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Our New Blog
...............Two Chicks On A Farm......Our New Blog

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Coupons.....A Different Kind Of Currency

A penny saved is a penny earned

Benjamin Franklin (Some folks question this)

Meaning: It is as useful to save money that you already have as it is to earn more.

Hi ya'll.  I just completed another grocery shopping trip to Muskogee Homeland.  First, let me tell you that my receipt was 43 inches long!  The people in line behind me were mad because I was using coupons (even though my coupon currency was very well organized).  The lady that checked me out was mad because I was using coupons!  She actually snarled at me (oh, yes she did) when she saw my cute green 3" coupon binder and envelope full of coupons. Me?  I was happy as a lark because I knew I was going to save money.  I saved $69.10 (that's only 40% this time but I bought some items we like that rarely go on sale). It's hard to believe that I have gone from a 3% savings to 40% and 56% in just a few weeks.  I really didn't know there was a better way to shop!
This is what my $100 bought! (74 items) What does yours buy?
2 boxes Kellogg's cereal, 2 boxes Kellogg's cereal bars, 8 Greek yogurt cups, 5-12 pack soda pop,1  dry cat food,1  laundry detergent, 5 lbs. potatoes, 1 shredded cheese, 10 cans spaghetti sauce, 7 packs spaghetti, 1 half gallon almond milk, 4 boxes Tyson chicken anytizers, 6 frozen lunch entrees, 2 bags organic salad greens, 1 bag organic kiwi (six for 99 cents), 20 packages knorr side dish  pasta or rice, 1  45 calorie wheat Sarah Lee bread, 1 blackeyed pea salad, 1 container couscous, and 2 Hiland sour cream.  These are all things we normally eat, not just junk that was on sale!  Oops! I forgot 3 tomatoes.
I have nothing to apologize for! So don't expect me to! If you are in a hurry and you see me in line in front of you, Pick Another Checkout Line, Honey! (They actually did have to open another checkout line). If you were in line behind me today and are mad at me, kiss my grits!  A thinner skinned person than I would have wilted from the harsh looks being thrown. I bet they would use coupons too if they could figure out how to do it!  At the end of the transactions when I paid the balance due after all the couponing, I politely thanked the cashier who looked at me like she would like to shake me like a rag doll and choke the last breath out of my body.  For a Senior Citizen, she was kind of scary!
Looking at my 43" register tape, I'm not surprised the cashier wasn't feeling the love for me!
I love saving on groceries!  Almost all the items I purchased were on sale (One card savings=$49.50, Manufacture Coupons=$12.85, Bonus Coupons=$6.75).  Oh, yeah!  I rock!  I am a savings Diva! If I can do this after just a couple of weeks you will probably be seeing me on T.V. in a couple of years doing the Extreme Couponing show. Just joking you know. That is a reality (snicker, snicker) show and mine is real life.

I also got a $1.00 Catalina for Almond Milk, and 8 free movie tickets to the Redhawks Movie Night (whatever that is).

Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.  ~Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Couponing 101.....Addicted to Saving

If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting.
 Benjamin Franklin

 Hi ya'll.  So much to catch you up on!  I am all about saving money whenever I can.  Even Simple Living folks have to eat and feed their animals (hard to believe since many people think we are a different species)!  So, there is a new money saving hobby on my horizon.....wait for it......wait for it......extreme couponing!  There I said it.  This is something that I thought only a special kind of person could do.  Ain't so!  In the time it takes me to sew a new pillow, I can clip and organize my coupons (with Becky's help of course). 

Sorry, we'll have to continue later.  Boss just called and needs me to work today and I still have to run into Muskogee and then feed animals, shower, dress and find a good attitude before I go.  Talk to you later.

Sorry folks! "Talk to you later" has now been a couple of weeks!  My world seems to be spinning faster and faster (and I like slow and easy).  Anyway, back to my "adventures in couponing".  I love it!  I so love it!  Hello, my name is Linda and I am absolutely, positively, unquestionably addicted to couponing! 

