Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My New Mixer

I have been wanting a Kitchen Aid Artisan mixer for years.  When I worked for a department store, I almost bought one while the sale was good and I had an employee discount.  I just didn't have the money.  In the last few years I have not seen the same kind of deal come up again, and couldn't bring myself to pay the prices I did see.  We just had too many other goals.  This time around, I found the same deal as I did years ago and because of an inventory problem it ended up being even better than planned.  Here is the notice I found on FabulesslyFrugal.com:

KitchenAid Artisan Mixer $141.09 After Discounts!

I didn't believe it.  I wanted to see what the breakdown was.  Here are the steps they listed to get this deal:

Here’s How You Can Get This KitchenAid Mixer for $141.09:

  • Start shopping from Ebates for 6% cash back. Don’t want cash back? Start shopping Kohls.com here.
  • Add KitchenAid Artisan 5-qt Stand Mixer for $299.99 to your cart.
  • Enter coupon code SMS7873 for 20% off. ($299.99 -$60.00 = $239.99)
  • Pay $247.49 + tax OOP. ($239.99 + $7.50 Shipping Surcharge = $247.49)
  • Get $10 Kohl’s Cash for every $50 Spent (after discounts, before tax). Add at least another $11 worth of items to your cart to get to $about $250 after discounts and get $50 Kohl’s Cash from this purchase. Otherwise, you will get $40 Kohl’s Cash from just the mixer. ($247.49 – $50 Kohl’s Cash = $197.49)
  • Submit for the $30 MIR. ($197.49 – $30 MIR = $167.49)
  • If you start from Ebates, you will get 6% cash back in your Ebates account within a few weeks. ($167.49 – $14.40 Ebates Cash Back = $153.09)
  • If you want to take it even further, the fine print on the Rebate says that you can choose not to get the magazine subscription and submit for a refund of $12.00. ($153.09 – $12 = $141.09)
I don't do ebates, and I would have to pay the amount of the Kohl's cash on SOMETHING.  So, my out of pocket expense was not going to be the end amount, it was going to be the amount before subtracting the Kohl's cash.  However, I knew we needed some clothes for the kids so I figured we would use the money for that.  Here is what actually happened:

I ordered my mixer and two other items so that I could get the full $50 in Kohl's cash.  I was happy as a clam.  Until...I got an email telling me that part of my order had been cancelled, but it would not affect my Kohl's cash amount.  They  had removed the mixer from my order.  I was really upset!  I called to find out why it had been cancelled.  It was because they didn't have the color I ordered.  The deal was still on, though, so I reordered in a different color.  Only, my total was down to $237.69 - not $247.49.  I also earned $40 Kohl's Cash for my new order.  And, the previous email did not lie.  I still had my $50 Kohl's cash from the original order. I was now up to $90 in Kohl's cash. 

Artisan mixer in Blue Willow

I like the one I ended up with...it looks good with my wall color.

I got my mixer and mailed out the forms for both the $30 rebate and the $12 refund of the magazine price.  I was feeling pretty good and looking to get the kids some clothes with the Kohl's Cash I had earned.  So, my total out of pocket at this point was $195.69.  I still needed to go shopping.

When I got to Kohl's, I was not finding anything on sale for the kids.  I did, however, see TONS of clearance items that I had been looking for.  So, I had to change my shopping plan.  I laughed when I saw the end of my receipt that night, "Total $40.98...Total Saved:  $359.46."  I got some good deals.  So, I felt good about how I spent the $90.

My total out of pocket was $195.69, less the Kohl's cash I used to buy other things, my total for the actual mixer was $105.69.  I was very grateful for the deal I was able to get.  I know some of my friends have been looking for a mixer, too.  If you would like to know about those deals, I can pass along any I hear about.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My Coupon Experiment - Favorite Deals this Week

I have started a post about how this couponing experiment is affecting our space and our budget, but it just is not ready, yet.  I think it may be good to wait a little longer anyway because it will give me more time to really observe our budget for a few months.  Instead, I thought I would share a blog I found today and some of my favorite deals of the week.

First, my favorite deals:

CVS - Total Paid: $6.97, Extra Care Bucks to use Later:  $7
I liked my CVS deal this week because it was an example of the "best sale" not being the "best deal" for me.  I had two $5 CVS coupons, a $5 ECB and a $5 off $25 purchase that I received when scanning my card at the front of the store the week before.  Here is what I did:

Buy 2 Vicks Nature Fusion Cold Medicines $12
Use (2) $3/1 Vicks Nature Fusion coupons (1/29 P&G insert)
Buy 3 General Mills Cereals $10
Use $1/3 GM Cereals coupons (GM insert)
Buy 1 Blistex Lip Care Product
Use 1 $0.25/1 coupon (1/22 SS insert)
Total:  $24.89
Use $5/25 CVS Coupon (they waived the $0.11 difference)
Use $5 Extra Care Buck from last week
Pay $6.97 OOP
Receive $3, $3 and $1 ECB
Final Price: $0

The "better sale" was a better price on Cereal, and I would never have bought cereal at CVS before.  However, because of all the coupons and Extra Care Bucks my cereal was basically free.

