Thrifty Tip: SubTotal

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Thrifty Tip

Here’s a quick Thrifty Tip for you!

When you are running an instant savings promotion – have the cashier ring those items up first and subtotal the transaction.   Be sure that the instant savings is deducted before proceeding with the rest of your order.  This allows the issue to be quickly spotted and resolved.

If we wait until the entire order is rung up and totaled before trying to find a single line item and ensuring that a promo came off.

This works well especially with promos we know there are issues with (like the current Harris Teeter ConAgra promotion)


See more Thrifty Tips

Savings Tip: Look Around

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This weekend I went to Harris Teeter and on my kids’ request list was apples – so I grabbed a 5 pound bag of apples for $5.99 (not on sale which broke my heart but I can’t turn down a request for healthy foods!).  Then I turned around- and saw the same apples (Red Delicious) loose for sale for 99¢ a pound.

Does that bag really cost $1.04?  That’s the difference in price between buying 5 lbs of loose apples and buying the pre-bagged version.  Considering that Harris Teeter (and most grocery stores) offer free produce bags in the store to lug the items home- it was no question that I was going to save that $1.04!

Always look at the alternatives.  Sometimes loose produce is less expensive and sometimes the pre-packaged ones are.  It just depends on the sales and the season!

Another tip is that the Boneless Skinless Chicken breast at Harris Teeter is $1.99/lb everyday in the fresh meat case with the butchers.  The same chicken is $5.99/lb regular price in the packaged meats!  The same chicken varies in price by $4.00 a pound!

What alternatives have you found in store that saved you money?

5 Traits of A Successful Couponer

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5 Traits of a Successful Couponer

Very few people are born with all 5 of the traits that make a Successful Couponer- but all of these traits are something we can learn to be.  These are the 5 traits that most successful couponers that I know all have in common!

Confident.  This is definitely a trait that is learned over time- many of us are not born truly confident.  There is something intimidating about walking up to a cashier with scraps of colored paper instead of the green bills all the other people pay with- but only until you see that total drop as your coupons are accepted in place of money.  You need to be confident in your planning so that you know what the total was supposed to be, confident to address an issue with a coupon or a total and confident in asking that a store follow their policies.  Were you one of the ones (like me!) not born confident?  Practice makes perfect.  The more coupon trips you make- the more confident you will get!

Honest.  The most successful couponers don’t need to try and game the system in order to get free items= they don’t need to.  They follow the rules of the coupon and the stores they shop.  Their stores learn that they are honest and not trying to trick them.  The cashier learn that if they say something, it’s true and customer service learns that if they say their bags were missing an item- they were.  Dishonest couponers are known by their stores. The see them coming and get on alert.  Saving an extra 50 cents isn’t worth another person’s job security to a successful couponer.  They foster relationships with their stores- they don’t risk those friendships for 50 cents off a box of Cheerios.    [Read more...]

Thrifty Tip: Missing Sales Tags

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Thrifty Tip

Several times I have been in stores and noticed that shoppers were looking at what was a good deal but bypassing it because there was no sales tag on the item. The item was advertised in the flyer or I posted about a great deal here on MSM but no one was taking the item to the register. Or asking me why their store didn’t have the Finish B1G1 at Harris Teeter or the Carnation Instant Breakfast wasn’t $3.99 (in fairness I did have to add a note to the Dunkin Donuts- originally I missed that only the holiday flavors were on sale- sorry about that!)

The reason was because they didn’t see a sales tag so they just left it on the shelf and moved on- assuming it was not on sale.

Sales tags don’t determine what the price will be at the register.  Sales tags get missed every week due to the the high number that are changed in every store each week.  Some misguided shoppers take the sales tags in order to get a raincheck (or a super excited 18 month old waddling down the aisle).  Once they are taken down most stores are unable to reproduce the tag to replace it and shoppers for the rest of the week mistakenly think that the item isn’t on sale.

