet.

Another thing that you want to focus on as you start to do mystery shops, if you're new to it and kind of excited, you're probably applying for everything under the sun. That's fine to start with. There's a lot to learn. The important thing is to figure out what kind of mystery shops you enjoy doing. Personally, I'm a bit uncomfortable having to make returns. So as a general rule, I don't accept a shop that requires it. There are exceptions. If the pay is right, I'll suck it up and do the return. The other big thing is to be sure to check the out of pocket expense. Yeah, it's nice to do a restaurant shop and get a free meal. But you have to pay for it up front. Then it takes sixty days to get your money back. It isn't always in my budget. I would love to do some of these big upscale restaurant shops. The ones that reimburse your meal for you and a guest up to $130. But I don't want to part with my $130 for sixty days.

Then on the other hand, some of the ones with reimbursements are worth it. For example, it's time to get the oil changed in my car anyway. So rather than just taking it in and getting it done, I'll schedule the mystery shop to do it. Yeah, I still have to put out the $20 to get it done. But it's something I would be paying for anyway. So I might as well get reimbursed for it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Mystery Shopping Information

So you want to be a mystery shopper. It sounds like fun, but isn't all a scam? Absolutely not! Mystery shopping is an excellent way to make some extra money. It can even be a full time job if you want it to be. I've been doing it off and on for about a year, and I'm starting to try to find enough shops for it to actually be a source of income for me.

There are some tricks to being successful with mystery shopping that I'm learning. Of course there are all the skill sets you need to actually perform the mystery shops. The important one being attention to detail. When I shop, I used to rush in and out and not pay attention to anything but what I was doing. Now I've learned to slow down my brain and notice things around me. You gotta be in the moment to be able to answer the questions later. Another biggie, you gotta be able to write. Some reports are just multiple choice. Others are just narrative. Most are some of both. But they want you to have good writing skills with good grammer and no spelling mistakes.

So how does it work? Start signing up with different mystery shop companies. You can't do just one. Certain companies have certain shops available based on company or location or industry. If you sign up with just one company you may NEVER find a shop in your area. I'm currently signed up with 29 different companies. And out of those there are 2 that consistantly have open shops in my area, and the other 4 sometimes have stuff in my area. The other 22 rarely have anything in my area. And 1 that I don't like to use because I've had bad experiences with them.

Each company you sign up with, you will have to fill out an application and be accepted as a shopper. The application is for all of your personal information, and usually has a small writing assignment. Something like describing a recent shopping trip. When you complete your essay, be sure to point out details like cleanliness of the store and how you were treated by workers. Also include descriptions of the workers, how long you waited, stuff like that. You want to talk about your personal experience, but try to stick to the facts. Very rarely do they care about your opinion. They only want to know what happened.

Another important point . . . you WILL have to give each company your social security number. The money you earn on mystery shopping is taxable income.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Amazing Medco Offer

I don't know how long this will last, so act fast if you're interested. I originally got the info at www.hip2save.com. Please follow that blog for up to the minute deal info.

Go to www.medcohealthstore.com. Add $10 or more worth of merchandise to your cart. They have toiletries, OTC medications, baby items, etc. You're sure to find items that you need. Then use the coupon code MHS10 at checkout to take $10 off of your order. And shipping is only 99 cents! My total amounted to 9.98, so I only had to pay 99 cents for the shipping for the entire order!

Even better . . . you can place a second order and use coupon code tenoff and do the same thing all over. I got a ton of stuff that I needed that doesn't usually come on sale with normal coupons and deals. Lots of baby stuff in my case. But look around at the site, find what you need, and get it for next to nothing!

Hello Everyone!

Well, I had intended to write a goodbye post. I don't have time to be on top of this blog the way I should be if I'm going to do it the right way. I had my second little one. Daelyn Olivia was born on 4/28/10 and weighed 7 lbs, 4 ozs. With Dawson and Daelyn and running Light My Fire Candles, that's about all I can handle. And then some! So I'm not really maintaining this blog anymore.

However . . .

I do still want to post amazing deals that I come across. So if you have an interest in deal shopping or couponing at all, then please enter your email address in the box on the right side to follow me. On the rare occassion that I do write a post about a spectacular deal, you'll get the info in your email. I still do a fair amount of research to save money for my family, and if I'm excited enough about it to come here and post, then trust me, you want to know about it! Although I'm not planning to pretty it up with pictures or anything.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Using Rebates

Do rebates really work? I know when I send in rebates it seems to take for-ev-er to get anything back. I practically forget that I'm even waiting for them. Then it seems like such a small amount to have even been worth the effort to begin with. So is it even worth messing with it? I say yes. Here's a few things I do to manage my rebates without going crazy.

1. Make a list. If I send a rebate, I add it to the list, along with the date that I mailed it. Ideally I also add a phone number to call if the time goes by and I still haven't received it. Once I receive the check in the mail, I check it off on my list.