This not so new (but the cool thing to do now) kind of currency is even better than the American dollar because my store (Homeland) doubles the face value of the manufacturer's coupon up to one dollar.  So, if I have a coupon for one dollar, it magically becomes two dollars when I use it according to the fine print on the coupon and before the expiration date.  Ain't that peachy?  Just a note if you are new to couponing:  under no circumstances can you photo copy the coupon.  It is illegal and will bring down the wrath of the legal system upon your head.  Bottom line:  don't do it!  There are far too many legal ways to optimize the coupons without going to jail or paying a huge fine.

I have two favorite sites that I visit daily.  krazycouponlady.com got me hooked!  She has all the basic free down loadable binder categories for creating your very own coupon binder (my household savings Bible). Then we have the local (Tulsa area, Sarah Roe) moneysavingqueen.com which has matchups (weekly sale items matched up with coupons) which saves me a lot of time.  There are also weekly menu plans using the items purchased with coupons.  What a deal! What a deal!  It is like pushing the easy button on savings. 

My first week of serious couponing, I saved over 50% on my groceries and banked (savings account) over $75.  Can somebody give me an "atta girl"? I rock!  I consider couponing my second part time job and with a far better reward for my efforts and a really nice boss (me).  Then there is the "helping others" aspect of couponing.  When I use coupons and store rewards to "purchase" free tubes of toothpaste, shampoo, razors and many other items, I then can donate them to family, friends, church and other non-profit organizations without blowing a hole in my budget.  It's a little bit more complicated, but Walgreens is the best place for these items (they do not double coupons). If you aren't excited about couponing yet, someone needs to check you for a pulse. 

You know by now that I love books.  Hold in my hand, made of paper, feel the love real books.  To increase my knowledge of couponing, I bought and strongly recommend the following book to help you get started:

There is also the magazine for couponers called All You available at Wal Mart or by subscription. There is also a website allyou.com  Look in your Sunday Newspaper for coupons and store sales flyers.  Our grocery sales begin on Wednesday, so I look online at the sale flyer for Homeland.  The moneysavingqueen.com does the matchups for me.  At the grocery store the coupons that print out at the end of the sales (white with red stripes down both sides) are called catalinas and are based on what I purchased.  Look at the fine print because one of mine said $2 off 2 coconut milk but in smaller print it also listed Almond Milk which is what I had just purchased.  I also have two $1 off single item of the milk which will make my next purchase 2 x $3.89= $7.78  without coupons.  Then I apply my coupons.  $2 off  for 2 half gallons of milk catalina coupon = $5.78  Then I use my two $1 coupons which are then doubled to equal $4.  So my final cost for two half gallons of almond milk is  $5.78- $4.00 = $1.78 or .89 cents each.  How cool is that! Some cashiers say I can do this, some say I can't, so I need to check the store coupon policy before I go again. (I use a handheld calculator because the side of my brain that is suppose to do math does not work very well).

Stay with me here, and I will show you how to use coupons much more effectively.  Shopping with coupons has quickly become a Simple Living mindset.  My favorite savings (and there have already been many of them) was buying Pilgrims Pride chicken breast.  Homeland had the chicken on sale for $1.29 per pound.  The Queen did the matchup for me and provided a link for a $1 off coupon (they will usually allow you to print the coupon twice).  So here is the math:  Package #1 was $2.88. My pilgrims pride coupon for $1 is doubled to equal $2.  My first package cost me .88 cents.  Used the same method for my second package priced on sale for $2.90.  Apply coupon (which magically doubles) and my final cost for the chicken was .90 cents. 
So  4 1/2  pounds of chicken breast for $1.78.  Are you feeling the obsession yet?
Like anything new, I wanted to take it for a test drive.  So small purchase first to find my footing.
4 boxes of chocolate cheerios, 4 cans progresso soup, 2 laundry soap, 5 lbs apples, 1 small bunch of bananas.
$16.99 (taxes included in this) until I added fruit which rarely has coupons available.  Saved 56% on this one!
Plus a Catalina coupon for $2 off two almond milk and $1 off four lean cuisine (will use this one when they go on sale again, usually 4-6 week cycle).

