Archive for the ‘Frugal’ Category

CVS – A Total Steal of a Deal!

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Here’s what I bought last Sunday for $15.57 pre-tax:

15 Bucks Worth of CVS Groceries

I felt like I had robbed CVS.  Well, to be exact I told the cashier – “Man, you all are just giving it away!”  Yes, I said “You All”.  Moving on…

I don’t know if I am more shocked that I only paid 15 bucks for all that loot, or that I shared a picture of my maxi-pads and hair dye with the world.

Building upon what we learned from my CVS lesson, I meticulously scanned the Sunday CVS insert in the paper and looked for sales.

These are the 4 things I looked for:

1) Sale items at a discounted price.
2) BOGOs – Buy One Get One offers, either free or half price.
3) If buying the item would earn me Extra Bucks – bonus if the item was also on sale.
4) If we would actually use the item.

I circled everything interesting that I found and then went to my coupon stash.  I found all the matches that I could and crossed off everything on the list that I did not have a coupon for.

With 9 coupons, one CVS $4 off $20 coupon, and $12 in Extra Bucks in hand I went to CVS.  I left CVS with 14 items, another $4 off $20 coupon, and $10.50 in Extra Bucks.

Total cost: $18.50 after tax

CVS receipt showing the savings after the coupons.
Total savings: $53.09

Total Money Saved at CVS This Shopping Trip
Total discounts for next time:  $14.50

More CVS Coupons and Extra Bucks

As I said earlier, a total steal!

Frugal Tip of the Day: Look for a Customer Care Card Coupon Kiosk.  I’m not sure if that is the official name, but it will be a tall machine where you scan your CVS card to print out coupons on the spot.  I scanned my card and got a $4 of $20 and some EBs that had been adding up in my account.  Also, buy the Green Bag Tag for $0.99.  Attach it to your reusable tote and earn 1/4 of an EB each trip.

Here is why we need 4 boxes of cereal:

Baby Spilled His Cheerios Everywhere

The baby grabbed the cereal container off the table and dumped the entire thing in his lap and onto the floor.  This little dude knows what he wants!

Cheap Versus Inexpensive

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

I joined a cheap gym to save some money.  The membership was only $10/month.  The place had horribly stained carpet and a bunch of sweaty shirtless men using the machines without towels.  Ick.  The worst part was at the very back of the gym, there was an archway that led to a store of ill repute on one side and a manicure station on the other.  The staff was very rude and I was fairly disgusted.

When I went outside to get in my car it had been vandalized and I was angry for choosing such a crappy gym in such a crappy part of town.  I started jotting down notes for my blog about how being frugal doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your safety or well-being. 

There is a difference between the words inexpensive and cheap.  Inexpensive simply refers to the low cost of an item.  It says nothing about the character or quality.  Cheap also can refer to a low cost or inexpensive item, but it also refers to the low value, poor quality, and inferior worth of an item.  If a gym is inexpensive, it still might be a good gym, just at a low cost.  If a gym is cheap…steer clear.

Being frugal means knowing the difference between the two and finding the inexpensive deals for the best quality possible.

And then I woke up.  I have reached a new level of frugalness when I dream frugally!

Tutorial: Making Foaming Hand Soap

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

I always thought foaming hand soap was too fru-fru for me.  I had tried a few of my friends nice smelling foaming hand soap and thought I would give it a try.  Well, I didn’t like my hands smelling like flowery cucumbers, so it sat in my bathroom forever.

Having a baby changed my mind real quick on foaming soap.  It is a million times easier to use to wash his hands than bar soap or plain old liquid soap with a pump.  When my fru-fru foaming soap ran out this week I was dreading paying another $3.50 for SOAP.  I researched online and came up with a foaming hand soap recipe!


1 Empty foaming handsoap dispenser
Clear liquid handsoap

For this experiment I cleaned out the foaming dispenser until clear water ran through the pump.

I used a ratio of 1/5 liquid soap to 4/5 water.  This dispenser was 8.5 oz.  I guessed that the pump took up an 1/2 an ounce of space.  I divided 8 by 5 to get 1.6 ounces of soap.  Subtracting 1.6 from 8 I needed roughly 6.4 ounces of water.

Remove the pump and add the water to the empty bottle first.  Next pour in the liquid soap.  By adding the water first bubbles will be minimized.  Twist on the pump and shake gently to mix the soap into the water.  (NOTE: The pump was about 1/2 an ounce larger than I expected, ergo the excess spilled all over the counter.)

I used the same method to fill an ordinary liquid soap dispenser as a control.

The ordinary pump produced no foam, just watered down soap.

The foaming pump actually produced soapy foam!

The results side by side.

I washed my hands with the foaming soap and it worked like a charm.

Provided that you have an empty foaming soap dispenser, the cost of this recipe was rougly $0.30.  That’s a steal!

Things to remember:

1) Do not use moisturizing liquid soap.  It can clog up the pump.
2) The ratio of water and soap may vary depending on the pump style.  Use more or less until you find something that works.
3) If the pump gets clogged after a bit, pumping vinegar through the dispenser should clear it up.

I will report back in a month to see how the soap and dispenser held up.

Frugal tip of the day: Need I say it?  Make your own refills for pennies instead of buying a new bottle.

UPDATE:  I emptied out a little of the soap mix and added more liquid soap to the bottle.  The ratio is now probably 2/5 liquid soap and 3/5 water.  Upping the soap made a thicker foam and has not clogged up the pump yet.  I’ll report back in a while to see if this penny pinching idea is worth it!

Triple Coupon Alert!

Monday, March 29th, 2010

This just in!  A friend has emailed me and told me that a local Harris Teeter has triple coupons through tomorrow!

