Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A New Me!

With the ending of another year we find ourselves looking back at the good and the bad things of the past year. I tend to think of all the good things first but the bad does creep in once in awhile.

One of my biggest accomplishments of 2011 has been my desire to just be Me and be a healthier me! I had reached the highest weight I've ever been - not pregnant. And the above before picture was what really sent me into Must make a change mood. I didn't realize that's how I really looked.

So the Journey began! Started with eating right and working out! 5 days a week at the gym and for 6 weeks I had no change in the number on the scale. Totally discouraged I figured I was doing something wrong or there was something wrong with me. So off to the doctor I went. Nothing in my blood work showed a reason for me to not be loosing weight so I was told to either do Weight Watchers or go to the Weight Loss Clinic. I chose Weight Watchers. Joined and started adding a Spin Class to my routine.

Never was any of this fun but very quickly I noticed I actually felt better all around.

After 3 months on Weight Watchers I had the system down and was doing great. Then it happened.....Yes the dreaded Plateau.....a two month plateau and I was doing everything by the book! How frustrating was that. But I kept focusing on the fact that I wasn't gaining either so I hung onto that.

In September I took a leap of faith and became an Independent Distributor for It Works! Global Marketing! This company has changed my life in so many ways! I was able to continue my healthy eating habits from Weight Watchers and start taking some all natural supplements to come along side my efforts and help me get over that weight loss hump I was in. (more information on It Works to come at a later date)

As of today I've lost 24 lbs since May and feel the healthiest I have in years!

I'll be sharing more details later but wanted to get back into the blog and start changing it over to a more overall blog rather than just Couponing. Don't worry the Couponing is going to be coming back in full force after our Move in January!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Changing it Up!

Well Friends, It's time to change up my blog a bit!

Stay tuned for more information.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Wags ~ Free Markers & Cheap Shave Cream

Walgreens trip 8/14/2011:

Cost : $76.14
Wags Coupon Savings : $8.00
Wags Advertised Savings : $36.00
MFG Coupon Savings : $29.00.
Paid : $3.14 ~ 96% savings!

Shaving Cream with Wag in store coupon - $1.99 each
Used 2-$1.50/1 printable coupon from
Final cost $.49 each for two
Used 2-$1.00/1 printable coupon from
Final Cost $.99 each for two
(these coupons I printed three weeks ago and hadn't had a chance to use them yet)

Dry Erase Markers on sale for $3.99 ~ with Wags in store coupon - $.99 each
Used 3 -$2.00/2 printable coupon from
Final cost $FREE!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Next to Free Toothpaste

I'm a little picky about my toothpaste so whenever I get Sensodyne coupons I always make sure I check out Target's Travel Size Toothpaste. Not all the Sensodyne coupons will work for these so you have to read the fine print.

Today I cleaned out my Coupon Binder and there were two coupons One for $1/1 Sensodyne Pronamel and one for $.75/1 Any Sensodyne. So I was able to get 16 for $1.88 or $.12 each! Better yet I had a $5 Gift Card from a deal a couple of weeks ago on Hair Dye so I had no out of pocket costs.

**Target note: The cashier told me that they have a "New" policy that you can't get more than 6 of the same item with coupons. So he had to ring mine up in three different transactions. When I asked for a copy of the policy he showed me his copy and the "6 of one item per family" was hand written in. I'm not sure how well that will hold up but next time I go I will keep this in mind. So make sure you check with your Target if you are getting more than 6 of the same item and using coupons for all of them.**

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Homemade Laundry Soap

I've been making my own laundry soap for over a year and a half now and I love how much money it has saved our family.

This one batch lasts my family of 5 for 6-8 months.

I make the first recipe and love it! I've used the Fels-Naptha and Zote soap before. I prefer the Fels-Naptha over the Zote. It seems to dissolve better than the Zote Soap does.

Remember there is no smell to this soap so if you are used to a highly perfumed laundry soap this might be a change for you. I use the bounce dryer bars so all my clothes come out smelling like that!

The first time I made this it cost me about $5-$6 for the supplies and another $4-$8 for the bucket and a smaller container to put the soap in for easy pouring. At the time I didn't have a left over bottle of laundry soap. I've also used an empty milk jug before and that works well too. Just make sure you mark the bottle clearly as it does look a little like juice. Don't want the kids getting into it.

All these supplies can be found at your local Walmart. I had a little trouble at the local grocery stores not having all the items.

Try it out and let me know what you think!

~ Melinda ~

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap- Front or top load machine- best value

4 Cups - hot tap water
1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*
½ Cup Borax

- Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)

-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.

-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.

-Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)

-Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)

*Arm & Hammer "Super Washing Soda" - Baking Soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent - It must be sodium carbonate!!

Powdered Laundry Detergent - Top load machine

1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*
½ Cup Borax

-Grate soap or break into pieces and process in a food processor until powdered. Mix all ingredients. For light load, use 1 Tablespoon. For heavy or heavily soiled load, use 2 Tablespoons. Yields: 3 Cups detergent. (Approx. 40 loads)

*Arm & Hammer "Super Washing Soda" - Baking Soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent - It must be sodium carbonate!!

