Sunday, July 26, 2009

Couponing 101

It all started sometime in March. I'd never pictured myself as one of those people at the checkout stand with a whole stack of coupons. I just didn't get how it could save you any money. After-all, isn't it cheaper just to buy the store brands anyway? I did price-matching at Wal-Mart (even though their quality isn't always the best) and I thought that was good enough.
Then, I started hearing from different people how they were getting stuff for FREE by using coupons. Wow! How is that possible? I decided to learn more.

Now, I'm officially a coupon fanatic. I've started using them and have been saving LOTS of money this way. I thought I'd pass on what I have learned to whomever wants to read this. Maybe you can start saving money too!

Keep in mind that I am in Arizona. Some of these things may be different depending on where you are located. I can only tell you what I know.


Lesson One:


Where do I GET coupons?
There are actually several different places.



1. The most obvious one is the Sunday paper. The Arizona Republic does have a deal that you can sign up for just Sunday delivery. Some people have multiple subscriptions so they can get more coupons. I only have one right now, but I might get more in the future. It doesn't cost that much and you can get your money's worth by using just one or two of the coupons you get!

2. There is a FREE option for coupons if you live in the Phoenix area. There is a weekly, Spanish newspaper called . This comes out every Friday and is free for the taking. You just have to find one of the boxes and grab them! There is a box in front of my Post Office, so I make sure to stop by every week. There aren't as many coupons in there as in the Sunday paper, but for FREE you just can't beat it!

3. I also get a lot of coupons online. There are a few different places that you can download coupons and print them at home! Most of them allow you to print two each, so after you print them once, be sure to go back and print again!
There is an easy link to ALL the online coupons at

Lesson Two:
Get Organized!


This is a very important, sometimes overlooked step. Coupons don't do you much good if you don't know which ones you have!
Everyone has their own organization methods. This is what works for me:
Lesson I learned - DO NOT cut out the coupons when you get them. I did that the first few weeks, and found that it was just wasted time, and actually made it MORE difficult to find them when I needed them.

I have a big 3-ring binder that I keep all the newspaper inserts in. I have a sheet protector for each week, and I put a sticky note on it so I know which day it is. This makes it easy to find the coupons when I am ready to cut them out to use them.


I also keep a separate folder for printed coupons that I try to keep organized by expiration date.

Keeping track of what you have and what you use is important. I have a background in computer programming, so the easiest way for me to keep track was to start an Access database. I know that may sound intimidating if you aren't familiar with Access. Really, what you need to keep track of is the following: Date the coupon was issued, What insert the coupon was in, product, discount, number of items required, expiration date and how many coupons you have

The easy way to get all this information is by using the database at Select your state, and there is a list of ALL the coupons in your area! I import this list in to my database, but you could easily keep them in Excel, Word, or even print them out and keep track manually.
But, the important thing is to keep track. Every time you use a coupon, make sure you take it off your list. It's no fun to try to find a coupon that isn't there!
(At some point I may use my amazing computer programming skills to make an easy to use program for my Arizona friends to use to track coupons... When I find the time...)

That's it for this lesson. Next time, I'll tell you how to use the coupons once you have them! Good luck!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Last Day of Swimming Lessons

Today was the kid's last day of swimming lessons. We've really had fun with it this year and it has kept us very busy!







Here's Ady with her "Level B" class - yes she is saying "Mommy, I have to go potty!"


Ainzlee with her "teacher" (he really just hung out in the pool with us moms)

Mommy & Ainzlee
I must be pretty crazy to post a picture of me in a swimsuit! (but at least I'm in the water...)

Ady wasn't quite brave enough to jump off the diving board without help from her teacher!

I'm SO proud of my kid for taking the plunge! Way to go!

We can't wait for more swimming lesson fun next year!
(Sure doesn't feel like "summer" should be over - especially with how hot it is!)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Paper Crowns



These were Zander's idea - I thought they were super cute!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

On the Move!

