Thursday, December 29, 2011

Old Navy Clearance Deals

Yesterday my guys and I decided to go do some after Christmas shopping.  We got a $100 Banana Republic gift card in the mail just yesterday morning from, so we decided that Old Navy was definitely on our list of places to hit.  In case you didn't know, you can use any Gap family giftcards at any of the Gap family stores and online.  Banana Republic and Gap are both usually better deals than Old Navy on sites like mypoints, so I always order accordingly.

Because I haven't spent much time at all online since Elliott's Christmas vacation began last Tuesday, I didn't even realize that Old Navy was running a Super Cash promotion right now.  if you aren't familiar with the promotion, it's pretty basic.  You spend $20, you get a $10 off a $20 purchase to use during a specific week or two a few weeks out.  You can get up to a $30 coupon off of a $60 purchase by buying more than $60 in one transaction.  The current promotion runs through January 22, and the coupons can be used January 27-February 8.

I started out in Old Navy by myself, because my husband said he didn't need anything.  He wanted to go to the Radio Shack nearby, and took Elliott with him.  It didn't take long for me to find enough stuff for Elliott that I wanted him to come check it out and make sure he liked everything, so I  called Carl to tell them to come on over.  They finished up their shopping and came on in. 

We quickly had a cart full of stuff that was mostly 75% off.  Other than a shirt that was clearanced to $2.99, a pair of shorts clearanced to $.47, and a pair of jeans for $10, everything we bought was 75% off. 

We ended up splitting our shopping into 2 transactions to take advantage of the Super cash promotion, and so we could use all three giftcards we had.

I ended up buying a coat for myself for $19.98
a pair of jeans for Elliott for $10
a coat for Elliott for $12.48
a fleece pull over for Elliott for $3.73
a glove, hat and scarf set for myself for $2.50
3 waffle shirts for Elliott for $3.23 each
a belt for myself for $3.73
and a short sleeve football shirt for Elliott for $2.99

With tax my total was $69.66, and according to my receipt I saved $165.97, but that didn't include the savings on the shirt that was $2.99.

I used a gift card that had $11.20 left on it, that I had cashed in my cash back from my credit card for.  Then I used $58.46 of the $100 giftcard from mypoints to pay for the rest of it. I got a $30 super cash coupon to use on a $60 purchase, too.

My husband went through and bought

a coat  for $19.98
a pair of shorts for Elliott for $.47
a pair of fleece pants for $6.23
2 thermal shirts for $4.98 each 
and a fleece pullover for $6.23

All of the stuff he bought was for himself, except the shorts. With tax he spent $45.87, and paid using $5.03 on a giftcard that we got through our savings account for Christmas shopping, and the rest of the $100 giftcard from mypoints.  It had $.70 left on it, so he got that back in change.  According to his receipt he saved $127.30, but once again, that didn't include any savings for the shorts that were only $.47.  He got back a $20 Super cash coupon off a $40 purchase as well.

We had planned on using most of the $100 giftcard on school clothes for Elliott for this spring and next winter, but  we are still very pleased with our purchases.  We had put back money for coats for ourselves anyway (we usually buy every other year or so in January), and ended up spending less than we had saved.  We can use that money with the super cash coupons and stretch it to more than $100 anyway for school clothes. :)  I also put it into our savings account, and will cash it out on Gap giftcards to get 10% cash back as soon as it clears, to save us even more money.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Saving for Christmas

My family tends to go way overboard at Christmas time.  I'm not sure if I should admit this, but our Christmas presents take up a over half the floor space in our living room on Christmas morning.  While they are still wrapped and stacked.  We only have one child, and yes, all the presents on Christmas morning are his, my husband's mine, or the three little (furry) girls' who live here.  My living room is small, but still...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cyber Monday: Is It Worth It?

I've seen a lot of posts today and received a lot of emails about cyber Monday deals.  In my opinion, most of them haven't been that great.  I've seen several "deals" that are actually not good at all, from companies that offer better discounts on a fairly regular basis anyway.  So even though I've been to several different websites today, I haven't ordered a single thing, although there are still a few things I'm looking for to finish up my Christmas shopping.

To get the best deals, you have to do your research all year long, or consult someone who has.  For instance, a store offering 30% off everything available online might seem like a good deal until you realize that several times a year they offer 40% off everything.  A movie for 50% off retail price might look like a good deal, until you realize that most stores sell it for about that price anyway, and run their own sales on it sometimes making it even cheaper.  That same rule applies to a lot of things that have a suggested retail price that is often much higher than what you would pay somewhere like Target, Walmart or KMart.

