Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The shopping game

I recently read a blog comment where a woman shared that throughout the year she would buy clothing items at garage sales, thrift stores, and clearance racks when she found a good deal. Then when it was time to do "Back to School" clothes shopping for her kids she'd give them each fake money and they could shop through her bargain finds. They got 'new' clothes and she didn't break the bank. I liked this idea but wanted to tweek it for my purposes.

A little over a year ago I spent some time weeding through my children's clothes. And then, I kid you not, that very same week we received 3 garbage bags full of hand-me-downs. Don't get me wrong. I'm always SO thankful for the provisions God makes, but my house was becoming overwhelmed. The laundry situation was out of control, my children didn't take pride in what they own, and this blessing of abundance was becoming a burden. As we get ready to add another person to the house I am even more motivated to get rid of the stuff. My mom, sisters, & I are having a garage sale this weekend so now was as good a time as any.

I spent the last two or three days washing, hanging, and folding every article of clothes my children own. I've gone through countless boxes from the garage. Everything is clean and easily accessible. So now the game. Using a slightly updated version of my clothing list, I made vouchers for the girls. Each one has a specific article of clothing needed. For example, 'One nice dress', or 'a pair of black church shoes'. They will then take the vouchers and 'shop' through their clothes. Anything that's left will either go to the garage sale or Goodwill, or a few choice items may be saved for a younger sibling. And if they are in need of an item (let's say a pair of jeans) then they'll have a voucher for that item left over at the end of the game and I know exactly what to keep my eye out for. I'll do this for Izzie (with a little of her input, maybe) and then later on for the boys. Now, there are some additional guidelines. The items they choose have to pass mom's inspection. They must fit well, be modest, & have no stains or holes.

To avoid the previous dilemma of 'gifts' adding to the closets, we'll institute an "Exchange Program". Say Chelsea gets a new dress for Christmas, she'll need to pick one of her older dresses to exchange for it.

Does this make any sense? The girls are very excited to 'shop' and I'm thrilled to be getting rid of some stuff. I'm tired of looking at this mountain of clothes constantly needing my attention.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What is a Good Price?

This was a big question for me when I started couponing. How do you know when the price is worthy of purchasing more than one of an item. I started making a list of things we typically buy (a list much longer than I originally expected) and started to write down the regular prices for these items. I listed the prices for these items at Walmart, Target, Walgreens, CVS, and if they were grocery items I listed prices for Kroger and Albertson's as well. This was SO tedious!
The idea was I could refer to the list, see who generally had it cheapest, and determine what I would consider a good sale price. If it was 75% off or more I'd consider it a 'stock-up price'. I searched the internet for some pre-made price lists but just couldn't find exactly what I wanted. I stumbled upon this good summary article by Clippin' with Carie . My comments are in BOLD.

"Now when it comes to stock up pricing…
That is always a tough question to answer as not everyone has the same store sales or coupons that I may have or you may have a greater “tolerance” for what you will pay for an item, but I am going to do my best to throw some numbers that I use at you:

Obviously when you can get something FREE…STOCK UP!!

Bar Soap $.25 or less
Toilet Paper (dbl roll) $.30 per roll or less
Body Wash, Deodorant, Kotex, Razors (disposable), Shave Cream, Toothpaste, Toothbrushes $.50 or less (I don't think I've paid more than a quarter for toothbrushes & toothpaste)
Shampoo, Conditioner, Mouthwash, Razors (like Venus or Fusion) $1 or less

Paper Plates, Liquid Hand Soap, Paper Towels (per roll), Fabric Softener, Liquid Dish Detergent $.50 or less
Dishwasher Detergent or Laundry Detergent $1.50 or less *

(I haven't stockpiled any food items except for maybe some pasta and a few frozen meals. I do have some good cereal coupons I'm hoping to use soon since this is a quick and easy thing the big girls can get themselves which will be EXTREMELY helpful when #5 arrives and the littles need A LOT of my attention. I'm thinking of stocking up on some easy snack things as well, like granola bars)
Canned Veggies, Canned Beans, Cake Mix, Canned Soup, Salad Dressing $.50 or less
Pasta, Tub Frosting, Rice, Ketchup, Mustard $.75 or less
Cereal, Shredded Cheese (can be frozen) $1 or less
Peanut Butter, Jelly, Mayo, Fruit Snacks $1.25 or less (I don't think this is a good price for fruit snacks since Kroger usually has their store brand on sale for $1.39 and I can always find a national brand for $2.00 regular price at Wal-mart.)

Now when it comes to finding storage racks and shelving at good prices I personally have been able to get mine for as low as FREE to $25 by watching for businesses or retailers that are going out of business and they need to get rid of everything. (You can also try Craigslist or Freecycle)"
- (Clippin' with Carie)

If you read my couponing posts you know that I love the Krazy Coupon Lady website. It's very well organized and easy to navigate. She has these handy little symbols she posts next to items to let you know that this is a good price. Yesterday she posted her own extensive stock-pile price list. Go here to print out a copy to keep in your binder. Now I have noticed a few discrepancies in what she's marked on her posts and then what she has listed in the list, but it's still a GREAT resource.

Another helpful link:
This is a price list from SouthernSavers that compares stock-up prices to the regular bulk prices at Costco :

* Kroger is currently having a sale on Wisk laundry detergent with the 32 load bottles marked down to $3.99, but they are also part of a "buy 10 participating items get $5.00 off" (or .50 an item) making these $3.49 each. I also had 2 $2.00 off one bottle which would make these $1.50.... BUT they were all out. So I went to the service desk to get a rain check and the kind sales man marked the rain check price as $3.49 WITHOUT the stipulation that I'd have to buy 10. So, for the first time ever I used a coupon clipping service (BlissCoupons) to order 8 more coupons. So in a week or so when they've restocked I can go back to the store and get 10 bottles of Wisk using my coupons AND the rain check to get them for $1.50 each. 320 loads for $15 bucks! This is very exciting to me :) I've never used Wisk before so I'm hoping it doesn't suck. ;) But we go through so much laundry soap I figure the price is good enough that it's worth a try.