Santa's Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops

If you live near a Bass Pro Shops, you need to go, go, go and  take your kids to visit Santa's Wonderland! We took Kainan last week and honestly I wasn't expecting much. I was expecting a free picture with Santa, employees trying to push picture packages on you and not much else. I was wrong! Of course it's a store, so there were lots of (overpriced) toys everywhere, but there were also lots of fun, free activities. Kainan got to make an ornament, got a free Santa bandz (like SillyBandz,) got to ride a merry-go-round, colored some pictures, and also played with various toys and went down and "ice" slide. He absolutely loved it. Kainan also loved visiting the rest of the store and seeing all the fish. We aren't really into hunting or anything, but Kainan loves animals so he really enjoyed all of the fish and turtles.

This is a great free family activity. I plan to take Kainan back, along with Mikaela, and possibly buy more pictures then. The staff was not pushy at all, and the cheapest picture package was $9.99. If you don't want to buy a package, you can always just keep the free picture and scan it. The crafts and Santa bandz change weekly, so you could even go back more than once. There are many Bass Pro Shops locations, go here to see if there is one near you!


Triple Cash Back at Wal-Mart and Toys-R-Us on Ebates!

Do you have some online shopping to do before Christmas? Ebates is now offering triple cash back on purchases from Wal-Mart and Toys R Us! If you haven't signed up for Ebates yet, it is a site that offers cash back on purchases made online every quarter. You can get this cash back in the form of a check or directly into your paypal. Currently Ebates is offering 3% cash back from walmart.com and 7% from Toysrus.com. Even better, Wal-mart offers FREE site to store shipping, so you could get 3% cash back plus free shipping.

If you haven't signed up for Ebates get, go here and sign up! There will probably be other great cash back deals before Christmas!


Cloth Diapers - What I use (Part 2)

My post Cloth Diapers - What I use has been the most viewed post so far on this blog. I've been using different diapers on Mikaela than I did on Kainan (because I didn't start with Kainan until he was older) and I wanted to share my opinions on several other brands that I didn't mention in the first post. First I will list what I currently use and recommend, then I'll list other brands that I've tried as well as my opinion on them. I am happy to say that Kainan is now potty-trained, so here is what I am currently using with Mikaela.

Happy Heiny one-size: This is one of my absolute favorite diaper companies. I love that they are made in the USA. They are really good quality, a little on the expensive side, but you get what you pay for. These come in snap or aplix closures, I have both.
Sunbaby one-size: These are the absolute best diaper for the price! At $4 or $5 per diaper, you just can't beat it. They are good quality and have held up really well so far. These diapers only come with snap closures.
Fuzzibunz one-size: These are a little different than other one-size diapers because of the patented adjustable elastic. They are slightly more "attractive" than other one-size diapers since there are no snaps in the front when they are at the largest setting. They are also a little pricey, but very high quality. They also seem to fit tinier babies a little sooner than other one-size pockets. These come with snap closures.
Kawaii one-size: These diapers are also a good value but they aren't my favorite. I prefer the Sunbaby diapers, which are cheaper. They come with a snap closure as well.
Babyland one-size: Babyland makes VERY cheap diapers (a couple of bucks on eBay) but I don't recommend them. They don't adjust to a very large size (probably no bigger than 20-25 pounds) and they are VERY cheap. They are leaky and are just made very poorly. I have two and I very rarely use them. Snap closure.

All-in-one's (AIOs) :
Grovia: This is a good AIO diaper but I don't love the hip snaps. They have an extra snap in doubler for heavier wetters. They are a little pricey but a lot of people love the Grovia brand.

Grovia: I STONGLY prefer these to the Grovia AIOs. I believe they come in snap or aplix closure (mine are aplix.) They are a little different because they have a snap in liner, you can also use the shell as a regular cover over a prefold. Grovia also sells disposable inserts that you can use inside the cover and throw away, I haven't tried these myself.

Goodmama: These is a lot of hype over Goodmama diapers. I only have one but I do like it. They come with snap closures and a snap liner. I use mine under PUL or wool covers. Goodmamas are expensive so I wouldn't buy any unless I got a really good deal.
Thirsties: Thirsties makes really great fitteds. They are really trim but hold up well. The ones that I have are aplix closure. I don't think that Thirsties makes sized fitteds anymore but they do make them in Duos, I haven't tried these.

Flip: Flip makes my FAVORITE PUL cover. Flip has two different kinds of cloth inserts as well as disposables inserts. I've never used any of these, but I've used the Flip cover over prefolds and fitteds.
Thirsties: Thirsties also has great covers. I prefer the sized covers to the Duos.

I tried not to, but I really like wool! Most of what I have is mama-made (not by me) but I do have two Wild Child Woolies soakers and they are really great. Very pricey, but they are high quality.

Other diapers I have tried:
Fuzzibunz sized pockets: These are good diapers, snap closure, I liked them.
Thirsties sized AIOs: I love anything Thirsties and these were no exception. Unfortunately they aren't made anymore. :( I used sizes XS and Small.
Thirsties duo pockets: Again I love Thirsties. Reasonably priced, great quality, made in the US, most Thirsties products come in snap or aplix closure.
Happy Heiny sized pockets: I used Happy Heiny XL diapers for Kainan and I also had a couple of size smalls for Mikaela. I really love Happy Heiny diapers, the are the best quality pockets that I have used.
Muttaquin baby fitteds: Very cute and they hold up well, no complaints (I only had one of these.) 
bumGenius AIO: I mentioned these in my last post for Mikaela, I used XS and small sized. These are the best diaper (in my opinion) for a newborn.

