Our Rockin’ Party at Rockin’ Jump!

Me and Bitty Bird getting our jump on!
Me and Bitty Bird getting our jump on!

Lil’ Man’s Birthday is in March and Itty Bittums turned one mid-June, but I’m never one to turn down a party! When Rockin’ Jump offered me a party for 10 jumpers in exchange for a review, well, I jumped at the chance!

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 4.58.31 PMThe party was so much fun! We had 9 jumpers, and we bounced, jumped, and played for 90 minutes. In addition to the Open Bounce area, There is the X-Beam, Dodgeball, basketball, Stunt Bag Arena,Vertical OPS Climbing Wall, and mini golf! Mini Golf wasn’t included in the party package, but you can add it for an extra cost.Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 5.00.33 PM

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YUM!!
YUM!!

Then we retired to our private party room for pizza and drinks. The parents enjoyed a pitcher of Diet Pepsi, and the kids had Capri Sun’s. You can bring in your own cake, so not one to pass up a chance to eat cake, Lil’ Man asked if I could bring one. So I did. It was soooo good. It was from the nearby Gaemme Bake shop.

The kids had an AMAZING time. I got lots of texts and messages via Facebook afterwards letting me know that the kids took naps in the car or spoke of nothing else but the fun time they had bouncing.

Having done a lot of research for party venues, I am completely impressed with the value that Rockin’ Jump offers! It’s clean, well-maintained, and the party package is perfect for any busy family! You even get an editable email invitation to email out for your party!

No clean up, no food to prepare (other than the cake you bring), no games or prizes to think about, in other words: no hassle! You even get your own party host (ours was Stevie- he was super nice!).

There are discounts off the Ultimate Birthday Package, Jump Time and Jump and Mini-Golf combo’s! Find all the great deals here.

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PIZZA!!! Even Bitty loves it!

I received this party for free from Rockin’  Jump and USFG in order to facilitate my review. All opinions are my own, and all of the photos are courtesy of Christine Boyce at Clicks by Christine!

Extreme Couponing Tips for everyday shoppers!

DSCN1032[1]So if you know me in real life, you know that I LOATHE that TLC show. It’s crazy, and most most reality shows, it bears little semblance to reality. So I was stoked when it was cancelled! But like most things in life, it lives on in re-run and of course, on the internet!

What I don’t like about that show is that most of the stores show double coupons, when in real life (esp. in CA), there are very few stores that do.

That being said, I wanted to share some tips with you that will help you get the most bang for your shopping buck.  You *could* call them, my Extreme couponing tips. I can’t promise that you’ll walk away with 115 mustards or 7,000 toothbrushes gratis, but you might have a little more than you have before.

