XBox 360

Whoo, hoo...Our DS (darling son) won an XBox 360 game system at his school. Apparently, they enter the students' name in a drawing if they passed their TAKS test and pull a winner's name out at the end of the year.

He was in a quandry, not sure that he wanted to keep the system because he loves his Wii. So far, I think he has decided to keep the system, we'll see.


Part-time Job/Work for Yourself

I just wanted to get a link out to those who might be interested, click this blog subject title to link. I have mentioned several times that my DH (darling husband) has said that he believes that my couponing (q'ing) is comparable to me having a part-time job, which contributes to our family's resources.

I found this wonderful blog site and article that seem to sum it all up for me....have a look see;)

Successful Weekend Shopping

I was able to get a little shopping done on Saturday in the big city of Amarillo. I was loaded to bear with my lists and my three inch zipper binder full of coupons. I was accompanied by my sister in law (SIL) Annie. First stop to Family Dollar, I have never really shopped in this store but Annie had several items to purchase. I spoke with the clerks and they called their store manager then the district manager and found out that they can accept internet coupons, whoo hoo!!! I didn't drag out my binder, but made mental note of several items/brands that they stock and will have to spend more time there next trip to town. I did find some clearance children's liquid tylenol clearanced from $5.97 to $1.50, so I wiped out their stock and picked up three to add to my medicine cabinet.

Next stop Walgreens, I was pumped. I had them scan the box of computer paper to see if their price was reduced as I had read on several blogs, yes...So I was able to pick up one box with four reams of paper for $7.95 and will send in the $5 rebate plus an additional 10% for a gift certificate card at Walgreens, so four reams of paper for $2.45, not too shabby...

I have decided that I will not be shopping at Walgreens anymore, the clerks and the manager stated that they do not accept internet coupons...my purchases were already rung up, so I will just keep my items and receipt, then hit up another Walgreens next time I shop and have the items returned and my account credited....

Next stop WalMart. I have never shopped with internet coupons (q) so I was a little nervous, but I did brave the store and entered in with my full binder. I did stop off at the customer service desk to make sure that they accepted internet coupons and after some calling, they said they did.

I was determined to buy items on my shopping list and use as many q as practicable. I stuck my free q on top and was able to score most items, except 2 so will have to continue my quest. All said and done, my initial shopping total for a total items of 57 was $139.88....but after coupons were deducted, the grand total amounted to a whopping $74.87!!!! I am way pumped.

46.5% off of grocery bill!!!!

It took a little time, I picked a young male checker and he thought it was kinda' fun with all of the coupons. He ended up having to call over a Customer Service manager to review everything, but they accepted all of the coupons. I probably had about 1/2 manufacturer q and 1/2 internet coupons. My best purchases were the Muir organic tomato sauce priced at $1.16 per can with $1 internet q, for a total of .16 per can and then I had $2 off q from Farmland and was able to find really nice sliced hams at $2.88 each so after q 88 cents each, then Farmland bacon at 2/$5 and I had $2 off q so they were 50cents each, plus 1 lb. Farmland sausage rolls priced at $1.23 with $1 off q so I got 4 rolls at 23 cents each. I am overloaded with bacon, sausage and ham, but couldn't be any happier. These are items that we need and the prices were wonderful!!!

The other thrilling thing is that I as able to go to Panhandle Salvage on the way into town and was able to buy about 8 packages of 8 oz cheddar cheese at $1.50 each and colby cheese and also found two boxes of powdered milk. I did pick some yogurt, yellow peppers, onions and potatoes, frozen broccoli, corn, etc. That store is getting more and more crowded, so you have to hit it when it opens or you lose out. I got there at 9:30am, they open at 9:00am, but had made a call to my SIL and she was there at 9:00am so was able to grab some of the hot items for me, until I could get there to finish my shopping.

