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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Coupon Clipping

Like anything that I am interested in, coupon clipping has me obsessed.  I love books, I read all the time.  I love coffee, I'm always looking for the next great cup; dark roast, of course.  I love the internet.  I hate to admit it, but I am the queen of net searches and can find just the right combination of keywords to find what I'm looking for.  I love coupons, so I clip and download and combine.  So, when I love something and enjoy immersing myself in it, I usually don't go halfway, but dive right in the deep end and learn as I go.

Coupon clipping seems simple, right?  You get the Sunday paper, flip through the inserts, cut some coupons and put them in your purse.  When you go shopping, you might or might not have a coupon on hand - or, more likely, it's in your other purse or in the car or went to school in your daughter's homework folder.  That is the kind of clipper I was.  For a while, we didn't even get a Sunday paper and I didn't know what I was missing.

My friend, Therese, introduced me to the show "Extreme Couponing."  You know the one.  These people are crazy, right?  They have stockpiles of items they won't use until 2043.  They have entire rooms in their houses dedicated to the almighty pile.  We don't have cable, so I don't get to see the show often, but it fascinates me that someone can get $800 worth of groceries for 73 cents.  So, I started thinking.  And, you can ask my husband, when I start thinking about something that can only mean there's going to be a change around here.  "Honey, I was thinking...," gives my husband that deer caught in the headlights look.  It's not pretty.  I think couponing gives me that look; the frantic "how can I really get the best deal" look.

I am not like "those" women, I am not like "those" women, I am not like "those" women, but I am.  I don't carry "the binder" and I don't fill four shopping carts, but I do like the thrill of the hunt.  I want to get the best deal.  I want to spend my husband's hard-earned money as wisely as possible.  So what if I had to re-write my shopping list three times because I missed the Friday sale and then the weekend sale because my kids had a class and I was carpool Mom.  I hone and whittle that list until every item on it has a deal.  I look for the loyalty card deal, the store coupon, the manufacturer's coupon and when the three combine, it's bliss.  I got a deal.  I checked out my groceries and saved 46%.  Wow.  I am woman, hear me roar.  

I don't have the stockpile. I don't even have enough toilet paper to get me through next week, but I am saving money and taking care of my family in the best way I know how.  That far exceeds the thrill of watching my total shrink on the cash register (it's really like winning in Vegas) and far exceeds the challenging stares of the poor souls who are in line behind me.  I'm doing my best and it feels good.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ch, Ch, Ch, Changes...

I have always been sure that change in life is what keeps us going, gives us something to look forward to and something to dread.  By the time you are in your 40's, so many changes have likely taken place in your life that you wake up some days and literally ask yourself, "How did I get here?"  You know that where you are is a result of many intertwined good and bad decisions that you've made, yet you still wonder if it really was YOUR freewill that got you here.

This last weekend we had a "room" (for lack of a better word) removed from our house.  When we moved in 12 years ago, there was a greenhouse attached to the back.  We thought it would be a great "sunroom," "workout room" or "playroom" for our eventual kids.  After all, the owner trying to sell the house had kids' toys out there and a nice ceiling fan twirling above our heads. 

We bought the house in March and closed escrow in June.  We were in!  Moving in in Southern California in June, meant balmy, somewhat overcast weather in the mornings and cool afternoons.  Summer doesn't really hit us until the end of July and then it hangs around until Halloween, making an appearance or two again in January.  So, here we were in blissful June, oblivious to the fact that our "sunroom" would soon become an oven.  As summer hit and the sun blasted through the glass roof, we realized that we had to make some changes.  

We painted the glass ceiling a light color to reflect the sunlight back up.  I made white curtains and hung them around the room to quell the blast furnace effect.  We even replaced the living room windows that opened onto the "sunroom" with double-paned thermal glass - but none of it worked.  Our little bonus room soon became the "too hot" or "too cold" room and started accumulating junk.  We tried to use it as an office, but the computer kept overheating in the summer and condensation dripped from the ceiling.  Then, when the girls came along, it was a great playroom when the weather cooperated.  As the years went on, though, it just became "the playroom" whether anyone used it or not.  

The final change came last week, when we finally had the room removed.  We now have the beginnings of our Hawaiian-style lanai.  And, though it may take another twelve years to get it where we want it to be, it is a nice change and a decision I think we'll be happy with.  We got here by choice, by choosing to try to improve our home and trying to make it a better place for our kids and their kids.