So there you have it, these are the diapers that I use and recommend (except for a few!)


Plum District Ecomom.com deal even better!

From today until Monday, the Plum District deal that I mentioned earlier is even better than expected! When you spend $50 at ecomom.com you will get $20 off AND free shipping. This means that you will get $70 worth of products with your $15 (or $10) voucher!

I bought this deal today because I had a couple of referrals (so FREE out of pocket) and purchased 4 bags of Rockin' Green detergent (great for cloth diapers!) and a puzzle for each of my kids. It was great to get for free, but it's still an awesome deal for $15 (or $10 if you are new to Plum District!) So head on over here and sign up if you haven't taken advantage of this great deal yet!


Plum District - $50 ecomom.com certificate as low as $10!

Today only, Plum District has a $10 off code (enjoy10) that can be used on any of their deals! One of the deals is $50 of merchandise from ecomom for only $25. After the code the price comes down to $15, however if you have $5 in credit (I believe all new sign ups get this, but I'm not sure) that makes this deal only $10!

Ecomom.com has some really great deals on eco-friendly baby stuff. I checked out some of their deals and you could get two Grovia AIO cloth diapers (normally $22.95 EACH) with this certificate, or you could get three Grovia newborn AIO diapers ($14.95 each.) This is an AWESOME deal for Grovia diapers. I have one of the AIOs myself and it's a really great diaper.  Thanks to Jessica for the heads up that this deal does NOT include cloth diapers or diaper accessories. There are plenty of other things on the site, including lots of clearance items as well as things for older kids and moms. Remember that the $10 discount code is for today only, so you'll want to get this quickly!


Cloth Diapers too expensive? Try Sunbaby Diapers!

one of my favorite prints
Are you interested in cloth diapers but it seems like the initial price is too expensive? Maybe you use cloth diapers yourself but have a hard time talking friends into giving them a try because of the initial cost. Well I have found a solution! The answer is Sunbaby Diapers. These are one-size pocket diapers, similar to Fuzzibunz or Happy Heiny's, but much, much less expensive. If you can't justify spending $20 on a diaper, Sunbaby diapers only cost FOUR or FIVE dollars each. Now the downside to this price is you have to buy in bulk. The sunbaby website sells these diapers in sets of 6, 12, or 24. They are sold with or without inserts. If you'd like to try Sunbaby diapers before jumping in and buying a whole set, try eBay or Facebook. Sunbaby diapers has a fanpage on Facebook (search for "I love Sunbaby Diapers") as well as a Sunbaby buy/sell/trade baby and a Sunbaby auction page. Buying just one diaper will cost a little more (solid colors or common prints sell for about $7 shipped) but it would be a great way to try these diapers before committing to use them.

You may wonder if this price is just too good to be true. I've bought other "cheap" diapers before and I have been very disappointed. I have been using these myself for a couple of months and I have to say that I LOVE them. They are similar quality to the more expensive diapers and they fit really well. They also have super cute prints, if that is important to you. The cute prints sometimes sell out fast on the website, so if there is a particular print that you want you may need to try to buy/sell/trade or auction groups. One downside to the diapers is the website, the quality of the site is poor and it only lists currently available diapers. However the Facebook fan page has pictures of all of the prints as well as general information on the diapers. Now these diapers are made in China. I like to buy American made products when I can, but if you are on a budget these diapers are a wonderful price. One downsize (for some) is that these diapers only come with a snap closure. Snaps can be difficult to get used to if you are switching from disposables. I preferred aplix closure until I realized that snaps are so much easier to wash. Diapers with snap closures can just be thrown in the washer and show so much less wear than diapers with aplix (velcro) closures. If you have a baby who knows how to escape their diapers (thankfully I haven't ever had this problem) snaps would be a great solution. My husband used to prefer diapers with aplix but he has no problems with the snaps now. If he came around to snaps I am sure anyone could. I have not tried these diapers out on a tiny baby but I would imagine that they would fit from about ten pounds or so. Most one-size diapers do not fit tiny babies until their thighs have some chunk to them. Overall I can't recommend these diapers enough. They are cheap, cute, and good quality!


CVS vs. Walgreens

If you are new to shopping at drugstores or new to using coupons, you may be confused as to why people shop at places like CVS and Walgreens. CVS and Walgreens are two of the three major drugstores where couponers shop. Rite Aid is the third, there are none of these in my area so I won't include Rite Aid in this post.

Why would you shop at CVS or Walgreens when their prices are so high? It's true, regular prices at CVS and Walgreens are sky high. The reason for shopping at the drugstores are sale prices, in-store coupons (which can be used in conjunction with a manufactures coupon, or "stacked",) and rewards programs. In this post I will tell you a little more about these two stores and where there differences are. With this knowledge in hand you can decide at which store you would prefer to shop, or if you'd be up for tackling both.

So what are the differences between shopping at CVS and shopping at Walgreens?

Rewards Programs: Both CVS and Walgreens have a rewards program. Walgreens has Register Rewards, which print on a catalina machine separately from your receipt. CVS has Extra Bucks which print directly onto the bottom your receipt. Both stores have similar sales (ex. spend $5.99 on lotion, receive $5.99 Register Reward/Extra Bucks) but they way they are redeemed is different. Walgreens considers RR's (Register Rewards) to be manufactures coupons. With all stores you are required to have as many items as manufactures coupons, so you may need to use cheap "filler" items if you are using coupons for every other item you are buying. At CVS, EB's (Extra Bucks) are redeemed more like a gift card. Meaning that you don't need to have extra items. This means redeeming EB's is somewhat easier than redeeming RR's, at least until you get the hang of it. Keep in mind that Walgreens coupons are not manufactures coupons, so don't count them in your coupon total.

