Money Saving Blogs and Resources

Saturday, February 28, 2009 by Jen · 0 comments
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Here is an alphabetical list of resources that I either enjoy reading (usually by subscribing to their RSS feed) or use to to find coupon and shopping deals. Because I love to make that Minnesota connection, I've starred (**) which resources have MN authors. Hope you might enjoy or find these useful as well! Thanks for reading Cents in the Cities!

Coupon Centers

(These are the coupon "warehouses" where you can find practically everything--coupon databases, forums, helpful "how to" information.)

Frugal Living Blogs

(I read these blogs for helpful family, household, meal/menu planning, children, and frugal living ideas! Some also include "deal" information, but I read these for the ideas and personal stories.)

Finding the Deals

(coupon/store match ups, freebies, printable coupons)


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Updating Blog This Weekend

by Jen · 0 comments

Cents in the Cities will be under construction this weekend as I attempt to make some changes. Thanks! Stay posted for its new look.

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Subscribe to Cents in the Cities

Friday, February 27, 2009 by Jen · 0 comments
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There are a few ways that you can subscribe to Cents in the Cities--so you don't miss a single post:

1. Email Subscription --Once you are subscribed, you will receive a daily email in digest form of the newest Cents in the Cities posts

Subscribe to the RSS Feed -- This allows you to use a "blog reader" to access and read all of the new Cents in the Cities posts. If you have never used a blog reader, it's not as hard as it sounds, and it will change the way you read blogs online (at least it did for me).

Thanks for reading Cents in the Cities --in whatever way you choose!

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Some Great Baby Deals!

by Jen · 2 comments
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There seem to be a lot of baby coupons and deals out there, so I thought I would organize them into one post for you:

Get 5 Packs of Pampers at for $24.55. Check out the details of this deal at Baby Good Buys. You do have to do a little maneuvering to make this deal happen, but it looks interesting. Let me know if you make it work. I thought it would be a great chance to stock up on diapers for yourself, or to give as gifts. (I just did it. Follow the directions on Baby Good Buys, and you shouldn't have any problems--good luck.)

Rebate form for Nestle Good Start Formula

Seventh Generation Coupons: $1 off 1 baby product and a $2. off 1 baby product

Miracle Blanket for about $29. See Baby Good Buys for details.

Enter Promo Code "PR10" to get 10% off a Sleepy Wrap baby sling. It looks like they are $38.95 without the promo code. Promo code brings the price down a bit, and I think there is free shipping as well.

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Friday Deals!

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Check out Old Navy's weekly flyer and go "hunting" for coupons. I found one for 20 percent off of my purchase, but I guess there is even one for $75 off a purchase of $100. Happy coupon hunting. Thanks Baby Good Buys.

Free sample of Quaker Rice Cakes, some chocolate varieties with good flavor.

Free sample of Quaker True Delights, a granola bar for grown ups.

Free Kotex sample from Walmart

Other Walmart free samples here

Sure Deodorant $1 coupon

Bertolis $1 coupon

Peter Pan $.50 coupon

Check out Money Saving Methods for printable rebates on a variety of products.

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A Few Coupons and Freebies

Thursday, February 26, 2009 by Jen · 0 comments
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Free sample of Parent's Choice formula here and here.

$2. Coupon off on Seventh Generation baby product.

Print a rebate form for free All Bran Cereal.

Complete a short survey and print a $3.50 Purina coupon.

$1. off coupon for Popchips--not sure what they are, but I guess they are sold at Target

$1.25 coupon off 2 Del Monte Superfruit Cups.

Buy one Get One Glade Air Freshner Coupons.

$1.50 coupon on Pampers.

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Birthday on a Budget!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 by Jen · 3 comments
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It's my husband's birthday today, and I wanted to make it special and celebrate even though we are trying to keep it simple. We have already decided that we aren't giving presents--our present is our new kitchen (this is actually birthday, Christmas, Mothers/Father's Day present until the kitchen is paid off). At the same time, I wanted him to have a special day. So, here are a few things that we did that didn't break the bank:

1. My husand loves breakfast, so we had a Birthday Brunch with a sausage egg bake--he loves pork. (We decided that Daddy deserved a special birthday, so we are starting Lent a little later today). Since he has to work this evening, breakfast is the only meal where the entire family is together, so we had cake and ice cream for our breakfast dessert.