Saved 52% on this one.  Banked $75 in savings account from both of these!
This is not really magic.  It just feels like it.  If a math idiot like me can do this so can you.  If you are willing to learn a new way of saving money, take the time to clip and organize, shop with a new mindset, then you too can be a money saving queen in your household!  My coupons can let me be in control of how much money I spend on groceries, beauty supplies, household items and much, much more.  You can do this but you can't do it effectively if you only spend 5 minutes preparing for your shopping trips.  Take control of your money and then you can take control your life (at least financially).  Happy couponing from Harmony Acres and Simple Living! 

If you can, you will quickly find that the greatest rate of return you will earn is on your own personal spending. Being a smart shopper is the first step to getting rich.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman thinks of the next generation. ~James Freeman Clarke, Sermon

There are always too many Democratic congressmen, too many Republican congressmen, and never enough U.S. congressmen. 

Good Morning from Harmony Acres. Now ya'll know that I'm not a politically motivated radical chick, but holy cow, if I ran my household budget like politicians run our country, we'd be homeless, hungry and naked!  And these people get perks out the wazoo for their incompetence!  What we (the little people) have to pay big bucks for or more often than not, have to do without; these people get for free!  For example:  401k and health benefits and then there's the:
Fun Money: The base salary for a member of Congress is $174,000. But all members enjoy access to a separate piggy bank known as their "allowance." This funding generally goes toward maintaining their offices and building up a legislative entourage. In the House, representatives are allowed to spend more than $900,000 on salaries for up to 18 permanent employees. They get about a quarter-million dollars more for office expenses, including travel, and additional funding for a well-known congressional perk known as "franking." Franking is the term for the mass constituent mail sent out by members of Congress and paid for courtesy of the taxpayer. 
Senators enjoy the same privilege but get a much bigger allowance for their office expenses. According to a Congressional Research Service report, the average allocation for fiscal 2010 was more than $3.3 million. Personnel money varies depending on how big of a state a senator represents -- a senator from New York is going to get more than a senator from Montana. But for starters, each senator is given a $500,000 budget to hire up to three legislative assistants. 

"We the people" are in big trouble because "they, our elected officials" can't stop acting like spoiled children and be mature enough to reach a "reasonable" compromise (has common sense left the room in Washington, D.C.?).  Is winning the political fight more important than winning the battle for the American people?  Ya'll need to remember who you represent!  You folks need to get your act together and do what's right for the citizens of this United States of America.  Stop pointing fingers at who caused the problem and just work on fixing it!  Even I am tired of your bull!

I rarely agree with Tom Coburn on anything. However; in his report on wasteful spending by the government, I must side with him because my common sense hasn't taken a holiday. Here is a partial list:
Examples of wasteful spending highlighted in "Wastebook 2010" include:
  • When it was built by the Corps of Engineers, Optima Lake in Hooker, OK was heralded as a future oasis for residents of the Oklahoma Panhandle. Despite the construction of a large dam and related facilities, no lake ever formed. That has not stopped the Army Corps of Engineers from announcing over $172,000 worth of property improvements for the lake.
  • The city of Las Vegas has received a $5.2 million federal grant to build the Neon Boneyard Park and Museum, including $1.8 million in 2010. For over the last decade, Museum supporters have gathered and displayed over 150 old Las Vegas neon signs, such as the Golden Nugget and Silver Slipper casinos.
  • The National Science Foundation provided more than to $200,000 to study of why political candidates make vague statements.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) spends $175 million every year to maintain hundreds of buildings it does not use, including a pink, octagonal monkey house in Dayton, Ohio.
  • Medicare paid out over $35 million to a vast network of 118 "phantom" medical clinics, allegedly established by members of a criminal gang to submit phony reimbursement claims.
  • The Government Printing Office (GPO) is using a "video game space mouse" (and nearly $60,000 in taxpayer funds) to teach children the history of printing.
  • In July, nearly half a million taxpayer dollars went to the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna, where wine tasting and castle tours were among the events planned for the conference participants.
  • The Internal Revenue Service paid out $112 million in undeserved tax refunds to prisoners who filed fraudulent returns, according to the Treasury Department's Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).
  • The National Science Foundation directed nearly a quarter million dollars to a Stanford University professor's study of how Americans use the Internet to find love.
  • The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) took the term "cold case" to a new level in 2010. The agency spent over $20,000 in taxpayer money "to unravel the anonymity of a 2,500-year-old mummy."
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) spent nearly $442,340 million to study the number of male prostitutes in Vietnam and their social setting.
  • This year, taxpayers forked over $60,000 for the "first-of-its kind" promotion of the Vidalia onion in conjunction with the movie, Shrek Forever After. "
  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded over $600,000 to the Minnesota Zoo to create a wolf "avatar" video game called "WolfQuest."
  • A $700,000 federal grant paid for researchers to examine "greenhouse gas emission from organic dairies, which are cause by cow burps, among other things."
Am I the only one that wants to barf after reading this list?  And we pay these people good money to make obviously stupid decisions!  Clearly, lobbyist should be banned from speaking with the intellectually challenged politicians on capitol hill!  If we took all the money wasted by our government and divided it among every U.S. citizen, we could all be walking in tall cotton.  Guys and Gals, this is not a game of monopoly being played with fake money, fake real estate and fake icons.  We are real people with real homes trying to work for real money.  We don't have to wait for some foreign nation to destroy us!  We are doing it for them, from within! I don't want excuses! I want results!  And if nothing else influences you to do the right thing, then just remember, there will always be another election and people like me can't wait to vote you out! 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The perfect normal person is rare in our civilization. Karen Horney

