• A blog about a smidgen of time each day and the hope you spend it with me

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Save a Little Save a Lot

All I have to write is that you guys are AWESOME! A few days ago I posted a request. I was asking you to share your penny pinching tricks of the trade. You all came through big time!

Secondly I want go thank you for all your good wishes. My whole family is safe and sound, but many many others on long island and in the surrounding areas were and are not so lucky. There are still people that have not been able to go home and others have no home to go back to. Please continue to pray for them.


Now lets begin.


Coupons

...the basic weapon in every bargain hunter and grocery shopper arsenal

Becca from Everyday Life  "I always use coupons just wish there was a class around me to teach me how to do it better"

Beth from Day by Day With Beth Marie 
"I use coupons. There are several on line places to get coupons. Coupons.com is the best I think"

Sarah from No Hope? Know Hope! "I love a good sale...in fact I hate buying anything that's not on sale. We do a lot of couponing...and go to free events."

Lets face it coupons are a very very good thing. I am just a novice when it comes to couponing, but Iknow first hand what a difference they make. Sites like coupon.com and smartsource.com make it easier to get and print out coupons any day of the week in addition to the Sunday inserts in newspapers.

Now what if your favorite brands are never ever listed in those inserts? I had the same problem. But there is still a way to get coupons for those things.

 On the backs of every product there is usually a telephone number of the company.I started calling these companies and told them how much I like their product and asked if they mailed out coupons...they did!In fact the way they had it set up was that every six weeks I could call back and they would send more to me.


This is how I get coupons for my dog's dog food and my favorite brand of ethnic foods. Now, not every brand will send coupons but it is certainly worth a try. Many are toll free numbers!

 I don't pretend to be an  "Extreme Couponer" I did however recently shop for Thanksgiving and the week's groceries which also included a turkey for the charity. The total came up to 170+. after I gave the cashier my coupons and my store card the total was 97 dollars...a savings of 73 dollars! I also got gas points from my local stop and shop too.

I am not the most organized person in the world, but keeping coupons organized is a must! On TV some seriously hard core couponers (and I have seen a few people in my neck of the woods)walk into the stores with those huge binders. I am nowhere near that level, but I do carry around this...
It's small enough to carry around everywhere.                                     


How to start

Its very easy to go out there on Sunday morning and buy 6 newspapers and start cutting away and think that your going to save thousands, but the fact of the matter is that chances are you won't be able to use a large majority of them.

 
Just buy one or two newspapers. Also the weekend before a big holiday there will not be any coupons in newspapers

don't as tempting as it may seem don't cut out those coupons just yet.

Date the top of the inserts and either wait for the circulars  or go onto the websites of the stores you go to frequently

Circle or click on the items that are of interest to you. Then look in your coupons to see if there are any for the items that already on sale. This is where you will save even more.

Go to some coupon websites and click away and print out the coupons that you want. The plus to visiting these web sites is that the coupons are usually worth a bit more because the manufacturers know you are using your own paper and ink so they have to make it worth your while.

Call your supermarkets and find out their coupon policies. Do they double coupons? My local supermarket doubles up to a dollar. That means they will take that 50 cent coupon and double it so you will get a dollar off, but if your coupon says 75 cents they will only take off one dollar...still a good deal. There are times during the year that they will triple the coupons and that's when I do a happy dance. They won't advertise it in huge print but usually somewhere in front of the circular they will advertise it.


Laundry Detergent

I was a slave to my brand of Detergent.. I thought nothing of plopping down 20+ dollars on my brand 150 oz.

I often wondered why people would bother to buy the 50 oz bottle. It seemed so small and would have to come back often to buy more. Yep, the 150 oz was better....until

Very often stores place the Other brands on sale. Brands that are not as popular but are not no frills either.I would pass these sales by because...sheeze its only 50 oz! Then... I realized That they were asking 2.50 and even less for those smaller bottles. If I bought 3 I would have my 150 0z and paid only 7.50 ( a far cry from the double digits!) And if I have coupons the savings are even better.

