Monday, January 13, 2014

A Week In The Life Of A Not-So-Extreme Couponer - Coupon Sunday

Sunday is a busy day for couponers. The newspaper coupons come out in the Sunday paper. I'm going to let you in on a little secret. I buy my coupons.

Reason #1: The coupon inserts in the Tucson newspaper are far fewer and smaller than in other parts of the country.

Reason #2: I was buying 5 newspapers a week, basically just for the coupons, and I felt so guilty about all that waste, so I turned to ebay to look for coupon inserts. I found I was always buying them from the same seller, so I now buy them directly from her website - Coupon Store and More. Rocio's insert prices are reasonable and while I do have to pay shipping, I find that, ultimately, I make it up in savings from the additional inserts that don't even come out in the Tucson paper. As a bonus, she usually has them available starting on the Thursday before they come out in the paper, so there's really no delay in getting them.

Anyway, so here's my typical couponing Sunday....

After we get home from church, I pull out my coupon binders. If you'll remember, I keep one binder that contains loose coupons and the inserts for the current month and one binder that contains the inserts for the previous two or three months. I go through that binder once a month and remove any inserts that are no longer usable.

I file that week's inserts in with the current month and go through the loose coupons, looking for any that are expiring that week. I pull the ones I am going to use and add the ones I am not going to use to my send-to-Korea pile. Some weeks I am feeling particularly industrious and will go through the inserts as well, looking for any coupons expiring that week that I may want to use. It doesn't happen very often, since I build my grocery list off of the sale ads and their coupon matchups. Again, it cuts down on impulse buying. I know of some people who keep whole Excel spreadsheets so they can keep track of what coupons expire when and what insert they are from, but I am a not-so-extreme couponer and I have other things to do, so more power to those folks.

It's doesn't sound like a whole lot to do, but it does take a while.

After I get everything organized, I spend a little time perusing the coupon blogs and store ads, looking for any smokin' deals that may be regional.

That's pretty much it. Sunday is our family day, so I try and keep my couponing to as small an amount of time as I can muster.

See you tomorrow!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

New Year's in Texas

This year we decided to ring in 2014 with our families. It was quite the whirlwind trip - we managed to see 40 relatives in 9 days. That has to be some kind of record. The girlies both decided to bring their cameras on the trip so I (shocker) decided to leave mine at home. Besides, Paige got a SWEET new camera for Christmas and I figured that if I didn't have mine, she might let me give hers a go. I am in love. Total camera envy. All these pictures were taken by the girlies.

Of course, a selfie from Summer

The first day of our trip we drove from our house in Tucson to Kerrville, TX, roughly 12 1/2 hours in the car. The girlies are road trip pros, so it wasn't really a big deal for us to drive for that long. I did find some great road trip ideas on Pinterest if you're interested. My Grandmother Harris and Grandpa Jack were kind enough to drive over from Rocksprings and meet us for dinner. It has been entirely too long since we have seen them. My Aunt Shannon and Uncle Jeff were supposed to join us as well, but there was an unfortunate pretzel incident and they weren't able to make it. BTW, on this leg of the trip I discovered that my uncanny ability to attract random accidents is apparently hereditary.

The next day, we made the short 5 hour hop from Kerrville to the Fe, where we would spend several days. We saw pretty much my entire extended family while we were there, which is easier than it sounds since they almost all live on the same block. I got some much needed Mom and Sister time and all was right with the world.

New Year's Eve we took our annual January trip to the beach (It was January somewhere!) Den and I went to South Padre Island in January after we got married and it's just something we've done ever since. This year we headed down to Galveston Island to see all the changes that have been made since Hurricane Ike. My sister tagged along. It was, as one would expect a beach in January to be, pretty cold. It was no polar vortex, but it was plenty chilly for these desert dwellers. Of course we HAD to have lunch at Taco Cabana.

This boardwalk is completely new. I think there used to be a hotel there.

Please, oh, please ignore my white socks and Sperrys

Summer was so excited to find a whole shell, until she realized someone was home!

After our beach trip, we went to my Auntie Donna's house for a family New Year's Eve party. You never know who is going to show up at our "family" parties. I did learn a new card game, which I held my own at until I lost all my money to Uncle Joe (or as Summer calls him, Grunkel Teddy Bear)

Love, Love, Love my momma!

The girlies with my cousin Jordan. Think they're related?

New Year's Day was spent on the Compound recovering from New Year's Eve.

"Please throw the stick, oh PLEASE throw the stick!"

While in the Fe, we also got to spend some time with my Grandma and Grandpa and my dad and stepmom and 11 year old sister. The girls were having way too much fun with their aunt to have time to take pictures.

After saying our goodbyes, we headed for San Antonio to spend some time with Den's family. His brother and his family drove in from Dallas as well. All of these pics came from my phone since, again, the girls were having WAY too much fun with their cousins to pull out their cameras.

We went to Casa Rio, my absolute favorite Mexican food place on Earth!

We also got to spend some time with Den's sweet, 93 year old grandmother and his cousin Lorrie's family. 

The three oldest girls - Savannah, Paige, and Ciara - all 13 and born within 3 months of each other. Hello built-in college roomates!

After a lovely time in San Antonio, we loaded up the car and started our trip home, leaving plenty early so we wouldn't be driving into the setting sun.

The sun rising over the Hill Country behind us

And of course, a Paige selfie

This is one of my favorite spots on the drive - Texas Canyon. I would love to drag a photographer out here before we leave AZ and do family pictures.

