If this doesn’t make you want to coupon..

.. Then I don’t know what will. HERE is the updated pics of my pantry/basement!!! Yes I do spend money… I’m not a super extreme couponer and I am extremely busy (Like I currently work 6 days a week and have a 2 yr. old 24/7, when I started couponing I worked 2 jobs and was getting 2 degrees from MTSU simultaneously.. oh and I have a relationship and I have dinner with my grandparents at minimum once a week at my house and I cook for them like I still have a life)…. I get 5 copies of the paper each week (I know people who get 20+ copies). Couponing is not impossible no matter how busy you THINK you are. If your going to get started go read my blog about getting started (in august). In the beginning I made many mistakes (buying things just because I had a coupon… buying things I’d use but it wasn’t a good deal (yet) etc.)… We eat at home basically 3 meals a day, I get a grilled cheese from sonic for breakfast occasionally, and we go out to eat every now and then, but for the most part we eat at home. Walker eats breakfast at home 7 days a week.. He eats lunch here or we back his lunch for daycare, I take my lunch to work from home, then we cook dinner, and one day a week we cook for my grandparents. (That’s a lot of eating at home.) Saving money from not eating out AND saving money from couponing means we get to do other things.. (like remodel areas of the house and go the aquarium and what not).

These are my shelves currently.. There’s been 2 mega events since I made Christmas baskets so I’ve got to restock some…

Up first laundry! (the bottom shelf held my christmas baskets and free harbor freight stuff I think now I’ll put photo equipment on it now.)

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Up next first shelf is smelly goods, then Soaps (dish soaps, hand soaps, body soaps), then Toilet paper and mouth wash, then Paper towels.

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Next shelf: up top diapers, wipes. 1st shelf, Body Washes, then shampoos, then cleaning products, then junk (bug sprays, paints).

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Next is the “mini shelf” that was 100 times more complicated to put together and 50 less stable (I hate it lol).

Up top: basket of toothbrushes, basket of floss/dental picks, toothpaste. Next shave creams and razors, face washes and women’s deodorants. next mens deodorant. Next hair products, make up. Next basket of pens, tampons n such.

 

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A look from the stairs……

 

 

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Back wall… This wall use to be cleaning/shampoo stuff only.. Now its somewhat of a catchall. Top shelf is wreath mesh rolls and cake decorating stuff.. the extra pasta noodles, rice and pasta sauces. Next is sauces and dressings. next is cake mix, sugar, coffee, tea, and broths. Next icings, and sweet baking stuff. next cleaning stuff so I don’t have to walk downstairs.

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Its really hard to take a picture of the pantry because there’s a door behind me. I love that I designed my shelves and spacing before I hung them.

Up top is extras (cereals, snacks, mesh rolls, paper towels.) Next is snacks and candy. Next is mac and cheese, PB, basket of potatoes, crackers and tomatoes/pineapples. Next is cans raviolis, soups, tunas, Veggies, beans, fruits. Next boxed items, noodles, rices, salad pastas. Next is breakfast.. cereals, oatmeal snack bars, muffins. then juices and drinks.

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Up last is my fancy door organizer :).. I use it for spices, packets of tuna, protein bars, candy bars, popcorn, fruit squishys, etc.

 

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My newest addition is my new freezer! I got it used for $75 and it works like a charm!!! I will post soon about all these great precook recipes and storage ideas I’ve found!!  For now I use a dry erase marker to keep up with what’s in my freezer (you just wipe off a tally mark when you take something out). My first precooked freezer meal was oatmeal (I cooked oatmeal for breakfast for me and Walker on thursday) I just tripled the recipe and then let it cool and froze it in the cupcakes for a few hours then popped them out and put them in a bag. Now I just have to heat it up for like 30 seconds (versus the like 25 mins it takes to make oatmeal normally.)

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My new coupon folder :)

Back in August I posted my coupon folder and how I laid it out and where to buy coupons sleeves etc. It was a pretty cheap basic 3 ring binder that zipped up. It lasted for longer than I expected honestly. But after dropping it so many times finally the top ring was not closing together (meaning when I turned the pages stuff came off that hook), and the zipper part was torn (I probably could have sewn this back together).. So for Christmas I asked for a new fancy one :). I was expensive (that’s why I asked for it for Christmas bc I couldn’t bring myself to spend that much on it).  http://http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007UQ8Q9E/ref=sr_ph?ie=UTF8&qid=1421348242&sr=1&keywords=coupon+binder

A lovely couponer designed it with her husband and it’s made in America (and I LOVE it).1959355_10202288024082032_2759709354666092455_n  (christmas YAY!)

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The outside has a pocket for pens and such (I think it comes in 5 different colors). The best part is it has two sides!!!!! I use one side for food and the other side for everything else…(Laundry personal care etc.) The rings off set each other so you can close it without them banging into one another.