Item Limits: CVS has a shopping card (like a store loyalty card) that must be used to receive sale prices or Extra Bucks. Walgreens does not have a similar card. CVS usually has limits on it's reward items (usually 1 or 2) and Walgreens does not. A few Walgreens stores require that you only buy one Register Reward item per day, but without a store card there is no way to really enforce this rule, and it only applies to that store so you can always check another store for the same item. The item limits are both a good and bad thing. This means that CVS usually has better stock of an item that is a particularly good deal, but you can only buy one or two. Walgreens will usually sell out of items that are very popular, but if you find a store that is completely stocked you can buy as many as needed. Many people take advantage of this and will clear shelves at Walgreens, it may not be against the rules but it certainly isn't nice.

Number of Stores: In my area (and most that I've been to) there are more Walgreens stores than CVS stores. That means that it may be more convenient to shop at Walgreens because there are simply more of them. It also means that if one Walgreens is sold out of an item that you want, another might have it. I regularly go to about four Walgreens stores and about 75% of the time at least one of them will have what I am looking for.

Friendliness of Staff: It may not seem like a huge factor, but if you are using coupons it is always good to have staff that is coupon knowledgeable or at least open to the use of coupons. I have personally found that cashiers and managers at CVS know more about their coupon policy and are more helpful than those who work at Walgreens. This may not be true in every area, but it certainly is where I live.

"Magic Coupon Machine:" This is a little red machine at CVS that prints coupons automatically when you scan your card. Sometimes it will even print coupons for FREE items. CVS has this, Walgreens doesn't.

In-Store Coupons: Both CVS and Walgreens have in-store coupons. Store coupons can be "stacked" with a manufactures coupon for great savings. Walgreens has more of them, and they are usually easier to find. Walgreens has a little book every month that is out by the weekly sale ad with lots of coupons. They also regularly have coupons in the newspaper, as well as other little booklets in the store. Some of these booklets are seasonal, or found near the pharmacy. CVS occasionally has coupons online or in the newspaper, as well as coupons that print from the "magic coupon machine." I heard that Walgreens will soon have mobile coupons, I'll update when I have more information.

So with this information in hand, you should be able to understand the differences between these stores a little better. Which store is "better" is entirely up to you. I prefer CVS if I am in a hurry, because there is no figuring out filler items. However if you are really looking to stock up on a product Walgreens may be the better option.


Survey Sites that are worth your time!

First of all I would like to say that I'm not dead, I've just been very busy lately. My computer also seems to have an issue with blogger and hasn't been letting me on, but hopefully that will get better. My plan is to start blogging again daily.

I've always heard about survey sites online but never knew which ones were actually worth it. I started doing surveys on Swagbucks but those were mostly a waste of time. I would go through several minutes of questions before finding out that I didn't qualify. Over the past few months I have investigated a few sites and these are the ones that I personally recommend. There are other sites out there that may be just as good, but these are the ones that I use myself.

Synovate is really awesome because it is one of the survey sites that send you free items to try in exchange for your opinion. They also have regular surveys which you can take for points. You can use your points to buy gift cards. It takes a while to get enough points for gift cards but it's worth it, I think, because of the potential to get free items. They sent me two rolls of Bounty Extra soft paper towels a while back. Synovate is not always accepting new panelists but they send to open up for new members a couple of times per month.

i-Say is another good site that sends out product testers. I have tested toothpaste and perfume. The toothpaste had to be sent back and they never sent me a survey about it-weird? i-Say also has a reward system where points can be redeemed for rewards.

Toluna is a pretty good survey company. They send out more surveys than the others (for me, anyway) but it was similar to Swagbucks surveys in that I often did not qualify. I receive surveys less often from i-Say and Synovate but I usually qualify for those that they do send. That being said, I don't spend as much time on Toluna surveys but if you have a lot of time on your hands it would be worth it to try. Toluna has also sent me full size bottles of Panete shampoo and conditioner to try! Toluna has a reward system also where after so many points you can redeem for prizes or even a check.

I had an account on Opinion Outpost and I really liked it a lot because I got rewards quickly. However they deleted my account one day for no reason. I still recommend that you try them because for me they were the quickest to pay out. I always redeemed my points for Amazon gift cards.

I have an account with the National Consumer Panel but I've rarely used it. I had a survey opportunity yesterday for a $5 survey and they said they are sending me a check. I've heard good things about them from other people I just haven't really participated much myself.

Inbox Dollars is similar to Swag Bucks except the surveys that you take actually pay out. Usually $.50 per survey but sometimes more. You also get a bonus for signing up. Once you reach $30 you can request a check. There are many things that you can do besides surveys but their surveys are worth it as well.

There are plenty of other sites out there. I recently signed up for MyPoints but I haven't used it at all because I've been too busy. If you do any surveys sites post a reply and let me know what you use and how you like it!


Free 8x10 collage from Walgreens Photo

Head over to Walgreens photo and click on the banner for a free 8x10 collage or $1.99 poster. You can choose store pick up to make the collage totally free. Hurry because this deal ends on Saturday the 22nd!


All About Ebates

I'm sure you're all wondering, what is Ebates? I've seen the commercial for them, but what are they? Well, here is a quick rundown of who they are and what they do.

