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Posts Tagged ‘coupons’

Entertainment Books – 1/2 off plus FREE Shipping!

Posted on: April 19th, 2012 by Kate Hamernik

We have been using the Entertainment book for years – in our hometown of San Diego and also when we travel (not that often, but when we do – we go with an Entertainment book!)

They pay for themselves in a few uses even when you buy them at full price but now you can get one for 50% off!   In addition to that you will get FREE shipping too!

Get your 2012 Entertainment Book today! Click here!

Enjoy ~ Kate

Whole Foods Challenge Shopping Trip Week 3 – lots of great stuff!

Posted on: April 13th, 2012 by Kate Hamernik

I thought it might be a good idea to show off some of the stuff we purchased at Whole Foods Market Encinitas today!   I took a video too!

The first week was a challenge because I started with empty cupboards and fridge except for spices (we did have some stuff left over of course – but we are not eating ANY of what was not purchased at Whole Foods during the month of April).   The first week I had to buy all the little stuff that we use often – oil, ketchup, flour, sugar, coffee, rice, oatmeal, etc.   Even still – I did a great job with the budget I had! Total spent $179.00 (my budget was under $200)

The second week I actually WAY overshot on produce.   We ate Easter brunch at Grandma’s house and I was to bring the fruit salad to contribute.   I was afraid I would not have enough for the fruit salad and for us during the week and I just really bought WAY too much!   Some I quickly made into a little more baby food and some of it is still in beautiful shape so we are using it this week!   Also so many of our little things – flour, sugar, coffee, etc are probably going to last us through the rest of the month – and very likely even past that! Total spent $169.00 (my budget was $150 – oopsie,   but kinda evened out from the week before)

So by week three I feel like I really have it down – and I really wanted to share because on our budget of $125 I bought a lot of stuff that one might not expect to be in a value budget!   I spent $124 and change – NAILED IT!   Here are a few of the highlights……………..

1 1/2 lbs grass fed organic beef – these cows live their lives free and happy in North County – we actually wave to them on the way to our riding lessons in San Marcos!

1 whole chicken

Organic Refined Coconut Oil ((I have been told this is all kinds of awesome – we are going to use it to pop popcorn and also will start adding it to lots of recipes!)

5lb bag of organic apples – $1 lb

2 containers of organic baby cereal

2 Happy Baby Yogurt Melts (these are not exactly cheap but I had a buy one get one FREE coupon!)

Organic Butter Lettuce (this is on sale for $1 <————- what?!)

3 blocks of GMO free cheese – just the 365 brand – nothing fancy – but great for the recipes I will be making this week!

2 lbs organic sweet potatoes


Pasta and pasta sauces

2 bottles of wine

organic greek yogurt

bread maker fixins (flour, yeast, etc)


lunch meat (my daughter LOVES ham sandwiches for her school lunches)

organic quinoa

organic onion

pineapple (I think it was organic but not sure)

peanut butter

and more!

We still have things left over from the previous weeks and just like normal we are starting to watch our budget drop.   Next week I have a budget of $125 again to stay under the $600 allowed for our family of 5 for the month – and honestly we likely won’t need that much.   We truly didn’t ‘need’ the $125 today – I wanted to illustrate how even with a less than average budget I was able to buy things I normally would have thought were out of our comfort zone!   By week three I was able to purchase grass fed beef and coconut oil and all kinds of other things I have thought sounded like a good idea, but really didn’t think we could afford.

I would be willing to bet that by shopping sales and using coupons I could actually drop our budget pretty significantly.   We agreed that $600 was lower than most people spent for even a family of four and we added in our little Baby C too!   But I am pretty confident I could feed our family of 5 shopping exclusively at Whole Foods even on our regular $400 a month budget – seriously.   I know that people CAN buy stuff labeled as food for less than this.   I am trying to show that you can buy whole, organic, responsible foods for less than what many may think!   I hope that it inspires some to look at value shopping a little differently!

Check out our little video here…………

The “Buy Ahead Principle” and identifying store sale cycles to make coupons work for you!

Posted on: March 27th, 2012 by Kate Hamernik

People are generally pretty impressed to find out how little our grocery budget is for our family of five ( the baby doesn’t eat much – but part of her needs include diapers and formula!).   People are usually suprised to find out that I do not consider myself an ‘extreme couponer, I don’t have a giant stockpile, and we generally cook from scratch.

I personally have no desire, time, space, etc to stockpile a bunch of stuff I personally use store sale cycles combined with coupons for items our family uses anyway for next to nothing out of pocket.   But I never have more in our possession than say a typical family of five after a monthly Big Box store run.   And there is absolutely NO reason to have a stockpile to save money for your family – WHAT?!   Seriously.