Sneaky Supermarkets

There are so many times that you think you are getting a great deal when you are not. Supermarkets will try every trick in the book to get you to buy. Look at the sale item. look at the amount in the package see if it is truly better to buy the bigger amount compared to the smaller packaged one. whip out that calculator and figure it out. You'd be surprised how those few extra seconds can save you in cash.

Another thing supermarkets will do is place about to expire items on sale. now this is good if you are buying one and using it right a way, but if you are buying a few to put away in  your pantry make sure you check the expiration dates. I made that mistake last year with mustard and had to throw quite a few away.


Now you have made your grocery list.

   Circled the sale items

       and circled a few extra for you to stockpile away

  You have cut out corresponding coupons and are now ready to go. Don't be disappointed if you just have a few coupons with you..Its OK remember you have circled sale items so you are saving either way. Coupons are like gravy.

A good idea would be to swap with friends that use coupons. They may have coupons you need and you may have some for them.

sales circulars? check

coupons paper clipped together? check

Store card ready? check check

calculator? check check checkity check

It's time to concentrate! make sure whatever you are getting is on sale and you are not picking up the wrong size or item that is NOT on sale.

Also check out other stores like Walmart and Target They take regular and web coupons and sometimes their price might be a better deal than the supermarkets.

OK, so you are finally at the store with coupons in hand and you make a bee line for that one item that is a great deal and THE SHELVES ARE BARE!!!

      "%#*&^%!!!#@$%%^&*&$#%"   you shout as you shake your fists to through the air...Don't worry. Just remember to get a rain check at the customer service desk. They will give you a slip and that enables you to come back and purchase that item when they restock and you will be able to get the sale price even though the sale may be over.

One book that was a great help to me was a book that I downloaded to my kindle for free from a cool app called "Free stuff times" there they give you a list of books that are free that day on amazon. The book is titled "Confessions of a Coupon Fashionista" by Charmaine Gerber and it is awesome for someone just starting to coupon. It gave me some great information.I checked and it was no longer free but it was only 2.99.

 Tomorrow...

            Stockpiling and when to buy...This will make it possible to always have a stocked pantry!!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pinching Pennies




Times are tough.

and right now times are really really tough for people around here, there and everywhere. Budgets are squeezed tightly and living paycheck to paycheck now seems like a sweet memory. For many it's a game of Catch up with every month asking the question...

"What bills can we pay this month?"


So this week is dedicated to getting by...all the things we do to make it and stay afloat; and here is where you come in. I would like you to share with us your tips and tricks on how you save money.

Do you have some inside scoop on better couponing?

                   source

Do you have a cool recipe for home made dish detergent? How do you save on Kids clothes?

    source


              
                                     source



How do you save on Christmas gifts? Share anything! I will moderate the comments so that I can gather and publish your tips in another post with links to your own blogs


Now back when I was a teeny tiny girl ( Yeah OK, I heard someone snicker in the back ) my mom (from time to time) would have to fly back to her childhood home to be by my Grandma's bedside when Grandma fell ill.

Those trips became quite frequent as my grandma got older. My dad would become a mister mom and he quite frankly was great at it. He was an awesome cook though he didn't realize that we were not an army and we were instead three small kids. He would fill up our plates until we could eat no more.


Around that same time a brand new Pathmark Supermarket opened near us.


It was the first time I had ever seen a "No Frills Aisle"
                  
                                source

Everything on the shelves had a plain white label. The prices were substantially lower than the fancier labeled products.

My Mom who was a slave to her favorite brands never ventured in that aisle to shop. She would merely use the aisle as short cut to other aisles. She was convinced that because they did not have the fancy labels they were not as good. So she bought less.


When Mom was away taking care of Grandma. My Dad assumed the daunting task of grocery shopping with no idea of where things were or what  brands mom usually brought home.


I got home from school, threw down my book bag and greeted my Dad who was unpacking and putting away groceries.