2. Yesterday, the kids and I went to the Dollar Store, and we each picked out one "gift" to give Dad. They had tons of fun making their selection, and they were so excited to give their presents. My daughter gave him a plastic travel mug where she was able to insert some personalized artwork--a very cute gift!

3. The kids and I also made the chocolate cake pictured. My little guy had the great idea to use mini M&M's (left over from Halloween) to decorate it, and it helped make the cake very colorful. The kids really enjoyed making this, and talked about how much Dad was going to like it. They also made special cards, which they presented to him at breakfast.

4. After running an errand, for lunch we ran to Quiznos and we each used a coupon to get a free sub, so we had a nice "out to eat" lunch for FREE, and it helped add a special touch to a simple, quiet birthday.

And now my DH is off to work where he will spend the rest of his birthday. We had a very nice day together--even though we didn't spend a lot--I guess that is my point. The entire family was involved in the planning and the details, and you can make it a special day, even if it is a birthday on a budget!

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Update: $60 Grocery Challenge!

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So, I am one day into my "$60 a Week Grocery Challenge," and I have already spent $50 of my $60 dollars. This makes me laugh--especially since I have been trying to be so careful--and most of the $$ is gone.

But it's not as bad as it sounds. I have food in the house to get us into next week, and I have another $60 that I can start spending next Tuesday--that's actually the best part. Usually I spend at least 3/4 of my two-week budget in the first week, and I have to scramble the second week, but this challenge is insuring that I control myself. If you are interested in the details, read more.

1. Tuesday trip to Rainbow for $8.76: Needed to buy supplies for DH birthday brunch.
2. Tuesday trip to Kmart for $9.98: wanted to take advantage of the double coupon deals here, and I limited myself to a $10 purchase. Got a deal on toilet paper, which I needed for the week.
3. Wed trip to Rainbow for $22.67: I bought some main, healthy staples to get us through the week, and took advantage of double coupon Wed. I wanted to stay under $20, but I didn't meet this goal. I did receive a discount of $20.26 on what I bought, so got a lot of food for the $$.
4. Wed trip to Target for $8.06: Both my husband and I were out of vitamins--normally I could wait to make this purchase, but I didn't want to skimp on the prenatals since I am pregnant. Luckily the Target brand vitamins were on sale (my doctor says these are just as good as name brand), so I saved about $.94 cents.

This leaves me with $10.53 left for the rest of the week. I will use this to buy a few things at Target and Cub. How will I make this money stretch? Right now, I'm not sure, but I will let you know!

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Double Coupons at Kmart--Awesome Shopping!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 by Jen · 5 comments
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I went to Kmart this morning to take advantage of their Double Coupon deals this week. According to their flyer, they are doubling coupons up to and including $2. And they will take up to 25 coupons a day. This is a great chance to get items free or very close to it! Here's a picture of the items I purchased this morning. Take a guess as to what I spent!!!

Items I purchased with coupons that were doubled:
Suave body wash--norm $1.99; Free
Colgate Kid Toothpaste--norm $2.49; I paid $.99
Secret Deodorant--norm $4.29; I paid $.29 cents
Crest Toothpaste--norm $3.; Free
Kid's Shampoo--Norm 1.39--Free
Bic Razors--norm $3.29; Free
Bayer Aspirin--norm 3/$5.97; Free
KY Jelly--norm $.49; I paid $.49 cents
Windex Wipes--norm $2.79; Free
Good Life Cat Snack--norm $2; Free
Chinet Plates--norm $2.50, I paid $.50 (for DD birthday party)
Chinet cups--norm $2.99; I paid $.99 (for DD birthday party)
Arm & Hammer Laundry Det; norm $3.; paid $1
Scott Toilet Paper--norm $5.50; I paid $3.50 (I needed this; would have paid $5.5 at Target)
I also paid $2.03 in tax
So what was my final total (my husband guessed $18.79)????? $9.98
Can you believe it? I got all of this merchandise for $9.98. Full price at Kmart for all of these items would have been $49.91. I saved $39.93--just by using coupons and a little planning! Now that's worth it!
Are you heading to Kmart this week? Let me know what kind of deals you find!

