What Cooking Items You Can Save Money On In December

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December is a great month for saving money on groceries! In December, people bake lots of treats and have lots of parties. Since businesses know this, they have sales to drive us into their stores on items that don’t go on sale all the time.  I know that I love to bake this time of year!! My kids and I have the best time making cookies and treats to give to others. It is so much fun to make all of these yummy treats, and give them away to others. It gives us a great excuse to spend a ton of time in the kitchen. We are definitely making out peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and our peanut butter hot cocoa cookies. Can you tell I like chocolate and peanut butter? We also make short bread cookies and gingerbread cookies each year. I think that I am going to venture into trying to make candy and homemade marshmallows as well this year!

What are you guys planning on making this year?

Here are items that you can look for sales on this month:

Batteries  - for all of those Christmas toys

Aluminum Foil

Baking Supplies:

  • flour
  • sugar
  • cream cheese
  • hot chocolate mixes
  • coffees
  • chocolate chips – Although, make sure that these are really a good deal. If you have a dollar store or Aldi, you can often find these cheaper there if you are willing to use an off brand.
  • vanilla
  • baking soda/powder
  • cookie mixes and dough
  • muffin mixes
  • eggs
  • cake mixes

Also, you can usually find the best prices of the year in November and December on small kitchen appliances.

I hope that you guys can find some great deals, and have some fun getting into the kitchen and making some Christmas treats! If you have a recipe that you would like to share, feel free to in the comments. I am always looking for great new holiday treat recipes!

More budget saving coupons

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Extreme Couponing Opinion

Previously I wrote about my opinion about TLC’s Extreme Couponing. However, after getting more e-mails recently and reading some recent news articles, I thought I would address this subject again.

I really feel that Extreme Couponing is doing a disservice to people. They show people being able to buy a fortune of items for only pennies. This is NOT real! It is set up and staged. Stores do not allow you to come in and buy hundreds of items and have your coupons doubled for those hundreds of items. There is a limit of 20 at most stores. I have NEVER been to a grocery store that had 100 tubes of one type of toothpaste in stock. Have you? Those had to be specially stocked for the show.

So, really what they are doing is not possible. The stores are “bending” their rules, which they won’t do for people not on the show. AND, the stores are stocking up in preparation for this show. In “real life” that is not going to happen, and I think that it is causing people to expect too much.

I can see the appeal of getting $1,000 worth of stuff for $1. But, really where would that end? Who needs $1,000 worth of items every week? What would you do with 100 tubes of toothpaste that you bought in a week? Do you really want to be like these people? This reminds me of the verse. “”Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” Matthew 6:19.

I used to use the word extreme couponer to describe myself (before the TLC show), but I now have been removing that phrase, because that is obviously not what I am.

Why would I want to wake up every single day and clip coupons? Why would I want to come up with a 50 page spreadsheet of things to buy for my family? Why would I want to fill up my entire garage with free items that I had gotten from couponing? That just seems a excessive and like hoarding to me.

Do I love a good deal? YES! Do I love getting items that I can use FREE? YES! But, am I willing to spend 40 hours a week on it . . . uh, NO! (Now, that does not include this blog, which I spend quite a bit of time on each week, but I view this blog as a ministry to help others.)

So, here is my take on a more realistic expectation . . .

When I first started couponing, I pretty much got every deal each week. I spent 2 hours getting my coupons ready each week, and I hit 4-5 stores which I could get into and out of in about 15 minutes each. So, with travel time, I usually shopped for about 2 hours one day a week. I cut my coupons while I was riding in the van, so that I wouldn’t take time away from my family, and really 2 hours a week for shopping did not seem too excessive especially since I was saving money to stay home with my kids. 2 hours of my week was more than worth it. For those of you that are just starting out with couponing, I recommend that you read my couponing for beginners post.

I usually saved about 90% on my grocery and toiletry bill each week. Yes, there were some weeks that I made a profit from shopping, but this was not EVERY week.

