Wednesday, May 25, 2011


    Have you heard of Groupon?  What a brilliant idea and a great way for us to save money!  With so many people who have been affected by the state of our economy in some way, Groupon is a great resource for entertainment.  Groupon was started in 1998 and 13 years later is thriving in 500 markets and 44 countries.  Groupon is a website you can subscribe to for free.  The website features great, daily deals for various businesses in your city.  Here in Phoenix, I have seen restaurant deals, shopping deals, pumpkin farm deals, spa deals, yoga deals, cabin deals, and just this weekend my mom purchased a Groupon for her favorite crafting shop.  She bought $20 worth of supplies or classes for $10...what a deal?! 
   Groupon uses collective buying power to bargain with business by committing a certain number of customers to the company in exchange for a deep discount.  The website will send you a daily email listing the daily deal and you have the option to buy it right then.  You do not have to use the Groupon that day, but will be sent an email with the details of how to redeem your purchase.  Signing up for the emails does not require a commitment, so do not wait, you may find your new, favorite restaurant on Groupon!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

More on Extreme Couponing

     Happy Tuesday!!  I hope you had a wonderful weekend.  Mine was on the not so wonderful side, a leak in the house requiring a great deal of deconstruction that is still not done, then two kids with stomach flu to top it off!  There is nothing like a little coupon therapy to make things better!  :)
     Interest in couponing has really exploded because of the show Extreme Couponing, so I thought I would give a few thoughts on methods I have tried and why I do my couponing the way I do.  Every Wednesday night I am motivated to have a huge coupon trip because of the show and I start to pull out all my coupons, open my laptop and start making lists.  As you know I am a member of a website called Coupon Sense and have been for about three years.  I have saved significant amounts of money using the site, however, I have never had a $700 grocery trip cost me $5.00.  I have consistently saved over 70%, but seeing those numbers on the TV make me hungry for bigger savings.
     Last week I decided to surf the net for other blogs that have coupon matchups for the stores I shop at and see if I could save more than ever.  Well, I spent about two hours surfing sites, making lists and another hour pulling coupons (in random order) for this great trip.  At first I thought I was going to really do well this way, but in the end, I saved 66%...what a disappointment.
     What I did discover is that Coupon Sense is the best site for me.  Yes, I pay for it, but the time I save is huge.  I do not have 30 or 40 hours to spend on couponing like the people on the show and sitting for hours clipping coupons and organizing them in a binder, then surfing multiple sites is just not for me.  Coupon Sense has me file whole packets of newspaper coupons by week with a unique numbering system, it has an incredibly user friendly database where I can search and sort by item, price, store or coupon, I can click on the items I want and print "my" handwriting anything.  I then print my list and at the end there is an incredible list of the coupons I need and they are listed in order!  I can make a list and pull coupons in about 30 minutes and shop my favorite store in about 30 minutes!  Half the time the other method took me.  Will I have a huge trip that takes me 3 hours to check out?  Maybe not, but I am not sure I care.  I have had trips where I save 91% on about 15 items...I think maybe that is just good enough for me!  Here is my latest trip to Fry's!

$43.17 spent and $83.52 saved for a percentage of 66% and time saved!

    I do not have a magic formula for using coupons, I simply use the resources available to me and take a little time!  I currently have more body wash than I need (will be donating this week), razors, 12 bottles of laundry detergent, shampoo, conditioner, cereal, pasta, pasta sauce all that I got for free...not two years worth, but heck, it only took me two months to get this...why do I need two years worth?
     To learn more about Coupon Sense or sign up for a trial membership send me an email directly to (not through this blog I do not seem to get them) or check out my blog post  The one tip I will give you is extreme couponing is much easier when you get multiple sets of coupons.  I can help you get multiple Sunday papers delivered to your house, just send me an email to!  Happy Couponing!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Weekend Plans 5/20-5/22

     Here we are approaching the weekend again and I have found a few low cost things to do.  Since the weather is still going to be nice here in Phoenix, we certainly need to take advantage of it!

Astronomy Night:  Friday night 7:30 Vistancia.  Tony Laconte will take participants on a guided walk on the Discovery Trail to the solar garden where he will give a presentation on the constellations and some Native American folklore and Greek mythology behind the stars' stories.  Check out for more information!

Friends of Avondale Libraries Book Sale:  Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m - 4:30 p.m. at the Avondale Civic Center Library.  Admission is free, book prices vary.

