Monday, December 29, 2008

Walgreens Trip 12-29-08

Here is what I scored at Walgreens today:

2 Glade Scented Oil Candle Holder $3.99/ea
2 Detour Bars BOGO
5 Robitussin $4.00/ea

Coupons Used:
2 - BOGO Glade - FREE
1 - BOGO Detour (go HERE) - FREE
3 - $3/1 Robitussin
2 - $2/1 Robitussin - $7 for 5

Total OOP - $7.00 (put on GC)
Got back:
$5.00 RR for buying 3 Wyeth products
$5.00 RR for buying $10 in products
$10.00 RR for buying $20 in Robitussin
I will also get $2.20 back in Walgreens rebates.

I think I came out good on this one :)

Wal-Mart Run 12-20-2008

I wanted to wait til after Christmas to post all my savings.

2 Glade Scented Oil Candle Holders - $2.00/ea
2 Glade Scented Oil Refills - $2.00/ea
3 Glade Candles - $2.00/ea
2 Suave Lotion - $.97/ea

Total - $17.26 (before coupons)

Coupons Used:
2 - $1/1 Suave Lotion ($.06 overage)
3 - $1/1 Glade Q
1 - $2/1 Glade Q
3 - $2.50/1 Glade Q

Total OOP - $1.72
Saved - $15.54 = 90%

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Coupon Lingo

MFR = Manufacturer
Q = Coupon
MQ = Manufacturer Coupon
SQ = Store Coupon
OOP = Out of pocket
FAR = Free after rebate
MIR = Mail-in rebate
IPQ = Internet printable coupon
GC = Giftcard
MM = Money Maker

$1/1, $1/2, etc. = $1 off 1 item, $1 off 2 items, etc.
2/$1, 3/$2, etc. = 2 items for $1, 3 items for $2, etc.
BOGO = Buy 1 item get 1 item free
B2GO = Buy 2 items get 1 item free
Blinkies = Grocery/drugstore coupon dispensers with blinking lights
Cat = Catalina coupon, prints from a separate machine when your receipt prints
OYNO = On your next order
Peelie = Peel-off coupon found on product packaging
UPC = Universal Product Code, bar code on a product
WYB = When you buy

ECB = ExtraCare Bucks - It's like a giftcard. You can use these on your next purchase. The key is to roll these over on other items with ECB. (You can make money off an item if you use coupons on items that have ECB.)

Walgreens (WAGS):
ESR = EasySaver Rebate, Monthly rebate program (10% back if put on GC)
IVC = Instant Value Coupon, Store coupons found in ads and ESR booklet
RR = Register Reward - Also like a giftcard. You can use these on your next purchase.

Thanks to DealSeekingMom for compiling these.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Family Budgeting for 2009, part 2

Financial Friday by David W Barnett, ChFC, FLMI

Family Budgeting for 2009

Part 2 – Analyzing your Spending

Last week, we began our Financial Friday series on budgeting with an explanation of how to gather information that will help you prepare a budget. All the information in the world is useless if we can't process it into usable knowledge. Embrace this formula: INFORMATION + ANALYSIS = KNOWLEDGE. We need knowledge about our financial needs, habits and trends to create an effective plan for 2009. This week, I want to give you some practical methods for analyzing your cash flow.

If you completed the steps I laid out last week, you have a significant database of your financial transactions throughout the past year, classified and categorized. Now, you need to subtotal your transactions by category. Some spreadsheets have a subtotal function where you can sort and subtotal automatically. Otherwise, you will have to sort by category first, then total up the transactions within each category.

Once you have the subtotals, compile a list of the categories with the totals, and sort the list by class (income vs. expense). Then, total all expenses and all income for the prior year. Here's your first point of significant analysis – compare your total expenses to your total income. If your income is more than your expenses, congratulations! If not, you have work to do. As my father always told me, “If your outgo exceeds your income, then your upkeep becomes your downfall.”

The next analytical step is to divide your income and expense totals by twelve, which will give you an approximate monthly amount for income and expenses. Realize that not all income and expenses are monthly; for example, you might have income taxes or property taxes that occur quarterly or once a year, or you might get a bonus from your work that increases your total income but doesn't come until the end of the year. We can plan for irregular transactions in the budget, but for now we're just trying to see overall trends.

Next, we're going to do a little spreadsheet math that will be meaningful. You need to determine how much percentage of your total income is used by each expense category. The formula is simple – let me illustrate. Let's say that your total income is $4,000 per month, and your housing expense (apartment lease or mortgage payment) is $1,000. Your housing is 25% of your total income ($1,000 / $4,000). We will use these percentage results in formulating your family budget in Part 3. For now, just do the calculations. However, as you do them, some figures will probably begin to stand out to you. I'll never forget a few years ago when I was working on my own budget, and totaled up the restaurant expense for my family. There was one month where our eating out was over $1,000! Needless to say, that was obviously an area that needed to be addressed in our budget planning.