2. Read the fine print. How many times have you bought a product, then got home to fill out the rebate form and find out you didn't buy the right thing, or the right quantity? Take a few minutes to read the fine print before you waste your time and money.

3. Get everything together to mail out IMMEDIATELY. If you let the receipt sit in your purse, then you'll forget about it. Most rebates are time sensitive. If it sits, you might miss out on the cash back. A good rule of thumb is to fill out the form and envelope, and get your UPC off of the product as soon as you get home while it's still fresh in your mind. Or if you intend to purchase a product that you have a form for, go ahead and prepare the form and envelope. Then it just takes a couple seconds to get everything else together.

4. Combine rebates. One of my favorite rebate deals to take advantage of is the awesome offers on beer in the summer months. Often you can find rebates for $20 on groceries when you buy a 12 pack of beer. This is great! Buy the beer, then for the groceries, buy other things that have rebates. Last year there was a rebate for a 6 pack of Snapple. And a pack of Pediasure. So I got those products within the same order, made sure the cashier printed me multiple receipts of the same order, then I got a ton of money back on the transaction. It takes planning, but it's so worth it. Transactions like this can usually end up profitable, with a higher cash back than what you spent!

If you track your rebates over the course of a year, you'll see how much money you're saving. It helps if it's on products you need or really want to try. But because of couponing, sometimes I have trouble getting to the total order amount. That's when it really helps to combine rebates, even if I don't really need the product. Last year I probably got over $200 back on different groceries by using rebates. Is it worth the trouble? Absolutely!

Check out this link for a listing of rebate offers that are currently available: http://dealseekingmom.com/tag/mail-in-rebates-roundup/

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pet Savings

One of the regular expenses in my household that I've had a hard time finding much savings on is pet stuff. With big dogs, we have to use special big dog food. And we can't really change brands because that can be dangerous (ie messy and gross.) Luckily my cats aren't as high maintenance. Here are a few things that I'm working on in order to save money in this category:

1. Food. With the Purina ONE big dog food, I never pay more than $1/pound. I try to have a coupon or find a deal to get it cheaper. And note to self, getting the wet food, even as a treat, is a bad idea that results in big dog gas. Cat food I can usually get about 3 pounds for a dollar. I don't have to stick to one brand, and it comes in smaller bags. Small bag plus a high value coupon equals cheap food.

2. Flea treatments. I haven't done this yet, but I will be just as soon as it comes in the mail. (I use 1800petmeds.com and go through Mr. Rebates to get 10% back.) Instead of buying doses for each animal, I'm getting it in the largest dose available. I will be pouring the medication into a bottle and measuring it out for each animal. Normally this would cost $175 to cover all four animals for 3 months. By buying larger doses and measuring myself, it ends up being about $100 for all for animals. Then after my 10% rebate, only about $90. (I am using the dog medication on the cats too. The dog version seems to be slightly weaker, but my cats stay indoors so I'm not worried about it. If you decide to try this, do so at your own risk.)

3. Dog licenses. Be sure to purchase your license as soon as possible each year. The price doubles after January if you forget!

4. Shots. I'm still researching this aspect. I'm shopping around at local vets and clinics to find a reasonable price. I've also read that it's possible to purchase the medicine and give the shot myself for a cost savings. I used to have a cat with diabetes who I had to give insulin shots twice a day, so I would be comfortable enough doing it myself so long as it all works the same way.

MIA - Preterm Labor Scare

Sorry I've been away for a bit. I had a preterm labor scare about a week and a half ago. At the time I was only 31 weeks along, so I've been taking it easy from that. They were able to stop it with medicine, so everything is good. But the medicine makes me soooo tired. So I'm just lucky to be out of bed for a couple hours everyday. At my last dr appointment, the medicine was reduced some, and that helps me feel better. We're 32 weeks along now, and I've not had any more problems, so I'm not stressing as badly about it anymore. Just trying to hold out until April. My son was born at 35 weeks, and we'll be at that point on April 2nd, so if I can get that far again, I'm happy enough! Each day that goes by makes me feel better.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Coupon Sunday 2/28/10

There will be 1 insert in the paper this Sunday. Check out the list at the Taylortown link on my right sidebar. There is a good $3 off of Purina One brand pet food that I will use. That coupon by itself makes it worth buying extra papers for me. However, I will probably look into purchasing these individually through ebay instead of buying the extra papers.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Outlet Malls

I was out shopping at the outlet malls this past weekend, and wanted to point out a couple tidbits that I came across. I'm used to buying most if not all of my clothes at Walmart or Target. I'm just not that into things like that to spend money on name brand things. If I'm going to put a couple hundred of dollars into a single item, it's going to be an ipod or a steam cleaner, or something that I'll get more use out of. New York and Company is about as high end as I go. And that's only because they have good coupons and sales!