Do a quick search before you buy, especially if you aren't 100% sure this is a bottom price.    One of the big craft store websites has their Cricut cartridges on sale for Cyber Monday.  Since my husband just bought the Cricut Expression for me for Christmas on Friday, I'm not really familiar with what is considered to be good sale prices.  I saw one that I liked priced at $39.99 (retail price $89.99) and thought that might be  a good deal.  A quick search on Amazon let me know I could get the exact same one for just under $25, and shipping would be free with a $25 purchase.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Finding Great Deals at Old Navy

I know I haven't posted in a while.  The group I volunteer with has had a bunch of extra stuff going on, so I've been incredibly busy with that.  Putting in 50 or more hours some weeks, plus all the other regular stuff I do (including volunteer work elsewhere) means that a lot of stuff has been moved to the back burner.  Unfortunately the blog had to be one of the first things to go.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Saving Money Without Coupons

Normally I'm definitely a coupon shopper, but yesterday I needed to get groceries, and didn't have my coupons with me.  I had left them in the car Friday, and yesterday my husband took the car to work, leaving me with the van.  I have stuff going on tomorrow, and the commissary is closed today.  We were completely out of milk, and almost out of bread, plus out of a few other, less important things.  It had been over 3 weeks since we had been grocery shopping, so I decided that Elliott and I better go yesterday, even without my coupon binder.

We went to the commissary with a grocery list and two coupons.  Our list was pretty long, because we hadn't been to the commissary in three weeks (we had picked up fresh produce at the farmer's market, but that was all we had bought),  and we were out of, or almost out of, a lot of other things that we normally stock up on to last us for a few weeks to a few months.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Kindergarten is Harder Than Anticipated!

My son has been in school for close to two months now.  It's been a lot harder to make time for things than I had anticipated.  My husband has been on second shift this month and last month, so when I pick Elliott up from school, I generally don't want to do anything but hang out with him until he goes to bed.  And since my husband is home with me during the day while my son's at school, that means I hang out with him instead of doing stuff I should be doing online or around the house.  So  between 815 (Elliott's bedtime) and midnight (when my husband gets home) it's a mad dash to get the house clean, work done online, and anything else I can cram in.  Which means my blog has been the first thing to go.  Sorry guys!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Finding Motivation

Apparently my motivation for almost anything online has disappeared in its entirety this month.  My husband's working an off shift, my son is in school,  and I'm too tired to do more than I have to do.  Normally my husband is pretty good about helping out around the house, and does most of the dishes that get washed in the dishwasher, and totes laundry down to the basement for me to wash, and then back up the stairs for me to put away.  He also helps with random other stuff sometimes, like cleaning up after dinner, vacuuming, etc.  Right now he is working 12 hour shifts at work, though, and has had a huge number of EMT calls, so I'm lucky if he manages to even remember to put gas in the car.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Saving Money: Menu Planning

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not an overly organized person.  I do go through my pantry every 6 weeks or so and look for things that will expire in the next 2 months and move them upstairs so I can plan meals around them. Otherwise I'm not real great anymore at knowing exactly what I have in my pantry and how many of them I have.

In an effort to save money on groceries, I decided it was time to get to work on meal planning.  This ensures that I use the things that are close to expiration, and also helps me to know exactly what I need for the next two weeks, instead of just winging it every day, and possibly sending my husband to the commissary for the one ingredient I'm missing.  An added bonus is that if I know what I'm supposed to be cooking, it makes me less likely to say "I'm not in the mood to decide on dinner and cook, so let's get something from the cafe," or "Why don't you stop at the food court on the way home and pick something up?"

Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Night Out: Spy Kids 4:All the Time in the World

My family rarely goes to a movie theater to see a movie, because it's just too expensive.  In June I bought a Living Social deal that included 2 movie tickets, though, and had planned on using them to see Cars 2.  Stuff came up and we didn't end up seeing it after all.  The promo code was set to expire on September 9, so we decided we better choose a movie and see it this weekend.

