A Guide To Extreme Couponing

I am excited to announce the release of Coupon Saving Mom’s Guide To Extreme Couponing! I wanted to be able to put together an easy-to-read guide on the basics of learning to coupon.

This book is a guide to helping couponers and all those wanting to save money learn how to coupon. The book helps readers understand where to coupon. What type of coupons to use. How to save money with coupons. Learning the stores that accept coupons and how to organize coupons in an efficient and effective manner.

You can find both the e-book version and hard copy version here. Hope you all enjoy 🙂

 

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The Ultimate Guide of Foods You Can Freeze

Coupons, Save Money, Frugal Living, How To Coupon, Ways to Coupon, Freeze Food, DIY Food

Freezing foods is one of the fastest ways to grow your stockpile and lowering your out of pocket grocery costs. I am not talking about frozen pizzas, fries or ice cream (yes, those are great too), but I am focusing on the main foods.

Think of items like:

  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • and more.

These are items that are bought frequently (if not weekly) and can really add to your grocery budget if not planned accordingly.

One of the key ways that I have been able to reduce my weekly budget is to stock up on essential items like meat & cheeses at low prices and freeze until they are needed. It does require some planning as you will have to wait for the specific food to thaw but it will save you hundreds of dollars in the long run.

 Fruit:

The thing to remember about frozen fruit is they are great in smoothies or for baking, but not so great if you are looking for “fresh” fruit by itself. If you do a lot of baking or smoothie making then this is a great option for you.

The key is to freeze them on a baking sheet or pan before transferring over to an airtight bag. This keeps the berries from sticking to each other.

Berries – Berries are great in breads, pies and smoothies.

Bananas – I love to dip bananas in peanut butter or dark chocolate and freeze for an afternoon snack.  You do not know what you are missing if you have never tried these before!

Grapes – Grapes are another easy and healthy snack when frozen.

Vegetables:

Almost all vegetables can be frozen. Most vegetables will lose their consistency and crispness once frozen, but frozen vegetables are great when adding to soups & broths, crockpot recipes and casseroles.

Celery

Zucchini & squash

Peppers

Carrots

Corn

Mushrooms

Spinach

Tomatoes

Dairy:

Butter– Butter is one of those items that I typically can get for free. When I run across a sale for butter I stock up because I know I can store in the freezer for later.

Milk– Many people do not know that you can freeze milk. This only applies to regular diary milk and not diary-free options.

Cheese– Hard cheeses (cheddar, swiss, etc…) can be frozen and maintain the same texture once thawed. This applies to block cheese and shredded cheese.  I would avoid freezing soft cheese such as cream cheese or cottage cheese since they do not maintain their fluffy texture once frozen.

Condiments & Spices:

Jams & Jellies– Jams and jellies can be stored in the freezer as an alternative to canning.

Herbs– Freezing is a great alternative to drying herbs!

Pasta sauce– Pasta Sauce will normally have a long shelf life, but you can also preserve by freezing. I would suggest that if your sauce is in a glass container that you only freeze in a plastic bag or container.

Baked goods:

Muffins– Have leftover muffins? Store them in a freezer bag and eat later! Often, I will bake a larger batch and freeze to have a quick and easy breakfast later.

Breads– Baked breads & sandwich breads can all be frozen to use later.

Cakes– I am sure you have heard that it is a tradition to freeze your wedding cake to eat on your anniversary? Cake holds its texture and consistency very well in the freezer.

Pies– Have leftover pie from Thanksgiving or another holiday? Freeze it!

Rolls & biscuits– Rolls and biscuits can be frozen and popped in the microwave for easy prep.

Other foods:

Casseroles– Casseroles are great for freezing. You can make casseroles to freeze and use later or freeze any leftover casseroles. These are quick and easy dinners that you can pop in the oven when you need a quick dinner.

Soups/broths– Any time I make soups and broths, I always make a large batch and freeze the remaining to eat later. I love rainy days when I can grab some soup or chili from the freeze and thaw on the stove without having to do any cooking 😉

Nuts– Nuts normally have a long shelf life, but you can freeze nuts to keep them from going rancid.

Beans– Cooked beans are great to freeze and use later as a side or main dish.

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End of Month Printable Coupons

Don’t forget that many coupons will no longer be available for printing after the end of the month. Many coupons will no longer be available or reset, so print the ones you want before they disappear! There is also a *rumored* Super Double event starting this Sunday, April 2nd at Harris Teeter. This would be a great time to get ready and printing!