At the outlet mall this weekend, I came across a few really good deals that I want to share. Don't expect to just walk into a designer store and to find anything and everything at good prices. Yeah, good prices if you shop in season, and are up on the latest styles. I don't care about that stuff. I care about getting items I love for good prices. I look for things that are going to last more than one season. I follow the same guidelines I do at regular stores. Head straight to the discount section. Theoretically, the whole stores are discount sections. Not really.

Coach. Super expensive purses and wallets. They often have coupons for 20% off circulating online. Follow Hip 2 Save in my sidebar, you'll be aware when the coupons are available. However, everytime I've gone to the store (not often, but still) they've handed me a coupon when I walked in the door whether the online one was available or not. But here's the trick. Everything in the store is marked down. But in the back corner, they have an extra percentage off the already marked down price. I like the 50% off section. This can take a $500 bag down to $150. Still pretty pricey if you're used to Walmart shopping. But my opinion is, why am I putting all of the time and effort into the deal shopping and couponing if I can't splurge once in a while. Even better . . . after sales and coupons, you can get a nice wallet for about $30. Last time I was in Kohl's looking for a wallet, it was going to be $30. Heck no! I'll get real designer for that price!

Ecco. I wasn't very familiar with Ecco shoes before. They're nice, but kinda boring. I like slutty shoes. But being 7 months pregnant and balance being an issue when the ground is kinda slick, I thought some sensible shoes would be a good plan. Almost every pair is like $130. And I have ginormous size 11 shoes. I never get deals on shoes. Never. But I was pleasantly surprised to come across a pair that I liked, then found out they were marked down to only $30. !!!!! Happy day for me! Again, same price I would pay for a halfway decent pair at Walmart or Target.

Also, found an awesome deal on Diesel cologne for men. I've had my eye on getting my husband a bottle of this stuff for a long time. But it's usually $65 for a bottle. In a store window I came across a gift set marked down to $35. It was a steal that included the cologne, after shave, and some shower gel. All for a cheaper price than a single bottle of cologne would have been.

So when you hit the outlet malls, don't expect to get something for nothing. Everything is still pricey. Especially if you're looking for something very specific. A little research, and an eye for a deal will help you out though. Keep in mind that it's only a deal if you would have bought your normal brand for a comparable price. If a shirt is half price, but still $30, that doesn't help me since I normally get shirts for $20 or less. (Unless it's a specific or special need.) So just because it used to be $60, it's not going to be a good deal for me unless it's less than $20.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Coupons 2/21/10

There will be three inserts in the paper this Sunday. Check out my link for Taylortown Preview on the right sidebar to see what's available. I will probably buy 3 papers.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Update

Well, I'm moving slower and slower everyday. Officially 7 months along now. You know that scene from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas where his heart grows three sizes too big? Well, that's the way I feel about my stomach and chest right now. Flip me on my back and I rock back and forth like a turtle trying to get back up. LOL. But even with all of my complaints, this pregnancy is much easier than the last one. Even with all the aches and pains and mood swings and impatience, at least I don't have constant morning sickness. And I'm definitely getting moodier in direct proportion to the size of my belly, I don't just break out crying uncontrollably if someone looks at me the wrong way. So all I can say is that it could be much worse. This baby seems to be much more . . . high maintenance though. She complains and kicks me in painful ways if she doesn't like how I'm sitting or laying. Dawson didn't do that. He kicked me painfully when he got bigger and ran out of space, but it was a space issue. These kicks have been feeling like complaining, not like stretching. Not even born, and already a diva.

So anyway. I've still been working very hard on my website. I'm happy to report that some of my search engine optimization seems to be working. If you do a search for hand painted incense bottle in google, then my site comes up as #1!!! Go ahead, try it! And be sure to actually click that link to go to my page. If you do a search then go to my page, it tells google that my site was the one that you were looking for and it helps my ranking! Still working on getting somewhere with other key words. This stuff ain't easy.

As far as the money saving . . . excellent grocery shopping week. This coming week will be similar. Stocking up on laundry detergent and grands biscuits. And other things, but the Purex laundry detergent is nearly free, so I'm getting as much as I can. I'm ordering some coupons from ebay because I need to at least get enough for the whole year. See www.moneysavingmethods.blogspot.com for some details on the Purex deal.

I've also done some surveys. I qualified for one survey that paid me a dollar, and another product evaluation that will pay me $4 to test a product. So that's pretty cool. I'm also back to trying to find some mystery shopping opportunities. I can't run around much, but if the place is close by, or if it's for something I need, then I'm applying. Right now I want to be able to put as much money as possible into my business, so absolutely anywhere that I can save money or earn a little bit extra is going to help me reach my goals.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Things To Do

Notice that there is a new list on the right side bar now. These are the major things that I do to earn and/or save money. I'm trying to get myself more organized, and this list will help keep me together. This is just the short list. I will be making some changes to it in the near future. Right now the mystery shopping and survey links will take you to Money Saving Methods. The coupon link will take you to The Grocery Game. And the small business link will take you to my small business website. This will change soon, but this is the quick and dirty way to show how I do things.

