Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Adventure #2 - Golden Gardens

     Today was a beautiful, bright, sunny day here in Seattle, so the kids and I needed an outdoor adventure.  I looked for another beach and found the beautiful, Golden Gardens in Ballard!  Wowie!  What an amazingly beautiful place and so close to the city, just 5 miles away from where we live.

     I thought ahead and brought a blanket, snacks and water, but the kiddos forgot their bag with bowls and spoons to dig in the sand with.  However, when we got here, there were quite a few women here with their kids, playing in the sand.  So my oldest daughter, (M) and I took off our shoes and laid down on the blanket while my two younger kids (J & E) headed right for the flock of kids, digging and making friends for the day!

This was what I saw from my spot laying down...you notice my daughter's book in the right corner!

     Many people were out today, a group of teenaged boys playing soccer and many families of all shapes and sizes all down the beach.  The sun was warm, the air was cool and we had a great view of the Puget Sound and the Cascades Mountains.

     After laying in the warm sun for about 30 minutes, I told my daughter I thought this must be close to heaven...she said that I am a dork.  Regardless, this place is breathtaking and for this busy, homeschooling, work at home, mom and wife, who just made the biggest change of her life, it felt restful and peaceful and perfect.
     The girls did decide to test the water, but although the sun was warm, it was only 55 degrees outside, so the water was VERY cold.  They certainly enjoyed trying it though!

The seals were swimming around that black dot you can see out in the water.
     Here you can, take a coastline stroll, hike a forest trail, sunbathe, sail a boat, fish off the pier, watch the sunset, have a beach fire, play in the sand, the water or on a playground, or simply rest and enjoy God's amazing creations.  You can pack a lunch, there are bathrooms, bbqs and decent parking.  If you are looking for something inexpensive to do with or without kids, this is a great place!  We could even hear seals barking out in the water!  Another great adventure without spending any money!

Monday, April 15, 2013

My Rite Aid Deals - Week of 4/14/13

Great day today at Rite Aid.  Out of Pocket (OOP), I only spent $2.25 and $2.02 of that was tax!  Oh, and I left with $7 in +Up Rewards to start off with next week!

I started out with $11 in +Up Rewards from last week.  The breakdown is as follows:

(2) Arm & Hammer Laundry Detergent Power Pack:  on sale, 2/$7.  In this weeks Smart Source coupon insert was a coupon for $1 off 1 Arm and Hammer Detergent.  I used two of these.  (I buy three papers each week).  If you purchase 2 A&H Detergents, you receive $3 +Up Rewards (UPR).

(3) Simplify Napkins:  these are $1.00 each and you receive a $1 UPR with the purchase of 3.

(2) Almay One Coat Mascara:  On sale, buy one get one 50% (bogo50%).  They are $7.49 each and in this week's 4/14/13 Smart Source coupon insert is a $4 off one Almay cosmetic purchase, I used 2.  You also receive $3 UPR if you spend $10 on Almay products.

So here it is simply:                $7 + $3 + $11.23 = $21.23 (All products)
                  subtract:                $2 + $8 = $10.00 (all coupons)
                  subtotal:                $11.23
Subtract Last Week's +UPR:  $11.00 = $0.23!   
Then...I received $7 UPR to use next week!  Pretty Awesome!!

If you are starting out with no UPR, you will have to pay the $11.23 OOP this week (the mascara alone makes that worth it), and you will still leave with $7 UPR next week...and then it gets exciting!

Remember to get three newspapers each week and to ask your Rite Aid cashier to change your +Up Rewards so they print on your receipt each time you make a purchase!   Any questions?  Leave a comment or send me an email!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Rite Aid Pencil Deal!

     Homeschooling through a move is not always convenient.  We are doing pretty well, but having our whole house in storage still is a bit tricky.  I had one carry on bag that I stuffed with everything for homeschooling I could...but inevitably, we are always missing something.  For the last week it has been pencils.  We have been passing around the only one still sharp.  So off we went today in the cold and rain, and walked to Rite Aid.  I do not like to go out of necessity for things because it always seems to cost more than I could find them for if I have planned the purchase.  Today, however,  I was pleasantly surprised by the deal I found when I arrived!

