Sunday, May 29, 2011

Save Money on Electricity! is an interesting website that gives tips on how to save electricity. If you have the time to look it over, you'll probably find you can lower your electric bill.

The site is interesting because he puts a lot of information into his suggestions to explain why they work, rather than to just give you a basic to do list. An informed decision is always a better choice.

Where to find coupons. Safe internet sites.

When you start couponing, it's tough to know where to look to find coupons. It's not smart to just click on every website that offers coupons. There are many "coupon" sites that have malware. Here are some safe sites and sources for coupons. Remember to be aware of ads that may or may not be legit.

Coupon websites:

Manufacturer websites:
manufacturer facebook pages
Of course, there are WAAAAY more sites than this, but, here's a start.

Commercial coupon websites:

Store websites:

Blog sites:

Coupon Purchasing websites:
There are many other coupon sites. A good way to find them is through the blogs. Using the in text suggestions is more reliable than the ads the bloggers don't have control over.

Other places to pick up coupons:
the grocery store ("blinkies" -- the boxes with lights that give out coupons on the shelves at the store & "peelies" -- the coupons the manufacturers put on the boxes and packages of products & "tear pads" -- the pads of coupons attached to store shelves & "Catalinas" -- the machine at the checkout that prints coupons)
mailings - stores and manufacturers will often mail coupons to you if you sign up for their lists.
newspapers -- always check the paper when you purchase it to make sure it has all of the inserts
magazines -- All You from Walmart has lots. There are other magazines too.
coupon trains & trading groups

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Restaurant deals

It's nice to eat out once in a while. Perkins will give you a free entree if you sign up for their eclub. A girl friend and I did it and managed breakfast for under $4 total because we each took a coupon and then just paid for drinks and sides.

Bob Evans gives free entrees for birthdays for kids under 12 if they sign up for their birthday club. sells discounted gift certificates for restaurants that participate in their program. If you watch, they have sales for 80% off fairly often. That usually means you can get $25 certificates for $2. Most say you have to have a minimum of $50 plus a substantial tip. I figured for our family it means a sit down meal for about the same as a trip to McDonald's. Because we don't live in a major city, there aren't as many choices, but there are a few.

Chili's sends offers on a regular basis if you sign up for their emails.

Keep an eye out. You'll find there are many good deals out there. Share any you find.

Coupon Class at Coffee Clutch in High Springs

I'll be teaching a basic couponing class at the Coffee Clutch in High Springs on Saturday, June 11th at 10 AM.

We'll cover all of the basic information you need to get started in couponing. It's $5/person. I'll give you more than $5 worth of coupons if you attend.

I hope to see you there.

Blackberries are in Followup

I'm always looking for additional ways to bring in money for the family.

Yesterday, I took a sample of blackberries to one of the local fruit stands. They agreed to buy berries for $1/lb. It's not much and it probably means about $3/hr, but that's $3/hr I wouldn't have otherwise.

Blackberries are everywhere right now and most fruit stands don't carry them. If you want to try selling some, be sure to taste them first because some are sweet and some are sour. It depends on how much rain they get. They're not as big and beautiful as the domesticated ones and they have more thorns, but they taste better.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Raising Rabbits

We've been raising/keeping rabbits for about 2 years. Amazingly enough, the most difficult part of rabbits is getting a successful breeding. Isn't that the whole point of rabbits?!?

Anyway, I wanted to share some keeping tips...

We don't buy commercial feed for our rabbits. Commercial feed is mostly hay. We have coastal hay that grows naturally on our  property as well as tons of other weeds. Because we're on 5 acres in North Florida, we have grass growing about 10 months of the year. The other two months it doesn't really grow, but there's enough area, that we do ok.

Each day, we mow 1 bag full of fresh grass for the rabbits. A few times a week, we also give them whole oats. Occasionally, they get dried beet pulp, table scraps of fruits and vegetables, and garden scraps (weeds, stalks, excess fruits & leaves, etc). By doing this, we can cut our feed bill significantly and the rabbits are happy.