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Couponing Basics #2: Coupon Organization

Monday, February 23, 2009 by Jen · 1 comments

If you are going to really use coupons, you are going to need A LOT of coupons, and you need to have an effective way to organize those coupons. In this Article #2 of my Couponing Basics series, I will discuss a few ways that I know of to organize and sort your coupons along with what works for me. One thing to keep in mind as you read the information below, is you have to find a method that works for you based on your personality and how you shop.

Coupon Sources
For most people, the Sunday paper is the main source of coupons. There are a few companies that produce coupons on a regular basis: Smartsource (SS), Redplum (RP), Proctor & Gamble (PG), and sometimes General Mills (GM). The date for each insert can be found in small-print on the binding of each coupon insert. If you are new to couponing the Sunday paper is a great place to start--some people even buy two. When you first start, it's good to clip EVERY coupon in these flyers. You never know when you might be able to get an item free or very close to free.

Besides the coupons from the Sunday paper, many people also print coupons online or apply online to receive coupons in the mail. There are many places to get online coupons, but if you are new to couponing, Coupon Mom is a great place to start--remember to use your couponing email account to avoid junk mail in your main email.

Method 1: The No Clip Method
Clipping coupons each week can be a lot of work--especially if you buy more than one paper. One way to avoid all of that cutting and filing of coupons each week is to label, date, and save all of the coupon inserts that you receive in the Sunday paper. You keep the coupon inserts intact without cutting.

When you are ready to plan your shopping trip, you use a coupon database such as the ones found at A Full Cup or Hot Coupon World. When you search for the coupon in the database, it will use the date and the abbreviations from above (SS, RP, PG) to tell you where to go to find the coupon you need. Using this method, you can quickly find the coupons you need for the items you plan to buy.

I have included a picture of the file box and folders I use to organize my coupon files. I've seen prettier (a nice hanging file folder), but these were items I had on hand and didn't need to buy.

Pros: not cutting all of the coupons from the Sunday paper, many of which you won't use; easy to find coupons on the products you use.
Cons: You won't have a source of coupons with you in the store. If you see a great deal on something you didn't plan on buying, you won't have an immediate source of coupons like you would have with a binder or box (see methods below).
Pro or Con: You have to plan your grocery list and match the coupons before heading to the store--this can be time consuming; you have to have your coupon files near the computer.

Method 2: A Coupon Binder
One very common way to organize your coupons is to create a coupon binder. Here, you will need a binder, and some plastic inserts to sort your coupons. Many people use baseball card inserts or plastic photo sheets. You will also need page dividers to divide your binder into categories.

Some serious couponers swear by their coupon binder, and love this method. I am not one of them, so I have included a few additional links to information on how people make this method work for them:

How to Make a Coupon Binder
How to Make a Coupon Binder
Coupon Binder Pictures
Binder Categories

Pros: very visual--you can see all of your coupons; everything you need can be stored in one place--your binder; you always have a coupon source in the store; easily expandable; you can create a cute binder to match your personality!
Cons: cutting coupons to fit in baseball card slot can be challenging; baseball card inserts can be expensive; filing can be time consuming; can get large--fast.

When I had a coupon binder, I bought a photo album, and used 3M plastic tabs to divide and create my categories. The main disadvantage to my binder, was that it wasn't easily expandable for a new category. Perhaps if I had used a 3 ring binder with baseball cards, I might have had better success.

Method 3: Coupon Box
When I first started using this method, I used a cardboard photobox that I had on hand, but I quickly moved to a small plastic bin with a cover that clips on. With this method, I cut off the tabs of basic white envelopes (the long ones). I use pieces of cardboard to divide my box into three sections: groceries, household/bathroom, and out to eat/misc.

I then used a permanent marker to label each envelope with a coupon category. See the categories in the link above, or read the article that convinced my to create my coupon box. You'll see that it is a bit different than mine (uses the smaller envelopes), but you have to do what works for you. I have my envelopes organized alphabetically, which makes for fast and easy filing of coupons.
Pros: coupons are quickly and easily filed; you always have a coupon source in the store; you can easily add a category by adding an envelope; envelopes are cheap!
Cons: bin gets full fast; coupons might be incorrectly filed; coupons might fly out of envelopes.