What is Ebates?
Ebates is a leader in online cash back shopping. They pay members cash back every time they shop online. They also give them the best coupons and deals online. Each Store offers a different cash back percentage or dollar amount for shopping with them. Just look at the amount next to the store name on the Ebates website to see how much you will earn.

How does it work?
It's quite simple. Every time you decide to shop online, instead of going directly to Target's (ex.) website, and buying what you want, go to Ebates and log into your account. Once logged in, go to the list of stores and choose Target. You will immediately see how much you will earn for shopping there, and be sent directly to Target's website through Ebates. But what's different? Now Ebates knows you are shopping at Target, and they know how much to pay you back for doing so. It's as simple as that!

Where can I shop?
Ebates is linked to over 1,200 online stores (including Walmart, Target, even Amazon), so the odds are it's worth checking out. If you ever shop online, then Ebates is worth the free sign up.

How do I get paid?
Ebates sends out payments four times a year. You can choose to receive a check or get payed via PayPal. As long as you have more than $5.01 in your account, you will be payed.

How can I sign up?
You can go to the Ebates website to sign up now.


Free $2 Extra Buck from CVS!

Do you like FREE stuff? Who doesn't? Head over here to get a $2 Extra Buck just for pledging that you won't through your Extra Bucks away. I don't know about you, but I definitely never throw mine away anyway! Check it out as soon as possible, this deal is limited to a certain amount of people and may not last long. Oh and just as a warning, that video is very stupid. :)


All You Smart Shopping - Not worth it!

Recently there was a lot of buzz about a coupon for $1.00 off All You magazine. Initially I think that everyone thought it was for the monthly magazine but it was actually for a special "Smart Shopping" edition. Unlike the regular issues, this special edition was priced at $4.97. I bought it (with a coupon of course) and I have to say that I think it was a waste of money. If you haven't bought it yet, I say don't waste your money. There are only two coupons in it (in the back, for other magazines) and all of the information in it can easily be found online for FREE at various money-saving blogs. If you have already been researching ways to save money it probably won't do you any good. Toss the coupon and save the $4 for something better. :) Did anyone else buy this? What did you think about it?


"Money Makers" at Drugstores and other places

 If you have visited any coupon blogs you have probably seen the term "money maker" or "MM." This means (supposedly) that you got back more money than you spent. The reason that I don't like this is because many times it gives people a false impression because they are subtracting any earned register rewards, gift cards, or extra bucks from their total. Confused? Here is a scenario:

Let's say that Tampons are $7 at CVS and you get a $7 Extra buck with purchase, let's also say that there was a $1 off printable coupon online (there was a similar deal to this last week.) Okay, so you pay $6 plus tax and receive a $7 extra buck. Some people call that a $1 money maker.

Now, if you used extra bucks from a previous week to pay for it, it would be a "money maker" because you spent nothing or very little out of pocket. If you actually spent $6, then you SPENT SIX DOLLARS. It's great to have the reward for next week, but those rewards can be lost or forgotten about (especially for newbies.) I also see people counting rewards TWICE. The day they get them and the day they spend them, this doesn't make sense at all. For me, I count whatever CASH I spend out of pocket as my total spent. If I have rewards left over from last week (and I usually do) this total is little or nothing. Last week I spent $.04 at CVS at Walgreens ($.03 at CVS, $.01 at Walgreens) because of leftover rewards.

Why is this a big deal? Well it isn't, but I think some people who are new to couponing get confused or discouraged because their actually expenses seem higher than what they see online. To me, counting the CASH that I spent makes the most sense. Now there are true "money makers" out there. For example Wal-Mart will give you money back if your coupons go over your total amount. I've never done this personally because I use overage toward other items. Also if you use your Extra Bucks from last week at CVS, spend little or no cash and come out with more Extra Bucks than you went in with, that is also a "money maker" (even if it is paper money.) 

I think that anyone who is keeping track of their total expenses and savings should keep this in mind. Saving money is great, but we shouldn't trick ourselves into thinking we are saving more than we are!


Money Savings Websites

I hope that you have our site bookmarked for money saving tips. One day I would like to have lots of content on things like cloth diapering or couponing but our lives have been hectic lately and neither of us has been able to update as much as we'd like. There are lots of sites out there that have been around for a long time or update several times a day. These are some of my favorite sites to visit for tips or various things, I hope you enjoy them!

This part of All You's website has coupons (some exclusive!) and a daily freebie. Sometimes the freebies are really good. Some freebies will arrive with coupons too.

This is one of my favorite sites for money saving tips. I love her realistic guides to couponing (for those of us who aren't so "extreme") and simple money saving solutions. She also posts CVS and Walgreens match-ups almost weekly.

This is one of the best sites for all things coupons. They have multiple posts per day and sometimes post about things other than couponing (like saving on vacations.) Also check out the "Brag Lounge" to see what kind of deals others have been getting and maybe check if your stores have the same deals!

I hate how this site is set up (too many ads) but I love the drugstore deals section which is updated weekly. This section has match-ups for sales and coupons at many stores. You may have a couple for a freebie or cheap item and not even know it! Use this site to check.

Another helpful coupon site with links to the best printables and guides for various stores.

Want to know what coupons will be in this Sunday's paper? This site will tell you ahead of time.

If you live in a rural area (like I do) Wal-Mart may be the only store that is nearby. If I didn't drive for work I would rarely be able to go to Walgreens, CVS or Target without going out of my way. Unfortunately Wal-Mart is not the best place to coupon (in most cases.) This site is run by a man, which I think is cool, and it's all about couponing at Wal-Mart!

