Thursday, November 26, 2009

Black Friday 2009 CVS

I'm not going crazy this year. My objective: use 2 transactions of $5 each for the Chase card, so that we get $10 cash back.

So, we got
Complete Contact Solution
Bic Soleil
Colgate toothpaste
Vaseline Sheer Infusion

and paid $2.67 (after the cash back)

Essentially, that's the price of 4 energy-saving bulbs. WOH!
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Monday, November 23, 2009

Black Friday Drugstore Deals

Thinking of doing Black Friday drugstore deals?

Last year we did and earned $18.21 at CVS and Rite Aid. This year we might not be as crazy. But we do need to "blink" our Chase card 2 more times at CVS to earn $10 (that'll give us a net $10 earning actually) So we might buy a couple things.

I'm not crazy about Wags' deals as usual cos they give RR which I utterly don't like.

So, take a look and see if it's worth for you to make some runs! =)

Great diaper deals Rite Aid & CVS

Here's our loot yesterday.

2 packs Jumbo Huggies, $18.99, 2 $2 MQ
Wipes, $6.99, $0.75 MQ
Complete Contact solution, $8.99

$5/30 coupon
ECBs earned: $5 + $8.99
Rebate (Caregivers' Market Place): $1.50

Total: $10.35 (including tax)

Rite Aid
1 big pack Huggies, $19.99 (I had a $2 coupon which the cashier didn't scan!! She took it...$2 lost...)
1 pack Always Infinity pads, $5.29 (I had a free coupon for this from one of the samples I requested)

$5/25 coupon
Rebate: $5 (Gift of savings)

Total: $10.02

So...if I buy the wipes at $0.01 each (which is a GREAT deal already), the diapers (144 pieces of them) would have cost me $18.21.

That's $0.12 per dipe (Size 4). Pretty good deal!! (normal cost that would have been $0.25 to $0.30 or something?)

Rite Aid should have a even better deal, but the rest of the SCR (FAR) items were not usual...

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Grocery/Drugstore Plan Week Nov 19, 22

Here're the deals I may think about this week

2 packs Huggies Jumbo, $18.99 MQ $2 here (try and see if it works for you) or $3 Pure and Natural here
1 pack dipe $6.99, MQ $0.75 (mailer)
Complete Multi purpose solution, 8.99

Coupons: $5/30 here (after you completed the quiz)
ECB: 5 + 8.99
Caregivers' Marketplace rebate: $1.50
Total Coupons: $4.75 (or if you use Pure and Natural, $6.75)

FOR ME (I don't have coupons anymore for Huggies)'ll be $13.73 for everything.
That's around $4.30 per pack of dipe I guess (considering $5 for wipe). Not bad. If you have coupons, it'll be a MUCH better deal!

Rite Aid

Benevia Nutrition Drinks, $7.99, $5 MQ here (sign up for free) but it's for "BALANCED Drink" I have no idea if they are the same or not, SCR $7.99
Huggies Big Pack diapers, $19.99, $2 coupon (I printed somewhere for a box)
MQ $5/25 here
Super Day/Night Colon Cleanse, 17.99, SCR 17.99
Gift of savings (YES it's HERE AGAIN!! From Nov 22-Dec 24): $10

You need to top up some amount to $51 for the gift of savings to be $10 (I have free Luvs coupon to use) and I can use up my $20 GOS from last time, yeh!

Final price: -$0.50 for all of the above. That's REAL good. Now, let's HOPE we have stock!!

Stop and Shop
Buy $20 worth of Pepperidge Farm product or Campbell's and get $5 off next order
Find different coupons here to match what you'll like to buy

Other than that it's an ok week for SnS

Of course, look out for Black Friday Deals. I'm OK with them this year and I might skip them.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Frugal Living: 10 ways we saved hundreds

So, the foundational post was said. And now onto how WE (again, there are TONS of other ways) saved hundreds of dollars every month.

I know there are TONS of blogs out there that talk about this. I read some of them and mostly I won't have the time to and I feel most of them are MUCH MUCH more in depth and comprehensive than what I can offer.

Here is just a post on what WE did as a family and also in the context of the expensive NYC living.

1. Budgetting
I think this is the most important way how we save. We make sure we have a budget and we track them. Ok, we have a budget. We need more work on tracking. Still, we are able to do a financial report when we need to.

Right now, we use about $60 (our budget is a little higher) on the average per week for grocery and maybe less than $50 for household?

2. Planning ahead/Stocking up
We use the stocking up mentality. Buy when the value is good so that we don't need to pay for them at usual price when needed. We have ample stock of toothbrushes, toothpastes, shampoo, soap, razors, personal items, cereal, diapers and wipes. Most of these (except diapers, wipes and sometimes cereal) we get them for free/earn.