Method 4: Alphabetical Accordion Style Binder
You can purchase a long, plastic binder at Walmart or Target, and you can label each tab alphabetically. With this method, you file your coupons by manufacturer name--NOT by category. For example, all of the Crest toothpaste/products would be filed under C, but the Aquafresh coupons would be filed under A. This allows for very fast filing of your coupons, and it is fairly easy to sort through your coupons at home, but it's a bit harder when you are trying to find a specific coupon on the store. A good friend of mine uses this method very successfully. She even has a second binder in a different color to store expired coupons--it's very easy to transfer from one binder to the next.
Pros: Very easy to clip, file coupons, and find coupons; good method for expired.
Cons: Not organized by categories; take a bit longer in the store to find a specific coupon.

The Methods I Use
I use a combination of Method 1 and 3. I mainly use a coupon box to store my coupons. Every week, I clip the coupons I get out of the paper and file them in my box. I prefer to see my coupons in categories, and cutting them out helps me become familiar with the coupons that are out there. If my Mom or Mother-in-Law gives me their coupons, I don't clip them; instead I label and file the entire insert intact. I'll use them when I hear about a great deal, or when I'm trying to build a deal at a certain store.

How to Cut Your Coupons
I use a small hand-held cutter that I found on Ebay called the iSlice. I have two of them--one on my fridge, and one by my computer. They sell for under $5, and are definitely worth the money. I just trim around the coupon, and it pops right out. I have also heard of people using paper cutters to cut out multiple coupons at the same time from the same flyer page, but I haven't tried.

There is a wealth of information here. I hope that it will help give you some ideas on what might work for you. If you would like to read more, here is an informative article that gives another overview of different coupon organization systems.

People feel strongly about their coupon organization methods! If you have a coupon organization recommendation or a strong preference for one of the methods discussed here, please leave a comment and share your thoughts. Thanks!

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My Grocery Challenge: $60 a Week

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What is a reasonable grocery budget for you and your family? How much do you spend on groceries every week or every month? I read stories about frugal shoppers who spend very little on groceries each week, and sometimes I really wonder how they do it and really feed their family.

Since I just started Cents in the Cities a week ago, I thought I would use my new blog as an opportunity to challenge myself and track my success/failure. For the next two weeks, my challenge is to spend only $60 each week on groceries, household, and toiletry items. Can I do it? Track my progress!

Now I know many of you "seasoned" couponers and shoppers probably don't see this as a great challenge--you could do this easily. But I know many people who would find this challenging--I find it challenging. Before I started trying to cut back, I couldn't leave a grocery store without spending $100. How am I going to feed my family of four a healthy variety of food and meals while keeping my budget at $60 a week?

Tuesday is pay day at our house, so I will check in for the next two Tuesdays to let you know about my progress. Each week, I will give a rundown of how much I spent and on what. During the week, I will also post on my challenges along the way. Here are a few things that could help me and a few challenges I foresee:
What Will Help Me:
--I do have a house full of groceries right now. I have some meat in the freezer that I can use, and my pantry is pretty full. So I will be able to use these items.

--I will use the money I have available to shop the deals, and I will only buy sale items this week in order to make my money go as far as it can.

--Menu Planning--I have to base my menu for the next two weeks on the things that are on sale. This will definitely help make my money go farther

The Challenges:
--Using the food I have in the house right now, the first week will be easy. I will need to make sure I am buying enough food to make it through the second week. Will I be able to buy enough produce and healthy choices for my family?

--My husband's birthday is Wednesday, and I would like to have a special meal and cake for him without going overboard. Can I do it?

--I need to buy a few high-priced items this week--toilet paper, men's vitamins, and prenatal vitamins. Will this eat up my $60 budget.

So check back so see what happens with my $60 Grocery Budget Challenge. If you have any suggestions for me, please leave a comment, because I definitely need all of the help I can get. Or let me know what you think is a reasonable weekly grocery budget. Could you do it on $60?

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Making a Meal Stretch!

