Archives for April 2013

Prayer & Praise Monday – April 22, 2013


Hello, dear Prayer Warriors!

This has been a week filled with grief across the nation! Can you recall a time with so much tragedy striking from so many angles?? From bombings to manhunts, explosive fires to earthquakes, grenade attacks in Nigeria, shooting rampages in Russia and Washington state, threats of terror in Canda…each news headline is worse than the last! It is easy for me to want to turn off the TV and internet, retreat to my little haven, and ignore the reality of the world we live in. With little eyes and ears underfoot for most of my day, to some degree, I have to do that!

But we’ve been studying the story of Joseph in my Bible Study Fellowship class the past few weeks. Talk about unjust suffering! If it has been awhile, or if you’ve never studied this Biblical hero, review chapters 37, and 39-41 of Genesis. Joseph endures: being stripped of all dignity and everything familiar, being sold into slavery, being wrongly accused of adultery, years of false imprisonment, and, by the world’s standards, the appearance of having been completed abandoned by God!

But over and over we read, “The LORD was with Joseph.” (Genesis 39, verses 2, 3, 5, 21, and 23). The Lord had not abandoned Joseph at all. He was using these years of suffering to humble Joseph, to teach Joseph to trust him, and to prepare him with the skills and training needed to be elevated to the second-highest position in all of Egypt! Joseph did not allow his years of unjust suffering to fester into bitter resentment against those who had contributed to his grief, nor against God Himself! In Genesis 50:20, we read,

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”


Through the position of authority God gave Joseph, he was directly responsible for the saving of an entire nation – and even more importantly, for the rescue of God’s own people!

And that’s not even the half of it! Joseph was able to save his brother, Judah, though whom came Jesus – the SAVIOR OF THE WORLD!!!

Let us keep Joseph in mind as we are tempted to get more and more discouraged with each tragic headline! Our God is Sovereign and He is with us. Instead, let’s seek to be used right where we are, in these trying times. On that note, on to this week’s prayers and praises…

• Let’s pray for the victims and families of the Boston Marathon bombings and the ensuing aftermath. The trail of devastation is long! Pray for their healing and pray for them to be able to one day say, with Joseph, that God used it for good. I know it is counter-intuitive, but pray also for the remaining perpetrator of these horrific crimes. This man should, by all accounts, be dead, but God must have a purpose in keeping him alive! Pray that he would come to an understanding of his sins and his need for a Savior. Pray that his story could be one of redemption, like the apostle Saul, turned Paul. Let us all be alert for the opportunities God gives us in the coming weeks, as those in our communities discuss and grapple with these tragedies, to bring glory to God through it all.

• Ree would like to continue to ask for prayers of recovery from her hip-replacement surgery. She says this surgery typically requires many months before the full range of motion is restored, so she is needing to rely on her husband, Joe, quite a bit for things like putting on socks, underwear, slacks, etc.  She cannot bend more than 90 degrees for several months so she fears this will get tiresome for Joe! Let’s pray for Joe as well! Ree would also like prayers that she might encourage others in their walk with the Lord.

• We’ve got a couple new prayer requests this week. Please pray for a young man in his late teens named Evan. Evan has entered rehab for drug addictions. Pray he would hear the Gospel and be drawn to Christ, the only one who can set him free from his bondage! Pray for Evan’s aunt, Kelly, as she spends time with Evan and shares the Truth.

• Along those lines, pray also for Charlie. Charlie is also struggling with many addictions and though he knows the Truth of the Gospel, he refuses to submit his life to the authority of Christ. He has a lot of anger and emptiness! Pray he would allow the Lord to fill those empty places and surrender his life completely to Christ.

• Lastly, I’d appreciate some prayer for myself and my daughter, Lucy. We are both suffering from eye issues! Lucy has been wearing glasses since she turned 5 last October when she was diagnosed with a “lazy eye”. We go back to the specialist tomorrow to have her vision rechecked. If her eye has not made progress, we will have to begin patching her good eye, in addition to the glasses. Please pray we will see improvement! Lucy has been so faithful to wear her glasses without complaining, so we are hoping for good results! For me, I continue to suffer from my eye allergies, severe dry eye, and various other eye ailments. After almost 6 months on a very expensive medication, I’ve seen no improvement, but have no direction on what to try next. Please pray for God to direct me to the right specialist and to have wisdom on how much to pursue healing and how much to endure patiently as I wait on the Lord.

Thank you for your faithful prayers! Please don’t hesitate to let us know how we can be praying for YOU!

