Monday, June 13, 2011

it's been far too long

i know, i suck at blogging.
i did start a new blog about our house/budget- you can read it here:
not that i update that all that often either.... sorry!

but, i did start couponing a couple of weeks ago (not going to lie- totally inspired by that TLC show) and some people asked me to share what i do so here it is!

some tips:

-buy newspapers**. some people are wanting to buy 100 things of laundry detergent- i don't want to do that. i want to be really reasonable about couponing and not: buy things we won't need/use OR buy things in super bulk. we are living in 1100 SF- there is no way i can have an entire room or a basement to keep my "stock pile" plus- from what i've read, sales are cyclical. don't think: i'll never see this good of a deal ever again. YOU WILL! in about 3-4 months. so, get enough to only last you that long and you'll be fine.
I buy 5 sunday papers a week. when we move i'll get them delivered because it's cheaper then buying them and sometimes there are even extra inserts! this means i'm usually not buying more than 5 of each item- which seems reasonable to me. it costs $7.50 a week for the papers.
**some people prefer to get them for free from neighbors or dig them out of the trash- i think most people that get the paper these days, get it for coupons (because not many people actually get it delivered anymore) so to me, buying them is the least amount of hassle. another option is to buy ONE paper and then if there is a coupon you like, you can find a coupon clipping service online and order coupons through them. i've heard they aren't very expensive, so if you are wanting to buy like 50 of one item, i would get the coupon for it this way.

- clip EVERY manufacturer coupon you see. Ok, i don't clip EVERY coupon (things like cat/dog food, coffee ect) but, i use the philosphy: if this was item was free, would i take it from the store? if i answer yes, i clip it. the value of the coupon might only be .50 but the item MAY end up being very cheap or free- so clip it, no matter what the value on the coupon is. in the paper (at least here in denver) there is a red plum (RP as they call it on couponing websites) and smart source (SS) these are where you'll find manufacturer coupons that you can use at any store. many stores double coupons up to $1. so if it's a .50 coupon they'll double it to $1.

- then, look through the store ads. i start with walgreens and find some AWESOME deals there. Last week i got $10 fish oil vitamins (for my parents) totally free and this week i got $10 razors for $1, free bayer aspirin (normally over $3 each) and an airwick room spray for $1 each. (normally $10) I also look through Safeway, King Soopers and Target. What you are looking for is of course, things you normally buy and als0 things you have manufacturer coupons for. If things are on sale at the store and then you have a man. coupon, that's when you should buy. that is probably the best deal you're going to find- so jump on it.
For example- if laundry detergent is on sale for 4/$8 and then you have 4, $1 off coupons then it will really be 4/$4 making them $1 each. this is called "stacking" when you use a store deal/coupon along with a man. coupon.

- keep all of your manufacturer coupons in a binder or little accordion folder. I got an accordion folder but with only clipping coupons for 2 weeks, it's already getting full and disorganized- even though i have it broken down into 12 categories. so, i am going to get the binder instead and use card pockets (like for baseball/trading cards) and keep coupons in those instead. you'll want this to be super organized because this is what you take to the store with you just in case in you find something on sale or clearance that you weren't expecting to get. if you see an item discounted really low and also have a coupon with it, you can either get it for free or sometimes even make money off the coupon. you won't be using all the coupons you clip that week, because not everything will be on sale- and so you don't want to waste them! most coupons are good for a few months so you can hold on to them (organized in your binder) and then use them once there is an awesome sale. that's really the only way to get stuff for free/close to free.

- after i look through and devour the whole paper (or 5 whole papers) I then go to this website:
Krazy Coupon Lady -- she does a lot of the work for you. (i've looked at a lot of coupon websites and hers in my favorite. it's really easy to navigate and it looks nice- i can't STAND ugly websites) I try to do the match ups (sales/coupons) on my own but there is a lot i miss- so this website is awesome. she breaks it down by store and what coupons to use when. somehow she even knows what deals are going to happen in the future so she'll say: you CAN use this coupon for candy this week at this store, but if you wait till next week you can buy them at this store for even cheaper.

- take advantage of things like register rewards (RR- also called catalinas) at walgreens. these are the coupons that get printed out after you buy something for you to use on your next transaction. for example- that's how i got the razors for $1 each. they were normally $10, onsale for $8.99. $4 off manufacturer coupon and a $4 RR- making it essentially only .99. I had to pay the $4.99 though and then the coupon prints out. I use that coupon on my next transaction, so it's just as good as cash. you cannot get RR for the same item, 2 transactions in a row. So, for example today- i did 10 transactions at walgreens. all of my odd transactions were essentially the same and all my even transactions were essentially the same. so, i still i got all the RR and i spent the RR from trans #1 on #2, #2 on #3 ECT. hopefully that makes sense :)

-this week i did something that was a lot easier then my trip to walgreens last week. I organized each of my 10 transactions and put together the coupons with a paperclip and then a sticky note on top, to tell me what to buy (and quantity) for each transaction. then, i made a "master list" which told me what to buy and the quantity i needed to buy in total. For example i was buying dial body wash for $1 each. so i had that 5 of my transaction sticky notes and then i also had on the master list: 5 dial body washes. this way, you don't have to try to keep your transactions separate in the cart. I tried to do that last week and it was SO hard. i had to drag around 2 carts and still, they were all jumbled by the time i got to the register. so this time it was SO much easier- i just would put up on the counter each item based on the sticky note and then hand her all those coupons i needed for that transaction.