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SO first side dividers (basically to Kroger’s layout). The numbers on the table of contents are general categories and are the big dividers that stick out a little farther. The letters are the smaller subcategories.

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Next side is the other stuff.

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The straps hold the side that your not using in place, then when you finish with one side you just flip the book around and start on food. The outer edges are a super hard cardboard (maybe plastic), but It doesn’t cave into the buggy. The binder itself is more of a briefcase. It’s super sturdy.. I’ve been using it since Christmas and I LOVE it! I’ll keep you guys posted as to how it holds up over the next few months!

 

Creating more storage!

So it’s been a while since I’ve done a post about something other than my shopping trips! I promise I have been doing more than shopping! I’ve started organizing the basement! My pictures are old (like from October so things have changed slightly, but I’ll try to update again soon) so here goes!

This shelf I got from Lowes.

http://www.lowes.com/pd_366629-1281-HC30127_0__?productId=3503132&Ntt=shelves&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNtt%3Dshelves&facetInfo=

It was $40, and has 7 tiers (I took one off). I hate it. It took me and Johnny forever to put together and It’s not very sturdy.  It’s flimsy, but it;s working in the space for now. I use this for personal care products. Up top is a basket of toothbrush, a basket of floss and then toothpaste. Then razors, face wash/women deodorant, men deodorant, hair products (at the time of the picture it was hair products and zip-loc bags, now its hair products and makeup), and last a basket of pens, and tampons.

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Up next I got these shelves from lowes also (one at a time and only when they were on sale at one point almost half off!!) Reg they are $79.95 and honestly worth it. I put it together by MYSELF in around 20 minutes. I think it took me longer to get it all out of the box! You can very easily put shelves at height you want and they are super sturdy even in my super unlevel basement!

http://www.lowes.com/pd_101933-1281-CR4824_0__?productId=1000527&Ntt=shelves&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNtt%3Dshelves&facetInfo=

 

So first shelves wipes (now pullups also), body wash (now that’s all that’s there), shampoos and conditioners, cleaning products, and then miscellaneous junk.

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More of the same type of shelf I now have 3 🙂 Super exciting!

First shelf candles/smelly good stuff, then dish washer stuff soaps, body soaps, next is toilet papers (now completely full of just TP!) Last paper towels!

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Last is laundry area! Dryer sheets, fabric softener, then laundry det, then more laundry det and my free harbor freight goodies (that I used in Christmas baskets).

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How I have my shelves lined up and a panorama!

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Pantry now!! before the back wall was shampoos and such now I have more space for food! (this picture was from OCT. to when I finally got all the shelves for the basement started now its a bit different will try to post current picture soon!)

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Obviously I’m firm believer in donating (to the military, nursing homes, and people in need), but I also believe in Christmas presents! So all the members of my family got a basket this year (one per household). I ended up doing 7 total and they all had different shaped baskets, but this is one of the 7!

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How I coupon… getting started!

First, I get coupons lots of coupons. I actually get 5 copies of the paper (occasionally I end up with 6 or 7 if I can get someone to give me the coupons from their paper while I’m working at Cracker Barrel). Some people have a hook-up with a coupon lady, (they buy in bundles and sell coupons only, No I can’t get you that hook-up), some people go to stores and ask for them (apparently the stores get money back for turning in unbought papers, but it doesn’t matter if they have coupon inserts or not. So some people can weasel coupons that way), other people just buy the paper. I will say TULLAHOMA paper has coupons!  That means stop buying the Nashville paper for $2.50 and buy the T-town one for $1.25!

 

Couponing takes weeks! You can’t just buy one copy of the paper one time and expect to come home with lots of great deals! Sure start somewhere get one, and use what you have, but to coupon and stockpile you have to have multiple copies. The goal is to buy when it’s on sale. ONLY when it’s on sale, so you have to have enough to get you through til the next sale. I clip everything. (except fixodent and adult diapers). My point is you never know when it’s going to be free. I usually only use a certain makeup or certain whatever but hey if it’s free why not try something new. You also keep your coupons until they expire! Just bc it’s not on sale at all this week, doesn’t mean that next week it won’t end up being free. That’s why it’s important to have some sort of way to organize them.

So I spend about 3 hours on Mondays clipping and sorting coupons… I know my life.

I go to krogerkrazy.com and make my list. Keep clicking “click here for more awesomeness” to keep seeing deals. It looks like this. (“my list” is really small at the bottom click it and you can print your list.)

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Then I go to krazycouponlady.com and click stores like this

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I go to the stores around here.. Dollar General, Walmart, Food Lion, Walgreens… Mostly Kroger tho. The others have a few good deals here and there Kroger has sales weekly….