So those are some of my favorite places to visit for coupon and money saving tips, what are your favorite money-saving websites?


10 Pampers Gifts to Grow Points

Pampers Gifts to Grow has a new code for 10 points! The code is FAC911PTXD36Y6J. Go ahead and add it into your account, or join now if you don’t have one yet. Hurry and enter the code, because it expires on 9/11/11.

If your child is in Pampers diapers or Easy-Ups, you definitely need a Gifts to Grow account. You can redeem the points for gift cards, or prizes for yourself or your baby!


My New Workout Routine - Update

I bet you probably think I stopped working out! Don't you? No, I didn't! I cut back on the 30 Day Shred for a few days, because Amy ordered it, and I was waiting for hers to arrive to start back with her. So we can hold each other accountable! ;-) I gave in today and went ahead and did it though.

Either way, I have still been working out. I've added a few more workouts to my collection, and I've been doing a wide variety exercise. Today, I started the morning with a quick 10 minute workout (crunches, squats, push ups, etc). I also started using a video by Leslie Sansone called Walk Away the Pounds. I've read amazing reviews on her walk-at-home program, so I figured this would be great for me to do every day, even if I can't fit in another workout. I found two of her videos on YouTube. Apparently, both combined equal a 2 mile walk. I'm not too sure about that, but I know it's a straight 28 minutes of walking, which is fine by me. I eventually would like to purchase her whole collection, but until I have a few more Amazon gift cards from Swagbucks, I'll stick to the YouTube videos. I've been doing Part 1: Start Quick & Easy and Part 2: Burn Fat & Back it Down. Each video is a little over 14 minutes long, so it's a nice workout just under a half an hour. If you feel like you want to ease your way into working out, this is perfect for just that!

I've also been doing at least 10 minutes of Tae-Bo every day. It just makes me feel better, and even 10 minutes of Tae-Bo is a decent workout. I read on a website that just 10 minutes of Tae-Bo burns over 100 calories. That's amazing to me! Billy Blanks has a way of keeping you moving.

I also picked up a Denise Austin Pilates video from the Goodwill that I started doing. It's based on the work of J.H. Pilates, and although I think I like yoga over Pilates, it is a great workout. She does incorporate more yoga more in the second half of the video.

Anyway, that's an update on what I've been up to. Today I managed to do my 10 minute morning workout, a 2 mile walk, and 30 Day Shred, so I'm definitely feeling the burn. And I'm loving every minute of it!


7 things that you should never pay more than $1.00 for

Do you pay more than $1.00 for common household items like toothbrushes, body wash or bandages? If you are like most people, you probably do! I have noticed several items that regularly have coupons and also go on sale at the drug stores regularly. Some of these items even have very low every day prices at stores like Wal-Mart or Target. I was showing my sister some of the stuff that I had recently bought with coupons and she noted that they was all name-brand items. Using coupons combined with sales (and sometimes without sales!) nearly always get a better price than a store brand or cheaper version of the product. I have found that a lot of the times store brand items work just fine (things like plastic cutlery, etc.) but most of the time bath and body products just don't measure up. Here are a few items that you should NEVER pay full price for, in fact, you should be able to regularly find these items for under $1.00!

Oral Care
Never, ever, EVER pay for toothbrushes! You can get these for free* at the drugstores almost every week. There are almost always coupons for toothbrushes that can be combined with sales for a free item. For instance last week I purchased a Colgate 360 toothbrush. Retail price was $4.99 (which is ridiculous if you ask me) but it came with a $4.00 Register Reward. I also had a coupon from All You magazine for a $1.00 off. So I paid $3.99 plus tax for the toothbrush (I used Register Rewards from my last trip) and got $4.00 back! Toothpaste and floss have similar deals. You can regularly find deals for toothpaste and floss for no more than $.25 or $.50.
*"free" after Register Rewards, Extra Bucks, Gift cards, etc. You may have to pay a little bit out of pocket initially but you will get the money back to spend later.

Hair Care
You could pay $1.00 for cheap shampoo or you could pay $1.00 (or less!) for the "good" brands like Pantene, Herbal Essences, Garnier, etc. These can be a little trickier, I am currently stocked up on Garnier coupons (my husbands favorite brand) waiting for a good sale. You may have to wait for a few weeks to find a sale on your favorite brand but if you aren't picky there are great sales on these items every week. There are always new newspaper and printable coupons for hair care. Target clearance is also a GREAT place to find very low prices on your favorites brands that can be combined with coupons. A couple of months ago there was a deal on Finesse sulfate free shampoo, after a coupon and a mail in rebate it was absolutely FREE!

Like hair care, there are always coupons floating around out there for deodorant. There is currently a $1.00 off Degree coupon for premium deodorant that has no size restriction. These can be redeemed at Target where the trial size premium deodorant is only $.97! There was also recently a deal where Mitchum deodorant was free and last week at Walgreens full-size Degree deodorant was only $.75.

Body Wash
Just like with hair care, there are usually coupons for body wash, soap, and lotion and plenty of good sales to be combined with. The most important thing is to try to leave your brand loyalty behind because your coupons may expire while you are waiting for a good sale on your favorite products. If you see a good sale on a brand that you like where the final price is under $1.00, stock up!

