Thursday, April 12, 2012

Getting Organized : Couponing

In our house we coupon. It's like getting free money. Really. Especially if it's items you already buy, and if you have a pantry or place to store extra items. We don't extreme coupon, though. Does any one person need 57 sticks of deodorant or 127 tubes of toothpaste (Or have the room to store that much crap)? Exactly. We don't have a pantry in our kitchen, yet, and haven't finished out our basement to give us extra storage, so I have bookshelves in the dinning side of our kitchen to act as storage.

This is where I store the extra food. 
I use our hall linen closet to store extra cleaning supplies and personal items (like toothpaste and body wash).
But I am not trying to blog about my food storage - so back to coupons.
They really do save us money. I usually save at least $5 a grocery trip, but I've saved up to $50 with coupons before (Target). Target is actually one of the best places to start couponing. They will allow 1 store coupon and 1 manufacturers coupon per item (which is great for baby stuff). My mom used this trick to get my son a christmas present (yup, she's that early) - the item was on sale, she used a 50% off Target coupon and a $5 manufacturers coupon to get the toy for $3.50 (regularly about $20). Target is also pretty patient about taking coupons, and if you use eco-bags, they give you a .05cent/bag discount. I've had people in line behind me listen to my total, see my coupon stack, hear the after total along with any bonus giftcards I received, then ask me how I started couponing and stay organized. 

There are so many ways to coupon, and honestly, I'm not sure where my ideas first came from. My system has evolved many (many, many) times. At first it's hard to find a system you like and will actually work for you. If you're super organized, a binder filled with card sleeves to hold each coupon may work for you. Or you may be more of a keep them all in a ziplock bag-er. I'm somewhere in between. I try to be as organized as I can, but don't have the time to spend hours super couponing. We also don't get a weekly newspaper, so all my coupons are mailed to me (with free samples) or are printed off the internet (or given to us by nice people who work with my husband).

To organize my coupons I use a mini-file envelope. I got mine from Target, I've seen them in Walmart and even the Dollar Tree before. What size you go with is up to you. Since I mainly print coupons, I went with one designed to hold receipts and checks (it's 5"x9" or so). They make ones that are letter sized (we use for organizing files), and they make smaller ones that are about 4"x6" and designed to hold index cards and pictures.

I labeled my tabs for how I found it best to organize them based on our family. The very front of the file is open, and where I store any coupons I am using that trip. Once I've gotten the item, the coupon goes into my purse/wallet- for when I pay. My tabs are labeled Baby, Household, Personal, Medical, Grocery, Misc...,  a blank one, Target, Other Stores, and another blank one (which is where I keep restaurant coupons usually).
I also have a clipboard I take with me shopping. The back has a pocket to hold the weekly ads, and I keep my grocery list clipped to the front, organized by stores, item location in store, and items with coupons starred, of course :) .

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What time is it ...

(Tool time. )

No, it's plant your garden time.
This past weekend my husband, bro-in-law, and dad-in-law worked on building us (me) a raised bed garden. And it's quite nice. Yesterday I put some plants in it, and I have some seeds to start and transplant.  I can't wait to have lots of veggies & fruits growing at home. So healthy, and it will save us so much money. I'm thinking about buying some berry bushes too, if there is space for them.

We have very hard, rocky, red clay soil; so we decided to build a raised bed garden instead.
To build our garden we used 8 3"x3"x8' lawn timbers, some rebar, and 24 bags of top soil.

We picked up some plants and a bunch of seeds.

And I planted.

And I prepared to plant some more.

And, as a bonus, I created a square-foot garden planting chart. You can use it to plan out your garden, and keep track of what is planted where. 

Click to view larger, then save .jpg file to your computer.
I included a 4'x8' lattice on the materials list. This is optional (obviously), depending on what you decide to plant. We didn't pick one up, but, I may do a 2'x8' one, if the cucumbers, melons and squashes do well (give them something to climb).