Saturday, June 29, 2013

couponing {it's not your grandma's game anymore}

 since i was a little girl, i had heard stories of my grandmother's ability to save money. it was like an urban legend. i heard stories of how the grocery stores almost always owed her money. or how she'd drive all the way across town for meat she saw on clearance in an ad. and now i've become her.

when i was first married a friend showed me her method of shopping with coupons. i was baffled at how she got an $80 run for just $10. i was hooked. the first three years of our marriage i was couponing, and i never spent more than $40 a week on our groceries. i never once paid for a single cleaning product, toiletries or paper good. for real.

i recently decided to start back up again. man it felt good to watch the dollars drop after I handed in my coupons. yesterday was groceries day and I had my two biggest runs yet. i posted a photo on Instagram and Facebook and since I got such a big response I decided to share  my process with you all.

my first run yesterday was Walgreens.
For each item i maximized my deals, which means i used coupons, they were on sale, and i had a store coupon.  
    chex mix: 
       regular price $3.29, on sale $4/4.24 or $1.06 each. i used two $.60/1 and two $.50/1 coupons, and      paid $.56 for two and $.46 for two. $2.04 out the door. 
   lever soap: 
       regular price $2.99 each, on sale BOGO $2.54. i had two $1/1 coupons, so i paid $.54 out the  door. 
      regular price $1.39 each, on sale 2 for $1.28. i had a $1/3 and paid $.92 for all three. 
   maxwell house coffee: 
      regular price $8.49, on sale $5.09. i used a $1.50/1 coupon and paid $3.59 out the door.
   7-up (not pictured because my brain forgot):
      regular price $1.99 on sale for $.75. no coupon just a really good price for something i never buy.
  hallmark cards:
      regular price $.99 each, with sale $.84 each. i used a $2/3 hallmark coupon and paid $.52 total out the door.

total price before rewards coupon, manufacturer coupon and sales: $36.03
total price after rewards coupon, manufacturer coupons and sales: $8.99      (76% savings!!!!!!!!)

next was cvs:
CVS a great deal on diapers this week. i budget $40 a pay period for diapers ($80 a month), but try to get most of my weeks in at $20. that leaves me with the option to stockpile more diapers, or buy something else the girls need. this was a great week for that. at cvs i did multiple transactions because of the extra bucks i would be receiving. (i'll get into that it a min.)
 transition #1:
   huggies were on sale for $9.49, and wipes were 2/$6. there was a deal going on that if you spend $30 you'd recieve $12 of cvs extra bucks (credit or free money=free stuff!!). So....
    i used 3 $3/1 pack of diapers & a $1/1 pack of wipes. before my coupons it was $31.47 with coupons i paid $21.47 (with $12 for a future transaction).

 transaction #2:
   venus embrace razor had a deal that if you purchased one you'd receive $4 extra bucks (EB). i had a $5/1 coupon. original price $12.99, i paid 7.99 and received $4 for a future transaction.

transaction #3:
   this one was my favorite.
 2 packs venus disposable razors:
  i had a BOGO coupon and a $2/1 coupon. originally $9.79 each i paid $7.49 for both.
   on sale for $9.49, i used a manufacturer coupon $3/1 and a cvs coupon $3/1 and paid $3.49.
  not on sale at 6.49, but it was $1.77 for me. because.....

 my total bill was $34.96
     coupons used $17.79
           new total: $17.17
       Extra bucks: $16
total out the door: $1.77

phew. so. that was a lot of math. are you still with me? i will say the tax in this state is killing me. that was more expensive than my entire purchase quite a few times.

why walgreens & cvs you ask? i typically buy diapers, toiletries, paper goods, and cleaning products from drug stores unless a major chain has them on crazy sale and i have a coupon. their coupon policies are better and they tend to have better prices and sales. that would be one of my first pieces of advice. tip #1: get to know your local drugstore's and major chain's coupon policies. you can read walgreens here and cvs' here.

i am also on their email list, so i know when special deals are, like wednesday was friends and family day at walgreens and i grabbed a coupon for 15% my total order off their website. to shop at the local drugstores and walk away with 75%+ savings, you need to be a part of their rewards program. tip # 2: sign up for their rewards programs. each drugstore handles things differently and it's again, important to familiarize yourself to their plans.

i love saving money and my husband has been super supportive. it's an expensive world out there, but it doesn't have to be. with all we already pay for i'm very excited to start this new journey with you guys and helping you save money. there are a lot of resources out there and i think i'll make the next post in our new series. i hope you feel encouraged and not completely overwhelemed. if that isn't the case and you want to talk more in depth without waiting for the next post let me know and i'd be happy to share any knowledge i can. have a great weekend folks!!