TIPS FOR LAUNDRY SOAP: We use Fels-Naptha bar soap in the homemade soap recipes, but you can use Ivory, Sunlight, Kirk's Hardwater Castile or Zote bars. Don't use heavily perfumed soaps. We buy Fels-Naptha by the case from our local grocer or online. Washing Soda and Borax can often be found on the laundry or cleaning aisle. Recipe cost approx. $2 per batch.

Inexpensive Fabric Softener Recipes

Recipe #1
1 Cup White Vinegar
Add vinegar to rinse cycle. Works great. Removes residue and odors. Also helps to keep washing machine and hoses fresh and clean too.

Recipe #2

1 Container of Name Brand Fabric Softener
4 Inexpensive sponges, cut in half

Pour entire container of softener into a 5 gallon bucket. Fill empty softener container with water twice. (2 parts water to 1 part softener) Add sponges to softener/water mixture. When ready to use wring out extra mixture from one sponge and add to the dryer as you would a dryer sheet.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Expired Coupons ~ On their way to Turkey!

I'm sending out the first envelope of expired coupons to our Adopted base in Incirlik, Turkey!

$840.69 worth of coupons heading there way!

I'll keep a running total on the right side of the blog.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Commissary Deals

Today there were a lot of extra coupons at the Commissary. Peel Pad's everywhere!

Here are a few of the deals I got today:

Country Time powdered Juice - $1.25 each after Peel Coupon
8 oz Mustard - $.49 after Peel coupon/I used one from a box of Pretzels that I had purchased
Hormel Kids Meals - $.50 each after coupon from inserts
Wacky Mac - $.79 each after coupon from inserts
Old El Paso Salsa - $2.08 each after printable coupon (had to buy 3 for coupon)
Old El Paso Seasoning Packets - $.18 each after coupon from inserts
Soy Sauce - $.15 after printable coupon
Chex Mix - $.59 each after printable coupon
Lysol Toilet bowl Cleaner - $.79 each after Peel Coupon
Mr Clean Erasers - $.52 per package of 2 after coupon from inserts

All the insert coupons I used came from either the 5/1 or 5/8 coupon inserts.
The Printable coupons came from

I saved about $40 on my trip today and was able to stock up on a few things for my stockpile.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Commissary Deals

I had a 30 minute break between one grocery store trip and having to pick up my kids from school so I made a quick trip to the Commissary.

The Carefree pantyliner's were FREE!! Note the coupon from this past weekend said "Free up to $1 OR $1 off" So there was no overage on these because they were under a dollar they just took off the actual price.

Toothbrushes I paid around $.50 for each of them. The coupon I had was $2 off two and it was a printable I've had in my binder for awhile that was about to expire.

The Propel I paid around $2.50 for all of them! This coupon was in the Pepsi insert on 5/1. It was for $1 off one propel or one 6pk propel zero. The individual propels I was able to get two for under a dollar and the remaining went toward my other purchases. To make a bigger money maker I could have just purchased 6 single bottles. Used my 6 coupons and I would have had made about $3.60 on those. Since my girls like these I just decided to use as much of the coupon value as I could for the Propels.

The pink pull ups I paid $6.95 each and the over nights I paid full price for.

Saved $20.90 in coupons.
Paid under $30 for all the items in the picture. (the pull ups alone full price would have been $27.00)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

When the Budget over rides the Stockpile!

When the Budget over rides the Stockpile!

I started this morning with my printed list of deals from Walgreens that are items we would use. I took that list to my coupon binder and started gathering the coupons that went with those deals and marking on my list how many of each I thought I should buy.

Next I went back to my computer to edit my list. Some of the items on the original list I decided we either didn't need this week or I didn't have the right coupons to make it a great deal. After editing my master list I started making my "Transactions" list. With Register Rewards it's very important to understand how each transaction is going to work to your full advantage. So I'm typing away placing each item in the right transaction to get the biggest bang for my buck.

Then I stepped back and did a few "totals" calculations. I totaled up all my OOP (out of pocket) costs vs my over all coupon and RR savings.

And that's where it hit me. 30 minutes into planning my Walgreens shopping trip. The "budget" was going to over rule the good deals that would add to my beautiful stockpile. Even though all these items were things we would use and they were Amazing prices, bottom line, the budget this pay period won't support me spending $20 so I can save $16 on items we probably wouldn't even use for another three weeks or so.

It's OK to NOT take advantage of every good deal there is each week. Know what your budget is, Know your limits, Know your stockpile and how long it will last your family. This is how you will succeed above and beyond with your couponing ventures.

So in the end ~ I scrapped the entire list. I have item's I'd like to go purchase at Walgreens on Friday but they are not Must Haves so If there isn't enough funds after the regular Grocery Shopping trip than that's ok!

Save where you can and be ok with walking away from a great deal if you need to!