I use what couponers call the ‘Buy Ahead Principle’ – I buy the things our family needs when they are at their lowest price of the season and paired with a great coupon – even if it is a little before I need it.   Example – I often find a great sale for toothpaste that can be paired with a coupon and get that toothpaste for free.   I don’t wait until we are down to the last drop of toothpaste.   If I did that, I would likely pay much more for that toothpaste!   I do this for all our shelf stable items – toilet paper, toothbrushes, crackers, pasta, diapers, wipes, etc.

What I have learned from coupon match up sites is that every item we buy has a sale cycle.   Every item will hit it’s highest price of the season and it’s lowest price of the season every 12 weeks!   Seriously!   Every twelve weeks – and it is like clockwork at every single store! Items also hit their lowest price of the year too!   Once a year you can get CRAZY awesome deals on various items – and that is when you stock up (example – baking goods are ridiculously discounted during the winter holidays, and condiment are super cheap right around Memorial Day – so I buy a little extra sugar in December, and extra ketchup and mustard on Memorial Day Weekend 🙂 )

I think people get frustrated with coupons when they first give it a try because they are not using these sale cycles to their advantage.   When I first started couponing I was VERY frustrated because it seemed that even when I had a coupon for a national brand item, the store brand was cheaper – and that will be be case MOST of the time.   But if use store sale cycles you will hit a lower price on that national brand AND you can use a coupon!   This is how I get lots of freebies!

I don’t consider this blog a couponing match up site – but we do coupon to save money in our house – it helps us save money for other fun things!   When you combine the lowest price of the season (or lowest price of the year) with a current coupon you can often get items for FREE!   And you don’t need to stockpile – a great sale is coming around again in 12 weeks!   Basically I just buy a little more than I would immediately need – kind of the same as if I was shopping at a big box store and buying an extra large laundry soap or multi pack of toothpaste.   I only do this with items I would buy anyway and it has really cut down on our every day expenses.

I will occasionally share my couponing adventures – but I think it is best to share some of my favorite sites for couponing – these are the sites that I have been inspired by and that I think people really should follow if they want to know all there is about couponing – a few of my favorites…… Money Saving Mom , Krazy Coupon Lady, and Totally Target are just a few of my favorites!   They all offer great couponing strategies that are 100% legit and will save you money on the things you buy anyway!   Follow them and at least give couponing a try!   You may be surprised!




Print Coupons with

Posted on: February 26th, 2012 by Kate Hamernik

You may have noticed we are currently working on building our couponing page!   We have a ways to go but I thought I would share this quick link for!   I personally encourage thinking twice before printing a coupon – make sure it is something you are sure you are going to buy before you commit to using paper and ink!   Also use the fast print mode and gray scale to save money.   I personally save ‘oops paper’ to print my coupons on – old emails or other used papers – paper isn’t expensive, but it does all add up!

Keep in mind these coupons only have so many available, so it is important to print what you are sure you want ASAP – it might not be available if you wait!

Check out the link below for TONS of coupons!

Print Free Coupons

My #1 reason I am not an ‘Extreme Couponer’ – it’s too expensive

Posted on: October 27th, 2011 by Kate Hamernik

That is right – I think it is too expensive (in many ways) to ‘Extreme Coupon’.   I DO COUPON, but being extreme just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me for a lot of reasons………..

1 – the best Extreme Couponers seem to brag (a lot) about how they spend 40 hours a week (or more) on their couponing obsession, and that because of it they get a bunch of stuff for ‘free’……..

I hate to burst anybody’s bubble – but you actually work a full time job.   You just get paid in stuff instead of money.

2 – When buying a boat load of something for 95% off, you are probably spending more than if you just bought what you needed, even at full price.   I get that sometimes stuff is free.   But often times extreme couponers will buy dozens of something that is deeply discounted (IE – BBQ sauce for 15 cents), when they already have dozens of it in their pantry spare room. Um, I buy like three Trader Joe’s BBQ sauces a year, they are about $2 a piece. I’ll stick with that.

3 – I personally don’t have a spare room in my house.   I am thinking if you have an extra room to hold hoard your stockpile, you could probably save a lot of money by buying significantly less groceries and consider downsizing your home (or, I don’t know, make it available to guests or for your family to live in).   I don’t have a second fridge.   We had a second fridge for a couple months when we bought a condo that came with a fridge (and we brought our old one).     When we got rid of the fridge our electric bill dropped quite a bit.   What a waste of energy!   Think of how hard you would have to ‘work’ just to BREAK EVEN with the energy costs! No thanks!

4 – We drink the following – water, wine (only the grown ups 😉 ), milk (cow, soy, and almond).   And coffee, so much coffee.   We RARELY buy soda, juice, or bottled water and we never buy energy drinks. I think we save quite a bit not buying a bunch of high sugar (or high chemical) drinks – and I am pretty confident it helps us keep our weight in check.

