Saturday, August 27, 2016

money saving apps

I've been trying to cut down on our grocery bills. Buying for a family of six is expensive and we consume a lot, more each day it seems. This is a very wordy post with no pictures, so bear with me!

Because we live 20 miles from Wallyworld, I make one trip to town a week. We have a small grocery store in the town just south of us (still a 22 mile round trip), but things cost more there. So I stop in for produce and meat, but I try to do the bulk of my shopping in the city when possible.
So here's a list of apps and websites I use to save a little jingle for my pocket!

If you decide to try any of these out, please use my invite codes to join, because I might earn bonus points, cash rewards or credits! Thanks in advance!

Ibotta:

My favorite shopping app! This is an app you can use to get rebates for purchasing items. You buy something, and then scan the UPC and your receipt, and they add the amount to your account. Once you've earned $20 or more, you can redeem it for gift cards or have it deposited into your paypal account (that's what I do). So far I have redeemed $111.80! (I need to look into if I am paying any fees using the paypal option, anyone know?)

invite code: lerrmit gets you $10 when you sign up and redeem your first rebate!

It's not exactly like a coupon, because you have to pay for the item in full and get "reimbursed" later. And I will admit, the first couple of weeks using it, I got burned a few times. Either I'd forget to scan the items until I'd already put the groceries away - doh!, or I didn't read it right and bought one item when I needed to buy two. You only have a week or so to submit a receipt so it's best to do it right away so you don't forget. You can scan the items in store to see if they are the correct ones - for example, it may be for only one specific flavor of gum. And if you don't redeem an offer for 12 consecutive months, you are considered inactive and they can charge you $3.99 a month from your balance. So, don't do that. :)

There are ways to double up on these rebates. Some rebates are generic, any brand rebates. They often have these for shredded cheese, or one gallon of milk, or breakfast cereal. So if there's a rebate for 50 cents off Post cereal and a rebate for 25 cents off any brand cereal, you can redeem both on a single box. They sometimes have additional rebates, like redeem rebates on both Hungry Jack pancake mix and Hungry Jack syrup and get another 50 cents off. So it pays to do some looking ahead of your shopping trip to see how you can maximize your rebates.

Another thing to note is that the rebates are different from store to store. So you start by selecting the store you plan to shop at, and unlock the rebates for that place. So I will do that for Costco, Target, Price Chopper and Walmart. Then I can plan my shopping list around who has what on sale that week. You can use manufacturer's coupons and store sales as well, so you can really save some money off things you were probably buying anyways!

To unlock rebates, there are ads or other things to look at. You may have to answer a multiple choice question or survey. Or watch a short video ad. (I play them while I am doing other things, like folding laundry, and don't actually watch them) Sometimes there's a recipe. 

If your store uses a loyalty card, like Price Chopper, you get to skip scanning the receipts because it automatically does it for you! Love that, I wish it worked that way for the rest of them!

One more thing about Ibotta. You have a "team", which in my case is facebook  friends who are also using Ibotta. There are bonuses each month that you can earn as your team redeems rebates. If you refer someone to Ibotta, they can earn $10 on their first rebate and you earn $5! So there's a good incentive to sign up, right? So far I am the only one on my "team" who is actively racking up money. But every little bit helps, even 50 cents off milk.

***As always, read the fine print and be aware that nobody gives things away for free. They are collecting market research on your purchasing habits. If the idea of someone seeing your receipts makes you uncomfortable, then maybe this isn't for you!***

Checkout 51:

Similar to Ibotta, I have this rebate app on my phone but honestly don't use it as much. Offers update on Thursdays. It does have rebates for alcohol, but I don't buy booze at the grocery store (Kansas, ugh). They also have offers for pet food. I need to spend a little time with this one and figure out how to use it best. I've only earned a dollar there :)

Target Cartwheel:

A Target specific app. It gives you a percent off certain items, anywhere from 5% to 50%. I load my offers up whenever I am going to be shopping there. You can double it up with Ibotta as well. And if you use a Target Redcard, you get another 5% off your purchase.

Walmart Savings Catcher:

This app allows you to scan your Walmart receipts, and they will credit you if another store has a lower price on something you bought. The savings is given back as Walmart credit. It's quick and easy to do. I have earned about $7 so far.