~ Melinda ~

Expired Coupons

I'm so excited I just adopted an Air Force Base to send Expired Coupons to!

In the name of "Stretching the Air Force Dollar" I will be shipping expired coupons to

Incirlik, Turkey!

If you have expired coupons you would like to contribute let me know. I plan to mail them out once or twice a month depending on how many I have to send. They can not be more than two months expired.

If you would like to adopt a base with your blog or organization click Here for more information.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Extra Coupons!

Tip: Check the packages of what you buy! The Noxzema Razors I purchased last week at Walgreens each had a $2 coupon on my next purchase of those exact same razors! (the 2 I purchased from Walmart did not have the coupon in them)

Now, I'm not normally one to open packages until I need them....but I did open those 4 and took the coupons out. If another good deal doesn't come along I can always get cheap ones from Walmart since they are $2.67 regular price there. I used these razors yesterday and I'm happy with them! I'm a little picky when it comes to razors...

The Frozen Pretzels I buy for my girls after school snacks almost always have a coupon for Honey Mustard Sauce on the inside of the box and at the commissary I end up paying less than $.50 for them.

So keep your eyes open and maybe you'll find some extra coupons!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Unexpected Blessings

Have you ever been going through the Grocery Store and found a coupon laying next to a product you want to by? Total excitement for me when that happens. Possibly even a little squeal. I try not to get too excited. After all I don't want anyone thinking I'm a coupon freak or anything.....Well I guess my coupon binder gives that away. But still.

As I go through the store if I have more coupons than I will use of an item before they expire I will leave them by the product on the shelf. I know how excited I get when I find unexpected coupons and it makes me smile to know I might be giving that back to someone else.

So even though this is something little it may be something Huge to someone else! Take time to leave Unexpected Blessings for others in your Store!

~ Melinda ~

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Tip on Shopping Lists

I want to give credit where credit is due. 90% of the deals I'm able to get at the Drug Stores I get from the match ups over at

Here is what I do so I don't get confused when I get to the store.

For today I was going to Walgreens. So I looked up the Walgreens match ups over at and I copy and paste it to a Word Document.

Then I line by line go through and see what items I might be interested in getting. The items I don't need, don't have the coupons for, or don't have the money for I delete. Keeping the items I'm interested in on the page. Going back to the web page when needed to print the printables she has links for.

Then when I'm done I print the list and I'm ready to pull all my coupons and go.

I like this method because she lists the entire deal in detail so when you get to the store you know what items are simply free with coupon and what ones you will be getting RR back for.

Sometimes if I have a lot of items on the list I will set up my ideal transactions list before I go. This helps me not miss something and it helps me get through the checkout a lot faster.

I hope that is helpful to some of you that are new or get frustrated with Drug Store couponing.

98% Savings at Walgreens!

I do think this may be my best trip ever!

All my match ups for this trip came from Hip2Save. Click here. Here match ups are done really well. I never have issues with them being wrong like some of the other sites.

Transaction #1
6 Right Guard body wash (These are on sale BOGO free already. The cashier kind of questioned it but it is in their coupon policy that you CAN use a BOGO Free coupon on products that are on sale for BOGO Free)
2 Tylenol Pain Cream
1 BOGO Razor pack (This was a random one on the shelf at my Walgreens. A lucky find. It's the package on the far right it's basically two packages hooked together.)
1 Razor pack (I needed more on my bill in order to use my $3 RR. Typically I would have done this one separate in order to get yet another $3RR for my next trip.)
3 Bogo FREE Right Guard coupons
2 $5/1 printable coupons for the Pain Cream
1 $3/1 Walgreens coupon for the Pain Cream (took $6 off)
2 $2/1 Coupons from 5/1 inserts for the Razors.
1 $3 Register Reward from my trip on Saturday.
Total Paid: $.96
Received 1 - $3 RR for my next trip from the Razors.

Transaction #2
1 Razor Pack
2 M&M's (Again I needed more on my bill in order to use my RR)
1 $2/1 Coupon from 5/1 inserts for the Razors
1 $3 Register Reward from my trip on Saturday
Total Paid: $.40
Received 1 - $3 RR for my next trip from the Razors

Grand Totals:

Total Cost: $62.51
Walgreens Savings : $19.68
Coupons Savings : $41.47
Total Paid: $1.36 98% Savings
AND I have 2 - $3 RR for my next trip!

Whoot A successful trip to Walgreens!
(not all my trips there are a success so I'm over joyed when they are!)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Coupon Train

Have any of you participated in a Coupon Train?

They have always been of interest to me but I've never been able to get in on one.

If you are interested in being part of one or have any tips on doing one e-mail me at

I'd love to get one started if there is enough interest.

~ Melinda ~

Walmart 5/3 - 90% Savings

I made a Walmart run today. I don't do this often but I got so many new coupons this weekend I wanted to see what prices were at Walmart on a lot of them.

Ivory Soap $.03 each Money Maker - $.97 used $1/1 coupon from 5/1 inserts
(note the coupon says limit of 4 of these coupons per Shopping trip! Please read the coupons and follow the rules!)

