Friday, April 29, 2011

Don't Throw Out Those Expired Coupons!

The end of the month is right around the corner, and that means a big portion of your coupons will be expiring. Don't throw them away! Just because you can't use them anymore doesn't mean someone else can't.

Coupons can be used up to six months past their expiration dates on military bases, and sending them is SO simple. I just visit this site and choose a different base each month. No matter where you're sending them to, the only postage required is one regular stamp. 

Now, a shameless plug: don't forget to become a blog follower, and share this site with anyone you think might find it interesting. We only need nine more followers before I do a sweet giveaway from La Bella Rosa. You REALLY aren't going to want to miss that!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spring Cleaning

I've discovered an unexpected bonus of having a blog: I'm motivated to take on new projects simply so I can share the results with you. Several weeks ago I came across a section on Real Simple, detailing new uses for old things. One of the things mentioned was ice cube trays, and how they can be used to organize jewelry. Since I've been on an ongoing quest to find a practical way to organize my earrings, I decided give it a shot. Then I decided, what the heck, I might as well tackle the whole drawer. Here is what it looked like before:
Organizing everything was actually pretty fun, because I discovered some different pieces of jewelry that I'd forgotten I had.
I ended up using a large bracelet to hold several smaller ones.
At first I was afraid the ice cube tray idea would just look cheap, but then I decided that I don't really care. I'm the only one who will see it, and all that matters is that I can access everything easily. It was pretty cool that, in the end, I had just enough little cubes for everything to fit.
I was really happy with the final result.
Now I don't have to wear the same four pairs of earrings all the time! The whole project took me about fifteen minutes, and now I smile every time I open drawer. Perhaps I'll tackle the linen closet next?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Monday Bargain

Last night we went to Albany to buy big boy food stuff for G. We also needed an activity saucer, so we headed over to Goodwill, per my mom's advice. That woman always seems to score the best stuff from Goodwill, and she promised me that she almost always sees saucers there in good condition.

We were thrilled to find one in like-new condition, for $15! We brought it home, washed the seat part and sanitized the rest, then let G give it a go.
He loves it! Of course, because it was in such good shape, I had to know what we would have paid if we had bought it new. I tracked the exact one down on Amazon and found that it sells for $70. Needless to say, I'm more than happy with our great deal. I might have to check out Goodwill more often.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Walgreens Trip

Because there were no coupon inserts in the paper yesterday, I didn't put much time into making my list for Walgreens. That's why I didn't think I'd leave the store today with any great savings stories to tell. I have to say, though, I think today's trip might have been my best savings to date. Here's what I got:
-Nexcare Adhesive Bandages, on sale for $2.99. These also came with a full mail-in rebate.
-Taster's Choice instant coffee pouches, $1.19. I used a $1/1 coupon, making them $.19.
-Sun laundry detergent, 117 oz., $4.99. I used an in-ad coupon, making it $2.99.
-Stayfree pads, $2.99. I used a $1/1 coupon, plus Walgreens had a $3 Register Reward, giving me a $1 overage.
I paid: $1. 16

I split this into two transactions. In the first, I purchased the bandages and the pads. The total was $5.98. I used the $1/1 coupon for the pads and a $4 RR from last week's trip, so I paid $.98 for the first transaction, and I received a $3 RR. 

I did a second transaction, purchasing the coffee and the detergent. The total was $6.18. I used the $2/1 in-ad detergent coupon and the $1/1 coffee coupon, plus the $3 RR from the first transaction, so I paid just $.18.

Remember that the bandages included that $2.99 mail-in rebate. When I receive that back, I will have actually made $1.83 on this transaction. Considering I was in the store for all of about 10 minutes, I'm pretty happy with that amount!

Another Great Site

This morning I came across a website that I'm really excited about. It's called Moo La La (if you read my blog, that might sound a little familiar). This site offers deep discounts (50-90% off) on deals from different online retailers. Like Rue La La, they introduce new deals each day, and they retire new deals each day, too.

What I'm most excited about is the purchase I made through Moo La La. I bought a Taste of the Farm Sampler Box from Organic Acres, with 40 total servings of herbs and vegetables. The herbs are  basil (purple, lemon or sweet), catnip, cilantro, dill, epazota, fennel and/or parsley (curly or Italian flat). The veggies are a combination of baby arugula, bok choy, cabbage (red or green), carrots (orange or red), cauliflower, celery, onions (sweet or red), radishes, red potatoes, sunburst squash, zucchini and/or My Organic Acres' Savory Salad Mix. The box weighs between 10 and 15 pounds, and the entire thing only cost me $19!