I've learnt everything I know about mystery shopping and finding survey sites from Carrie at Money Saving Methods, so until I create my own content, see her info. Even after I create my own content, I will still be directing you to her info. But along with my own two cents too. Same with surveys. And as far as I'm concerned, The Grocery Game is the best way to get coupon matchups. If you haven't tried it yet, sign up for a free trial for a month. It's an excellent service. Well worth the cost.

Coupons 2/14/10

There is only one insert in this Sunday's paper. I won't be buying any extras. It will be nice to have a break from coupon day. Especially with as stressful as the last one was. I ran all over the place, and none of the papers had all of the inserts. :(

Monday, February 8, 2010

Baking Day!

I LOVE to bake on cold and snowy days. So I'm gearing up for this big snow storm scheduled to start at any minute now. I despise driving in snow. But since I'm still laid off and doing the stay at home and take care of baby and work on running my own business thing . . . snow storms are beautiful. I hate that hubby has to go out and drive in dangerous conditions. But at least I get to greet him with warm yummies fresh from the oven when he gets home. On Friday I made homemade hot chocolate.

Tomorrow will be more advanced. I'm going to attempt to make homemade yogurt. See the link here if you want to try it out too. http://www.thefrugalgirl.com/2009/10/how-to-make-homemade-yogurt-2/ I'm also planning to make some type of bread. And pudding and jello, and cookies. And we'll see what other concoctions I can come up with too. But the yogurt is the big experiment. If it turns out right then I'll start buying frozen fruit to blend into yogurt smoothies. And I read someone elses post about adding caramel, bananas and brown sugar. Mmmm.

I'm a total sugar addict these days with the pregnancy. I'm sure I'll come up with all sorts of other things too. I was craving peanut butter, jelly and marshmallow sandwiches the other night. Just suddenly at about 2am, peanut butter. But I'm very nearly 7 months along, and so far I've only gained 7 pounds!!!!!!!!! So I'm indulging in the sugar cravings. It should make my baking day interesting.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Coupons 2/7/10

There will be four inserts in this Sunday's paper.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Google Adwords - Continued

Well, I think I may have figured out the problem with Google. Mind you, I don't know for sure BECAUSE THEY WON'T TELL ME. But I think I'm too sexy for them. ;) My guess is that when I created the ad, they ran some sort of filter on my entire site, and well, some of my fragrance names probably came up as naughty. Like Butt Naked and Opium. And those are very popular scents specifically requested by many customers, so even Google isn't going to make me get rid of them. I'm going to attempt to appeal the decision. I think if a live person looks at my site and sees that just because Opium is listed, it doesn't mean I'm selling drugs, and Butt Naked doesn't bring up anything naughty, then it will probably be fine. Again, assuming this is actually the reason I got kicked out.

On the plus side, my search engine optimization is working. I have no idea how or why. But I will just smile and pretend like I know what's going on! If you do a search in Google for Light My Fire Candles, my website comes up! Actually, my Light My Fire Candles Blog is in the #1 spot, which is fine because it links to my web page. (I'll make it more seamless when I learn how.) And within the top 30 spots, there are several links to my blog, a couple links to other blogs that have talked about me, and one link straight to my site. So that makes me pretty happy. None of that cost anything. It's something to do with how I set up keywords and stuff.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Google Adwords

Well, this has become a sensitive topic in my house these days. How odd does that seem? I've been doing a lot of research and work on advertising my new website. I will go into some specific details when I learn more. It's a lot of work since I know so little about it. But one thing I learnt very quickly, don't use Google Adwords. And if you do, don't depend on it. People have lost their entire businesses from depending on Google. It's craziness. One thing that does make me happy though is that I'm reporting about this using Blogger, which is the Google software to write blogs. Neener. Not that I'll make a dent in their bottom line. LOL. If they cared about what little old me had to say, I wouldn't be having to say it.

Ok. What is Google Adwords? It's a PPC advertising vehicle. PPC means pay per click. If you use google to do searches, you probably notice along the right side of the screen that there are little boxes with advertisements that are similar to what you searched for. Anyone (theoretically) can run these types of ads for their business. You just go in and create an account, create your ad, then pay for it. In my case, I had a $50 credit to use from the place that is hosting my new site. You say how much you want to pay per click. I set it up to pay 20 cents per click, and to spend up to $10 a day. I wanted to kind of test the waters with my free credit, then decide how much to spend after that.

Nope. Now before I go further, let me show you the actual ad I created. This is exactly what I created. The only difference is that in the actual ad, the first line would be a link to my website.