So a wonderful shopping day for me...and the family. I did finally get some sense and we packed our large cooler and it was just the right size to hold things all day while we visited the family without having the items go bad before I could get them home to the fridge/freezer.

My SIL was thrilled and surprised that I was able to do so well with q, she asked if I had told my MIL Rosina? No, did she really want me to talk about my shopping and success at CVS w/q. She looked at my massive q binder and looked at me and had to say, no.....She doesn't have the time and wouldn't be able to get things organized.

They do very well with having Panhandle Salvage, near by, so their grocery savings are significant each month. I had to explain that David believes that my q time is really equivalent to having a part-time job, it takes alot of time and effort. Alot of people say it is easy, but I have not found that to be true. I spend alot of time clipping, comparing and researching and the hours add up to a chunk of time each week. Especially when you strive for $0 OOP or reductions of 90% on some of your shopping excursions.

But I am thrilled that I am able to see such significant savings in our budget over just 1 1/2 months of being into q'ing.


Kenneth's Accolades

National Honor Society Induction Ceremony

Kenneth was inducted into the Friona HS NHS last night. He and 8 other students from the Sophomore class received the honor, plus one Junior. It was a tough night for him and he about passed out after the ceremony. He is battling a bad case of Bronchitis and he refuses to miss any school (he's one tough cookie about attending school), the award room was too hot and his breathing became very labored with the heat, therefore we had to hussle him out the door to get some fresh air. Michael has been under the weather also with allergies and earaches, so mommy and he watched the awards ceremony behind the glass area away from everyone because it was too hot and he was fussy.

Very upstanding young man, don't you think.

A nice looking group.

Also, Kenneth was notified yesterday, that he was the only member of his sophomore class to receive commended performance for all of his TAKS tests!!! Way to go...


Surviving and Thriving On a Long Journey With A Toddler

Here are a few photos from our journey to the Big D two weekends ago. The portable DVD player was just what we had hoped for, it truly made it a survivable trip with a toddler. Michael was spellbound and able to tolerate 8 hours on the road. Mom just had to ride in the back to make sure that the player was loaded, videos changed timely and kept running. He only broke down for the last five minutes of the trip.

David and I also took the time to make a few more stops than we typically do. It's amazing how you also spot a cute park, one that you have never seen before over several journeys, when you have a toddler to entertain.

We highly recommend the park in Silverton, TX if you are ever going through Silverton, it is right off of the main highway through town... We stopped there on the way home as well and I think our 15 year old Kenneth had more fun than anyone on the swings and rides. Sorry, no photos from that excursion too tired...

A Muddy Morning

I don't know if they erected this fence to protect the new bushes from the dogs or Michael, but it doesn't seem to be working...
Now, he wants a hug!!!

A mud puddle, um um good....
Michael making and sampling his mud pies...
I am able to upload a few photos this afternoon, someone is sleeping very soundly after his very adventurous morning in the backyard, playing with mud. It truly is one of Michael favorite activities. Gotta' love it.

Amanda's Graduation, A Good Day!!!

Happy Graduate

Donnie and Amanda, the proud husband and wife

Melanie and Amanda

Amanda, Proud Dad and Tired Michael

Uncle John and Jeremy

It was a very full trip, 16 hours on the road round trip, but well worth the effort.

Amanda graduated from University of Texas at Arlington with her Bachelors in Education and is set to be an elementary teacher in Waco. Couldn't be more proud, she is really excited about her career as a teacher!!! We were able to stay with our youngest daughter Melanie for a few nights. It was good to see our oldest son Jeremy. Makes me happy:)

David's brother John was a gracious host for allowing us to hang at his house in North Richland Hills for far too many hours and also meet up post graduation for a really scrumptious pig out of pizza and graduation cake.

It was also an overwhelming weekend because I was able to see all of the kids over the mother's day weekend. Nothing could be better than that, if only I could have seen my mom:(

I Love CVS

If you have never visited this site, I highly recommend you take the time.... click on the title for an auto link. This site will get you on track for an obsessive disorder that will consume your freetime and every waking moment...