You can print your list from both sites. They tell you what to buy, how much it is after coupons….  Double check at the stores you go to, prices vary depending on regions.. Most of the time its right,  but occasionally something is a little off. Our Kroger doubles everything .50 and under so a coupon for .50 takes 1.00 off… The Kroger listing on both websites do not include that doubling.

Then I pull my coupons before I go. I write out on my list how many I’m getting… I also write down how much it’s going to be. If I’m wanting to spend under a certain amount then I may use 3 coupons instead of 6, or if the coupon is limited to 4 per trip, the next trip I may have two coupons that were left over. I have extra baseball card holders that I’ve numbered I also number my list. The coupons go in the slot for that number on the list. It looks like this……

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I also may write “print” to remind myself to print out the ones I need. The “printables” ones come from coupons.com, SS= smartsource, RP= redplum, PG=proctor and gamble….. everything except “printables” or ones from direct websites come from the paper.

 

This is this weeks results: Iams cat food. 2-3 bar Ivory soap, 60ct bayer, 4-40 ct. advil, 2-4 pk sharpie, 4 oceanspray juice, 2-2pk lysol toilet bowl cleaner, 8 gatorade, 2-10ct. fruitables juice box, box of del monte fruitable squeezes, 6 garnier fruitis shampoo and conditioner, 12 Pantene Pro-V shampoo and cond. 2 pure silk shave cream, 4- 20ct. cascade  dish wash packs, 3 packs of dental picks, 2 dental floss, 4 crest toothpastes, 2 crest mouthwash, 2 old spice body wash, 5 gear deodorants, 7 garnier gruitis hair products, 2 boxes of triscuit crackers, 2 boxes nature valley bars, 8 cans of ravolis, 6 cans chunky Campbell’s,  2 chex mix, 2 combos, 4 bags of M&Ms, 10 boxes of general mills cereals, 2 boxes of gummies, 3- 4pk delmonte fruit cups, 5- 16ct. pods, 4 unstoppables, 1 sure deodorant, 1 brut deodorant, 1 EAS bar, 1 bag pepperidge farm cookies.

I bought 131 items (They were out of like 12 items I was going for ugh..). My total would have been $445.15… I ended up spending $184.73. I SAVED $260.42… 61% savings. 🙂 

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Part 2: 2 IAMS cat food, 6 nature valley soft baked oatmeal bars, 2 scooby snacks, 4 m&ms, 4 oral-B dent picks, 2 toothpaste, 6 pantene hair stylers, 10 pantene prov shampoo and cond. 2-6 bar old spice, 10 covergirl eye shadow, 2 crest mouth wash, 4 lysol toilet bowl cleaners, 2 cascade dishwasher taps, 1 unstoppables, 4 dawn dish soaps.

I bought 57 items (they were still out the truck didn’t come 😦 ) My total would have been $232.20…. I ended up spending $89.16 I saved $143.04… 64% savings. 🙂 

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Coupon Lingo and some general rules…

For the most part you can’t use a digital coupon and a paper coupon on the same item. Now if you buy two items tell your cashier, and use a digital for one item and a paper for the other (unless the digital coupon is use for up to 5x. Then it’s automatically taken off.) If they scan your paper coupons then your card you shouldn’t have any problems. If they scan your Kroger card and then your coupons they may tell you that you’ve already used a digital coupon. Usually if you tell them you bought two of the same item, they will take the paper coupon also. 

If the coupons say LIMIT 4 items per household per day, some places will take only 4. (it means you can buy 4 of the same item and use 4 coupons.) Some places don’t care about that rule, meaning you never know until you try. Manchester Wal-mart will absolutely not use more then 4 ever. Kroger in Tullahoma it honestly depends on the cashier. I buy 5 copies of the paper so I use 5, most the time, they just override the coupons. ( I don’t try to use 20.) There’s one girl who won’t. If you get 8 copies of the paper take someone with you.. let them cash out behind you. They use 4, you use 4. Problem solved. 

 

When looking at coupon websites some of the lingo can be confusing, so I’m going to try to explain some of the general acronyms and such. 

Catalina- Prints out at stores when you check out. catalina

Sometimes they are coupons on certain items. Sometimes it’s so much money off if you buy a certain item, and sometimes its just so much off your next purchase.

SS- stands for smart source and it’s a type of coupon insert from the newspaper. (most of the are on smartsource.com) SS is usually paired with the date from the sunday it came out. SS 7/27.. SmartSource from July 27th.

RP- stands for redplum. It’s also a type of coupon insert from the newspaper. (redplum.com) 

PG- stands for Proctor Gamble. It’s also an insert from the paper. 

