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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Cheaper isn't always better

Let me give you a little background about me, before I start with the actual post. I was born & raised in Cape Town, South Africa. My parents both worked in clothing factories. My dad had a nice position as a department manager. He did all the paperwork for stores, before goods were shipped to them from the factory. So he taught me all there is to know about store markups, fabric quality, how everything has to go on sale at some stage. How often stores mark down clothing/shoes/accessories, so they can make room for the new season's fashions. I was introduced to fashion at a very young age and still like to look good. By nature, I'm an extremely picky person, and it's not just with clothes. I'm picky about everything. My friends always say that I have high standards, and I agree with them...lol.  It's not just me, it's pretty normal for South Africans to dress well. Please don't believe the crap they show you on tv. We have many European ways. If you google Cape Town, you will see how beautiful the city is (surrounded by 2 oceans), mountains and the botany is something to rave about. My husband always tells people how cosmpolitan we are, and it's true. So yes, I like nice things. I was surrounded by it. I'm not gonna apologise for who I am or for my tastes.

This doesn't mean that I don't know anything about frugality. I just don't talk about frugality, because (growing up), it was a lifestyle to us. Nobody considered it to be frugal. It was just a way of life and still is. I still laugh when people talk about brown bagging, car pooling etc. We did all those things and thought nothing of it. We have a balance between frugality and enjoying the finer things in life. When you're just into either super saving mode or super spending mode, you are out of balance. I'll stop for now. I just don't want people to judge me, because they think that all I do is spend. If you keep following the blog posts, you will see how I'm able to afford nice things, without breaking the bank. Yes, it takes some work, but it's something I enjoy. I started hustling (man, I hate that word) at a very young age. We were taught to work hard for whatever we wanted. There were absolutely no hand outs.

Now with the pleasantries out of the way (lol) on to what I originally wanted to talk about.

My dad always used to say 'sometimes you have to spend more, to get a better quality product'. I couldn't agree with him more. Buying the cheaper item that you would have to constantly replace, might end up costing you more in the long run. I've learned to apply this to our clothing/shoes too. I'm all for quality vs quantity.


A few years ago, I fell in love with Frye boots (I'm a shoe, especially boots lover). Frye is a western brand. Their shoes are all genuine leather and it costs a pretty penny. I'm talking about $400 for a pair of boots. Now I would never spend that kind of money on boots. No way, no how. The above one is my favorite pair. It's real suede boots (suede is another favorite of mine). A few years ago, I got an email for an extra 50% off clearance items from Country Outfitters. I checked the site and saw that these boots would cost $99 after discount, so I grabbed a pair. No sales tax was charged and I earned $8 back through Ebates. Score! These boots retail for around $350.

Why do I think it's a good deal? It's real suede (not the faux stuff). This means it will last for years. I can wear these boots for the next 10 years and it will still be in great condition. When I decide to get rid of it, I can sell it for around $70-100. That's the real win for me. By the time I get rid of the item, it will be a retired style, which means you can charge more for it. Anyone who's really interested in the item, will pay your price. So I could even make a profit on something I got good wear out of.

I used to buy the cheap boots at Kohls BF sale for $20. These boots had retail prices of $100-120 (overpriced if you ask me. That's the reason why stores are able to mark it down by so much). The boots would scuff and get cracks easily and I'd end up having to replace it every year or two. If you do the math, it translates to $100-200 cost over a 10 year period. Why would I want to buy a cheap item, when I can get the real deal, that I can turn into a profit at the end of it's use?

I do this with many items. I used to buy the designer purses too (at a deep discount of course), but noticed that these items weren't made of real leather. So I've decided to keep an eye out for a genuine leather purse. One that will last for a good number of years.

A few years ago, I started buying my own Christmas gift. DH hates shopping (especially for me, because our tastes are so very different). So I've started to buy my own gift and then DH pays for it. He doesn't have to make a special trip to the store to shop, nor does he have to worry about what to get me. I get something that I like and I save us a bunch of money, by purchasing the item on clearance. I also earn cash back through Ebates. So we both win. With that being said, I buy myself a new pair of Frye's every year.