Unfortunately there weren't very many choices for movies playing this weekend that my family wanted to see.  My five year old is easily scared, so that ruled out pretty much all of them except The Help and Spy Kids 4.  So of course, he chose Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World.  It was only playing in 3D at a time that would work for us, so we bought the tickets on fandango (using the promo code and a giftcard I had won last summer), and off we went.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Good Deal on Appliances at Menards

So as I mentioned in my last post, I got a new cooking range for my birthday.  My last one started acting crazy and pulling massive amounts of power.  Last week when I made zucchini bread, it ended up costing me approximately $100 for a double batch of bread/muffins.

So on Saturday we headed to Menards to find a new one.  Luckily Menards is having a big bath and kitchen sale now through September 5.  Major kitchen appliances are all on sale.  Energy Star ones are at least 15% off, and regular ones are 10% off.  Plus if you spend at least $299 on qualifying purchases and put it on your Menards big card, it's interest free as long as you pay in full within 6 months.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A New Stove For My Birthday

So my birthday is Monday, and I'm dreaming of shopping.  I was planning on going shopping for myself, all by myself, in an actual store today or yesterday.  Unfortunately my cooking range went all crazy sometime recently and started pulling insane amounts of power for everything.  My last electric bill was about double what it normally is, and considering Elliott and I were gone for 2.5 weeks of that time, I knew something was up.  I noticed it when I looked at it online to get some other piece of information, and it was only 3 days past when it had been read.  Normally I don't even look at it until I get ready to pay it 10 days or so after it was read, so we really lucked out there!  Anyway, so on the 4th day after it was read, my husband went outside to look at the meter, and make sure they read it right.  It turns out that in those 4 days we had already used more electricity than we normally do in a full month!  But the meter was barely moving, so we were fairly certain it wasn't just the meter going crazy.   So down I went into the basement, while my husband stood outside staring at the meter.  I flipped each of the circuit breakers off one at a time to see if there was any change.  And when I got to the range one, I had a sudden realization that it was almost certainly it going bad.  For the last few weeks it has been randomly heating up the oven when I have one of the burners on, but a quick hit to the oven knob usually turns it off.  My husband decided it was probably a switch and has one ordered, but apparently we don't need it now after all.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

First Full Day of School

Today was Elliott's first full day of school.  Yesterday the kindergarteners got out of school early, to help ease them into the year.  Yesterday was also full of a bunch of other stuff for me, so even though I didn't have Elliott with me, I was busy most of the day.

Today I had planned on running errands and getting some stuff done, but I had a headache, and the idea of driving the extra 70 or so miles just didn't appeal to me, especially after all the driving I did yesterday.  I drive 75-80 miles a day anyway, just to get Elliott to and from school (bussing is an option, but he would only be home and awake for 1.5 hours a day then-less when the roads are bad, and I don't think either of us could handle that).

Monday, August 22, 2011

Good Deal Alert on Bambi 2 DVD/Blu Ray

Bambi 2 comes out on DVD/Blu-ray tomorrow.  We actually had this one on DVD, but it disappeared in our move into our current house in 2007.  I've given up on finding it now, so I think we might be buying it this week.

If you are interested in buying both Bambi II (Two-Disc Special Edition Blu-ray / DVD Combo) and Bambi (Two-Disc Diamond Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo), there is a good deal on Amazon right now. Bambi 2 is on sale  for $24.99, and when you buy it you can save $8 off the price of the Bambi Blu-ray/DVD combo pack.  It's priced at $20.99 right now, so you get both of them for $37.98 total, which of course has free shipping as well.

Bambi 2 is priced at $14.99 on Amazon for just the DVD.

If you are only interested in buying Bambi 2 and want the Blu-ray, I would suggest printing out the coupon available here.  It's for $5 off the blu ray/DVD combo pack, and combined with the $24.99 price at Target this week, it becomes a good deal.  The DVD by itself is on sale for $17.99.

For the current great deal on The Fox and the Hound and Mars Needs Moms check out my post here.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Great Deals on Disney Movies at Amazon- The Fox and the Hound and Mars Needs Moms

My son has a wishlist a mile long on Amazon.  A lot of the things he chooses are movies, because we do a lot of long road trips, and DVD's are sanity savers when you are in the car for 20 hours in two days.  We also enjoy watching a Blu Ray together as a family 1-2 times every week.  We watch the same movies over and over again a lot of times, so to us, it makes more sense to buy instead of rent, especially when we find good deals.  We love Disney movies, so we always look for good deals on them to add to our collection. 