I had a goal for saving money. I knew that I wanted about six months worth of the items that we use most frequently stocked up so that I would not have to pay full price. This did save us a ton of money. I quickly stocked up on everything that we needed. I have a full pantry, a walk in closet that has a section for toiletries, and a 3 foot wide shelf packed with our freebies that is next to the pantry. Yay!! (Notice, I did not say that my entire garage, all of my closets, under my bed, all book shelves, and kid’s rooms were filled.)

Once I was stocked up, I stopped couponing for a month or two unless there was an incredible deal that I could easily do and donate to others. Why? I didn’t need to keep couponing. I had everything that my family needed for six months that I could buy with coupons. So, why would I want to keep piling items in my house?

I want a clean, uncluttered house. I don’t need or want 1,000 tubes of toothpaste. I make sure that I have enough toothpaste to last for my family (and extended family) plus I donate them each Christmas in shoe boxes. However, I don’t need 1,000 tubes of toothpaste for myself!

I have heard that there are people that feel like they should be able to do what these extreme couponers do, but that is just not a realistic expectation! AND, why would you want it to be?? Don’t be discouraged thinking you want to be like these people! You don’t! Even they can’t do what is being shown on the store without breaking the rules, and who doesn’t want to be honest?? Honesty is so much more important than a deal!

There is so much more to life than couponing. You have your family, friends and church. These things need to be a priority as well. I have taken off as much as six months from regularly couponing over the years and just hit the really great sales, and I have still saved my family a ton of money! Any money that you save is helpful.

Also, I have four kids. They need me; not coupons. AND, they don’t want to spend hours each week in stores. Here are a few tips for shopping with kids.

Don’t set your expectations too high. Everyone can not be like the people on the show. There are not enough items in the stores, the stores won’t break the rules for you, and seriously . . . do you want to spend up to 60 hours a week coming up with spreadsheets and clipping coupons? I can tell you right now what my answer is – NO!

AND, you don’t have to. When I am couponing and hitting sales each and every week, I can easily buy everything that my family of six needs for very little each week spending 2 hours cutting and 2 hours shopping. However, I don’t choose to do that every week. And, now that I am only maintaining my stockpile, I can easily clip coupons and shop in an hour each week. (Also, we raise the majority of our produce in our organic garden which means that I do not have to buy fruits and vegetables. We also raise our own chickens meaning that we do not have to buy chicken or eggs. This really reduces the amount of money that I have to spend.)

Could I probably only spend a few dollars a week on groceries and toiletries by spending an extra 40-50 hours. Probably so . . . Is it worth it to save that extra extra savings to me . . . definitely not.

AND, just so that you guys don’t think that I am perfect . . . there are plenty of weeks that I don’t coupon at all, and we might spend $100 on food and toiletries, especially when I am pregnant or have a newborn. I am not superwoman, and don’t have the energy to coupon all the time. There have actually been a couple of weeks that I have probably spent closer to $200 with 2 in diapers right now, and my ever diminishing diaper stockpile. However, I am happy with just doing what I can, and saving what money I can save without spending my life doing it.

The point is, that I could spend almost nothing AND therefore be able to do almost nothing with anyone . . . OR I could spend a little more and enjoy life. We have the money to spend right now, and I still have quite a bit, so I limit the amount of couponing that I do. If my husband (God forbid) ever was to lose his job, you’d better believe I would be hitting every sale, but for now I just do the best I can, and that is all any of us can do.

So, my whole point is, don’t compare yourself to others and have unrealistic expectations. Everyone is different. Any money that you save your family is a huge plus!! You can be a casual couponer and still save quite a bit. AND, after the show I might just want to start calling myself a casual couponer . . . or perhaps a “real” couponer.

What do you guys think? I would love to hear your opinion!

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Help!! My Cashier Was Mean to Me

cash register

I get numerous e-mails like this a week. They all are worded slightly differently, but they all basically say the same thing . . . My cashier was mean!  What do I do now?? Do I stop couponing? Was I in the wrong?  How should I have reacted?. . . So, I figured I would do a post about this for everyone. I figure as many e-mails as I have gotten about this, there must be a lot of you interested in my opinion. So, here is my opinion for whatever it is worth.