here's part {2}

Sunday, June 16, 2013

tiffany's magic camera

there is magic in my friend tiffany's camera. or, she herself is magic. both can be true and are true actually. she joined our family on sunday, day three, of our trip. not only did we get to benefit from her fantastic company, a ride to town to do nasty laundry, and help with the kids when it started to get rainy, but she brought her camera. 

people. i die. 

these are so precious to me. she got it. she found the beautiful in our crazy. she gave me moments that are all too fast and gone in a blink, and they are mine to keep forever. but, being the giver that i am, i am sharing a few with you. 

these are my babies. my love. and my life. i love them more than words and my actions frequently make it seem other wise, but i do. thank you dear dear friend for blessing us with your gift. because it truly is the best gift anyone can give.  

be prepared to drool over the insanely cute chubby legs in this post. and thankfully we aren't talking about mine. 

 sesriously. i get to bite those all the time. 

 stop it!! he is so stinkin handsome and so grown up. 

 every mothers nightmare. 


after just being us on the beach we did naps. they were needed for sure. 
then we took a walk to the state park area that is a natural active tar pit. it was amazing. and crazy beautiful.

 he is such a good daddy.


wasn't i right?! aren't they amazing? i only wish i didn't look so tired, but it is what it is. 

thank you again tiff. you can find more of her work here or here.

my new bike {printable}

my boy needs a new bike. bad.
we didn't really realize it till he made friends at the beach with a boy a year younger than him on a bike significantly bigger than his and significantly nicer than his. 

now, the "nicer" thing, that doesn't bother us. my children to not need to have the newest and best. 
however, their stuff should be age and size appropriate.

we also do not just "give" our kids things. they need to earn it, have earned the money for it, or it should be a special event. 

all that being said, we start swim lessons next week. my child hates, loathes, dreads, fears and all around despises swim lessons. so, as a motivation we're letting him earn a new bike over the coarse of the two weeks. he needs to have minimal tears and anxiety about it and he can earn a star each day. there are ten days of swim and he only needs 7 for the bike. because we all need grace. 

i designed these super cute star charts for him and it's been on our fridge for a few days already. we talk about it and encourage him to be brave for his new bike. 

i liked these so much i thought i'd share because they are so stinkin cute!

download 8x10 of version 1 here

 for the girls out there...
download 8x10 of version 2 here

i hope you enjoy them. i'll probably have a few good stories from lessons next week. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

IG Friday

here's my life in photos for last week.
linking up with jeanett from life rearranged.
truly a face only a mother could love. and being her mother, i'm even doubting it.
this girl is a mess each and every meal time. i think i forget that she's only 21 months and this is pretty standard for a kid not yet 2 years old. but the process involved in cleaning that beautiful face kills me every time.

this sweet child of mine may make me grey. she is so adventurous and maybe its more me and i am super distracted but she gets hurt more than anyone. i mentioned that she fell out of the trailer, well we get home and she falls into the kiddie pool. right between my feet. scared the day lights out of her though! we snuggled for over an hour and she just sat still and never made a sound. i think she was realizing that was a bad decision.

you think they're being loving don't you? don't believe it. the middle one is an avid hair puller, and that commenced immediately after i took the picture.
our backyard is our favorite place. outside pajama time is mandatory in the summer being that we can't step foot outside after 10:30 or it's like walking on the surface of the sun.
she knows who to sit by during nap time.
grumpy, sick and gorgeous. this girl may be holding my heart more days than not.
it's hard to break up the routine of after bed time. usually we watch movies or netflix. three kids later we still struggle with the loss of independence sometimes. it's hard not to jump in the car and go get drinks, or go see a late night movie. so this week we did a fire pit and just enjoyed the stars and conversation.

this kid and i needed a date. big time. we've been struggling to get along and it was super important for he and i to go and do stuff with out the girls. ice cream and books are two things we love. i introduced him to two friends. ben and jerry. and their friend sprinkle waffle cone.
i wish i could have captured the look on his face when he saw the book section. "oh mom!!!!!! look at alllllllll thoooose books!!!!" i died. we were there for over an hour. and i bought our first chapter book to read together. he has a sensitive heart so as much as i wanted to start the lion the witch and the wardrobe i settled on stuart little

that was our week so far. i hope yours was amazing and that your weekend is even better. summer is here, friends are out of school and it's play date at the pool time. lots of love!!!!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

happenings {at the beach}

our little family has been busy these past two weeks. 

this was our home for 6 days. we were lucky enough to inherit a spot from a friend's relitive for the coveted carpenteria beach row. i'm not sure our neighbors were so lucky.

we were loud and crazy and dirty and wet and crazy and happy. very happy.