Right now The Fox and the Hound / The Fox and the Hound Two (Three-Disc 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray / DVD Combo) is on sale for $24.99.  Plus if you buy Mars Needs Moms (Two-Disc Blu-ray / DVD Combo) for $22.99, you save $8 on The Fox and the Hound, so you can get both of them for $39.98, with free shipping through Amazon.  Plus, though the end of the month you earn 50 bonus points on when you enter the magic code for either DVD/Blu Ray!  This deal isn't quite as good as the deal that was available two weeks ago at Target, but if you missed it (like I did, because of my trip), it's still a good deal!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Semi-Annual Case Lot Sale at the Commissary

This weekend is the case lot sale at my local commissary.  We almost always try to make it to the case lot sale at least one day each time it happens, and since today we had to be on base anyway to get Elliott shots, we headed over to check it out.

Our base is pretty small, so it never has tons of stuff or anything, but usually I can find a good deal on at least a few things that my family uses.  I'm definitely a coupon user, but right now my coupons aren't sorted, and I have no idea what I have, because  I did NOT keep track of coupons very well for the three plus weeks I was in Missouri.  Today I didn't even remember to take my coupons with me shopping!  So I went in with a list that included bread, milk, eggs, fresh produce, and a few easy to eat, shelf stable fruit items for Elliott's snack bag for school.  Otherwise I figured we'd just buy what we found in the warehouse that was a good deal.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Time for School to Start

My son starts kindergarten next week.  It's hard for me to believe it.  He's slightly nervous about me leaving him somewhere else all day, but otherwise he's ready.  He doesn't have a school uniform, so buying clothes was easy and relatively cheap.  He also has a really short list of school supplies that he needs, so those were bought cheap, too.

I'm not looking forward to the start of school.  I can count on one hand the number of times he's been left with a babysitter since we moved to our current house, in July 2007.  He's done fine with sitters since he turned 4, but it's been short stints both times.  At least his first day of kindergarten is just a half day.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Back at Home

Elliott and I arrived back home  in North Dakota on Friday night.  We ended up staying in Missouri two more days than we had originally planned, due to weather and then a sick family member.   The drive home was fairly quick, and we didn't run into much bad weather, other than the intense storms that were going on in the Nebraska city that we stayed in overnight on Thursday.  We literally arrived at our hotel just in time.  It started pouring down rain as we were opening the door with our last load of stuff we wanted to keep in our room overnight.  There were tornadoes in the area, but none hit the town we stayed in, so I felt pretty lucky.   We had driven through Joplin, MO earlier and were on our way back to Minot, ND, so Elliott was pretty nervous about the bad weather, but finally calmed down enough for us both to get some sleep.   He's certainly glad to be back home and in his own bed at night now, and I am, too!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Clearance Shopping at KMart

Last week my mom was off two nights in a row (she works nights in a nursing home, so this isn't an every week thing), so we decided to go shopping one afternoon.  We called one of my older sisters to see if she wanted to go with us, and she decided to come along.  My mom needed new shoes, so we headed to Famous Footwear first.  I was in search of shoes for both myself and Elliott, but sadly couldn't find anything that I liked for me.  We only found one pair that Elliott liked (I wanted to get him two, one for school, and one for gym), and we had to move up a size in that brand.  He's now in a size 2!  Anyway, my mom and sister both found shoes they liked, too, so it was a decent stop.  My sister bought Elliott's shoes with hers, since they are running a bogo50 sale right now, and then I paid her about 75% of the full value of his shoes, so we both got a good deal that way. :)

Halfway Prepared

Apparently the lack of sleep over the two nights prior to leaving North Dakota caused me to be less prepared than I wanted to be for this trip.  When I'm in Missouri I always do a bunch of shopping and can usually find some great deals.  I brought my camera so I could get some pictures, but I walked off and forgot my camera cord, so I haven't shared any of the deals I've got.  I think I'm going to go ahead and share a few deals anyway, though, and then just add the pictures when I get back to North Dakota.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Detours Along the Way....