A pack of five Paper Mate mechanical pencils for $1.99 with an $1.00 +UP Rewards!

Not a bad deal, mechanical pencils for $.99.  You still have time to pick some up before Sunday when the sale changes.  Also, I asked my cashier to please make it so my +Up Rewards could print at the end of my receipt instead of load to my card.  That way I can see them, touch them and plan with them easier each week!  Happy shopping!  Check back on Monday for new deals!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

What is Couponing and Is It Worth It?

About four years ago, I decided to dive into that crazy world of couponing?  I had seen little things here and there on serious couponing and I was interested to see if I could figure it all out and really save money.  I had certainly used coupons on items I purchased, but I only saved a dollar here and there.  I had also heard that many times people began to buy things they would not normally buy because of coupons and therefore, spent more money on their groceries than they would have without the coupons.  However, I had read some blogs of people who were seeing big savings and even saw a woman once pay $.14 for a whole cart of groceries...so I knew there was some piece I was missing.
     I started doing some research on couponing and surprisingly found that there really was a method to this couponing thing and along with it, some serious money to be saved.  The key things I found out were as follows:
  1. The prime time to use a coupon is when an item goes on sale.  So hold on to those coupons.
  2. Sales and coupons are cyclical.  Items will go on sale about every 6 weeks and coupons    come out about every 4 weeks.
  3. Some items and coupons come out during certain seasons (condiments around Memorial Day).
  4. When a product is new, high dollar coupons come out to entice you to try them.
With this knowledge, I was able to understand how some people were saving hundreds of dollars at the store every week.  I began to put this knowledge to good use and quickly cut our grocery budget from $800 to $300-400 per month (for a family of five).  Pretty amazing!  Not only was my bill lower, but I also began filling my cabinets and freezer!  I decided this couponing thing was definitely worth my time.
     In a very short amount of time, I was saving money and had a very modest "stockpile" of everything we used...food, toiletries and cleaning supplies.  I loved this game of going into a store and coming out with tons of stuff that did not kill my bank account.  Every time I would go into a store and get something for free, I felt like I had won...and I will say I enjoyed it.
     So in short, my method is to buy three papers each week so I have three sets of coupons.  I wait to use coupons until the item is on sale and then I "stock up" so I will not have to buy that item again until it is on sale and I have a coupon again.  Pretty simple!  I do not spend tons of time couponing...maybe an hour or two researching sales and then about 20 minutes in the store.   So is it worth it?  ABSOLUTELY!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Adventure #1 - Alki Beach

     Coming from the hot, dry desert, one of the best things, so far, about moving to the Puget Sound area has been the water!  Currently, we are staying in Corporate Apartments in the downtown area of Seattle.  When we arrived, I immediately started looking for things to do and see...and wow, was I impressed.  There are many, many things to do for free here with kids and we are trying to get out at least three or four days a week to see something new.  But so far, our favorite things have included the water.
     The first Monday we were here, I looked for a place to get close to the water and happily found a few small beaches around the sound.  So, Adventure #1?  Alki Beach!  I wish you could have seen the looks on my kids faces when I said we were going to the beach.  They could not believe it would only take 10 minutes to get there.  So, we got our jackets, camera, a bag to collect shells in and we were on our way.

      Alki Beach is not huge, but it was nice and we were able to do some serious exploring.  Our first bit of excitement was over a sign posted telling us not to touch or bother any "Resting Harbor Seals".  What?!  We could see Harbor Seals on the beach???  Well...we didn't, but we did have a great time looking for shells and drawing in the sand.  At one point close to the water, we looked out to a small strip of sand in the water and saw a crab crawling up and walking along...then just a few steps away was another one, headed right for us. Pretty exciting day for a bunch of desert dwellers.

    I did not know at the time Alki beach has a very rich history.  Alki Beach is where the first white settlers landed in Seattle, and were greeted by Chief Seattle who helped them build a shelter.  This will definitely be a place we return to, especially since we will be studying Washington History during our next year of homeschooling!  Money spent?  Zero dollars...just my kind of day!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Rite Aid Couponing!

