Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tasty Tuna Casserole

When my husband and I were first married, he had quite an aversion to casseroles.  So, to get him to try this one, I just left off the word "casserole" and called it Tuna Spaghetti.  It worked, and now he loves it so much, he requests it.  No problem with me - it's easy, fast, and inexpensive to make.  As a matter of fact, a lot of the ingredients are on sale right now.

Tuna at Piggly Wiggly is a Smart Shopper special where you can get 5oz cans at 39 cents for every card filled.  OR you could just head over to Walmart and ad match them since their policy states they can match it for a specified price.  The ad runs through today (6/28).  This is half price at Walmart! Woo!

My favorite pasta is the Ronzoni Smart Taste (in the purple box).  It has all the nutrients of wheat pasta, taste of white pasta, and a lot less calories per serving than regular spaghetti.  You can check out Ronzoni's website directly or It Pays to Eat Pasta for coupons.

Lays potato chips are on sale at KMart, CVS, and Rite Aid this week.  Pick up a bag for $1.88 at one of these stores or ad match to get the price.

There are a couple of cheese coupons out there, too.  Here's a manufacturer's coupon through Walmart's website and a store one through Target's website.

Alright, on to the recipe.

Tasty Tuna Casserole

1 1/2 cups broken noodles
1 can of Cream of Mushroom or Cream of Chicken Soup
1/2 cup milk
2 5oz cans of tuna, drained
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/3 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup crushed potato chips

Cook noodles in salted water, drain.  Mix with soup, milk, tuna, cheese and onion in a 2 quart greased baking dish.  Top with chips and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until bubbly hot.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Where I Save: Requested Coupons

The best coupons are the free ones.  The ones where you don't have to pay for a newspaper just to score a good deal.  I love when family and friends pass on their unused coupons to me. :) Yes, thank you, I will take free money.

In the age of the internet, coupons are very easy to come by.  You can go directly to your favorite product’s website and sign up for their newsletter.  Sometimes, they even have a “Coupons”/“Offers”/“Special Offers” tab on their page where you can access coupons they may have available at that time.

Favorite brands don't have coupons out there for you?  Just send them an email, and perhaps they'll set you up!  JIF is the only peanut butter we use, and so we let them know.  Guess what.  We got a coupon. :)

Ever thought about Facebook for coupons?  Just by "liking" a product's page, you can enter into sweepstakes, giveaways, and get coupons.  I've scored quite a few high dollar coupons this way.  

There's also this gem: Home Made Simple free booklet 

"with over $35 in savings on your favorite brands, plus organization ideas and tricks for decorating like a pro, our booklet inspires you to make your home beautiful, balanced and — best of all — simple."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Where I Save: All You

You may have seen All You on the magazine stands at Walmart, which is an exclusive carrier of the the magazine.  It is filled with high value coupons and money saving recipes and tips.

The All You website is also a source for printable coupons and even features daily free samples.  They also have sweepstakes and giveaways you can enter.  They have articles that feature home, fitness, style, and recipes for less.

I saw on Money Saving Mom were you can get a discounted subscription for $1.33 an issue.  I would say that if you're a couponer, it would definitely pay for itself...just as it says right on the front of the magazine.

I like the magazine anyway, so the coupons are a added bonus!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Where I Save: My Coke Rewards

I'm continuing on with telling you different stores and sites where I like to save today.

An added bonus to enjoying Coca-Cola products are the points you can earn.  I think of a commercial that was out a while back for Coke.  Coke caps would be dropped or thrown away, and people were envisioning different merchandise they could redeem them for being the actual items dropped/thrown away.  Anyone else remember that commercial?

I've kinda become one of those people...I cringe just a little when someone throws one away.  If it's right on top, or in a parking lot, I've been known to pick them up for myself.

You can find codes under the caps, on the tear off tab of a fridge pack or on the wrappers of a multi-pack.  Just head on over to My Coke Rewards and register for free, then start entering your codes for points.  You can enter up to 120 points each week.  Browse through their catalog and see what you might want to save up for.  You can also donate your points to a good cause or a school.  For more on how the program works here's the program overview.

Hey, if you're not going to use your Coke points, can I have them?  Ok, thanks. :)

Mischievous Little Peamite

I heard Peamite Bravo in the kitchen playing with her fridge magnets.  The familiar ABC song would randomly play, and I'd hear the sound of magnets being dropped on the tile floor.  Then...it got quiet.  Do you know what that means in little kid terms?  Yup, up to no good.