Before me was a sea of white labels. My dad smiled and said

           source


                         
                                 source

                                                    
                                                                 source

 "Joanne, look at all this I bought on sale! There is an aisle where everything is really cheap!" He acted as if he had won the lottery


He was so happy at his find that I didn't have the heart to tell him that Mom would never approve.

Days later when Mom came home she laughed at the new labels that found their way home to us. She found out that some things like peanut butter and jams were not bad at all and that some actually tasted exactly like their brand name counter parts.

Detergents were another story, but from then on we didn't just take the short-cut through the "No Frills" aisle. We actually stopped a bit and looked for the items that Dad had bought on his turn. She even started using coupons. Its funny to think that walking and buying those things embarrassed me a bit then...



Now, I proudly flash my coupons.
                     

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Artsy Fartsy Friday~~~ Incredible Art Mosaics


Hi everyone! It has been a while since I posted art on Friday...and technically it's not Friday anymore, but I won't tell if you don't.



I love mosaics. The fact that one can combine different colored textures and shapes together to visually meld them into a beautiful image is amazing to me.

 I love drinking in the image from afar and then getting up really close and seeing ( and if I am lucky being able to feel) the imperfect tiles that created the perfect artwork. So today I'm posting a cool video of mosaics and they are made up of some very unusual materials...Enjoy!



     
               uploaded by: FinalScoreProducts

On My trip to Washington DC we stopped by the largest Catholic church in the nation. all of the art work in the church was made up of mosaics. absolutely gorgeous!
here are some pictures of the inside of the Basilica of The National Shrine of The Immaculate Conception.

This is an unbelievable mural in the front of the church. It is 3,600 square feet and it contains nearly three million tiles. Even though it is not my favorite depiction of Jesus (he looks too muscular and quite frankly a bit mean looking) I can appreciate the awesome beauty of the the piece itself.

               This one looks like a painting doesn't it?...It is also made entirely of tile pieces.                                               




Even on the ceiling there were gorgeous tiled mosaics to view and appreciate.


                


Every art piece was made of tiny imperfect tiled squares like these




Amazing right?

Have yourself an amazing weekend and please keep praying for those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Many Many prayers are needed.


Blessings, Joanne





Tuesday, November 06, 2012

One Closed Door and One Opened Door



A young mother lost her two children.

       In the midst of Hurricane Sandy her home was filling with flood waters. She placed her two children ages 4 and 2 in her car and they fled to her sister's home.

They never made it.

Her car got stuck and she had to abandon it. She clung onto a tree all the while holding onto her two babies.

In her desperation she tried to make it to a nearby home. She  banged on the door for someone to let her in. There was a man inside. In fact he was one of very few that chose to stay on that block.

He did not open the door.

The water climbed higher as she went to the back of the home. I can only imagine the utter desperation as she picked up a flower pot and tried to break the window.

Before she knew it a surge of water came and tore her kids from her grasp. They perished in the waters.

    Days later the man who refused to open the door defended himself stating that it was a man that came to his door; not a woman. I wonder couldn't he hear the desperate wails of this mom? Didn't he see the children? They were probably crying.

He stated "What could I do? I was in flip flops and shorts. I couldn't help anyone."


He could have opened the door.


An opened door would have been all it took for two small innocent lives to be saved.

                                    Just One Opened Door.




Now there is another story

this one is about another door.

The pastor of the church we attend went to the church to see if he could charge his phone there since he too (along with thousands of others) had lost the electricity in his home.
The church had not lost power at all.

 He thought what a blessing. He later wrote in an e-mail...

 "God prompted me to open up the building to the community"

He thought of all the people around  town that had no power.  Some couldn't call worried loved ones (phone lines were down) or for help if they needed to because cell phones had long since run out of charge. Many had no means to make a meal for their families.

He put up this sign on both sides of the church

Then he opened the doors

With the help of his wife, the Youth Pastor and his family they welcomed everyone


People walked in from all over.