Last time I posted, I had plans to leave for my parents house last Wednesday.   It didn't end up working out that way, though.  Tuesday was a REALLY hot day, and the AC went out in our room.  So since it was literally over 90 degrees, even late at night, I decided to take the dogs and sleep in Elliott's room.  Well, I made the mistake of turning off the light (Elliott was already asleep) when I came in.   Minutes later, Elliott was awake and freaking about being in the dark.  So he jumped out of bed, and landed on Snoopie, who then proceeded to attack Trixie, thinking it was her fault.  Of course this is after 1 am, my husband was asleep, and I was across the room, in the dark, so I couldn't get to the light switch.  I got Elliott back up on the bed, so he didn't get hurt in the midst of the chaos, and called for my husband, who came in and turned on the light, effectively breaking up the dog fight.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Great Amazon Deal on the Movie Rango

If you know of anyone that has the new animated movie "Rango" on their wishlist, or you think it would be an appropriate fit for someone else on your shopping list, now is the time to buy it! Think Christmas!  Use the code RANGO5GO to save $5 on it at Amazon.  The Rango (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy) is only $14.99 after the coupon code.  And the RangoDVD is only $10.99 after the coupon code!  The prices are current as of today, July 18th.  The code expires July 23.

Rango is an animated Western that has a chameleon as the hero.  It's rated PG, and stars Johnny Depp.

Vacation Time!

Since we are currently stationed 1100 miles from "home" for both us, our vacations usually consist of driving to Missouri and spending two or three (or six) weeks with my parents.  I'm child number 5 of 6 in my family, and while I'm not particularly close to any of my older siblings, I'm super close with my baby sister (who is only 2 years younger than me) and my mom.  My husband thinks we're fighting if I don't talk to my sister more than 2 days in a row, and we've been known to spend hours on the phone 2-3 different times in the same day. So being so far away is hard!  We've been pretty lucky, and have been able to travel home at least once a year every year except one I believe.  I don't think we went home at all in 2009, so my little sister came up here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

More Good Photo Deals at Walgreens

I really wish we had a Walgreens here.  Even though we don't have one in Minot, I still get the majority of my photos from there.  My sister picks a lot of them up for me, but occasionally I have them shipped to me here instead.  Next week Elliott and I are most likely going to be going to my parents' house for a little vacation before school starts.  My little sister and I plan on doing quite a few crafting projects, including some scrapping.  I'm thinking of doing a quick and easy (and small) scrapping project for my mom and my mother in law for Christmas, so I am ordering some more pictures.

4x6 prints are only 10 cents each with an order of 50 or more, by using the code PRINTFUN.  Collages and enlargements are 50% by using the code HANGIT.  That makes the 4x6 collages only 15 cents each.  I do these a lot of times for my son, so he can use them in his own scrapbook that he's working on, and we also frame them in his room. They are super quick and easy.  Here's one that he just ordered.  You can put as many as 20 pictures on one collage (although that makes them really small, of course).  We usually stick to 3-4 on a 4x6, though.

The codes I mentioned are both only good through tomorrow, so hurry if you want to get these deals!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Clearance Scrapbook Shopping at Hobby Lobby

One of my favorite hobbies is scrapbooking. I've always loved the idea, but have only really started working on layouts regularly during the last few weeks.  As most of you probably know, scrapbooking isn't a cheap hobby.  Because of that, I don't go to Hobby Lobby very often.  But because Elliott and I have been doing more scrapping lately, we decided to go last week and check what they had on clearance. When my basement flooded last summer, the scrapbook I was working on was easily found, but my stickers, scissors, etc, all magically disappeared.  I've been looking and looking for them, but still haven't found them.

We printed out a 40% off on any one item coupon to use on the Disney scrapping paper Elliott's been asking for, since he's really looking forward to scrapping our Florida vacation from March.  We found several clearance buys on stickers that we liked, as well. We're still behind on scrapping other stuff, but most of what we bought was for the Disney scrapbook that we are starting today.  Elliott's really excited about actually being able to journal some of his own thoughts and feelings in this one.  Since it wasn't JUST a Disney vacation, we bought plenty of other beachy stickers as well.  And the dog and cat ones he needed for his regular scrapbook since we routinely scrap pictures of him and his dogs and cat, as well. :)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

KMart Clearance Shopping

After trying all week to make it into Minot, I was finally able to get there yesterday.  Minot doesn't have a whole lot of choices for shopping, so we have to make due with what they have.  They don't have a single children's clothing store, and since my son is tall and skinny, I hate shopping online for him.  We buy most of his clothing from Old Navy and KMart as a result.  Last week with the 40% off clearance clothing sale, along with 50% off clearance toys, I knew we had to go.