Really, it is a wonderful educational tool for getting you up to speed on starting a lifetime experience with shopping at CVS.

My Saturday shopping excursion to my local CVS (30 miles down the road, so not a quick event for me) took about 3 hours with commute. What you say... I didn't take any pictures of my haul, I was just too tired. Best I can figure everything out. I received about $260 in merchandise for a net expense of -$1.83. I know it sounds unbelievable, but it is true.

Some of the items I received, 5 Aquafresh toothpaste, 2 sample Aquafresh toothpaste, 2 Johnson's soap buddies, 3 bars Johnson's soap, 10 bars Ivory soap, 2 microwaveable brownies, 10 varied nutrition bars, 2 bottles multivitamins, 3 packets of Claritin, 5 men's deodorant, 10 bottles bodywash, 1 razor set, 6 room deodorizer sprays (totally free), 1 gallon milk, $35 CVS giftcards, $25 Barnes and Nobles giftcard, $15 Itunes giftcard, 2 Huggies packets baby wipes, 1 Huggies baby soap, and 3 toothbrushes.

As my husband said, we are even getting top quality items...not the local pepsodent and generic products that I have been pawning off on them for the last few years.

The only downside, is the checkers were a little frustrated with me by the end of everything. I messed them up with the rainchecks, apparently you need to give them at the start of your transaction or they are messed up...so I didn't take the time to ask for the rainchecks that I really wanted, no problem, I will just have to hit up a couple of CVS's in Amarillo next weekend when we go and make sure that I get the rainchecks that I want.

I think the rainchecks are the long term moneymakers to look for. One of my rainchecks didn't have a item limit listed... and there is no expiration date on them, so you can take the time to look for the coupons you would like and I lucked out on the fact that the items went through as free and this month there was an ECB with purchasing the items, so I really doubled up on my ECB credits.

It looks like we are well stocked on soap and room deodorizers. I need to focus on laundry detergent, paper products and women's deodorant.

I also have started my Christmas stash piles and have already finished my shopping for two of the guys on my lists, so way ahead of last year. I told my husband, maybe I can have most of our Christmas shopping done by August of this year and that includes the shopping for his co-workers...

I wasn't the best at my OOP expenses, that ended up being about $70. I had my scenarios worked out to the t, but when they don't have some of the items or not as much quantity as I had planned, it messed with my calculations and I worked a long time on my calculations. I find it difficult to calculate on the fly. Especially when you are dealing with the volume that I was buying. I think that in the future I need to just itemize everything and look for groups of purchases in the $15 to $20 range and do one at a time and then go to the next one...it will also make the checkers happier. I now have over $36.97 in ECB left to spend and $35 in CVS gift cards, so I have about $71.97 left to spend at CVS, leaving me with a net expense of -$1.83 after it is all said and done.

The key to my shopping is I asked for rainchecks everytime I went to CVS last month and they didn't have the items I wanted. So I had two rainchecks for free 12 oz. Softsoap body washes. I then saved some coupons and this month they were also offering $5 in ECB back for softsoap purchases in excess of $10, so a true money maker after it was all said and done.

Another essential element is so many items that ended up being moneymakers. I did buy 5 of the Adidas deodorants and actually was paid $14.97 to buy them! I had five coupons for the value of the item $4.99 each and also CVS was offering ECB back of $4.99 each for a limit of three, so that's how I was paid to purchase their product....Unbelievable!!!

So thanks mom for all of your help!!!

The next self inflicted challenge is to start figuring out how to attack our food budget more and get it down to a goal of $60 per week total food expense, I am also going to go with the cash only method, I find it too easy to just pop out the pulse card everytime I want something. I think I will have to look at other blogs to increase my learning and skills.