K-Y $.38 each Money Maker - $2.62 used $3/1 printable coupon

Travel size Shampoo & Conditioner $.47 each after coupon - $.97 each used a save $1 on conditioner when you buy shampoo coupon that came in a booklet I got in the mail.

Travel size Deodorant $.03 each money maker - $.97 used a $1/1 coupon that came in the same booklet as the Shampoo

Razors $$.67 each after coupon - $2.67 used the $2/1 coupon from the 5/1 inserts. There is a moneymaker deal at Walgreens this week. It was reported that some Walmarts had them for $1.67 so check yours and see. You could get them for free at Walmart. (I still think $.67 is a good deal)

Gauze Pads $.56 each after coupon - $1.56 used $1/1 printable coupon (Great to throw in your emergency bin....)

Toothbrush $.47 each after coupon - $1.97 used $1.50/1 coupon from 5/1 inserts. They only had two on the shelf or I would have picked up more. There may be a better deal on these between now and when they expire.

My total trip:

Pre Coupon total was $24.43
Coupons used $22.00
PAID : $2.43
90% Savings

Stockpile Rotation

Do you have a method on rotating your stock pile or your emergency bins?

I've never had a rotation issue with my stockpile mainly because I've never had too much stockpile. I stick strictly with about a 3 month supply when it comes to food items. And usually within that three months there is at least one paycheck where something comes up financially and we use part of our Grocery money for an unexpected bill of some kind. (It's ok Real life happens sometimes and we just roll with it!) This is why I love my stockpile. When things like this come up my family still has a ton of food and they typically don't know that I didn't spend as much on groceries that week.

However, if you do have a large stockpile, make sure to put new items behind the ones you already have. I take a black marker and write the expiration date on the box or bottle big enough that I can see it easily. So if I see I have salad dressings that need to be used up this month I can either plan them into my menu or donate them to someone that can use them within that time frame.

I've seen some ladies that will have a shelf that is designated for items that will expire in the next month or two. As they are putting away their weekly groceries they will move those items to one shelf and then when they are planning their weekly or monthly menu they will start with those items on the menu so they use what needs to be eaten first.

The things that I feel are a MUST when it comes to rotation are the items in my Emergency bins. I don't want to be in an emergency situation and realize my batteries are four years old and no longer work or the food expired 6 months ago. Here is my method of rotation. If I have batteries in my Emergency bin than when I purchase new batteries for my "normal" stockpile I will swap them out for the ones in the bins. Moving the ones from the bins into my pantry for the family to use.

Another way is to mark your calendar every couple of months and set aside time to go through your emergency bins and check the dates. I don't have many things in my bins that will expire anytime soon so I will probably only do this once a year. A good reminder is twice a year when the time changes they say change your smoke detector batteries. You could make it a habit to check your emergency kits at the same time. Just a thought.

Just a side note. My current emergency bins are mainly for toiletries, soap, cleaning supplies, paper products. I don't have a food emergency bin yet so if you do have a food emergency bin you could put a list of the items and expiration dates on the side or top of the bin and then rotate accordingly. My plan for a food emergency bin is to have a bin available and ready to throw food into it if we needed to evacuate again.

These are clearly just my thoughts and what has worked for me and my family. I'm always getting idea's and tips from others who do things differently from me and I love it! There is no Wrong way to do these things. It's a lot of trial and error. Find what works for you and stick with it. Oh and SHARE! Share your ways with others and ask lots of questions if you are trying to solve a specific problem. You'd be surprised how much you could bless someone else by just sharing with them how you organize your crazy stockpile!

I'd love to hear your stories or solutions for crazy storage and rotation of of your stockpile!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Walgreens: *HOT* Cottonelle Bathroom tissue

Wow did I get a good deal at Walgreens today!

I was able to pick up 4 - 12 roll packages of Cottonelle Bathroom Tissue for about $1.50 Each!
The deal I have linked below will get you them for $2 per package. I used my $3 RR from my trip yesterday to make the deal even better!

I saw the deal over at Kansas City Mama's : Click here for the links to the coupons. Follow her on Facebook and let her know I sent you over!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Wags Trip 4/30

Total Cost : $27.06
Paid OOP : $6.26 - Have $3 RR to use on next purchase

I got all this for $3.26 if you subtract the RR I received.

The Stayfree pads are $2.99. Buy 1 get a $3 RR. Take the Walgreens flier with you they are at the front of the store. These were not marked on the shelf. This deal I believe ends TODAY. I also had a $1 off coupon for each of them so I made money off those.

The Cereal was advertised special of $1.99 each and if you buy 4 of them you get an un-advertised RR for $3 off your next purchase. They ended up being $1.24 per box. (I am not sure how long this deal is for the $1.99 price is thru TODAY)

Here is how I did it for the least OOP.