    There are no Rite Aid stores in Phoenix.  There I did all of my drugstore couponing at CVS and loved it!  Luckily, with the magic of Google, I was able to figure out the basics of couponing for Rite Aid.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out the two stores have very similar programs.
     With Rite Aid, I signed up for a Wellness+ card and discovered, that much like the CVS Extra Care Buck program, using my Wellness+ card for certain purchases each week will give me +Up rewards.  These rewards are as good as cash in Rite Aid.  Since there are so many great sites that go into great detail about this program, I am going to simply tell you to Google, "how to coupon at Rite Aid" and move on.  I started couponing last week (yes, didn't waste a week) and with my first round of purchases, I received $10 in +Up Rewards.  So tonight I went back for another round and I want to share it with you.

   These Stayfree products were on sale, 2/$6.  This weekend's paper has $1 off 1 coupons for Stayfree and the Rite Aid ad had an in store coupon for $1 off 1.  This week, if you buy $30 worth of select Johnson and Johnson products, you will receive $10 in +Up Rewards.
     So, since I only had this week's coupons to choose from, I went ahead and bought 10 packages, costing $30.  I buy three papers, so I had 3 of the $1 off coupons (would have been nice to have 10) and the $1 off coupon from the Rite Aid ad (this was limit one), plus my $10 +Up Rewards from last week.
     So, here is the breakdown, $30-$4-$10 = $16 for 10 packages of Stayfree pads...and I left with $10 to spend next week.  So, we can say $1.60 per package out of pocket (OOP) and if I consider the $10 reward, only $.60 per package (regular price $3.99).  Not a bad way to start my couponing at Rite Aid.
     If you want to venture into the couponing world, I would love to help you.  Every Monday I will post my purchases from Rite Aid.  So, sign up for that card, get your papers on Sunday and you can go out on Tuesday and get the same deals I post here!
     There were many other deals to be had, but I like things simple, so I will only post what I purchase.  However, there are some great couponers out there who post all the deals you can make.  If you are ambitious, simply Google, "Rite Aid coupon deals" with the current week's date!  Remember, saving in these small ways adds up quickly!

Adventures Abound!

     One of the most challenging part of raising kids is how much everything costs.  Something that frustrates me incredibly is finding fun, mind stirring things to do with my kiddos.  I get so tired of tv, video games and sitting around the house.  However, with a family of five, it seems like anytime I find something good, it would cost us a fortune.  So, I am always on the prowl for fun and different things to do and I am always hoping for free...or at least very inexpensive!
     My first night in this new town, what was I doing?  Googling "free things to do in Seattle" and I am very impressed!  There are many things to do and see and I cannot wait to share them all with you!  A great way to save money, no matter where you are is to search for fun, inexpensive things to do in your town!  There is nothing like a Saturday afternoon adventure that does not empty your wallet!  So get on that computer and search for something different to do this weekend!

This Crazy Move & A New Blog!

     Up until 11 days ago, I was a resident of Phoenix, Arizona.  Today, however, I am a resident of Seattle, Washington.  I was born in Arizona and lived all but the first seven years of my life in the Phoenix metropolitan area, so this move is a really, REALLY, crazy thing for me.  I am married and have three amazing children.  I work from home part time and homeschool my kiddos!  A few years ago, my husband was laid off and our income was cut in half and our world was turned upside down. 
     Through the craziness of completely changing everything about our lives, I learned some great lessons about saving money.  At first, I thought all our money saving would happen by cutting bills, but we got to a point where there were no more bills to cut...but still not enough money.  So I decided to venture into the world of couponing and I began to save hundreds of dollars every month. I was able to take our monthly grocery budget from $800 a month to $300-400 per month.
     What was more exciting to me was realizing, through couponing, that absolutely every penny was important.  So much of my married life, pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, even dollars were expendable.  Using coupons and being able to get a can of vegetables for $.09 made me see that the best way to save is by saving everyday on every little thing.  With that realization, I kind of became obsessed with finding every way I could save money!  That obsession led to my first blog, Surviving This Arizona Economy, where I searched for ways to make the most of life in Arizona, with three kids using very little money...and I succeeded and had a great time doing it!
     Now that I am in Washington, I am determined to do the same thing here...so here we are!  I hope you will join me on this crazy, exciting, money-saving adventure!!