Amazon:

I used to have a real love affair with Amazon. I've been frustrated with the changes in the free shipping though. We're considering dropping our Prime account. When the kids were younger, I used their "subscribe and save" for diapers, which was amazing, cheapest prices and delivered to my door. I have used Prime Pantry several times, and on one order, the crackers arrived smashed (they were packaged in the same box as shampoo and laundry softener, so...) but reporting it was easy and a replacement box was promptly shipped to me. Sometimes they have free samples you can add to your box. Watch for free shipping promos.

Costco:

I have the cheapest membership ($55/year). You can buy an Executive membership for $110 and get a 2% (of amount spent in store) rebate once a year. I have done that, but it was a wash for me, I made back the extra expense but barely. (If you spend more than $230 a month at Costco, you could probably benefit from this.) If you get their Citi Costco card, you can get 2% back on all Costco purchases, as well as other benefits. I hit them up once a month for the monthly sale items, and I love shopping Costco.com for things I can have shipped (for free!) like sunscreen, shampoo, or clothes. Things I always buy at Costco - milk, butter, bacon, dinner rolls, bottled lemon juice, red potatoes, and bottled water. Their cookie trays are delish too if you need 6 dozen for an event. And I fill up my van while I'm there, gas is usually a few cents cheaper.

And finally, my newest favorite shopping site.

Boxed:

This is similar to Costco, warehouse sizes shipped to your home, only with no membership fee. I have ordered from them a couple times now, and I try to place an order whenever they are having a special. Currently, they are teamed up with Ibotta, so if I go through the Ibotta app and make a purchase on Boxed, I get 3% back in my Ibotta account! Pair that up with a code for free shipping, or search their site for "giveaway". Right now that's a free roll of toilet paper. Last time was a free box of Frosted Mini Wheats or Apple Jacks. If you place a $75 or more order, you get free shipping. There is a $20 minimum order to check out. And you get 1% of your order in cash rewards to use on a future purchase. Most purchases arrive within a few days.

invite code: W4N37 gets you $15 off your first $60 order!

(If you're already a boxed.com member, use promo code bulk4school for 10% off a $50+ order.)

So those are a few things I use to save a little money. If there are any others I should be using, please let me know in the comments! I'd love to hear your strategies!

PS - Part of me struggles with the idea of shopping online. I love the convenience of it. I think my mail carrier/UPS drivers hate me. It saves me so much time, not just in the actual shopping but in the drive time to get to stores, which translates into more savings on gas and tires and miles on the van. So I know it's a good thing for us. But I feel guilty with the excess packaging that is involved...

hello my friends!



Whether I want to admit it or not, summer has ended and my kids started back to school last week. I have an empty house for the first time in almost 12 years! It's definitely bittersweet, and I've had a few short teary moments. But I am excited for the next stage of our life to begin.

Things that we've done this summer:

Baseball, softball, wrestling. The kids all did well this summer in ball, AJ's team placed third at state, Zach got to pitch for the first time, and Emma made the All-Star team.



Now moving into fall ball, cheerleading, football, and of course, wrestling. All sports, all the time!

We did a few day trips, took the kids to Worlds of Fun. Spent a day in Lawrence visiting KU's Natural History Museum, bowling, and dinner on Mass. street. A lot of swimming and cousin time. This was my favorite summer yet!



2nd place at the Anderson County Fair Pie Baking Contest! Emma wanted to help this time, so I made the crust and she did the filling. This year we entered a pecan pie. We used this recipe from King Arthur Flour. We left out the butternut extract and I think only used 1 tsp. of vinegar, I was a little nervous about that addition. We added a few extra pecans too.

We made two pies, since it was a new to me recipe and I wanted to test it. I loved the taste, really buttery and delicious. The people who bought the pie in the auction (for $60!) are neighbors of a friend, and told her it was the best pie she'd had in her life! She would like me to make another for them. And a coworker of Troy's has requested one as well. Get your orders in early for the holidays, I may do a weekend bake shop! ;)


The only completed sewing lately has been some corn hole bags to replace the ones raccoons found and ate. Yes, seriously. The kids left them on the porch and coons demolished them! I also made two sets for friends. They aren't hard to make but not my favorite thing to work on. I've been working this week on a quilt top, ran out of the background and now I'm just waiting on fabric to come in the mail. Hoping for a quick finish next week.

