Monday, February 1, 2010

Facing this rough economy head on....

Found this post on Utah Deal Diva's website and I thought it was worth sharing. We haven't personally experienced job loss but we did just experience a cut in pay. So this post hit home, as we try to continue to cut back, clip more coupons, save, Tithe and do some serious budgeting.  If you haven't already read The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey or taken the Financial Peace course by Dave, I would recommend doing so! Give yourself peace of mind and "change your family tree" as Dave says!

"As many of you know, I started this blog when my husband was unemployed. It was more an outlet for me; something different to focus on that took my mind off things. I wrote this article describing our experience and how we "survived" being unemployed." ~Jessica

Like millions of other Americans, I hadn’t anticipated my husband suddenly being out of work. We’d always lived within our means and had little debt, but we didn’t have much in savings either. We were terrified at what our future possibly held. How were we going to pay our bills? Would we lose our house?

Those were the thoughts running through my head as the reality of our situation began to sink in. I am a stay at home mom for our three young children; my husband was the sole breadwinner and then suddenly he was without a job. How were we going to make it with no income?! I was overwhelmed with our sudden change of circumstances. Thankfully, my husband and I quickly resolved that we would not let this situation break us. We had worked too hard to let this ailing economy make victims out of us. We made a plan and prayed hard that God would help us. Little did we know how abundantly our prayers would be answered.

Here we are three months later and I’m happy to report my husband just started a new job! The truly amazing thing is, due to the changes we quickly made in our lives, not only did we not have to touch our savings, but we added to it! No, this isn’t some “get rich quick” gimmick- it’s a true story of how my family survived being unemployed and living on a part-time retail income.

Lessons I Learned from Being Unemployed

Being unemployed is hard work. My husband and I are both hard workers, but never before have we worked so hard to stay right where we were at. Our only goal at the time was to pay our bills and stay in our home. Within 2 days of being out of work my husband secured a part-time job working retail. When he wasn’t working there, he was spending hours and hours every day searching for a new job. I helped him search before the kids woke up and after they went down for naps. We worked with recruiting firms and friends to find new employment. In one word I would describe it all as exhausting.

The companies you pay your bills to are more willing to help if you ask. Within a week of being unemployed, I called all of the companies our bills were through, telling them our situation and asking what they could do. I was so grateful to find that every company I called was more than willing to help us. We switched phone plans, downgraded our cable and cancelled services. Suddenly our meager income was stretching a lot farther.

I didn’t miss luxuries nearly as much as I thought I would. By luxuries I mean eating out once a week, buying a new pair of shoes, or taking the kids to the zoo. Sure, it would have been nice to do those things occasionally, but right after my husband lost his job, we declared a spending halt. We bought nothing unless it was absolutely necessary, and even then, we most often bought second hand. We re-discovered the value of family time and truly enjoyed spending it together. We made meals from scratch and had a new-found appreciation for the items we already had. Our lives became very simple and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

Meal planning and cooking from scratch saves a lot of money. This is something I’d known for a while, but I gained a huge testimony of it while unemployed. Being as I’d used coupons for some time; we had built up a nice food storage. Since eating out wasn’t an option, I found planning for our meals was critical. I regularly assessed the items in our pantry and planned meals accordingly. We made our own bread and found joy in creating yummy treats ourselves. I also got very creative in seeing how far some food items could stretch. A member of our church dropped off a whole ham one night and I stayed up late slicing and packaging it so as to use the entire thing. I even boiled the ham bone in soup! We were able to feed our family over 7 meals with that one ham!

Using less of everything really didn’t affect our way of life. And when I say everything, I mean everything! One of the areas we strived to use less was in gas & electricity. We wore sweatshirts instead of adjusting the heater and used the warmth of the oven to heat the house after we baked something. We were mindful of even the little things from the length of showers we took to how much shampoo we used. We turned our water heater down and adjusted our dishwasher to the lowest settings. As a result of changing our actions we didn’t freeze, our clothes and dishes were still clean (as were we!) and we ended up shaving 25% off our utility bills!

We didn’t really need many of the items we already had. So I sold them. Well, a lot of them at least. I regularly walked around the house assessing what our family could live without and I sold the items online. I sold books, clothes, and electronics. Anything we didn’t need that I thought might have value was suddenly on the market! My husband scoured the garage and cashed in a load of scrap metal. I’d been couponing for years and had quite a supply, so I assembled coupons and sold them in groups. We spent $20 to cosmetically fix up an old car we’d had for years and hung the “For Sale” sign on it, unsure if we could even sell it in this economy. We sold it for our full asking price a month later. The earnings were quickly transferred to our savings. Each time I sold something I’d calculate what bills that item could pay for or how long it would enable us to live in our house. Tens of dollars turned to hundreds, and hundreds turned to thousands. It was incredible and we felt so blessed.