A couple of minutes later, she comes running out of the kitchen whining, "hands dirty." I couldn't figure out what in the world she had gotten into.  She said, "Mommy's cake."  I hadn't made a cake lately...no cakes to get into!  I go into the kitchen to investigate, and see what she meant.  She poured out a whole bottle of lustre dust.  Cake friends, do you feel my pain?

Shiny mess all over the floor and her.  Oh, and money down the drain...whole bottle...gone...wasted...expensive waste. :(

Monday, June 20, 2011

No More Diapers!

I think every parent looks forward to the day when they don't have to buy another diaper.  The road there may be a little messy, but it's well worth it when you realize how much money you save in the end.  I would estimate around $500 a year, probably more for the first year.

So, let me just say, Hallelujah!  Peamite Bravo is sans diapers and is doing so well using the potty like a big girl!! I used the same method for her as I did for my son, and let me just say, she is a lot easier.  I've always heard that girls are easier to potty train than boys, so there may be some truth to that!

We started out by going to the store and letting her pick out her "big girl" underwear.  I knew to buy a lot so I wouldn't have to do a ton of laundry everyday, because the first couple of days, they go through 7 - 10 pairs before they get the hang of it.  She was very excited about her Tinkerbell underwear!

At one point on the first day, she brought me a diaper and asked me to put it on her, but I had to explain that diapers were for babies, and she's a big girl now.  Glad that worked!  Guess I should've put them out of sight first!  We took the leftover ones we had to our church's nursery so they could have some extra.

She had lots to drink and a couple of popsicles to give us plenty of opportunities to "practice."  For my little girl that does not like to be dirty, this method works great, and she caught on very quickly.  Of course we still have the occasional accident - why I will still be carrying a change of clothes for a while, but a lot better than lugging around a stocked diaper bag.  Also why I'm very glad that we have several sheets for her bed.  Since we converted her crib into a toddler bed, it has a water resistant mattress, so we saved on the cost of a mattress protector this time around.

Hope all you other mommies and daddies are having success with potty training.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Where I Save: Target

I thought that I would start sharing with you different sites and places where I like to either save or make money.

I thought I'd start out with Target.  I love Target! I was so excited when they opened near me. :)  It's such a fun place to shop, and now, to save!

Target has web coupons that you can print out, and use in conjunction with a manufacturer's coupon.  Pair it with a sale, or a promotion to get Target giftcards when you buy certain products, and you'll find a great deal.
I recently had a $1 off Target coupon for Nivea Men's Body Wash, and a $2 off manufacturer's coupon.  It was priced at $3.04, so I got my husband some body wash for 4 cents.  Awesome.

Target is also keeping up with the digital age, and even has Mobile Coupons.  Coupons are sent via text, and then you show the barcode to the cashier to scan at checkout.  Fancy, huh?

Did you know that Target price matches?  I just recently discovered this!  I knew that Walmart did, and frequently did it there, but this is new to me!  Only thing though, the Target coupons are taken off first, so you can't ad match it to a lower price and then lower it even further with a store coupon.  If you're going to ad match it to price that would be lower than what it would be using the store coupon, save it for another time, and just do the match!  Manufacturer's coupons are taken off after all the price adjusting, so you'll save the money on the lowest price.

I’m not much on having a store credit card – even if you do save a bit of money by using it.  It’s just debt waiting to happen, and I just don’t want to go there.  I did however, learn recently, that Target now offers a Target Debit Card. You save an additional 5% on purchases paid with the card.  It is linked to your bank account, so the money comes straight from it, no extra bill to pay.  I don’t know how I feel about Target having my bank account details, though…what are your thoughts??

Update: I just discovered today, that Target sends samples to you.  On their website, they will update with different samples available that you can request.  (One sample per household)  For example, I requested free JIF To Go peanut butter.  It said I could expect my sample in the mail within 4-6 weeks.  We looove peanut butter at our house!

They recently updated their coupon policy, so be sure you check it out or even take it with you to make sure you're calculating your deals correctly!  Not a bad idea to look over their price matching policy as well, especially if you're used to Walmart's; it differs a bit.

Check out a great site, Totally Target, to get info on deals happening now at Target, ad match-ups with coupons, and everything Target.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

It's Not Reality

Earlier this week I wrote about the new craze of "extreme" couponing, and how I was impressed with how they could save 90% or more on their grocery bill. Too good to be true?  Perhaps in some of the episodes it is.

Last night, I watched an episode I had recorded of Extreme Couponing featuring J'aime Kirlew.  I gathered from reading some couponing blogs, that this woman was under fire for coupon fraud.  My curiosity was piqued as to what she did that would be constituted as fraud, so I Googled her name, and I found interesting blog posts by a well respected couponer, Jill Cataldo.