I'm trying to wrap up some honey dos around the house because I have applied for my substitute teaching license! I'm hoping to work a lot, but it will still allow me to be flexible in case of sick kids or doctor appts.

I have also been trying to figure out ways to cut my grocery bills down. The older boys have great appetites and my leftovers aren't stretching like they used to! I am writing a separate post on that, hopefully it will be up later today. I have some good ideas to share :)

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day!

I had a great morning cooking breakfast with our 5 year old. He was feeling sad because he'd never gotten to use the stove. So he fried his own egg, made toast for the family, and learned how to peel oranges too!

The older kids got home from church right about then, so I "let" them each fry their own egg for breakfast. I felt like a genius, now they can cook eggs for themselves this summer!

We also had four little fart eggs, which are tiny chicken eggs. I'm not sure which of our hens is laying them, but I'd been setting them aside. So we decided to cook them up, thinking we'd get teeny fried eggs we could feed to our pets. It was a surprise to find they didn't have yolks in them! I'm pretty sure the cats and dogs didn't care...

Photo by Sawyer

I've really been trying to make the most of any free time with the kids. Today we played with a turtle, a snail, and watched some frogs. We are so busy all the time with school and sports and music, and I'm thrilled that they get the opportunities they do. But it means we have precious little time at home. So I can't wait for summer break and arts and crafts, reading and gardening. Maybe I'll even fit in some sewing time one of these days.

We spent the rest of the day visiting my Nana, a trip to my mom and dad's where the kids played five card draw while we watched the Royals, and then home for movies and a steak dinner. Can't think of much I'd rather do than spend days like this with my family!

Monday, March 21, 2016

spring break 2016 in the books

I blinked and just like that, spring break was over. While we didn't do much of anything, we kept busy and enjoyed having a week off from school!



Emma had two school friends come over for a sewing class on Monday. They did such a good job, and each made a pillowcase. They found some cute fabrics at Hobby Lobby, check out the cute peacock fabric! (Their family has peacocks so it was perfect!) I really love teaching kiddos how to sew.


The weather at the beginning of the week was gorgeous, and the kids got to do some fishing down at the lake. Sawyer caught his first fish, and it was a keeper!


Alex caught a bass the next day and wanted to try cleaning it himself. I'm still uncomfortable with that, but he did a good job. He'll get better with practice :) I did stipulate that any fish caught under my supervision get thrown back from now on! Cleaning fish is Daddy's job, not mine :)


We did some shopping, watched lots of movies, and had family pictures taken, which wasn't as painful as I expected...


had wrestling, baseball and soccer practices, piano lessons, and then spent Saturday watching Zach and AJ at District wrestling. Proud to say they both took 3rd and are headed to State this Friday! We'll see if AJ can defend his State title - he's looking at some tough competition, he'll have to really fight for it. I'm so proud of Zach for making it there, he works so hard and he's only 8!

Needless to say, it's been busy around here! I've been working on a few things but nothing to share yet. Today is my "put the house back in order after spring break" day so I'll be buried in laundry, cleaning bathrooms and floors for the rest of the afternoon. Then we're off to piano/soccer/wrestling practice after school. I really could use one of those self driving cars...


Thursday, February 4, 2016

valentines 2016

Hey there! Have you started your Valentines yet? There are so many fun ideas this year! I thought I'd share my faves here, hope you see something you like! For even more ideas, check out my board on pinterest!

A photo posted by tammie schaffer (@craftytammie) on


Heart Shaped Crayons are an easy activity for any age. Every year I buy 4 sets of crayons for school, and at the end of the year they get dumped into a bin and never used again. So we gathered them all up and made some crayons! I bought my Wilton silicone molds a few years ago, when they were on clearance after the holiday. Can't believe it took us this long to try them out!



Sawyer and I spent a morning making them for his preschool class. I enjoyed it as much as he did! I haven't decided yet what the valentines will say, but there's a cute example over at whipperberry.


I also want to try making these lil' love monsters from eighteen25. Aren't they adorable! Be sure to check out their blog, they have lots of awesome tutorials and ideas!


I'm hoping to make these hot glue confetti hearts by Peaches. Planning to try it out this Saturday, when I will have some time for the inevitable clean up. I think these would be fun gifts for the kids teachers, tied to a jar of candy or something.

How about you? What are you making for your sweethearts this year?!

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