Since I do not work outside the home right now, I try to save money wherever and whenever I can. I carefully study the grocery sale papers every week and clip or print coupons. I closely monitor how my children and I spend my family’s money.
As much as possible, I try to do my part to help others while still maintaining our finances. The biggest way I do this is by sharing my children’s clothing with family, friends, freecycle, and the Salvation Army. We appreciate receiving hand-me-downs, so we always continue the cycle.
Another thing I do is donate my unused and/or expired coupons to the military families stationed overseas. I clip ALL the coupons from my Sunday newspaper, even the pet food ones and others I know I won’t use. Sometimes I’ll even ask my friends and family for their coupons when they are done with them. Then once a month, I mail all the coupons to a military base in Japan that I adopted through the Overseas Coupon Program. Military families are allowed to use expired coupons up to six months past their expiration date. These families often have just one income, so these coupons can really make a difference. The postage to send the coupons overseas is the standard domestic rate since it goes to a US base, but an international customs form is required. This is an easy and inexpensive way to support our military.
“The Drugstore Game” is a method I learned from sites such as Money Saving Mom and Krazy Coupon Lady. Money Saving Mom wrote “In a nutshell, the Drugstore Game is taking advantage of the rebate programs at CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens to get household and beauty products for pennies on the dollar — or even more than free!” I go to CVS and Walgreens at least once a week to purchase items that are either on sale, have coupons, or generate Extra Bucks or Register Rewards. Sometimes a product is all three of those things, allowing me to spend only pennies for tax and then receive free items AND vouchers for future purchases. My bathroom cabinets are filled with body wash and toothpaste that I received free, or even got paid to take. I often collect these drugstore game goodies and take them to my local food pantry. I’m sure they would be greatly appreciated at a battered women’s shelter or homeless shelter as well. My local pantry is the Niles Township Food Pantry. They collect and distribute food, personal items, and even school supplies for children.
One of the easiest ways that I help my children’s school is by clipping the Box Tops for Education that are on all kinds of General Mills products such as Cherrios cereal, Nature Valley granola bars, Chex Mix, and Gogurts yogurt as well as other household items like Kleenex tissues and Huggies diapers, Pull Ups, and OverNights. Each little pink logo is worth ten cents to the school. While this may not sound like it’s worth the hassle of cutting out, participating schools earned more than $10 million in the 2008-09 school year alone! My children often bring me empty boxes and ask me to help them cut out the “moneys.” Then I just send their teachers an envelope full of the little pink papers so they can submit them and receive money for their school.
SuperValu and General Mills have partnered together for the Box Tops for Education program and are generously offering one lucky winner a $25 American Express gift card through MyBlogSpark. I believe this gift card can be used anywhere, including any of the SuperValu stores (ACME, Albertsons, Cub, Farm Fresh and Jewel-Osco.) If you would like a chance to win this $25 gift card, please leave a comment with a creative or unusual way you help your family, school, or community by June 8th. The winning comment will be randomly selected and announced on June 9th.