Highly Scented Candles
Pillars, Votives, and Tarts
Perfect for Valentine's Day
www.lmfcandles.com

Well, I've never done this sort of thing before. Internet advertising is new to me. So I wasn't real sure if I was reading the reports correctly. I was nervous about the account going over the amount I could spend, and also excited to start getting some traffic to my site. Even if the clicks don't end in sales, at least it gets me some traffic, which helps with my ratings. But maybe I'll even get lucky and get a few sales in the process. Well, a day went by and nothing seemed to be happening. I literally spent hours between setting up the ad, then trying to figure out what was wrong with it. Another day went by, nothing. Meanwhile, an account that I had with Bidvertiser, another PPC site, was working just fine. So after puzzling over it for a couple days, I finally emailed Google. Turns out that my account was under review. They made it sound like it had something to do with the credit card I used. Ok, whatever. Inconvenient, since I had wanted that traffic over the weekend, but if they are working hard to keep my info safe, then I could wait for them to verify it.

Today I got a nice email telling me that my account was suspended due to a violation of the terms and conditions. I've read that entire document three times now, and hubby has read it for me too. I can't find anything that I could possibly be in violation of. It's a little three line ad. None of the stuff I use is copywrited to anyone else. Nothing I sell is illegal. I used valid information when setting up my account. Everything is normal. So I sent an email asking them for more information so I could fix it. The response I got, and let me actually copy and paste this because my jaw dropped when I seen it. I so could not believe it.

"Our support team is unable to provide any further information. Please do not contact us again."

So I'm beyond upset. Trying to get the internet segment of my business up and running, and getting black balled by google before I even have a chance to get started. I've been searching, and it turns out that this is a very common problem. Tons of people have had the same exact experience as I have. Or for those more devastated by the problem, they've been running ads and have built a decent business and depended on being able to run their ads, then suddenly had their accounts suspended for "violating terms and conditions" without being able to get a real reason, and then being told not to contact them again.

I really just wish I could get it fixed. And I'm probably going to be wasting my life all week trying to figure out how to get it fixed. It's obviously a mistake. I know how to read and follow a contract. My last job entailed reading, interpreting and enforcing contracts. I can read and write legalese with the best of them. If there is some term or condition that I'm breaking, then it absolutely isn't obvious.

I'm also going to be filing complaints with the Better Business Bureau, and the Federal Trade Commission. I doubt it will get me anywhere, but I have to do something. I mean, I can't exactly boycott google. But I also don't want to have to sit around for the rest of my life getting pissed off everytime I have to do a search.

But my point, other than venting some of my frustrations . . . this can and does happen to anyone for any or no reason at anytime. If you do decide to use google adwords for your business, be sure to build up other marketing strategies at the same time. If they would give us reasons, it would be easier because you could just read a list and say, ok, I won't do that. But without a reason, who knows why they're shutting people down? It could be because I'm a woman. It could be because a cross referenced search has shown them that I have a mental disorder. It could be because they have an aunt that makes candles and they don't want me competing with her. Who knows? I suspect it's because I have a $50 credit on my account that they don't want to honor.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Coupons 1/31

There are two inserts in the paper this Sunday.

Some great money maker deals at Walgreens too. So be sure to grab a few papers. Although I'm not sure that it's possible to beat the great deals at Kroger from the past week. I've got enough canned chili and tomato sauce to last the whole year!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Small Business Update

I've still been working very hard on getting my website together. I think the backbone is finally together. Pictures and all. I'm no good at taking pictures of my products.

Marketing is the big thing I've been working on now. I know very little about it, so I promoted my hubby to vice president of sales and marketing and try to flatter him into helping me out. As luck would have it, he had a chamber event this week where the topic was website marketing. So I'm working on implementing many of the concepts he learned about. I will be detailing some of these things this week.

Stock Up Deal of the Week

Well, it's a bit more complicated this week. Kroger has a big sale on lots of stuff. I bought $80 worth of groceries for only $26 today. But it took some planning, and then two hours in the store to pull it off without getting confused. It was totally worth it for me. I had 39 coupons!

But if I have to pick just one thing that I recommend stockpiling it would be the cans of Hormel Chili. They end up being free after coupons. Now I actually don't care for the chili straight out of the can. But let me tell you a secret. Add some salsa to it, and it's wonderful. I threw some on a tortilla with cheese yesterday for dinner and called it Tex Mex.

If you want to see the full list, and believe me, it's substantial, go to www.thegrocerygame.com. This is a wonderful time to sign up for your 1 month free trial to try it out.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Where Have I Been?


I have spent the last several weeks working hard on getting my candle website up and running. Check it out! www.lmfcandles.com. I still have a lot to do. I'm still working on adding pictures and other items. But it's running, and everything works. I even had a good friend from Oklahoma who was nice enough to place an order to help me test it! Thank you Lisa!

