eating well and looking good for less

Sunday, May 8, 2011


I am just totally unenthused about shopping this week. Last week the three-day triple coupon promo at Pathmark took up a huge amount of my time, and it was fun. This week they're running a great doubles promotion, and looking at the matchups online, I can't find anything I want. I'm sure if I took my coupons and wandered the store, I could find some deals, but eh.

I have a $4 OYNO cat from Acme which is expiring today, and I can't find any hot deals there, either. I guess I will pick up some produce with that.

Then there's Rite Aid: I hopped in on that awesome Duracell battery deal before it got pulled (17 packs at $2.24 a piece, plus eight Revlon tools, plus some free Uncle Ben's), and I thought that the battery purchases combined with a couple of prescriptions got me to Gold. Nope, 991 points. So close, yet so so far. Augh! I want 20% off on my newspapers!

The ad this week, however, is totally uninspiring.

Despite the fact that I could have happily skipped Rite Aid this week, I needed my papers, so I printed out a $3/15 and the Breathe Right coupon, and headed out to the store. The first big surprise was that the Breathe Right strips were on sale for $3.99, but the coupon still took off $5.99, and on top of that I got a $1 Up. The first Rite Aid I visited only had three copies of the paper left, but those copies had the Tylenol Precise coupons in them. I am not a huge fan of the Precise patches, but the cream is okay.

I went to the second store, and got their last two copies of the paper, too. I guess everyone went out early to buy their papers because of Mothers Day, huh? I bought three tubes of the pain relief cream and a 20oz drink for myself. So all in all, I expected a lackluster week, but it was a lot better than I'd hoped. For just over $4 I got five copies of the paper (normally $1.75 each), three Tylenol Precise creams, one box of Breathe Right, and a drink. All I really wanted were the papers. How does it work out that I buy more to spend less? Not that I'm complaining. :)

Plus, with those Tylenol coupons, I will definitely be at Gold, as soon as the points hit my account. I feel like an athlete who has won at the Olympics, and instead of feeling elation, feels disappointment. What am I going to work towards now? They need to create another level, like Platinum! And whenever you walk in the store, they play music and drop streamers on your head! Yeah. Well. Or not.

I need a new challenge. Oooh! Maybe I'll take up parasailing now.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The smell in my house this morning pulled me out of bed

After the Pathmark shopping trip, our freezer was FULL. My husband took it upon himself to clean it out and make some space, a task which he apparently took very seriously. Especially the part that involved finishing off two cartons of ice cream.

He also pulled out a huge 19+ lb turkey that I picked up over the Thanksgiving holiday, and I cooked it for dinner last night. It felt kind of weird, cooking a massive bird like that on any random Tuesday. I felt like I should cook up a ridiculous number of sides, and have a feast! I settled on a nice salad and a leek and cheddar gratin, made with the McCain sliced Purely Potatoes. It was pretty good. The sliced potatoes soaked up a bit too much liquid, and became really creamy. They'd be awesome in any sort of recipe like mashed potatoes or home fries, but they didn't have the bite I like in a gratin.

After dinner, I pulled all the meat off the bones, and tossed the bones into my pressure cooker, along with lots and lots of vegetables. I also started some chicken stock in my crockpot. My stock pot got carbonized cooking up some liver and rice, and it didn't seem worth the effort to clean it, when it always burns everything all the time because it's a cheap pot. I got so annoyed that I put it in the recycling bin. Anyway. I set the crockpot to low and turned the heat on the pressure cooker (uncovered) to low and cooked that for a few hours, before I went to bed. This morning my house smells unbelievably amazing! The stock smell pulled me out of bed!

I need a new stock pot, though. One that won't burn on the bottom even when it's filled to the top with liquid!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cleaning house

The Pathmark triple coupon event really made me miss using a binder; it would have been so nice to go to the store, binder in hand, just looking for deals. Instead I had to look online to see what other people were getting, pull the coupons, cut them all, and go to the store. Then at the store I invariably found something else that would be a good deal, so I put it on my list, headed home, got the coupons, and went back. Because of the limit of ten coupons at one time, I still would have had to make just as many trips, but the pre-shopping prep probably would have gone a lot faster.

I'm not willing to spend all that time cutting coupons and organizing my binder, though! I did decide that when I need a coupon, I will pull out all the matching pages from all the inserts, cut every coupon on the page, and file all the unused ones in the binder. That way I don't have half-cut pages floating around, driving me nuts, and any coupons I don't use in the store can also be filed. It also gives me a place to put blinkies and peelies and tearpad coupons and catalina machine coupons and things from mailers and all those other bits which never have a place to go and so pile up on my desk and in my kitchen and on my dresser.