If you think that an item should be on sale for whatever reason- take it to the register.  Ask the cashier (or at customer service) to “price check” the item.  They can scan the item and see what the sale price is.   If it doesn’t ring up for what you expected then they can take the item off your order and if it does ring up on sale- SCORE!


Tuesday Totals 1/6

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I write this post each week to keep myself accountable to my $75 a week budget.  I had $123.13  left over from previous weeks’ budgets and a $24 SNAP rebate check showed up so I have a total of $222.13 in my grocery fund. You can find the grocery deals this week here.

Weekly total:
OOP: $77.57
Savings: 62%


Harris Teeter:
2 dozen eggs (use RC and $1/2 coupon -wine hangtag)
2 gals milk (used RC and $1/2 coupon- wine hangtag)
2 Crisco oil (RC and $1/1 coupons)
4 Pop Tarts – buy 4 get $4 off
3 Pks of beef steaks (marked down + $2/1 pk of meat wine hang tag)
2 Nabisco Crackers $2.50 used .50/1 Coupons NLA
2 Rice Thins (just b/c I love them) 2.50 used .75/2 coupons
2 Spreadable butter 2.79 used $1/1 wine tags
10 Smithfield Bacon B2G3 used 5 $1/2
2 pk Bakery bread $1.99 used (2) $1/1 bakery wine tags
2 Bagel Thins B1G1 used $1/2
1 loaf HT bread .97 reg price
used $10 off $50

Value : $147.95
OOP: $51.92
Savings: 65%

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Harris Teeter:

6 lbs Baking Potatoes
5 Smithfield Bacon
1 lb Ham $4.99

Value: $54.75
OOP: $25.65
Savings: 53%

*I still had oranges and apples left over from last week’s trips – and had a hectic week

How to Organize Multiple Inserts

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How to Organize Multiple Inserts


I went a little over board this week on inserts- and ended up with about 35 sets of inserts- way more than my normal 10!

So I wanted to share the process I used to make sorting all these coupons easier!

1) Sort the inserts into piles of like inserts.  This week I had 4 different inserts to sort.

2) For each type of insert: starting on the right side of the table open the insert.  Have the front page open on the left and the rest of the pages on the right.  Lay the back of the next insert on top of the front page of the 1st insert and open the front page.  Basically you are shingling the inserts- the stack of pages of one insert lies on top of the open front page of the next. You will end up with a row that goes like this : Front page, stack of pages (on top of the next set’s front page), stack of pages (on top of the next set’s front page)…and so on. This saves a TON of room if you have a lot of inserts.  For just 2-4 inserts you don’t need to shingle them out so much- you can just open all of them to the first page.

3)  Take the top page from each stack over and over.  You will have a stack of identical insert pages. Staple them at the top and viola! For the cover pages- you can tear them all apart except one.

4) You will insert all of the stapled sets into the cover page of the insert.

5) File the inserts away by date.

*I clipped all of these coupons that I will be using for Harris Teeter Super Doubles 1/7/15 – 1/13/15.

How to Budget If You are Paid Every 2 Weeks

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I recently shared my 2015 Budget Planner and was asked how I’d suggest handling it if someone was paid every two weeks.  That made me think because my husband is paid twice a month so it’s easy for me to budget- I know a check will be in the bank on the 1st and 15th.

So, I thought back to when we were getting checks every 2 weeks & here are my suggestions.

  • Budget off 2 checks a month. Some months you will get 3- but you will always get at least 2.  Always budget on the least amount of money you expect a month.  Always better to be UP income than DOWN.
  • Put as much in the starting “bucket” as possible.  Whatever money you can start off your budget with- the better.  This gives you a buffer so if several bills are due on the 10th but your check doesn’t come in until the 12th you have a buffer to protect you from overdrawing.
  • Pad your savings.  That third paycheck you get a few times a year?  Put it into savings.  Pretend you never got it.  This will help build that buffer even stronger.  If you have a strong budget you won’t “need” that third paycheck to cover the bills.

