Living not striving…

Random thoughts and daily adventures in my life

Crazy Coupon Lady July 25, 2009

Filed under: Health and Safety — erikaivory @ 2:33 am

That is what my boys call me these days, “Crazy Coupon Lady”.  I tend to get on a kick and go full throttle with something.  For the past few months my “thing” has been couponing.  When I sit down and look at our budget most of the areas where we could cut back or adjust, we have.  But our food line item is very frustrating to me, because there is only so much you can do to decrease it.  I guess I could tell my kids, “No more milk or fruit this week!  No more!”however that is hard for me to do.

Since I discovered couponing I feel like I actually have some control in this crazy chore of grocery shopping and meal planning.  It also feeds my competitive nature.  It feels great to find a super deal each week or to challenge myself to cut back $5 more dollars this week.

I am still very much learning the ropes, but I have seen a decrease in our spending.  I am not super disciplined at closely following EXACTLY how much I have started saving but I certainly am saving and learning tons.  This is definitely a work in progress.

I started by simply cutting the coupons that I thought I might use and then trying to remember to use them.  That didn’t work very well so then I found some websites to give me some guidance.  I quickly discovered that there are some amazing sites out there that basically do all the work for you.  My two favorite are www.moneysavingmom.com and www.southernsavers.com.

Each week I now cut out basically all the coupons as well as find and print coupons off the internet.  I subscribed to http://www.coupons.com to find internet coupons but you can also find them from the other websites I mentioned as well as the websites of each grocery store, including Target.  Then Southern Savers and Moneysavingmom break down the good deals from each grocery store, including the drugstores, Target and Wal-Mart.  The ladies that run these websites do an incredible job and help people like me save a ton of money!  They also include all kinds of freebies and opportunities to win and earn different prizes and items.

When I started I stored my coupons in an index card box.  I had the different sections separated out and I would carry my little box with me into each store.  However I often forgot my box and almost lost it a few times.  A few weeks ago I went to a couponing conference led by Jenny the lady that runs Southern Savers.  It was a few hours one evening at Church at Sandhurst and cost $10.  It was well worth it.

Jenny suggested some different ways to store coupons and one was a big old binder.  It is awfully big but I bought business card holders to put in it to store the coupons and it also has a place for scissors, my calculator, inserts that haven’t been cut up yet and all kinds of pockets to store coupons by store.  It also is big enough that I don’t leave it behind when I am grocery shopping:)

2009-07-21 13.11.56

2009-07-21 13.12.14

I used to do all my grocery shopping at Wal-Mart and then I added Aldi as well.  I still shop at Aldi for many of my standard items that we use each week.  Even with coupons I often can’t beat Aldi prices.  Now though I rarely go to Wal-Mart, which is truly wonderful!  Most of my shopping is now small trips to many stores.  It is so worth it though, because of the money I see us saving.

I also now love shopping at the drug stores for deals.  There is so much to learn about how to find the best deal and catch them at the best times but when you do, you can end up with a lot for free!  Like tonight I purchased a 24 pack of bottled water, a gallon of milk, 2 bottles of handsoap, a 4 pack of Duracell batteries, 30 pencils and a 10 pack of Kudos bars for free!

Next I went shopping at Harris Teeter.  This grocery store is the bomb!  They always double coupons up to .99.  That means if your coupon says $1.00 you only save $1.00 but if it says .75 then you will save $1.50.  Every few weeks though Harris Teeter will either offer triple coupons or Super Doubles which means they will double coupons up to $2.00.  You can really save a bundle during these times.  So tonight I also did some shopping and came away with groceries worth $74.72 and spent OOP (out of pocket) $33.53.

Wow, there is a lot more to share but I will end for tonight with the suggestion that if you are at all interested in playing the Grocery Game and couponing then you should definitely check out those websites I mentioned above.  I am now enjoying grocery shopping instead of dreading it.  And I love feeling like I am doing my best to be a good steward of what I have.

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Coming up…in the mean time July 18, 2009

Filed under: Deep thoughts — erikaivory @ 2:41 am

I need to do a blog about my brother’s recent wedding in Atlanta and all the fun that went on there, but it will take some concentrated time.  I also really want to do a blog post on my most recent obsession “couponing” however that will take some time too.  So for tonight I will leave you with another great quote by Mark Batterson.  It has been at least a week since I quoted him around here right?  He is one of the only people I follow on twitter that I don’t personally know.  It is worth it though…good stuff:)

“We need to dream big dreams not because we need to accomplish big things. What we accomplish is a byproduct. We need to dream big dreams because it keeps us on our knees in raw dependence upon God. Unless He intervenes we look foolish. Dreams have far more to do with who we become in the process than the what we accomplish. They stretch us. And that’s why they are so good for us. You want to take your prayer life to the next level? Dream God-sized dreams!”

 

Grab Bag July 15, 2009

Filed under: Book reviews — erikaivory @ 2:47 am

I recently chose to be part of a “grab bag” blog tour; which means that Waterbrook Multnomah randomly chose two of their 8 new Value Fiction Summer Reads.  These books are two of a whole assortment of great full-length historical novels that only cost $5.99.  Now I think that is a great price for a fun, summer read.