Never pay full price for any feminine hygiene product! There are coupons for these products almost every week in the newspaper and they also run regularly online. Carefree pantyliners can often be bought for less than $.25 for a small package and currently U by Kotex has a $1 off any product coupon that can be used on the smallest package of liners for a final price of only $.24 at Wal-Mart.

Nexcare, Curad, and Bandaid brands have all recently had coupons for their products. I was able to score a bunch of plain Nexcare bandages for FREE at Wal-Mart and also some Shrek bandages for only $.74.

Trial size items
Sometimes coupons do not have a size restriction (meaning it will NOT say "excludes trial sizes") and that means you are free to use it on a trial size. Regardless of what a rude cashier might tell you. I've had lots and lots of issues with this at Wal-Mart, one cashier acted like I was stealing the money straight out of her pocket. I can assure you that the manufactures know what they are doing and if they didn't want you to use it on a trial size they would put it on the coupon! I'm not an expert but I think that the manufactures want you to try the product even if they lose money, because they know that coupons will not be available forever and if you like the product you will buy it again even if it isn't free. This is also why there are often high value coupons for products (especially new products) which make the products free. Some of the trial size items that I have gotten for free or very cheap: Dove hairspray, Degree deodorant, Tide singles detergent, Cascade dishwasher tabs. I recommend using these coupons at Target over Wal-Mart, I have also never had a problem at Walgreens trying to use a coupon that didn't have a size restriction.

So as you can see there is no need to spend a lot of money on every day necessities. If you can't wait for a good sale, use a coupon and buy one of what you need and then save the rest of your coupons for a sale. Like I mentioned before, there are sometimes very high value coupons that do make other products free. Some of the most recent coupons like this were for Bengay, Zyrtec and Tylenol Precise. If you see these coupons, print the maximum that you can (usually 2 per computer) and stock up, but please try not to clear any shelves! Even if it is for a product that you will not use, you can always give it away to someone who will.


Couponing This Week

I know that I have been absent lately but I've had a lot of personal stuff going on. I wanted to do a little "couponing update." A lot of people seem to think that couponing is too difficult for working moms because we have enough to do between work and everything we have to do once we get home. For me this hasn't been the case at all. I drive people who are on medicaid for work I usually have to wait for a while while they are in their doctors appointments. Since I live in a small town with no Walgreens, CVS, Target, etc. (there is a Wal-Mart about 10 miles away) this works out really well. I don't have to waste my own gas driving up to a larger town to shop at these stores which is great because the gas would almost make the savings not worth my time! I have been buying a few things every week trying to build up a small stockpile. Most of what I have is household products, but I am working on food as well. I am not an extreme couponer my any means, I try to keep the cashiers happy and usually only buy a handful of products at once. I don't get hundreds of dollars of items for free but I've gotten a lot of things that my family will actually use cheap or free. My largest "coupon haul" has been this week for sure and I wanted to share it. I went to 4 Walgreens stores (some more than once,) Target, Wal-Mart and CVS. My OOP (out of pocket) price for all of this was about $40, and I still have Register Rewards ($9, I think) from Walgreens left for next week. Most of this was purchased at Walgreens, I also have 1 more Dial body wash, 3 more packs of Papermate pens and 4 more mini degree deodorants not pictured that were purchased yesterday. Here is a very rough breakdown of my purchases.

Walgreens (4 different stores)
 6 Dial Bodywashes ($3.99-3RR) = $.99 you can often find body wash completely free but I really liked this and my sister uses it so I got some extras for her
6 (I think) packs of blue papermate pens = $.29 each with in-ad coupon. We use these for work and always need more, great "filler" item!
6 (I think) mailers = $.39 with in ad coupon. I mail diapers/dryer balls/etc very often and this was a good price. I love using "filler" items that I actually need!
Cottonelle TP ($5-$.50 coupon-$1 coupon) $3.50
16 Degree mini deodorants (.$97-$.75 coupon) $.22 each. The first 4 of these that I bought printed out a register reward and I kept trying for another but no suck long.
2 Degree deodorant (2/$4-(2)$.75 coupons-$1RR) $.75 each
4 Mini notebooks $.15 with in ad coupon, for my sister who is a waitress
KY Yours+Mine ($15-$5 coupon-$5RR)-$5 No explanation needed here, lol.
4 M&Ms (2/$4-$1 coupon-$1RR) $1 each, potty bribing candy :)
Cheezits & Keebler Cookies (4/$10-$5RR) $5 for 4.
Dawn dishsoap ($.99-$.50 coupon and $.25 coupon) .$25 and .$50 each
Gatorade, buy Perform ($1.79) get catalina for Prime and Recover for free, I did this twice but only got the catalina for the free products the first time.
Proglide Razor ($9.99-$4 coupon-$4RR) = $1.99
360 Toothbrush ($4.99-$1 coupon-$4RR) = Free
Airwick thing, ($7.99-$4 coupon-3RR) $.99 I plan to give this away because I don't use stuff like this
There are probably more Walgreens purchases hiding in there but those are the only ones I can remember. I am doing this off the top of my head without receipts (which is really, really sad now that I think about it.) :)
5 Degree premium mini deodorants ($.97-$1 coupon) = FREE, because I don't have enough mini deodorants right? :) I actually plan to use them instead of regular deodorant until I run out, in 10 years.
Method All Purpose Cleaner (not pictured) ($2.99-$1 coupon) = $1.99, I LOVE Method and I'd much rather use it than the chemical stuff, even if it was free.
Dove Bodywash 2 pack, plus bracelet. $3.50 clearance - 1.25 coupon = $1.75 for both, this was a great price because one of the body washes is regular size and one is really big.
2 Cottonelle Flushable Wipes, I can't remember the exact price but I had a $1.75 coupon and a $1 off coupon (Target and Manufactures) and another printed at the register for next time. I think they were about $.80 each, these are for Kainan.