Walgreens - Total Paid:  0,  Register Rewards to use later:  $4
At Walgreens, I did the same type of thing - using Register Rewards from a previous week to pay for this week.

Buy (3) Chocolate Marshmallow Hearts - $1.59
Buy (2) Colgate Toothpaste $6
Use $1/2 Colgate Coupon
Use $6 in Register Rewards from previous week
Pay $.53 OOP
Receive: $4 in Register Rewards for later

Rite Aid - Total Paid:  $4.25, +UP reward to use later $4
At Rite Aid, I did have to pay more out of pocket, but it was offset again by the +UPs I received.

Buy (2) Stayfree $6
Use (2) $1/1 Stayfree Coupons
Pay $4.25 OOP
Receive: $4 in Register Rewards for later

I also thought I would share with you something I found today that might help you get more information on getting started in couponing, if you are interested.  I stumbled upon a YouTube video called "Extreme Couponing for Normal People" and I thought that was a great title.  So, I watched it.  Other than it being a home video, which is harder to hear and such, it was a great introduction to what my shopping trips have looked like.  So, I hopped over to her blog and found the original post that she recorded the video for because it had pictures of everything she bought and her totals.  I also found a video on this post where she explains how she puts together her shopping trips each week that I thought might be helpful.  It was from "Black Friday Week" when there are a lot of deals to be had, so a normal week is more like the first video.  The blog is called Living Well Spending Less.  I learned a few tricks while watching the first video, so I will likely check out more on her blog as well.  I hope it helps others, too!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Hello Mornings - A Month In

There is one song that I did not include in my last update about this challenge. I am glad, though.  The experiences that I have had over the last few weeks have confirmed some of the things that this song made me realize about this challenge. Here is the update I posted on the day I listened to this song:

My favorite Song today:

Definition of Me - Steven Curtis Chapman
(The link above goes to a video, though I don't like the version.  The link I included at the time on Facebook was much better, but has been removed from YouTube.)

"Here come those little thoughts
of all I ought to be but I'm not
I try talking to myself
but I'm still not convinced
I'm good, I'm bad, I'm everything in between
I'm this, I'm that, but really God we both know

It is Your love that defines me
and Your love that reminds me
it's not what I do"

When I was listening to this, I knew it was "Your love that reminds me," but I kept hearing it, "Your love that REFINES me, it's not what I do."

This whole process is a refinement, and it was such a comfort to realize that it is not MY EFFORTS that are refining me, but the power of JESUS and the HOLY SPIRIT'S work in my life that are making any change possible.

I have come to the realization that I can, by sheer willpower, make changes in my everyday schedule. The real reason I am doing this, though, is not just to have more order in my life, but to put Jesus first. I want to look at Him, my husband and my children as being more important than myself. The reason I thought, "I don't want to live like this" in the past was not just because I was tired but because I was spiritually weary. I was not receiving strength from my times with God and therefore was walking through life on my strength alone. It takes it's toll on my patience, on my level of self-discipline, on my energy - every area of my life. Kat, from Inspired to Action where the Hello Mornings Challenge originated, visited our Facebook group and posted something that worded it perfectly for me.
"But this isn't about trying harder, really. This is simply about putting ourselves in a position to hear Him and receive His grace to be the best moms we can be." 

Here are some thoughts I have jotted down at random times over the last few weeks:

John 15:5 - "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."
This verse confirmed to me my feelings on willpower. Yes, I can power through this challenge; but it will not change my heart. If I remain in Christ, not only will my schedule change, but I will change. The week after I heard this verse at church, my Pastor said something like this, "Happy thoughts will not help you...they may get you through the moment, but they won't change you.  But hope - that changes us." My hope is not just for my mornings, it is that I will be transformed by the power of God into someone who is more like Jesus.  My hope is that when I step into Heaven, I will really have done everything I can to hear the words, "Well done my good and faithful servant."
2 Peter 1:5-9 - "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins."
 I need to "make every effort" to make the changes that I feel God is asking me to, so there is discipline involved. I want this to be a life change, but that doesn't mean I just want to get up at 6am for the rest of my life.  I want the commitment of obedience to Christ to be my life change.
As I was considering these areas of change , I ran across an article about an amazing story about an Olympic athlete. I was impressed and wanted to learn more about him personally. It was very sad for me to learn that this person's marriage had ended because of their infidelity.  Why is it that people of such strong discipline in some areas - physical, professional, etc - can be so very lacking in the disciplines of character?  I think it is because we can have self discipline without relying on God to change us from the inside out.  I want Him to change my character, my values, my heart - until I want what He wants.  This journey, for me, began long before I can remember and it will continue probably for the rest of my life.

Philippians 1:6 "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."

I am still impatient with my kids.  I am still not getting enough rest.  I am still not so great at getting up.  I worry about facing the times I am sick or I am traveling.  Will I even have the desire to obey at those times?  I don't know.  What I do know is that He has begun a good work in my life, and I trust Him to finish it.