If you are in the market for a website with a shopping cart, I'm using www.volusion.com for my hosting. Most of what you see is built in with templates and I could just customize different aspects. If you're trying to do it on the cheap though, it is not easy. I'm so glad I took some computer programming classes in high school. There are many changes I'm wanting to make for it to be prettier, but I just don't know how. I'll learn over time, and you'll see those changes if you frequent my site, but even something seemingly minor like changing the font, is something that I need to look up and figure out, then go in and alter the html code. So if you decide to open up an internet shop too, be forewarned!

Coupons 1/24

There are two inserts in the paper today. Sorry for the late notice. I'll be buying five papers. At Walgreens where I can use my register rewards from the Pepsi deal to pay for my papers!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Stock Up Deal of the Week

12 packs of Pepsi products at Walgreens. There is a super amazing deal at Walgreens that runs this week and next week. If your family goes through a lot of soda, then seriously, it doesn't get any better than this. Here's the scoop.

Spend $20 in participating products. I get 5 12 packs for $15, and 2 bags of Tostitos for $5. Then you'll get a $10 Register Reward back for use on your next purchase. That makes it $10. And $10 for just the soda is a great deal. But with this, you also get the two bags of chips!!! Today I used my register rewards to purchase 4 Sunday papers. I'll be doing this deal many times over the next two weeks, and other things I like to use my register rewards on are diapers, cleaning supplies, and other sale items. In particular, Raisin Bran is a good price this week when you combine it with the $1 off 2 boxes coupon from the 1/3 paper. I also found some discounted Bonne Belle lip gloss products that I grabbed today to stick in my box of items to use as gifts throughout the year. I have to admit, they're meant for kids, but I love their things too! It took a bit of will power to tell myself that I already have thirty different flavors of gloss that I'm keeping for myself. I really don't need anymore. LOL.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Working with Baby

Ok, this is a different sort of post. I have no idea how to get any work done with my 1 year old running around wreaking havoc. Does anyone have any ideas? During the course of looking up bags and boxes at Uline and writing the prior post about it, he has been all over the house, typed random nonsense to a customer service person in live chat, and pushed a button that shut down my computer. Can't do baby gates currently because I'm too pregnant to step over them now. He won't tolerate a play pen anymore. And I use his naps to clean up the mess he just made, so no progress there. HELP! It's helpful when Dave gets home from work because he gets to chase him around. But most of the time, Dawson still prefers to "help" me. I'm thinking maybe I need to be the one in the play pen. He can have the whole house, just give me a 3X3 square that's protected from little fingers. And why does he have to be so cute when he's causing trouble? I need to work harder on my mommy poker face.

ULINE

I've been working hard on getting my new website together for my candle shop. I'll post info here once it's up and running, and I will also be posting some details about the company I'm using to get it published. So we'll see how it goes.

In the meantime, I happened upon an awesome deal by accident. This is more of a small business post, but if you send a lot of packages to relatives or an out of town college student or something, it could benefit you too. And it might be a little boring, but I'll tell you the whole story.

While working on my new website, I'm also trying to get my inventory organized. I'm starting to run low on bags to package my incense in, so I hopped online to double check the price. Well, the place I bought them at doesn't carry them anymore. So I've been working most of today trying to figure out who does. I ended up at www.uline.com. They sell all sorts of packaging and mailing materials. I was able to find the bags I needed cheaper than the other place anyway. Yay! They're even sending me a sample so I can make sure it's the right kind of thickness that I need.

So I was looking around at some of the other things on their site. I haven't had to do much shipping yet since most of my sales have been at craft shows, but I had to ship a box of things last week. The UPS Store charged me $6 for a box. OMG. I'm not certain of the exact dimensions it was. But the kinds of sizes I would need are less than a dollar each at Uline. I have to buy them in bundles. I can't just buy "a box." But when I can get 25 boxes for $15.25 (plus whatever it will be to ship them to me) it's going to be a huge cost savings.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Meijer Matchups

It looks like Meijer is the place to be this week. Check out the post at Nickels N Dimes for the coupon matchups. Works for me. I have a Costco trip planned for this coming week and I was planning to get some salad fixins. Free at Meijer is better!

House Party!!!!

I've been working hard on implementing a new website for my candle business. It's a lot of work. But I think my brain is fried for now, so thinking about this awesome site I've been using is a nice change of pace.

Check out www.houseparty.com. This is a site where different companies give you freebies to have parties for them. I've hosted three parties so far and have gotten some pretty valuable stuff. Basically, a company wants to introduce a new product, and they want to give out some freebies in a more interesting way.