Weather considerations:
In Florida, we struggle with heat in the summer. Summer being May through September. Rabbits are happiest when it's between 40 and 70 F. Can't say I blame them. When it gets hot, we add ice cubes, made in a ice tray for bottle ice, to their waterers. We also have a misting hose that we turn on during the hottest part of the day. We keep their cages clear of too much debris (uneaten grass & hay) to allow more air circulation. We also make sure they have shade available at all times of the day. The other issue with heat is when it gets too hot, the fertility in bucks (males) drops significantly. Because of this, we usually only breed in the cooler months.

In this part of Florida, we can get into the teens at night in January and February. It doesn't happen much, but it does occasionally. When it's going to get below freezing, we cover their cages with blankets and when it's going to get really cold, we let some debris accumulate on the bottom of the cages. On especially cold mornings we sometimes make hot oatmeal for them. When there are new babies in the winter, we leave a light in the nesting box for extra warmth.

As you can imagine, we get lots of rain, especially during hurricane season. We always make sure they have cover from the rain. Too much water can kill rabbits.

Rabbits make lots of droppings. The cages have wire bottoms, so most of their droppings go through the floor and are caught in trays (cement troughs) under the cages. The trays also catch dropped food. We feed them whole oats because they like it, the hulls are good for their teeth, and when the excess food falls, it grows in the manure. Rabbit manure is the only manure that can be planted in directly without needing to age first. The food falls and then starts to grow. Sometimes the cleaner stalks are picked and fed to the rabbits as treats, and once in a while, we take the trays and spread the whole thing, manure, seeds, and all into the pastures to grow more food.

Rabbit meat is considered one of the healthiest meats. It tastes good and can be used in any dish normally made with chicken.

Rabbit fur is very soft and can be used for many items.

The manure, if not completely mixed with seed, is perfect for gardening.

Cute and Fuzzy:
Don't let people fool you, rabbits are not the cute and cuddly things people make them out to be. I've had more than my share of rabbit bites and scratches. Then can be eaten as early as 8 weeks of age, but most people wait 12 because they are awfully cute at 8 weeks.

Diseases and Issues:
We have had our share of deaths with rabbits. Many were due to neighborhood dogs destroying cages and attacking rabbits. One death was due to our son's childish fun in scaring them to see them jump. Several young died last year due to heat. A few adults died last year because we thought the children were feeding them and discovered they weren't when they died due to starvation. (Those were probably the hardest deaths to deal with, as they were our fault.)

The only other major issue we've dealt with is ear mites. Rabbits need to be kept in elevated cages to help deter dogs and keep them away from wild rabbits that can carry diseases and ear mites. Ours that get ear mites get them from the grass we cut. To help deal with ear mites, we put a few drops of mineral oil in each ear of each rabbit periodically. Those that have ear mites are treated with hydrogen peroxide and then mineral oil.

When we got the rabbits (and our other "farm" animals) we made it very clear to our children that they are food and not pets. To some extent, it helps the kids stay detached from them.

Kids are naturally curious and we've talked to them about not holding them, although petting of breeders is ok when they don't have young with them. After the death of one, we've addressed the issue of not scaring the rabbits to get a reaction out of them.

When we first got them, giving them treats was fun for the kids, although it's become a chore now instead.

Is it worth it?
It's hard to say if it's worth keeping rabbits. The advantages are-- 1. we know we have them should we ever need them for food if they're not producing enough young, 2. we know what they're eating and that it's not full of chemicals.

The disadvantages are--1. no, it's not cheaper to raise them, even with grass as their main diet, 2. although they don't take a tremendous amount of time, it does take 20-60 min each day to feed, water, clean cages, and breed them.

I do like having the rabbits. I can't wait for more babies or hare stew.

Extra Cash from Trash!

Because my husband works at a college, he sometimes comes home with textbooks (and many other things) that they're throwing away.

Earlier this year, he came home with a load of textbooks I'd planned on sharing with the local homeschool groups. We were looking for a way to send our son to private school and I thought it was worth seeing if the books were worth anything. I found a fantastic website,, that tells you which websites will pay the most money for any book you want to sell. (A similar site exists for buying books, You just type in the ISBN number of the books. $2100 later, we were about to send our son to school.

Print Cartridges
I started thinking about all of the old printer cartridges we have sitting around to take to the office supply store for credit, but since the closest one is 40 minutes away, we never seem to get there and they have a limit on how many can be turned in each day. We have way more than the limit.

