The Coupon Consultant

I have now started my own business, The Coupon Consultant. I will be sharing with people how to save money by using smart shopping strategies. This will include using coupons, rebates, and some planning to save people hundreds of dollars on their monthly budgets. At times, I have hijacked our family blog to share my coupon stories. Well now, the coupon stories have their own blog! And my Circus and have its blog back, too! Check out The Coupon Consultant!

Three things that help me survive the day!

I absolutely love homeschooling my Circus. I couldn't always say that. Before, I felt like it was the best for my kids, but I wasn't convinced that I was really supposed to be doing it. Over the summer, I spent lots of time really praying about what we were supposed to do (not about giving it up, but working through curriculum/methods, etc). I came to a great peace about it all and found a new curriculum. I won't talk about that now, but I gained a whole new perspective and attitude toward school with my kids. I love it, and now I can't imagine doing anything else. Some days are phenomenal, and some days are nightmarish. I have learned that there are 3 things that get me through the daily grind.

  1. Sleep: I am the worst at this one. I am preaching to myself here. I've talked to many homeschool moms who face the same problem. Once the kids go to bed, that's when the house is quiet. We can get things done, watch a movie, read a book, get on the computer. I am also a "night owl." Or I have called myself one since I knew what it meant. I have now discovered that I really enjoy the early mornings. I am finding that if I go to bed, and get up early, I still have time to do those things (not a watch a movie), but I'm actually rested and awake when I do them. I have literally been shocked at how awake and productive I am between 4:30 and 6:30am. The people who really know me are now laughing out loud. And women who've been practicing this for years are now breathing a sigh of relief that I've joined the dark side!
  2. F.O.B.: Did you know that you can order your burgers this way at Burger King? Fresh off the Broiler? Yes, you really can, but this is not what helps me homeschool. Every afternoon for an hour we have Feet on the Bed (F.O.B) time. The kids are required to be in their bed. They may read, play with a couple of quiet toys, or draw and color. My almost 5 year old still naps everyday. It's obvious that she needs it. My 7 year old naps 1-2 times a week, and my 9 year old naps about once a week as well. That is time for me to do whatever I need or want for an hour. I may even take a nap. This is survival for me, and the kids will one day appreciate knowing how to set aside some time each day to be still.
  3. Trigger the nose: This sounds weird, but I recently learned this from a veteran homeschool mom, and it has made all the difference in my house. When the kids seem to be stressed or frustrated with school, she said to cook something aromatic. I tried it with great skepticism. My kids love fresh popcorn. We pop it in a big pan on the stove. One day they were frustrated with bad attitudes. They were arguing about everything. I popped some popcorn, and we worked successfully for 1.5 hours more. I've used that a few times since with success every time. The only problem is that my oldest daughter heard me tell another mom about it, and just the other day she said, "Mom, I'm feeling a little stressed. Can you cook something?"
Guess what? These tips may help homeschool moms, but even if your kids go to school, these three things can and will work for you as well! It was a public school teacher who taught me about F.O.B. She did it in the summer with her own children. So, homeschooling or not, go to bed and rise early, introduce your kids to F.O.B., and cook something aromatic FOR YOU!

I am without my computer...

Just wanted to let you know that my lack of bloggage is because I am without my computer. My dvd/cd-rom drive quit working, and the casing on the computer is cracked. I took it in and should be getting it soon. I am having to use Craig's computer when he's home, or the VERY slow computer that the kids use for school/games. I am very excited about lots of things that are going on, but I will wait for my computer to share it all. Thanks for your patience!

Angel Food Ministries

Have you ever heard of this? I had heard of it, but finally took advantage of it for the very first time. It is a ministry that ANYONE can take advantage of. There are no salary requirements and no application process. Read about the ministry HERE, and find a distribution center near you. This past weekend, Craig took the kids and picked up our first box. The menus are different for each month. In November for $30 we got this:

1 One Dessert Item (it was a package of cookies)
1 One Dozen Eggs
1 1 lb. Diced Sweet Potatoes
1 1 lb. Green Beans
1 1 lb. Ground Turkey
1 1 lb. Smoked Sausage
1 1.5 lb. New York Strip Steak (4 x 6 oz.)
1 10 oz. Peanut Butter
1 15 oz. Cranberry Sauce
1 2 lb. Baby Back Pork Ribs
1 2 lb. Chicken Chunks (I thought they would be nuggets. They are popcorn style chicken bites made from dark meat. I fried some because I want to fix them in lots of different ways. Next time, I will bake them with some seasoning and add them on to a salad.)
1 20 oz. Shoestring Fries
1 28 oz. Jumbo Charbroiled Beef Patties with Gravy
1 3 lb. IQF Split Chicken Breast
1 32 oz. 2% Reduced Fat Shelf-Stable Milk
1 6 oz. Pancake Mix
1 7 oz. Beef-Flavored Rice & Vermicelli