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Declutter Series: How Decluttering Saved Me Money

My husband and I bought our home 5 years ago, this month. We moved in with enough furniture (bed, sofas, side tables) for the basics. I remember looking around in our home and thinking “how are we ever going to fill this home?”. Fast forward to 5 years later (and 2 kids) and now I look around thinking “where did we get all this stuff”.

A few weeks ago, I was standing in our bedroom.  The floors were filled with clothes, our kid’s toys, shoes and other miscellaneous treasures hiding from eye sight. I was stressed. No matter many how many hours I would spend cleaning and tidying it never stayed that way for more than an hour.

The clutter was so distracting that I could not focus when it came time for me to sit down to work. I would look around and my mind immediately shifted me into “clean” mode before I could begin to focus on the task at hand.

I thought to myself, “there has to be a better way to clean and stay clean”.

I began some research and ran across the idea of minimalism. No, I don’t consider myself a minimalist (yet…), but it has made me reconsider my whole concept of my belongings and how much I really need.

I picked up The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which I recommend! The overview of the “KonMari” tidying process is simple.  Does a specific item bring you joy? If not, get rid of it. I never realized how many items I was surrounded by that I had just because. Just because I wanted another black dress. Just because two cutting boards sounded better then one. Just because my favorite movie came out on DVD (while also being available on Netflix).

Realistically they served no purpose, function and they did not bring me joy.

One of the many piles of discarded items to be donated.

As I mentioned before, I am not a minimalist to the degree of its definition. What I did find in the lifestyle of minimalism is clarity and frugality. Clarity, in respect to feeling as if the process of decluttering and letting go of non essential items decreased my stress. Frugality in its very meaning. Letting go of items that serve minimal purpose, has given me the opportunity to save dollars and shop smarter.

So far we have decluttered close to 1/3 of our home and you know what? My spending has decreased! I no longer feel the urge to purchase random items when out shopping.

Below is a list of benefits that you will truly experience right away. Benefits that are visible and non visible. I hope that you are able to breathe a little easier and enjoy life with happiness first.

1.) Less stress

With less clutter comes less cleaning which equals less stress. I now walk into our bedroom and feel relaxed, which is how each person should be able to feel in their own personal space.

2.) More time to focus on other things

When you have less belongings there is less to clean.  I have noticed, even within the first month, that I have more time during the day to focus on other things. I no longer have to walk into our home office and begin tidying before I can sit down to focus on my work. Imagine the things you can accomplish with an extra hour added to your day!

3.) Less spending

Before putting an item in my cart, I consider the purpose of the item. Does this item serve a function? Do I know exactly where the item will go in my house? Will this item bring me joy in my home? I learned that many of my purchases were in the moment. “Oh look, this vase is 70% off!”. Yes, the vase may have been 70% off, but I simply made a purchase because the price of the item was low, not because I actually needed a vase.

4.) Sell your items

One of the areas in our home that I began to declutter is my children’s toys. Trust me, they still have more toys than they need, but I was able to find a good amount that were no longer of interest to my kids. I took our discarded toys to a local children’s consignment store and sold many of the items.  I received store credit (you can also get cash back) to use on future clothing purchases for my children. Mom win!

Guys, this is a section of my closet before the decluttering began. What you do not see is is the countless amount of shoes on the ground and clothes about to pop out of the drawers. Stay tuned for the after! I am currently on the 3rd round of my closet declutter which has resulted in close to 20 garbage bags of clothes to be given away.

 

 

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How to Have a No Spend Weekend

Are you looking for ways to increase your monthly savings or maybe you just want to have a relaxing weekend? Try doing a “no spend weekend” or week, whichever works better for you and your family. I believe the weekend, only being two days, is a small commitment that is manageable.

Set a time frame that works for you.

The basics of a no spend weekend is exactly what is sounds like. You eliminate spending for a weekend on all outings and extra spending. Of course, you may have to purchase gas, medications or needed grocery items, but we are focusing on the extra spending.

This means no dining out, going to movies, shopping, buying drinks, etc… Now don’t let this get you down.  There are many fun activities that you and your family can do during the weekend that requires no money spending!

Before you begin a no-spend weekend, I encourage you to sit down with your family and come up with a plan and ideas you would like to do. Meal planning and checking your pantry for all items you will need is helpful in preparing for a no-spend weekend.

