Thrifty Thursday: Tip- Free Italian Ice Tomorrow at Rita’s

Tomorrow at 1pm, get a free Italian Ice (regular size) at Rita’s in Hoboken (121 Washington Street).   

Go to Rita’s and Celebrate the First Day of Spring! 

Other Rita’s locations may be participating in their First Day of Spring Promotion.  To find out about a store near you click here.

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Tipster Tuesday: FREE, $1.00 & $2.00 School and Home Office Supplies at Staples This Week

Go to Staples for some fantastic deals on school and home office supplies. Prices are good from 3/15-3/21. (Limit 2 per item- except as specified for Delta Elite pens. While supplies last. In store only.)

PENS, PENCILS, HIGHLIGHTERS AND CRAYONS
FREE AFTER EASY REBATE- Staples Delta Elite retractable ballpoint pens, black 2/pack (5.29-$2.30 instant savings -$2.99 Easy Rebate= FREE (Limit 1 rebate per customer)
$1.00 BIC Ultra Rround Stic Grip ballpoint pens, medium, black, 12/pack
$1.00 Pilot FriXion Ball gel pens, fine, assorted, 3/pack
$1.00 BIC Atlantis ballpoint pens, medium, assorted, 4/pack
$2.00 Staples gel stick pens, medium 12/pack
$1.00 Staples assorted mechanical pencils 12/pack
$1.00 Ticonderoga pencils 12/pack
$1.00 BIC Brite Liner assorted highlighters, 5/pack
$1.00 Crayola crayons standard, 24/pack

PAPER, PADS, PHOTO PAPER, INDEX CARDS, ENVELOPES
$1.00 HammerMill CopyPlus copy paper, 500 sheets/ream
$1.00 Staples Accel 4.25″x5.5″ fat book, 200 sheets (this is a spiral bound paper notebook)
$1.00 Writing pads, perforated, letter size, white, wide ruled, 3/pack
$1.00 AFTER EASY REBATE- Staples photo plus 4″x6″ paper 60/pack (this is paper for printing your digital photos on)
$2.00 Staples ruled index cards, 3″x5″, white, 500 pack
$1.00 Staples Pull & Seal #10 Envelopes, 25/pack
$1.00 ALL 12/pack Staples clasp envelopes

POST IT’S, TAPE, GLUE STICKS
$2.00 Post-it 1/2″ unprinted tape flags, 4/pack
$1.00 Scotch Magic tape dispenser, 3/4″ x 850″
$1.00 Staples glue sticks, 4/pack

3 HOLE PUNCH, SCISSORS, STAPLER, BINDER CLIPS
$1.00 Staples binder 3-hole punch
$2.00 Westcott 7″ soft-handle scissors
$2.00 Staples black full-strip stapler value pack
$1.00 Staples soft grip binder clips, medium, 12/pack

GET MONEY BACK WHEN YOU RECYCLE ANY INK AND TONER AT STAPLES
Get $3 back in Staples Rewards (per cartridge) when you recycle any ink and toner (limit 10 cartridges per customer per month). Visit StaplesRewards.com for full program details.

Coupon Database Has Been Updated With Coupons Through Today- 3/15/09

Please go to the coupon database (the link is on the right hand side of this blog)- or click here, it has been updated to include coupons from this Saturday’s Jersey Journal and Sunday’s NY Post. See this post here for info on the coupon database and for ideas on using and keeping your coupons.

Please note that the coupon database will not be updated next week (March 21 and 22). Those coupons will be updated when the database is updated for the following week (by Monday March 30).

Thank you.

Effortless Entertaining: Homemade Hummus

A friend, who happens to be an excellent cook himself, gave me this wonderful recipee for his mother’s Hummus. Break out the white wine, some antipasta and you have an instant party! Thanks PT. Note- I like to use the leftovers (if we have any) to jazz up my favorite sandwich.

Ingredients and Equipment:
Food Processor
1 15.5oz can garbanzo beans (rinsed)
1 large clove garlic
1/4 cup canola oil (he recommends Canola as it has a lighter flavor, but you can use corn or olive oil in a pinch- just note that the flavor will just be a bit stronger)
Juice from 1 large Lemon
1 Tbsp. Tahini
Dash of Milk
Water or Chicken Stock
Olive Oil to drizzle over top at end
4-5 Olives (or more as desired) sliced with some juice (Note- PT only adds a handful of olives and the slightest bit of juice- and his recipee specifies Calamata olives, though you should feel free to substitute whatever olives you like and have on hand)
Paprika
Pita cut up into triangular wedges- (serve plain or brushed lightly with olive oil and toasted under the broiler if desired)

Directions:
Using food processor blend the beans with the canola oil, lemon juice, garlic and Tahini. Add a dash of Milk for flavor and then add water or chicken stock to thin to your desired consistency. Put olives and juice on top with a dash of olive oil and mix into the hummus. Sprinkle the top with Paprika for color and serve with pita wedges.

