Day 40: Can’t Quit

Well, here we are. 40 days into the new year and 40 days into the New Year’s Resolution. You may ask, what happened from Day 8 to Day 40? The short answer, everything. It seems when you set out on a journey to accomplish something great you encounter many road blocks that want to derail your efforts. Simply put, life got really busy at work. I have a small business and had 2 people tell me they were quitting within 24 hours of each other. For us that’s 33% of the workforce. That suddenly added a lot more work for me and took away a lot from my free time. But here I am. Still plodding away.

We are still working on doing things at home to save each week. But when the stress of life hits it makes it a whole lot harder to plan. For example, I found myself going to buy lunch for myself on the days that I went into to work rather than packing a lunch. This money did come from my personal blow money, but I could have saved that for something more fun rather than yucky fast food.

So thanks to those of you who have asked about the blog. I haven’t quit. I want to keep going. And I also want to continue to share the tips that I have learned about saving money.

Oh, and if you are curious, we were unsuccessful in putting any extra money on the mortgage in January. This was not due to a lack of saving. Murphy decided to move into our house for the month and made it harder squeeze out any pennies. Let’s see if we have more success in February. Thanks for your support and your prayers. We could use it. And hopefully we will see you tomorrow.


Day 7: Divine Guidance

The end of another week is upon us. And as I slow down for the next 24 hours, it’s a good time to stop and think. To have my cup filled back up. To be renewed. To be restored. And to focus back on the Giver of Life who has given so much to me in the past week.

As you think about where your personal finances are, remember that God has a plan. He always does. And the great thing is that His plan is perfect. My plan, my goal, to pay off the mortgage in 365 days, has many flaws. Because an imperfect human has crafted it. What I do know is that the only real possibility of making it is due to all the blessings our family has received from Him.

So this week I want to share with you one of the first texts that I learn on my road to financial freedom. Proverbs 22:7.

“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave of the lender.” (NRSV)

Someday I will tell you more about how God used Dave Ramsey to help me make better choices with money. But for now, I will recommend you read more about Dave Ramsey’s background on debt HERE.

May God Bless you and your family in ways you don’t expect.


Day 6: Saving Money Takes Time

Part of saving money is about making smart choices with shopping, cutting coupons, using coupons, and choosing the right store to get the deal at. It also can take a lot of time.

Last night I was able to make a trip to Target to get some pretty good deals. First of all, I have a fabulous husband that makes it possible. Going to the store with a pile full of coupons is better without a infant along. I admit, I have only tried it once so far. And it ended with him screaming in his car seat. So, my husband is happy to let me go to the store to do the shopping and he will stay home with our son.

Secondly, I was gone for 2 hours. Okay, I probably could have made it a shorter trip, but I got something to drink before I went shopping, I checked out the Christmas clearance, and browsed baby clothes. When I got down to the very specific list I had, it still took a fair amount of time. When using coupons you have to make sure that you find the specific item the coupon is for. Sometimes it is difficult to locate in the store. Sometimes I have to call my husband. For example,  I got a great deal on instant oatmeal. But I wasn’t sure what kind he liked. So before I bought 4 boxes of oatmeal I wanted to check. And then there’s the checkout. If you plan to go shopping with a pile full of coupons, you have to be patient. The coupons may not go through, the cashier may question if you actually purchased the item, or the coupon amount may be lowered if it is more than the value of the product. (hopefully not on the last item, because then you actually make money on that product.) All in all, I was gone 2 hours. Oh, I almost forgot, I had to go back to the store. With the pile of coupons I had, my highest value coupon for $5.99 was missed. So I went back to Target to get them to correct it. They did.

If you’re curious I got all of the above items, plus one more box of instant oatmeal (which my husband already took to work), for $31.82 after tax. The savings…$44.31. For those of you new to couponing, this is pretty good. But trust me, I have seen better. I continue to recommend savingaddiction.com. They are the couponing experts, I am just a student.

For all the deals on the products in the above picture, I suggest you check out totallytarget.com.


Day 5: I’m an idiot :)

So, I’m an idiot. And I can say so with a laugh and a smile on my face. It seems that the drama associated with missing the 99 cent photo deal was all self-induced. I, like an idiot, was trying to get the deal on THE WRONG WEBSITE. lol. The 99 photos for 99 cents was and is a deal that you can get at snapfish.com not Shutterfly. My sincerest apologies to the Shutterfly company and my gratitude to Snapfish for the ease in ordering my photos today. Plus, I got a bonus 20 photos for free from Snapfish for being a new customer. It’s okay to laugh with me, or at me. Whatever you prefer.

Click HERE to get your first 20 prints for free as well. And if you want to try to get the 99 photos for 99 cent deal enter in code 2011PENNY. Details of this deal can be found on SavingAddiction.com.


Day 4: It didn’t work

It didn’t work.