I recently found Frye boots at over 60% off and bought some (Christmas gift). It's been a very spendy month (too spendy for me), but more on that in a next post. The good news is that we're still in the black. Phew!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Meijer Cottonelle update & CVS shopping


It's been a crazy busy work week. I've written several posts in my head, but never got the time to just sit down and write them. 

First, the update on the Meijer cottonelle deal. Boy was it a fun shopping week! I haven't been to Meijer this much in just one week, in years. The deal started off with me needing $12.xx (can't remember, cause the amount changes as soon as your Mperks reward clears) from the previous week's shopping trip. 

Here's what I did 

Trans 1

4 x 6ct Cottonelle tp (BOGOF) $9.98
2 x Cottonelle wipes $4.98
Less 2 tp qs (2.00)
Less 2 wipes qs (2.00)
OOP $10.96
Earned $5 MPerks + $1 Ibotta (50c tp, 50c wipes)

Trans 2 (went shopping on Wednesday, cause Ibotta offers reset after 2 days)

2 x 6ct Cottonelle BOGOF $4.99
1 x Cottonelle wipes $2.59
2 x Kleenex soothing $2.00
Less t/p q (0.50)
Less wipes q (0.50)
Less kleenex q (0.50)
Less Mperks (7.00)
OOP $1.08 

Earned $1.50 Ibotta rewards and another $5 Mperks. Needed another $7.70 for next reward

Trans 3

4 x Cottonelle t/p (BOGOF) $9.98
Less Mperks (5.00)
OOP $4.98

Earned another $5 Mperks and $0.50 Ibotta.

So for a total of $9.52 (after all rewards), I scored 10 packs TP (60 rolls), 3 wipes and 2 Kleenex. 

The sale ends tomorrow and I'm sorely tempted to buy another 2 t/p, pay $0 after MP and earn another $5. Oy vey. Now I could have been smart and done this deal on both our accounts (one Mperks acct per cellphone number allowed), but DH would've had a fit if I brought any more tp home...lol. 

I'm really mad at Meijer for not restocking the Fiber one. I checked every time I was at the store, but no luck.

I also purchased a pack of Poise Liners $4.99, used $3 q (SS 1/28, exp tomorrow).Paid $1.99 and earned $3 Ibotta. So a $1 MM.

I also grabbed the last 2 bags of clearanced Kraft cheese (1.59) and when I scanned the bags, it rang up at 79c!! Happy dance. I checked the shelves again today, but the clearance cheese are all gone. It's prolly a good thing, cause I'm running out of freezer space.



My CVS trip was the complete opposite of Meijer. The sale wasn't that good this week and because we don't get Redplum inserts, I can't utilise all the deals.

I received a $3 PF CRT and $3 Beauty reward from scanner

2 x Softsoap $4.00
2 x Colgate $10.58
1 x Gain detergent $4.94
1 x Tide pods $4.94
2 x Rimmel cosmetics $9.38
1 x Phys Formula $10.99
Less 10/40 (10.00)
Less Colgate q (0.50) I had 2 qs, but I don't know what the cashier did, so my total was way higher. She voided some stuff and rescanned my rewards and when I got to my car, I saw only one q deducted. grrr
Less Gain L2C (2.00)
Less Tide L2C (2.00)
Less PF CRT (3.00)
Less EBs (21.75)
OOP (incl tax) $7.07. Paid with a GC
Earned $19 EBs ($2 Softsoap, $7 PF, $5 Colgate, $5 Rimmel)

I'm not happy with the high OOP, but this was the best scenario I could come up with. My store didn't have the Garnier face masks I wanted and I totally forgot about the Covergirl deal (I have a $3/2 q). Darn

I never buy any kind of Detergent Pods. To me it's just another way for manufacturer's to get us to spend more. Since I don't use recommended dosages, the liquid detergent lasts a long time. With the Pods, I only get X amount of loads, before I have to restock. Unfortunately, the L2C q was for Pods, so I was forced to buy that. The Gain q was for any Gain detergent, so I went with the liquid of course :)

Now you might wonder why I didn't go back for the 50c q. The thing is, I am self employed. I try to work, clean house, cook and run errands, during my day. So any time spent waiting in line again for 50c is not worth is to me. That time can be applied otherwise. I always figure how much I make working versus the amount I have to claim at CS. When I think about how much I can work/earn for the amount of time I spend waiting in line, the work always wins. It's just not worth it to me to waste time on small amounts. Had that been a $4 or more q, I would definitely have gone back.

