Archive for the ‘1 Organizing’ Category

Believe it or not, it’s not to early to start shopping for school supplies (and crafting supplies). In fact, one way I like to save money (to spend more on crafting supplies) is to look at the supply lists for all the grades of my daughters school and buy more items that are on sale for future grades. I also like to buy more items on sale that I know the school will be asking for as donations later such as ziplock bags and dry erase markers. My favorite places to shop are Target and Walgreens. Check your school’s website for it’s school supply list. Here’s a little article from Pocket Your Dollars on spending less on school supplies.  Here is the RDLS School Supplies List for my readers with students at RDLS.

Here are the school supply sales for the week of July 10-16
Staples sales

Target sales
Toys R Us is currently running a sale on backpacks and lunch bags. Buy a backpack and receive a lunch bag (value up to $9.99) free.
Walgreens sales – scroll down to the bottom of the page for school supply sales

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This post is more for myself than for my dear readers, but if it helps you out too, cool beans!  I really struggle with structure and routine yet I know that with little kids, it’s essential to a happy home.  So, I’m hoping to create and follow this routine and only change it if needed:

Sunday – church and family day
Monday – nature hike, cleaning, and laundry
Tuesday – sewing camp 10 a.m. – 12 noon
Wednesday – grocery shopping, board games
Thursday – craft camp 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Friday – field trip
Saturday – swimming and movie night

Each day I hope to follow this routine:
7 AM – up, breakfast, dress
7:30 AM – morning meeting, chores
8:30 AM – walk
9:00 AM – quiet time, reading
9:45 AM – snack
10:00 AM – daily activity
12:00 PM – lunch
12:30 – nap/quiet time, reading
2:00 PM – snack
2:30 PM – park
4:00 PM – play outside in yard or rainy day activities
5:00 – start dinner, media ok (computer or TV)
6:30 PM – dinner
7:00 PM – bath and bedtime
8:00 PM -lights out

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So, I’ve been trying to do the coupon thing for a couple of years and just recently got into the swing of doing it.  Through lots of time and effort I’ve finally started to save quite a bit of money.  I hope this entry will provide you some shortcuts to saving instead of the long path of self-teaching I survived.

Perhaps you’ve heard how your friends, relative, or neighbor is saving big bucks at the grocery store and you want in, but you don’t have the time, energy, or attention to get all caught up in the current couponing craze.  That’s ok because sometimes instead of the more you spend the more you save it becomes the more you save the more you spend.  Believe me, I’m learning this the hard way.  Couponing can be addictive especially if you have the time to spend surfing the net and shopping.

I’ve boiled down the basics of saving while you shop to keep it really easy so you literally can get the most bang for your buck with the least amount of time.  This is no formula for TLC’s Extreme Couponing but you gotta admit, those folks are just plain crazy, in need of an intervention, and something else to do with their time.  So, here’s my suggestions for saving using seven simple steps that should take you NO MORE than 20-30 minutes a week.

1. Tape an envelope to the fridge and stick grocery receipts in it for one month to get an idea of how much you’re spending.

2. Order the Sunday paper for the coupons.  Star Tribune or Pioneer Press. As soon as you get the Smart Source, Red Plum, and occasionally Proctor & Gamble coupon booklets, write the date on the front of each with a big black marker and file them somewhere you can quickly find. Don’t even look at the coupons or clip them at this point.

3. Choose one store to shop at. Don’t run around town going to every store to optimize their different sales. You’ll spend a ton of time prepping, shopping, and probably impulse buying.  Many stores have price matching policies.  Here is Target’s price matching policy.

I like Target because you can save 5% using their Red Card and can use BOTH manufacturer coupons AND Target’s ever changing online coupons at the same time. They also frequently have $5 and $10 gift card incentives.

I like Rainbow because of their BP Rewards program and save up our fuel perks until they are at 80 cents – $1.00 off per gallon then fill up my car and my husband’s (I believe it fills up to 20 gallons at the reduced price). We frequently save $15 to $16 in gas.  I also really like shopping at Rainbow because of their double coupon days (typically Wednesday and sometimes Saturdays).