It's A Beautiful, Sun Shiny Day

I am grabbing a few minutes to myself and trying to get a quick post out to everyone. Michael has been going crazy these past two days. It has been overcast, cool and rainy in Friona and mom is not the best about letting him play in the mud puddles when it is cold. Today we woke up to a Sun Shiny Day, so he hit the ground running!!!

My littlest guy, loves...the outdoors. After he ate breakfast, he grabbed my hand and we bundled up for a couple of hours in the backyard. He just likes to run around, play with the dogs, try some dog food and dog water, eat dirt, roll around, etc. Nothing in particular but be outside.
It makes for a hard naptime, so I get a little bit more of a break today.

We had a fast and furious trip to Dallas. Got in a nice visit with the kids, my husband David's brother John and his family and headed back to Friona.

Kenneth and David have been dragging every evening. I think tomorrow will be a morning for sleeping in for all of the Newhouse Clan.

We loved the park in Silverton, hope to get some pictures posted soon.

Our daughter is officially graduated and looking forward to starting her professional career as a teacher. Hope to hear what position she decides to take soon.

Well, gotta run and get my coupons clipped, the binder organized and review all of my shopping tips and flyers to plan my attack of CVS, Walgreens and WalMart tomorrow.

Have a great weekend.


Getting ready for the Trip to BIG D...

Dallas, that is, to stay with our youngest daughter, Melanie for 3 nights, attend our oldest daughter's graduation from UT at Arlington, then head back to the big Friona on Tuesday.

My husband and I were gearing up for the trip tomorrow this evening. Michael our 22 month old, is not a very good traveler, so we procured our older son Kenneth's portable DVD player and that is being charged up as we speak. We are hoping that this makes it easier for him as well as us. I have several key videos loaded and ready to go. The only problem is that we do not have an adaptor cable for the player in the car and the instructions said the batteries only have a charge for about 3 1/2 hours. Our trip will probably take us about 7 1/2 hours...

So we are going to do what any reasonable parent would do and we are diverting our travel plans to hit Lubbock after about 1 1/2 hours on the road and will stop to pick up a new adaptor. I am sure there are alot of parents out there who can relate;)

We have been aware of Michael's aversion to traveling in the car from the first ride home after his delivery, it was an ordeal for a straight 1 1/2 and it really hasn't gotten much better since then. He's the sweetest guy, he just does not like the idea of being restrained and having to sit still for any amount of time.

It's funny how opposite your kids can end up being in their personalities, our older son Kenneth, has been an excellent traveler from day one. He always entertained himself and never had any issues. He and I would take several trips to do a 'hostage exchange' with his grandparents and he was quite content to be in the backseat and would play and play for at least 4 1/2hours non-stop. So different from our little guy...

Kenneth is already in Dallas with his band for their big trip!!! It was an exciting itinerary, even though it is only to Dallas, it will still be fun, just because of traveling with several friends. Then he will be back in town for about 1 1/2 weeks and then turn around and be headed out of town to San Marcos for his State Solo competition on the saxophone. After that we will be taking a trip to Austin for a Principal's conference with David and then the only other plans are to head to Moore this summer for a brief visit with my sister and Kenneth's band camp in July at WTAMU. I am sure there will be alot more that will be squeezed in the summer before it is all over with.

Amanda is graduating with her Bachelor in Education. She has been student teaching this past semester and is currently interviewing for her first position. It is hard to put salt on her tail, hope she has been able to procure a position. Her and her husband Donnie are on the go all of the time, I hope that with her teaching in the Fall that they will be able to get into a more established routine. Did I mention she is graduating Cum Laude!!! Wow...