  1. Shop at a store that allows overage (click on that link for more info about how to use overage and what it is). In my area, the only store that allows overage is Wal-mart.
  2. Sale Price+ Coupon=rock bottom price.  About 99% of the time, during the dates a coupon is valid, the item will be on sale. Wait until the item is on sale, then use your coupon.  You’ll be saving a lot  more.
  3. Buy Multiples: It’s great that you are able to combine the sale price with a coupon, but the real ticket to savings is buying more than 1 of the same item.  That means you’ll need multiple coupons. You can either purchase multiple Sunday papers or do what I do: trade coupons with friends and family. A lot of people don’t understand buying more than 1 items on sale with a coupon.  If the item is something you use frequently (for example, salsa) and you are able to get 5 jars for .50/jar, and they are usually $2.50/jar, why wouldn’t you buy 5 for the price of 1?  Just keep the rest in the cupboard, and use them as needed.  If you were to only buy one, use it then head back to the store, you’d be paying full price.
  4. Get a grocery store Club Card for each supermarket you shop, and pick up a CVS Extra Care Card. The cards entitle you to discounts on merchandise or an accumulation or points or special rewards for buying specific merchandise. Club cards are also referred to as a loyalty card, a rewards card, a points card, or an advantage card. Most stores have a Club Card, check with your local supermarket. These cards are free to apply for and use.  Club Cards typically have a barcode or magnetic stripe (like a credit card) that can be easily scanned. Cards are issued after you fill out the application. Many times the card is linked to your phone number. If you forget you card at home, give the cashier you phone number, and you are still entitled to the same discounts and card advantages as if you had presented your card.
  5. Build up a stockpile of items you use frequently: The sales cycle for most items is 3-4 months. If you are able to buy the items that your household uses the most on sale with coupons, you should buy enough to get you through until the next sale.  That means never having to pay full price again. I recommend doing an inventory of your stockpile and keeping a checklist inside your pantry door.
  6. Be Organized!  I don’t throw away my coupon inserts after I clip what I want.  I keep them in a plastic file box, organized by week.  If an item goes on sale and there is a corresponding coupon, I can quickly find my coupons and clip. 
  7. Buy the smallest/cheapest sized item allowed with the coupon. It can result in overage. Here is a great example: A few years ago, Lisa over at Drugstore Divas clued us in on a John Freida hairspray deal and I was able to pick up some free groceries, including fruit and veggies with the overage I received.
  8. Use your Google-fu! Find out what is free or better than free (aka a Money maker) by googling “what is free at (insert name of store) (current Month and year)”. Paul over at I Heart The Mart has an awesome list of items at Walmart for $1 or less. Many other websites/blogs do as well.
  9. Use a Coupon Database to locate coupons in inserts when you see a deal online that mentions a coupon, but not which date or which insert the coupon comes from.  I like Couponmom’s Coupon Database– it’s separated by state!
  10. Once you are ready to go, be organized. I make my list by store, by aisle. ut your coupons in order. Attach them to your list, and print a fresh copy of the store’s coupon policy too. When I arrive at the store, I go up and down every aisle. I am always keeping my eyes peeled for unadvertised sales, mark downs, tear pad coupons, blinkie coupon machines. If nothing else, it’s good exercise pushing a shopping cart around!
  11. My personal favorite method to save money is to take your shopping list to the 99-Cent or $1.00 store and see what you can score for less.  99 Cents Only does not accept coupons, but Dollar Tree does. You’d be surprised what you can buy for only 99 cents or $1.00! I buy Lil’ Man’s name brand Soy Milk by the Case at 99 Cents Only and I save $2.00 per QUART over shopping at Ralphs. That’s a total savings of $20.00 a week, or $1040 per year!
  12. Don’t be frazzled! It’s ok. Stuff happens, coupons don’t scan, you get a surly cashier. If the coupon won’t go through, don’t be afraid to have the cashier take the item(s) off your order. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for a manager.
  13. Don’t forget sales tax!! In CA, you have to pay sales tax on taxable items, even if they are free after coupon. It’s lame, but true.

What are your Ultimate tricks and tips for “extreme” savings?

Free lunches for ALL KIDS in San Diego County!

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That looks like a pretty good lunch, right? It was free! And what you don’t see is two little boxes of raisins that Lil’ Man basically chugged (they really are nature’s candy!). Pizza, nectarine, applesauce, Apple juice, and a bag of carrots.

There were other side choices as well, including a mixed green salad, brocolli, mandarin oranges, celery, and ranch for dipping and fresh salsa too.

Here’s the deal.. It’s not a deal. The USDA sponsors the Summer Food Service Program, open to all kids aged 2-18 years. No proof of need is required, and you don’t need to sign up in advance. Just find a location near you (here– this is for San Diego County only, for all other areas, click here), show up, the kids pick their lunches, and enjoy!

Most locations offer lunch Monday-Friday at a specific time, and some locations even offer breakfast too!

This is a great way to stretch your budget over the summer (and get the kids out of the house!). Locations differ, but include schools, rec centers, and parks.

Enjoy summer adventures with Monkey Mat!

Summer is here, and that means time outside! Picnics, the beach, adventures at the park. What’s not fun is bringing stuff home in your blanket, or trying to fold up a bulky blanket at the end of the day. That’s why I’m stoked to try Monkey Mat!

With weighted corners, a place for your keys, and lopps to be staked down, what more could you ask for?

Monkey Mat, AS SEEN ON SHARK TANK, allows you to make your space, any place! Originally inspired by an unexpected six-hour layover at the airport (constant cringing while two babies crawled all over dirty floors!), and also by overall active lifestyles, this go-everywhere large mat in attached ultra-compact pouch gives you a clean space on the go – no more bulky blankets! Perfect for all ages, all places – park, beach, concerts, dirty airport/hotel floors, camping, hiking, sports events & more! http://www.monkeymat.com

My readers get to save! Use coupon code “USFAM” for $5 off + Free Shipping!
Once my Monkey Mat Arrives, I’ll be posting photos on Instagram and Facebook and post a review here!