We also plan ahead for gifts. We buy them when good deals come. So it's good to have a gift list on hand to think about gifts. For eg, I bought my Christmas gifts for friends in the beginning of this year!

3. Limit/delay purchases
One BIG way we learnt to save was to limit or delay purchases. We often wait to see if there are deals. or coupons. or sales. Or to see if we REALLY do need what we wanted to buy. This is a great way to make sure the things that come into our home have their uses.

4. Coupons/coupon codes

Manufacturers' coupons
You can clip them from newspapers (Sun), the circulars that come on Wed/Thu (in some NYC areas) and also get them from samples you ordered online. Sometimes you see them along the aisles in supermarkets.

Some supermarkets (like Stop and Shop here) double coupons. Which means as long as I use a coupon under a dollar in SnS (e.g. $0.75) they take off $1.50. They often have dollar double days which is real yummy.

Sign up at the websites of products you use (like Huggies, Pampers, etc) and you get sent coupons too.

Internet Manufacturers' coupons
My favorite site:
or smartsource
or you just get the links from the kind souls who link them in their frugal blogs.

Usually you can print 2 per computer. DO NOT photocopy cos they have unique codes.

Not every store takes IP. So, ask first.

Store coupons
Many stores have their own coupons. E.g. target, or CVS (printed on the receipts) and Walgreens (on their ads or booklets) Usually you can stack them with manufacturers' coupons. The usual practice: Use MQ (Manufacturers' coupons) first, then store.

Coupon codes
You can often search for coupon codes if you're buying things online. These help a lot!

It is wise to always check on coupon policies before using them.

5. Menu planning/grocery lists
To start off, we have to plan menu (plan every meal if possible). For me, I plan dinners (lunch are usually leftovers). This will turn into grocery lists.

This prevents impulse buying.

What I do every week is, on Wed the circulars come, I browse them (esp Stop and Shop and the drugstores) and the coupons that come with them. Then I plan my meals according to the sale items, the things left in my fridge and other things (like what my hubby is craving for). The I write the grocery list to-buy. On Friday when the sale week begins darling hubby takes my list and coupons and makes a grocery run.

6. Drugstore Runs
The drugstore runs were what started us off on this journey. Never knew they can be so "lucrative". Here are some intro to how things work in these drugstores and how we do it in NYC.

We are at a point I don't usually buy things (even if they are free) unless they earn. (Or unless we need them of course). Yes we actually get TONS of things FREE.

The frugal community online has given me SO much in this. They often write about the deals so that it's easy for me to look and follow.

My favorite site is moneysavingmom. I love her values and I trust her deals.

I also go to hotcouponworld to preview deals/coupons. This is a great forum!


This is possibly my favorite store. They are great with coupons and I like the way ECBs are used.

Basic idea: Buy things from CVS that give ECBs (almost like CVS cash). Use the ECBs earned for next purchases. Whenever possible, use a $/$$ coupon (eg $5 off $20). Stack with MQs and get more returns.

Read Moneysavingmom's CVS 101
here. She gives a clear teaching on it.

Rite Aid
I like Rite Aid, cos they use a rebate system. You pay first and they pay you back in a form of check. But our Rite Aid are often poorly stocked.

Basic idea: Buy things from RA that gives SCR (Single Check Rebate) and use MQ whenever possible. RA has been giving out $/$$ coupons which are GREAT.

RA are not exactly supposed to take IP (internet coupons), but I think it depends on cashier/store. Mine does.

This has become my least favorite store because I don't like the Register Reward (RR) system.

Basic idea: Buy things from Walgreens that gives RRs (like Walgreens coupons). Use ONE RR in next transaction, but it counts as ONE MQ.

Read Moneysavingmom's Walgreens 101

7. Swagbucks
On top of saving (reducing expenses), we are earning through very easy means. (easy not meaning we earn a lot, but meaning it does not take too much of our time)

Our favorite at the moment is Swagbucks. You search the web through SB every day and most of the time you can get at least 1 buck. Accumulate 45 and you can snag an Amazon $5 giftcard. This is VERY significant if you think of the things you can buy from Amazon. From gifts to books... And often Amazon has free shipping after $25.

I really don't spend over 5 mins everyday on this and I think it's a GREAT way to earn a little money but makes a huge difference when you buy things you usually need to.

Sign up

8. Ebates
When you buy things online, always look out for a middle man by which you go through so that you earn some cash backs (maybe like 3% or 5%?). There are lots of them. I stick with eBates cos it's easier to accumulate through one site instead of multiple. You get sign up bonuses. After you accumulate $5 they send you the money (I opt for paypal so it's easier)

9. Free samples, instant wins, giveaways
I sign up for free samples we would need at our household. They often come with coupons so they are great. But always remember, sign up for a "spamable" email account first and use that for all these.

I also do some instant wins (like
Huggies) but I don't do it A LOT cos it wastes time.