Transaction #1
1 Stayfree Pad $2.99
used 1 Printable coupon from for $1 off
Paid: 2.15 and received a $3 RR

Transaction #2
1 Stayfree Pad $2.99
used 1 Printable coupon from for $1 off
Paid: 2.15 and received a $3 RR

Transaction #3
4 boxes Cereal $1.99 each
Used 2 - $3 RR from transaction 1 & 2
Paid $1.96 and received a $3 RR

Friday, April 29, 2011

Re Stocking!

I am starting to re stock my coupon binder!

Which will lead to re stocking my stockpile!

And with lots of good deals comes more posts on my blog!


Friday, April 22, 2011

My Emergency Kit Journey

~ My Emergency Kit Journey ~

My goal for my emergency kit is that if there was an emergency and we had to up and leave our home I would be able to grab a few things and take off. No stress, no panic, and allow me to quickly and easily get my family to safety. Or have time to help a neighbor who maybe wasn't as prepared or who's spouse isn't available to help them.

Emergencies almost NEVER come when we are financially prepared or when we have time to plan and pack. They come out of the blue, unexpected, and tend to cause overwhelming amounts of stress and anxiety to everyone around you. Wouldn't it be awesome if you were prepared in some way?

We have a truck so I wanted things in bins that can be grabbed and thrown in the back of the truck. So if you have a van or a car you will want to think what would fit best in your vehicle if you needed to grab and go. I don't want to have to be re arranging my items from one bag or bin to another because it wouldn't fit. You may not have that kind of time in an emergency.

So here is my Kit so far. I had an empty Red bin in our storage area. (rare thing...bins are almost NEVER empty at my house) Here is what I gathered from my house. These are all things that I have in my stockpile. Part of the reason for having a stockpile is so that you never have to pay full price for anything. Also note that I didn't put my Favorite items in here....the bath items are items I got for free or close to it but they aren't my preferred shampoo, conditioner, or body wash. But if no soap is available you won't care what kind it is.

In my Bin: (this is just a start)
3 Paper Towel
2 laundry soap
1 finish dishwasher tablets
1 napkins
1 Stayfree Pads
1 Tissues
2 Travel Wipes
Trash bags
6 misc medications (pain reliever, sinus meds, Nyquil ~ Watch expiration dates/Rotate if needed)
2 Candles
9 full size bathroom products (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, shaving cream, toothpaste)
1 Ajax
1 Rubber Gloves (I will be putting more of these in but this is all I had on hand)
1 room spray
2 bug spray
1 bag of bathroom samples (shampoo, body wash, any samples I have in the house)
1 bag of Laundry samples (laundry soap, dryer sheets, softeners)

We don't have a lot of storage so my bin is sitting by my dryer. I use it to set my laundry basket on when I'm getting laundry out. Easy to get to!

If you notice in the above picture there is room for more items in my bin. I will be adding more things to it as I'm able to get them on sale. Again my intent wasn't to run out and spend a lot of money to put this together. I wanted to see what we had in the house that I could set aside and use in an emergency.

These are all essential items that if your evacuated and without a home these would probably be the items you would run to Walmart to pick up. If we had to go to Walmart to pick up these items in an emergency situation it would cost us well over $100. And like I said before Emergencies don't always happen when you have extra money in your bank account. It's not enough to last my family more than a few weeks at most, however, it would help tide us over so we can use what funds we do have available for food, lodging, or Gas to get to a safe place.

I have not done a food emergency kit and I'm not sure I will be doing that. I will probably have an empty bin available so I can toss what's in the pantry into the bin and go. We have a "Snack bin" in the pantry for the kids snacks and in an emergency that is what I would grab if I didn't have time to grab the other items. It is almost always at least half full and could last my kids awhile if we were in the truck traveling.

I encourage you to start your own bin. It may only have one or two things in it to start but I'm sure over time you could have a good emergency bin. Take your time and make your bin your own. What I feel my family needs is NOT what you may need for your family. It's as easy as buying one extra item each payday.

Couponing Withdraws

I'm going through some serious Couponing Withdraws!

Am I the only crazy person that goes through this?

And all the couponing shows on TV are NOT helping!

Dear Air Force ~ If you could please station us somewhere that has a Publix, Kroger, Smiths, or Any grocery store that doubles or triples Coupons I would be one Happy Air Force Wife! ~Thanks

Today I'm filling my Emergency Bin ~ I'll post on that soon with pictures and lists of what I've decided to put into it!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Emergency Plan

~ Getting prepared ~

On April 15, 2010 we were evacuated from our home because of wildfires that were a few blocks from our home. We were fortunate that we have no damage other than our home smelling like smoke for a few days. We knew there were fires but until the last minute we had no idea we were going to be evacuated. I went to pick up my girls from school and when I came back they were Not letting people back into our subdivision. My husband happened to be at home at the time and didn't have a way out so they allowed me to go back in to get him. We had been preparing all afternoon to head out of town for a family emergency so a blessing in disguise we already had packed bags. With the evacuation I took a about 2 minutes....not much time at grab our important documents and a few other items that we weren't planning on taking with us and then we were off.