@usfg

Couponing Myths: Debunked!

In the spirit of helping others learn to coupon, I’ve been posting some Couponing 101 post over the past week or so. Today I want to continue by debunking some myths surrounding coupons and couponing!

Myth #1: There are never any coupons for fresh fruits, veggies, or food for my special diet!!! Au contraire!

You just have to know where to look!   There are lots of printable coupons for these items.

And don’t forget your couponing and rebate apps! Check out a list of my favs here. Did you know that Sprouts has an app too? They have all kinds of coupons for dollars and cents off stuff you actually buy.

Myth #2: It takes too much time to coupon!  By the time I clip all the coupons and visit all of the stores with deals, I will have wasted all of my savings on gas!

I would like to kick TLC in the Butt for “that show”.  It portrays all couponers as crazy people with oodles of time on their hands who just clip and file in their binders.   When I go to shop, I check the deal sites (I like Grocerysmarts.com, I can make lists, print coupon, and check sales at all of the stores in our area all in one website!), make my list, grab the coupons I need, put the coupons and list in a separate zip lock bag for each store.

I bring a pen, calculator, my small coupon wallet (it lives in my purse all of the time!), my pad of paper with all my deals, lists, and scenarios on it and I am ready to go.  It takes me less than an hour to prep for a shopping trip.

I visit one grocery store.  That’s it.  Sometimes, I’ll go to a drugstore, but only if the deals are sooo good and are free or have a very low OOP. I don’t roll rewards or go to more than one store each week. I don’t have the time.

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 4.16.08 PMAt my coupon classes the bottom line I teach is: Couponing can take as much or as little time you want to put into it.  My blog and classes try to make it as easy for you as possible.  I want you to have the tools to make saving your family money easy.

I don’t clip every coupon every week.  I don’t have a binder. Here are pics of my coupon wallet!
It’s served me well over the past 9 years. The tabs are in order of the store I frequent, and I stick my sticky backed coupons to the inside front flap. I bought it at Walmart for $1.97.

Myth #3You don’t really save money with coupons!

My grocery bill has gone down from $200/week to $75/week thanks to coupons and strategic shopping! Once I started using coupons in conjunction with store sales and eating food that was in season, we have saved $6500 in a year. We eat better food than we did before!

 

Myth #4: Store brands are cheaper.

Here is a recent sale that I took advantage of- this demonstrates that with a good sale and a coupon, you can purchase name brand items for less than the generic price.

*Store brand High Protein Cereal/Granola (Generic Kashi) $2.99

*Kashi $3.49

-Coupon for Kashi $1.50 (from Vocal Point)

-Name brand price with coupon $1.99- With a coupon and a sale, I save $1.00 over the identical generic item!

Myth #5: Couponing is for poor people.  (this one really bugs me)

Recently, a study on coupon usage was conducted by the Neilson Company, and they discovered that people making $100,000 or more were 25% more likely to use coupons than those making $25,000 or less. It also profiled the average coupon clipper as being a woman earning $50,000 a year. And really, how do you think rich people get rich?  By saving their money!

Myth #6: A cashier told me when I use coupons, I am stealing money from stores!

That is a LIE. It’s not even a myth, it’s a lie. Grab a coupon and look at it. Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 4.23.38 PMSee where it says Retailer in bold? Next to it the coupon reads: “Abbott Nutrition will reimburse you for the face value of this coupon plus 8 cents handling when submitted in compliance…..”.  The bold is my emphasis.

So as you can see, the store will be reimbursed for the face value of the manufacturer coupon, plus 8 cents PER COUPON. All coupons have similar language.  The industry standard handling is 8 cents per coupon.

Imagine how many coupon your average grocery store accepts in one day.

Also, when a store puts items on sale during the time a coupon is valid, the store expect you to fill your cart with other stuff that’s on sale.

When you buy an item that is on sale and use a coupon, you are not stealing, you are being a strategic shopper. Sales and coupons are tools to help you stretch your budget further.

Stores also regularly have items that are low priced to get you in the door, so you will.. that’s right, fill your cart with non-sale, non-coupon items. Those items are called Loss leaders.

Transaction vs. Purchase- Clearing up coupon lingo

If you read the fine print on coupons, it usually says a bunch of stuff that rivals legal documents.

