When I save BIG it’s hard to keep it to myself!! Here is how I bought $80.76 in goods for $27.66:
Well I did it. It took me 14 years of mostly night classes but I finally graduated and received my B.A.! While I wanted a celebration I did not want a “graduation party”. I settled on an achievement party and that felt right. After the ball got rolling (theme? check!; food? check!; guest list? check!, etc.) I began to realize that my achievement was one of so many various goals being met throughout my circle of family and friends and I was determined to include as many victories as possible. So what started as “let’s get a few friends and some family together to celebrate your graduation” became in short time “let’s make this a party for all these good folks we know”.
I have to say that I feel so blessed: nearly 90 people were present and as I looked around the room I could honestly say that most helped me in some way as I struggled through school, whether through hands-on aid or gentle encouragement. Some, like my husband and a good friend, edited my papers while others gave me studying tips or dragged me away from studying when I needed a break.
I loved having the challenge of giving a good party within a budget. As we knew it would be years before we did anything similar to an event like this we decided to go ahead with a good caterer and a DJ. Then it was deciding on a color scheme and decorations. When it comes to color I lean towards olive, deep purples, or oranges. But after purchasing the colorful straws (pictured below) I figured: “Hey, it’s summer. Why not go with bright red and yellow? And since I love all things associated with summer (flowers, Adirondack chairs, and bandanas*) I decided to include them as well! The best part was I was able to decorate all ten tables for about $10 each!
I pulled out my ribbon box to look for anything red or yellow. I found vases and glass containers and a few mason jars. The daisies were purchased from the dollar store. The red Gerbera daisies were 70% off at Michaels. The Adirondack chairs were $2.07 from Consumer Crafts (consumercrafts.com). I painted five yellow as seen and five bright red. My wonderful CSF (cousin, sister, & friend) made the quote “pillows” using make-up pads! Red chairs were placed on yellow bandanas and yellow chairs were placed on red bandanas. The tablecloths were white which worked fine.
My brother-in-law and a close friend helped me create a PowerPoint presentation displaying photos of friends and family captioned with their individual achievements. On some slides I had a note of thanks or something special about them. The songs selected were “Celebration” by Kool & the Gang, “Thank You for Being A Friend” ( The Golden Girls themes song) by Andrew Gold, “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars, and “That’s What Friends are For” by Dionne Warwick.
The night was a blur for me but judging by the comments received everyone had a great time!
* I waited for a good deal on the bandanas as I wanted nice ones that I could reuse often (see http://www.fewerpiecesmorepeace.com/getting-back-to-basics/) . The wait was worth it. I received an early cash gift and decided to treat myself to a craft store gift card. One day while purchasing an item at AC Moore I noticed an offer of a $10 gift card when purchasing a $50 one. I bought two $50 gift cards, received $20 in additional gift cards and then purchased my original items plus ten bandanas which were (finally!) on sale for 4/5.00 using my free cards! SCORE!
Rite-Aid, Walgreens, CVS, and Harmons are just a few of the drug stores offering weekly sales and deals. I favor CVS as their sales are great, and they offer a wonderful cash-back (CB) program which allows me to save money on future purchases*. Also, the store is located a few minutes from my home.
Here’s how I save:
I created a list of the items I use regularly. Next to each item I record the price paid, the size of the item, and the store I purchased it from.
When I visit other stores (Target, Harmons, etc.) I check out their prices for the items and list them as well. I now have an idea of the average costs for the items I buy regularly.
I’m signed up for Saving Star at https://savingstar.com/coupons and I also use the app Ibotta at https://ibotta.com/register. Both programs offer cash back on food and grocery products. Coupons.com offers lots of coupons online and I’ve gotten good deals from them. Most importantly I check the weekly Sunday paper for coupons!
1. I check SavingStar and Ibotta weekly to see if I need any of items offering cash back.
2. Coupons.com prints monthly but occasionally will add new coupons so I’ll go there if I need a special coupon but usually I check my coupon pack.
3. I then check the CVS flyer to see if I need any of the products offering CB.
Step by Step example of offer above:
Saving Star is offering $5 (to be placed in my account) on $20 worth of Noxzema, Simple, St.Ives, and Pond products. The offer is good until August 27th. I use several of these items so I search for coupons.
Week 1: CVS offers $3 CB if I spend $10 on the products. I pick up two Simple products (buy one, get one 50% off) I find a coupon for “$3 off of two items”in my savings binder . My total is $9.48 but since CVS savings reflect the amount before coupons I still earn $3 CB.