If you have never had a no-spend weekend, I encourage you to try it.

Sit down with your family and create a plan for your weekend with fun activities that you may have never tried before. As a bonus, with the money you would have spent you can now put towards paying debt or a monthly savings!

Here are some ideas that you and your family can do on your no-spend weekend.

1.) Hike

Try and find a new trail or somewhere you have never been.  You can even make a day out of it and bring packed lunches and snacks!

2.) Watch a movie

Go through your movie collection and re-watch one of your favorite movies. You can even search on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video for a free new movie.

3.) Make a new recipe

Look through your pantry and fridge for the items you have on hand and search Pinterest for some fun, new recipes.

4.) Go to the library

Go and search for a book that you have been wanting to read or find something that sparks your interest. Most libraries will also have kids time such as storytelling and crafts. As a bonus, you can even rent movies from the library to take home.

5.) Have a pot luck

Have your friends and family over for a pot luck. Ask each person to bring a dish of their choosing. Having a no-spend weekend doesn’t mean that you must be cooped up in your house.

6.) Camp outside

If the weather is permitting, pitch a tent in your backyard and camp outside!

7.) Play games

Try pulling out some board games that you may have not played in a while.  If board games are not your thing, then play video games.

8.) Volunteer

Use your time to volunteer for a cause that means something to you. Serve food a soup kitchen or play with animals at your local animal shelter.

9.) Visit a park

If your children get restless being at home, then try going to a nearby park. My children would play for hours at a park and never be bored!

10.) De-clutter

Use this time to go through your home and ditch items that are no longer being used.  You can even sell items and make extra cash.

Enjoy this time together. Try to relax and enjoy the simple things.

I would love to hear your ideas for no-spend activities!

 

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9 easy ways to save at Target

1. Manufacturer Coupons

Targets does accept manufacturer and printable coupons like most major retailers. Target does follow the limitations that are written on each manufacturer coupon.

2. Target Store Coupons

Target offers printable coupons directly from their website.  These can be used with Manufacturer coupons and the Cartwheel App. Target printable coupons can be found at here.  You can only print two coupons per device (computer, phone or tablet).

3. Target Mobile Text Coupons

Advertised– Most weekly Target circulars will have a coupon than you can cut and use in store. If you look at the coupon it will normally advertise that you can save for instance, $5 off a $20 specified brand when you text SAVE to TARGET (827438).

Non-advertised– Most weeks there is also unadvertised mobile coupons which you can find listed on signs throughout the store.

Some mobile coupons will be a dollar amount of a specific product such as $1.00 off any Dove item.  Some coupons are department specific such as save $5 off any $25 personal care purchase.

All mobile coupons have a limit of one per transaction.

4. Cartwheel App

Target has their own savings app available for most smartphones. I love this app so much that I created a separate post (here) about how wonderful it is, but here are the basics.

  • Cartwheel has both percentages off and manufacture coupons directly from your phone.
  • Once you load the coupon to your Cartwheel you then have the cashier scan your barcode for your savings to be applied.
  • Cartwheel percentage coupons can be combined with Target coupons AND manufacturer coupons! That means triple the savings!
  • Want to learn more about Cartwheel? Check out my Cartwheel post.

5. Gift card promotions

Each week Target will offer a gift card promotion on several products. Such as, receive a $10 gift card when you buy 2 packs of diapers. These promotions will typically follow the sales week (Sunday-Saturday) so you typically will only have that week to save with each specific promotion.

6. CLEARANCE, CLEARANCE, CLEARANCE!

Did I mention clearance? This is my favorite way to shop for most items at Target!

You can find clothes, household products, toys and much more marked all the way to 70% off and sometimes higher than that! One of my favorite activities is grabbing a coffee and walking the aisles of Target to spot clearance within the aisles and the end caps.

I do understand that not everyone has time to scope out every Target in their area, or even one. I want to encourage you to build relationships with peers in your community. Ask friends and family members to keep an eye out when they see items on clearance.

7. Price Match

Target will price match any item on their website or competitor’s prices if it is below the price of the item in store. I try to make a habit of checking the major retailer’s websites (Walmart, Amazon, etc…) before checking out to ensure that I am getting the lowest price possible.  If you happen to purchase an item and then realize that it is cheaper with one of their competitor’s prices, then Target will honor within 14 days.

“We’ll match the price if you buy a qualifying item at Target then find the identical item for less at Target.com, select online competitors, or in Target’s or competitor’s local print ad. Price matches may be requested at time of purchase or Price adjustments within 14 days after purchase.”