Checkout 51- an app that you can download on your phone. It has about 10-20 different food products and you take a picture of your receipt and it puts money in your account. After you’ve earned $20 they mail you a check. (it’s like .25 for milk and bananas and sometimes $1.00 or $2. for certain products.)  You only get to cash in prizes once. So even if you buy 5 you only can claim it once. When figuring out the prices for your next trip, this is important to remember. 

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Up next is Ibotta. It’s also an app you can download for cash and prizes. It’s slightly different bc it is listed by store and you have to take a picture of your receipt and the barcode of the item. So it’s a little more time consuming, but it’s free money. It looks like this..

 ibotta-app

WHERE do I Keep ALLL this stuff ?!?!?!

That’s a good question, but I promise you will need space! Some people just clean out some cabinets, in the kitchen then some in the bathroom. Other people have spare bedrooms or maybe a spare closet? For us it was the space above the stairs to the basement.

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That’s an “in the middle of” shot. The before was an area full of trash/junk. Literally…like some empty boxes, empty totes, an old chandelier from like 1970 that Johnny replaced when he moved in 6 years ago, a few broken doors hmm let’s see, oh a broken Christmas blowUp grinch… It was a decent space filled with nothing useful and it took us all of 2 hours to carry it out to the road for trash day and sweep. (Oh and the stairs were this blue color that reminded me of corduroy pants. I hated it. I like aqua.)

So anyways I picked a color that wasn’t loud and decided to paint! ( I love to paint!)

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The stairs leading to the basement were that corduroy blue so I decided to paint them too. (Only I sprayed painted them so it would be faster, I don’t recommend this: no ventilation I almost died from fumes, and I didn’t wear a mask so the inside of my nose was black.I’m pretty sure so were my lungs and brain :/ ) anyways, I LOVE the black, teal, and grey together!

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Now time for shelves… Of course you can just go buy some stuff and put it up, but I like to plan. I like to know exactly what to buy and how much it’s going to be for everything. So I got some paper and drew pictures and measured walls and cereal boxes, and then looked up prices at Home Depot, lowes, and walmart. The back wall has 16″D shelves so they can hold more, the side is 12″D shelves so I can walk through easier. I measured the space between the shelves based on what I wanted on each shelf. Breakfast on bottom, cereal box is probably tallest breakfast thing so I measured it, cans on a shelf so I measured it. On my paper I have the exact measurement from floor to ceiling so I know how many shelves I could have and how many inches to put between them.( I started from the floor, first shelf is 2ft from floor, then the next shelf is however tall a cereal box is from the 1st and so on…)
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That was what we had in cabinets that are now used for other stuff and I started couponing and the more I acquired the more I rearranged for what I had on hand.

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Then I got this cute little shoe holder for the door so I could move toothbrushes and such there.

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It takes time and usually some money but for us we planned and knew the exact price so we could save so much money per check for shelving and so on. Just like with a coupon binder there’s 1000 ways to organize your stuff, but you’re going to need somewhere to put it. 🙂

Organizing!!

Beginning to coupon is somewhat overwhelming. Eh, well, it’s a lot overwhelming. Being organized is probably the most important factor of couponing, the second is staying on top of everything. Some people organize their coupons in a small, index card type holder, others use a small box/storage thing.. I use a 3-ring binder that zips up. Use what works best for you! Keep in mind if you use broad categories and a box type storage- then while you are clipping coupons putting them away is going to go faster. If you use a binder, it takes more time when your clipping to organize and separate everything, but when your at the store every coupon has a place and you know exactly where to go to see if you have a coupon for that item.

I use two styles of dividers, one style sticks out farther (that’s my broad category), then the other style doesn’t stick out as far and that’s the sub-category. (See first pic)
I made my divider tab labels on the computer and taped them to the dividers. I put them in order based on the isles at the store I shop at most. (When I started it was the commissary for us, now it’s honesty Kroger, but I have them memorized now so I’m not changing them around. haha) I have listed the order that mine are in here, but do what works for you. If you have no pets or no babies then those are pointless dividers for you. (See pic below.)
I ordered baseball care holders from amazon in the assorted pack. Here’s a link for thosehttp://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B005ELP9KQ/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1409420972&sr=8-1&pi=SX200_QL40
I think I got 3 packs, maybe 2? Anyway they are life savers!

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Obviously there’s about 1000 ways to organize your coupons, the most important thing is to do what works for YOU! It doesn’t matter how well it looks and how much you like someone else’s, if it makes no sense to you and it doesn’t help you and save you time it’s pointless.

The next goal is to get yourself some coupons.. I get 5 of the weekly paper plus what I print online (some people get 1 paper, some people get 20). The important part here is you never skip a week getting coupons and you never skip a week clipping. More on that in the next few posts!