Be Green and Be Healthy Fair:  Saturday, 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the Surprise Recreation Campus at 15960 N bullard Ave, 623-222-2000.  Guests can have a blood-pressure check, meet with health professionals, get a five minute massage and learn how to conserve resources.  Admission is free, check out

Despicable Me:  There are two places you can take your family to see this movie for free this weekend.  You can head over to Westgate City Center on Friday where a rep from the Arizona Challenger Space Center will host science demonstrations, space simulations and astronaut mascot meet-and-greets before the movie starts at 7:30 p.m.  Or, head out to Surprise Stadium and bring blankets and pillows and stretch out on the lawn to watch the movie at 6:30 p.m.  Admission is free to both, concessions available at Surprise.  No lawn chairs or ice chests will be allowed at the Surprise Stadium.

International Museum Day:  Friday, May 19th, check out the various museums in the Valley for discounts and special events!

    If none of these events sound fun to you, find a park and have a picnic, or head up a Phoenix mountain for a hike.  Enjoy this unusual May weather!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

There's Nothing Like Homemade Bread

     One of the things I am learning through this crazy economy is that many tasks that used to be a regular part of family life are coming back.  Without so much money to go, go, go, families are rethinking everything and making some old things new again.  Many people are now fixing broken things instead of throwing them away and buying new things, carpooling, family game nights, hand me downs, etc.  I was excited this weekend to try out a new bread recipe and start baking my own bread each week.
     This month I am trying to get my grocery bill down to $200 and I am not doing too bad.  Here it is halfway through the month and I have only spent $128.  I have two weeks left, so that leaves me $35 each week.  I think I just might do it.  Bread, as you probably know, costs about $2.50 a loaf, but baking my own will only cost about $.37 a loaf, that is a pretty decent savings for the month.  I, of course, needed a very easy bread recipe and assumed I would be using that dusty bread machine sitting in my laundry room.  However, in my search for an easy recipe, I found this wonderful video:


      I first loved this video because of her accent, that made making the bread seem all the more fun.   I decided I could probably do this.  I had to look up the conversion of grams of flour to cups and found that 600 grams of bread flour is about 4 1/3 cups.  I also had to look up what an "airing cupboard" is and found out it is the closet where the furnace is located.  So, I used my laundry room.  There is no a/c vent in there and being in Phoenix, it is better than furnace for rising bread.  So, Saturday morning my oldest daughter and I began our bread making process...I do not have a mixer like the video, so I had to do it all by hand, but I figured it was a small workout for my arms.  Putting the dough together took about 10 minutes, we put it in the loaf pan, put a towel over it and put it in the laundry room.  An hour later, this is what we found:

We put it in the oven for 30 minutes and WOW!

     It was hot and sooo tasty.  My brother happened to stop by and I gave him a piece with butter on it, his assessment?  "That's better than anything I have bought from the store."  Woo Hoo!!!  It was so easy and delicious and it only cost about 20 minutes of my day and $.37.  The best benefit, I know exactly what is in chemicals or ingredients I cannot pronounce and it made me think of my Grandma Sally.  She always had bread rising in the back room.  This is definitely one of my favorite "old things made new".  I plan to get whole wheat bread flour and try some other recipes with different flavors, honey, garlic, southwest seasoning...the possibilities are endless.  Here's the recipe:

4 1/3 C Bread Flour
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Soft Brown Sugar (helps the yeast)
1 packet of dry yeast (7 grams)
400 ml of warm water
3 tbsp of melted butter

Mix flour and half the water, add other ingredients, slowly add remaining water until all flour is off bowl and dough has a not too sticky texture, knead for five minutes, put in loaf pan.  If in a warm climate or you can use your laundry room, allow it to rise for 1 hour, if a cold climate, 3 hours.  Bake at 400 for 30 minutes.  Mmm, mmm, good!!

Sunday, May 15, 2011


     Hello everyone, I am sorry I have not posted in awhile.  Blogger was down for a few days and I could not sign on to post.  I just wanted to let you know that I will be back tomorrow morning with a grocery update.  Also, if any of you have sent me an email, I am not getting them.  I promise I am not ignoring you and I am trying to work out the problem.  In the meantime, please email me directly to if you have any questions on the couponing.  I am happy to help you in any way I can.  Until the morning!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Fun Way to Get Freebies!

