Saturday, 17 September 2011

Shopping Trip 1 for the week of Sept 16-23 with Coupon Matchups

You may have noticed there was no coupon match ups last week.

Remember how I had spent too much and last week was going to even out the budget?  Well, we went to dinner and bought cat food and more restaurants.  Unless I can find tiny bags of cat food to use my coupons with the mega bag $$$ seems to be the best deal still.  There was no room in the budget for groceries, couponing or deals.  To top it all off: we ended up $10 over budget again.

We don't have a newspaper subscription, but this week we started to get flyers from Flyer Source.  It's a company that delivers flyers if you don't have a subscription.  This lead the way to my first price matching at Walmart!  We shopped the stores in one area and price matched for the out of the way stores!

The housework may be slacking this week, but the budget can't anymore.  I checked the coupon match ups, flipped through the flyers and came up with a game plan for the week.

  1. We were invited to dinner at the in-laws Friday night, so we decided to skip rather than postpone restaurant night.
  2. We would like to start building a buffer for the next Shoppers 20x event.
  3. We would like to save up for new dry food storage bins for cat food, etc.
Some of my deals didn't work out the way I wanted.  I couldn't find products with peelie coupons for the life of me.  So, we decided to skip them instead of substituting.  I also had a coupon for a new flavour of Nature Valley bars, but we couldn't find them in stores.

So here, instead of my coupon matchups, is what we actually bought, how much we actually paid and which coupons I used.

Stop 1: Shoppers Drug Mart
  1. 2x Kashi Go Lean cereal.  Reg $6.49.  Flyer price $3.99.  Scanned at $2.99.  I let the cashier know I had been undercharged and he was ok with it.  Coupon $1.00 off.  OOP $3.98.  Savings 70%.

Stop 2: Rexall Pharma Plus
  1. 2x Coke 12 pack.  Reg $5.79. Sale 2 for $7.99.  Buy one get one free coupon.  OOP $5.04.  I think the coupon was entered as a $3.99 off instead of a free product so we were charged HST on both, but I didn't argue.  Savings 61%.

Stop 3: Walmart
  1. 2x Dawn dish soap.  Reg. $1.99.  Sale $1.37.  Coupon $1 WUB 2.
  2. 12x Clover Leaf flavoured tuna.  Reg. $1.19.  Sale $0.87.  Coupon $1 WUB 3.
  3. 5x Primo Pasta Sauce.  Reg. $1.00.  Price Match $0.88.
  4. 1x Chef Boyardee.  Reg. $1.59.  Price Match $0.99.  Coupon $0.30 off.
  5. 1x Puffs 4 pack double boxes.  Regular price we didn't note down but we're guessing it's about $10.  Sale $4.98.  Coupon $1 off.
  6. OOP $18.25
  7. Savings 50%.
Stop 4: Farm Boy
  1. 1x Bag of oranges $2.99
  2. 2x bunch of broccoli $0.88 each.
  3. 1x can of beans $1.29.
  4. 1x Activia Yogurt $2.99.
  5. 2x Organic Bartlett pears $1.26 for both
  6. 1x Sesame bagels $2.79
  7. 200g Montreal Smoked Meat $3.40
  8. 1x duck leg $5.25
  9. Bulk baby carrots $1.08
  10. White bread $1.50
  11. Trout fillet $6.90
  12. 4L Natrel Organic Milk $7.99.  Coupon $1.00 off.
  13. Total sales savings $5.79.  Total coupons $1.00.
  14. OOP $38.02
  15. Savings 15%.
Total Shopping Trip Figures
  1. Retail value $107.53
  2. Total savings from sales, price matches, coupons $42.24
  3. OOP $65.29
  4. Total savings 39%
  5. Weekly budget remaining $25
Anyways, that's how I shop.  DH came with me and door to door it took about an hour and a half.  Only about $12 of the savings was from coupons and the majority of the savings were from sale prices.

39% doesn't seem very impressive compared to some of the trips we've done.  But, this wasn't an extreme couponing stock up on certain items trip.  It was just a regular weekly grocery trip.  