I am sure that this scenario has happened to many of us . . . We know that we are going to be leaving the store paying less than a dollar with loads of stuff . . . it is almost like legal stealing . . . So, we must be doing something wrong right???  So, we anxiously scan all of the cashiers looking for the one that looks the nicest to us, “the couponers”.  Then we think to ourselves, she looks like she is in a bad mood, that one looks friendly, but what if I ruin her day . . . etc, etc. So we finally pick out the right line with the person who looks like she will have the least problem with us, “the couponers”.

So step one:  Case out the cashiers:

1.  I personally, avoid the teenagers. They freak out when your total goes from $62.50 to $1.16, and are convinced they they have done something dreadfully wrong and will lose their job.

2.  My first choice is definitely the one that smiles and doesn’t look ready to bite anybody’s head off, especially not mine.

3. Middle aged is my typical preference.

4.  So to recap, I go for a smiling person, preferably middle aged that smiles.

OH NO!! I picked the wrong cashier! She doesn’t want to take my coupons even though their store policies say they should.

What do I do now???  I figure here are the choices . . . .

A.  Apologize profusely. Go ahead and buy all of the groceries and pay full price. Leave feeling horrible that you spent so much money. Then make sure to feel guilty as well, convinced that YOU have done something wrong. Make sure that you leave your coupons there, so you can beat yourself up about that later. Lastly decide that couponing is too hard, and you can’t do it. (Doesn’t that sound like fun!)

B. Get angry and leave. (Not too good of an idea. . . )  Anger is not good for the soul.

C. This is the method I prefer:  Print out your store policies, put them in your coupon notebook. Bring them with you to each store. When you run into one of those grouchy cashiers, pull out the coupon policy and show it to the cashier. I honestly think that most of the time cashiers just aren’t aware of their store’s coupon policy when they give you a hard time. If showing the cashier the coupon policy doesn’t work. I politely ask to speak to a manager. My next step, which I have not personally had to do, would be to ask them to call corporate about why that store does not follow their coupon policy.  Just be nice and smile during this time.

Which method sounds best to you? I figure there is nothing wrong with being politely assertive, plus it gives the best results.

In all seriousness, I try to be careful that I only use coupons the way they are intended, and according to the store’s policy. I also make sure to know each store’s policy before I go to the store. That way, I know that when I give them a coupon, they should take it.  If you know the store’s policy before hand then you are able to show that you are in the right to use the coupon according to their policy.

If you make a mistake using a coupon, don’t beat yourself up over it!! There is a learning curve to using coupons. But, keep trying, it will save you a ton of money!! It also becomes a lot more fun. Just wait, until your balance goes to zero, negative or a few cents & you have no hassles. Then you will be doing your happy dance in the middle of the store as you watch the price drastically fall. (Those of you in my classes have seen my happy dance.)

THAT is my favorite part about couponing, watching the money magically disappear using my coupons as currency!  And I do think of my coupons as money. That is why they go everywhere with me.

So to sum up:  Case out the cashiers, have your coupon policy, be assertive, don’t feel guilty, THEN do your happy dance.

I hope that helps you guys out some!!!!

Wanna see how I organize my coupons, click here.

Use Your Couponing Power For Good

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(Clearing my throat for my teacher voice.)  I feel like it is important for you guys to know my opinion about a few things. I have had numerous e-mails about the ethics of several things. I have also heard rumors that I approve of things that I do NOT approve of. Since there are so many people visiting my site and looking to me for direction, I wanted to spell out very clearly what my opinion is. This way, if you hear something different, you can point that person to this post. My integrity and my name are VERY important to me, so I want to be clear.   

Point 1:

Taking coupon inserts out of papers is stealing.  I have been frustrated the past couple of times that I have tried to get papers, because all of the coupon inserts in the box were removed from the newspapers. I even contacted the newspaper to let them know about this, and they said that papers with inserts were put in those boxes. Please, please, please don’t steal coupon inserts or encourage anyone to do this. There is no reason to steal inserts. There are plenty of coupons and deals to go around.

“No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money” (Luke 16:13).

Point 2:

I have gotten numerous e-mails, talked to people in my class and observed the following myself.  Someone comes into the store and buys all of the items on the shelf.  This is called GREED. There is usually no reason to clear off the shelf and leave nothing for anyone else. Yes, it is SO exciting to save money. Yes, it is SO exciting to be able to give to others. But if you go into a store and buy 100 cans of food and get them all for free, and clear out that store, how is that helpful to others around you?