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 11.41.45 AMYou’ve probably seen the following statements:

  • Limit one coupon per purchase….
  • Limit one coupon per transaction…
  • Limit one coupon per purchase of products and quantities stated.  Limit of 4 like coupons in same shopping trip…
  • One coupon per person, per day…
  • Limit one manufacturer and one Target/Store coupon per item…
  • Limit of 4 identical coupons per household, per day…

UGH!!!  That’s so confusing!  How is anyone supposed to stockpile and save tons of money when there are so many restrictions?

Well, let’s clear that one up.

  1. Each item you are buying is a purchase.  3 widgets, 3 coupons for those widgets, 3 purchases.  You don’t need to buy each widget separately, you can have them all rung up together.
  2. A transaction is your entire basket order.  Everything you put onto the conveyor belt all totalled is your transaction. Some stores (not too many, check your stores coupon policy) allow you to break up your basket into separate transactions to use more coupons.
  3. Our third example comes from Proctor and Gamble (P&G) coupons.  This means that you can only use four of the same coupons on four of the items stated on the coupon, in the sizes stated on the coupon in the same shopping trip.  The term”shopping trip” is up for debate, but to me that means per time you visit the store.  Some couponers argue that “shopping trip” is the same as transaction.  I don’t chance it.  I’ll just stick to four P&G coupons per store visit.
  4. The fourth example is super rare, generally seen on high value store coupons. It means exactly what is says. You may use one of those coupons per day.  Your mom may use one of those coupons per day, your uncle, your cat, etc.
  5. Target and some other stores (Albertsons, CVS, Walgreens, and Vons) allow you to match up (or stack) a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon.   An example is shown below with coffee creamer.    Store coupons can be found on on the stores website or  in store advertisement/circular that is available in the store. Target and Albertsons have store printable coupons available on their website, while Vons has store coupons that you can load onto your Vons card (these are sometimes called E-coupons or electronic coupons).  CVS and Walgreens have sale flyers and coupon booklets in their stores and CVS has the “magic coupon machine” where you wave your CVS card under the reader, and it spits out coupons! Check your stores coupon policy to see if they have any further restrictions on how many stacked coupons you can use per transaction, which bring us to…Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 11.42.04 AM
  6. This is taken directly from Target’s updated coupon policy.  At Target (and some other stores), you may use 4 identical/like coupons per household, per day. So, at Target, you can stack 4 sets of coupons.  4 Target coupons and 4 manufacturer coupons for your 4 items for your household. That doesn’t mean you can’t come back the next day and do it again!  I’ve done that before when a deal is super hot.

Coupon Lingo!

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Just like any other hobby or subculture, couponing has it’s own lingo. You’ll often run across it reading blogs or talking to fellow couponers. Here is a list with the most commonly used lingo:

Actual – Physical items you hold in your hand meaning a box of pasta rather than a pasta coupon. Used often in trading coupons.

BLINKIES – These are found in stores in a dispenser machine. Most often the box will have a red blinking light on it.

BOGO (or B1G1)- Buy one get one free.

Catalina – Coupons that come from a machine at the cash register. Named after the manufacturer of the machine that spits out the coupons.

CRT – Cash register tape.(this is a pretty dated/old school term for a receipt)

Double Coupon – Means the value of the coupon is doubled at the register. In San Diego, Only Kiehl’s doubles coupons.

ECB – Extra Care Bucks. A form of rebate from CVS. ECB’s are a CVS exclusive.

FREE ITEM COUPON -You get a free product at the store at no cost or just tax.

HBA – The health and beauty aid section.(shampoo, conditioner, body wash, styling products, etc.)

IP – Internet printable coupon.

INSERT- The packages of coupons that come in the Sunday paper.

MANU or MANNY – Short for Manufacturer Coupon. A coupon issued from the manufacturer. Manufacturer Coupons are about 90% of the coupons in the Sunday papers.

MIR – Mail In Rebate – you have to mail it to a clearinghouse to redeem. Learn more about rebates here.

MM- Money Maker- Any deal where you come out ahead or the store pays you to leave the store with items. These deals are pretty rare these days.

NON-INSERT- A coupon that does not come from the coupon packages (called inserts) in the newspaper. Non-insert coupons come from inside or outside packages, home mailers, Smartsource blinkie machines, magazines, tear pads.

OOP – Out of Pocket – money paid after coupons.

