About Me

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Nebraska, United States
A would-be stay at home mom working full-time as a teacher. I teach at my old Highschool, working side-by-side with my own teachers. I blog to keep the Texan grandparents updated and chronicle our life for future reference. (In other words, I don't have a real baby-book or diary.) Comments make my day. Thanks for stopping by! kimlepper at gmail.com

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Worth Her Weight in Gold

You know you've got a great babysitter when

1) Mommy is in the room

2) Mommy takes out the camera


and your child doesn't even notice!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Head Smack

So this is what a fairly typical trip looks like these days...


Total before ad matching and coupons: $91.39
(most was on sale too, but I don't have their "regular" pricing)

Total after: $61.57

All at one store too!

And all I was dong was paying attention...

WHY oh why didn't I do this before?!?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Flashback

Easter '10

Easter '11


"Say, 'Jesus'!"

Saturday, April 23, 2011

One Man's Trash...

After four months of doing this couponing thing, both my philosophy and process have evolved quite a bit. Originally I was only going to clip for things I already purchased on a regular basis. But I soon realized that there are many items that I could get for free with the coupons when they went on sale. Then Walmart started their "cash back" policy, where they give you the overage in cash when the coupon is more than the item. Then there were the deals where if I had a coupon for item A then I would receive a coupon/store credit at the store, which would then lead to getting desired item B for free as well.

Very quickly I understood why all the coupon ladies were saying they clip every coupon they find. But I don't have time for that. Or the desire for the blisters that would result. After several weeks of collecting massive amounts of coupon inserts and making a huge mess in our living room every week, I've finally come down with a system that has saved me loads of time finding that-one-coupon-that-will-get-me-the-item-i-really-want within seconds.

So, if I haven't bored you already with my newest obsession, and you are interested in maybe doing this yourself, the process in 10 simple steps:

Step 1 (roughly 1 hr): Go to your local recycling center and look through the newspaper bins.

Some may call this dumpster diving. I can see why, as technically the newspapers are in dumpsters and it may look like I'm diving when I'm on my tippy toes, teetering on the edge to grasp the insert peaking out...but let me ask you this- would you reach into a clean dumpster full of paper to pull out a $1?
$5?
The way I see it, I'm pulling money out of the bins. Those little pieces of paper may only be worth .55 or $3, but they add up quick!

So when do I stop?

Generally when the handles on the paper bag break, or I can no longer feel my fingers.
Just depends on the week, really.

Step 2 (20-30 min): Go home and sort the inserts into piles according to week:


Step 3 (1 min): Pile them up in zig-zag fashion
(there's another word for it, but I can't remember)



Step 4 (5 minutes): go through one insert of the first type and pull out the coupons that you would will most likely use:



Step 5 (5 minutes per weekly insert): once you know which coupons you want out of an insert, pulling all the same coupons goes very quickly:



Step 6 (3 minutes per weekly insert): put all the inserts together of the same coupon and clip all the coupons at once- this is the real time/hand saver:


Step 7 (30 seconds): Gaze at husband as he ooos and aaaah at your progress. Then put him to work by putting the coupons in piles relatively close to your coupon file categories:

Step 8 (???): repeat steps 4-7 until you've reached the end of your pile

Step 9 (2 minutes): Pile inserts again in a zig/zag pattern according to type (Red Plum, Smart Source). Remember, we are keeping these until they expire, so that we don't have to clip every single one for those occasions of an awesome (free) deal.

I hope to find some cheap/free horizontal file thingys soon, as digging to find an insert is a little cumbersome...


Step 10 (10-20 minutes): File coupons

Viola! Your weekly couponing trip is done in 3-4 hrs.
This may sound like a lot, but if you are saving yourself $40/week, that's like earning $10/hr (tax free by the way)

A few other tips:

  • I learned a few days ago that the insert's date is actually written on the crease in veeeeery tiny print (the 3/13 was me in paintbrush for personal reference):


  • Each week you get faster and faster. And once you get to a point where you have enough of a type 'clipped' you won't need to do anything more than just add the whole insert to your stash. If you need more, you know you have it and can go get it later. I'm hoping to get this down to just 2 hrs eventually.
  • I find dumpster diving is most lucrative on Tuesdays- most people have brought Sunday's paper and the bins haven't been collected yet and are quite full
  • If you have a really great radio program to listen to, it goes by very quickly, and you can strengthen the brain cells that may have atrophied during the week while caring for your offspring
  • You can easily involve the offspring by having them "match" the piles when you are sorting and when you are pulling inserts (Please note that this will add time onto the activity!)

Happy Couponing!

Oh, and if I see you while dumpster diving, I will be giddy to see a convert, but please consider this:

It was my idea first, therefore I get first dibs.