3 U by Kotex liners ($1.24-$1 coupon) = $.24 each
4 Tampax Compak Tampons ($3.99-2BOGO coupons-2$1 off coupons) = About $1.50 per box.
Pull-ups Flushable Wipes ($1.74-$1 coupon) $.74, also for Kainan
Keri Lotion (PM to Walgreens at $1.99-2 coupon) FREE some stores/cashiers will price match after register rewards and some won't, it just depends on who you get
2 Advil Pocketpacks ($1.79-$2 coupon) FREE
5 packs of scotch tape (PM to Staples at $.50-$1 coupon) FREE plus .50 overage which was applied to the other purchaes
Bubbles, $.50 on sale, for Kainan
Beechnut baby food ($.39 each-$1/3 coupon) about $.10 each. I plan to make most of my own babyfood when Mikaela is ready for it (about a month or two) but I thought these would be nice for the diaper bag, etc.
10 Pack of Minutemaid juice ($2 something - $1 coupon) = $1something (my memory is failing me now)

Cheap wine, $2.99 :)

If you did the math and can't see how I only spent $40 (or so) it's because I "rolled" my Register Reward purchases at Walgreens. There are lots of sites and blogs with tutorials on couponing at various stores but I will probably write up my own sometime for Walgreens since it is my new favorite place to shop.


Tracking Food and Excercise

I have a good friend that is a Beachbody Coach. I told her about my new workout routine and she pointed me in the right direction to hit my goal weight. She told me about a website where you can track your food, excercise, weight, measurements, and more! It's called My Fitness Pal. This site is amazing! They also have a great message board where you can join monthly or weekly "challenges", for motivational purposes. I've already joined at least three. I love the food tracker too. When I go to add something that I've eaten, it's there! Word for word. Lucerne Soft Cream Cheese. It isn't an estimate, it is exactly what I ate and the correct calories! It's great. If you're trying to lose weight and are sick and tired of counting carbs, check out this website! You won't regret it.


Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream Review

Both of my boys have had eczema spots on their backs and bellies since they were very young. I've used everything from Aquafor, Eucerin, Cetephil, even prescription creams, but nothing seemed to work for all of their symptoms. When I was on vacation, my mom had bought Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream for them. She knew I hadn't been able to find anything worth the price and she'd heard great things about this cream, so she got it for me.

This cream is amazing! A little bit goes a long way. I bathe the boys and use about a pea sized amount on their bellies and a pea sized amount on their backs. I've been using it for almost a month at least 5 times a week and they no longer have irritation where their eczema is. They are both big squirmers and using such a small amount doesn't take much holding down on my part, which is a big plus! It makes their skin so smooth and their really isn't much of a scent to it. My sons aren't really keen on smelly stuff, so this is good for us. I even use a small amount on a patch I've had on my arm for years, and it doesn't itch anymore! I can't thank Aveeno enough for this amazing cream!

So, overall I would give Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Moisturizing Cream a 10/10! If your children are suffering from eczema, give this a try! You will not be disappointed.

**Note: I have not been compensated in any way by Aveeno for my review of the Moisturizing Cream. This is something that I was given as a gift from my mom and this is my personal opinion on this amazing product!**

My New Workout Routine - Week One Update

I've been doing Jillian Michaels: 30 Day Shred for over a week now. I only took a break on Thursday, because we were gone ALL day, and on Saturday because we got home so late and I was tired. I didn't end up doing the workout yesterday either, because I was so shook up from the earthquake. I've never experienced an earthquake, and I just couldn't get in the right mind frame to workout. So, in the last ten days, I've done 30 Day Shred for seven of those days. Not too bad for my first week. I have moved on to Level 2, which is much more challenging for me. So far, I really like the workout. It is challenging but I'm still encouraged to get up and do it every day. Jillian is very energetic and she keeps you moving and helps you "push through the pain". I really like her style of training.

I never really took the time in my first post to explain how Jillian Michaels: 30 Day Shred is designed. It is designed in three different levels. Level 1 is for beginners and is approximately 23 minutes long. It starts with a warm-up, and has three circuits which each consist of 3 minutes of strength, 2 minutes of cardio, and 1 minute of abs. After the three circuits, there is a cool down. This is where you start your workout. Once you feel you're ready to move on to a harder routine, you step up to Level 2, and eventually to Level 3. All three levels are around 20-23 minutes each, and consist of the same warm-up, three circuits, and cool down. Jillian suggests you move at your own pace and move up when you feel ready. There are also modified versions of almost every exercise in each level. If you can't do the full version, you can do the modified version. This is great for beginners! I've read on many forums and in some reviews that Jillian Michaels suggests you do Level 1 for ten days, Level 2 for ten days, and Level 3 for ten days. This would mean you are doing the 30 Day Shred for 30 days straight (which does make sense), but I've also read that you shouldn't be doing the same routine for so many days straight without a rest day. Therefore, I've been doing various other workouts on my rest days, to keep my body moving.

I know I planned on doing Great Buns Guaranteed every day, but right now my strength just isn't there to do it every day along with 30 Day Shred. It is a killer on the legs!! So, I've done it on my off days, and I plan on doing it every day for a month after I'm done with 30 Day Shred. Hopefully, by then I'll have enough energy and strength to do a regular workout and the 11 minute Great Buns routine.