Last thing we do here are giveaways. In the frugal blogs every week there will be giveaway lists (from baby items to coupons). You can browse through them and sign up for the ones you think your family need. I used to do this quite a lot, but now I only signed up maybe once a month or when I have more time on hand. But I won quite a bit of giveaways!!

10. Eat out deals
There are often eat out deals (restaurant deals, birthday deals) so we still are able to have some eat out! We got a couple of certs (they are often $2 for a $25 cert), which means you spent about $15 for a really good meal for 2 (or more) with the certs.

Frugal living: the lessons I learnt

This blogpost comes about because more of my friends in church are starting drugstore-deals and wanting to learn more about frugal living. I'm absolutely fired up about this because I believe good money management is a blessing to the breadwinner (mostly husbands in this case) and will teach us about contented living.

Since Mission R.I.C.E started last August, these are the biggest lessons I have learnt from our attempt at frugal living.

1. Focus: Relationships over Frugality!

In the beginning, it is SO easy to get overboard and carried away. With the wonderful resources of the frugal blogs, we can get SOOOOO many deals, save SOOOO much money and get TONS of freebies. I remembered when I was quite hooked, reading and searching. I remembered when I was quite affected, utterly crushed with every "bad deal" (no stock? won't take coupon? didn't calculate right?). I remembered when I was quite agitated, wanting the family move fast/change schedule so that we can do our "runs"!

Then I realize, what is the point of frugality (and saving money FOR the family) when I'm "away" from the family? So, God helped me to let deals go (even the REALLY good ones), and relax when deals don't turn out or stocks are gone. In return we had a more balanced family life. My children have more of my time and my hubby doesn't HAVE to do the runs every week. And since we're saving, we also do not forget to give and to celebrate (there are many frugal ways to celebrate, but if there are some special things we really love to do as a family, I'll think it's still worth some splurging!)

Now I clip coupons (only from the Wed circulars and only the ones I think I might need) and I don't even organize them (egad!). Lots of time saved.

Now I do the "runs" maybe once or at most twice a month?

I wrote another blog here before about this.

2. Benefit: Training over Results

Discipline is more important. True, saving hundreds of grocery/household money and thus increasing savings is so captivating. But I also realize the discipline of menu-planning, grocery list-writing, thinking through every purchases is better! Such discipline trains my character than my pocket.

Process is more important. In fact, one of the greatest phrases I learnt about money-management and kids was "don't say 'we can't afford it' or 'it's too expensive for us'". Cos that means IF you can afford it one day, you can buy it. Then the child has the wrong teaching: earn as much as I can so that I can "afford". But say more "we don't need this. or this is not of good value"

Integrity is more important. I learnt through some hard lessons that it's better to "lose" some money than lose your integrity. If the deal doesn't smell right, or the coupon is not legitimate, DON'T go near it.

3. Emphasis: Values over Deals

It's not about getting the deals. It's about the lifestyle change. The willingness to live on less and to give up more. We may not get the snacks/peripherals/eat outs as much as we used to (then again, we had more potato chips/cereal than before! haha), but we can really save and still eat great food. We may not be able to get that particular shampoo we dearly love, but we get to choose from 5 different other brands that come free. When mentality/values are altered, then we really can make a significant financial difference.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Stop and Shop deals

This week the deals are kinda slow.

But you can possibly still catch the Kleenex deal or the Huggies deal at Walgreens before tomorrow ends.

Also at target, you can get their own UP wipes for $0.54 per pack (40 wipes). Not bad a deal.
It's $1.54 here in my store, get $1 off coupon here (The good part is you can print as many as you like, but go slow at the store, remember to leave some wipes for others!) This promotion ends 12/5 so take your time.

The only deals I see worth mentioning are the Stop and Shop deals

Daisy Sour Cream, $1.50, $0.60 MQ (that will double) with the SS insert this week
Final Price: $0.30 each

Dannon Yogurt, 10 for $4, $1 MQ (inserts from before)
Final Price: $0.30 each (for 10)

Birds' Eye Frozen Veg, $1, $0.50 for 2 MQ (this week's insert)
Final Price: $0.50 each

Multigrain Cheerios will be free again! Go here for the blogpost

Maybe everyone's waiting for the Black Friday deals! =)

OH! next week, starting 11/22, Huggies will be 5 ECB with purchase of $20 Huggies products at CVS. Good for keeping those coupons!

Monday, November 9, 2009

50 FREE 4X8 or 5X7 photocards shipped

Go to Freebies 4 Mom's blog (I do like her blog and check it often) and get a great code for 50 FREE 4X8 or 5X7 photocards by Fujifilm, shipping included!!

It does not expire until end of Nov, so you have lots of time to design a Christmas card!

I have my baby announcement cards now! YEH!!