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Entries in things I love (3)

Thursday
Apr082010

Retail therapy.

I think you must know by now that Liberty of London launched at Target.  And if you do not know what I'm talking about, it's not a bad thing.  Not at all. Because it means you do not have to ban yourself from Target.  But me?  For me, it has required a self-imposed ban simply because I know I would not be able to resist picking up many, many things in one of Liberty's iconic floral prints.  I was doing pretty great, really.  My plan was to wait it out a bit, ponder what I really wanted, then just dash in for a few melamine plates or maybe a cute teapot.  The problem with my plan is that things are selling out left and right.

So when we headed to Cincinnati and I forgot to pack a swimsuit (a problem because we had planned a day at an indoor water park), I did not put up a fight when we headed to Target for an emergency suit.  "Get in, get the suit, get out," I said to myself.

And I'm happy to report that I did not spend our summer vaction fund on an entire line of Liberty dining and serving ware!  Okay, fine.  I can't actually claim that with any degree of smugness because truth be told, Charlie grimaced every time I held anything up and headed for the cart.  It just wasn't going to happen.  But I could not, would not, leave without the tunic  pictured below.  Charlie says it looks exactly like something his grandmother wore--to which I replied, "exactly!"

It's technically a swim cover up but I'm loving it as a belted tunic.  It even works tucked in because it is such a light fabric and doesn't get bulky when bunched up.  I just looked to see if it's available online and it's showing up as sold out--and it's going for almost twice retail on Ebay (which is where I snagged this photo...my tunic is in the wash because I may or may not have worn it four times in the past week).  Snatch one up if you see one.  It puts a spring in your step, I promise. 

 

 

 

p.s.  While on the swimsuit hunt in Cincy, we also stopped into Sears to check out Lands' End.  Ummmm, hello?  When did their Canvas line launch?  Holy moly.  I am now banned from there too.

Wednesday
Sep092009

Couponing.

I think the transformation to full-time homemaker is now complete.  I am officially using coupons in my weekly grocery shopping.  And I am saving a bundle! 

I've tried to use coupons before but always failed.  Miserably.  Does the following sound familiar?  Like a good little saver, I kept the inserts from the Sunday paper with good intentions.  But then there they'd sit, usually unclipped, in a corner of our breakfast nook, piling up, mocking me.  And if they actually did get clipped, it was on a rare occasion that they'd actually make it to the grocery store with me.  And even if I did manage to take them to the grocery store, I'd then stand paralyzed in the aisles doing math, until inevitably deciding that saving 50 cents off the name brand cheese did not save any money when the store's brand was cheaper--without a coupon.  So I wouldn't even use the coupons!  It's no wonder I gave up again and again.

So what's changed?  I'm using the website called The Grocery Game.  It's a resource that lists all of the sales, both advertised and unadvertised, in your select area store.  I chose Harris Teeter as my store--which I'd previously sworn off as too expensive.  But last night, using my list from the grocery game and my coupons, I bought $198 worth of groceries for $104.  I did this by stacking coupons on top of the good sales. 

Every week, the grocery game crosswalks all of the coupons that are "out there" from inserts or other sources with the store's sales.  The list is then color-coded to tell you whether the sale items are at their lowest price for that store's sales cycle.  You look at the list, reconcile it with your coupon stash, and decide what to buy.  You try not to buy things at full price unless you need them.  Instead, the key is to stockpile items when they are at rock bottom prices--before you need them.  That way, you're never paying full retail.  And let me point out that this is different than buying in bulk from a warehouse club!  Because although you may get your name brand toothpaste for a good price if you buy a four-pack from Costco, you're probably not getting it for a steal (e.g., .50 each, which is what I did by buying it on a good sale with a coupon).  Also, I have not paid over $1.75 for a box of cereal in over a month.  Do you know how much cereal the boys devour?    

As for how much time it takes, now that I've got everything organized (I am using Money Saving Mom's method to organize my coupons), I spend about an hour a week to put my list together and pull my coupons.  It took me about three weeks to get a good stash of coupons to use.

A huge reason I like it is because now I can have a fully stocked pantry without cutting back on all the fresh produce, seafood, and meat we love.  Although I cook five nights out of the week, pretty much from scratch, I still enjoy having some prepackaged convenience items, like rice packs, soups, marinades, and so on, on hand.  I am picking those things up at a steep discount--sometimes they are even free.

The service kicks off with a free four week trial.  After that, it is $5 a month for your first store and $2.50 more for any additional stores--they bill you every two months.  And just so you know, I'm not an affiliate or anything (though I believe there is a referrer program).  Just a happy customer so thought I'd spread the word.  And, yes, I know you savvy savers out there can cobble this sort of information together through other various online sources.  But I tried that and never seemed to find the time to pull it all together.  Plus, I don't know prices well enough to know whether a sale is a must-buy sale or whether I should wait it out--The Grocery Game does all of that for you.  So I'm okay paying $7.50 (I subscribed to Walgreens, too) for the convenience of accessing everything in one place.  Especially since last month I saved just under $500 (!!!) on my grocery and household purchases--and I've made a large dent in stockpiling our necessities.  If you give it a go, make sure to do it the full four weeks before deciding whether it's worth it.  As the holidays approach, I think we could all use a little extra wiggle room in our budgets.

 

Monday
Aug242009

Book love.

I am so excited to get this book! I have to ration my Amazon book purchases because, you know, we're living off one salary these days and groceries are supposedly more important.  But, man, is it hard!  I can go without the trendy clothes I used to load up on because I still get my retail therapy fix by dressing the boys in cute gear.  And besides, do I really need to dress up to go to the park, the grocery store, the elementary school, or the doctor's office?  Um, no.  But books.  Oh, books.  I just adore them and have a hard time resisting them, especially cooking and crafting books. I usually check them out of the library first to see whether I really want to buy them.  But with Amanda Blake Soule's newest book, Handmade Home, I just went ahead and ordered it.  I loved her first book, The Creative Family, so much that I knew I'd want her latest.  I'll hopefully post about some creations soon--I want to get a head start on Christmas presents (yea, right--but a girl can dream).  And yes, the UPS man thinks I'm a crazy stalker lady because whenever he turns into our neighborhood I am out front waving to him because I assume he's bringing me this book.  Tracking info says tomorrow!