My Progress So Far...
Starting Weight (8/15/11): 149.5 lbs
Current Weight (8/24/11): 147.3 lbs
Weight Lost So Far (in 10 days): 2.2 lbs
Goal Weight: 125-130 lbs

I am very interested in yoga. I practiced it for a while right before I found out I was pregnant with Jake. I continued it for about the first 3-4 months until it became too difficult. I have Denise Austin Power Yoga Plus and Gaiam Yoga for Beginners with Patricia Walden. I really like the Power Yoga Plus, but it's not the best for beginners, since she moves so quickly from one pose to the other. Yoga for Beginners is definitely for beginners. She explains every single pose and takes the time to get into the pose and hold it. The only thing I don't like about Yoga for Beginners is that it's such a long DVD.
I've never been able to get through the entire program. I just don't have the time with two little kids.

Denis Austin Power Yoga Plus is broken up into two segments. The first segment is 20 minutes long. "...Power Yoga, is a series of traditional Yoga poses performed in a flowing style designed to generate power
and stamina."

The second segment is also 20 minutes long. "...Power Pilates, is an invigorating series of Pilates moves which challenge the abdominal muscles and tones the buttocks, hips and thighs PLUS combines 3lb weights to sculpt the arms, chest and shoulders."

Diet and Nutrition:
I think I'll be purchasing a book some time soon to start eating a little healthier. I have never been on a diet and I don't plan to start. I would however, like to pay more attention to the foods I am cooking and feeding my family. I've read great things about Naturally Thin by Bethanny Frankel. I saw a great review of the book YouTube. She helps you change the way you think about food, so you don't end up starving yourself or neglecting the foods you love because you want to lose weight. She also has The Skinnygirl Dish, which is 320 pages of just recipes. I still need to read a few reviews before I decide which one is more worth it right now, and I'll update later.

Honest Reviews:
If you are looking for honest reviews on books, workout DVDs or types of workout routines, I highly recommend checking out TaylieTotGetsFit on YouTube. She has over 60 video reviews on health, nutrition, and fitness. She also has a great 11 minute video on her Top 5 Favorite Workout Videos of 2010Naturally Thin by Bethanny Frankel, if you want to hear what she thought of the book. There are hundreds of reviews on YouTube for anything you could think of. Just type in "(product name) review" in the search bar and results will pop up.

Anyway, I've made this post ten times longer than I intended to, so I'll end it now. I will keep you posted on my workout progress and my weight loss.


ANOTHER free diaper sample!

Just today I received my free Huggies sample from Target that I mentioned a few weeks ago. Now Wal-Mart has a similar deal for Huggies. Check it out here and act fast because this won't last for long!


Meagan's Starting Measurements

I told you I would update with my starting measurements, so here they are. I'm going to be taking my measurements every Monday, but I'll only be posting my updated measurements every 30 days.

Taken on August 16, 2011:

What to Measure










Right Arm


Left Arm


Right Thigh


Left Thigh


If you are unsure how to go about taking your measurements, check out this video. It is a great tutorial on how, where, and when to take measurements. Good luck with your workout routine.

My New Workout Routine

So, Jake's 1st birthday is in a little over two weeks. I definitely don't look as good as I did on Luke's 1st birthday, so I have been working out to lose some weight. While I was in NC, I got up early every few days and went for a run while everyone else was still asleep. Being by the beach, this was something I could do every day. Well, now that I'm back home (and not by the beach), I can't find the motivation to wake up before everyone and go for a run. So, I spent a few weeks reading hundreds of reviews on Amazon to find the perfect workout DVD for me. I decided on Jillian Michaels: 30 Day Shred. It received 4.5/5 stars, with over 2,000 customer reviews, so that was pretty good proof for me. I know that Amy had success with The Biggest Loser Ultimate Workout for xBox 360, and I've heard great things about Jillian Michaels. I watch The Drs every day on TV and Jillian Michaels is on the show at least once a week talking about health, nutrition, and fitness. She is great! So, after weeks of debate, I finally decided to order 30 Day Shred. I had a few Amazon gift cards from Swagbucks, so I just used those to purchase it.

I started the 30 Day Shred, Level 1 workout on On Demand yesterday, since my DVD hadn't arrived yet. Let me tell you, I was shaking for about 45 minutes afterwards. It felt so great to workout again! My DVD arrived this morning and I can't wait for my boys to take a nap so I can do Day 2. I've read many reviews about the 30 Day Shred, and many people have suggested you alternate between this workout and other Jillian Michaels workouts. I think I'm too much of a beginner to try her other workouts so soon, so I'm going to be alternating between Jillian Michaels: 30 Day Shred and Great Buns Guaranteed by Beachbody. Besides yoga, these are the only two workout DVD's I currently have. Besides, who doesn't want a great butt?

This is what my workout schedule is going to look like:

30 Day Shred
Great Buns








This will result in about 36 minutes of excercise 5 days a week, and 11 minutes of excercise the other two days. I planned on doing 30 Day Shred 7 days a week, but I read many comments saying that your body needs to rest from this workout at least 1-2 days a week. So, hopefully I'll be seeing some results in the next 30 days. The great news is, Jillian Michaels: 30 Day Shred claims that you can lose up to 20 pounds in 30 days! Great Buns Guaranteed by Beachbody claims that you can get tight, toned buns in under 30 days. Hopefully I will see these results. I'll be taking my measurements later today, and posting them tonight. Wish me luck!

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