They also have "special units" that you can buy if you buy one of the regular boxes like the one I listed above. There are meat only boxes, or produce only boxes. And for December they have a few more options than usual. They have a special meat and cheese gift box for $20, full Christmas meals, and a holiday mixed fruit box $26. I am impressed with it, and it would make a neat gift for someone this season! It includes all of this for $26:

4  Washington State Large, Extra Fancy Red Delicious Apples
4  Washington State Large, Extra Fancy Golden Delicious Apples
4  Washington State Extra Large, Extra Fancy Granny Smith Apples
5  Washington State Large, Extra Fancy Red Anjou Pears
4  Extra Large, Extra Fancy Red Rome Apples
4 Large Florida Tree-Ripened Navel Oranges
4 Large Florida Tree-Ripened Tangerines
4 Large Florida Tree-Ripened Tangelos
6 Large Florida Tree-Ripened Juice Oranges
5 Large Florida Tree-Ripened Ruby Red Grapefruits
1 Recipe Sheet

Now that I look at it again, it's AWESOME for $26! That's 45 pieces of fruit!!!!

In this time of stretching our budget for holidays, I hope this helps you, too!

Happy Savings and Happy Thanksgiving!

Black Friday is coming...

This is one of the best shopping days of the year! And you can get almost ALL of the ads online before Thursday. Just go to BLACK FRIDAY INFO and check out the ads. Hope you have an incredible Thanksgiving. We all have so many things to be thankful for!

Good retreat!

Well, I am back! I just returned from a Ladies Retreat with the women of Bayside Baptist Church in Virginia Beach, and some who attend other churches. We had a great time. God met us there. I thank each and everyone of you who attended for making me (and my friends from FBC) feel so welcome! We'll have to do it again sometime, and maybe the Ding-A-Ling Sisters will make another appearance!

I have one prayer request. The woman who puts the retreat together every year (this was year 19!) is sick. She ended up having to leave this morning before the retreat was over. I would ask that you pray for Frances Gamel. She has a heart for the women of her church and the Hampton Roads area to know Christ and know Him intimately. She has had some health problems in the past, so her recovery from this illness may be long. Please pray for her to rest and get well!

We love you Frances!

Thank you also for your prayers for me. God met me there, too. He worked and He was glorified. Thanks again for lifting me up.

Love to all!

Just a warning....

This week there will most likely be a lack of bloggage. that word? Well, it is now. When I was learning Spanish, there were times when I would be in the middle of a conversation and come to a place where I wouldn't know a word. So, I would just make one up. We laughed so hard at me, and many Costa Ricans (thanks Guema) and Mexicans laughed at me, but there are still words we jokingly use that I made up! So, bloggage is now in my and your vocabulary!

Back to the warning....not much bloggage this week. I am laying out my schedule for you so that you can pray for me this week. I don't remember the last time I've felt this much pressure (good pressure, just lots to do), so all of your prayer are welcome and coveted!

Monday: Loop de Lou Party, prep for the party, necessary trip to the store
Tuesday: Luncheon at church, Kindermusik, and Basketball tryouts for the Artist and the Jedi
Wednesday: Must have prepared and taken 6 desserts to the church by 9am, and church
Thursday: Dentist appoint. for the Jedi, errands to run, and North Suffolk church plant meeting
Friday: Leave at 9am for a Women's Retreat...oh, and for the biggest part...I am leading the retreat!

And homeschooling...and laundry...and meals...and sleep...and final prep for the retreat...and spend time with my husband just returned from Portugal....and the MOST IMPORTANT of them all, have focused time with my Savior (the only one that can help me do it all with a Godly attitude).

So please pray! Thanks in advance for lifting me up!

Today is Worth Two Posts

Sign up for a Home Made Simple Coupon Booklet. It is a free booklet that has $27 in coupons for Proctor and Gamble products. I had to share this!

Happy Savings!

Don't forget my Couponing with Kids post below!

Couponing with Kids...