-i clip coupons on sunday afternoon after church. to me, it's a nice, relaxing activity- like taking a sunday nap :) I get up on monday morning and try to be at walgreens just as they open at 8 am.

I really haven't started buying my groceries with coupons yet- I have just gone to walgreens the last 2 monday mornings to buy things like toiletries, laundry and cleaning supplies. i figure if i can get all of this for super cheap (about 80% savings this week) then it's OK to spend a normal amount on groceries. i am going to start looking for more grocery type coupons but to me it seems like its mostly for a lot of.... crap... like prepackaged meals/frozen food ect which we don't really eat a lot of (nor do i want to) so, for now-- mostly household stuff.

So far with coupons i've gotten really nice razors (i now have 28 :), lots of laundry detergent (i currently have enough for 505 loads, and since i only do about 5 loads a week- that is enough to last me for 2 years!!!) dish soap, body wash, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, medicine and lip balm. For most everything, i didn't pay over $1 each (dish soap- less then $1, laundry detergent about $1.80-$2.50 for 32 load bottle of liquid detergent) so, i am REALLY excited! Last week I spent a little over $70 and saved about $190. This week i spent $32 and saved a little over $235.

if you have questions, let me know! I am in NO WAY an expert like the TLC ladies but, if i can help, i will :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

photos & video!

pictures of the model! We explain a lot about it in the video too....

the outside! which i love- especially the orange door and all the metal.

entry way/mud room area- here is where the washer/dryer, a coat closet and our 1.5 garage are

the kitchen! don't look at the SS appliances (we'll have black) the nice tile or countertops.. but we'll make it awesome! it's the space i love, it's HUGE!

i guess this is the only picture i took of the family room and it's not even a good one... just watch the video!

door in our family room leading out the balcony

little 1/2 wall with one step up to the 1/2 bath.
i am going to LOVE having 2 baths again.

stairs to the upstairs! (3rd floor) we don't like the brown trim- ours will be all be white and then we're painting the walls a very light gray before we move in
Daph's room

daph's room (i love the big window!)
this is the view from the balcony and it also shows our lot. it's right in front of that pink house which is thankfully 2 stories and ours is 3 so we'll still get some view!

Daph's room

daph's room looking into the hallway and our bedroom (the full bath is that door right before our bedroom on the right)
little desk in the hallway for nic (perfect because he's normally working on the couch)

hall bath (full) on the 3rd floor

i love that there is a door to separate the sink and the tub/toilet

linen closet right across from the bath
our room!
door to our closet
i love that little window- and that we have 2 windows in our room it's so nice and sunny!

view from our bedroom- ours will be built right in front of where julie and sid are standing.
here is the video (it's about 10 min long of me being awkward/excited)

one thing i forgot to mention in the details post which i LOVE about the house is that is there are actually no shared walls- there is a layer of celuous (to prevent noise/fire) then some dead air (also helps with noise reduction) then the neighbor's celulous then their house) so it's not like we'll be living in an apartment which is something i was really worried about looking into a condo. YAY!

the details on the house!

well everyone! we're buying a house!
we under contract yesterday (we signed lots of papers and payed the earnest money) and ours will be done sometime in June/July/August. (they haven't broken ground yet.. so we're thinking more like August) there is a model though right behind where ours will be so we've been visiting it frequently over the weekend, falling more in love every time we see it! Let me tell you