the beach is my favorite place. i love breathing deep the salt sea air. i love that my babies drifted to dreamland to the sound of the power of the ocean. i love the sand between my toes (not other places, but my toes are okay.) it's somewhere where i feel calm and relaxed. even in my crazy.
this boy was right at home too. we played from sun up to sun down. digging for sand crabs. playing with new friends. combing the beach each morning searching for items suitable for his "collection." frisby. ball. sandcastles. fun. memories. 

having three kids, two being babies, requires you to ask for help almost all the time. at home i'm in my element. i control my children's environment and can manage. finally. however, being in such great proximity to water requires us to be humble and ask for help. the invitation went something like this:
"hey nicole (my sister in law). wanna come to the beach with us?"
what i was really saying:
 "hey nicole! wanna come to the beach and be our nanny and help with the showering and changing and dressing and wiping of faces and managing the crazy?"
obviously she said yes. but to our dismay it was for only two days. we did end up with people every day. not so much to help, but to hangout with too. we needed people if we were gonna survive.

one of the best ideas my mentor had we had was to bring a kiddie pool. we filled it with water one day.
other days we put sand toys in, and we wrangled the baby in it too. kinda. babies and sand have a magnetic force that would baffle the best physicist.

these two pics are some of my favorites from the trip. they are definitely my "frame this moment" photos. the hubby is quite good with the camera.

heart shaped rocks are the best.

the nightly ritual. and there is a serious method to the perfect campfire so i've been told.

this essentially sums her entire week up. wet. dirty. and unexplainable.

this one. she loved it, but she made it tough for us. we couldn't, or i should say, chose not to put her down. the amount of sand she ate for our photo shoot (more on that next) was enough for the whole week in my opinion. my elbows hurt at the end of the week. definitely have tennis elbow without the tennis. and she is standing. so the pool worked. until she fell out of it because she was going for the sand like a crack addict going after their next hit.

the sunsets were amazing.

i kinda love this shot. even though the baby is not in focus, it's one of my favs.

we realized two things about him. thank the good lord my husband remembered the bike, because that boy is happiest on a bike. especially "off-roading" with his bike. and the other is that his bike is insanely too small. we took daily walks, and when we weren't walking the beach, he was riding his bike on our walks.

while camping i celebrated eight years of crazy marriage with this sweetheart of mine. my folks came down so we could take some time and go into town and toast to eight years of success with milk shakes. which is the best thing to toast with in my opinion.

our last day. absolutely beautiful. almost made us want to stay the one more day left on the spot reservation. almost.

so. what did i learn?
i am way less stressed about sand than my husband.
bring way more clothes than you think you need.
a kiddie gate is a really good idea so the baby doesn't fall out of the trailer. again.
a toddler needs a high chair for meals. at. all. times.
chasing my toddler on the sand while she shouts, "i need more" to the waves is one of my favorite things and will be a memory i cherish forever.
four to five days is long enough.
schedule a massage for the day after you get back.
take all your laundry to the laundry mat. it was totally worth the bazillion dollars to keep the stanky sandy clothes out of my washer.
take emergent-c with you so you avoid getting sick when you get home. (yay for summer colds.)

did we survive? yes.
did we have fun? yes.
was it insane? yes.
would i do it again? yes.
do i have a choice? no.
was i memory making at it's finest? absolutely!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Camping. With kids. Three little kids.

The title tells it all. Its crazy. We are on a week camping trip at the beach. With all the kids. And sand. And dirty tired kids. But so far we've survived our first day and they are loving it. 
I hate driving with them all in the back seat so close to me. They are right there. Touching each other and talking to me. I realize I'm crazy, but I actually like quiet and peace on long drives. This is where you'd say, "you probably shouldn't have had kids then." It's like sleeping. If you like it, don't have children. They are sleep stealers. But cute ones. 

They were up with the sun. And ready to go when I finally let them loose at 8. The poor people around us. Sleeping in is for the weak. Or retired. Or actually those most fortunate. 
By 10 we'd walked the beach finding items for the boy's "collection." Subsequently getting soaked and thoroughly loving it. And we started in on the cookies. 
Most of our day was playing and exploring. Napping was involved too though it was shorter than this mamas liking. The amount of sand that my middle child is eating, throwing, and displacing in various unmentionable places is unreal. 
The trailer has been the game changer. No way in you-know-where would I ever tent camp with three little kids. Ever. Never ever ever.

 We took a break for about an hour to give daddy time to cook in peace. And I found her just looking at books. I love her. 
The minions were put in bed, though that seems to hold little to no meaning here, and we enjoyed the beautiful outside in quiet.  It's going to be a tiring trip to be sure, but my biggest is making memories and I love watching it happen. 

He told me today he was so happy to wake up at the beach and get to dig in the sand. Enough said. 

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