First of all, MAKE SURE THEY GO TO THE BATHROOM!!!! The Circus and I went on Friday to take advantage of the Triples/Doubles weekend at Farm Fresh. And of course we had to make a trip to the bathroom, even though they all "supposedly went" before we left. Now, this is not an easy task as not only do you have to take the kids to bathroom, you must lug all of your paraphernalia with you: coupons, purse, umbrella (it was raining), daughter's purse (that won't happen again). So, first the ingredient necessary to couponing with kids is PATIENCE. Just know that there will be interruptions, a million questions, a bathroom break, etc. I did not handle it well at first, but then it hit me, "Lori, you're the problem, not them. They don't deserve the stinky attitude. They didn't complain that you brought them grocery shopping, so don't complain when they need to go to the bathroom." So, patience! Now once I get over my issues, the next key is what MAKES OR BREAKS A TRIP:

ORGANIZATION! This is NOT one of my strengths. You've all read my posts on being a messie! And sometimes, Coupon Central (aka the dining room table) is a disaster. But, my binder is usually very organized. Have you seen my binder? I must post pictures soon. You can see a an example of what I use HERE. Back to the original post. You see, although I got all flustered over the trip to the bathroom, I went right back to my list and picked right back up where I left off. Before I left on Friday, I spent 30-45 minutes making my detailed list and gathering my coupons. I only got the coupons ready that I needed on my SPECIFIC list. As I put an item in my basket, I check it off! (This may sound like the basics, but it's a DEFINITE when kids are along!) When I finish with the list, I go to an aisle where there is usually no traffic (the make up aisle in the grocery store, or in my Walmart, it's the men's clothing department; it's right there as I finish up). I go over the list and look at my coupons.

Now, what do I do with all those busy hands? Use handcuffs....JUST KIDDING!!! When I am being the mother I should be, I am patient and take my time and let them help me! I show them which item I need and tell them how many I need. My oldest carries a small notebook writing down items and prices. Talk about homeschooling. That is spelling, handwriting, and math all in one!!! Not to mention a lesson in frugality. And in the check out lane, they help me unload the cart. Then I tell them to watch the screen. I am trying to instill a sense of excitement as they see the total drop.

Does it always go this way? NO! Am I always the patient mother I should be? NO! There are a couple of more tips I will share with you. If you have a list as long as your arm, and you know you are going to be in the store for an extended period of time, do your best not to take them. There are many of you who don't have a choice. Take a small notebook and pencils for them. I do that, too. And the last trick up my sleeve that I have mastered is a good game of "Guess Who?" This is a made up customized version of the board game. I give a simple description of one of their favorite characters from a movie, book, tv show, or a real live person. From my description, they have to guess who I am talking about. They have even begun to do it for each other. This always stops a sudden break down!! It never fails. There can be weeping and gnashing of teeth and when I say, "Let's play Guess Who," you can hear a pin drop. Now, how I do that and still manage my list? Patience and Organization.

And with kids in tow, I bought $111 worth (retail value at this store) of stuff for $21! Eight cans of Manwich, 9 cans of Campbell's Chunky soup, 9 Pillsbury cake mixes, 4 boxes of Town House Crackers, 2 boxes of Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa, 4 boxes of Special K, 2 jars of Peter Pan peanut butter, 1 can of French's French Fried Onions, 1 jar of Smucker's preserves, 1 jar of Marshmallow Creme (kids with me and it was on sale), 2 Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers, and 1 can of Reddi-whip Whipped Cream! It was a GOOD RUN!

Oh...and just so you'll know, my kids have begun to beg me daily for their own coupon binder. So, it's really not too bad. And kids who learn about frugality while young usually have a better chance of practicing it as adults...not always, but usually.

If you have questions, comments, or suggestions on how you deal with kids while couponing, please leave them for all to see!

Triples and Doubles at Farm Fresh 11/14-11/16

You've got a lot to choose from this weekend when it comes to good shopping! I hope I can pull it together with the 3 kids and take advantage of some of the deals! I think I will wait until after my trip with them to write about couponing with kids! Here are the details from Farm Fresh! I got this directly from the ad. You can see this weeks ads from the paper HERE.

November 14-16

That means that a manufacturer cents off coupon worth:

That means that a manufacturer cents off coupon worth:

*Limit 1 coupon per item, maximum of 2 like items double or tripled per shopping visit. If the value of the Triple or Double Coupon exceeds the retail price of the item, you will receive the item FREE. Coupons stating "Not Subject to Doubling" or "Do not Double" will not be eligible for Tripling or Doubling. Quantity Rights Reserved.

Good deals Hampton Roads!!!

If you are in the Hampton Roads area, then this week is great for deals! You must check out the Farm Fresh sale paper, and all Super Kmarts in the area are having Super Double coupons AGAIN!!! Happy savings!

Continue to pray for Craig. He and Curt made it safely along with all the loot for the Bustrums! I think they had as much fun unpacking it as I did packing it! Most likely more!

And I promise the "couponing with kids" post is coming soon. I am trying to prioritize some things and get some cleaning/laundry done. Thanks for your patience!