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A few weeks ago, I purchased a pork roast on sale at Rainbow for under $6. I was able to turn this fairly large roast into three great meals! Now that's making your grocery money stretch! See the meal details with pictures below.
Meal #1 Pork Roast with Sour Kraut
Upon the advice of my Mom, I put the frozen pork roast right into my crock pot, poured a package of onion soup mix on it, added a little water, and cooked it all day. About half way through, I added a can of sour kraut, and it was delicious--the pictures don't do it justice.

Meal #2 Pork Stir Fry
Two days later, I cut up about two cups of the pork and stir fried it with the vegetables I had on hand (carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, and some water chestnuts). Soy sauce, a little molasses, and a little brown sugar created a nice flavor, and served with white rice, it was delicious. I was actually surprised at how tasty this second dish was.

Meal #3 Barbecued Pulled Pork Sandwich
A few days later, we cut up the rest of the pork and sauteed it in a frying pan with some onions. Next we "dumped and poured" barbecue sauce, ketchup, worchestershire sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, and a few other seasonings. Served on bread, it turned out very tasty, and a perfect Friday night meal!

Note: I have to admit that the left-over pork looked less than appetizing when it was cold in the refrigerator, but once it was cooked again, it had a very nice appearance and flavor.

Please leave a comment and let me know if you have any favorite meals that stretch into two or three. Happy cooking!

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Monday Freebies

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Get a free frozen meal from Kashi.

Free blanket with stuffed animal from OneStep -- complete a short survey on baby food, while supplies last!

Quiznos Million Sub Giveaway --register and get a coupon for a free sub at Quiznos; good only five days after printing.

Free Diapers plus a $10 check--call the numbers below to participate in a panel reviewing diapers. The company--Arquest--will send you free diapers, and after you complete a survey, they will call you and will send you a $10 check. Phone Numbers: (Girls: 1-888-342-7372 ext. 646, Boys: 1-888-342-7372 ext. 634)

Free Tote Bag from Mantra

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A Few Rainbow Deals 2/22 thru 2/29

Sunday, February 22, 2009 by Jen · 0 comments
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It looks like there might be a few good deals at Rainbow this week--especially if you plan to double coupons on Wednesday. There are quite a few Buy One Get One's (BOGO). These are great deals to match coupons to, since you can use TWO coupons, even though you get the one item free.

If you plan to double coupons on Wed, remember that you have to have a $25 order before coupons, and that you can only double 5 coupons--hand the cashier your coupons with the larger coupons first.) Use the BOGO's to easily build your order to $25.

Items on Sale to Buy to build $25 order:

(Coupons from the newspaper: SS Smartsource, RP: Red Plum)

Bananas, $.49 a lb 85%

Lean Ground Beef $1.99 a lb (3 lb pkgs)

Butter 2/$3

Kraft Macroni & Cheese $.39 (limit 2 with coupon in ad)

Jennie-O Turkey Pan Roast $3.50

Chicken Jumbo pack Drumsticks or thighs, $.98 a lb

Items to buy with coupons on Double Coupon Wednesday

Oscar Mayer Bologna $1/5 (I have a $.55 coupon from Weight Watchers phamplet,
I think)

DanActive 4 pk , $2.25, $1. (coupon to double from SS 1/11/09)

Trident White Gum $1. each (There are $.75 coupons from SS 1/18/09. They are
"do not double," but you can still get a pack of gum for $.25)

Quaker Simple Harvest Chewy Granola Bars, $2.50, ($1. coupon from RP 2/1/09)

BIC Soleil or Comfort3 Disposable Razor--BOGO Free--$5.89 for 2 (There are
lot of $2. coupons out there for these. They won't double, but you can use two),
final price with coupons: $1.89 for two.

Pop Secret $1, (coupon $.5/2 from SS 1/25/08 or SS 2/8/09), final price $1
for 2

Pillsbury Pizza Crust--BOGO, $2.59 for 2, (Use 2 $.40 coupons from @@
1/25/09), final price 2 for $.99

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Walmart--Valentine's--90% Off

Friday, February 20, 2009 by Jen · 0 comments

A friend just let me know that our local Walmart has their an entire aisle full of their remaining Valentine merchandise for 90% 0ff. Valentine gift bags were 10 cents, and there was a lot left. These items will very likely go fast, so if you are heading to your Walmart, check it out.