Our trials give others the opportunity to serve. As difficult as it might be to be on the receiving end, it’s necessary at different times in our lives. We saw the Lord’s hand in so many small acts of service given to us by neighbors and friends. People wrote us kind letters with thoughts of encouragement. Others sent small amounts of money anonymously. It was all very much appreciated and we are grateful for the services rendered.

We grew accustomed to this new way of life. After a few months, my husband found a new job. I do think it will take a while for my type-A personality to recover from the stress and uncertainty that was so prevalent during those few months. I’m grateful for the outcome though and understand many others are in situations far worse than ours. If I can pass on one piece of advice for others who find themselves suddenly unemployed it’s this: even in this economy, you have more influence on your personal & financial situations than you think. And never forget the power of prayer!

Article also seen on A Thrifty Mom

Oh My Goodness....Christie is a serious Couponer!

Posted by: Christie over at Big Fat Piggy Bank(and boy does she have one after this day at Walgreens)

"I was really nervous that my meters wouldn't be in today but luckily they were! I have an awesome Wags that will pre-order for me which is the only way you could realistically buy such large quantities. It's a lot of transactions so I did go in early when the store wasn't busy.

This was big "Meter Money Maker Sunday" and aside from that I only picked up a few of the FREE after RR. Remember the Bayer Contour deal is good all week but the Accu-Check was today only. Here's what I purchased...

Transactions 1 - 23
1 Accu-check Aviva Monitor $14.99
-Up to $10/1 Accu-check Monitor 11/8 SS
-$5/1 Accu-check Monitor "Diabetes & You" Wags booklet
Total $0
Get Back $5 RR = $5 Money Maker x 23 = $115 Money Maker

Transactions 24 - 33
1 Bayer Contour Meter $14.99
-Up to $30/1 Bayer Contour Meter 10/25 RPTotal $0
Get Back $10 RR = $10 Money Maker x 10 = $100 Money Maker

Transaction 34
Vitamin Schtick Lip Care .14 oz $1.99
Blink Tears .34 or .5oz $7.99
Scaplicin Medicated Wipes 12pk $5.99
Joint Juice 30pk $10
3 - Valentines Cups $.17 each with in ad Q
2 - Ravena Knee Highs $.29 each
Total $27.06

-$2/1 Blink 1/31 RP (one paper in my area had this, yippee!)
-$1/1 Scaplicin
PRINT (expires 2/1 unless they refresh it)-$24 in RR from previous purchasesTotal $.06
Get $2 Vitamin Schtick, $8 Blink, $6 Scaplicin, $10 Joint Juice = $1.94 Money Maker
Transaction 35
Vitamin Schtick Lip Care .14 oz $1.99
Blink Tears .34 or .5oz $7.99
Scaplicin Medicated Wipes 12pk $5.99
Joint Juice 30pk $10
2 - Valentines Cups $.17 each with in ad Q
3 - Ravena Knee Highs $.29 each
Total $27.18

Used-$2/1 Blink 1/31 RP (one paper in my area had this, yippee!)
-$1/1 Scaplicin
PRINT (expires 2/1 unless they refresh it)-$24 in RR from previous purchases
Total $.18
Get $2 Vitamin Schtick, $8 Blink, $6 Scaplicin, $10 Joint Juice = $1.82 Money Maker

Total $218.76 Money Maker! WOOOO HOOOO!!!!"

(and 35 transactions later! WOW!) by Sassy Saver

All You Magazine $0.67 an issue!

There is a great deal on All You Magazine for the next 13 days that was posted on Southern Savers!
From February 1st through the 13th you can get 40 issues for All You for $27.  That’s 67¢ an issue!
These cost $2.40-$2.50 at Walmart and online deal around $15 for 12 issues, or $1.25 an issue, so this price is HOT!
The deal is through a college fund raising program but instead of raising any funds for a group, they are offering Southern Savers readers a $13 refund!!
To Order:
1.  Go here
2.  Click “Click here to support our Group”
3.  Enter your address (if you enter your email, you will also get email confirmation of the order and refund).
4. Pick All You or any other magazine and check out
You will see your $13 credit reflected immediately after your charge on your statement.
(If you want to renew at this price you can just enter your name and mailing address exactly as your current subscription has it.  If you want two copies each month then enter an order under someone else’s name in your house).
Once you order it takes 10-12 weeks to receive your first issue so be ready to wait a little bit.
To get an idea of the coupons in All You look at past issues: February ‘10, January ‘10, December ‘09, , November ‘09
I’ve been told this is only being offered for 13 days or 2000 orders.  Just so ya know.
A Way to Give Back:
They offered me $3 per subscription you guys purchase, but instead I think we should give that away.  So the $3 instead will be given to Harvest Hope Food Bank.   That could end up being $6000 to Harvest Hope!! Huggies Gift Set Deal

Target has a great deal on a Huggies Gift Basket Toiletries set!  Search for “Huggies Soft Skin Basket”
Get all of the following for $13.49 with FREE shipping:
  • 24 Diapers- Newborn Size
  • Wipes tub 64ct
  • Wipes soft pack 32 ct
  • Baby wash 15 oz
  • Baby lotion 15 oz
  • Washcloths 20 ct
  • Basket
The gift set will be $14.99, use code URTYJLI8 to take off $1.50.
(thanks SD!)