     Besides couponing, one of my favorite things to do is get free things in the mail and when those free things come with coupons, there is a party in my house!!  A few years ago, my cousin over at A Frugal Life introduced me to the idea of product marketing when she talked about the ever popular House Party.  My cousin had been sent a box from House Party with products and coupons for Hershey's Bliss candy because she said she would host a "house party" with friends and family and let them all eat the candy and give them the coupons and then post online about it.  So I decided to check it out.  I applied for all the House Parties I could and got one!!  It was not as cool as the chocolate, but I did receive green cleaners, coupons for free products and had eight people come over and have some fun.  I was hooked!!
     I began searching for other ways to get products for free, share the products and coupons and write my reviews.  It was a slow start, but now three years later, I get boxes in my email almost weekly.  In April, I received the following: Five tickets to Disney on Ice, New Covergirl NatureLuxe Foundation, new NatureLuxe Lipgloss, Children's Chewable Claritin and Liquid Claritin, bottles of Tresemme Color Shampoo and Conditioner (all full size).  A new toy called FyrFlyz (4 of them), DaGeDar Track, five DaGeDar Cases and 15 DaGeDar Supercharged Ball Bearings.  The most exciting thing I received was a FlipCam...yes, I said it, a FlipCam...for free!  One of the companies wanted videos posted of us using the free item, therefore sent the camera.  Crazy...$129 camera just for a little of my time.  I also may be receiving a $20 Toys R Us gift certificate for posting my video early!!  Wowie!

     If you want to get started, the easiest place to start is a company call BzzAgent.  You have to fill out a bunch of surveys and within a couple of weeks you will start getting invitations to Bzz Campaigns.  You will have to write reviews of the products, give out coupons, post on Facebook, Twitter, etc about the products (the more you do, the more you get), but all the freebies are sure fun!!  I also get points on MyPoints for every activity I complete.  I will eventually be able to cash those points in for rewards.  So Cool!!  Check it out today!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


     As I have reported before, I love to do product testing.  I have received many things in the mail to try and share with our friends and family.  Two summers ago, we received the brand new toy, Zhu Zhu Pets before they ever hit the stores.  We had a party my kids' friends and each child took one home.  It was tons of fun.  This year is proving to be just as fun.  Last week we received a box from FedEx with another new toy!
     DaGeDar, pronounced (DAH ge DAAR), is a new toy by Cepia, the makers of Zhu Zhu Pets.  We were fortunate enough to be a part of a marketing campaign for DaGeDar and received a box with a track, six sets of the DaGeDar Ball Bearings.  J (my son) has invited four of his friends from school over to try out the hot, new toy and leave with their own case and three Supercharged Ball Bearings.

     DaGeDar is a fast paced racing game where balls speed around a track, spin around a loop and fly over a jump.  Some tracks are single and some are double, perfect for racing.  The balls are different colors, have different "faces" on them and are different weights. Kids will love collecting the different balls and choosing which weights work better for tricks, races or speed.  J and his two sisters have had a great time with this new toy and J is very excited for his friends to come over and race with him!  I have a feeling DaGeDar will take Christmas by storm this year.  You can see my kids in action here:

     Toys R Us and Wal-Mart here in Phoenix now have the toys and DaGeDar is going to be featured at the May 22nd Diamondbacks Game.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Grocery Challenge Part 2

     Good morning, good morning!!  If you read my post,, you know that I have challenged myself to do all the grocery and household shopping for my family of 5 for $200 this month.  Well, I was excited for the weekly grocery ads to come out last Wednesday and was quickly disappointed because the deals were not fabulous and I was not going to have a great start to my challenge.  I made a monthly menu and figured out how much of everything I would need for the month and hoped a good chunk of the items would be in the ads for the "best price ever".  However, when I looked, there were not many.
     I made a very detailed list for each store (at this time I am going to more than one).  My list told how many of each item, coupons I was going to use and how much my total should be at each store.  I figured at the end of my shopping, I would have spent $50.  I made a few mistakes.
     First, I did not check the coupon policies before I went shopping.  While checking out at Albertson's, I was surprised when my coupons did not double and my order came to $8.00 more than I anticipated.  That doesn't seem like much, but compared to $200 it is quite a bit.  Then at Fry's, I added a few items that pushed my bill up to $14 more than I planned for.  So now I am up $22 dollars for the week.  I also decided to go to Walmart and pick up a few of the items I know are lowest priced there and found mac and cheese for $.38 a box.  Instead of just buying enough for this month, I bought enough for two months and I am afraid that will sabotage my monthly plan as well.  In a nutshell, with my purchases last weekend, my total for the month is now up to $111 and I still have three shopping weeks left...aaahhh.  That leaves me $33 each week.  I am hoping the lessons I learned this week will help.

