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You Had Me At Free

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I am cheap by nature, but that doesn’t mean I’m not generous.  I am generous with my time and affections, for sure.  Money? Not so much, teehee.  I clip coupons every week, much to my husbands annoyance.  I have stopped telling him how much I spend in a shopping trip.  At the beginning of the month I find out my budget and instead come home reporting how much I saved.  Coupons and flyers do take over our tiny kitchen sometimes, but I am learning how to keep them more organized.   

First place to start? Get a purse-sized organizer with accordian folds.  I got mine at my favourite dollar store, and it has ten pockets to organize my coupons.  I sort them into categories, and put the closest expiry dates in the front of the pile.  My every week shopping list gets tucked into the front.  This list has items I need every week because I can’t rely on my memory anymore.

Coupons can offer a way to try something new without wasting too much money.  Two weeks ago I got a FREE MAIL-IN REBATE for the new Lysol No-Touch Hand Soap Pump.  I bought the pump for $9.99, filled in the rebate and mailed it with my original receipt.  In a few weeks I should get a cheque in the mail.  I make sure to only do this with brands I trust. 

I plan my meals and purchases for the next week, based on the new flyers I get on Thursday evenings.  This is when the second list gets made, list your needed items by store and include the prices advertised.  This saves you from reading through all the flyers over over and over again.  I decide who has the best deals then bring ALL my flyers to the store that will price match.  There are people that still don’t know about price matching.  It is practised in many grocery stores, but in some stores it can also be applied to appliances, electronics, health & beauty, pet food, and baby items.  Sometimes it is only a matter of saving a few cents, but other times it means getting a $50 video game for $20.

Patience is important when it comes to getting good deals.  I will wait for the perfect sale and still hang on to every receipt.  Just in case the item goes on sale even more in the next two weeks, I will wait in line to get a price adjustment.  Some stores will give you money back up to a month after original purchase (Future Shop, I love you for this reason).

When I find a really good deal, will ask friends for the coupons in their newspaper too.

Visit websites of  the companies that make or promote your favourite things.  There are also free coupon websites that will let you browse through the brands that have offered deals.  Companies want your business.  They will give out free samples, coupons, and hold great contests to get your interest.  I just got 30% off my OLD NAVY purchase and saved more than $30 including the markdowns on the clearance items.  I got a long sleeved T-shirt for $1.23!!!  My total bill was $36 (for two T-shirts and a pair of yoga pants for me, and spring outfit including; 6 pairs of socks and a pair of sandals for baby girl).

Can you tell that I love a bargain?  I could go on and on about how much I love free stuff.  I am happy to do a little bit of work every week, to clip coupons, search the web, or pour over flyers to find the best deals.  It means that we get to live well, and within our budget, so we may have enough money to treat ourselves to a dinner out.  In the really tight budget months it means we don’t have to use credit cards just to eat and put diapers on the baby.  With a little time and planning, a good deal could mean stretching your budget a long way.  For me it means sneaking in a cute shirt, or a new lipgloss.  Especially when I shop at a department store that has everything under one roof.  Happy Savings!

*stock photos courtesy of dreamstime.com

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My Not-So-Secret Addiction

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Mabel's Labels Hoard

It all started with an order of Tag Mates and Skinny-Minis, but has quickly grown into something that can no longer be contained in my Buzzmama Welcome Kit box.  But I’m getting ahead of the story, let me rewind a bit…

Last year I was contemplating putting my daughter into childcare for my return to the full-time work force.  Being a preschool teacher for many years, I knew that personal items can go missing on a daily basis.  It was frustrating enough for us teachers, looking at ten pairs of Spiderman shoes in a size 7, and trying to figure out which child they belonged to.  Now I am a parent and really get the full spectrum of the cost of raising a child.  Of course you start out a school year with labeled clothing, shoes, and bottles, but labels made of masking tape and markers don’t last long.  So I had remembered in my adventures as a teacher, that Mabel’s Labels, made our lives a lot easier.  When I saw a parent arrive with their children’s items in those colourful, custom labels, I could breathe a sigh of relief.  In fact they could only make life easier if they changed diapers and wiped runny noses too.

So back to the beginning…I searched Mabel’s Labels on google, found them very easily, and within moments had placed an order for Skinny-Minis (custom sticky labels that are dishwasher safe) and Tag Mates (custom sticky labels for clothing that survive the washing machine).  I knew the Skinny-Minis would be small enough to put on my daughter’s soothers and the Tag Mates would fit even the smallest tag on her favourite sleep stuffie.  My order came in the mail, FREE of Shipping charges, later that same week.  I went on the site again and shopped around.  I soon found a link for something called the Buzzmama Program.  This peaked my interest.  So I applied and was chosen into this volunteer, word-of-mouth ‘club’ to receive perks for spreading the love of Mabel’s Labels

As you can see in the picture, I have amassed a small mountain of quality items from this Canadian company.  There are other items missing from the shot because they are in my purse or in use already.  Return Address Labels, Mama Cards, Shopping List pads are never out of reach.  The Buzzmama reusable canvas bag is folded and kept in my purse, which comes in handy very often.  I can’t seem to visit any friend without talking about it, and even have strangers stop and ask where I get those cute labels.  I had lost my daughters sippy cup in Zellers one day and didn’t know until my last name was announced over the store intercom…My husband thinks I have gone Mabel’s crazy, which reminds me.  I need to go check the mailbox before he gets home, I’ve got a Neat Freak Combo on the way…