Oh be still my beating heart.  I think I’m going to pass out from the excitement.  I am finally going to put my coupons to good use.  Nickel yogurt here I come…

I almost want to wake the baby up and go now, now, NOW!

2 Pennies Hearts CVS

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Frugal shopping at its finest. 

For my first trip, I wanted to keep it simple and figure out how these Extra Bucks worked.

1) Got the CVS flyer out and matched up any manufacturer’s coupons that I had with any products that I could earn Extra Bucks.


2) Dug up an old receipt that had a $4 off $20 coupon.

3) Went to CVS, gathered my items together, had my CVS Extra Care Card scanned, gave them my $4 off coupon, then my manufacturer’s coupons. 

Here is what I bought:

Pamper’s Cruisers – Earn 3 Extra Bucks: $11.99 without Extra Care Card.  $8.97 with Extra Care Card.

4 L’Oreal Products totaling $20 to earn 4 Extra Bucks.

* 2 Hair Color kits:  $8.79 without Extra Care Card.  $5.99 with Extra Care Card. 

* 2 L’Oreal Shampoo and Conditioner products:  $6.99 without Extra Care Card.  $5.99 with Extra Care Card.

Zyrtec – Earn 7 Extra Bucks:  $22.99 without Extra Care Card.  $18.99 with Extra Care Card.

Nail polish remover – No EBs, No sale, No coupon: $1.99

Total cost without Extra Care Card:             $68.53
Total cost with Extra Care Card:                   $53.91
Total after using $4 off $20 coupon:             $49.91
Total after manufacturer’s $12 coupons:       $37.91

Total Extra Bucks earned for next visit:        $15.00
Additional $4 off $20 coupon earned:             $4.00
Total Savings to be used for next visit:         $19.00

Wow.  19 bucks!  I have until April 4th to use the $4 off $20 and April 20th for the EBs.  I have since created an account online with CVS and registered my Extra Care Card.  All my coupons and Extra Bucks show up online now in case I lose my receipt. 

Ideally, I will use these 19 EBs towards other purchases that will earn EBs.  I’ll report in a month to see if I was able to keep rolling my savings into each purchase.

Frugal tip of the day:  Start small.  Look at the CVS flyer and go purchase an item that you want that also will earn you Extra Bucks.  The next time, use your Extra Bucks towards another purchase to get your savings back.

Sunday paper – $2.50; Powerball lotto – 10 bucks.

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

So I almost forgot to get the Sunday paper today.  Bad Frugal!  We put the baby in the stroller and headed to the closest gas station around 6pm.  We got the last paper of the day and then we saw it – Powerball $140,000,000.  We normally pay for our gas at the pump and rarely go inside any gas stations, thereby we avoid the lotto by default.  But here we were with a 20 dollar bill burning a hole in our pockets…

Two hours later, one newspaper, 10 lotto tickets, and $12.50 in the hole, I finally finish cutting all the coupons out of the Sunday paper with a pair of scissors.  There has got to be a more efficient way to cut coupons.  Sitting with 99 coupons piled in front of me I realize 3 things:

1 ) The majority of these coupons are for things that we NEVER use/purchase.

2 ) Trying to match the coupons up with the grocery store sale items to get the best deal is overwhelming.

3 ) How do you organize these things???

I give up and I’m going to bed.

Frugal tip of the day:  Consider getting the Sunday paper delivered to your house.  You will actually save a few pennies on the cost and you won’t buy any lotto tickets.

Clipping Coupons is easy – using coupons is hard.

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

When you search the internet for tips to save money, almost always you will find articles that scream – USE COUPONS.  These people are called coupon clippers, coupon moms, and couponistas among other things.  There are entire websites devoted to the latest coupons and deals.  There are entire businesses that will clip coupons for you and mail them to your house.  There are online services that will match up coupons to the store that will give you the best deal. 

I always thought you simply cut a coupon from a flyer and hand it over when you purchase your item.  Little did I know that there are over 10 different kinds of coupons and a gazillion different store policies on how to use a coupon depending on where you are shopping.

I don’t use coupons.  Digging through all the info online is a bit overwhelming.  I’m a wimp, I know. 

Frugal tip of the day:  Start small – buy the Sunday paper and clip those coupons first.  As you are more comfortable clipping, organizing, and using coupons, branch out to the different types (manufacturer, store coupons, rebates, etc..) and different deals (double coupon, triple coupon, etc…).

The “F” Word

Friday, March 12th, 2010

For my first blog post, I am going to tackle the dreaded “F” word. 

In our house, this word is not taboo.  In fact, the “F” word is always on the tip of my tongue just waiting to be used on a moments notice.  I hope to raise my son to embrace the “F” word and to use it often even though it raises eyebrows.  Most people cringe when they hear the “F” word.


There, I said it.

Being frugal is a good thing.  It means taking charge of your life.  It means being in control of your finances.  It means stretching the value of a dollar to buy and do more than ever before.  It means making the most with what you have.  It means reusing, recycling, and refurbishing goods.  It can also mean defining your values and evaluating what you deem to be important.  If saving money helps you towards what you define as important, then being frugal is for you.

For us, we value raising our child at home, spending quality time together as a family, eating healthier meals, exercising regularly, and saving money for the future.  Those things are important to us.  My time turned out to be worth more money than I was earning at my job.  In other words, you couldn’t pay me enough to keep my baby in daycare, to eat fast food all the time, and to subtract what little time remained in the day after work to go to a gym rather than be with my family.  On top of that, there was little money going to savings because I was paying out for everything listed above that I didn’t want in the first place.

And that is how we became “Frugals”.  Live it and love it.

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