Well, I am exhausted, I just finished cleaning the church. My son usually helps for 1/2 of the pay amount, but since he is gone out of town, I had to pick up the full load. It really is a two person job, so it was tough, but at least it is over. I am also tired because I covered for cooking the Wednesday night supper for the congregation, dinner for about 70. I made homemade lasagna (umm, ummm, good!!!) garlic bread (prepackaged and cut, I just didn't have the energy for homemade Italian bread like I have always done) Greek salad (love that Feta) and apple as well as cherry cobbler with vanillar ice cream (grandma's recipe just can't be beat). It took me about 3 hours to get it all cooked and out, it's a tough gig...They are not the easiest crowd to cook for, but so far so good. I have done this about 6 times in the last 3 years and my meals are always received really well. I love our church home and congregation, with all of our worts and all. Take a look at some of our goings on....http://www.fbcfriona.com/

Be sure to click on the photos, we are in the baby dedication photos and some of the Christmas photos, and who knows where else we might turn up...

Will write more later...Have a great weekend!!!


Kenneth's Pride and Joy

My oldest son is very happy with the results of his efforts with our irises. This is the second year of having them in the ground and they have turned out beautifully!!

This is a very easy care perennial flower, that he highly recommends.

He is inspired to transplant some of them to the backyard after they finish blooming. There are a couple of lone white blooms, that I think he is going to cull out and put in back.

Aren't they beautiful!!!

Michael's Product Recommendations

Michael might be only 22 months old, but he definitely can express his opinions, so mommy is helping him with his contribution to the blogging world.

As you can see Michael loves his little swing. He can stay in this for hours... He feels secure in the swing and can go just as high as he would like at the moment. He highly recommends this for a frugal family with a big tree!!!

We obtained this as a gift from his Grandma Newhouse at a local hardware store for about $10 and he gets to swing on this at his Grandma's home (p.s. the hardware for hanging, was from some spare hooks that my husband had around the house).

We have included a link for purchasing through Amazon in the sidebar, if you would like.


What It's All About

You know sometimes there is just a single, simple picture that seems to capture so much of your heart in a single frame. This is my favorite example of my 'TruJoy'....


Having way too much fun!!!:)

I bought three Sunday papers today and five 'All You' magazines at WalMart. My coupon binder is 3" thick and expanding rapidly.

My mom has been extremely helpful and is collecting coupons from her friends and my aunt in OK and is dropping them off in the mail.

Plus, I am starting to get large $ coupons from manufacturers in the mail. I received about $8 in coupons from Farmland. I got the idea from my frugal site reviews and scoped out all of our name brand products throughout the house. I made a master list of all of the items and then went to the Hot Coupon world coupon database and looked up whether there was a coupon listed on their site or a link. If not, then I conducted a Google search for their company site to see if I might be able to score a coupon. I went ahead and clicked the contact us link on the sites with no coupons and have gotten several in the mail within just one week!

I reviewed the slick deals website this evening and have printed off the discussions and instructions for rolling ECB to GC 101. If you have not reviewed this info, check it out.

Plus, I printed off some additional coupons from the CVS website for $4 off of $20 purchase. Enough to get me through about 6 shopping excursions in the next two weeks. I will be heading to Dallas on Saturday and will be returning on Tuesday, so hope to get in several jaunts to the local CVS stores near my daughters place.


My Blessed Husband

I have been really focused over the past 2 weeks in learning how to make our budget stretch even further. It would probably seem that I have become a little bit obsessed. I have made sure to review my purchases over the past two weeks with my husband and oldest son, especially from CVS'ing. My husband had to sit down and review the receipts item by item to really 'see' what I was trying to explain to him. He kept asking me, 'how much money did you actually spend'?

Tonight he said it all!!! I can't afford to ever have you return back to the workforce, you are saving me so much money and helping our family to benefit from your wise shopping. This is phenomenal!! He's still trying to grasp my Addidas example of being 'paid' to buy their product and being able to walk away with $15. I know it sounds unreal, but that is a perfect example of the type of savings that you might be able to procure with some friendly advice and feedback from your frugal friends.

My husband's statements have validated ever action that I am taking to reduce our expenditures.