For us the out of pocket amount was what counted most.  We've been going over budget and this week, therefore, we had less to spend.  Not only did we pick up the fresh food we'll need for the week, buy some premium items we may not usually purchase and stock up on some products we regularly use, but we still have $25 to spend this week.  Seeing as we have everything we need, I'm hoping we stay out of the stores for the rest of the week and carry the surplus forward.  We'll see.

10 Minute Cleaning Game Days 16-23

Ok.  I went away last weekend an have been busy working out of the house this week so I haven't been spending much time updating the blog.  To my dismay I also haven't been doing much cleaning either.

Day 16 & 17
My friend has a clean house.  She loves cleaning products an she loves to clean.  She is horrified if a guest finds a dust bunny.  I didn't find any.  Within this perfectly kept home is a sparsely filled basement, which drives her insane.  I thought it was wonderful.  She thought it was cluttered.  Unable to tackle the task on her own because it was bothering her so much another friend and I spent a couple hours re-storing items an prettying her emergency stockpile area.  When she saw what we had done she was so pleased she started throwing away the junk that had been bothering her.  This is not a usual 10 minute clean, but seeing as I was on vacation, I'm counting it.

Day 18
I spent my time cleaning up after the man weekend.  Enough said.

Day 19, 20
Turns out when I'm working out of the house an tired when I get home, I do not clean.  I suspected as much, but now I have quantifiable proof that I have shared with the masses.  I get lazy.

Day 21
I had a client today, so the 10 minute clean took about half an hour (let's call day 19 and 20 a wash, shall we?).

  • I cleared out the living room and dusted the surfaces.  Don't ask about where the stuff went.
  • Swept the main floor common areas.
  • Started a load of dishes and wiped down the kitchen counters.
  • Quickly wiped bathroom sink.
  • Maybe took a quick nap.
Day 22
Haven't done the clean yet.  Not really motivated.  I could promise I will, but that never turns out well.  The living room looks good, the kitchen is a bit sloppy, the bathroom is dirty, the bedroom is messy.  After one week of slacking on the game the house shows it.  I guess you'll have to wait for my next update to see if I broke down and did anything about the mess today.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Coupon Train is In!

Yesterday I received my first ever coupon train envelope in the mail.  I was so excited!  To recap, I gave away coupons that I didn't want or couldn't use and got back:

1x $1.00 WUB 3 Clover Leaf Flavoured Tuna
1x $1.00 off Babybel Light
1x $1.00 off Nature Valley Value Size
1x $0.30 off and Chef Boyardee product
1x $0.75 off Ritz Munchables
2x $1.00 off Kashi cereal
8x $2.00 off Iams dry cat food
3x $2.00 WUB 2 Ziplock
1x $0.75 off Crest Pro-Health
1x $3.00 WUB 2 Old Spice products (my most used coupon so far)
1x $1.00 off any Old Spice product
7x $1.00 Axe body wash
7x $1.00 off Royale 6-pack facial tissues
1x $0.50 off Puffs
1x $1.00 off Puffs (exc. single pack)
2x $1.00 off any Charmin product
2x $2.00 off Glad Outdoor Garbage bags
1x $1.00 WUB 2 Dawn products
1x $2.00 off Finish Quantum
1x $1 off Finish
1x $1.00 off Finish Jet-Dry
1x Ensure $3.00 cheque
1x Ensure $2.00 cheque

$63.00 of coupons on products I actually buy!

Plus, I got the postage for my return trip back because I was the first envelope the conductor received.

10 MInute Cleaning Game Day 14 & 15

So I've been doing a lot of my (real) work lately.  Yesterday I got to a wall where I needed to put my head on the desk and sleep.  I was trying to convince myself that I needed a break.  So I sat at my desk and asked myself, "well, what will you do on break?"  My mind flashed to the couch, the soft, comfortable couch.  I realized I should keep working instead of entering a multiple hour nap.  Instead I decided to get active and do my 10 minute clean.  It did help a bit too.  Here's what I got done.
  1. Gathered dirty laundry and started a load in the washer.
  2. Swept the bathroom and replaced the bathmat.
  3. Wiped down the kitchen counters and stove.
I'll be going away this weekend, so I wanted to get my cleaning out of the way early today too.   I managed to fit these tasks into my 10 minutes.