I like Cub because they’ll take coupons up to 3 months past their expiration date and they frequently have great sales on meat products and produce.

4. Pull the ad for your favorite store and clip any coupons that are in the ad (usually Cub and Rainbow have a few coupons to clip, milk for instance usually has a coupon every other week).

5. This step requires discipline and is very important because it will keep you on track.  Set a timer for 20 minutes…no more, no less.  After 20 minutes you have to STOP and get off the internet.  Don’t worry, you will be missing out on lots of deals but your efficiency will pay off especially if time is short and you wish to cherish your time with your family, friends, or pets and not the ol’ internet.

6. Hop onto Pocket Your Dollars either Sunday night or Monday morning and click on your store of choice under “Shopping Lists”.  Carrie Rocha, the website’s creator, does all the coupon matching work for you.  Just look for the products you normally buy…this is important, if you stay away from clipping coupons other than items you typically buy, you’ll save more…otherwise here comes that IBM (Impulse Buying Monster).   She points you to online coupons notes which coupons can be found in your Sunday paper files using a date and code for each coupon booklet: SS (Smart Source), RP (Red Plum), and PG (Proctor & Gamble).  If you need to find a specific coupon, use their Coupon Database.

7. Cut out the coupons you plan to use for your next shopping trip. Stock up a bit on items that won’t quickly expire and then you won’t need to purchase them so frequently. Items I like to have on hand include;

A few more helpful hints as you get started:
-Set up a pantry if you have the space. I recently purchased a few shelves at Menard’s or Home Depot. One was $18 and the other two cost $9.99 each after a rebate offer.

-Stock up a bit on items that are on sale and won’t quickly expire so you won’t need to purchase them so frequently.  We’re not talking bomb shelters here just a bit extra to stretch out the time needed between those hefty shopping trips so your weekly trips are focused more on produce, dairy, and fresh baked items like bread.

-You could track how much you spend on each product using a free spreadsheet like this one, but it’s going to suck up a lot of your time.  Instead of tracking each item and how much you spend on it, I found it’s better to focus on 2-3 items you typically buy each time you go to the grocery store and observe what their prices are at their different sales prices. Pocket Your Dollars has a great Rock Bottom Prices list that can be a helpful guide to learning about prices.

-Don’t forget to keep sticking your receipts in the envelope in the fridge, at the end of each month, I bet you’ll be surprised to see how much your saving while not getting sucked into endless hours on the internet searching for deals or cutting coupons with your clippers.

-I’ve also started buying my kid’s clothes in the middle of January (winter clearance) and July (summer clearance).  Last fall I watched the Pocket Your Dollars pointers for school supplies and instead of buying just for the current year, I grabbed the school lists for the next few grades and stocked up on the really cheap items that were on sale for that week (ex. composition notebooks for 10 or 25 cents at Walgreens).  I’m learning to shop ahead and out of season to save the most for our family and hope that perhaps a few of my suggestions help you and your family out.

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A is for Art Hanger

I was inspired by Amanda Soule’s Handmade Home book to make this Art Hanger for Maddy’s play area.  I purchased a curtain from Goodwill and sewed four rows of bias tape. I used a tree branch we found on one of our nature hikes as a pole.  Tied it with brown ribbon at the top and used colorful clothes hangers to hang the actual art work and voila She has her own mini art gallery.

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O is for Organizing

I stole this organizing technique from my friend and neighbor Kiki. Using a plastic shoe organizer, I keep all our “going out into the world” supplies in the little shoe compartments hanging on the door next to our back door. I put…..socks and shoes (duh), and whatever season supplies are in use such as for summer gardening gloves, bugs spray, sunscreen, swimming goggles, bubbles, epi pens, sunglasses, garage door opener, and lately, I’ve been housing my coupon containers in their. In the winter, we store our hats and mittens in the compartments.

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