My Steals Yesterday......all in one nicely condensed post!

2 Double Newspapers $4.72
2 Kraft Barbeque Sauce $1.54
2 Gatorade G2 FREE after coupon
1 Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing $.73 after coupon
2 YoPlus Yogurts $.25 after coupons
1 Tyson Entrees $.75 after coupons
1 Cottonelle toilet paper $4.74 after coupons
2 Craisins $1.15/ 1 the other FREE with coupon
Dozen large eggs $1.49
Total Spent: $16.31
Total Saved: $24.70($10.89 just in coupons)

Did 3 transactions but only took 1 picture to save time!
I am just going to highlight my best deals -
FREE products:  the 4 PertPlus shampoo+conditioner, the 4 Head & Shoulders shampoo+ conditioner and the 4 Herbal Essence Shampoos and conditioner!! Clearanced at 75% plus I used coupons that were expiring yesterday for the Herbal Essence and the Head & Shoulders, the Pert Plus coupon is a newer one.
A &H 2 in 1 Fabric Softner $2.69/2($1.35 each!!)
Dove Men's Body Wash FREE + $1.25 MM after coupon and ECB's
Bioluxe Conditioner and 1 Shampoo(not picture b/c I forgot to get it so I had to go back later and pick it up at the store since they were BOGO) Both will be FREE after mail in rebate b/c they send you a visa with $9.99 on it- the cost of one!
Total Spent: $27.50
Total Saved: $135.11
ECB's Left over for next week : $12 ECB's
So really if you apply the MIR and ECB's earned I will have only spent $5.51 for all the stuff above!! SWEET!

Close Up picture of all the FREE shampoos I got at CVS! 12 of them FREE!!! SCORE!

I did 2 of the Buy 10 get $5 deals in this transaction!
My best deals were:
Solo cups and plates for $.98/2
1 Rotel FREE
SoBe water $.98/3
Cascadian Farms Granola FREE + MM (clearanced for $1.49 and I had coupon for $2 off!)
Ritz Crackers $1.98/2 (which basically works out to BOGO free at the special prices)
Total Spent: $22.81
Total Saved: $45.80
Fuel Points Earned: 51

I did 3 transactions but again only 1 picture(to time consuming the other way plus it had been a rough day)
Best Deals:
Acai Berry BOGO Free  and Scotch Bubble mailer, used RR to pay- final price $.85
Acai Berry is reg. $9.99 each!
Gillette Fusion Razor $2.99 after coupon and RR
Vitamin Schtick Lip Care FREE after RR
Advil Liquid Gels $.02 MM!!!
Other Items purchased-
Zicam Cold Sore Gel Swab
Valentines Tumbler cup for filler item
Advil PM
Total Spent: $22.55
Total Saved: $26.22
RR left over $9
So really I only spent $13.55 not my best but not to bad for such a emotional and brain exhausting day/week!

Total for all 4 stores: $89.17
Total Saved:$218.02

 I am skipping Rite Aid due to runny low on cash and the deals not being Must Buys, but I may run to Target later in the week for Free J&J Buddies soap!
So how did you do?

Parade in AJC 12/20-A few places to get cheap crackers with the coupon!

Club Crackers - $2.50 each
Get back $2 RR WYB 2
Use 2 $1.00/1 coupons from 1/31 Parade Mag.
Final Price - $.50 cents each!
Club Crackers - $1.94 (on rollback!)
Use $1.00/1 coupon from 1/31 Parade Mag.
Final Price - $.94 cents!
*Rite Aid*
Club Crackers - $1.99
Use $1.00/1 coupon from 1/31 Parade Mag.
Final Price - $.99 cents!

eShakti Review!

Posted by: Deal Finding Chick
Have you heard about! It's a really neat online website that offers unique women's apparel that can be completely customized to fit you! You can change the style of the garment, the sleeves, neckline, length, etc. and they offer from size 0-26W and custom size too! They offered to make me an item so that I could test it out and I chose the black double knit pants pictured above! I gave them all my measurements and within a few days they were sitting at my door! I love the fabric and how they fit..Perfectly! It's really nice getting something made to custom fit you and your tastes! =) You can click HERE to check them out!