Last night I gathered up everything I could find in the house, cleared out my binder, and filed everything away. Today I am afflicted with a migraine and am feeling generally useless, so I tackled clearing out the file cabinet where I have my older whole inserts sorted by date.

I turned this:

Into this:

and of course, put that into my binder. And then, I could put all my newer inserts into the file cabinet, cleaning up the visual clutter on my desk a lot. Yay. Honestly, clutter that's hidden doesn't bother me all that much, but I can't deal with visual clutter!

Now, if only I could figure out what to do with all my old receipts... I don't like to throw them away, because a.) I donate items and keep receipts for tax purposes and b.) sometimes rebates come up weeks or even months after I've purchased something. But my receipts are a crazy mess, everywhere.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Pathmark Triple Coupon event!

Holy shopping trip, Batman! Wow, that was fun. Tiring, but fun. This weekend, three days only, Pathmark was running a triple coupon event. They tripled all coupons, including OYNO catalinas, with a face value up to and including $1. Half the store was free. The other half of the store was incredibly cheap. Needless to say, we shopped that place until we dropped. I focused mainly on getting things that we always use or were totally out of, for as cheap as possible, rather than chasing every freebie. Even then, it was completely overwhelming.

We spent around $50 out of pocket, and according to my receipts, the shelf price of these items was around $485, for a savings rate around 90%.

12 cartons Silk Almond and Soy milk
approx. 9 lbs chicken breast
approx. 3 lbs ground beef
15 packages of tortillas
13 boxes Gorton fish products (crunchy breaded fillets, grilled tilapia, salmon, pollock)
two bottles McCormick peppercorns
two bottles McCormick garlic powder
one bottle McCormick chili powder
one bottle McCormick Lemon Pepper seasoning
one bottle McCormick Mesquite seasoning
two tubs Bestlife Buttery Spread with Olive Oil
four Marzetti salad dressings
four squeeze bottles Welch's Grape Jelly
two bottles Classico pasta sauce
ten bags Pennsylvania Dutch Noodles
four boxes Post Great Grains Cereal
two boxes Splenda
four packages Kraft Big Slices swiss cheese
six bags McCain Purely Potatoes
21 Dannon Greek yogurts
6 packs Dannon DanActive
13 International Delight coffee creamers
two bottles Simply Orange juice
two quarts Land o Lakes half and half
two bottles Heinz ketchup
two dozen eggs
green peppers
four rolls Reynolds recycled foil
one roll Reynolds parchment paper
two boxes Cascade
two bottles Ivory hand soap
three tubs Charmin flushable wipes
two bottles Dawn dish detergent
three Cadbury cream eggs

My fridge is full, my freezer is full, but I still need to go shopping to buy vegetables! I used up the last sad celery bits and the last carrot yesterday, making soup. All that shopping, and I still have to go shopping! Ha.

I have never seen so many coupon shoppers in one place in my life, as I saw this weekend at Pathmark. Everyone, and I mean everyone, had fistfuls of coupons. I saw coupon inserts scattered in carts, coupons in envelopes, coupons in binders, coupons stuck on shelves. Coupons coupons coupons coupons. There was lots of talk about Extreme Couponing. Shockingly, most of the stuff I was going in for was well-stocked. I heard plenty of complaints online that everything was sold out, but I did not have that problem at all.

I've heard that they're doing a doubles event next week, doubling coupons with up to a face value of $2. Oh dear. Another weekend spent at Pathmark, then?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dear Kohl's, I love you.

Here is the awesomeness of Kohl's. We have been needing a new trash can for a while. To make a long story short, ours was busted. I am loathe to spend a fortune on a TRASH CAN because it is a CAN which you fill with TRASH and I don't understand why a trash can must cost over $100 because it's a CAN which you fill with TRASH.

But ours was a useless, broken piece of junk and I got tired of messing with it and getting annoyed every time I needed to put trash in it, so on Monday we went to Kohl's and bought this here fashionable can, normally $139.99, priced on sale at $97.99. Still expensive, but since I had $10 in Kohl's Cash and a 30% off coupon, it was $62.38. Still expensive, but much better. At least, I thought! Until today, when I just happened to check the website to see that it was on sale for $69.99!!! After the 30% discount it would have been $48.99. Minus the $10 KC, it would have been only around $40.

I checked on the website and found that Kohl's has a price adjustment policy, so I hopped right on over to the store, expecting a problem. I mean, I used KC, I used a coupon, I bought multiple items on my last visit. Do they prorate the KC and divide the value between the different items I bought? What about that 30% coupon? Are they going to give me a hassle? Would I have to do something sneaky, like buy the other trash can in the store, then turn around and return it using the old receipt?