I can draw the water from the well and give myself a bath, thank you very much!
Told you I was stubborn.  Mom used to say "hard-headed".
Who's the fool that opened Dante's gates of hell and called it a record breaking Oklahoma summer?  There's a lovely breeze blowing that will burn the eyebrows off your face.  Enough already!  My yard is burned, my skin is burned and my brain is fried (no surprise there).  Dancing in the rain is just a distant memory (yes, I do dance in the rain but as an adult I have to wear clothes now).  I don't want to hear about unchanging weather patterns and an extended heat wave.  I want to see Noah and the Ark in the distance riding a tidal wave. Standing on the deck shouting "I'm coming Linda, just hold on', that's what I want to see!  Please Lord, give your people and your land some relief! 

Since the accident, I've been giving a lot of thought to "normal".  I don't really know what that is so I googled it.  "What is normal?" O.K. That was scary.  After carefully analyzing the articles, this is the best I can come up with. If I live in Oklahoma and stare at the sun, I'm crazy.  If I live in another country and stare at the sun, I'm a "holy man".  After reading numerous articles, I've come to the conclusion that we are all a little bit nuts and normal ain't normal anymore.  Bottom line:  if I don't run through the mall naked, or hide in the woods waiting for Armageddon, or wait for space aliens to pick me up at the loading dock;  then I'm probably O.K.  There are a number of mental health issues that I need to work out (anxiety, panic attacks) but, hey, who doesn't need to work on something?  Gives me a goal.  We all need goals in life.  Mine is to be "not normal again'. (back to my prior state of mind).  Who in their right mind would want to be boring, bland, predictable "normal"?
Becky didn't ask for a "colorful" mother but she has never complained either. 
What? What? Can't you see I'm trying to sew here?
No! I'm not sharing my watermelon! It's all MINE!
Becky and I have climbed many "mountains" together.  My current situation is just another one.
My normal is seeing  beauty in all things and living by my "do no harm" creed.  My normal is caring for stray animals, helping hurting people and knowing that I work with my hands for the Glory of God.  My normal is seeing the miracle in everyday things.  This is who I am!  This is who I want to be!  If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it.
Please don't disturb me. I'm meditating with the boys.
The end of a very hard day.  No, it's not very lady-like but it's real life!
I live a simple life enjoying the simple things in life.  I am eccentric, self-motivated, independent, and don't need anyone to tell me how to think or what to think.(perhaps this is why I am still single and loving every minute of it).  God only made one of me and he has his hands full keeping up with me.  My guardian angel should get hazard pay!  From the pics above (taken over the years), you can see that my life has been very "normal".  It's my attitude that you got to watch out for.

I will get through this!
Love you all,
Simply Linda

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