8. Reusable bag

If you bring your own reusable bag for checkout then Target will take off .5 cents off your total purchase!

9. Target RedCard

If you are a frequent Target customer, I would recommend signing up for their red card. Target offers both a Target RedCard debit card and a Target RedCard credit card. If you sign up for their Debit card it links directly with your own bank account so it is just like using a regular debit card. I personally am not big on credit cards, so when I saw that Target offered debit cards, I said “sign me up”!

Each time you use your Target RedCard you will save 5% off on top of all the other savings that Target offers.

 

Whew!  I know that was a lot of ways to save, but once you get familiar with how to save at Target you will never pick up another item from Target without checking for a coupon or savings on Cartwheel and become a Target savings master!

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10 Valentine’s Day Date Ideas: Under $20!

With Valentine’s day right around the corner, I know many of you will be trying to come up with some ways to show your partner you care.  Valentine’s day can be one of those holidays where costs can add up quickly.  Dinner, movie, gifts and more can easily add up to over $100!

I wanted to create a list of Valentine’s Day date ideas that are fun, romantic and budget friendly!

1. Romantic indoor picnic

Think of a romantic outdoor picnic and simply recreate the scene anywhere in your home.  Bring out the blankets, candles, pillows and picnic basket.  You can even get extra creative, hang some string lights and make your own “fort” in front of your fireplace!

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2. Drive in movie theater

Drive in movie theaters are not commonly thought of for a movie date, but why not?  I love the idea of being in the car, bringing your own snacks (or grab some at concessions) and cuddling with some blankets while watching one of the newest flicks.  Our local drive-in theaters generally cost about $7-$10 per person.  Many theaters even have areas if you wish to camp outside instead of being in your car.  Great way to think out of the bubble!

3. Breakfast in bed

Don’t have time to do a romantic date later in the evening?  This is a creative way to spend time with your partner and not have to spend much.  I love to make themed pancakes for special holidays so heart shaped pancakes are absolutely on my list for Valentine’s day! Check out the post below for some great food inspiration.

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4. Ice skating

How fun would this be during the winter time?  I feel like winter is made for ice skating and bundling up. Depending on where you live, you may have an outdoor ice skating area. If not, check to see if your area has an indoor ice skating.

Most ice skating prices average around $10 for both admission and skate rental.  For under $20  you could have a night or day full of fun.

5. Painting classes

You may have seen these advertised as “Wine and Design” classes for women, many of these places offer date nights.  Especially around Valentine’s Day, you will be able to find a lot of partner classes with discounts.  One of the local classes in my area is offering buy one get one for their designated “date night” the Friday before Valentine’s Day. Hint. Hint.

6. Indoor S’mores

Who says s’mores is a only summer time treat?  S’mores is one of my favorite desserts year-round and they are so easy to make. If you have a fireplace, then set up camp and enjoy. If not, check out this awesome idea on how to make s’mores with no fireplace.

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7. Outdoor Hike/Walk

This is a great way to spend one on one time with your partner while enjoying the outdoors (and burning some calories!). If hiking and going for walks is an activity you already do together, then try a different park or venture out into a new hiking trail! I’m not sure if it’s just me, but something about walking outdoors really pushes out great conversations.

8. Comedy Club

Love to laugh? Imagine spending your evening next to your partner sharing laughter. One things for sure, it’ll be a fun night! Get ready to share smiles. Many comedy clubs in my area cost $10 or less for tickets.  Of course, if it is a more well-known comedian you may pay a little more.

9. Homemade pizza family night

Planning on spending Valenines Day with the kids?  This is an excellent idea to include everyone…and to be honest who doesn’t love pizza?  Check out this awesome idea for a family pizza bar designed for valentine’s day.

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10. Family gift exchange

A family gift exchange is another great option if you plan to spend the holiday with your family.  This is a great way to incorporate everyone in the family in the spirit of the holiday.  You can have each family member create a homemade card and exchange it using the same style as secret Santa.

Do you have your own budget friendly date idea?  Share with me in the comments!  I would love to hear each of your creative date ideas!

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DIY: Recipe art

I think my grandma, is very much like most. She is warm, caring, and at a times overly pushy with making sure that we are fed. Overly pushy for the best reasons. Even now, I still look forward to vising her and seeing what she may have created.

