Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Crazy World of Couponing: Free Stuff with Swagbucks

Swagbucks is a search engine that randomly rewards you for searching. These points can be used to get prizes. It only takes 45 points to get a $5 Amazon card. And points accumulate pretty quickly, as you can win anywhere from 1 to 5 points per search.  If you refer a friend, you can also win points whenever they do.  Searches can be made directly from the Swagbucks site, or you can download the toolbar.  I've downloaded the toolbar, which makes it rather easy to use.

I've personally gotten a few Amazon cards that I've put to good use with Amazon deals. For example, tons of magazines subscriptions go on sale at the end of the year on Amazon for $5. I used one of my cards I got with Swagbucks to get Matt a year's subscription to ESPN magazine. Amazon also has deals on groceries every once in a while.  Some people even save their Amazon cards up for bigger items, which is probably pretty smart...I just have problems with delayed gratification.  See how you can make Swagbucks stretch even further for you? Try it here and see what you think!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Lost in Austen

I've really enjoyed our Netflix subscription - I no longer have to load up the baby in the car just to go rent a movie.  Not to mention, I can be totally socially unpresentable and browse through tons of movies at home and watch some instantly on our computer.  This really helped entertain me a few months ago while feeding Abigail (who takes FOREVER to eat).  Well, enough about Netflix.  I watch Lost in Austen this past weekend and loved it!  Here is a little synopsis per Wikipedia:

"Lost in Austen is a four-part 2008 British television series for the ITV network, written by Guy Andrews as a fantasy adaptation of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Loosely following the plot of Austen's novel, it sees a modern girl somehow transported into the events of the book via a portal located in her bathroom."

For anyone who loves Pride and Prejudice (especially the BBC version), this is the movie for you!  The BBC series, as well as Colin Firth, are even referred to in this movie by Amanda Price, the main character.  You might even want to review some of that story to fully appreciate all the little nuances in Lost in Austen.  For those not familiar with P&P, you might want to skip this, as it may become rather confusing.  Take note, this movie is 180 minutes since it was a four part mini-series, but well worth it!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Family Fun

Matt and I are in the process of trying to find fun activities to do as a family. What I've come to find out is that I need to turn on my creative juices in this area. For the past I don't know how long, I've been a pretty driven person (oftentimes to a fault) and have not taken the time to slow down and enjoy life. My 10-month old girl forces me to do that. And that is a good thing, though difficult at times.

We brought her to Little Gym a few weeks ago and she loved it! Unfortunately, tuition is astronomical, so it doesn't look like we'll be able to continue there :( I wish there was something in Raleigh similar to what my mom used to do in Chicago. I've done a little online research about other possibilities, but have come up short. If you know of anything in the Raleigh area, please let me know!

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Crazy World of Couponing: Blogs to Follow

Guess how much I spent on this today?
$1.17 - Yes, that's right. And yes, I know I'm a dork for taking a picture of it. And since I've already admitted what a coupon nerd I am, here is my receipt for proof:

See, it can be done! I spent about 5 minutes on one of favorite couponing blog this morning, finding the right coupons and loading electronic coupons on my Kroger card, and according to my receipt, I saved $19.29. Not bad, huh? Granted, some of these things aren't products we use on a regular basis, but they are nice to have when time is short or we run out of what we usually have to eat.

Well, I wanted to share the blogs that do all the hard work of matching coupons and sales, letting you know about coupons to print, and inform you of ongoing store sales. Here is a list of ones I like along with what I think makes them unique:

- - This is my absolute favorite! It is no-frills, comprehensive, and straight to the point. You can even print off a personalized shopping list right off her blog. And this is the site where I won a Mino HD camcorder :)
- - Usually includes info about more boutiquey (is that a word?) kids and mom items
- - Comprehensive and easy to read, frequent updates
- - Comprehensive and easy to read, frequent updates
- - Sometimes I like just reading her funny comments.
- - Includes info on natural and organic food.
- - This one is new to me (thanks, Emily!). Frequent updates and sometimes includes things that other blogs do not.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Crazy World of Couponing: Big Picture & Getting Started

The Big Picture:
Couponing is all about buying a lot of one product (stockpiling) at it's rock bottom price so that you don't ever have to pay regular price for it when you need it. In the long run, stockpiling saves you a TON of money and you will find that your weekly grocery runs will be only for perishable items such as produce and dairy. It took me around 3 months to accumulate a decent stockpile of groceries, household items, and personal care items. And what you do with your stockpile is up to you. Some people are able to accumulate enough extras to give away to friends, relatives, non-profit social service organizations, or local shelters. So not only are you cutting down on your spending, but are able to help others out as well. Seems like a double bonus to me!

Getting Started:
The hardest part of couponing is getting started. There is a lot to know (where to find coupons, organization, understanding abbreviations, sales cycles, drugstore rebate programs, etc.) but once you get a hang of it, the process is much easier. Below you will find a few guides from my favorite bloggers on how to get started. Take note, you may be overwhelmed by all the information, but it's really not that bad once you start understanding it all. And you also don't have to take every single suggestion. Just pick and choose what you think will work for you and what you have time for.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Crazy World of Couponing: A Series

In August 2009 I decided to try and get some of our finances more organized, namely the areas which I spend most the money: groceries, personal care, household, etc. I did a little (ok, a lot) of research and talked to some people, and dove into couponing and the like. Before I go into what I've done, I'd like to list what I've received since August 2009.

Things I've Won:
- Baby Einstein album download
- Music downloads
- $10 check
- Scholastic book
- Flip Mino HD camcorder

Things I've Earned:- $5 giftcard
- $5 giftcard
- $25 Olive Garden giftcard

Free Stuff & Samples (fun stuff I find in my mailbox!): Kashi granola bars/cereal, Dunkin Donuts coffee, Cheerios, shampoo, soap, toothpaste, Emergen-C packets, dog treats, diapers, feminine products, Zyrtec, hand sanitizer, meat thermometer, Oregon Chai mix

All this in just the past 5 months! Granted, it's not like I'm raking in a whole paycheck, but every little bit counts...and I'm starting to realize how it's all adding up to a whole lot of savings. The best part is that we've been able to stay within our budget the past few months. And that is a huge deal to me because I want to be a good manager of God's resources he's given us.

I've had a couple of friends ask me about this whole couponing craziness, so I thought I'd share some of what I've found. I'm still figuring it all out, but I think we can all help each other out by sharing what we're finding. I'm thinking I'll write a few blogs about the following and share what I'm learning and where to find these resources:

- Couponing
- Rebates
- Surveys
- Swagbucks
So, stay tuned! And welcome to the crazy world of couponing :)


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