Silly CVS didn't send me an email q this week. I'm a little bummed, but next week's ad isn't all that great anyway. So I might just skip the drugstores next week. I need to check RA to see if there's anything good in the ad.

Monday, February 19, 2018

This week's stockpiling items 2/18



I had a great Meijer trip yesterday. Came in at just under my $100 weekly budget.

Spent $95.44 and earned $26.05 in rewards ($18.05 Ibotta. $5 was Presidents day bonus, $1 monthly bonus. Also $1 Savingstar and $7 Mperks).

$2 was for total spent (this tracks on your account) and $5 was for the Cottonelle deal (spend $20 get $5 Mperks). When I logged into my account today, I noticed that I only needed another $7.70 towards another $5 cottonelle MP. Huh, I needed $12 to earn rewards yesterday and spent $15.xx. It looks like the BOGOF Cottonelle free packs ($4.99) counts towards this deal. Happy dance! I wasn't planning on getting more paper products (DH won't be happy), but I can score the items for near free. I'm just waiting on my Ibotta rewards to reset. So here's the plan

2 x 6ct Cottonelle BOGOF $4.99
1 x Cottonelle wipes $2.59
2 x Kleenex soothing $2.00
Less t/p q (0.50)
Less wipes q (0.50)
Less kleenex q (0.50)
Less Mperks (7.00)
OOP $1.08 get $1.50 Ibotta rewards and another $5 Mperks

I don't want to risk having the free t/p not work towards this reward, because it would mean another trip to the store if it doesn't. Besides, this deal is way too good to pass up. Worst case scenario, it tracks and I'm closer to another reward...lol. The deal ends this Saturday.

On to the stockpiling items. Meijer's having a great BOGOF sale this week. It's been years since they've had a really good sale. I bought 6 Fiber One cereals BOGOF (it's the only cereal I eat, but I don't like paying $4 per box) and 5 jars Bertolli pasta (on sale for $2 and there's a $1 Ibotta reward, which makes this $1 each. A good price for pasta sauce). I only use specific brands

The Pillsbury pie crust is also part of the BOGOF sale, so I will try to stock up on those (I only found 2 boxes yesterday) as I use it for meat pies. I'll be looking for all of these items on my next shopping trip.

DH still has a $4 Mperks reward on his account so that will help lower our oop for this week.

I also picked up 2 more bags of Kraft cheese yesterday. I don't know why certain cheeses are 50% off, but I'm not complaining. $1.59 is a great price, cause the lowest sale price around here, is $2. I thought it might be specific flavors that are being discontinued, but I'm not sure. Look for Sargento shredded Swiss and Kraft Smoky Bacon Cheddar (I love this stuff) on clearance. If the flavors are being discontinued, then other stores might have them on clearance too.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

This week's CVS shopping and more ways I save


I knew that my CVS trip was gonna be crappy, when I saw that my store was completely out of the free Colgate t/paste. This was really strange to me, because there's not many couponers that frequent my closest store.

Well of course things got worse. When I went to checkout, I realised that I forgot my new $25 CVS gc at home...grrr (I placed that new gc in my purse, the minute I got home...lol). I only had the old gc that has a balance of 60c on it. Then the cashier couldn't get the silly thing to scan and it wouldn't work when she manually entered the number (obviously not entering correct number, cause it worked last week). I just told her not to worry about it and that I'd pay cash.