We shop for Christmas and birthdays year round.  We usually end up "adopting" 2-3 kids to buy Christmas presents for, plus we buy other toys to donate as well.  And then of course, there's the stuff for my son, nieces, friends' kids, etc, and it looks like a toy factory exploded in my basement by the end of November. :)  We couldn't afford nearly as much as we donate if we didn't shop clearance all year round, so Kmart's 50% sale is one of our favorites.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Get a FREE 8x10 Photo Book ($19.99 value)

I was browsing today, and came across a coupon code for a free 8.5x11 Classic Photo book from Walgreens.  They have a bunch of different designs and a lot of different layouts as well.  The coupon code is CREATEBOOK.  If you live in the Las Vegas or New Orleans area, you can pick it up in store for even more savings.  Otherwise, shipping is $6.99.

I don't have any personal experience with this particular photo book, but the smaller, cheaper ones, I've ordered in the past have been nice, and they always do a good job on pictures as well, so I imagine these books would be high quality as well!

But hurry!  The code is only good through midnight tonight, July 9th!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Halfway Through the Year, How's the Debt?

I know I didn't go over a total amount of debt at the beginning of the year, but I have all the numbers saved on my computer.  At the beginning of the year, we had $75,769.96 in debt, including our house, our 2008 Uplander, student loans, and  credit card debt.  Now that the year is half over, we've actually added a little bit to our debt, and now stand at $77,942.00. The reason for that is that we built up our savings account a little bit to give us an emergency fund, and then we bought a second car (2005 Impala) since we're going to be needing it when Elliott starts school in the fall, since I plan on driving him every day.  We had planned on saving for a second car, and buying one that we could pay cash for, but we ultimately decided that since winter is COLD here, and I will be driving 17 miles each way twice a day, and my husband drives 20 miles each way to work, we should get one a little more reliable.  So we just put $2000 down on the Impala and financed the rest. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Getting Back To Normal

Well, the worst of the flooding in Minot is over now, and there's a second route between north and south Minot.  We still have a really long road to recovery, but we're moving in the right direction now.

The city of Minot is under a boil order and conservation mandate, but they still have running water, which is pretty major, all things considered.  We've been extra busy at our house because we still have clean tap water, so I've done some children's laundry for friends that aren't so lucky.  Minot actually supplies the water to a pretty big part of north central North Dakota, so there are a lot of people with dirty water, but as far as I know, everyone does have water now.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Preparing for the Unexpected--Minot, ND

I'm sure by now that a lot of you who had maybe never even heard of Minot, ND, know where it is now.  We're having MAJOR flooding right now, and it's expected to get much worse than it ever has in recorded history.  I actually live 30 miles north of Minot, so I'm not affected in the aspect of having to evacuate or anything like that, but that certainly doesn't mean we aren't affected by the flooding at all.

If any of you have ever visited my part of the world, you know that it's very rural.  North Dakota, as a whole, is a very low population state.  Minot is the fourth largest city in the state, and still has less than 50K in it.  But it serves a much larger area than most cities do in a higher populated state.  Just to paint a quick picture, the town I live in, is 30 miles north of Minot.  As far as businesses go, we don't have much.  To get groceries, we have the option to drive over 15 miles to a tiny locally owned grocery store, or to drive the 30 miles to Minot, assuming you don't have base privileges (the Air Force base is located 20 miles south of here).  The people that live 15 miles away from me in the town previously mentioned, live over 40 from Minot, and still have to go to Minot for anything not offered at their tiny grocery store, or to go to the mall, Target, Walmart, etc.  And that's pretty much the norm in every direction.  Also, people from Canada (I believe that it's a little more than 50 miles from Minot to the Canadian border) frequently drive into Minot to shop and for entertainment.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Stretching Money by Signing Up For Samples-Includes Links!

I used to spend a few hours every week looking for new samples to send for, and would usually end up getting a lot of great ones.  Nowhere near all of the ones I sent for came, but I still got enough to keep me happy.  Somewhere along the way, things got way too crazy, and I quit looking for them quite as much.  I do still order samples, but now mostly just stick to a few sites that I know will send them out, or occasionally manage to get one or two from facebook or something.

At first glance, it might not seem like looking for samples is worth the time, since they are usually pretty small.  But a lot of them come with coupons, too, and then they become more worth it.  Also, sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised and find a pretty big sample, or even full sized products (we've received full size deodorants, air freshener, and several nice razors over the years).  We've also found several products that we probably wouldn't have tried without samples, so it's working for them as well.  In fact, my son's newest favorite cereal was found through a sample box that came in the mail in April.