  1. Quick tidy of the basement.  Looks lived in, but should be good enough for man weekend here.
  2. Loaded and ran dishwasher.
  3. Started clearing off DH's dresser. 
There's still some junk on each of our dressers, but I can see wood on both!  When I started playing the 10 minute cleaning challenge, our room was a mess.  Whenever we had tidied before, a lot of junk was thrown in and the door was closed.  I really see it coming together now, and that's exciting for me.

The living room looked fine as is today.  Maybe a little dusty but could pass.  When I started the living room would accumulate so much junk! 

This seems to be working.  Throughout the day we're cleaning more we see issues, so there's less to pick up in the 10 minutes and I can use that time more and more to tackle cleaning issues that have been bugging me.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Deals are Breaking the Budget

As I've said before, DH and I have a weekly consumables budget of $100.  This consists of food, restaurants, health and beauty, pet supplies and home supplies like lightbulbs.  If I have a surplus, it gets carried forward to the next week.  Usually when the money's gone we stop spending.  Sometimes we do carry forward a deficit if we're in the mood to spoil ourselves.  This is usually followed by a pantry eating week to get back to positive.

We came into this week with an extra $15!  Our budget week starts on Friday, which just happens to be date night.  We decided to go to a chicken place with some friends for our Friday dinner out: $25.  Pretty good considering it wasn't fast food.  Then we got fast food for dessert.  DH has the coupon for this one, but he left it at home.  Let's call it $8.  So after restaurants, that leaves us with $82.  Surely this should be enough for groceries.

Knowing there were some deals I'd like this week, my groceries came to $35. It wasn't a full week of food, but I got enough proteins, starches, some fruit and a some snack. Our pantry will be able to fill in the holes and get us to next week.

Everything was going swimmingly.  Total spent so far of $68 leaving $32 in the budget for deals.  Here's where the wrench gets trhown into the mix.

I spent $7 at Loblaws on toilet paper deororant and body wash.  It was a great deal, so I rushed to pick these up.  Then I rushed back to spend an extra $4 on toilet paper and paper towel.  I really thought it was such a great deal!

This week there was also a Shoppers 20x the points day.  I hadn't planned on participating in one of these days before and I hadn't put a buffer in the budget for it.  Still, I wanted to try it out to see if I could actually save money.  I was moderately happy with my savings from the day; you may remember my post about my trip.  Even though the savings were good, I spent $56 out of pocket.  $15 will come back to me through a mail-in rebate, so $40 comes out of the budget.  I added to the stockpile, but $40 is a big chunk out of our budget!

Then I bought milk the next day $6.00 because we were out and discovered emergency frozen milk takes three days to thaw!

That makes a total of $57 on deals and poor planning.  So I started $15 ahead and ended $10 behind. Wow.  To top it off, I'm hoping to get in my coupon trains this week so I can pick up the deals I've yet to get!  Some body please stop me! 

I'm glad that we have a budget to limit what I can buy.  If not, I could fool myself into thinking I'm getting ahead by saving money even though I could be racking up debt.

Now that I've committed to trying out the Optimum points again to see if I can make it work I'll try to build up a buffer for these bonus days.   You can bet next week I won't be going over the $90 and may even have a surplus.  Sometimes a deal may not be the right deal for you.  I picked up a few of those this week.

10 Minute Cleaning Game Day 13

Lucky number 13!
So today I said no funny business and did my 10 minute clean first things this morning. 

Nothing too exciting got accomplished:
Made the bed, emptied dishwasher, loaded dishwasher, wiped down counters and stove, scrubbed sink. 

It didn't add much to my morning and I smile when I walk into the kitchen now!

Usually I do a bit of this each morning and do my 10 minutes later.  This morning I said, hey!  I'm already 4 minutes in!  Let's just take this a couple steps forward and get a few more things done!

We did load the dishwasher etc. after dinner last night, but everything didn't fit.  Then we made chai tea, so there were more dishes.  Ideally the kitchen would be tidied and cleaned each night after dinner before moving onto TV.  We'll see if that habit develops...

Monday, 5 September 2011

10 Minute Cleaning Game Day 12

Happy Labour Day!

With DH home today and this being a bonus day, the cleaning worked out a bit different than usual.  Seeing me clean, DH kept taking over and forcing me back to my real work (I usually work best on Sunday nights (or Mondays for long weekends) a habit carried over from my schooling years).  So, I did get 10 minutes of cleaning in today, but DH did much more!  What a fun turn of events!