I stared looking around online and found It works the same way as the books basically. They don't accept refilled, generic, or remanufactured cartridges, but I have some of the original manufactured ones, and I'm happy to start with that for now. I was happy to see what I have is worth $4 each. It's not much, but it's better than nothing and it's better than $1.50-$2 at the other sites.

I did do some research and Empties4Cash has a pretty good reputation too.

They also accept old cell phones.

Blackberries are in!

I looked at the blackberries this past Thursday and noticed they're ready! I don't know if I'm excited or not about it.

They're not usually ready until the last weekend on May at the earliest. My plan was to pick and sell them this summer for a little extra cash. Normally, I only pick about 10% even if I pick for a couple hours each day.  Because they're early, we haven't been watering them, so they don't taste as good as usual because we haven't had any rain until Saturday when it down poured most of the day. I'm also really busy helping a friend right now and don't have the time to pick them.

Hopefully, I'll squeeze some time in soon to start picking. We'll have to rotate the sprinklers between the horse pastures, the fruit trees, and the blackberries. When we get a little extra, I think we'll be buying more hoses and sprinklers.

Dead Goose

It happens on the "farm." Things die. We try our best, but it's part of life too.

My husband found our goose (who'd been sitting on 7 eggs for the past 3 weeks!) dead in her pen today. We believe she was attacked by fire ants internally. (Not the way I'd choose to go, given the choice.) He disposed of her body and move the eggs to the incubator.

We'll see how it goes. I believe the hatching rate for artificially incubating goose eggs is 40%. They have to be sprayed with or dunked in water everyday and turned between 3 and 24 times per day by hand until day 27. We believe she started sitting  April 26. That makes today day 21. It's too bad she couldn't have just waited a week or so until they hatched. (Ok, that sounds really cold, sorry, but the eggs probably would have done better with her care than mine.)

I'll keep you posted and let you know how many hatch.

Good Price on Laundry Detergent

All laundry detergent and Surf are both BOGO this week at Winn Dixie. I believe they're both $5.99.

All has $1 coupons on their website. Surf has $1 peelie coupons on the packages and $2 coupons in yesterday's newspaper. (If you didn't get the paper, check with stores in your area, sometimes you can still get copies later in the week if you look under the current day's paper.)

With the coupons, All ends up being $2/bottle and Surf ends up being $1/bottle.

Oscar Meyer coupons

You can earn coupons from Oscar Meyer through Facebook.

You have to "like" them on Facebook. Then click on the "looking for coupons" link and follow the instructions.

Basically, you type in up to 5 good deeds you do each day. When you get to certain numbers of good deeds (1, 6, 11, etc) you get a new coupon. There are two nice things about their coupons. One is that they're "bricks" coupons, which means after you print the coupon, you can click the "back" button on your browser and print the coupon again, which is nice for BOGO deals. The other nice thing is that Oscar Meyer allows you to "store" the coupons to print when you're ready. I don't know how long you can store them for, but that means you have a greater chance of using them before they expire. (BTW, Winn Dixie has a lot of Oscar Meyer BOGO deals this week until Tuesday).

If you keep entering 5 good deeds for 40 days in a row, you'll reach their max of 200 deeds.

I hope you like Oscar Meyer products. At least they freeze well.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

BOGOs Can Get Confusing

Here's just a short jaunt on how BOGOs work in Florida.

When the store has By One Get One free sales, it can definitely be to your advantage. Keep in mind, when they do BOGOs, they generally use the highest price they can so that they don't loose too much money.

One of the best scenarios you'll find is the store will have the item BOGO and you'll have a manufacturer coupon that's also BOGO. (Make sure the products match, sometimes the free thing isn't the same.) If everything matches up, you'll get 2 products for 1 coupon and no money out of pocket (except possibly tax).

Here's some scenarios:

The store has Buy One Get One free....

You have a manufacturer coupon for BOGO = You get 2 for free and buy none. 
This is because the manufacturer buys one and the store buys one.

You have a manufacturer coupon for BOGO and a manufacturer coupon for $x.xx off 1. = You get 2 free and depending on the store policy, you get $x.xx back.
The $x.xx coupon is for the item "you" have to buy, which the store "buys" instead. The manufacturer buys 1 product and you come out ahead.