Oh, and check out NYC Mission. Some of our friends, Freddy T. and Susan Wyatt, are church planting missionaries in the heart of New York City. They have just had twins about 6 weeks early. Read their story and please continue to pray for them as Elliott David and Lillie Beth are in the NICU. Thanks for lifting them up!

Couponing with Kids in Tow

A friend of mine commented on my last post wanting to know about couponing with kids. I thought that it was such a good question that I would devote a whole post to it. I wrote a short answer for her, but I will do an in depth look at it soon....hopefully before I close my eyes to sleep tonight.

Pray for Craig. He flies to Portugal today to be our missionary friends, Mark and Hannah Bustrum. I have packed more than 100 pounds of stuff for them!!! SO EXCITING!!! When we were in Mexico, one of the things we loved most about teams coming were the "goodie suitcases." Teams asked all the time what we needed or wanted. They also also asked about gifts they could bring for the kids. It was like Christmas. Now, we get to be on the other end. I have sent so many things, and I wish I could be there to see them open the suitcases.

Craig will be traveling back on Sunday. Thanks for reading about the craziness in our lives and also your willingness to lift us up!

The Epitome of Using Coupons....

Today was a GREAT day shopping. I went to Harris Teeter (3.35 for 50.90 worth), to Kroger (24.09 for 89.07 worth), Walmart (3.00 for 11.96 worth), and an unexpected trip to Farm Fresh (13.51 for 102.11 worth). I spent a total of $44 dollars for $254 worth of stuff. My trip to Farm Fresh is the one that amazes me most. I paid $13.51 for 33 items. Those 33 items include 8 bottles of All Small and Mighty Laundry detergent and 10 bottles of Suave Shampoo for kids. It's an average of 41 cents an item. I am just shocked. I have laundry detergent for awhile!!! And I love All!

Many of you ask me what it takes to do the kind of deals I do. If I think about the three most important things I would say are organization, time, and persistence. Of all the deals I found today, I have a picture of two lone boxes of goldfish crackers. I read on Hot Coupon World that one of the stores had put the Halloween boxes of Goldfish on clearance. When I scanned these two boxes, they rang up for 5.98 each. I took them to the front anyway to find out if they were supposed to be marked down. My cashier went and found the manager which took almost 10 minutes. You can imagine how the people behind me were oozing with love. I told them coupon savings stories to ease the tension. The cashier came back and said, "They are 75% off! They are only $1.50 a box." I looked at the people behind and said, "Thanks for your patience, I just saved 9 dollars!" They all smiled and laughed and I pranced out with $12 in Goldfish for $3.

Organization, time, and persistence are the keys. Six months ago, I never would have waited. My time was TOO valuable. Well, I've learned my lesson over the past few months. My time IS valuable. I saved a dollar a minute today, just at one store. STAY WITH IT! DON'T BE DISCOURAGED! You can do it!

Harris Teeter Triples 11/6-11/9 ONLY

For those of you in the Hampton Roads area that happen to read the blog, and for those who have HT in your area, triples are back. Here are the regulations.

1. Twenty coupons total per VIC card or household per day.
2. Only 3 of the same coupon will be tripled.
3. Triple coupons with the face value of up to 99 cents.
4. No internet printed coupons will be doubled.

Here are some of the deals you can get:

First an explanation of the abbreviations

SS=Smart Source
RP=Red Plum
These are the names of the coupons inserts in your paper each week. The date by the abbreviation is when that coupon came out. Thanks to HOT COUPON WORLD for all of this!

Lysol Wipes - $2
.75/1 10/12 SS = free

Colgate Max Fresh Toothpaste - $1.99
.75/1 11/02 SS = free

Reynolds wax paper, 75 ft - $1.50
.50/1 10/19 SS = free

Trident Gum - $1.19
.55/1 9/21 SS = free

Nesquik hot cocoa packets-1.50
.50/1 any nesquik 9/14 RP= FREE

Muir Glen Tomatos (paste, sauce, diced) $1.49-$2.19
.75/1 10/26 SS =free

Fleischmann's Yeast .99
.45/1 9/28 SS =free

Beechnut Juice=1.39
0.75 10/26 SS = Free

Betty Crocker Pouch Potatoes--1.19 reg. price (Durham, NC)
.40/1 in 9/14 SS=FREE (exp 11/08)