Today I helped tidy the basement man den, kitchen, dishes, etc.  DH probably put an hour into organizing the basement alone.  What a sweetie!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

10 Minute Cleaning Game Day 11

Today I was mostly picking up from our get together last night.  It turned into another 15 minute clean (I get so into it!)

I unloaded the dishwasher and filled and ran it with the rest of the dishes from yesterday.  Put away spices and items that migrated to the kitchen.

Quick tidy of the livingroom.

Made bed and put away dirty laundry.

House now back to an almost presentable state.

50th Post! Treated Myself to a Technorati Submission

50th Post!

I'm impressed that I have made it this far.  I've tried blogging in the past and always failed to get to five posts!  I'd like to thank everyone who has visited my site.  Especially everyone from and  I probably wouldn't have been motivated to continue without you all finding me.

To celebrate this milestone, I've submitted my site to Technorati.  It was a bit intimidating for me.  But, I'm glad I had the courage to do it!  Hopefully I'll be added to Technorati by my 100th post.

Again, thank you everyone.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

10 Minute Cleaning Game Day 10

So today is the first day when I actually CLEANED!

We're having people over tonight but it's turned out to be a smaller group than expected.  The living room is tidy and the kitchen has been cleared out.  The basement looks lived in but not a disaster.  The basement bathroom was not as acceptable.

In 15 minutes (I know I just got carried away!) I:
  1. Cleaned the toilet (so much nicer)
  2. Washed the sink, and cabinet
  3. Shined the faucet
  4. Cleaned the mirror
  5. Dusted the light fixtures (tiny spiders had taken over!)
  6. Swept the floor in the bathroom
  7. Swept the stairs and landing to the basement.
The shower will be another day.  The main floor bathroom isn't in disaster mode yet, so it can wait too.  Usually parties end up in the Man Den in the basement and I cringe thinking they're using that bathroom so, getting even this part of the bathroom done has been a big relief.

What Is the Shoppers Optimum Points Program?

So I generally think things at Shoppers Drug Mart are over priced.  I used to use the program on the 20x the points days but I gave that up when I started using flyers to track the deals.  Now that I'm also using coupons, I've decided to give it another shot.  Here are the basics of the program.

What is it?
The Shoppers Optimum Points program is a loyalty program offered by Shoppers Drug Mart free to customers.  Points are earned on each purchase and can be redeemed once set levels are reached to pay for a portion or all of your purchases.

How Many Points do you Earn?
You earn 10 points for each dollar (rounded down) spent.  Shoppers Drug Mart has special days when you can earn 20 times the points or 200 points per dollar spent if you spend $50.  Sometimes it also offers 10x the points on fragrances and beauty or other specific items. 

What are Bonus Points
Product with bonus points will give you extra bonus Shoppers Optimum Points when you buy them.

What are they Worth?
8,000 points = $10
22,000 points = $30
38,000 = $60
50,000 = $85
95,000 = $170
Shoppers also has special days when you can redeem at the higher levels for even more money off your purchase!

If I Redeem More than the Price of my Purchase Do I Get the Excess Back?
Nope, you would lose any extras in this case.  You could choose to redeem at a lower level in this case.

Shoppers Drug Mart Sep 3, 2011 20x Optimum Points Purchase

I haven't done a 20x the points event at Shoppers Drug Mart for a while.  To me, everything in the store is about 30% over priced, so the program cancels itself out.  Well, this was the first 20x the points day since I started this blog so I figured I'd give it a shot.  I did quite a bit of planning only to get a little flustered at the store and not follow through completely. 

At the cash the cashier, manager and other cashier were adamant that I needed $50 after coupons to get the points.  I got home and calculated my receipt and only the free product coupon affected the points balance.  So now I know that even if my out of pocket is $1, if the total before tax and coupons i'll $50 I'll get the points.