Monday, June 20, 2011

New Pampers Gifts to Grow Codes

I saw a post on Twitter today (follow me @carlaabt) with a new Pampers Gifts to Grow code only good for today.  After I saw it, I decided to look around and see what other codes I could find.  Even if you don't have children in diapers, signing up is worth it.  There are a lot of codes out there, and they are released fairly frequently.

Here's a list of current codes that I found today.  They were all current as of today, but please let me know if any of them are expired so I can remove them.

50 Prints for $5, Includes Shipping

Right now Snapfish has 50 prints for $5 in honor of Father's Day.  $.10 each is my price point that I'm willing to pay, and it's past time for me to order some Disney prints from our trip in March.  I've ordered some for my parents and in laws, but haven't ordered any for myself yet.  Now is the time!

Use the coupon code DADDYPICS to get your prints, through June 27!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Finding Extra Money to Put Toward Debt

Paying down debt now is really important to my husband and me.  We have a mortgage, two financed cars, two student loans, and 2 credit card balances, plus a store card balance (but we're only paying $40 a month on it, and it will be paid off in November, before the no interest period ends in December).  That's just way too much debt for me!  So we're working on getting rid of it.

One thing we've really struggled with is trying to find more money to put toward the debt.  Everyone suggests you cut out things you don't need, drop your cell phone minutes down, cancel cable, etc.  We already have the lowest number of cell minutes, and can't give it up totally because my husband's an EMT and on call a lot.  Our cable only costs $3 more than what our internet would be without it, and I need internet for my job.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Refinancing For a Better Rate

We bought our Chevy Uplander in May 2008. It was a program car, so pretty new (2008) and we got a decent deal on it. Unfortunately, we were upside down on our current car that we traded in, due to a really bad deal that my husband got on his truck in tech school. We had originally wanted to go ahead and pay off the car before we traded up, but decided that it just wasn't going to work that way after all. We were in Missouri, and had just traveled over 1000 miles with a 2 year old, 3 dogs (2 weighed over 50 lbs, and the other about 20), and a cat. It just wasn't a comfortable ride, and since we are stationed over 1000 miles from "home" it's a trip we frequently make. We decided to look at minivans, and if we could get one with a lower payment than what we had on the car, we would take it. We ended up getting a payment about $20 lower a month, so we took it, even though it added 2 years to our loan (since we had been paying on our car for 2 years). It was obviously worth more than our older car, and seems to be holding it's value better as well. We ended up with a terrible interest rate, though, because we were upside down, had recently bought a house, and had some credit card debt.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Walgreens Freebies EXPIRED

A great way to save money on presents is to take advantage of any freebies offered by different companies, and save the good ones for gifts.  Right now Walgreens has a great freebie, but only this weekend.  You can get a completely free 8x10 collage print for Father's day, by entering the code 1freebie at checkout, but hurry, it's only good until June 18!  They also have regular 4x6 prints  30 for $3, a coupon code for $10 off $20 or more of photo gifts, and a BOGO offer on 11x14 collage posters.  Pick up your prints in store, and save even more!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Planning For a Possible Move?

My husband put in for a base of preference transfer recently and we are waiting to hear whether or not we get to move. We've been here his entire career so far (he got here in August 2004), so we definitely feel like it's time to move on. Waiting is hard for me, though, especially with so much up in the air. We should find out whether or not this BOP gets approved before Elliott starts school, but that still seems so far away. We also have a lot of different plans and ideas, depending on whether or not he gets it, and when we get to go.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Planning Early For Christmas and Birthdays

I'm a big planner, no matter what the occasion. I already admitted to spending a year planning our vacation. I also spend most of the year planning for Christmas and birthdays as well. One of the ways that I've found easiest to do this is to have my husband and my son both keep a current Amazon wishlist. It's a lot harder to keep my husband on top of this, but my son loves it. He lists toys that he sees on TV, or movies that he would like to see. He also usually has a fairly extensive list of books. I check the lists fairly frequently (since my son is only five I help him make his anyway), and watch for sales on Amazon. That also reenforces the items on the list, so that if I see something on sale at another store, I can grab it when I have the chance.

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Discount Vacation to Disney!

My son never missed a chance to meet Goofy!
My husband deployed last May, and was gone for six months. Before he left, we decided that while he was gone, I was going to plan for, and save for a Florida vacation in March. We had been kicking the idea around for a while, but didn't have a set time or plan until that point. He put in for leave, and I started looking for great deals.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Crazy Busy Here

We went on vacation in March, for almost the entire month. There was some stress in February, trying to figure out if my husband's shop was even going to let him go, so other things got pushed to the side.