I stayed up until nearly midnight last night to meet the deadline, getting my photos loaded up to Shutterfly. When I went to enter in the discount code, it didn’t work. UGH!!! (Check out the Day 3 blog for the backstory.) Sure I was excited about the deal I was about to get. And I was equally excited to see my photos in print, especially the photos of my son’s first Christmas. Thus the double disappointment. Not to forget, I was really tired this morning.

That is not the first time, nor will it be the last time, that I miss out on a deal. It’s part of the process. You can’t be everywhere everytime and there are often limits on how many deals there are available. It just happens. When I first started out couponing, which is just this past year, I would actually feel bad if my sister got a deal that I didn’t. I felt like I had to pursue every possible deal out there, especially the free stuff. And yes, you can get lots of truly free stuff with couponing. As time has gone on, however, I accept the limitations and misses much easier. I have gotten a deal from Shutterfly before. There will be one again.

So the moral of the story is… if at first you don’t succeed, buy, buy again. : )


Day 3: 99 photos, 99 cents

I have been a long lover of photography. And have been taking photos for years. It’s one of my favorite pastimes. I also love to scrapbook with my girlfriends from church. So combining my two hobbies is a natural fit.

Since the inception of the digital photos, many great photos go unprinted. Of that I have been guilty. And the cost of printing these images seems to continue to rise. I used to get prints at Sam’s Club where one-hour photo was only 13 cents a piece for 4×6 photos. Now it’s up to 17 cents. This is an area I need to save money. Especially since it’s easy for me to take 100 photos at one family gathering. And don’t forget, I have a cute little baby now that I need to capture the moments of his life.

So I look for deals. And what I have found is that Shutterfly frequently has printing deals. I learn about them through some of my favorite savings blog. Again savingaddiction.com or another blogger on follow hip2save.com. They posted over the weekend that I can get 99 photos for 99 cents plus shipping by entering 2011PENNY. So for about $6 or $7 I will get 99 photos, averaging about 7 cents each. A great savings.

So tonight, instead climbing into bed early after a day at work, I am uploading photos to shutterfly.com. I have to get my deal because it expires tonight. Sure I wish I could have gotten it done sooner, but the life of a busy mom keeps me up a little too late sometimes. Oh well, at least I’ll get my photos soon. Oh, Bonus!!! I forgot I received a $20 shutterfly gift card from Target when I signed up for my paper registry. So this photo order will be FREEEEEEEEE!


Day 2 – I bought 8 newspapers

I bought 8 newspapers today. No, it’s not a typo. I bought 8 local newspapers today. It’s coupon insert day.

Every Sunday I buy newspapers for the coupon inserts. It’s part of the tasks needed to do be an excellent couponer. And this week, was a bonanza of coupons. The newspapers each had FIVE inserts. Normally there is 2 or 3. And normally, I would only buy 4 papers.

Why 4 you ask? As I have learned how to coupon from my expert friends, Lauren & Giselle at savingaddiction.com, you purchase as many papers each Sunday as you have members of your family. There are 3 of us, but I normally buy 4 papers because it’s an even number and fits with many of the sales offered.

What will I do with all these newspapers? First, I like to sit down and just look them over. It’s nice to know what offers are listed. I am already excited about a $1 best life butter. (Meijer often does a price drop that will make butter free for me.) But just because I have the coupon doesn’t mean I will use it. I store the coupon inserts in an accordion file, organized by date, for future reference. Then, when I need a coupon for a weekly matchup, whether this week or in weeks to come, I will be able to locate the coupon. Lauren & Giselle recommend a stash box, which you can learn about on their blog. However, I have not found it beneficial to cut out all the coupons I get every week. Maybe some day I will transition to the stash box, but not now.

How did I get them? Today, I had to purchase my newspapers at Walgreen’s.  The Grand Rapids Press, Metro Edition, is $2 per paper regardless of where you purchase it. However, I prefer to buy it at RiteAid. As a member of their wellness plus program I earn points. Since I have earned enough points over the last year, I have earned an automatic 10% off each item I purchase that is not on sale. Therefore, I can get my newspapers for $1.60. Except for today. I choose to sleep in this Sunday and when I went to buy my papers at RiteAid they were all out. I briefly panicked at the thought that I might not be able to find the desired newspapers in my area. But Walgreen’s came through. Lesson learned. If I want to be serious about saving I will have to be more disciplined.

Lastly, it does matter what paper you purchase. In our area the best paper to buy is the Grand Rapids Press Metro Edition. It has the most inserts. However, the gas stations right by my home do not carry the correct newspapers and are often missing the inserts that should be available. Be sure to purchase the paper from the largest city in your area if you decide to start couponing. And be sure that it has the inserts they are supposed to. I often double-check each paper to make sure that the inserts are inside the paper before I buy them. A few times I found some inserts missing when I got home.

If you have any further questions about newspapers and couponing, let me know. Otherwise check out the blog listed above for more information.