If you choose to purchase this box, keep in mind that your voucher can not be redeemed until after May 10. However, you can schedule delivery of the box right away. I purchased my voucher and just set up delivery for the middle of May. I can't wait to use my organic produce to make baby food!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Five Ways to Get Free Stuff

If you've read my blog at all, then you've noticed that I love to save money. And what better way to save money than to get stuff for free? Here are five easy, proven ways to get products for free:

1. Free Samples
I recently posted about all the free samples that arrived in my mailbox in one day.
I signed up to receive those samples in several different ways. I choose to follow a blog, like Money Saving Mom, because she locates all of the best free sample opportunities and posts them in one place. You can also keep your eye on available samples by visiting Walmart's website.

2. Walgreens Register Rewards
If you haven't done much shopping at Walgreens, you might not be familiar with their Register Rewards program. You can read a full explanation of how to maximize your savings at Walgreens here, but I'll give you a quick tutorial. Every week Walgreens offers Register Rewards on select products. This means that, when you purchase one of those products, Walgreens will print a coupon, or a Register Reward (RR), offering a discount on any future Walgreens purchase.

For example, let's say Walgreens is offering a $3 Register Reward on any Goody hair product. If you purchase one of the products, you will pay full price (if you don't have coupons) and the register will print a $3 off coupon for your next purchase. But what if the cost of that Goody product is $3? You pay $3 for it and immediately get $3 back. Think this doesn't sound like you're getting anything free? There's more.

Here's another scenario: you go to Walgreens and grab the Goody hair product, plus laundry detergent, which is on sale for $3. When you get to the register, you purchase just the Goody product first and pay $3. The RR prints, and then you purchase the detergent separately. This time, you pay using the RR. Maybe you want to view it as paying for the hair product and getting the detergent free, or the other way around. Either way, you just got a free product.

3. Giveaways
Maybe you read my post about giveaways. If you did, you know that I've won some pretty great free stuff over the last month or so, including laundry detergent, fabric softener, and a wipe case.
Most recently, I won a reusable grocery bag and a luggage scale. Again, I use a specific site that gathers all of the giveaway information for me and lists it in one place: Money Saving Mom (can you tell I love this site?). I believe that if you spend a little time each evening entering just a few giveaway (you could choose ones with the lowest number of entries, or ones with products you want the most) it won't be long before you win something.

4. Coupons
Coupons don't have to be the overwhelming, negative-attention-getting, time-consuming things that some people perceive them to be. Coupons can be used, fairly easily, to score great brand name products for free. Here's something you may not know: when an item is on sale Buy One Get One Free, and you have a Buy One Get One Free coupon, you can purchase two of the item and get them both for free. So maybe you don't want to spend several hours each week clipping coupons and matching them to sales. Instead, you can clip only Buy One Get One Free coupons and wait until you can match them with a similar sale to get two free products.

5. Just Ask
Do you have a favorite product that you can't live without? Let the company know. I recently emailed the makers of Luna Bars, simply letting them know how much I love their product. I didn't even ask for coupons, yet they sent me four in the mail, two of which were for a free bar.
Speaking of free stuff, don't forget to become a follower of this blog, and tell your friends, because I'll be doing a sweet giveaway when I reach 20 followers (we're halfway there!).

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Insider Info

How about a useful tip: you can return nearly anything at Walmart. Did you buy the wrong shade of concealer? Is that bottle of shampoo not living up to the hype? Are you appalled by the flavor of  your toothpaste? Even without a receipt, Walmart will award store credit for the current price of the item.

Walmart's return policy states that you can only make three no-receipt returns within a 45 day period, so this is certainly not a system to abuse. But it's nice to know that, if you're debating whether or not to try a new product, you can always make the purchase at Walmart and return it if you aren't satisfied.

Thanks for the insider info, Amber!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Check Out What Was in My Mailbox

Okay, technically not my mailbox, since there was too much stuff to fit in the box and the mail carrier had to bring everything to our front door. But the stuff in this picture is what arrived at our house yesterday afternoon:

Over the last few weeks, I signed up online to receive several free samples. One of the best parts is that they're so quick to enter, I usually forget after I've done it, so I'm always pleasantly surprised when I open the mailbox and see the goodies waiting for me. 

Here is what's in the photo:
-Travel size Secret deodorant
-2 Always pads, 2 Tamax Pearl tampons
-4 Always/Tampax coupons
-2 10-count packages of Tide Stain Release
-2 packages of Tide Stain Release, good for one load each
-2 coupons for a free Luna Bar, 2 $.50/1 Luna Bar coupons (a couple weeks ago I contacted Luna Bar through their website, just to let them know I love their product- not even asking for coupons- and this is what I got!)