I started the week with $20 EBs

1 x Colgate $3.99
1 x Softsoap $3.49
2 x Mitchum $5.98
3 x Revlon lipstick $20.97
1 x Irish Spring bw $3.99
1 x Hershey cookie $3.79
Less 10/40 (10.00)
Less Softsoap q (0.75)
Less 2 Mitchum qs (4.00)
Less 3 Revlon qs (9.00)
Less Irish Spring q (1.00)
Less Hershey CRT (2.00)
Less EBs (13.00)
Total incl tax $4.06

Got back $11.75 EBs ($2 Colgate, $1.75 Softsoap, $2 Irish Spring, $6 Revlon). I now have a total of $18.75 EBs to spend on my next trip.

I should also get another $3 Beauty EB, since most of today's item qualifies for beauty spending. I included the Hershey cookies, to replace the free Colgate t/paste. Don't know what I'm gonna do with the cookies yet, since we're not Hershey fans.

I could've used my big $7 EBs to lower my OOP, but I had smaller ones that were expiring soon and wanted to use those first. And today I received another 10/40 email. Happy dance. I love all this free money that CVS sends me every week, just to shop. I will load it to my card on Sunday, so that it only expires on Thursday.

I realised today that we are in good shape with groceries, HBA, cleaning, clothes, shoes, accessories, household items, thanks to stockpiling. There's not much that we need these days, so I'm gonna start cherry picking groceries. Of course I'll still continue doing the drugstore deals. Who doesn't love free stuff and why would I waste the extra $10 that CVS sends me every week?

I'm really happy to be back to stockpiling and drugstore shopping again. I haven't done much couponing since that stupid TLC show ruined things for those of us who just wanted to help our families save money. Then we stopped getting RP inserts, so that was another hit. However, I try to make things work with the coupons we do get. We have a decent stockpile (nothing like I used to have) and DH is happy that I'm keeping the cost low. Win-win

I also redeemed 2 gcs this week. DH got a $20 Walmart gc on his IGC account and I got $25 Target on my account, so we're $45 richer...lol

I also like to save my $1 and $5 bills and change. We've been doing this for years. I figure that if I don't have the money in my wallet, then I can't or won't spend it. So I keep separate jars for everything. One year I threw DH a birthday party at a restaurant, with just my $5 bill savings. I paid the tab for everyone. There wasn't a whole lot of people, but those who drink know that alcohol increases the bill by a lot. I actually still have money left after footing the party bill and tip. So it definitely helps to save all those little bits.

I started my $5 savings in December. I was switching purses the other day and found 2 x $5 bills in the new purse. Ka-ching. To date I have saved

$1 bills - $21
$5 bills - $90

Not a whole lot of money, but if I let it accumulate for the rest of the year, I'll end up with a decent amount. I don't know what I'll do with these funds yet, since there's nothing that we currently need. Last year we did so well with earning gcs, that we didn't even need the coins that I saved. I went to the Coinstar machine (no way I'm rolling coins. I just don't have the time) and cashed in some of it for a Red Robin gc. Those coins paid for 2 trips to RR for our family of 3. Not bad for just dumping our change into a jar all year long.

I'm also considering doing the 52 week Savings Challenge again. I like to save $27 per week when I do that challenge. The first few months are usually easy, because you're saving smaller amounts. Most people have a hard time saving those larger $40+ per week, that's why I've decided on $27 every week. That comes close to the same total amount and is much easier to save.

Do you save change or bills? Are there any other ways that you save money for your family?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Hand Soap Experiment



Those who followed my old blog, know that I love to dilute most liquids to make it last longer. With the exception of shampoo/conditioner, all items are filled with water (50/50). I'm not trying to be cheap, because I get most items for free or near free. I just don't believe in using the Recommended Dosage. This is just a manufacturers' way to get us to spend more money on their items.

For years, I've used the small Softsoap hand soap bottles. I'd stock up on those babies, because there were always coupons available, which made them super cheap. The last time I bought some, I scored 24 bottles for free during a Meijer sale. The only thing I disliked about the soap, is that it's so thick. Not only did I hate the feel of it when I washed my hands, but the soap scum would build up fast and slow the water flow through the pipes.