-it's a neighborhood in denver called stapleton, it's an urban development (the site is the old airport which was replaced 15 years ago) so it's still in denver but has a real family/neighborhood feel. it's very safe and residential.
-within the neighborhood there are over 100 retail stores and 25 restaurants. that's in the town center. we will be right across the street from town center 2, which will have lots of the same great things as the OG town center. (yes, this will mean construction for us for a few years- but i'm only talking about the GOOD right now!)
-the house is the perfect size for us. we were planning on always living in under 800 SF and this is actually 1,166 so it's bigger then we planned on but we really love the layout.
-all those stairs will make my butt look great (RIGHT?!)
-there are beautiful views of the mountains and a little downtown view as well which we think will look awesome at night. That's the view from our balcony on the 2nd floor and our bedroom on the 3rd.
-we qualify for income restricted housing meaning we make under $56K a year (for a family of 3) and that means our house market value is $194,000 and we're getting it for $145 (with AC, it was $141 but we added that option)
-but, we're the only ones in our building that are income restricted which is nice.
-we're definitely in like the cheapest place in stapleton- all around us houses are between $300-$500K
-we're going to have a garage!!!!
-we are just a couple of blocks away from a pool (there are 3, almost 4 in stapleton) a rec center, an 80 acre park and a nature preserve that has 35 miles of bike trails and connects with all the cherry creek paths that go through downtown denver) doesn't that sound like a nice place for daphne to grow up?
-stapleton has really cute things like their own farmer's market, community garden, films on the green (they set up a huge projector in the park for movies i think once every few weeks or so in the summer)
-we're still close enough to go to all the stuff we love in denver, it won't be walking distance but if we're in the mood for a long bike ride, we can definitely do it.
-we're going to have carpet which i don't exactly love, but we're the first people in it! so i'm OK with it. (though we are planning on doing something like bamboo all on the 2nd floor- the kitchen/living and .5 bath floor)
-we get to pick paint colors and do home improvement projects together.
-it has GREAT schools (one that is very close to us) and all stapleton kids are guaranteed to have first pick (unlike most schools in denver where you're likely to not get into a school in your neighborhood)
-a dishwasher!
- we love the look of the outside, especially the metal balcony and orange door with frosted glass. and we have lot of ideas for the inside (which we love to!) which will make it perfect for us.
-we can own a house for about the same price as it would be to rent, if not less.
- it has solar panels which will save us 35-55% in our energy bills.
- all houses in stapleton are energy star qualified, ours is like 35% over those requirements or something.
-we'll still be living with my parents all summer which will give us lots of time to save MONEY!
- all the row houses in our 6-plex will have lot premiums attached to them (meaning you pay more (like $20 or $30K more) for your house because of where it's located- with mnt views and so close to great amenities) but since it's income restricted... we don't have to!

(i'm not dwelling on the bad but i am being realistic!)
- with income restricted housing, you can not make a huge profit when selling your house- it can only increase up to 3.5% each year that we live there (so if we live there 10 years we can sell it for around $195,000 after paying $145,000 for it)
- that does it make it more difficult to resell because you have to resell it to someone who is also income restricted- but luckily ours is an FHA approved home which will really help because someone only has to come with 3.5% down not 10%
- we cannot qualify for the loan till nic gets a job (which is a whole other story, but he's in the job hunt again!) my business is doing great this year but it only counts the last 2 tax years and that was before i started JanuaryJones and when the economy took a serious hit. But, if we cannot get our financing in order by the time our house is nearing completion, they will just move our earnest money to the next building being built.
- because it's income restricted we have some pretty-not-awesome finishing choices like linoleum in the entry/kitchen and baths but we'll hopefully have the money to replace them either with bamboo or cork before we even move in.
-we're not in our ideal neighborhood in denver (which is baker/west wash park) which at first, we wouldn't even consider anything outside that area. but, when we really thought about what would be best for Daphne, this was right. we still LOVE that area and plan on going there all the time, good thing we're only 15 min away or so.
-nic was planning on getting a scooter to commute but now that we're further from downtown we're not sure...
- we were planning on moving out in april and now it won't be till august. thankfully, it's going really well living with my parents and so this will give us time to get even more money saved which will be great.

pictures and a video in the next post!

Monday, January 24, 2011

sometimes you just get lucky...

and it feels pretty damn good!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

family pics 2010

our friends Rebecca & Chad came to visit Rexburg in October and shot our family pictures. We were so happy because they are so talented. Of course I wanted to lose 20 lbs before the pics and that obviously didn't happen- but oh well, i found a dress i love (and had a friend alter) at a thrift store while visiting CO in October so i felt OK. I am so excited to have an APARTMENT of our own to hang these up in.. but for now... we're waiting patiently from my parents basement.

Nic starts his job tomorrow at EBD! I am soooooo excited for him and proud of him! with so much unemployment, he just goes to his very first interview at a place that doesn't even hire junior designers and lands the job! He is awesome.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

from the denver.

we live in colorado now. isn't that weird? I haven't been able to say that in the past 8 years and it feels awesome. it was REALLY sad to leave our family & our few remaining rexburg friends (most have moved on before us) but, we're excited for our new CO adventure. So far I've had the flu twice in 7 days, so that's been fantastic.

i opened up a new esty shop! it's modern LDS art so if you aren't into Greg Olsen paintings, you might like it. i hope you'll check it out.

as usual, prints start @ $12.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


i got county assistance!
this means that my over $10,000 bill for my surgery will be reduced to about a 1/3 of that (i don't have the exact numbers yet) and we'll be able to pay $25 a month.
I am so relieved & grateful.