By His Grace and for His Glory,molly

Saving Money on Groceries – Part 4: A Few More Tips

If you missed my first 3 posts on couponing last week, please check them out HERE, HERE, and HERE before reading today’s!

Ok, so if you’ve made it this far, you’ve now waded through my posts, possibly read a bunch of links and watched some videos, and might be feeling completely overwhelmed!  So, here are a few words of advice:

** Start off small! It’s better to focus on one store as you learn the ropes and then branch out, rather than trying to go everywhere and getting burnt out!  Even if an item isn’t on sale at your store that week, it will likely be on sale again in the next few weeks, so be patient and wait for it to come around again!

** Think about your time and personality when determining how many stores to shop at.  If you have a lot of time and you love to shop, you can hit several stores in your area each week to get the best deals.  However, if you don’t have a lot of time, or you don’t love shopping (like me!) try and pick 1 or 2 grocery stores and 1 drug store you can hit each week.

** Don’t be discouraged if you think you don’t have a lot of time to devote to couponing.  After about 5 months, I’m now able to average around 50% savings, and I only spend about an hour or two per week preparing to go to the grocery store and drug store, so this can be done, even if you don’t have a lot of time!

** As you’re building your stockpile and learning the process, remember – you’ll win some and you’ll lose some, and that’s ok!  Some weeks you’ll get awesome deals and some weeks they won’t be quite as good, but instead of focusing on the percentage on each receipt, focus on the overall amount you’re saving.  In the beginning, be satisfied with something like 30% – especially if you still have to buy a few full priced items.  Over time that amount will increase as you build your stockpile and learn sale cycles and what constitutes a great price for various items.  Like I said above, after about 5 months of shopping this way, I now average around 50%.  If I had to, I could do better than that, but we still hang on to a few brand loyalties and organic products, which cut into our savings.  Maximum savings comes from having no brand loyalties – not only because some products are always more expensive, but because some products also tend to have better sale prices and coupons than others at different times.  So, if you don’t care what kind of toothpaste you use, you can always pay less than $0.50 per tube or sometimes even get it free!  However, we’re picky about our toothpaste, so I’m willing to spend $1.50 for it – and that’s still a great price!

** Check expiration dates!!  This is especially important when buying a lot of an item.  Stores usually put their newer products in the back of the shelf, so dig around back there for the best date you can find.  Also, if you watch “Extreme Couponing”, you may notice people buying 50 bottles of mustard or tubes of toothpaste, but remember that these kinds of items also expire!  Unless you plan to donate it, you don’t want to buy a ton of something that you won’t finish before it expires, or it will be a waste of money (and of that product!).

** Try not to clear a shelf so others can buy products after you!  If you must by a ton of something, call the store ahead of time to special order it.  They’ll be happy to order it for you!

** If you find a shelf has been cleared, check to see if that item is being displayed elsewhere in the store.  If not, go to customer service (in grocery stores) or the checkout counter (in drugstores) and ask for a rain check.  I like to use my phone to take a picture of the tag first, since they’ll need the item, regular price, and sale price info for the rain check.  I just show them the pic, and it makes it a lot quicker than waiting for them to walk all the way back to the item to get the info!

** You can get sale prices on “healthy” and organic foods, but it seems like it’s hard to get the same percentage off.  There are also coupons for these items, but they seem to be a little more rare.  If you prefer mostly healthy and organic foods, you can still shop by sales, or you can also just try and find out which stores might have them regularly at the lowest price.  For example, there are a few organic products that I always get at Trader Joe’s since they rarely go on sale at my regular grocery stores for as low as Trader Joe’s charges every day!

** If you miss a sale or a coupon, don’t despair – both will come around again!  I’d heard this over and over from couponing websites and videos, but for some reason I had to see it to believe it.  If a couponing website designates a coupon as “hot” or “rare”, by all means, try to print it as soon as you can since it might only come around every 6 months, or it may “sell out” and no longer be printable.  However, many will come around again much more quickly than that.

** Don’t print every coupon you think you might ever use! If you have the time to clip every coupon out of your coupon inserts that’s one thing, but printing millions of coupons you may never use is a huge waste of ink and ink is expensive in its own right!  Remember, the object is not to shop by what coupons you have, but by sale items (potentially) paired with coupons, so I highly recommend only printing coupons you plan to use each week unless they’re rare or designated as “hot” on a website.

** Grocery stores in Southern California no longer double coupons, so if you live in my area, this makes saving here a little bit harder, but you can still get some great prices!  Meanwhile, look out for “Doubler” coupons from Albertsons, which occasionally come in their weekly mailer.  If they continue to work the same way as before, each doubler coupon is worth $1 when paired with a manufacturer coupon of $0.50 or more!