Friday, April 22, 2011

New Addition

Kahlan recently became a big sister!
While meeting my nephew, Samantha decided to make herself comfortable...


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Kissing Cousins

Dec '09

April '11

...and both are still just as bald!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Letter to Walgreens

To Whom It May Concern:

Today I had a very frustrating and confusing experience at one of your stores. For the past few months I have discovered and taken advantage of your wonderful Register Rewards program, along with “stacking” coupons to get many great deals at your stores. I have never had a bad experience. In fact, last night my mom and I went to four of your stores in search of a particular product (Crayola on the Go Color Explosion, on sale for $1.50 each). At those stores, everyone was very helpful, patient and went above and beyond to assist us. At the store on _____, at 9:30, the manager (I believe his name was Paul) looked up product numbers at all of the locations, giving us a better idea of where we might try next. We were able to make it to one more store before 10pm, and still had not found more than 2 or 3 a store (two locations did not have any). Between my mom, sister-in-law and I, we have 4 kids under 7 and were trying to fill Easter baskets, as well as prepare for several long car trips. Because of this, at the end of the night I said I would try one more store (______) in the morning.

I took my daughter with me this morning and intended to purchase up to ten. I was very excited to find 8 of the color explosion scattered on the bottom shelf. I counted them out, and picked up two “Crayola Pib Squeak on the Go” items too. When I arrived at the check-out and put my items down, the checker immediately started to flip through the weekly advertisement. I thought she was looking for a coupon, but another woman came up. The first woman asked the second, “Is there a limit on these?” and the second woman scoffed at me, “Did you clear us out?? Call for a manager.”

I was a little confused, but confident, as I knew there wasn’t a limit in the ad. I tried to explain that I wasn’t “clearing them out” but that I had, in fact, been to four other stores, and they were the only ones that had any in stock. The only reply I received was silence. When the manager came by, I tried to explain again that I wasn’t trying to get away with anything, that they were the only ones that had them in stock. Again, no acknowledgment whatsoever that I was speaking. The manager found the ad, checked that they were ringing up correctly then told me she would only sell me six. I asked her if I could please purchase eight, as they were for Easter and I wanted a multiple of four. She conceded and allowed me to purchase the eight, but was obviously not pleased. What shocked me even more is that this was their reaction before they even knew I was using coupons. I laughed when I got into my car, as I realized I had apologized for trying to patronize a store!

I have to say, had this been the first store we tried the night before (and not had such fabulous service at the previous stores), my mother and I would not have continued to pursue other locations, let alone ever patronize at a Walgreens again, as our business was clearly not welcome.

I hope this letter is helpful in preventing other shoppers (especially moms on a budget) from feeling as snubbed as I did after leaving one of your stores.

Thank you and God Bless,

Kim Lepper

Friday, April 15, 2011

Spring Fashion Show

I recently went to Take2 to get Sam's summer wardrobe. For $65 (I'll admit, I went $5 over budget) I got the following (the sketchers shoes were from GoodWill for $3):

But who likes to see clothes laying on the floor? These clothes need a body!



Mommy has a jumper to match!


Believe it or not, her thighs are almost too big to get into this skirt!


Samantha calls this her "apron"


12- month dress used as a long shirt


4th Outfit


Handmade!


Easter Dress


Still had tag on it!

There was more, but I think she started playing with the wall...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Today I...


Enjoyed watching my daughter hear thunder for the first time

Made $.58 on a ream of paper

Discovered my child to be ASLEEP in the car when we came home from "buying" said paper
(before lunch, mind you)

Now has $34.99 in rebates coming in the mail in the next 4-6 weeks

Enjoyed our family's favorite pastime as a family for the first time in months
(grocery shopping!)

Bought groceries, which included 10 bags of my favorite brand of broccoli florets, 3 jars of our favorite pickles, 4 jars of my favorite jam, 5 loaves of my favorite bread, 4 bags of my favorite chocolate chips, and stayed under budget

Watched my daughter eat a slice of onion

Watched the same daughter spit out a raspberry and tell me strawberries were "yucky"

Heard the word "no" more times than I have in my entire life combined

Decided NOT to buy a yogurt maker

Decided to make yogurt in our crock pot at 7:30pm
(yogurt makers will know this means I will be up laaaaaaaaaaaaaate tonight)

Calculated the saving of making my own yogurt
(less than 1/3 of the cost of Yobaby!)

Savored a glass of locally made milk




What did you do today?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Adventures and Goofy Grins

Shopping has become a daily event here at our place, particularly because it makes for a very happy toddler. Here are a few steals from the past week:

$8.38

$3.86

$21.68


$20.98
($11.16 just for the stinking cheese- and it was on sale!!)

$13.76

$Free!