Some of my deals did not pan out as well as I'd hoped. 
  1. I expected to get a free toothbrush.  The cost was $5.49 but the free product coupon only went up to $4.99 so I had to pay the difference. 
  2. My mail in rebate will only cover up to $14.99 on the purchase of a Lysol No-Touch Hand Soap System and it was priced at $15.99 so I have to pay a little extra there.  
  3. The selection of Febreeze sprays didn't have the type I was looking for (the odor eliminator one). 
  4. Lastly, I forgot to buy peanut butter.  Thankfully I have a raincheck at Zellers for a cheaper price anyway.
Overall DH was impressed with my haul.  Here's a (dark, it's going to rain today) picture of my purchase:

5x Cheerios 1.99*5=$9.95
2x Lays Chips (we're having people over today) $1.99*2=$3.98
1x SDM Men's Pack $8.99
1x Lysol No-Touch Hand Soap System $15.99-MIR only up to $14.99=1.00
1x Honey Bunches of Oats $2.49 - $1.00 = $1.50
3x Crest Vivid White Toothpaste $1.77*3=$5.31 + 1000 Bonus Points
1x Oral B Vivid White Toothbrush $5.49 - $4.99 =$0.49 free WUB 2 Crest Vivid White toothpastes
3x Febreeze Air Effects $2.99 - $4WUB3 = $4.97
Subtotal after coupons $51.28
Total $56.97
"You have saved $35.66" ($10 of coupons, so regular cost of $82.63)
- MIR 14.99*1.13=16.94
- 12200 Points earned worth $15.25 at lowest level rate
Net OOP = $24.78
Savings of $70%

So overally I saved more than the 30% I think they're overpriced, so I should be happy.  I think next time knowing for sure that coupons do not affect the $50 total and I've got more coupons on hand I'll be able to get a better deal.

So, today wasn't the perfect day for me, but I am kinda excited for the next 20x the points event now. 

Friday, 2 September 2011

10 Minute Cleaning Game Day 9

So last night when we had some down time while dinner was cooking, DH did the rearranging and got the new dishes stored nicely in the buffet.  This wouldn't have happened unless they were already unpacked, so I was pleased with myself for the way I spent my time.

For Day 9 the cleaning got done later rather than earlier in the day.  Today I managed to:
  1. Tidy the living room putting everything away
  2. Remove some basement items from the bedroom and clear off more of the dresser tops
  3. Load and run the dish washer
On top of that, the beds were made, clothes put away and there was general tidying being done as the day went on.  Things are starting to automate themselves.  DH has commented that the living room has been looking great lately and I'm pleased as punch that he's noticed.  It was after he'd heard about my new game that he pitched in yesterday and I like that he's on board with me for this one.  He usually tries to chip in as much as he can and often he even does more around the house than I do.  Sweetie.

My First Brag! Loblaws Cottonelle, Old Spice and Zest at 85% off!

Today I'm going to post my first picture, my first brag, and my first Loblaws praise.

For weeks I've been trying to snag the Cottonelle deal at Shoppers at $4.99.  I've got rain checks and visited stores for about 3 weeks now.  Each time, there was no stock.  I walked into the Loblaws today and there was a wall of Cottonelle!  Each of the three "ultra" types were out on display.  I saw similar displays throughout the store.  Finally!

I decided to check out at the self check out lanes.  All 6 were up and running, so if there was a problem, they could go to another lane.  I've heard if you use coupons over $10 that they have to involve customer service and it can get dicey. 

I approached the man on duty and informed him I had more than $10 in coupons.  He looked a little confused at my confession and just told me to bring him my coupons.  So I scanned my items and entered my coupon amounts.  The computer slowed down a bit after my first few, so I suspect the guy on duty was approving them when they popped up on his screen or something of the sort.  When I was finished, I brought my coupons over to the guy and he got to work matching them up.  I went back to my station, packed away my coupon folder and my transaction was ready for payment.  So smooth!

If I had more coupons I may choose to use a regular lane because he has 5 other lanes to take care of, but for this size transaction I would do everything the same.