OYNO – On your next order – a lot of Catalinas fall under this, meaning you need to make an additional purchase to redeem.

P&G – Proctor & Gamble Sunday insert coupons.

PEELIE – coupon’s found on products that are sticky unless removed carefully.

POP – Proof of purchase found on actual item, usually a UPC/barcode.

RP – Red Plum Sunday Insert Coupons. In San Diego, these coupon inserts come in the Monday junk mail.

SASE – Self Addressed Stamped Envelope some freebies or rebates require them.

SS – Smart Source or Sunday Insert coupons.

STORE COUPON- A coupon good at a specific store (Target, Albertsons, Vons, CVS, and Walgreens all have store coupons).

TEAR PAD – A pad of refund forms or coupons found hanging from a store shelf or display.

TMF – Try Me Free – rebates for the full price of the item when it first is new to the market.

WINE TAG – coupons found on the necks of wine bottles. In CA, these coupons require the purchase of at least bottle of wine to redeem the deal.

WYB – When You Buy – additional purchase is required to redeem.

Review: Little Red Howse Soaps!

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Now we have no excuses- No stinky Hewes Family!

There are few things I love more in this world than helping other women succeed at what they love. And one of my friends has blossomed at what she loves: making natural body care products that are cruelty free, artificial fragrance and dye free, and most of the products are vegan! Little Red Howse is a locally owned, female run company with awesome products!

Chiffon makes a full line of all natural bath and body products for the whole family. This includes handcrafted artisan soap, hand cream, sugar scrub, bath tea & salts & bombs, lip balm, baby soap & bum balm, essential oils (singles + blends), herbal salves.

Chiffon gave me a whole lot of great products to try- The only one not pictured above is the baby soap. I took it into the bathroom and used it in the kids bath as soon as we got home from camping. Those kids were DIRTY! The baby soap is perfect for delicate and sensitive skin! It’s unscented and makes tons of bubbles/lather, which is important when you have a baby who loves to play in the bath!

Henry’s Favorite soap is the “lemon scrubby soap” aka the Loofah soap. It’s got lemon essential oil in it, and a slice of loofah in it. He told me that it makes him feel “Soft and pink”. Little boys have gross elbows and knees and after his bath, both were soft and pink, just like he said! Honestly, I haven’t tried anything I didn’t like.

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 7.31.00 PMThe baby butt balm is a big hit too- Bitty Bird gets diaper rash if you look at her sideways and most of the creams we had tried didn’t go anything. I’ve stashed the tin in my purse, so it’s always with us!

Little Red Howse can be purchased online through their Facebook page, or events all over San Diego. They always have sales and specials too!

Right now, The specials include 3 Oz bath bombs $3, soaps $5, lip balms 2/$5, hand creams $6. Military Discount 10% off year round. And wholesale pricing available for 25+ bars. Mother’s Milk (breastmilk) Soap 12 bars for $50. Only 15 oz of mother’s milk is needed (you’ve gotta supply that yourself!).

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 7.48.36 PMThese products make awesome gifts! If you are looking for baby or bridal shower gifts, a bar of soap, a bath balm and a lip balm would be great tucked into a gift bag! A tube of lip balm or a bar of soap would make a great shower favor.

Check out Little Red Howse on Facebook or Instagram!

Talk-Back: What scent helps you relax?

Schoola: Shop Sundresses and Take 50% Off Your Next Order

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Schoola is hooking us up! Starting today, Buy a Sundress and Get Half Off Your Next Order!

Purchase a sundress between 6/6 and 6/12 and receive a 50% off code via email on 6/13! Oh, and it gets better with FREE SHIPPING!*

To get started, click here. New to Schoola- that’s cool too. Sign up here and score $20 in new to you clothes for you, or your kiddos! Schoola helps schools fundraise by selling gently worn clothes. You can learn about their mission here.

San Diego, CA area Coupon Group looking for new members!

Are you a new couponer looking for a couponing tribe of friends who “get” your love of saving? Are you an old time couponer who remembers the Good Ol’ Days of Double coupons?deals_and_Coupons_version_2

If you live in San Diego and are interested in finding some like minded couponing buddies, check out my new Facebook group here.

We’ll be getting together in East County twice a month to talk strategies, tips, hints, and of course, to share coupons!

In between meetings, we’ll share tips and tricks, hot deals, and share our love of saving!