They charged their phones

They cooked meals and shared their food.

The doors were opened for all who needed help

I know for many the opened doors to this church was a huge blessing. On Sunday there were a few new faces that came to share their story of how it felt to have those doors open for them.



A door. One man chose to keep it shut

 the other listened to God and kept the door opened



a simple decision made all the difference.



I pray for all the parents who lost children in this disaster.

I pray for those who lost homes

I pray for those who feel lost

I pray for those who choose to keep doors shut. I pray the love of God prompts them to open their doors and let His Light in.







                                                          

Friday, November 02, 2012

Sandy is Gone, but Will Not Be Forgotten




Where do I start?

              First, I want to thank all of you for your good wishes and prayers. We just got our Internet and cable access back and thought I would post some thoughts.


I have many many mixed emotions.

I'm grateful that my family is safe and sound.

I am grateful we still have a home.

Many are not so lucky.

Many have lost everything.

My old stomping ground
         The place where I grew up in New York City looks like a war zone.
                What happened to old friends?
                      What happened to my childhood church?

My stomach churns with dread and utter sadness at the thought.



    Early Monday morning I went to pick up my Mom. The winds had picked up considerably. The hurricane was due at midnight but the winds were already at  Hurricane "Irene" level.

My Mom had changed her mind...she had unpacked her bag and stated she wanted to stay in her own apartment. Now, for anyone out there over the age of 75 please please please...when your children insist that you go with them during an emergency, please GO. It took me nearly 30 minutes of convincing before she finally agreed.

It was a good thing too;  the storm had picked up speed and was going to hit late afternoon instead at around midnight.


The power went out fairly early and thanks to our emergency kit (which consists of a huge Tupperware bin with everything we needed) we felt prepared.

We listened to our battery operated radio, which also works through solar power and has a crank that makes it work too.

I made dinner while wearing a head lamp. I sort of looked like a coal miner.
All the while cringing and stopping what I was doing when the wind made a sound that made the house rattle.

We worried about the trees surrounding our property.  Every now and then I would hear a whooshing sound and later I realized that it was the neighbor's trees that were falling.
                                        


Funny, I always thought that trees would make a cracking sound when felled; a booming resounding vibration would then be the result. Not so. The cracking only came when trees lost a branch.  These trees were pulled and shoved over lifting the roots and shoving them down to the ground.
                                 

All over our neighborhood giant trunked trees fell to the ground like dominoes. The electricity went with them. Sparks in the distance looked like lightening strikes, but when we realized there was no thunder following the strike we knew it was the power lines.


Right smack in the middle of the hurricane there were police cars placing police tape across our street warning drivers of downed wires and trees. God Bless those men and women. God bless all those that were out in that hurricane helping others.

Many coworkers of My husband have lost their homes. One of his bosses is currently living at the job offices.
One has parents who tried to stay. His father, using a pump tried to stop the basement from flooding. When they saw the ocean water rushing quickly down the street towards them they knew that they had lost the fight and they were lucky to get out when they did.

One thing that I have learned is that one cannot be too prepared. And another thing that we have learned is that no matter how prepared you think you are disasters like these will make you feel and know that you are not.  

We learned alot from Hurricane Irene and used that to prepare for Sandy.

Batteries
radio
battery operated lanterns
water
canned foods and dried goods like pasta and rice
blankets (lots and lots)
Matches to light gas stoves
a manual can opener ( we forgot this one)
and don't forget to fill up cars with gas!


                                

This is just one line that we saw. See the BP sign?...well that is not where the line was headed. The BP was out of gas. That Line was for the gas station way down the road from BP gas station. The lines seem to go on forever. Some say lines were a mile long.

                        

The next few days we are going to hang tight and stay close to home. Hubby doesn't have to work and we will try to save the half tank of gas that we have left in the car.

One look at the news and hearing reports on the radio I wonder...



                Will it ever be normal again?
                           Or are more disasters on the horizon?
     
                                   is this the new "normal"?