When we used to get paid every two weeks I’d set aside a certain amount from each check to cover the “big” bills, like the mortgage.  Get a calendar and estimate your bills.  Highlight paydays and write in the amount you expect (again estimate the lowest amount you’d expect) and then write the due dates of each bill (over estimating if necessary).   I’ve put a made up example below with made up numbers and bills.

[Read more...]

Tuesday Totals 1/6

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I write this post each week to keep myself accountable to my $75 a week budget.  I had $187.65  left over from previous weeks’ budgets so I have a total of $262.65 in my grocery fund. You can find the grocery deals this week here.

Weekly total:
OOP: $64.52
Savings: 77% (not bad for over 10lbs of beef and a roast!)

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I hate posting hauls like this because they are not ones that others can always repeat but I was pretty excited 

$1.19 OOP
Used $10 in ecb
Got back $10 ecb

Lowes Foods
3 Finish $2.99 had .50/1 peelies (but printable is available too)
1 La Chocolate Yogurt .99
10 pks Lauras Lean Beef = $8.49 each
Used $10 off Lowes Q (from previous gift card deal)
OOP: $86.89 (transferred money from SavingStar this am to my paypal card so actual OOP was $0.00)
Got back $86.90 from Shopmium ( I have credit there because for each friend referred you get $1 credit (you can sign up here if you want) that you redeem as a rebate…

So total trip: After rebates final cost is $1.18 for all of that!! I don’t usually count rebates until I get them but I got them within 48 hours so I’m taking the rebate off the top here!

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Hunts Tom Paste .99 *FREE after SavingStar Deposit
10 Jiffy $1.90 total
10 Diced Tomatoes $3.20 Total
2 Coke Zero 12 pks $3.94 total
Total Value: $27.56
OOP $10.42
After SS rebate final cost: $9.43
% Saved (before rebate) 62% (not amazing but not bad LOL)

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Food Lion:

Not every trip can be 100% savings so this one is a boring one LOL- but my goal is to be transparent & honest with all my personal budgets and trips!

2 Gallons Milk $3.98
2 pks Sargento Sliced Cheese $2.49 each (cheaper at HT but I didn’t have the energy to make another stop and ask my family to wait for me…again)
5 pks Sargento String Cheese (mark down to $2.49- had 5 .55/1 tear pad Q from in front of pk)
1 Gallon OJ $3.98
Flour Tortillas $2.69
Granola Bars $4.29 (18 pk was cheaper than buying 2 8 pks!)
Loaf Brad $2.29
4 pks Gwaltney Bacon $3.59 each (used 4 $1/1 Q)
Banansa $1.75
8 lb Oranges $5.99
6 lbs red apples $5.98
3 lb Green Apples $2.99
Lettuce $1.69
Used $15 coupon from buying gift cards last week
Submit for (2) .50 Ibotta Rebates

Total Value: $79.44
OOP: $51.18
Savings: 36%

Harris Teeter (no pic)
1 SteakHouse Roast $19.79
10 cans Stewed Tomatoes .79 B2G3 = $3.16
10 Jiffy Corn Bread .47 B2g3 = $1.88
2 Limes (Margaritas!!) .69 each
Total- $27.73
Used $25 Rx Credit
OOP; $1.73
Got back $15 from Ibotta- $10 Dec bonus and $5 for roast
Final Cost: $13.27 Credit

Share your shopping successes with us!

How Cutting Out Paper Towels Saved My Family Money

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How cutting out paper towels saved my family money


True Story- my family used a ton of paper towels every single day.  From spilled milk in the morning to wiping off the counters- we used a lot of paper towels.  On a bad day- we could go through an entire roll. That’s a lot of paper towels (and thus a lot of trees gone and a lot of money in the trash can.)  Paper towels are expensive- even with coupons and a sale! It seemed like every week we were using roll after roll.  A 6 pk wasn’t lasting too long.