Week 2: CVS again offers “buy one, get one 50% off” but without the $3 CB. I buy two products and use the $3 CB earned last week and a *$5.oo CB from a previous purchase bringing my total to $4.28.
I have now spent a total of $13.76 on $20.00 worth of products with the help of manufacturer’s coupons and CB coupons. I’ve earned $8 ($3 from CVS and $5 from Saving Star). My total cost for the $20 worth of products is now $5.76!!
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE…
This deal also earned me a $5 CB Beauty Award earned when I reach $50 in beauty products purchases. These products include facial items, makeup, lotions, etc. so the savings really add up!
So, hmm….I actually paid only (drumroll please!) .76 for $20 worth of products!!!
When CVS doesn’t cut it:
If a good deal is not available I shop at Harmon’s and use my BedBathandBeyond coupons. Their prices are low but the store is a few towns over so I stop only when it’s convenient.
I keep a price book for Costco too (more on that later). This is especially important when trying to figure out the cost per ounce of items. Costco is several miles away so rather than travel I will try to catch a good sale at CVS and use my CB coupons for eggs, orange juice, or other food items I need right away.
Reading this might make it seem like it’s a lot of work but really it’s just a few minutes a day: I check SavingStar and Ibotta once a week, Thursdays I look over the CVS flyer, determine what I want/need and then wait until the following Thursday to compare ads; I enter my items and prices in the evening and I check Coupons.com a few days a month.
I have a break from school for several weeks which means I have more time to do what I enjoy best: cleaning and organizing! I love the challenge of discovering the things I can do without and what I can repurpose.
Today as I was cleaning the laundry room I realized that there are quite a few items that I no longer purchase. For the last two years I’ve managed to make my own laundry detergent and fabric softener, glass cleaner and bathtub cleaner. I have also have found multiple uses for baking soda, Borax, coconut oil, and lemons! Most of my homemade recipes come from http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/ Here are some of items I’ve switched for cheaper, practical, environmentally-safe products:
If you read my earlier post you’ll know that I just returned from a three-week visit to my son and family. Yesterday I spent most of the day in either a plane or an airport. Travelling is not easy but I have found some strategies that help me immensely:
Pack Light (if you can): When I visit my son and his family I am fine going on walks with my grandson, visiting a park, or tagging along with them as they do their regular errands. I do not need special clothes and I make great use of the washer/dryer.
note: I mailed (or ordered) Christmas gifts and had them sent directly to his home. Also, over the course of the last few years, I’ve left some clothing and toiletries behind. My daughter-in-law will take photos of my belongings before I fly out which helps me decide what to pack.
Do not pay to have your baggage checked: You’re allowed one carry-on suitcase for the overhead and one (smaller) additional bag to stash under your seat. I make sure my suitcase is light enough for me to lift into the overhead on my own. When I get to the boarding area I listen for requests to have baggage checked and I take advantage of it. The benefits of doing this are:
1) I save $25 by not checking it myself
2) I don’t have to worry about lifting my suitcase
3) Because it’s checked just before takeoff my bag is one of the first ones off at baggage claim
note: be sure to remove anything that you don’t want to lose! It would be annoying to replace clothing and toiletries but not nearly as catastrophic as replacing a laptop! If my flight is not a direct flight I pack my stashed bag for an unexpected overnight due to weather/ plane conditions. This way I’ll be comfortable if I can’t get to my suitcase.
Wear something that has a lot of pockets: I keep the pockets empty until I pass security and then I fill them with gum, tissues, my reading glasses, lip balm, hand cream or anything else I think I might need during the flight. When you’re in a tight little space it’s difficult to retrieve your stashed bag when you need your reading glasses or whatever. Before I sit down and buckle up I put a bottle of water, snacks, and reading material in the pouch connected to the seat in front of me.
If you can’t fly first class then at least get an aisle or an “exit”* seat! There are several inches of extra stretching room in this seat. You can sit sideways too; just watch out for the beverage cart!
*there might be a charge for the exit seat.
If you’re not near the front of the plane then just relax as the plane empties: It’s just stressful and uncomfortable to stand up as you wait for the 20 plus rows in front of you to empty out. With an aisle seat I can stand up, retrieve my suitcase (maybe), and then sit on the arm of my seat. Or just wait.
What are your strategies?