Monday, April 28, 2008

Why I do what I do...

When you are married to a grad student/medical student and you are a stay at home mom there is not a lot of wiggle room in the budget, so Dr. J and I have gotten creative to do what we want to do.

1) Netflix is our dates. We also rent movies for free from the library but for 9 bucks a month we have access to all the new releases. We get at least one new movie a week, sometimes two and that is our date for the weekend. Saturday after we've put the kids to bed we pop some pop corn, sit on the couch and veg out with a movie. Right now we're going through the planet earth series but we've also done Dirty Jobs or just any random new release. Another great thing about Netflix is that it has a lot of TV shows and older releases that you can watch online. When I need a Law and Order fix I just power up the laptop and I'm good. No reason to order TNT.

2) We use coupons. I have to admit I didn't understand coupons until recently. I always thought why would I use a coupon when stuff goes on sale for such a good deal. Now I get it. You save those puppies for when things are on sale and then you use your coupons to buy dirt cheap. And no you don't have to buy things you wouldn't normally buy. I try to just hold on to coupons for products I love and use. Here is an example of why I use coupons. I got all the items below for 23 dollars and 9 of those dollars were for the little sandals alone. That means everything else cost me $14. The post cereals were free, the toilet brushes were free, and the barbecue sauce was free. The shampoo and conditioner were 1.30 a piece but they come with a free pedicure. The KY jelly had fifty cents overage and the lays crisp crackers cost me 50 cents a bag. So for 1.50 I bought three of what normally cost 2.50 a piece. Oh and because of coupons the clean wipes came in at 6.70 for twelve containers. Not bad! We also shop at Aldi's. For things you can't find deals on and coupons they have low prices.

3) I take advantage of rebates to save money for our kids. Walgreens has new monthly rebates, some of which give you items for free and some of which just give you items for a good deal (check out the easy saver catalog). An example of this is last month Palmolive items were buy twenty dollars and get ten back. I bought twenty dollars worth of items, using Walgreens coupons so they came in closer to twelve and I was able to put that on my rebate form. In fact I have about 45 dollars in rebates coming back for toothbrushes, makeup, medicine, soap, etc. I then cash all my rebate checks and split them between #1 and #2's savings accounts. So for money I would have put in the bank anyway I get extra products for a great deal.

4) Another thing we do is use the library A LOT! The kids love to play there, they enjoy story and preschool time. And finally get to read tons of books and watch tons of movies each week for free.

5) Jason rides the bus and we carpool to preschool which with gas on it's way to 4.00 every bit helps.

6) We rarely go out to eat. I keep pancake mix on hand so when those nights come where I just don't have it in me to make one more dinner we eat breakfast foods for dinner. They are fast and take very little prep or clean up.

8) I like to make a lot of things from scratch, bagels, pizza dough, rolls, bread sticks, Popsicles.

9) I always read the grocery store adds and keep my menu flexible so I can take advantage of deals. My kids get to eat the fruit that is on the best deal that week.

7) Finally my personal favorite I LOVE GARAGE SALES! You know my mom used to shop Garage Sales and Thrift Stores when I was a kid out of complete necessity and I thought it was humiliating. Now that I'm a mom and in a similar boat I get it. Why would I pay full price for stuff my kids are at best going to only be able to wear six months and if it is my son will most definitely wear out. Garage sales do take work since you often will have to go to many to find what you are looking for but when you find a good one it is worth it. I got all these clothes below for #2 at a garage sale this weekend for fifteen dollars. That means that for the price of one old navy outfit I bought six dresses Five shirt/pants or short outfits, two skirts, two shirts, two pairs of gap pants, one swim suit, one sweat suit with pants a shirt and little sweat suit coat, one sweater, and finally a pair of brown cords. That is 28 pieces of clothing! Their are a few downsides to garage sales. 1) Driving around. We try to carpool or stick to one neighborhood to cut down on cost that way. 2) Time. It is time consuming although I think it's fun so for me it is like spending time on a hobby. Often times I have my kids so I can only do a few but I've learned to read the paper looking for key words and I always bring snacks and toys to keep the kids entertained. 3) Seasonal. Garage sales happen when it is warm so I have just a few short months to get a years worth of clothes...winter and then the beginning of summer for the next year. 4) Availability. You can't always find what you are looking for. As #1 gets older I find it harder and harder to find pants his size. I have had to buy him a few pairs at consignment stores and even a couple of new I do keep my eyes out for pants a size above him that are being clearanced out. So I guess the hobby isn't without it's flaws but the benefits for me still greatly outweigh the cost. I mean I now have to deal with #1 picking out his own clothes but pre that my kids got to look pretty great on not a lot of coin!


Bleen said...

You are brave to put the KY on there! LOL So I want to know where the heck you found the toilet scrubbers at. I have a ton of those coupons but I have not been able to find them anywhere.

Bleen said...

Okay I have another question. I've started couponing, but I don't entirely understand. It looks like you bought the whole shebang together, but don't the coupons say "one per purchase"? Do you use the multiples of the same coupon to get more product and the cashiers just don't care?

Sami said...

Looks like you are doing an awesome job and having fun too! Way to go!

tweedlediva said...

Where do you get your coupons?

tweedlediva said...

Oh and Netflix is what Matt and I do for dates, too. Gotta love weekly movie times, and that little red envelope is always so exciting to get in the mail! (Just proving that I probably do need to get out more...)

Brittney Richards said...

I concur with April. Where do you get your coupons?