You have to go to the house party website and set up an account. Then fill out an application for anything that you're interested in. The first one I did was for Healthy Choice. They sent me coupons to get a bunch of their new meals for free to feed my guests. Then I was selected for a Windows 7 Launch Party. I got a free copy of the operating system, and some neat favors for my guests. This last one was my favorite though. I received two games for my Nintendo Wii system, and a bunch of coupons for free packs of Jello Mousse. Wonderful! The Wii games were worth over a hundred bucks!!! And what a fun way to spend an evening with family and friends!You get to keep the merchandise they send you, all they ask is that you share it with your guests.

So check out the site and sign up. I don't know if I've been super lucky or what. But it amounts to some pretty nice freebies.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Coupon Sunday 1/10/10

There will be two inserts in the paper this Sunday. Check out the link on the sidebar for Taylortown Coupon Preview to see what will be included. I plan to get two papers. Mostly for the scrubbing bubble coupons.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sidetracked


I don't have a post for you today because I've been chasing my son around the house all day. He's been trying to sneak and eat the dog food. I thought I had the problem cured earlier with a time out. But instead of sitting down next to the dog dish to eat, he has been grabbing handfuls now and hiding to eat it. Yuck!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Stock Up Items of the Week


This is a new feature that I'm adding to my blog based on my year of experience. Between having an idea of the sales cycles of the stores, and knowing what I've found useful to have stockpiled, there are certain things that I'm excited about when I see them at low prices. So here's the first installment.


At Kroger this week, there are two items that are super stockup worthy.

Betty Crocker Pouch Potatoes - On sale for .91, use the .35 manufacturer coupon from the paper on 12/13, doubles to .70 off, final price, .21 a box! I got a gazillion of these last year at this price. There are usually a bunch of internet printables around too. I thought I was over doing it because I literally had like thirty boxes of them in my pantry. But they don't go bad, and I used every last box over the course of the year. I even ran out a couple months ago and had to pay more than 21 cents a box, which was a bummer. So I'm using every single coupon I come across this time!


At Walgreens I already mentioned the free Electrosol. I have a couple more coupons to get them free and need to head back to use up all of my coupons. I hope they aren't all out.
NOTE: The deal I had in this post about Softsoap at Kroger was not accurate. It happens since coupons and deals can be regional, so be sure to look closely at any sale you are following online. The coupons that I had were for a different size than what was on sale at Kroger.

Mr. Rebates

I received a check in the mail today for $32.06! This was completely free money!!! How did I do it you ask? Internet shopping through Mr. Rebates. These were all purchases that I was going to make anyway. Instead of going straight to the website I was going to purchase from, I went to Mr. Rebates first. By following a link to the store from their site, you get a percentage of your purchase back. This is wonderful because not only does it include specialty internet shopping, there are also necessity type sites available. 1800petmeds has a 10% rebate. Walmart has a 3% rebate. 1800contacts has a 7% rebate. Even ebay has a 3% rebate. So if you're going to buy something online anyway, go to Mr. Rebates first and you'll get an even better deal.

Target Prescription Coupon and Others

It's hard to find prescription coupons anymore. Target is the only that I've been able to consistantly find these days. Others are few and far between. It's a bummer because that's a huge way that I saved money on my groceries last year. This year it's probably going to be better for me to use a mail order pharmacy, but I will be detailing that more in a few days.

For now . . . go to Target's site. There are a bunch of printable coupons. You have to install a small program (I've not had any problems with it) and you can print each coupon twice. Right now, the aforementioned prescription coupon which gives you a $10 gift card with any new or transferred prescription. But there are some other good coupons there too. I was happy to see a Pepsi coupon. Good for a dollar off a 12 pack. And the 12 packs are on sale this week for 2.75. Makes for a great price. So scroll through all the coupons and print off any that sound good to you. Also a note, they will say at the top of the coupon once you print it if it is a Target store coupon or a manufacturer coupon. For the ones that are Target coupons, you can combine them with a manufacturer coupon.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Groceries 1/3/10

Ok, a couple things I want to point out first. Yes, I'm doing a lot of trips. I don't usually shop everyday. But there have been a few things I let run out, and I'm not completely organized yet, so multiple trips. Usually, I think two trips a week is probably what I do. On top of that, my habits seem to be such that I'm able to focus on the stockpiling and deal shopping better at this time of year. Once the nicer weather hits, I'm just not as into it. So for those reasons, my budget will probably appear to be out of whack. There will also be entire weeks, and sometimes months, where I don't have to go grocery shopping at all other than for milk and eggs.