This weekend, I felt the overwhelming feeling of creativity. My kitchen felt like the perfect place to honor my grandmother. I had exactly what I needed. Empty space, old handwritten recipes, and excitement. I’ve been looking forward to doing something with her recipes for quite some time. Most people that I know do not keep recipes written down anymore. Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest have in some ways taken over.

Yet. I’m an old soul. I love the idea of looking back at my grandma’s recipes and experiencing the beautiful mixture of good times and great food. So I buckled down and got to work. I used my husband’s hammer, a few nails to hang up the recipes. Not only did the project came out beautiful, but it also provides lasting memories to cherish.

Materials needed:

Recipe cards (the older and more worn the better!)

Picture frames

Hammer & Nails

 

I was able to find these 8×8 frames at Michaels for $5 each (on sale)! They have plenty of options to choose from depending on the wall size you are working with.

I love how this project came out and how each card has bends and stains almost as if I can see my grandma writing down the measurements and directions as she was cooking each dish.

In less than 10 minutes and under $20 I was able to mark this off my to-do list!

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Where to find coupons

1.) Sunday Paper

The Sunday paper is where you will find the bulk of your coupons.  The three inserts that distribute coupons are Proctor & Gamble (P&G), Redplum (RP), and SmartSource (SS).

It is important to know that some weeks there may only be (1) insert and another week may have up to (5) inserts.  This is determined by the weekly insert schedule. You can find the entire schedule for the year here.

Just keep in mind that not all regions receive the same coupons.  You may receive a coupon for .50 cents off an item and the neighboring town may receive .75 cents off the same product.

2.) Online

If you haven’t had time to build your coupon “stash” do not be discouraged!  If you have a computer, tablet or smart phone and a printer you can have coupons in no time! There are so many places online that you can print coupons. The most common sites to print coupons are coupons.com, smartsource.com and redplum.com.

Many brands offer coupons directly from their website.  Think of brands such as Kelloggs, Betty Crocker, Hefty and more!

Most coupons will only allow you to print each coupon (2) times per device. If you need to print more than (2) coupons then you will have to print from another device such as your tablet.

When you see coupons online that you are interested in and think you will use, then I would suggest you print right away.  Most coupons have a limit and once the limit of the coupon has been printed then the coupon will disappear. Coupons generally expire within a month of printing (that can vary) so you should have plenty of time to use even if you don’t need the coupon at that moment.

3.) Mail

Many brands and stores will send coupons directly to your home if you sign up for different programs that are offered.  I occasionally will receive coupons for free items from stores like Food Lion.  Harries Teeter is also known for sending out $10 off $50 or more purchases and Target loves to send coupons for many different items!

4.) Store cards

Some store cards will have electronic coupons that you can add directly to your store loyalty card.  Electronic coupons will vary from store to store.  Some stores will allow you to use electronic coupons with manufacturer coupons and some will not.  You can check if your store is listed here, and then review their electronic coupon policy.

5.) In the store

You can find some awesome coupons directly in the store itself!  Many manufacturers will place coupons directly on the product by either “hangtags” or “peelie” coupons. You can also find coupons on “tearpads” and “blinkie” machines.  Both are generally located near the advertised product.

Have you ever been at check out and receive those coupons that print with your receipt that you probably throw away? DON’T! Sometimes those coupons are GOLD!  I have been able to get many free items using those coupons from the “catalina” machines.  Many times, the coupon will print off to redeem for a free item! Always look at those the next time you are shopping and store them in your binder or file for future use.

Hope this helps on beginning your couponing journey!

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Shop With Me: Saved 77%

This morning my daughter and I stopped at Harris Teeter before our “Mommy and Daughter” day for a small trip.  There were some great deals that were too good to pass up before the sales end today.  Check it out below!

 

Mission Chips (.55/1 coupon): Paid .90 cents each

New York Garlic Knots/Bread (.50/1 coupon): Paid .34 cents each

Philadelphia Cream Cheese (.75/1 coupon): FREE!

Special K Bars (.75/1 coupon): Paid .50 cents each

Snickers (.50/1 coupon): FREE!

Egglands best (.55/1 coupon): Paid .90 cents each

2 lb ground beef ($3.00 coupon marked down): $4.97

Plus, my daughter acted as though she had trekked through the desert with no water for 2 days. She HAD TO HAVE the bottle of water.  That added a little under a dollar to the total.

Total spent: $14.19 Total saved: 48.49

Percentage saved: 77%!

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