After you have calculated all the totals and percentages, take some time to look over the numbers and find the areas that really stand out in your mind as significant, extreme, or unusual. Make notes and put on your thinking cap about the areas you want to change for 2009, and how you would like to change them. Next week, we'll discuss the final stage of budgeting, which will be to plan and write your personal budget for the coming year.

Once again, if you would like me to send to you helpful resources for budgeting, such as spreadsheet templates and category lists, or if you have other specific questions, I would be happy to hear from you. Please contact me via e-mail at

Mr. Barnett is an investment advisor and financial planner and has been a professional in the insurance and financial services industry since 1984. He is a Chartered Financial Consultant and Fellow of the Life Management Institute. © 2008 David W Barnett. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

While you're spending time with family, stuffing your face and unwrapping gifts, be thinking about frugality.

- Save any giftbags
- Save any ribbons or bows
- Save any tissue paper (that isn't torn)
- Save Christmas cards for crafts
- Save big portions of wrapping might can rewrap something small

(Watch what other people throw away too.)

You will be surprised how much money you save by reusing things. Start saving now for next Christmas. You can even use these saved items on events other than Christmas.


Monday, December 22, 2008

CVS & WAGS Trip 12/21/2008

I got a lot of good stuff at WAGS and CVS this week. Here is what I got:
Bottled Water
Chex Mix
8x10 Photo (free)

2 Sally Hansen Nail Polish
2 L'Oreal Eye Shadow
2 Crest Pro Health Toothpaste
Halls Cough Drops
Zantac 150

CVS is having a huge sale this week, where you can get a lot of stuff for free. By the time I got to CVS, almost everything was out of stock. So, I got a lot of rainchecks. This gives me time to collect more coupons for more savings.

Obviously, I could do without most of this stuff. I only buy things if I can get them for free or make money off of it. For example, the Zantac was free after ECB, and I had a $1/1 coupon. So, I made $1 off the transaction.

Total Spent - $5.23
Total Saved - $54.46 (91.24%)
Left Over ECB - $23.97 (I can use these on my next purchases at CVS)

In essence, after I bought all these things, I spent $0.00 made $18.74.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Financial Friday, part 1 - Family Budgeting for 2009

Financial Friday by David W Barnett, ChFC, FLMI

Family Budgeting for 2009

Part 1 – Information gathering

As we look toward the start of a new year, I would like to take the next three weeks to give you some helpful suggestions for managing your family finances in 2009. The key to taking control over your finances is to have a well-designed and workable budget.

Budgeting scares many of us because we misunderstand its purpose. Often, we think of a budget as an inflexible tool of confinement that is destined for failure because we can never definitively forecast our financial needs. But, if done right, a budget is an outstanding ruler by which we can measure our financial performance, just like we use a tape measure to see how our children grow. In this first article, let's begin the budgeting process by gathering financial information.

In order to put together a practical budget, the best place to begin your search for figures is with your current income and expenses. If your situation is typical, there is a wealth of data available that you may not even realize:

1) Your paycheck – your final paycheck of the year will likely have year-to-date totals for your gross salary, tax withholding, and voluntary deductions such as insurance or retirement.

2) Your bank account – if you use online banking, you can usually download all your transactions into a spreadsheet format. Some banks only give you access to the most recent six months of activity, but with a little additional effort and some coaching, you can import the entire year.

3) Credit cards – just like your bank account, you can access your account history online and download your transactions.

4) Account statements – your checking account statement (with check copies or images) or your check register may give you details beyond what you can download.

These sources should provide information for the vast majority of your transactions throughout the year. Even if you frequently use cash instead of checks or credit cards, most people pull cash from their accounts using the ATM, so those cash withdrawals will show up in the history. Don't worry if you don't have every single transaction listed; for now, we're not trying to reconcile accounts, just get a good overview of income and expenses.

Once you've collected as much itemized information as you can, combine it all into a spreadsheet where you can work with the data. Once we have the data consolidated in a single spreadsheet, we need to classify and categorize the transactions. This step will enable us to analyze our cash flow (we'll discuss Analysis in Part 2). What does it mean to “classify” your transactions? There are four main classes in finance; income, expense, asset, and liability. Since we're working on a budget, we're mostly concerned for now with income and expenses. Simply put, income is what you make, and expenses are what you spend. Assets and liabilities are used to calculate your net worth (create a balance sheet); assets are what you own and liabilities are what you owe. We'll deal with balance sheets another time.