If you frequent a site like Money Saving Mom, you can learn about all of those free sample giveaways without having to track them down yourself. Spend a few minutes each day signing up for a couple different ones, and soon your mailbox will be overflowing, too!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Free Towels

The other day I posted about the cool boutique website, Rue La La. I mentioned that they are constantly adding new products. Today, they have washcloths, bathmats, and hand towels, all for $19.90 each, plus there are several colors to choose from. You can find them in the We're Loving: Earth Day at Home boutique. If you signed up for the $20 credit, that makes them free! If you didn't sign up, it isn't too late- just click here. But hurry, these items sell out quickly.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

It Pays to Ask

Yesterday I went to Walgreens. I was armed with some great coupons that, in addition to the Register Rewards, would get me some free and very cheap items. I did a couple separate transactions to make the most out of those Register Rewards, so I was beyond frustrated when I got home and realized I had forgotten to use my coupons!

I called Walgreens this morning, because I had also picked up some photos last night that somehow wound up too dark. While I was on the line (by the way, the photo specialist I spoke with replaced the photos at no cost) I asked the manager if it would be possible for me to bring in my receipts and my coupons and get a refund for the difference. She said yes! 

But...unfortunately, I had already tossed my receipts and, since last night was garbage night, they were long gone. Regardless, I appreciate that the manager was so helpful. In fact, since some of the items were priced so low, I went ahead and purchased them again when I went back tonight to pick up the pictures (and yes, I remembered to use the coupons this time).

The moral of the story: if you have a request, or a question, or a favor to ask of a store- just ask. The worst you can hear is "no". Also, don't be so hasty to get rid of those receipts! You might need them later.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

$20 FREE to shop?

I just learned about a really cool website: Rue La La. It's a website that has designer items: accessories, men's and women's clothing, shoes!, kitchen stuff, and more. Every day they add more "boutiques", which means every day there are new items to browse, and every day they eliminate boutiques that have been around for a while.

If you sign up now you get a free $20 credit! Since it's good for several weeks, you're sure to find something between now and then that catches your eye. Plus, you can earn an additional $10 for each friend you refer. I encourage you to at least check out Rue La La and sign up before the free $20 credit expires.

Monday, April 18, 2011


If you read my blog, but haven't become a follower yet, now would be a great time to do it. When I reach 20 followers (sooner rather than later, I hope), I'll be doing a giveaway!

That's right, I'll be giving away something super cool to one of my followers. I'm thinking one of the adorable creations by Kayla Rosa at La Bella Rosa. So you don't miss out, be sure to follow me via Google Friend Connect by clicking the follow button on the right side of this page. Because, really, who doesn't love free stuff?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Is This Still Good?

Have you ever noticed that most foods don't come with simple expiration dates? Instead, they contain phrases like "best if used by" or "sell by". It's hard to know what exactly each date means. Aside from just going ahead and eating that questionable yogurt, or tasting that iffy milk, how can you feel confident that a product is still okay to use?

Here is my Should I Throw This Out? Bible. This website, Still Tasty, answers any and all questions you might have regarding food longevity. How long can you safely keep cooked chicken breast in your fridge? Does honey ever go bad? Does produce have to be refrigerated? Still Tasty answers all of those questions and more. They even have advice on how to tell when produce is ripe, what foods can successfully be frozen, and more. It's my go-to website when I can't get in touch with my mom.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Trial Size

The first thing I do when I see a coupon for any toiletry item is check to see if it includes the phrase "excludes trial size". Most coupons do. The reason is obvious: companies don't want to give you a coupon that allows you to buy the least expensive version of their product. However, every once in a while, I'll come across a coupon that doesn't include those three words, like the $1 off Aquafresh Extreme Clean coupon found here.

This week at Walmart, the trial size version of that toothpaste was $.97. Using my $1 off coupon, I got this trial size tube for free!
Sure, a tube this small isn't going to get you as far as a regular-size tube, but it was FREE. Even if it only lasts a week or two, that's 7-14 days longer you can go before buying another tube. If you're able to buy more trial size toothpastes, you can really stretch your monthly budget.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Chicken Breast

Maybe I'm alone in this, but I can't seem to trim the fat from boneless skinless chicken breasts without taking off way too much chicken with it. I was complaining about this to my mom the other day, and she offered me the simplest advice.

When you're thawing your frozen chicken, don't thaw it all the way. If you leave it a little frozen, the chicken will be firmer, and that will allow you to cut off just the fat. It seemed so obvious after I tried it! Added bonus: if the chicken hasn't thawed all the way, you won't have to deal with that slimy feeling.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Free Tortillas!

On Tuesday evening I made tacos for dinner. The tortillas stuck together in the package. I tried to carefully peel them apart, but several of them ripped and couldn't be used. Thinking of a blog post I read several weeks ago, I decided to email the company, Mission, and see if there was anything they could do.