** Use grocery store weekly mailers in conjunction with coupon match-up sites.  They won’t always show you the best deals, but they often have extra information about special sales, etc., that may only be briefly mentioned (or not as well explained) on a match-up site.

** Read the fine print on coupons and store sale information very carefully!  Be on the look-out for things like limits on how much you can buy, how many items must be purchased per coupon, how many coupons can be used in one transaction, etc.

** Know your store’s coupon policy so you aren’t caught unawares!  You can ask for it at the customer service desk, or often read/print it from their website.

** Don’t be discouraged!  If you’ve never done this before, it will take you awhile to get the hang of it.  Give yourself grace!  And, by all means, if your spouse is pleased, continue to try to improve if you can, but meanwhile, be content with the results you’ve achieved so far!

We’d love to hear from you!  If you’re a seasoned couponer, let us know if you have any additional tips to share!  If you’re new to all of this, feel free to also ask questions – even though I wrote 4 posts, I’m sure there are topics I wasn’t able to cover. 🙂

Happy shopping!




P.S. – Note from Molly: You may be interested in viewing a free webcast hosted by Lysa TerKeurst on the topic of Summer Sanity Savers. If you know me even a little, you probably know Lysa is one of my all-time favorite Bible Study Girls! Lysa will be joining Crystal, of moneysavingmom.com on Tuesday, April 23rd at 8 pm EST. Check out the following link for more info: http://moneysavingmom.com/2013/04/join-lysa-terkeurst-me-for-a-free-live-webcast-next-tuesday-at-8-p-m-est-april-23-2013.html

Saving Money on Groceries – Part 3: Finding Items on Sale and Couponing

If you missed my first 2 posts on couponing last week, please check them out HERE and HERE before reading today’s!

Welcome back!  If you’ve never couponed before, but you’re considering trying it for yourself, I highly recommend watching this tutorial video from Southern Savers.  It will give you a lot of great background information to get you started:


Meanwhile, here’s a little overview from me, as well. 🙂

I figure one of the first things you may be asking yourself is how can I (easily and quickly!) find out if a product is on sale that week and whether or not there’s a coupon available for it?  Stores send out weekly fliers in the mail and show sale items on their apps and websites, but they don’t usually list everything that’s on sale, and they definitely don’t show everything that’s at its lowest price!

This is where coupon match-up websites like Jenny’s come in.  As much as I love the Southern Savers site, I don’t live in the south, so I use two websites for the Southern California area instead, since grocery deals vary by region.  Jenny also covers national stores like Target, Walmart, and CVS, but I’ve even found that deals at the CVS stores out there don’t always match the deals out here.

So, my favorite websites for the Southern California area are:

How to Save at the Grocery Store 4


How to Save at the Grocery Store 5

and www.southerncalisaver.com

If you happen to live in the south, by all means, use www.southernsavers.com.  If you’re not in the south or in Southern California, do a search online for “coupon match-ups for [your area/region]”.

Websites like these are awesome.  Each week, look up your grocery or drugstore on your coupon match-up site and scroll down to where it will say something like “Coupon match-ups for the week of [dates of the current week]” or “Coupons & Deals for [dates of the current week]”.  That will show you the best deals at your store that week and all the coupons that go with those deals!  You can even create a shopping list by checking off each item you want and then printing it right out!

So, this means that the way you’ll want to shop is by what’s on sale (hopefully at a rock bottom sale price) – not by what you need.  So, rather than planning meals for the week and then going to the store to buy ingredients for them, you’ll buy what’s on sale and then plan meals according to what you bought.  Also, rather than waiting till you’ve almost run out of something to buy more, you’ll buy a bunch of it on sale and never run out.

Also, as you start to stock up on items, be sure to also take full advantage of your freezer for items like meat, bread, and cheese.  As you start to build your stockpile of dry and frozen goods, you’ll also be able to do some meal planning from your stockpile and not just from what you found on sale that week.

So, each week, as you’re looking at your favorite coupon match-up site(s), check off any item your family will use or eat, and that will make up your list.  Think about how much of each item you think your family will go through till the next time it will go on sale – about 6 to 10 weeks – and buy that much of that item.

In the beginning, since you won’t have a stockpile yet, you’ll also have to buy a few items you still need at full price (or a not rock bottom sale price).  But, just buy 1 of those items (or enough to last till the next week) since they will likely go on sale later.

Ok, so once you’ve checked off all your items and built your list, you’ll want to also prepare your accompanying coupons. If there are paper or printable coupons available for an item, it will show up right under the item in the list.