In the first post I read, Jill wrote about the controversy surrounding the new show.  I could not believe what I was reading (well, I could, but you know what I mean)!  This J'aime lady had apparently posted You Tube videos on how she couponed at Target.  The problem was, she was using coupons issued for one product on a different product made by the same manufacturer. AKA - coupon fraud.

I go on to read another post that speculates the same fraud happened on the TLC show.  The evidence gathered by other couponers seems to weigh heavily on the guilty side.  I realize that "reality" TV isn't reality at all, but it really aggravates me that The Learning Channel would feature someone committing a crime, rather than finding legitimate, ethical couponers...and I know they are out there, because I have learned so much from them in just a short amount of time.

Also, the fact that some of the stores being featured on the show are waiving their usual coupon policies just because they're on TV really irks me, too.  It gives unrealistic expectations to those wanting to have the same results. Again, why can't TLC feature the correct way to coupon?

Oh, and J'aime believes she did nothing wrong.  Really?  I just grabbed a coupon I have next to me and read the small print directed to the consumer:  "One coupon valid for item indicated.  Any other use constitutes fraud."

I enjoyed watching the show, but from now on if I'm watching, it will be with skepticism and a close eye.

Monday, June 13, 2011

New Fad or Here to Stay?

Have you seen that new show on TLC, "Extreme Couponing"?  I find it quite amazing that these people are able to save 90% or more on the shopping trips documented on the show.  I've read interviews of some of the people on the show that say that these aren't typical shopping trips for them, but is what the show is looking for, so they plan for weeks just for one giant shopping trip.  Nonetheless, it is still impressive.

Obviously this has been around for a while.  There are tons of websites and blogs dedicated just to couponing and frugal living.  But, it seems, the show has jumped-started the rest of America, even in my small town.  I wonder, will they stick to it, and continue to do all the preparation that it takes to successfully coupon?  Is it just a new fad, a new thrill of a deal?

I know from my personal experience, I get on a "kick" for a while, and then it slowly wanes.  I dieted for a good solid 6 months and lost about 30 pounds, but I slowly got out of my diet/exercise routine, and slipped back into most of my old ways.  I got on a cleaning kick for a while, where my kitchen was always spotless, and my living room floor wasn't constantly littered with toys and cereal, but then that became quite exhausting, so I gave up trying so hard.  It stays pretty clean now, but I make the others in the house help out more, instead of me trying to do it all on my own to make sure it gets done.  I got on a baking kick for a while, too.  Although this does still continue because I make a little money off of it, it certainly is not at the level it was this time last year.  I was constantly in the kitchen baking or decorating something for someone.  It was so fun, I couldn't wait to do it again.  I was new and learning, so I couldn't wait to try another idea.

Two weeks ago, I seriously started couponing the way it is laid out on sites like The Krazy Coupon Lady and Money Saving Mom.  Just in two weeks, I have gotten a mini "stockpile" of toiletries going.  (My husband should be set for a while!)  I've learned from these sites that you buy ahead when prices are at their lowest, and then you free up your grocery budget for fresh produce, meat, etc. instead of taking a chunk out of it when you have to buy toiletries.  I also learned that products go on sales in cycles.  Did you know that?  I may have known it in the back of my mind, Oh yeah, BBQ sauce goes on sale during grilling seasons, but it was never in the forefront of my mind, I should get these now while the price is so low!  

I think that perhaps this will wane for some because either it won't become a lifestyle they want to pursue, or because they aren't in a situation that forces them to save/watch their pennies.  I am definitely in a situation where we need to watch our pennies. I was already collecting coupons and ad matching here and there before I learned how to do the "extreme couponing" method.   It was important to me to save money on my groceries before this "fad," so I believe that now I know how to do it more effectively, it'll be here to stay at my house.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Black Olives: An Unexpected Snack

My family and I love going to the local Pizza Inn.  Freshly made pizza really makes the difference.  A favorite of mine there is the Chicken Fajita Pizza which is topped with black olives, but I don't hold that against it.  I just pick them off and continue on.

Several months back, Peamite Bravo was sitting next to me while I picked the olives off.  As soon as I got them off, she was scooping them up.  Once she realized how much she liked them, I couldn't pick them off fast enough!  It was like I was giving her candy!

When we visit Pizza Inn now, we go straight to the salad bar and put a pile of black olives on Peamite Bravo's plate.  Then she exclaims, "Oliiiiives!" (ol - leaves)

I don't know why it took me so long to realize, I should just buy some black olives for her snack.  Whole pitted olives quickly found their way onto her cute little fingers.