Even though we were slightly prepared in that all our important documents and bill information was all in one place and easy to grab and go. We found through this experience that we are totally Not prepared for any kind of evacuation like this.

It is a strange feeling pulling away from your home with your husband, kids and about three days worth of clothes and not knowing if you will have anything to come home to. Our mind frame was that "it's all just STUFF" we have insurance and it can all be replaced. But still every few minutes one of us would say...Oh we should have grabbed this or that. I was a little frantic when I realized I had taken my wedding rings off to exercise that morning and I forgot to put them back on.

In an attempt to get more prepared I'm starting to work on our Emergency binder. We will be purchasing a fire safe box to store it in. You may not always have the time to grab what you need so having the important stuff in a fire safe box should help ease the stress in a situation like this. I'm working on evacuation checklists. If we do have time to grab stuff what are the essentials we need to grab. This way we use our time efficiently by only grabbing what is on the list of "Must Haves".

Right now, I just have a binder with dividers and plastic sleeves. Here is what we have in ours so far : birth certificates, Social Security Cards, Shot records, last four years Taxes, copies of all bills, credit card information, banking information, insurance policies.

Things I still need to get : Contact information for family and local friends and make emergency checklists.

Everyone is different, Every region of the US is different so how I prepare may not be how you want to or need to prepare in your area for a disaster or emergency. When I first started looking into this a few months ago I didn't know where to even start. I found Food Storage Made Easy! You can sign up with them for FREE and they will send you a step by step check list every couple of weeks to help you get an emergency plan together for your family. Here is a link **Here**. This site is a good starting point. My suggestion is read through the information and then take what is usable for you and your family and step by step make a plan.

Reality is most of the things we can do to be better prepared won't cost us a dime! I would hate to look back and say "I wish I had taken the time to get my things in order". It took me a couple of hours to organized and get all our papers into the new binder. Well worth my time in the long run. Take it step by step and do what you can when you can. Better to do a little bit at a time than to do nothing at all.

I hope this was helpful in some way. I will be posting pictures and progress along my way as I continue to build our Family Emergency Plan!

If you have any personal experiences, suggestions, or insight on this topic please feel free to comment!

Saving through Menu Planning

Do you Menu Plan? I'm not great at it but I do find that when I have a solid plan my dollars go a lot farther at the grocery store.

I menu plan by Paycheck. We get paid twice a month so I do two week menu's at one time. You can do one week at a time or an entire month if you would like. My menu is mainly for dinner but you can adjust your menu to fit your needs.

Where to start? I start with my pantry and freezer. This paycheck specifically I wanted to try to cut our grocery bill down so I could pay another bill with some of those funds. So I took survey of what I already had in stock and went from there. I had pasta, Mahi Mahi fish, Tilapia, Mac & Cheese, Lasagna noodles and lots of seasonings. I started my menu with these items first. Then I filled in with our favorite dishes.

Above is the menu I came up with. I pick between 10 - 14 meals. I do not assign them to a day until a day or two before hand. That allows me some flexibility. Then as I make each dish I cross them off my list. But again if you need more structure than that feel free to take a calendar and pluck in those meals on the exact day you want to make them. Make your menu plan your own! Work with it change it and after a few times you will know what works for you.

Also on my list I have placed what side dishes I will be serving with that dish and the page number where the recipe can be found if it is in my cookbook.

My ideal and goal is to have a box on the side of my refrigerator that will hold all my recipes for that menu. However, I don't have that yet so this is what I did. I pulled all the recipes that were chosen and I just put them in the front of the cookbook that has a few of the recipes in it. This way they are easy and fast to find.

After you have your menu written down. Go through each recipe and write down all the ingredients that you do not have in your home to create your grocery list.

By using what we had in the house and being creative I was able to cut our grocery budget to $170 for two weeks. Now I won't be able to do this every paycheck but when your wanting to cut back try using more of what you already have in your pantry. I'll bet you'll be surprised what you can come up with.

My list gets hung on the front of the refrigerator where it's easy to see and it can't get thrown away or spilled on. My list is as simple as it comes. A piece of lined paper and hand written. But you can use spreadsheets, word documents, or even purchase menu planning kits online or in the store. Another idea I saw recently was to buy a dry erase board and use that to list your meals. Be creative and make it fun!

So what is on your Menu this month? And what creative way do you keep track of your meals?

Good resources & Tips
- Make your own marinades (we search
- Cookbook ~ Healthy Meals for Less by Jonni McCoy (Great-Tasting Simple Recipes for Under $1 a serving)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Half a Paycheck ~ Would you be ready?

Good Morning friends! My apologies for not posting much. Ever since our move I have been struggling with Coupons and saving big bucks! I've been saving but not like I used to or in ways I felt were worth posting. I've learned that the area you live in makes a huge difference when it comes to specials and great coupon deals.

My topic for today is Would you be ready if you were faced with a half a paycheck come next payday? As most of you know that's what my family and many other Military and Government workers were faced with this month. Thankfully that isn't going to happen but it sure got me to thinking more about it.