I was sent the two below.  I am halfway through one and it is great!  So look for them in your local bookstore! You gotta love a great book for a low price:)

Under the Distant Sky (ISBN-13: 978-1-60142-245-3)

by Al and Joanna Lacy, book one in Hannah of Fort Bridger. Join Hannah and Solomon Cooper as they journey by wagon train to a new life on the frontier. Will they overcome tragedy and great opposition as they strive to live their dream?

A Gathering of Finches (ISBN-13: 978-1-60142-247-7)

by Jane Kirkpatrick. A turn-of-the-century Oregon coastal couples’ life is seen through the eyes of the wife, her sister, and her Indian maid who discover reasons why money and possessions can’t buy happiness, forgiveness or relieve consequences of choices.

 

Possibilities to Overflowing July 8, 2009

Filed under: Deep thoughts — erikaivory @ 3:44 am
Tags: , ,

Today as I was making grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch and listening to my boys play in the background I had this thought…

When we are little kids the future seems to hold limitless possibilities.  When you ask a 5 year old what he wants to be when he grows up you don’t get one answer but usually a variety.  Most children plan on having many careers…fireman, president, ballerina, mommy, cook, race car driver…on and on.

I am usually an optimist but recently when I squint my eyes and try and look into the future I find myself internally wincing in a bit of fear and dread.  I don’t see possibilities but rather potential problems.  What if the economy doesn’t improve?  What if one of the boys get hurt?  What if there are more layoffs?  What if I get cancer?  Who in my family will become terminally ill next?  What if my boys become rebellious?  What if?  What if?

So when does our perspective change?  I like to look into the future and plan and work out and prepare for what is coming around the corner.  However the older I get the more I realize that I may not want to know what I am about to face around that next bend in the road.  This day and what it brings is about all I am capable of dealing with.

I do want to raise optimists though.  I want to see hope in their eyes and they need to see hope in mine.  I know my God is big enough to handle whatever comes, because He is Sovereign and knows what is in my future.  I really am not trying to sound depressing however I was surprised at my own train of thought.  Surprised at this bit of pessimism.  Our God is Hope and that is what He offers us in every way.

So when do you think that shift in thinking happens?  When does our future change from being filled with possibilities to potential problems?  Maybe yours has never changed…you are blessed:)

On a bit of a lighter note, I have been surfing the web for some fun pictures for a family project I have been working on.  I was trying to find a picture of a cup overflowing.  The thought was of how God fills us up to overflowing and how He rains down His blessings on us and they overflow onto others.  I found this picture and it just made me smile and I thought I would share it.

teacups

You like?

 

Did you think I forgot? July 1, 2009

Filed under: Random stuff — erikaivory @ 3:43 am

Haven’t heard me quote Mark Batterson recently have you?  Never fear I have some for you tonight:)

Read his great post tonight about “creating margin” in our lives.  I have heard several sermons on this concept and love Andy Stanley’s take on it.  I think Stanley even wrote a book on it.

Basically it is the challenge to create space in our lives…so that we have space for creativity, adventure, rest, inspiration, or whatever we need.  Whatever GOD wants to fill it with.  I know for me I tend to naturally try to fill up every minute with something productive.  Then I am exhausted and truthfully don’t accomplish much or enjoy what I do.

I am learning this lesson a little more each year.  This past weekend I cashed in my Mother’s Day gift which was a night and day alone at the beach.  Kind of a personal/private spiritual retreat.  It was awesome!  I am so thankful for a husband that realizes how desperately I need that and how it refreshes me.

I rested, listened to music, read a ton, enjoyed the beach, slept, prayed, journaled, planned and did a little bit of shopping.  I unplugged from the internet and other things that tend to distract me.  Every so often I just need to silence the noise so I can be clearheaded and focus inward and upward.  It was pure bliss:)

So back to Batterson…he does a better job of this challenge to create margins in our lives.  It is hard to do but the better I get at it, the more freedom I find.  And I am so determined to learn this so I can raise my boys to live out this concept.  Enjoy..

One of the quantum challenges leaders face is this: as the organizations they lead start experiencing organizational growth they stop experiencing personal growth. Why? Because of the demands of the organizational growth. They start leading the organization and stop leading themselves. And that is when the blessing turns into a curse. Growth will grind to a halt. In fact, it will probably implode. You lose spiritual margin. You lose intellectual margin. You lose creative margin. And you stop growing. No Margin = No Growth.

The key to continued organizational and personal growth boils down to this: margin. You need margin to think. You need margin to play. You need margin to laugh. You need margin to dream. You need margin to have impromptu conversations. You need margin to seize unanticipated opportunities. You need margin.

One of the primary responsibilities of leaders is creating margin. It almost seems selfish. But you are doing everybody you work with a disservice if you give them everything you’ve got. You need margin. And it starts with time management. If you don’t control your calendar, your calendar will control you.

Here are a ten ways to create margin:

1) Use all of your vacation days. You owe it to yourself and your family.
2) Protect your day off religiously.
3) Don’t schedule meetings on certain days or before certain hours.
4) Delegate more responsibility.
5) Only check email during designated times during the day.
6) Get up earlier in the morning.
7) Schedule meetings with God and yourself.
8) Turn off the TV.
9) Get out of your organizational context and go to a conference.
10) Hit the gym. You don’t have enough time or energy NOT to work out.

Have any ideas to add to the mix? How do you create margin?