Why Not Consider Wednesday: Why You Should Be Tracking Your Spending Part 2

Why You Should Be Tracking Your Spending- Part 1 discussed using a spreadsheet to track your spending and to make projections about what you may spend in the months to come so you could have an idea of what your expenses might be for the year. 

In order to facilitate this process, we have put a link on the right hand side of this blog.  If you click on: Track Your Spending Spreadsheet 2009 you will be directed to a spreadsheet that has been uploaded as a google document so we can link to it here.  You can click on File, Export, .xls and the document will be saved on your computer as an excel spreadsheet. Once this has been done, you can start adding figures in the boxes and calculating your own spending.

Note: the areas highlighted in Grey, Yellow and Pink are formula driven.  If you enter something into these areas, it will destroy the formulas and the spreadsheet will not work properly.  We would recommend staying away from these areas completely.

I use a similar spreadsheet, not only to track my actual spending but also to track my projected spending.  Here is what I do to distinguish between those dollar amounts that I have actually spent from those that I anticipate I will be spending.  I highlight the ones still to be spent in red.  At the top right of the excel spreadsheet you will see a paint bucket. Make sure you are in the box you want to highlight.  Now, click on the arrow to the right of the paint bucket.  This will allow you to select the color you want to use.  Now, the box will become highlighted in the color you have selected.  When you want to remove the highlighting, for instance, when you have paid the bill and the figure ceases to be a projected one and becomes an actual one, make sure you are on the excel box you want to remove the highlighting from, click on the arrow to the right of the paint bucket and select no fill.  This will remove the highlighting. 

I like doing this, not only because I can see what I expect to pay for things going forward, but, it also helps me make sure I have not missed paying a bill.  If I get to the end of the month and I still have items in red, I know that those items have not yet been paid.

This spreadsheet has been separated into two broad sections.  Section 1 which has one Total includes items that we anticipate you would be paying for on a monthly, weekly or even daily basis.   Section 2 has a Total Additional Costs for the year.  This section adds up items like insurance costs, doctor visits, clothing, one time costs (in other words, things that you don’t expect to pay every month but that you might have a bill for once a year or several times a year). 

At the bottom of the spreadsheet you will see a row entitled Total for the Year which has been highlighted in yellow.  This totals everything in the monthly categories so you can see how much you have spent in each of the categories at the end of each month. 

The very last row of the spreadsheet has an item entitled Grand Total for the Year which has been highlighted in pink.   This adds together the totals for section 1 and section 2 items in the spreadsheet to tell you how much you have spent for the entire year on all items.

There is a column at the end of the spreadsheet entitled Notes. I like entering notes into the spreadsheet to help me remember key purchases.  If after you have typed something in under notes you want to start a new idea (and put it on a new line) after you have finished typing the first note, hold down the Alt key while at the same time clicking on the Enter key.  This will take you to the next line so you can start typing something new.  Additionally, you can always make a short note in a box to the left or right of an item.  But this can get messy so be warned.

We hope this spreadsheet will be helpful and serve as a valuable resource.  Please note, nobody is perfect and although we tried to make sure that the formulas in this spreadsheet are 100% accurate, it is possible we made a mistake somewhere.  Additionally, it is possible that as you go along, you might change a formula by mistake.  So- we highly recommend doing some spot checks with a calculator at a minimum to make sure that the figures make sense, and/or just adding up months to make sure that the figures you have put in do indeed add up correctly- especially if you are relying heavily on this spreadsheet as a tool.

Now- you have the tools you need to succeed- so start tracking!

We have put a link to a partially filled out spreadsheet entitled SAMPLE under the Track Your Spending link.  I made up the figures in this spreadsheet and they don’t reflect reality.  The sample is really there just so you can see what the spreadsheet looks like when filled in.  You might want to take a look at the sample before you get started.

Pharmacy Recap- CVS and Rite Aid- March 1- March 7 Deals

Out Of Pocket $3.51

Total Out Of Pocket $3.51

How did you all do at CVS and Rite Aid this week?

Thanks to Home Economista B’s post last Saturday entitled Shopping Suggestions Saturday I was able to discover some good deals at CVS for the upcoming week.  I decided to skip Rite Aid this week.

I got $51.51 worth of items for $3.51 and received 1 Free 6 Roll Package of Charmin Ultrasoft toilet paper and $5.00 Extra Bucks for buying the two pampers and $4.00 Extra Bucks for buying the Gillette razor.