Using Google, it took me about 7 seconds to find their website and reach the form needed to contact them. It was easy; I just filled in some basic information, and then typed my message. I explained that I'm usually happy with Mission brand tortillas, but that the sticking was frustrating. I was polite and concise.

That was Tuesday. Today, I checked the mail to find that Mission had sent me two coupons for free tortillas, and a brief letter apologizing for the sticking. I also sent an email to Noxzema, explaining that I recently purchased a 4-pack of disposable razors, two of which were broken and unusable; I haven't heard back from them yet.

Whether you're writing with praise or criticism, companies love to hear from you. Just don't complain, don't take advantage, and always be honest. If you've ever written a company and received a positive response back, I'd love to hear about it!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Rite Aid

Today was a crazy day, but I managed to run in to Rite Aid for a few things. I spent some time last night planning the trip, so I was armed with a detailed list. Here's what I got:
-2 Gillette Body Washes and 2 Gillette Deodorants. I had two BOGO coupons that gave me free body wash with the purchase of the deodorant. However, the coupons only gave me the body wash free for a price up to $4.99, and it was priced $5.29 each, so I actually paid $.60 total for the two body washes. The deodorant was on sale 2/$8, and Rite Aid was offering a $2 +UP Reward (UPR) for the purchase. I also had 2 $1/1 coupons for the deodorant, which brought my total to $4.60 for all 4 products, or just $1.15 each.
-Kellogg's FiberPlus bars, $2.50. These were more expensive than the store brand that I usually buy at Walmart, but I wasn't about to go in there just to save $.50.
-Scunci hair ties, $1.99. These had a $1.99 UPR, which made them free!
I paid: $7.10

Tomorrow I'm headed to Target, for a few deals that I'm pretty excited about!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Potato Crusted Sausage Quiche

Around here, we eat A LOT of breakfast for dinner. It's fast, easy, we almost always have the necessary ingredients on hand, and my picky-eater husband is always happy with it. Because we eat "brinner" at least twice a week, I'm always on the lookout for a fun new recipe. Something besides the standard eggs and turkey bacon. Here is one of my favorites that I've adapted from several different recipes.

Potato Crusted Sausage Quiche (fancy, huh?)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups shredded potatoes ( I just use a cheese grater to shred unpeeled potatoes, but you could use shredded frozen hash browns)
1 lb. turkey sausage, cooked and drained
3 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper
dash of hot sauce (I use tabasco)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix oil and potatoes in a 9 inch pie pan and press evenly into pie crust shape. 
Bake for 15 minutes, until just beginning to turn brown. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 375 degrees. Combine eggs, milk, and seasonings in a medium bowl. 
Beat lightly. Stir in sausage. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of cheese over potato crust. Top with sausage mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 50 minutes, or until set.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Saturday Shopping

Today I ventured out to a few different stores, armed with my coupons, sale flyers, and detailed shopping lists. First stop: Target. Here's what I got:
-Kandoo flushable wipes- $1.42, and I used a $1/1 coupon, making them $.42.
-OshKosh baby jeans- $6.48 on clearance
-Bottle brush- $2.09
-3 pairs of socks- $3 total
I paid: $11.99

Next, I headed to Rite Aid. This stop was my favorite:
Here I bought:
-2 Glade Pet Odor Eliminator Sprays, $4.29 each. I had a BOGO coupon, and each bottle had a $1/1 manufacturer's coupon stuck to it, and I used both. My total for the two bottles was $2.29.
-I used the in-ad coupon for $3/3 American Greetings cards. I bought 3 cards at $.99 each, so I had a $.03 overage.
I paid: $2.26

Then, Walgreens:
Here's what I got:
-Thermacare Heat Wraps, on sale for $4.49, and Infants' Advil for $5.49. I had a coupon for $3 off the purchase of both of those together, which made the Wraps $2.99 and the Advil $3.99.
-Skintimate Shave Gel on sale 2/$4, with a $2 Register Rewards, making them $1 each. I had 2 $.55/1 coupons, making the Shave Gel just $.45 each.
-Gillette Fusion Shave Gel, on sale for 4.29, and Gillette Deodorant, on sale $4.99. They were BOGO 50% off, and I had a $1/1 coupon for the Shave Gel and a $1/1 coupon for the Deodorant, making the Gel $1.14 and the Deodorant $3.99. 
-Three cans of BBQ pringles, $1.50 each with a $1/3 coupon, making them $3.50 total.
Plus I had a $2 Register Rewards from my last trip
I paid: $14.51

Grand Total: $28.76

All these stores had great sales that I couldn't take advantage of because I don't have a stockpile of coupons built yet. That just means I'm way more excited than I should be for my next trip!