What does it mean to “categorize” your transactions? We categorize by grouping together transactions that are the same or similar. Some typical categories are things like rent or mortgage, groceries, fuel, restaurant, and clothing. You get to decide what categories you need. The key is to be detailed enough in your categories that you can identify specific areas in your budget that need attention, but not so detailed that you have too many subdivisions to be meaningful. For example, it's useful to separate restaurant expense from groceries, because even though both are about feeding you, one is discretionary (restaurant) and the other is not (groceries). However, even though you likely frequent several different restaurants throughout the year, there is usually no need to categorize McDonald's distinct from Subway or Sonic.

As you prepare to assign a class and category to each transaction, you may be able to sort the spreadsheet and group transactions together. For instance, if you use your debit or credit card, you can probably sort by the description field and have all the “Exxon” or all the “Kroger” transactions together and categorize them en masse. Or, if you write a check for $54.95 each month for your cable service, sort by the expense amount and it will put all of them together for you. Designate columns in the spreadsheet for class and category and get busy categorizing.

You will be amazed at how enlightened you become about your finances just from assembling this data. Knowledge is both power and control over your money. Use this week to get your data together; next week, in Part 2, I will tell you how to analyze the information in preparation for Part 3, Writing the Budget. If you would like me to send to you helpful resources for budgeting, such as spreadsheet templates and category lists, or if you have other specific questions, I would be happy to hear from you. Please contact me via e-mail at

Mr. Barnett is an investment advisor and financial planner and has been a professional in the insurance and financial services industry since 1984. He is a Chartered Financial Consultant and Fellow of the Life Management Institute. © 2008 David W Barnett. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

How to Start Couponing:

I honestly don’t know how I go involved in couponing. It was probably mid October 2008 when I discovered couponing. With the help of a friend from church HERE, I was able to get my questions answered, and learn about the world of couponing. With a lot of research and trial and error (BOO!) I have come to love and enjoy every aspect of it all. (I am still learning a TON, though.)

It takes a special kind of person to coupon. Sometimes it really sucks cutting all those coupons, organizing them, researching deals, pricing different stores, making sure everything rings up at the right price. It really can be an exhausting hobby. Luckily there are tons of resources online that can help minimize your efforts.

With all the hours of preparation, I find great joy out of seeing my final total be so low. In fact, saving 60%-100% of my grocery bill really makes all the hours of effort seem well worth it. I get a HUGE kick out of shopping with someone else and seeing their jaw drop when they see my total on the cash register. In fact, I went shopping with my mom earlier this week, and she was stunned that I bought over $25 worth of stuff at Walgreens, paid $.20 for it and got back a $5.00 register reward.

And I LOVE coming home to my husband and showing him my totals and how much I saved. He doesn’t really understand how I do it, nor does he want to, but he still tells me he’s proud and I’m doing a great job.

As a young woman and a newlywed, I think I’m smarter than the average bear. Even before I got married, I have always typed up budget spreadsheets and been a fairly frugal person. Of course, it helps to have great grandparents who are a true example of frugality. So now that I’m married and want to have kids in the future, I’m thinking about finances more realistically. I don’t want to be living paycheck to paycheck or paying interest on credit cards. I told Brian, my husband, the other day that if we can develop a habit of living like we live in an apartment, than we will never have to worry. If we can manage to live below our means, we will be able to save that much more money.

For those of you who are newlyweds and just starting out, or for those who want to change their lifestyle…or anyone really, I would recommend couponing. There are tons of resources around you to help you save money. If your response is “I don’t have time,” really, how much is your time worth? I’m sure you have a couple hours a week to spare to save $100s. It is totally well worth it!!

Here is how to slowly get started:
Sunday Newspaper – Go buy one, or use one that someone isn’t going to use
Inside the Sunday Newspaper are 3 coupon resources: Red Plum, P&G Saver & SmartSource. These are your main sources for coupons. Then do some research on deals at stores you usually shop at.

I mainly shop for groceries at Kroger & Albertsons. They do double/triple coupons, meaning that $.01-$.39 coupons triple, and $.40-$.50 coupons double. So sometimes shopping at Wal-Mart isn’t always the best answer for a tight budget.
*Note: Even with the double/triple coupons, sometimes the off-brand items are still cheaper.

I’ve already been asked tons of questions, in which I am more than happy to answer. One thing I will be doing in my blog is posting little tricks of the trade, and how to get started.

Do you have any “starting out advice?” Can you remember when you started couponing? There are tons of people who want to start couponing but are somewhat confused. If you have any advice for a newbie, post a comment with some words of wisdom.


Sunday, December 14, 2008


Welcome to Metroplex Savers. I wanted to start a blog for everyone in the D/FW area. I will be posting about upcoming deals at various stores, great finds, financial advice and investing, freebies, and much more.

My prayer is that you find what you are looking for. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask. If I don't have the answer, I will try my best to find out as much as I can.