No! The cashier scanned the receipt, punched in the 30% discount, turned around with a big friendly smile, said, "This is the amount that will be refunded to your charge card," and that was it. Wow, their CS rocks. That was so much easier than I expected!

Kohl's, keep on treating me this way and I may just stick with you for life. :)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I can't decide if getting a Kohl's Charge was the best or worst thing ever

No, just kidding. Clearly it was the best thing ever.

Kohl's sent me a $5 email coupon, plus a 30% off coupon, plus we finally got a statement, so we had to go to the store to pay our bill. I figured that I would scope out the clearance racks, to see if there was anything there for ME this time. Since my "baby" was born, I have purchased new clothing for myself twice. And my "baby?" He is four. I gained weight, lost weight, lost a lot more weight, and then all my shirts mysteriously had tiny holes appear in them. Where are all these pinholes coming from? Just about every shirt that I actually like to wear has a hole in it. Does my washing machine have little nails stuck in it somewhere? And my pants keep sagging and slipping down, which is wildly unattractive.

I found some shirts which look gorgeous on me, and two new pairs of smaller pants. Oh, they're pretty tight in the waist, but they fit and they're smaller than I've worn in, um... gee, most of my adult life, I guess. Also, they look amazing. I'm not really a girly kind of person, and I mostly don't think about my appearance, until I do, at which point I am invariably surprised at how nice it makes you feel to look, well, nice.

My husband also picked up another shirt for himself, plus we finally got a bedskirt for our new mattress set, which we bought in January. My poor box spring has been exposed since then. Early Bird Specials + 30% discount, that's a great price. Better than I've seen anywhere else, and now my bed doesn't have its guts exposed.

I felt a little bad about spending the money, because I have a fairly tight budget and also a fairly aggressive credit card repayment strategy (my credit card is the only interest-charging credit account we have left, woo woo), and every dollar I spend on other things is a dollar I won't be able to send to my card in the future. But. It's nice to have clothing that fits and looks good.

I need to get some aluminum foil. We ran out a few weeks back and I haven't noticed any great sales on it, so I've been doing without. Hope there will be a good sale in the upcoming weeks!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Walmart, Ugh.

I went to Walmart the other day to pick up the Candyland and Operation games that were on sale, and it was easy, fast, and the deal went just as it was supposed to go. So, when I got a TON of Nivea coupons today, I figured what the heck. Walmart is supposed to be getting more coupon-friendly, and the body wash will be free, and I am planning a big donation trip, so why not.

I picked up five bottles of mens' and five of womens', for a total of ten, plus a package of socks for the kid. I expected my total to be $5.88, the price of the socks. Instead, it was $8.28. Uh, what? After I got the receipt, I saw clearly what happened: Walmart charged me sales tax on the body wash. 24c a bottle. Aaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrgh. You know I would not pay 24c a bottle for body wash, right? The total tax was almost the cost of another whole bottle of body wash.

According to my state's tax code, "Amounts representing on-the-spot cash discounts, employee discounts, volume discounts, store discounts such as ‘‘buy one, get one free,’’ wholesaler’s or trade discounts, rebates and store or manufacturer’s coupons shall establish a new purchase price if both the item and the coupon are described on the invoice or cash register tape." In other words, if a coupon reduces the price of an item, sales tax is calculated based on the price paid after coupon. If the price paid is zero, then zero sales tax is owed.

The item and coupon are clearly described on the cash register tape, and therefore Walmart is in error charging me sales tax, and owes me $2.40. You try explaining this fact to Walmart's sole customer service employee, without having a copy of said tax code in hand. She clearly could not do anything to help me. Even if she knew the tax law, she wouldn't have been able to do anything to help me. I felt like such a tool. It was embarrassing, honestly. Why did I even bother going over to ask her about it? What on earth did I think would happen? They were probably rolling their eyes and laughing about me when I left. Whatever, the law is the law.

I would never have bought the body wash if I'd realized that they were going to charge me sales tax on it. Should I return it? Since they now have my $30 worth of coupons, would they give me $32.40 in cash back?

I feel more upset about this than I should. I feel like I've been ripped off! Perhaps because a retailer as large as Walmart ought to be charging tax in accordance with local laws? Perhaps because I truly would not have purchased the body wash, had I known, and would have saved my coupons to use at stores where I actually like to shop, and where I know the tax would have been computed properly? Perhaps I am just nuts, and $2.40 is not worth getting upset over?


I did find color photo ink cartridges for my printer on clearance at Target, though, for only $7 and change, 75% off their regular price of $30. That was pretty nice! I only bought two. Maybe I should go back and pick up a few more. I mean, $7, you can't beat that.