Ideal would be a 3-6 month emergency fund set aside for times like this. Realistically that is so far fetched for most people that instead of setting small goals and working up to that 3-6 month amount we instead don't do anything and stay in this state of being unprepared.

As Dave Ramsey would say "Get $1,000 in the bank asap". Well that can be hard for most people. They see that and think "I don't have that kind of money" so they don't do anything. I have heard this so many times I've lost count. My suggestion is to start where you are. If it means $10 a paycheck then make the commitment to put $10 each paycheck away. Instead of doing nothing start with something even if it is small.

Here is where you can start today so that down the road you can be prepared.

Set smaller Emergency Fund Goals:
1 - Save up 2 weeks worth of Grocery money
2 - Save up half a paycheck.
3 - Save up a whole paycheck.
4 - Save up two paychecks.
5 - Save up three paychecks.
6 - Save up four paychecks. (for us 4 paychecks is two months income)
7 - Three months income.
8 - Four months income.
9 - Five months income.
10 - Six months income.

Save your change. We save our change for rainy days and/or months I mess something up in the budget and we need milk three days before payday and the grocery money is all gone. (yes that happens to us all the time) Put all your change in a bucket, jar, or baggie and once a month turn it in and deposit it into your emergency fund. Even if this is the ONLY thing you deposit each month I'll bet you'd be surprised how fast you can get a small cushion built up.

Another recommendation coming straight from experience. Have a safe place for your emergency fund that is out of reach! We have an Ing Direct account for our Emergency fund. It is gaining interest and if we need the money it takes 2 days to get it. A regular savings account is too easy to get to for us. With the Ing account there is no grabbing out $20 for and "Emergency" trip to Starbucks or for Pizza because you don't feel like cooking. Having our Emergency fund slightly more out of reach has been key for us. I didn't realize how important that was until we set it up and started using it. **Note in most emergencies that you would need this money for you could wait 2 days for it.**

Having a stockpile of items on hand can also help if you are faced with a Half a Paycheck. I like to have 1-3 months supply of toiletries on hand. Along with things like pasta, canned veggies, cereal. Things where if faced with a shortage of cash I could pick up Bread, Milk, Eggs, and Hamburger and we could go a long way! Build up your stockpile slowly if needed. Start with buying two extra cans of Spaghetti Sauce or noodles on your next shopping trip. Stockpiling and saving money take time! Don't try to do it all at one time or you'll get overwhelmed.

One step at a time! One dollar at a time! One can of food at a time!

~ Melinda ~

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


One thing I dislike more than flossing my teeth is paying Full Price for the floss!

I was able to make $.06 off each of these packages of Floss at Target! Keep you eye open on for $1/1 Reach Floss coupons. I had printed these coupons about a month ago and just waited until I was going to Target anyway to use them. My target is across town so I try to stop in when I'm over that way to save on the Gas I use.

Costs: $2.93
Coupons: $2.75
Paid: $.18 ~ 94% savings

The Sensodyne travel size was $.99 and I had a $.75/1 coupon from the 1/2 inserts. Unfortunately they only had one left otherwise I would have picked up more. I started keeping a toothbrush and toothpaste in my purse so these are the perfect size for that.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Realistic Stockpile!

This year I'm working on being Realistic in my Stockpiling.

I want to share with you all my Stockpile! I've NEVER totally opened up my entire stockpile for all to see. So this is a huge step for me. We Moved from Nevada to Texas this past August and with that move I had to get rid of a lot of my stockpile before I left town. So I'm working on building a "Realistic" stockpile! Here are the starting pictures.

Note: We live in an old home on base so my storage is literally EVERYWHERE! I stash it where I can find a place for it. I wasn't able to get the other pantry with the Cereal and snacks (I need to organize it first) or the Medicine Cabinet so I'll try to post those later.

What is a Realistic Stockpile? Well for me it's what I would need for 3-6 months on most items. Some items I am a little more picky about than others....for example...Toilet paper! Notice the rolls and rolls and rolls of toilet paper. I realized a few years ago that it was very traumatizing for me when we would get down to the last package of toilet paper. It would seriously stress me out and then it would kill me to have to pay full price for Toilet Paper....because you know it's NEVER on sale when you run out of it! So my Toilet Paper stockpile is usually more excess than most people would need.

Watch out for Toiletries when building your realistic stockpile. They can take over and become addicting! There are always great deals at Walgreens and CVS for Shampoo, Conditioner, body soap, deodorants, and shaving supplies so know what you need for a realistic stockpile and STOP when you've reached your limit! Trust me it will save you even More money!

One last disclaimer: The Mac & Cheese stockpile is TOTALLY my Husband! He LOVES Spartan Spiral Mac & Cheese and guess what....they don't sell it here. So every time we go back to Michigan or When my Mom sends a package we always stock up! You should have seen the shelf right after we got home in September it was crazy full! I figure if anything happens and we are really broke we will always have Mac & Cheese!

Anyway I hope you like the pictures and realize your stockpile DOES NOT have to look like the ones you see on TV! Make your stockpile work for you and your family in whatever way it can! This is just what works for us!