We came home the first weekend in April, to minor flooding in the basement. As the month progressed, we had more and more rain and snow melting, and ended up down there cleaning out water for almost the entire month! In May, our nearest "big" town had a lot of evacuation going on because of flooding. So needless to say, there has been way too much stuff going on.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Things Have Been Crazy!

Things have been super crazy for the last two weeks, so I haven't had much time online at all. My son's birthday was on the first, so we spent a bunch of family time together, and I ignored my computer for the most part. Now my husband is working 12+ hour shifts, and things are always crazy then. We haven't had any super awesome trips lately, but we've had a few decent ones. I'm going to try to post a few of the current deals I've been able to score recently within the next few days, though!

And hopefully I'll be making another really awesome trip before the month is over. Next month we will be on vacation for almost the entire month (Walt Disney World here we come!), so we're trying to keep our spending pretty low this month. I have some pretty awesome coupons, though, so I should still be able to get some good deals on foods that we can eat in the car, or in our hotel room.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saving Money by Shopping Around

I'll be the first to admit that I don't do a lot of shopping around when it comes to grocery purchases. I live in an area where there just aren't many choices. I can buy groceries at the commissary, a tiny local store that charges A LOT (which I still use occasionally because I like supporting our local economy), the four or five stores in Minot that are owned by the same people, or the Super Walmart. There are a few groceries available at Target, CVS, and KMart, and that's pretty much the extent of my options. I DO look through the ads of every local store on Sundays or Mondays to see what the best deals are, and if it's a really good deal, I try to stop by whichever store when I'm in the area. Or I send my husband to the store with a specific list (there's something he thinks he needs at Menards almost every week anyway, so he's already in Minot regularly).

Friday, January 21, 2011

Make Money With Beezag!

This weekend is a great time to join Beezag if you haven't already! When you join Beezag you get paid to view short video clips. They also offer discounts and other savings to members, based on what you like. You do earn a 10% commission on everyone who joins under you, so if you are interested and would like to use my referral link, I would greatly appreciate it. You can check it out HERE.

My First FREE Trip!

On Wednesday morning I got a call that the special order my husband had placed was ready to be picked up at the commissary. I had already spent a bunch of time the week before planning my trip and sorting coupons, so I was ready to shop! I asked on the phone if it would be a problem to break up my special order into two different shops, and they assured me it would be very easy. I LOVE my commissary!

My husband had taken the van to work on Wednesday since he's having trouble with the windshield wipers on his truck, so I spent even more time checking prices and printing coupons. By the time he got home from work, my son and I were ready to shop! I have a coupon binder, but haven't bought the inserts yet to put it together, so I'm still working with an expandable file folder. So I sorted out coupons I knew we would use for sure in one envelope, sorted another of ones I wasn't sure about, and left the others right where they belonged, so I could use them on an unadvertised deal if I found one.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Big Coupon Savings

Friday I had to meet my husband after he got off work so we could run a few errands. We wanted to hit the 75% off clearance toy sale at Target, and since I already had to go on base, I decided I should run to the commissary for a few things we needed. My four year old son was hungry anyway, so off we went. When I got there I was surprised (and happy!) to find that one of the things that was on my list for Target was actually on sale much cheaper at the commissary. I had 14 $.75 off Snuggle coupons that I was planning on splitting up between the commissary, Target and Walmart, since the commissary had the best price on the dryer sheets, Walmart had the best price on the big bottles, and Target carried my favorite scent. Well, this weekend the commissary had a huge display of the 32 load Creme Jojoba scent bottles marked down to $.99 each and a bunch of the peach blossom and sunshine dryer sheets marked down to $.89 each! I couldn't pass that deal up, so I ended up using ten coupons on the liquid and the other 4 for the dryer sheets.

Extreme Couponing

So, I've always used coupons, at least casually, since I first moved out of my parents' house. I haven't always done as well as I should with them, though. Last year my husband was deployed for several months, and during that time we ended up accumulating some extra debt due to poor communication, overspending, etc. So one of our biggest goals this year is to use more coupons, and watch sales more closely. I've managed to keep our grocery budget under $300 a month for quite a while anyway (we're a family of 3 with two dogs), so now my new goal for the first half of the year is under $200. If I can attain that, I'm hoping to drop it to around $150 for the second half of the year, and leave it there.

Vacation Countdown Ticker