Anyways, here's what I bought:

  1. 4x Old Spice 92g Sticks (I had only been able to buy the smaller size when they were on sale at the Rexall). 
    • Regular $3.49 (flyer says save at least $1.50, so I'll take the low estimate here)
    • Sale price of $1.99
    • $3 WUB 2 coupon
    • $0.49 each!
    • Savings of 86%
  2. 1x 532ml bottle of Zest body wash
    • Reg. $4.99 (flyer says save at least $2, so I'll take the low estimate here)
    • Sale price of $2.99
    • $2 off coupon
    • $0.99 each
    • Savings of 80%
  3. 2x Cottonelle Clean Care 12 pack double roll
    • Reg. $12.99
    • Sale price of $3.99
    • $3 off coupon
    • $0.99 each
    • Savings of 92%
Total regular cost of the items plus taxes: $50.77
Total out of pocket for the trip: $7.45
Total savings: 85%

That savings looks awesome!  It's a bit deceiving for me because I would never pay $13 for a pack of toilet paper that size, or full price for deodorant or body wash, even if I wasn't couponing.  But if someone never watched the sales and just bought things when they needed them, they would be paying the full price for these items.

Well done me!  Brag!

Coupon Matchup for the week of Sep 2 - 8

There's a bit of fun this week in the flyers with this Saturday being a 20x the Shopper's Optimum Points Day.  I'll probably do a post on this later.  For now, here are the matchups I think are a great deal:

Cottonelle 12 double pack: Loblaws $3.99 - $3.00 ( = $0.99 (Fri - Sun only)
Old Spice Deodorant: Loblaws $1.99 - $3WUB2 (insert) = $0.49
Zest Body Wash: Loblaws $2.99 - $2 (insert) = $0.99
Royale 6PK Facial Tissues: $3.97 - $1.00 ( = $2.97
Febreeze Air Effects: Shoppers Drug Mart or Super Store $2.99 - $4WUB3 = $1.66

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Article: Debt Free by Thirty: Ways to Get Excited About Paying Off Debt

Even though DH and I pay off our consumer debt each month, I'm always on the lookout for budgeting tips.  Here's an article with tips on getting excited about paying off your debt, which I think would be useful for sticking to your budget or living within your means as well.

What I'm Doing to Take Advantage of the Summer Left

Where has the summer gone?  It's back to school time already!  Even though I'm not in school now and don't plan on being back in school, September back to school season has stayed with me.  The leaves have already started changing here and DH says he saw a dew on his morning walk this week.  This hit me today so I decided to seize the day!  A little bit.

I just sat out front to continue my internet addiction but was getting a poor signal.  So I decided to go lay in the hammock and surf from the back yard.  When I got there I noticed more ragweed for me to pull.  We're having guests for a BBQ on Saturday and DH has allergies, so I want him to be able to join in the party.  I took a quick relax in the hammock after realizing there would be too much glare to use my laptop in the sun.  So now I'm back on the couch.

But, I went outside today and it feels great. 

Look at the Freebies I got in the Mail Today!

Today was an awesome mail day!

1.  DH got his coupon for a free birthdya beverage from Starbucks.  He'll be excited when he gets home.

2.  I got my coupon for a free carton of lactose free cream from Natrel. 

3.  I got my coupon for a free bag of Ruffles Spicy Ketchup chips from Mac's!

I also got a few more coupons I ordered from the online site.

While the mailman came, I was across the street helping a neighbour use his computer.  He gave me a box of chocolates (he says they give him acne) and let me look through his recycling bin (strange request I know.  It was garbage day and he still had his bin by the house).  I managed to find the McDonald's coupon booklet, a Harvey's coupon page, the KFC coupon pamplet and a Nando's coupon page (Afro-Portuguese).  They get a paper without inserts, so no luck there, but not a bad visit I'd say!

10 Minute Cleaning Game Day 8

Today's post isn't too impressive.  I moved back upstairs to the livingroom today.  We have a habit of bringing thigs home and leaving them in the livingroom.

This has been a month of lots of moves for our family.  Yesterday we visited our aunt and uncle's (my in-laws) to pick up some linens and dishes they won't need once they downsize.  We got home and left everything packed right by the door.

Today I unpacked all the dishes and moved the linens (still packed) to our room.  That is all.

Not very impressive I know.  Especially since the dishes are now out but just unpacked. There needs to be quite a bit of movement to fit the new set in the hutch or cabinets, so this will have to be part of another 10 minute day.

On the plus side, the bed got made, dirty laundry ended up in the basket, the dishwasher got emptied and the livingroom still looks not too bad.  These 10 minutes are adding up.  Not only is the cleanliness carrying over, but little habits are starting to re-form too.