Printable coupons will show up as a link and look something like this:

How to Save at the Grocery Store 6

Paper coupons will have the description of the coupon, the expiration date, the coupon insert it was in, and the date it came on like this:

How to Save at the Grocery Store 7

Again, I have to give major props to sites like Southern Savers, The Frugal Find, and The Krazy Coupon Lady for compiling and producing a huge amount of wonderful couponing information, so instead of typing it all out for you again, here are a bunch of awesome links for you:

Here’s a great link for starting to learn how to pair coupons with sales: http://www.southernsavers.com/learn/

For some videos on finding and organizing coupons and coupon inserts, click on this link (you’ll also find more videos on the right hand side of this page): http://www.southernsavers.com/learn#getting-organized

For information on coupon “lingo”, click here: http://www.southernsavers.com/coupon-facts/#coupon-lang-and-lingo

These 2 sites also have great information and videos: http://thekrazycouponlady.com/beginners/ and http://thefrugalfind.com/online-coupon-class/

These are just a few links, but if you explore these and other similar websites, you’ll find even more great info and tips!

Meanwhile, here are a few additional things I’ve learned…

• One is that coupon inserts that come in the newspaper vary by region (and often by paper!), so I’ve sometimes found that my insert didn’t include the coupon listed on the match-up site.  But, the coupons are there a lot of the time, so it’s still been worth it to me to get a couple Sunday papers each week – especially since I was able to find a sale price for them!  And, by getting 2 papers, I get 2 of each coupon, which lets me get lower prices for more items each time they go on sale!  Since there are only 2 of us in our family, this is usually plenty of coupons for me, but if you have a large family, it might be worth it to get more papers to get more coupons!

• Printable coupons don’t usually vary by region (although, sites sometimes show you different coupons depending on your location!).  They’re also almost always available to print, however, you may occasionally run across a situation where a coupon is no longer printable.  Sometimes printable coupons have a limited number of prints allowed, so after that number of people have printed them, they “sell out”.  Other times, printable coupons just aren’t available on a website anymore.  Websites tend to swap out coupons monthly, so occasionally there will be a coupon link to one that no longer exists.  Also, if you have a Mac, you may run into trouble trying to print coupons from sites that require Java to print like www.smartsource.com.  Even with the latest version of Java installed, sometimes they’ll print for me and sometimes they won’t (they’ll always print in Windows, however).  But, most of the time I’ve found that I am able to print a coupon from a link.

• Also, you will be limited to printing only 2 of any particular coupon per operating system per computer (unless a coupon happens to come up as a PDF!)  That means that I’m actually able to print 4 coupons from my computer because I have a Mac that runs my Mac OS, and also reboots into Windows.  So, I’m able to print 2 coupons from my Mac OS and if I want more, I reboot into Windows and print 2 more!  And, yes, my hubby and I are techy, and I know that most people don’t have 2 OS’s on their computers, but in case you do, now you know that you can print 4 coupons! 🙂

• You can also print coupons from other computers, so feel free to take advantage of that if you need to.  Since it’s just the 2 of us, I usually just stick to 2 of each coupon, but sometimes I’ll print more if something’s rare and coincides with a mega sale!

• Also, remember that to get multiple copies of printable coupons, you need to actually print them and not just photocopy them.  I’ve heard it’s actually illegal to photocopy them!  I don’t know if that’s true or not, but either way, you’re not supposed to photocopy them.

• One other thing to note about printable coupons is that you may notice that some of them will say “Redeemable at Walmart” on them (especially on coupons from www.coupons.com). I used to think that this meant that you could only use them at Walmart, but this isn’t the case!  If a coupon is a manufacturer coupon and says “Redeemable at…”, it’s just an ad for that store and can be used anywhere!  However, if a coupon is a store coupon and says “Redeemable only at…”, then it can only be used at the store indicated.

• In addition to hitting coupon match-up sites each week, I also recommend subscribing to couponing blogs.  I currently subscribe to:

How to Save at the Grocery Store 8


How to Save at the Grocery Store 9


How to Save at the Grocery Store 10

and www.moneysavingmom.com

 I get an email from them each day, and they show great deals going on at grocery stores, clothing stores, discount websites, restaurants, and more.  Some days they don’t have anything I’m interested in, but many times I’ve found out about a great coupon or a great deal from them!  I’m sure there are many other great couponing blogs to subscribe to, as well, so feel free to search around for more!

Ok, so this post is now getting to be a novel, so I better let you go until tomorrow!  Don’t despair, however – the saga is almost done! Lol!  Come back tomorrow for my last couponing post which will have a list of just a few more things I’ve picked up on along the way. 🙂

Until then,tami