I decided enough was enough about a year ago and we haven’t looked back.  In fact- the number of paper towels I’ve purchased has dwindled to nearly NONE!  I have had the same packs in the garage storage for nearly a year now!  I only buy them when they are super super cheap to keep on hand for those messes I just can’t stand to use a dish towel for- like body fluids (human or our 4 footed friend) or for the super super messy things like kids finger painting!

As I’ve found clearance hand and dish towels I’ve snatched them up. It doesn’t have to be a “kitchen” towel- I’ve found very little difference in the mess cleaning power of a rag labeled “kitchen” versus one labeled “wash cloth”.  The wash cloth sized towels have been perfect for our family as kitchen towels.  They have such enough space for most messes but don’t take up a lot of room.

I’ve found great deals at Dollar General and JcPenney and Kohls.   I got a cute basket at the Dollar Tree and keep the washrags and towels in there.  As they are needed we simply take one out.  Sometimes we can use the same one all day- rinsing it out and wiping off the counters with a little soap and other times (like the day the blender exploded milk shake all over the counter, me and the floor) we use it and immediently place it in the laundry basket.  At this time I have about 50 of the small washcloth sized towels- this is important for my family because I hate doing laundry and will put it off as long as possible (until one of us starts to run out of socks or other necessary apparel items!).

The rags are lasting me at least a year so far- because I have so many they are not getting used or washed too often so I think my investment is paying off.

Estimated investment into cloth rags: $20.00 (I grabbed lots of 10 pk for around $2.50 each during after dorm sales and on clearance)

Paper Towel estimated cost: .50 roll x 3 rolls a week = $1.50 week x 52 weeks =$78.00/year  (and that’s pretty conservative for my family!)

The $20 in towels has already lasted me a year and even tossing a few due to wear and tear or extreme staining I expect that they will last me another year.  So $10/year in rags versus $78+ in paper towels….  $68 might not seem like a lot but besides the cost savings, we are being “greener” to the environment by not having trees harvested to wipe up messes to less trash bags we’re paying to be picked up- it really has made a big impact in our daily lives.

Even if I buy a 6 pk or two of towels a year ($6 or so after sales and coupons)- we’re still coming out far ahead reusing cloth towels.  And the cost in water and detergent is minimal since I have to do a load of regular towels every week anyway – these small scraps of cloth don’t really add any measurable extra cost there.

What disposable item have you swapped for a reusable variety?

P.S. Kohls has a 6 pk on clearance for $2.99- Use Code HAPPY2015 for $10 off $30 – expires 1/1/15.

DIY: Portable Kitchen Set

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DIY Kitchen Playset

My daughter Isabella LOVES helping in the kitchen- she has one of those large kitchen playsets but after redoing the kitchen that bright colored set just stood out like a sore thumb.  So I saw a similar product being sold and thought “My mom can make that!”  So I sent her the basic idea and she created her version.  Isabella LOVES it.  And I love that it takes seconds to set up on a kitchen chair and seconds to take down again!  

Mom wrote down all the steps she took- the one thing we’d recommend changing would be to put the utensil holder at the top lower- Isabella has trouble reaching it- otherwise it’s an amazing way to have a fun portable kitchen set that your child can take to the beach, to Grandmas, outside or anywhere! All they need is a chair and some dishes and they have an instant play kitchen.





  • Material of your choice (I used 100% cotton and purchased 2 yards of 45″ wide)
  • Complementary fabric for trim (I used a 18″ x 24″ scrap piece)
  • Bias Tape
  • Something to be the buttons on the from of the stove (I used crocheted flowers)
  • Craft Fuse Iron-On Backing
  • Velcro
  • Fabric paint
  • Elastic or elastic ribbon (1 yard)
  • Thread
  • Sewing machine

 Instructions: [Read more...]