These were quite the ordeal at the counter as I had to convince the cashier that I wasn't trying to scam her. I was at CVS (where they are usually very up and up on the couponing thing). When the lady realized I had enough coupons to cover all the eggs she stopped scanning, picked up a coupon and said, "This is for the wrong size, these are all for 9 oz bags."
Thanks to this lady, I knew that it was on the coupon and searched the fine print myself to find it. After this, she scanned a couple more and then stopped again to read the fine print on the coupon, "You can't use all of these, it says 'one per purchase.'"
Amidst keeping Samantha from pulling all of the candy off the wall which was ever so conveniently placed at her level I replied with a smile (and inner pride for not backing down), "Actually, it means one per item purchased, not per transaction. So I can only use one coupon for each item." Still frowning, she finished the transaction.

And Sam still thinks they are just pretty toys!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Time-Out

I recently decided Samantha was at a point where I could try time-out. Basically, I was tired of re-directing the same behavior over and over. The routine goes something like this:

Samantha is warned
Samantha continues anyway
Samantha is plopped down into time out and given an explanation why
Timer is set
Samantha gets up
Samantha is plopped back down without any verbal communication
Samantha gets up again
Samantha scrambles to get back into time out before mommy gets to her
Timer goes off
Samantha gets an explanation for the time out and what she is to do instead
Samantha says "Sorry"
Samantha gets a hug

After the first few times she caught on and 20 seconds into her 1 minute time out she'd be yelling at me across the room "Mommy! Sorry. Sorry! SOOORry! SORRY! HUUUUUUG!"

Today I thought I'd ask her to see if she could tell me why she was in time-out. She had been jumping on a chair and continued after I warned her. When I asked her why she was in time-out, she paused, smacked open her lips (a precursor to any question these days) and she replied,
"Jump, Chair."
"Very good!" I said in surprise.
"Sit." She told me with a stern face.
"Yes, we sit on the chair."
"Jump, Floor!"
"Yes, you can jump on the floor, can you show mommy?"

She may not care that she's in time-out, but I do have evidence now that she certainly knows when she's misbehaving!

Not actually in time-out, but kind of looks like it

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Benefits of Being Tiny

video

Playing IN the kitchen daddy scored for us for free

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Deal Chasing- Plans vs Reality

I have to document, if anything, so I can track my improvement later!
I was all excited for the deals this week.
Jeremy is quite picky about his hair products (no Shaklee for him), so you can imagine my excitement when there was an awesome deal for BOTH of his hair products. The plan was to get 18 bottles of hair gel, but after I cleaned the shelf out, they told me there were only 5 left in a store clear across town.

Darn you, other customers!!


So anyway, I ended up getting just this:

$18.23

The next day the plan was to get 30 boxes of cereal and lots more free milk, however, they didn't have the cereal I was looking for for the hubbs (Crispix), so I only got 10. The pretzels were a $1 each and the banana was to make up for a -.01 balance while doing my last transaction.

$9.63

So then we headed on over to Target, where I was planning on getting free cheese (notice a pattern here?). Turns out that, after loading 10 boxes of cereal in the cart and 8 bags of cheese Target told me (well, the guy standing in from of me told the lady who was also standing in front of me in a "if I don't look at her then she won't talk to me" sort of fashion) that they do not match 2-day-sales. Let me just say, I'm becoming less and less of a fan of Target. They are just so cranky when I pull out coupons or try to price match- like I'm a bottom feeder or something.

Anyway, moving on...

We then went to Super Saver- where I was planning on getting cheese for .45/bag and Crispix. Well, the cheese had their own coupons tapped to them and the store price matched the Crispix!! So I got 8 bags of cheese for .18/each and the cereal for .88/each.

$18.66


The final trip was the next day to the same previous store (don't ask) and I bought 2 boxes of girl scout cookies for $7 (yes, that is almost a tenth of our grocery budget, but I just can't help myself- there are two types that are dairy free! It's for the children!)

Jeremy put away the groceries before I had a chance to take a picture (not complaining!!):
8 bags of Kraft Cheese
1 box Raisin Brand Crunch

for $4.31

So this week's total thus far is $57.83.

This is BEFORE a $20 mail in rebate for the cereals (I didn't pay close enough attention and bought 4 boxes of the wrong size, so I "borrowed" a couple upc's from my mom's recycling...still one short, but I'll find it!)

Now, I know you critics out there are saying- yeah, but how much did she spend on gas?
To be honest- a lot. I could have done better. But I am getting better. And my baby loves riding in the carts, "helping" mommy and greeting every shopper we pass. And the free helicopter ride at one store. And the "cars" at the other. And the free juice at the tasting sections...
You get the idea!

Ram Sam Sam

Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Lil Sister

Lilypie Third Birthday tickers

Genevieve

Lilypie First Birthday tickers