Last year I decided to experiment with a foaming soap dispenser. I've played around with it before, but didn't really pay much attention to it. I purchased the large Softsoap refill bottle at Target ($3.99) and a Dial foaming soap bottle that can be used to refill, once it was empty. I used about a teaspoon (sometimes less) of Softsoap and filled the rest of the bottle with water, whenever it was empty. We still got a nice foam and the lovely scent of the soap. Our hands are clean and the refill bottle has lasted us 13 months already. As you can see, I started using this bottle in Jan 2017. There's still enough soap left to last another week or two.

Total cost for a year's worth of hand soap. Approximately $7 ($4 refill, $2.xx dispenser). I still have 2 refill bottles in my stockpile, so we're all set for the next 2 years.

Tip : if you like taking baths, dilute your body wash with water. I've found that the soap foams much better, when diluted with water. No need to spend extra money buying foam bath.

I also only use liquid soap (not diluted) in my dishwasher (I've experimented with this before). I only fill 1/3rd of the cup with Cascade liquid. My last bottle, lasted 7 months and I run the dishwasher daily. So my dishwasher soap costs about $5 per year (but I have enough bottles in my stockpile to last us at least 8-10 years).

So save yourself some cash and dilute whatever products you can. The small hand soap bottle sizes have shrunk, but the price keeps increasing.

Monday, February 12, 2018

My weekend Aha moment

For months I've been struggling to keep up with our ironing. I wash, fold and pack away laundry daily, so that I don't end up having to do laundry all day long if I do it once or twice a week. The downside, I hate ironing. So I iron whenever we need something or when the mood hits me (which is about once a week or every other week). This has resulted in the ironing piling up in the spare room. I'm talking about 4-5 baskets full or ironing. Now I've had a little problem with shopping ever since I lost my dad almost 6 years ago. I was a daddy's girl and his sudden death was the worst thing I've ever experienced in my life. So I shopped, to try and fill the void I told DH several times last year that I just keep buying stuff, but it's not making me happy, nor is it filling the void. It doesn't help that I usually shop with gift cards either, cause I can do mindless spending, without breaking the bank.

So on Friday afternoon, I decided to tackle this ironing that continually stresses me out, cause it's not done. That's when it hit me, why not get rid of half the stuff? It's not like everything is needed, because our closets are still full of clothes. And if it was a need, it wouldn't be sitting in a pile for months.  I decided to go through the piles and pull all items that I no longer wear or that I haven't used in months, to sell. Why not make money and reduce my stress levels at the same time.

I'm embarrassed to say that I pulled 29 of my own items!! And it didn't even make a dent in the ironing. I still have a huge load left. So I've decided to try and get rid of an additional 20-30 items this week. Then I will go through DS's clothes and pull whatever he no longer uses or needs. I've ironed and photographed half of the 29 items and have started listing a few. The good news, I've already sold one item. Ka ching!!

I'm hoping to get all my clothes listed by the end of this week. That should clear up some space, put extra money in my pocket and I don't have to buy more hangers (because we keep running out of hangers, due to having too much stuff).

I'm also gonna rein in my shopping. Thanks to my stockpiling habit, DS already has a full new summer wardrobe. Other than some tank tops, I don't really need anything either. So my focus is gonna be on winter clearance. At the top of my list is sweatpants and jacket.  DS also needs new winter pjs, so I'll keep an eye out for those at Kohls. I'll continue to write about my shopping and progress, I'm just gonna try to shop a little less so that we don't end up with too much clothes again.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Shopping week of 2/4

I finally made it to the stores yesterday, after having bronchitis for a week. Man, I hate getting sick. This is the 2nd time I got sick this year. I'm trying my best to get all kinds of Vitamin C into my body, to avoid getting sick again.

Sorry, I didn't take any pics cause I was too worn out after my shopping trip. I'm not 100% recovered yet.

CVS didn't send me any $ off coupon for this week and the deals aren't good enough for me to do a big shopping trip. I did have $3 EB expiring this week, so I used it to buy a bottle of Tide.