So here is what I got for $103 this week:
3 lbs of shredded cheese, 3 lbs of strawberries, 2 bags of Tostios, 2 jars of salsa, 6 bottles of Pepsi, 2 bunches of radishes, 3 boxes of granola bars, 4 whole chickens, 4 tubs of sour cream, 1 bag of mini carrots, 1 doz eggs, 1 bag of 72 corn tortillas, 2 beef ravioli meals, 12 cans of enchilada sauce, 10 cans of soup, 1 bottle of ranch dressing, 3 Nivea body wash, 24 boxes of mac and cheese, 2 boxes of fruit snack, 2 boxes of Cookie Crisp cereal, 3 boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios, 2 bags of Lays chips, 2 bags of Boulder chips, 3 fresh garlic, 3 lbs of bananas, 2 gallons of milk, 2.25 lbs of broccoli, 6 packets of Lawry's seasoning, 2 Schick Quattro Razors and 2 seedless watermelons.  I spent $103 and saved $189.  Not too bad, but I have to do better!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


     Hello, hello!!  I hope your day is wonderful!  Mine has been quite nice, despite the title of this blog.  I was just driving home from taking child number two to school and felt sick.  I know it is not a huge deal, but the kids' school is about six miles away from home...and I have to make the drive three times each day.  Anyway, I was on my way home and passed QT, one of my favorite places to get gas, and noticed that the lowest priced gas is now $3.77 per gallon here in Phoenix.  Yikes!!  My van has a 22 gallon tank and is not the most efficient gas user.
     Our budget affords me $35 per week for gas in the van.  I was happy when that was getting me 1/2 a tank.  That would take the kids back and forth everyday and get us to church.  Now, however, that same $35 is not getting me 1/2 a tank.  However, just last week (after some prayer about how God was going to take care of this latest challenge), another parent and I worked out a carpooling arrangement.  Her daughter is in my daughter's class and they only live 1/2 mile up the road, right on the way to school.  So, I take the kids in the morning to school, still take #2 at 12:30 p.m., but now she brings them all home.  That just cut my 15 trips to the school a week to 10!  Yippie!!!
     My challenge to you?  Is there any time you can carpool?  It does not have to be everyday, part of Surviving This AZ Economy is looking for all the little thingsm because all those little things add up.  I am not going to save $100 a week on gas, but I might save $15, which comes to $60 a month!  Can you cut your trips down by one or two a week?  Talk to the people you work with, other parents, friends at church, do you live close enough to work out a carpool, no matter how much or little it is?  At this point, gas is just going to go up.  Let me know what you come up with!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Couponing Like Crazy

     Good Morning!!  What a beautiful morning we have here in Phoenix today!  I am so excited, because with the start of May, my personal, grocery shopping challenge began.  I know, how dorky to make a personal, grocery shopping challenge, but as I have said before, this is the only part of our monthly budget that I have much control of right now.  Regular bills are taking most of our money and with the price of gas ever rising, I look at the $500 I have budgeted for groceries as the only money I have to work with.
     I have mentioned before, I can do most of our shopping for $300-$400 per month.  Well, this month my goal is to get us at $200 or under (and still eat good).  That is $50 per week for a family of five.  Sounds crazy, because some of you spend $200 in one grocery shopping trip...I used to.  However, I know there are families doing it and I am determined to see how close I can get without sacrificing quality.  Besides, that will leave $300 extra each month for us...I can think of many things to do with that!
     Now, in my grocery budget I include all household and toiletry items, my newspaper subscription and my subscription to CouponSense.  However, I still think I can do it.  A few of the things I am going to do are as follows:
  1. I am working on a monthly grocery list so I can buy things when they are the absolute lowest price and I can buy enough for a month.
  2. Coupon like never before.  I will be on the site daily and heading out to get whatever I can for free.  I already warned Mike he may find envelopes of coupons by his keys in the morning of things I need him to pick up on the way home.  I did tell him that if I get to $200, he can have $100 of the savings to do what he wants.
  3. I am going to bake my own bread.  I have a bread maker and I am going to dust it off and get to baking.  I know I can make bread for about $.08 a loaf so that will save at least $3.80 per week.  I will post the recipe and pictures later this week.
  4. I am going to buy dried beans and cook them myself.  I believe I can do pinto beans for about $.48 a pound.  We have lots of Mexican food nights in our house!
  5. I am going to buy a basil plant for $3 and put it in the big, yellow, empty pot in front of my door and make my own pesto. This will save about $2 per dinner.  We like this better than marinara and eat pasta at least once a week. 
     Now each of these things may not save me a fortune, but in this grocery game, every little bit counts.   I went out this last weekend and shopped for free stuff and started my challenge out pretty well.  Here is what I "bought":

I paid $4.46 for all these items and $2.89 tax for a total out of pocket (oop) of $7.35.

    So you can see, saving just a couple of dollars, or a nickel on the strategies above will come in handy.  Now, I was not going to put the condoms in the picture, but Mike thought someone else might need to see that even these can be gotten at a deal...I think he just wanted everyone to know that we need them.  Regardless, a pretty good start to my $200 total, I have $192.65 left for the month.  I am very excited for the grocery ads to come out tomorrow, I am almost done with my monthly grocery list and I will keep you updated on how it is going.  To read about how I do this, look back to my post:  If you have any ideas of more things I can make at home to save money or other grocery saving tips, please post them for all of us to read!