Wholly Guacamole 1.99 - 75/1 10-05-08 SS = free

Kikkoman 10 oz soy sauce or teriyaki = $1.67
.55/1 8/24 SS = .02

Muir Glen soups - $2.29 ( a few flavors $2.89)
.75/1 10/26 SS = .04

Quaker Oatmeal Express Bowls 1.59-
.50/1 coupon 9/07 RP =.09

Whiskas Temptations cat treats on sale 1.67
.50 9/21 RP = .17

Smithfield Smoked Sausage $2.50
$.75 9/29SS = $.25

Betty Crocker Frosting - $1.79
.50/1 10/19 SS = .29

Carnation Evaporated Milk – 12 oz - .99
.55/2 9/14 RP = .33 for 2

Argo Corn Starch $1.99
.55/1 10/05 SS= $0.34

Snyder's Of Hanover Pretzel Sticks - 12 Multi Grain 2.59 - 75/1 09-28-08 SS = .34

Viva Papertowel=2.59
.75/1 10/12 SS =0.34

Arnold 100% Natural bread - $1.99
.55/1 10/05 SS = .34

These are just a few of the good deals that will be available.

Happy Savings!

OK Ladies....

Tonight was a GREAT night. I was able to attend "Let's Do Dinner." It's part of the Women's ministry at our church. They have "Let's Do Lunch" once a month at noon. For the women who work and are unable to attend, they have the nighttime dinner program. Well, I was able to share with the ladies for a a few minutes about my one of favorite topics....COUPONS!! Can you imagine me talking about coupons??? NEVER! Well, a good time was had by all. I promised the ladies tonight that I would post some of the websites that I have shared with you all before, but by posting them now, they are easily accessed from here.

Ladies of Let's Do Dinner, tonight was wonderful! I had a great time, even if you laughed at my binder. When you have one for yourself, we'll both laugh all the way to the bank! Also, one other thing. You all saw the products I bought. Just because I bought those doesn't mean that those were the only things on sale or with good prices at Kmart. I bought some weird colors of fingernail polish. Well, those are for gifts for the little girls in Portugal whose parents are the missionaries I mentioned last night. Little girls love that stuff! The "normal" colors are also on sale! Also, there was lots of free cat food at Kmart to be had, too, but I don't have a cat. That was just a sampling of what was there. Here are the websites I promised! Just click the links below and be whisked away to a saving wonderland! Please feel free to ask questions by clicking the comment link at the bottom of the page. You can ask questions there, and all of the women can see the question and the answer.

1. The Coupon Mom This is a free site, but you must sign up. Her services are free because of all of the advertising on her site. When you first sign up, you will see LOTS and LOTS of ads, but just click "No Thanks" or "Skip," and you will never have to deal with all of the ads again. This site has lots of information, but it's main feature is that is has weekly lists of the sales at Walgreens, Rite Aid, Walmart, Target, CVS (coming soon to Hampton Roads), Kroger, Harris Teeter, and Food Lion (listed under North Carolina, not sure why). On each list for each store, it lists the sales on everything in the sale ad, matches a coupon to it, and tells you how much you should save. Also, you can select the items you are interested in buying, click a link at the the bottom of the page (Display Selected Deals), and it will give you a printable shopping list! GREAT SITE!

2. Hot Coupon World This is a free site, but you must also sign up. It is a forum site. Women from all over the country post deals they've gotten, and specials they've found that might not be advertised anywhere else. There are also LOTS AND LOTS of tips on how to save money, stockpiling, and much much more. You can spend literally HOURS reading the information there. DO NOT GET OVERWHELMED. Start slow and small. One tip for navigating this site. They use a lot of abbreviations like YMMV, TMF, Man Q, WAGS. At the bottom of every page you're on there is a link to a page with abbreviations. It will help you tremendously.

3. Money Saving Mom. This is my favorite frugal blog. It does not require that you sign up. She has lots of great posts about saving money and she also lists many of the deals for the week.

OK ladies, enjoy this. Take your time. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither will be your coupon binder or your personal stockpile. It takes time, and you've got lots to learn. It's so worth it!

Happy Savings!

Today was a good shopping day....

Many Kmart stores around the country are having Super Double Coupons this week. That means coupons with a face value up to $2 are doubled. So a $2 coupon is worth $4. A $1 coupon is worth $2 and so on. That means you can get some incredible deals. Here is a picture of everything I bought today.

This is $141.97 worth of stuff. After all the sales and coupons, I was able to get all of it for $17.38. Don't worry, I couldn't believe it either. Neither could the cashier or the lady behind me in line. We all did the happy dance right there together. After my last post, I realized once again that this is what couponing is all about.

I bought 51 items today. As I looked at the picture, I realized that there were only
22 items that I actually paid something for. Everything else on the table was absolutely free. And some of the items that I got today are actually going to my friends, the Bustrums that I wrote about in my last post.

God is good. He does provide. He can use it all!

Happy Savings!