See below for a detailed list showing my transaction. Note- the big question I had this week was whether I would be able to use a $1.00 Charmin coupon to reduce my total bill (I was going to be getting Charmin toilet paper for free as a result of buying $20.00 worth of Bounty towels). When I got to the cashier, I explained my question.  I was told that CVS would take my Charmin coupon

Here is how my shopping trip worked out.
1 Pampers Ez Up 26Ct $10.00
1 Pampers Ez Up 26Ct $10.00
1 Gilette Fusion Gamer $7.99
1 Bounty Basic 8Roll $5.88
1 Bounty Basic 8Roll $5.88
1 Bounty Basic 8Roll $5.88
1 Bounty Basic 8Roll $5.88
1 Charmin Ultsft 6Roll $Free
1 CVS $10/$50 coupon $10.00-
1 Pampers Coupon $2.00-
1 Pampers Coupon $2.00-
1 Bounty Coupon $1.00-
1 Bounty Coupon $1.00-
1 Bounty Coupon $1.00-
1 Bounty Coupon $1.00-
1 Charmin Coupon $1.00-
1 Gilette Coupon $4.00-
Extra Bucks $20.00-
Extra Bucks $5.00-

Total: $3.51

There is still time to go shopping… the current flyer expires Saturday.  If CVS is out of an item when you go, ask for a raincheck that reflects the Extra Bucks earned or the free item.  Unless the flyer says no rainchecks (which it did last week with the Viva paper towels) you will be able to receive a raincheck.  You will be glad to have this raincheck when the items are back to their regular price.

Why Not Consider Wednesday: Coupon Binder

coupon binderThose of you who have been following our posts on shopping- either at grocery stores or at CVS and Rite Aid have noticed that we like to use coupons.  Manufacturers coupons can be an invaluable tool to help you get items you want and use for cheaper, but you have to be organized if you are going to use them.  They can easily take over your life.  I recently decided to change my organizational system, because it required too much work. 

I used to have a binder that had sections for each type of grocery item (ie Frozen, Pantry etc) and I would clip the coupons I wanted and insert them into plastic inserts that kids usually use for collectible cards.  It worked great, for a while, but it was very labor intensive.

What I noticed, however, mostly from participating in the Grocery Game, and from looking at other sites, is that most people identify coupons based on what section of the Sunday newspaper they came from  (ie P&G 3/1/09 means the Proctor and Gamble insert in the March 1 Sunday paper).  Consequently, I have decided to change the way I organize my coupons, and I am starting a new binder this weekend.

Instead, I will mark each coupon insert with the date of the paper,  put a 3 hole punch in it and file it in my binder.  I will separate out weeks by using a page separator.   

My binder has a zipper and it also has a section with 5 tabs.  I will use that section with tabs for my fliers from CVS (weekly and monthly deals), Rite Aid (weekly and monthly Rebates), A&P and Shop Rite.  There is also a small pouch I can put a scissor (handy if I have to take my binder out with me and cut coupons while I am at a store) 

Hopefully, keeping everything together in one binder will help me be more organized.

I may keep one or two of my playing card plastic inserts for coupons I come across from other sources, ie while walking through the stores- sometimes there are magic boxes with great coupons, from the mail etc. 

Why not start a coupon binder too?  If you are a little embarassed about using coupons, don’t be.  Just in case you are- here is a link to a very intersting article posted on CNN.com.  “In a recession, cheap is chic.” 

In order to help you keep track of your coupons, should you decide to create a coupon binder like this one, we have created a link on the right side of this blog entitled Coupon Database.  When you click on the link, you will find a spreadsheet that tracks all the coupons from the Saturday Jersey Journal paper as well as the Sunday Paper (I get the NY Post).  We have sorted the coupons alphabetically by dollar value and expiration date. 

Here is how you can use the spreadsheet.  When you plan on going shopping, and know you want to buy an item, check the spreadsheet to see if there are any coupons for that item.  Because this is labor intensive, I will file items only by major brand name ie Gilette and then you need to take a quick look through your binder to the appropriate section to see if the coupon is for the particular item advertised on sale or that you need (ie Gillette Fusion Gamer Razor or Gillette Shaving Cream). 

We hope this will be a valuable resource.  We will keep the coupons up on the database until they expire- even if we have suggested using a coupon in a Shopping Saturday post.  We will shoot to update the coupon database every week to reflect the new coupons that came out in each weekend paper.  Assume that by Monday 6:00am the Coupon Database will be updated- but we may be able to get the database updated earlier so feel free to check earlier than that.