All in all, it was a wonderful trip home. It was not without it's stumbles (literally) and drama, but what would be a trip home without a little family drama? It's always nice to be given the chance to remember who and where you came from and to be able to share that with the girlies is priceless.

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Week In The Life of a Not-So-Extreme Couponer - Friday

Couponing is in my blood. Some of my favorite memories from childhood are of sitting at my grandmother's kitchen table on Sunday afternoon clipping coupons and matching them up with the sale ads. (Obviously pre-internet) Even now, if she or I find a really good deal, we will call and give each other a heads-up. Hello free Crock-Pots!!!

Anyway, this week I have had several young wives from DM contact me in reference to a comment I made on someone's post on the DM Wives Facebook page about using coupons. They want to know how I do it, how much time it takes, how much I usually save, etc, etc, etc. In the interest of my New Year's Resolution to be a better blogger, I decided that rather than try and pass on all this info in a Facebook message, that I would do it here instead.

Friday is the first day of my couponing week. Most people would assume Sunday because that is when the ads and newspaper coupons, but no. Friday is the first day because Friday is usually the day that the coupon bloggers that I follow get their hands on Sunday's ads and start posting the best deals for the following week.

For instance - Totally Target is one of my favorite couponing sites. As you can see below, today she posted a sneak peek of the best deals coming out in the ad. She also includes coupon matchups if applicable.
So, on Friday, when the bloggers start posting their sneak peeks, I will start making notes of things that are on sale that I know I am low on and will need to buy soon and also any screaming deals. Besides Totally Target, I also use the following coupon blogs

Couponing to Disney - this was the first coupon blog I ever used. I ran across it while I was looking for good deals for our Disney trip a few years ago. It is still one of my favorite blogs and has, in my opinion, one of the best databases of both newspaper and printable coupons out there. If for no other reason, book this one for the Coupon Database.

Wild for CVS and Wild for Wags - these are both run by the same blogger and are laid out in a similar way. A lot of people don't think about drug stores when thinking about couponing, but I promise you, some of the best deals I have even found have been at drug stores. 

The Krazy Coupon Lady - I feel like this is the mother of all couponing blogs and can be a little overwhelming. She just reformatted the site, though, so now you can view the deals by store and I feel like it is a lot more user-friendly. She is a good one to follow on Facebook as well.

Grocery Smarts - This site is my new secret weapon. Every Wednesday, they post the best deals from the grocery store circulars. You search by state and then BAM! - deals galore with coupon matchups. This has made my menu planning SO much easier.

On a side note, Friday is also my grocery store day since my closest grocery store has $5 Friday deals of which I like to take advantage. On the last day of this series (next Friday) I will do a brag post showing all the good deals I got using coupons as a kind of sum-it-all-up example. I don't do much couponing on Saturdays except check the blogs for deals, so look for my next post in this series on Sunday when the newspaper coupons come out!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Target Method

With downsizing from a larger house when we moved here and a year and a half of birthdays and Christmases behind us, the girlies' rooms are a disaster. They are in that weird age range, where they are kind of outgrowing toys, but not all toys, but they both are interested in different toys, but, but, but, ad infinitum. I have been weeding out here and there as we go, but the time has come for a covert intervention. I've done this a few times over the last 13 years, using different tips and tricks from this blogger and that blogger, but I never really found anything that was complete AND broke it down into manageable steps, so as to not make the task as overwhelming as it seems.

As I was starting to purge our house in Virginia, I was wandering through Target one day with the intention of buying yet more storage bins, and I was contemplating the sheer volume of stuff that Target has. Then, right there in the shoe department (Didn't you know that's where they keep the storage bins?) a lightbulb went off and The Target Method was born.

The Target Method is based on the simple fact that Target has EVERYTHING and yet it is all neatly arranged in easy-to-find departments. SOOOOOO, why not approach decluttering, not just my kids' rooms, but my entire house that way? I went home, and low and behold,, has neatly categorized lists of things to organize, hidden right there in it's categories.

For instance, say I want to declutter my girlies' rooms. Click on the KIDS tab at the top and TA-DA! Everything that could possibly be in their rooms, broken down into small, easily manageable categories.

I am about to embark on the task of decluttering their rooms again. Since my OCD is on overdrive at the moment, I am breaking out my handy-dandy Excel spreadsheet that has all the categories and subcatgories neatly displayed and alphabetized for my organizing pleasure. I am going to be tackling Summer's room first, since it is the smallest. I also like to incorporate Fly Lady's "Baby Steps" and the three category system touted by several blogs of Keep, Donate, and Trash boxes. So, here's my master plan - Once or twice a day, in 15 minute clips, I am going to head into her room and, using my Target list, clean and fling. When the timer goes off, I stop, unless I am right in the middle of something. In that case, I will stop once I finish that particular category. Then, I will take the trash box immediately to the trash and immediately put the donate box in the back of my car to be dropped off as soon as possible. I will take pics along the way and when I am finished, I will do a big reveal here on Bluebonnets and Haggis. I am hoping to have it knocked out in a week, but that may be a tall order. 

Wish me luck!

It's That Time Of Year Again

Every year, one of my many New Year's Resolutions is to be a better Blogger, because, in my mind, there might actually be people (other than my Mom) who may be interested in what I have to say. Last year, I did a little better, although, most of my posts were about my favorite topic, my girlies.

This year, however, I am going to try and shake it up a little. More lifestyle, posts, random thoughts, and yes, probably some political rants, are headed your way. I am also toying with the idea of some couponing tips and tricks as well. I seem to have a knack for it, so why not share?

Anywho, if you are reading this blog, and you have any suggestions about what I could write about, I'd love to hear them!