You have a manufacturer coupon for B2GO. = You get 3 free and buy 1.
In this scenario, you buy the first one, the store buys the 2nd one, the manufacturer buys the free 3rd one, and the store buys the 4th one that matches the manufacturer's purchase.

These scenerios can go on for ages. It helps if you write it out. Just remember, every other one will be a "store" purchase/provided item.
You, Store, Manufacturer, Store, etc.

Here's an example for Stove Top Stuffing I had over Easter week.
The store had a BOGO sale. I had a B4GO coupon from the manufacturer. I also had 2 $1 off 1 coupons and 3 $0.50 off 1 coupons from the manufacturer. They were $2 each box.

This is how it matches up...
1. $1 off my box.
2. $1 off the store's box
3. $0.50 off my box
4. $0.50 off the store's box
5. This was free from the manufacturer
6. Even thought the coupon was for a total of 5 boxes, it was BOGO, so there's 1 more from the store, and I got $0.50 off that one.

Here's the cost breakdown:
1. $2-$1=$1
2. free-$1=-$1
3. $2-$0.50=$1.50
4. free-$0.50=-$0.50
5. manufacturer free (you can't use a manufacturer's coupon on a manufacturer's coupon.)
6. free-$0.50=-$0.50
Total $0.50 for 6 boxes of Stove Top Stuffing

If I had had 2 coupons, the 6th box that the store purchased would have counted toward the 1st box of the 2nd coupon and I would have purchased 1 more box and gotten 3 more free.
2nd coupon matches...
1. 6th product free from 1st coupon matches
2. me
3. store
4. store (to match manufacturer's 5th free one)
5. manufacturer's free box

With no other coupons, the total with 2 B4GO coupons would have been $2.50 for 11 boxes.

The way people on Extreme Couponing and other shows make the money is they would have a $1 coupon for every product other than the manufacturer's free product. That means for the first coupon, they would have paid for 2 boxes and gotten 4 free with $1 off 5 of the boxes. $2 x the two you purchase -$1 off each of those + $1 off each of the 3 free products = -$1 for 6 boxes. Then if you add another B4GO coupon and $1 off each of the boxes except the free one from the manufacturer,  you  get $2 for your purchase - $1 + -$1 for the other 2 boxes the store buys for free, you end up getting paid $2 to buy 11 boxes of Stove Top. Of course, those people don't stop with 11 boxes and will continue to buy as many as they have coupons for.

This sounds super confusing, but if you write it out and think about it one product at a time, it's clearer.

Here's another scenario for Pedigree canned dog food at Publix this week...
Publix has the cans on sale for 5/$3 or 5 cans for $3 so each can costs $0.60.
Publix also has a store coupon for B2G1 (buy 2 get 1 free).
The manufacturer has a coupon for B3G1.
So, it goes like this...
1. You buy
2. You buy
3. Publix buys
4. manufacturer buys

You end up paying $1.20 for 4 cans. If you had additional manufacturer coupons for the same product, you could use them on the first 3 items. If you had additional store coupons, you could use them on the first two products and the last product. That's how you start to really make money at couponing. That's also when it starts to get really confusing and you just need to write it out and think it through slowly.

Keep your ethics in mind. Although, you can take tons of coupons to the store and make money on your purchases, ask yourself if you're being fair to other customers who might want the product you're clearing from the shelf, to the customers in the check out line behind you, to the stock person who has to restock the shelf, and do you really need to buy a full year's supply or more of dog food or whatever in a single trip to the grocery store?

Follow up on Day Old Chicks

The chicks arrived on a Thursday. The following Monday. I found a snake (someone's escaped boa) in the brooder with a belly full of chicks! Agh!!! It seems the chick fiasco will never end!

Well, it's now been a couple weeks and we have stopped loosing birds on a daily basis. After a certain age, they seem to stop dying. We don't have any where near the number we need, but we're closer than we were. Next time, we'll just stick with buying frozen ones. I found a supplier who sells them for dog food. Ok, it's "dog food" but they're USDA approved and fit for human consumption, so it really doesn't matter. So, we'll get the balance we need from them.