Did you get your papers this morning? Wow! Lots of coupons. I sat in my car pulling out the Electrosol and Carefree pads ones for my Walgreens trip. Super deals and I didn't want to chance that they would be out of them if I waited until later. I had to do three separate transactions, but the total of all three was 7.02. One of the things I got was an after Christmas gift thingy with meat and cheese and a cute little cutting board and cleaver. Hubby likes to eat the snacks, and I like the cute little accessories. It was marked down to $5. I counted it in my grocery budget because it does qualify as a snack, and the only real reason I bought it was because I had some extra register rewards that I needed to use up. So here's the run down:

Total $7.02
meat and cheese
4 packages of carefree pads
3 boxes of electrosol dishwasher soap
and $3 in register rewards to use next time

Kroger $21.08
5 newspapers (Enquirer's marked down to $1.25 each!)
2 gallons of milk (need)
2 cartons of eggs (need)
1 laundry detergent (1.50)
2 chip dips (1.06)
1 pudding cups (free)
1 corn starch (1.08)
1 yogurt (.19)
2 cans water chestnuts (1.36)
2 cans bamboo shoots (.30)
2 bottles of creamer (1.98)

Everything at Kroger except for the papers, milk and eggs had coupons. And I found out just a few minutes ago that the creamer is on sale for free at Meijer this week. However, hubby is going to start eating breakfast at home instead of at McDonalds, so it's still going to be a cost savings.

You may be noticing that there is no real food on my list. LOL. That's because none of those things were on sale at prices I liked, and I have enough on hand in my stockpile. Also, Kroger's new week doesn't start until tomorrow. And I won't have my updated list of sales from The Grocery Game until Tuesday morning.

And just because I have to add it to my list because it's part of the budget . . . hubby went to a drive thru for beer. Spent 12.08. More expensive because it was a drive thru, that's why I'm bummed about it. But he wanted beer with football today, and our car's battery is suddenly having problems, so he didn't want to have to turn off the car. Good enough reason. Just a huge bummer to have a disruption to the budget like that on the third day of the year. But I'm looking forward to all of the beer rebates that should be starting to come out before long.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Grocery Budget

Ok, I worked pretty hard on this yesterday and I finally have it together. My grocery budget for the entire year of 2010 is $3000. This amount will include everything I spend on cat and dog food, cat litter, diapers, formula, alcohol, health and beauty items, Sunday papers, and my subscription to The Grocery Game. It will be a challenging goal, but I should be able to do it. After a year of practice, I have a much better understanding of the kinds of things my family does well with stocking up on, and the kinds of things that goes to waste if I stock up.

Another thing that is going to help me stay within this budget is the fact that I'm already stocked up on many things. I will only get toothpaste if it's completely free and in the brand that I like. Otherwise, I have it, so even if it's super cheap, I just don't need it. I have enough shampoo to last me the whole year. I will still get more if I come across deals that are great and in brands that I prefer or that I want to try. And it had better be super cheap even for that. I also need more man shampoo. You know how guys don't like to smell flowery, fruity or pretty. There are quite a few other things that we have plenty of too. Toothbrushes, shaving cream, some cleaners, hamburger helper, kool aid, coffee, and other odds and ends. Really, my biggest expenses are dog food, diapers and beer. Everything else, I can find really good sales to keep me well on track.

So follow along with me! I'll be offering tips and showing you how I'm finding the information, and how I'm implementing the plan. I recommend using a speadsheet if you're tracking your own budget. And to get started, be sure to pick up several copies of the Sunday paper tomorrow. It is supposed to be loaded with coupons!

Groceries 1/2/10

Due to poor planning in the recent past, the cats informed me this morning that they were out of food. I couldn't find any cat food coupons, so I had to actually pay full retail. Not happy about that. However, I still turned it into a good trip.

Total $15.68

14 pound bag of Meow Mix $10.00 (need)
soda and juice $2.98 (need)
pudding (free)
beef filets .68 (after coupon)
tax .94

So this was just a small trip. I usually only pay a dollar for a small bag of cat food. That way it's cheaper to buy the small bags. But since I had no coupons, the large bag was the better deal. And it covers me for a couple weeks while I lay in wait for coupons and sales.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Groceries 1/1/10

I still need to finish up my grocery budget planning, but I am going to do a post on each transaction as a way to keep myself on my budget, and also to show you how I'm going about staying in my budget. I will do a separate post on the specifics of my budget, and attempt to keep a running total as soon as I have all of that figured out.

Walgreens Transaction 1/1/10 $5.35
2 refill bottles of shower cleaner (need)
2 neosporin chapsticks (moneymaker)
3 packs of mechanical pencils (.19 filler)

I had a coupon for buy one get one on the shower cleaner. I needed it and had the good coupon. The chapsticks were 2 for $8, I had 2 coupons for $3 off, and it got me a $3 register reward to use next time. So they netted a dollar profit. I had a few register rewards to use from last time, and according to Walgreens rules, since I had seven coupons, I needed at least seven items in my transaction. I don't really need the pencils, but I needed something cheap to increase my item number without adding much to my total. So the pencils were what I picked this time.

So I spent only $5.35 for $28.73 worth of products, AND I have $3 worth of register rewards to use the next time I go.