Happy Halloween! Our monthly wrap-up for October 2016 includes our regular blog happenings, Pinterest, extreme couponing class, and the resolution of our bread machine conundrum.
October was a mixed bag on the blogging front, as we moved back from three posts a week to a more sustainable two.
My number of monthly visits has dropped a bit. I feared that would happen, but was hoping it wouldn’t. On the other hand, more viewers seem to be finding each post. I guess it’s all how I look at it. Does that mean my writing has more impact now?
Whatever way I shake it, I couldn’t sustain three posts a week, and I can two. (Even if some of my posts come online a bit late.) Sometimes you have to know your limits and work with what you got.
Social media continues to do well. I’ve made a lot more effort with Pinterest over the last few months, and more viewers seem to be finding me from that channel. I feel pretty good about the evolution of my blog graphics.
See? The dedicated color scheme, font usage, logo, decent pic.
With that in mind, I’m putting together a couple of group boards on my pet subjects: Paying for College and Raising Financially Savvy Kids. If you would like to be a part of the group boards, shoot me an email.
That said, I’d love to improve my graphics quality and move toward more quality original graphics and less stock. if anyone has good resources on photography or design, I’d love for you to share them in the comments.
Bread Machine Resolution
For those who are curious, I did not buy a new bread machine to replace the one that died. Instead, a friend who no longer wanted hers passed one to us. While I would have loved having a bit more room in the kitchen and money was not the deciding factor, I had settled on waiting until I at least tried Mrs. Steward’s suggestion: picking up a copy of The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.
When my friend offered the free one, I felt I couldn’t turn it down. Replacement at no cost beat room on the counter.
The interesting thing is that I’m not the one making the bread now. Jon paged through the manual and now he has a new hobby. He’s baked 3 loaves of bread with the new machine. I even found him a 300 recipe bread machine cookbook at the library.
I settled on the wait list for the book.
I’d been curious about couponing ever since I watched some lady in Target buy a cart’s worth of groceries for $30. So this month I attended a free Extreme Couponing workshop given by Jenny of Southern Savers.
On the one hand, I learned tons about how people do these things, and I found myself one of the least knowledgeable people in the room. You mean you aren’t supposed to pay for toothpaste? And it’s cheaper to shop at Harris Teeter and Publix than it is to shop at Aldi? Huh?
If I stack coupons and rebates and buy only what’s on a real sale (40% off or more), and stock up 6-8 weeks worth when I buy, I can save a lot of money. And I learned about drug store rewards (which I wasn’t using), and Ibotta (which I was.) I bemoaned the fact that my stupid smartphone doesn’t have the room for more apps, like Cartwheel and Checkout 51, and schemed to load them on Jon’s. (that’s probably not going to work.)
Serious couponing is a lot harder in practice than in theory, though.
It doesn’t help that directly after the class, we didn’t really need much in the way of shopping trips. When we did, Jon shopped. And even though I’ve kept a price book spreadsheet for 3 months, I still don’t immediately recognize good prices.
I’m also not sure the ideas for buying produce and meat really apply to us since I don’t want to buy an extra freezer or fridge just to stock bargains. I did, however, notice on my next shopping trip that previous “bargain” purchases probably weren’t actually bargains, and I’ll be a bit more selective in my purchases going forward.
Yay! We had our cheapest Halloween in years! Little Bit decided to recycle her old Hermione costume and this year will go as Harriet Potter. We bought a $3 makeup kit at Walmart for the scar (and the opportunity for future play). I also bought a pair of readers at Dollar Tree and Jon popped the lenses.
I adjusted Little Bit’s allowance bonus a bit. If she doesn’t spend during the week, she still gets an extra $1.50 in spending money. Now she also can designate an extra Mom-provided quarter to either her giveaway jar or savings account.
She chooses giveaway every time. I’ll choose to be proud of my generous kid instead of worried about her long-term savings prioritization.
Little Bit’s Daisy troop had their first sale (candy and magazines) this month. It was the first time she’s had to sell stuff, although I’m sure it is far from the last. (Her school’s fundraising tends toward donation events.)
It’s probably good to make the kids get their feet wet before the big cookie sale, though. Little Bit needed a lot of coaching even to ask her grandparents to buy chocolates. I know the cookies sell themselves to some degree, but she’ll have to get a little bolder to make her sales goals this winter.
Hints and Bargains
Keep your eyes open! Jon found a “Save $5 if you spend $65” coupon left over in a cart in the parking lot at our regular Food Lion, and I put that sucker to work. I’m sure that someone didn’t look at their receipt and just left it, but for us, that was an easy win.
I added one more thing to my “What Can I Buy at Dollar Tree?” list: scrub brushes for housecleaning. I need to go back to buy some more mouthwash, because that worked out fine, too.
Some seasonal treats are so worth the wait (Starbucks PSLs), some disappoint dreadfully (I really want to like pumpkin beer, but…) and others just seem too scary to try. That said, Pumpkin Spice Lindt Truffles taste sooo good, and we wiped out the White Chocolate Booterscotch M&Ms from Target in no time flat.
How did October go for you?
This post contains affiliate links.