5 – I don’t cut coupons for cleaning products because I can make green cleaning products that work out to $1 or $2 a month.   I buy store brand vinegar and baking soda and it lasts for months.   And I use it for almost everything!

6 – There is a lot of stuff that I would never buy without a coupon, so I am not going to put the energy into cutting it out of the paper.   I have cute little babies to play with, I just don’t have time to strategize for free ramen,   fabric softener, and air freshener.

7 – This slipped my mind, but reader Caryn reminded me.   Printing coupons is not free. There is ink, paper, and energy costs involved.   Also, many extreme couponers have more than one printer for the sole purpose of printing out more coupons….. so you bought a $100+ printer JUST for couponing?   That is gonna take a LOOOOONG time to pay off – especially when you factor in the energy, paper, and ink first.   I will print out the occasional coupon for a kid’s DVD – but those are $5+ coupons and we only have one (old) printer.   I probably print 3 or 4 coupons a month – if that.

So if you are at all interested – we have a family of five, one is an infant (translation – formula and diapers are in the budget) – our monthly budget for groceries and toiletries is $450.   I shop with cash.   I’m writing this on the 26th of the month, I still have about $25 in my grocery envelope.

That’s right – I buy groceries and toiletries for FIVE for about $20 a week per person, I spend an hour or two a week on coupons (if that).   *bows*

I am sure you wonder how I do that since I just got all self righteous about processed food.

Here’s a couple things I do….

* I know when my grocery stores mark down meat.   I REGULARLY buy chicken, turkey, and beef   (sometimes organic!) for $1 – $2 a pound.   I freeze what I don’t use that night.

* I buy bread the same way.   I usually buy bread for $1 a loaf.   Only whole wheat, often organic, never with high fructose corn syrup.   I freeze the bread too.   Sometimes I do get coupons for quality bread – it is AWESOME when I have a $1 off coupon for a $4+ loaf of bread that is marked down to $1 – (I do get that couponer high when that happens).

* I only buy produce that is on sale.   We eat LOTS of fruits and veggies, but I stock up on what is cheap.   We grow some of our produce when we can, and aren’t too proud to accept from friend’s gardens when offered.

* When I do find an awesome coupon for something we will use, and can combine it with a hot deal – I do. Protein bars, formula and baby food, spaghetti sauce, milk, bread, dish detergent, razors, body wash, yogurt, cheese, toothpaste, toothbrushes, tuna, toilet paper –   – if it is junk, I am likely not gonna buy it.   Many of the things I buy with coupons are organic.   I do know what stores double coupons, I coupon stack at Target, etc.

* We cloth diaper. Some are hand me downs, and bought the rest on Ebay.   We spent about $100 total.   We use them most of the time.   We use maybe 15 disposable diapers and about half a pack of wipes a week.   It costs a few dollars in water and energy. I WISH we had cloth diapered the first two!

* Baby C is on a combination of breast milk and formula.   (Wait, didn’t you adopt?) Yep, I have a REALLY nice friend that needs to pump and her kid refuses a bottle.   Baby C gets a much more nutritious meal AND we save!   We use coupons on her formula AND (lucky for me) they recently changed the packaging and clearanced it out so I bought several containers for $5 each.   (Obviously this is not for everyone, but I thought I should fess up – this is how we kept our budget down so low when we have an infant.)

* I plan on making the baby’s food when she is eating solids, I did buy a few organics with coupons and a great sale for when we are out and about.

* I love my crock pot.   For reals, so easy and so cheap!

* We use reusable packaging for the kids and daddy’s lunches.

* We make our own frozen pancakes.   About once a month we make a HUGE batch of organic pancakes with pumpkin, applesauce, blueberries, or raisins in it for pennies a piece.   We freeze them and make VERY easy and cheap breakfast every morning.

* We buy the following in bulk at a health food store – brown rice, raisins, nuts, quick oats (seriously – if you buy the little packets of oatmeal – do yourself a financial favor & buy the quick oats in bulk!), beans, flax seed, and more!

* We only buy high quality bread – so we eat a lot of sandwiches – often times PB&J (with natural and often organic PB & J) or eggs (eggs are SO much cheaper & often healthier than lunch meats).

* We use cheese sparingly. We stretch many meat dishes with lots of veggies and beans.

Seriously – we do have fun sometimes – we eat out a few times a week (usually with a daily deal certificate!) and it isn’t like we never buy a bag of chips.   But overall this is how we live and I think it is healthier, more time efficient, and more cost efficient than shopping with Extreme Couponing techniques.   I am sure there are a few that will disagree with me.   Coupons are only a small part of my food and toiletry budget strategy.

I just don’t really get it.