I guess I started my savings tear about one month ago when I noticed that our car insurance and homeowner insurance increased 10% even though there has been no claims or change in our credit scoring. Our budget is tight and trying to make that kind of adjustment was just too frustrating for me, how in the world could I reduce our expenses anymore when everything seems to be going up in price.

So I started calling and calling around for some new quotes on auto and home. I couldn't find a better deal for our homeowner coverage, no matter how I worked the deal. But with our car insurance I was able to switch to another provider and saved over $75 per month without changing any of our coverage particulars!!!

That started me thinking that the next biggest budget area that I haven't been able to get an increase in savings or a decrease in expenses is the dry goods area (toothpaste, laundry detergent, toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo, etc) That is when I started stumbling on several websites and blogs and started to educate myself.

I have learned so much and can't believe how ignorant I have been for far too many years. I am looking forward to gaining more experience in this field and believe that I will be able to establish significant savings for our family and build up a stash without going overboard or becoming obsessive.

Bargain Hunting in the Big City

It's late and I am exhausted from a very busy day in the big city. We live in a small rural town in the Texas panhandle. Today we got up at 7:00am and headed out to the big city of Amarillo and scored several shopping deals.

Panhandle Salvage - $24.80
Purchased 12 - 8 oz containers of raspberry yogurt
6 - 1/2 gallons of Minute Maid orange juice - pulp free (oldest son can't stand to drink pulp)
10 bunches of 3 heads of onions
5 cartons of sweet yellow/red/orange peppers
2 boxes of cinnamon graham crackers
32 oz frozen bag of corn
32 oz frozen bag of peas/carrots
20 lbs. of potatoes

I love this store and wish I could justify the extra gas expense more often, but hard to justify since the deals can be unpredictable.

Target $14.68
12 Boxes of Lipton 'Tea to Go' in varied flavors, box has 10 packets to add to water bottle $1.94 each + $1 off Target coupon. Final purchase price of 94 cents each. (Kinda' pricey but my oldest daughter is graduating from college and will soon be a full-time elementary teacher and she loves her 'Tea' on the run, so a perfect little care package idea/graduation bundle)
2 Boxes of Eggo waffles $1.84 each + $1 off of 2 Target coupon. Final purchase price of $2.68. (Kinda' pricey but my teenager deserves a treat every now and then)

1st Transaction
2 Aquafresh Advanced toothpaste $4.99 w4.99 ECB + 2-$1 off q
3 Colgate 360 toothbrushes 3.99 w3.99 ECB + 3 - $1 off q
2 EOB facial scrub pads $1.49
1 Foot pumice stone $2.49 + $5 ECB w/purchase of 3 EOB items
-$4 off $20
-$3 off $15
-$2 off $10

2nd Transaction $1.48 ($0 subtotal so just 8.25% tax)
2 Playskools Large pack diapers size 4 2/$19.99
1 Georgia Pacific printer paper $3.99
-$4 off $20
-$3 off $15
-$2 Playskool q
-$14.98 ECB

3rd Transaction $2.39
1 HP printer cartridge $19.99
1 Wrigley Extra Gum $1.19
-$4 off $20
-$3 off 15
-$11.97 ECB

Ended up with still having about $7 in ECB for next week. Still on the lookout for Bic Soleil razors, have received my third raincheck and the Addidas deoderant. I will be going to my daughter's graduation in Arlington next weekend. I told my husband that I am determined to get the free Addidas and get paid $15 for purchasing their product!!

2 Breathe Right boxes $4.99 each (12 ct, but look for the boxes with the 14 count for the price of 12) with q for $3 off box in Monthly savings booklet + $3 manuf q from manuf website
6 Air Wick Decospheres on clearance for $2.15 (caught my eye when they had an immediate savings coupon on product for $1.50 off + had 2 additional manf q for $1.50 off
2 Air Wick Stickups on clearance for $1 each + 2 additional manf q for 50 cents off each

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