Ainzlee is now officially MOVING!
Here's her funny little crawl
(And yes, I'm a bad mother for leaving her in just a diaper)
video

Monday, July 20, 2009

Our fun and exciting weekend

This last weekend we went camping with Brandon's family. We headed up to Fort Tuthill near Flagstaff, mostly to get away from the heat and spend time together.
We were just hanging around camp - Brandon and his Dad were fast asleep in their chairs - when we saw a news truck pull up.
Of course we started to wonder what was going on, why they were there, what could possibly be news worthy...
Then, we found out that it was US! A camera man walked over to our camp and said they were doing a story about people leaving Phoenix to escape the heat for the weekend and he asked if he could film us and ask a few questions.
At first, he wanted to interview my mother-in-law, Zona, but she didn't want to get in front of the camera. So, he interviewed me. All the kids gathered around in front of me. (My two kids and my niece and nephew). Then he asked if he could interview one of the kids. He tried to talk to Zander first, but he kept looking down at the mic, and Ashlee kept talking over him and answering for him. So, he interviewed her.
In the meantime, Zona had picked up the baby, and the camera man wanted to get her on camera, so Zona was interviewed too.
Later, we also got to meet Steve Bodinet, the "famous" reporter. It was pretty exciting to be on TV, but it would have been nice to have time to prepare so that I didn't look like, well, like I was camping!
Here we are on TV!

We really had a fun time camping. It was quite a bit cooler there. My kids and husband thought it was "cold" at night, but I thought it was just perfect! It was a little bit toasty during the day, but MUCH better than home!
The baby did not do well sleeping away from home. She was up several times in the night and ended up sleeping with us - attached to me most of the night. I didn't get a lot of sleep.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Children's Museum of Phoenix

I LOVE the Culture Pass program at the Phoenix Library! This week, I scored tickets to the Children's Museum. We'd never been there and it was tons of fun!

Ainzlee loved the baby room. It was so neat how they had lots of stuff at baby level to touch and explore!


Ady liked painting in the art room. Zander spent a lot of time painting the "house". It already has several coats of paint!


Riding trikes - Zander really liked driving his sister around

Playing drums!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Matchy-Match


One thing that's fun about having two girls is getting to dress them alike. I decided to make matching skirts for the three of us. We wore them to church on Sunday. A little bit silly, but fun.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cow Appreciation Day

In case there is anyone out there who doesn't know, our family is BIG Chick-Fil-A fans. It is something that I inherited from my inlaws, and we eat there quite often. The food is VERY yummy.

Anyway, they have an annual "Cow Appreciation Day" where they will give you FREE food for dressing like a cow. We've never done it before, but we thought it would be lots of fun.

I didn't really decide to do in until the night before. So, I stayed up late creating costumes. And then most of the morning finishing them up. I Guess that the food wasn't technically free since I did spend about $10 on the costumes. But, it was still fun. And it was a very entertaining night.

I'm a little bummed that I didn't get any pictures of what I worked the hardest on - the kid's shorts. I was quite proud of them as I made them both in about an hour without using a pattern.

Here's the family. Yes, I am aware that I look pretty awful. That's what I get for working ALL day and half the night on the costumes.


My kids are super cute:




(In case you are wondering, I did NOT make the baby's costume. It was a $2 deal I got on clearance after Halloween last year. I'm glad I was able to use it!)

My husband with his "I'm only doing this for the free food" face.


With the big cow


Yummy Food!


Happy cows!


The Winners!
There was a "best cow" contest. The categories were "best costume" which Ainzlee won, "best cow strut", which Brandon won, and Best Moo and the Cow Toss - another guy won both of those. So, by popular vote, Ainzlee won 2nd place, and Brandon was 3rd.
They got these fancy certificates (ooo, ahh!)


I thought it was a lot of fun, and I'm glad we went. Can't wait until next year!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Just... Life

I've been a real slacker lately. At least when it comes to posting. It feels like I've been REALLY busy.

Here are just a few things that we've done recently.

Sang happy birthday to Daddy - yes, we were a little worried that we might start a fire with all those candles!


Spent time with my cute kids. Here, my girls are wearing the cute matching skirts that my friend Hillari gave us. Zander wanted to be in the picture too. (of course)

I curled Ady's hair for church. It was fun to fix her hair extra special. She really liked it too. She kept looking in the mirror and was excited to tell everyone that "mommy curled my hair!"


This was a BIG accomplishment. I've had a VERY hard time keeping my work room (AKA Zadyball headquarters) organized. Maybe I should post a "before" picture, but I'd be too embarrassed. My husband made these wonderful shelves for me to put my fabric on. They are AWESOME! I can actually see what I have rather than digging through piles of stuff every time I need to find something. The room has actually stayed clean for a few days now.



I made an entry for the most recent Etsybaby Challenge. This is Walter the Warm and Fuzzy Monster:

Go vote for him here.

I was featured on Mommy Loves It. If you want to WIN a Zadyball, go enter Here.

That's all the goings-on that I have pictures of. We also have been doing swimming lessons everyday, 4th of July fun, and just trying to keep up with life!