Thanks Friends!

~ Melinda ~

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Commissary Shopping

Today was an Odd's and End's shopping trip for me so I went to the Commissary to see what I could get for under $30. Here is what I was able to get. (keep in mind I had a dollar budget so even though these are all great deals and I had enough coupons to get more of most of these items I had to only buy realistically.)

Total cost: $38.79
Coupons: ($14.60) 37% savings
Surcharge: $1.94
Paid: $26.13

Here are a few of the specific prices: (Sorry I didn't keep track of what inserts the coupons came out of.

Snack packs ~ $.79 used $.60/3 coupon = $.59 each
Honey Mustard ~ $1.59 used $1/1 coupon = $.59
Yakisoba pasta ~ $.67 used $.50/1 coupon = $.17 each
Chef Boyardee ~ $.85 used $.35/3 coupon = $.73 each
Healthy Choice Soup ~ $1 used $.50/1 coupon = $.50 each
Rice ~ $1.26 used $1/1 coupon = $.26
Oatmeal ~ $.95 used $1/1 coupon = $.05 MONEYMAKER
Cinnamon Toast Crunch ~ $1.99 used $1/2 coupon = $1.49 each
Soft Soap ~ $.90 used $.35/1 coupon = $.55 each
Paper Towel ~ $1.49 used $1/1 coupon = $.49 each
(not my best deal but I needed paper towel!)
Clorox Wipes ~ $1.49 used $.50/1 coupon from store = $.99 each
(again not my best deal but I needed this item)
Cheese - was on special for $3.35 for the double pack
Frosted Flakes & Fruit Loops ~ $2.25 used $1.50/2 = $1.50 each
Splitz ~ $1.49 used $.50/1 coupon = $.99 each

I'm not sure how many of you are Commissary Shoppers but I wanted to share a few things about Coupon shopping at the Commissary.

#1 ~ Don't go on the 1st or the 15th of the month! I know that's a given but when your a coupon freak like me I tend to make mistakes when there are too many people in the store and those are the two busiest days for the Commissary.

#2 ~ Know your prices! After couponing for over a year and a half I know what kind of deals I can get off base at the local stores. I know what my Cereal Price range is. This will help you when it comes to using your coupons on base. If with a coupon the cereal is still over $2 IT'S NOT A GOOD DEAL! and I won't buy it.

#3 ~ Not all the prices at the Commissary are good prices even with a coupon! Even though most of the toiletries items at the Commissary are cheaper than off base on a regular basis they are not cheaper than the sales you can get at CVS and Walgreens. So again refer back to #2 and know your prices!

#4 ~ When looking at your total savings on your receipt Don't get discouraged! The Commissary doesn't list your savings if items are on sale or cheaper than say Walmart. So even though you may only save 30% on your over all bill if you had received those prices off base you probably would have saved around 50% on your bill. (This part always frustrated me. I knew I got Awesome deals but the numbers on the receipt didn't show that.)

#5 ~ Don't spend more than you have! Remember it's only a great deal if your family will use the item! If your family doesn't use the item your wasting your money buying it. As I clip my coupons I know what items we don't use and I automatically give those away to others that will. No use in keeping them or even using them on a great deal if my family doesn't like that product.

#6 ~ Don't Overstock! I know that seems crazy but I go by a 3 month rule. If I have enough of an item to last us about 3 months then I don't stock up on that item until I'm down to about a 1 month supply. It is hard sometimes to walk away from a Great Deal but when you Overstock your over Spending! Another sale will come along I Promise!

~ Melinda ~

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Saved $80 Today!

Total Shopping trip today - Save a total of $80.68! Here is what I got!

CVS Trip

Got lots of stockpile goodies from CVS! Here are the totals for the above picture.

Cost : 90.55
Store Savings : $31.30
Coupon Savings : $20.88
ECB used : $20.00
Paid out of pocket : $18.37

This was done in three transactions. I did the Excedrin first and used two free coupons I got in the mail for those and then got a $10ECB. Then I paid for the Wisk, used 5 $2/1 coupons from today's paper and the $10ECB from the first order. Typically I would save my ECB for next week's deals but we needed drinks so I decided to use my second $10 voucher for those.

Walgreen's Trip

Finish Gelpacs! Love these!
I was only able to get two of these but as soon as I can order some more coupons I'll have a full stockpile of them to share! (long story I had issues with the coupons in the papers I purchased)

I paid $2.68 for two boxes of Finish Gelpacs and I have $3 in RR to use on my next purchase! Awesome Money Maker!

What great deals do you plan to get this week?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Coffee Deal - Keep a look out!

Keep a look out for Dunkin Donuts Holiday Coffee's to be on mark down at your local stores.

I found these at our Commissary and they rang up as $2.68 and I had some coupons from last month that were good until January 7th I believe for $2 off 2 so I paid $1.68 for them! I stocked up! I had enough coupons to get 6 of them!

My husband drinks coffee every morning so this will come in handy!