Here is one of the reasons I think this point is especially important. There are many people today that NEED these deals.  I know many of my readers have contacted me that have lost their jobs, their house is about to go into foreclosure, and they NEED to be able to buy the FREE food and toiletries to provide for their families. This is getting more difficult, when a few people rush to the store first thing and buy ALL  of the items.

Here is what I do. I buy the items that my family needs. I then go and buy one of all of the free items and money makers at the store IF there are several on the shelf. If I am completely out of an item that we truely NEED, then and only then will I buy the last item on the shelf. 

When I have bought large quantities of items in the past, I have been to several stores and bought several from each shelf rather than purchasing all of the items on one shelf. Yes, this took me longer, but it also was considerate to others.

I have heard rumors that I would be proud of these people for their buys, and I do think that it is great to find wonderful deals. HOWEVER, I think that it is even more important to be considerate of others.

IF you really need all of the food on the shelf to feed your family, then by all means, get it. I know some of my readers are only able to purchase the freebies each week.  I certaintly won’t stand in your way, and think that it is wonderful that you would work so hard to provide for your family.  However if you are just excited about a deal and want to brag about your find, I really think that you should leave some for others as well.  (By the way, I obviously approve of letting others know about all of the great finds since I run this site.  It is the motivation that matters.)

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” (Luke 16:10-11).

Point 3:

I do NOT approve of trying to trick the computer and print out more coupons than we are allowed to have.

I do NOT approve of making copies of printable coupons. It clearly states on the coupon not to make copies, and therefore making copies is wrong.

I do NOT endorse bar decoding. It is unethical and fraud. The coupon clearly states what it is to be used for. The company is generous enough to provide the coupon. Don’t take advantage of the company and give couponers a bad name.  We should be an example of how to be good stewards of the money God has given us, not bad examples.

Proverbs 13:11 “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.”  Coupons do this, they allow us to save money little by little. However, if we are dishonest in our gain, the Bible also says that it will dwindle away.

These deals are so exciting, I know. Trust me, I do my little happy dance and carry my coupon notebook with me everywhere that I go. I will even bend over in the parking lot and pick up a stray little coupon to use. But, I will NOT knowingly obtain my coupons unethically.  My integrity is more important to me than a GREAT deal.

I know that I have made mistakes in the past and I am sure that I will make some mistakes in the future because I am human, however, it will never be my intent to use a coupon in any way other than the way that it is intended.

Please note, that I do want to keep this site friendly, so if you leave a comment on this post please think about it before you leave it. Thanks!

Welcome Budget Saving Mom Class Attenders

school

Thank you so much to all of you who came out for the Budget Saving Mom class this morning!! If you found the class helpful and would like to sign up for my daily e-mail or RSS feeds, you can do so on the right.

You guys were such a great class and I had so much fun meeting you all!! I know we covered a lot of information so here is some additional information for you guys! Enjoy reading!

While you are here, make sure to enter my Yoplait Delights Spa gift pack giveaway and print off the $1.25 coupon here.

A Newbie Success Story

Freebies For Your Birthday

Coupon Notebook (Make sure to let her know I sent you there by putting Budget Saving Mom in the referral code)

Class Member who is selling ready made coupon notebooks

Store Policies

Stocking Up (I suggest printing these out and putting them into your coupon notebook.)

Ways to Get Coupons

Budget Saving Tips

Budget Saving Freebie Tips

How I shop with Kids

Tips When Using Coupons

CVS For Beginners

Rite Aid For Beginners

Walgreens for Beginners

Organic Beef

Expired Coupons for the military

Those should keep you busy for a while. I know that several people wanted more information about chickens. I will type up a post about that soon. If you have any other questions or if there is another post that I said I would link to and forgot, feel free to e-mail me at budgetsavingmom @ gmail dot com (remove the spaces and replace the dot with a “.”)  Also, I would love to hear from you if you have any suggestions to improve the class or anything that was really helpful. I really enjoyed teaching you guys today!