Tide = $5.44
Less L2C q (2.00)
Less EB (3.00)
Total OOP after tax came to $0.64, that I paid with a gc. I still have $0.60 left on that gc and also redeemed for another $25 gc through Swagbucks. I'm loving not having to pay at drugstores.

Rite Aid.

Oh boy, my scenario was totally messed up. I wanted to get 4 x 6pk Kleenex and the filler items, but my store only had 2 packs. So here's what I got

2 x 6pk Kleenex (BOGOF)  $12.99
2 x Viva p/t (BOGOF) $12.99
2 x Nivea lip balm $4.00
1 x Carmex cold sore treatment $9.99
1 x Arm & Hammer detergent $1.99
Less $3 Carmex q (3.00)
Less A&H q (1.00)
Less $5 CAT (5.00)
Less $31 Bonus Cash (31.00)
Subtotal $1.96
Tax $2.52
Total cost : $4.48 Paid with a gc

Earned $15 BC (for spending $40) and $3 Ibotta (Carmex)

Now I should have earned another $5 CAT for the Kleenex/Viva deal, but nothing printed. I didn't know if this deal was dead or if it was because I paid with a Kleenex CAT. I wasn't going to give the cashier a hard time about it, because I wasn't sure about the CAT details.

Next stop was Meijer and I see they have a Kleenex CAT deal running through 2/10, so I'm guessing it's because I paid with a Kleenex CAT. If the CAT says Store coupon, you won't earn a reward if you use it on the same deal. Ugh, I hated having to spend so muchBC, but we now have a nice amount of paper products.

I might do this deal at Meijer later this week, because there are Ibotta rebate items (Cottonelle) that's included in the Meijer sale.

Another goal for this year, is to lower our grocery bill to $100 per week. I have to mention that we eat lots of fresh produce and also organic chicken, so it costs more. January was an epic fail. As a seasoned couponer, I'm not concerned about that. I know that there's always loads of deals during January. Things will eventually even out, as the year progresses. One week, I might spend far less than $100 and other weeks, I'll go way over. The goal is to average $100 per week, so year end should give the correct numbers. I did manage to spend $100.70 at Meijer this week. I wasn't planning on doing much shopping, but they had a 10/$10 get 11th item free sale, that I never pass up. I like to stockpile non perishables then. Here's what I got

2 x Band Aid (was b1g30% off, which saved us 60c on the 2nd box)
Stayfree
2 x Dove deodorant (B1g50% off. I used a different deodorant recently, because I was out of Dove and ended up with a rash. I have sensitive skin. I wanted to get this at Target, but Meijer's price was 50c less per item)
Bananas
Gallon Milk
5 x Bertolli Pasta Sauce (Ibotta rebate and I'm out of Alfredo sauce)
Potatoes
2 x Salad mix bags
2 x Tortillas
Pie Crust (last night's dinner)
Bread (yikes, $4.29 for bread. I usually buy bread at Sams, because I pay $5.29 total for 2 loaves. We only eat good wheat bread and I wasn't in the mood to make a special trip to Sams)
Bag oranges
Red onions
Sweet onions
2lbs grapes
2 x Blueberries
12 Single Serve Trop50 OJ
3 x 1lb Baby carrotts
6 x Knorr rice mix
3 x Refried beans
13 x Old Orchard Juice
6 x Chobani yogurt
1 x Sargento cheese
Total cost after qs and discounts $107.20
Got back $5.50 Ibotta (Bertolli, blueberries) and $1 Savingstar (Refried beans)
So cost to me after rewards = $100.70

We don't usually buy Knorr rice, but in my quest to cut out Friday night carry out (that cost us almost $20 per week), I've decided to make my own burritos and freeze for Friday's and whenever we don't feel like cooking. I use my fajita recipe for the chicken and will add black beans, salsa, cheese, Birdseye protein southwest corn. You can't find a burrito this good at any fast food place. My body's also sick of eating junk food, so I'm making my own.