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20% Off at the Container Store

by Jen · 0 comments

The Container Store and Oprah are giving you a coupon for 20% off at the Container Store. Print the coupon here and take it with you when you shop--or use it online. The coupon is good through Sunday, March 1st. Happy organizing!

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Saving Money on Groceries without Coupons

by Jen · 1 comments

Even if you are not a coupon user, you can save money by making the most of the groceries you buy. It's all about how you use what you got! Here are a few suggestions from my home this week.

1. Make a favorite restaurant meal at home--especially for a special occasion--using what you already have in your pantry. For Valentine's Day, the whole family worked together to make red velvet cupcakes and this delicious chicken, shrimp, and bacon pasta dish--just as tasty as something we would buy in a restaurant. I bet I paid under $15 for all of it. I used half of a chicken package purchased at Rainbow for $1.99 a pound. And I used a bag of frozen shrimp from Aldi for $3.99--just as good as shrimp from Cub or Rainbow, but for half the price. It was really good.

2. Stop buying pre-packaged food when you can make it yourself. I no longer buy frozen waffles. Instead I make a double batch and freeze half. What's even better is that I alter my recipe to add whole wheat flour and flax in order to make it healthier than the pre-packaged stuff--what could be better than that? These waffles went in the freezer--easy to pop in the toaster on a school day morning.

3. Use what you got--some for now, some for later. I had a pound of ground turkey in my freezer that I bought a few weeks ago for $.68, and I just didn't have anything special to make with it. So I mixed it with a pound of ground beef and made these kid-friendly mini meat loaves. We ate one pan for dinner, and the other pan went in the freezer for a night down the road. My DS had a great time helping me make these.

4. Make one meal stretch into two or three. Last Sunday I made a large pork roast with sour kraut (yum) in the crock pot. (Even though I was on the computer all day creating this blog, I had dinner on the table that night--crock pots are wonderful.) Two days later, I made pork stir fry, which was actually a lot tastier than I thought is was going to be. And tonight, we are having pulled pork sandwiches. Three meals from one pork roast that cost me $5.50 on sale--now that's a deal!

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Cub General Mill Deal Summary

by Jen · 1 comments

Total Out of Pocket: $28.34 (plus a $10 coupon to use later)

Just wanted to share how I did the General Mill buy 10 get $10 off your next order deal at Cub this week. I did the deal 3 times:

Transaction #1: purchased 10 Betty Crocker Fruit Snacks
(Usually I stay away from the fruit snacks, but my DD has a birthday coming up, and I know I will be able to use these in the party gift bags and at school.
Paid $18.38 out of pocket after $3 in manufacturer coupons applied
Received $10 catalina coupon and $3.50 catalina coupon to use on my next order.

Transaction #2: Purchased 7 Grands Biscuits, 2 Cinnamon Rolls, and 1 Crescent Roll (I will use the Grand Biscuits to make personal pizza's at DD upcoming "cooking" birthday party.) Paid $4.93 out of pocket (after using $10 catalina, $3.50 catalina, and $2.30 in manif coupons). Received $10 coupon to use on next order.

Transaction #3:
Purchased 4 chex mix bags, 4 Progresso soups, and 2 Nature Valley granola bars
Paid $5 (after using $10 catalina and and $4 in manif coupons)
Received $10 catalina to use on next purchase

Total for all of this merchandise: $ $28. 34 (And I used the last $10 coupon to buy additional groceries I really needed, so really I paid $18.34 for all of this.)

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Why our Budget Is Tight?

by Jen · 1 comments

My Kitchen a Year Ago

There's always a reason our household budget is tight. It's definitely tight for us because we are living on one income, but it's especially tight right now. A year ago we decided to reface our kitchen cabinets.

My husband is very handy, so we did all of the work ourselves, so it was a lot of fun to see the results of our own planning and labor. Yet, we didn't really approach it with the attitude of doing it as cheaply as possible. I wanted a nice kitchen. My reasoning was, I live in an older home, and we are going to be here a while, and the kitchen is the main hub of the house: I want a kitchen I LOVE.

To pay for our kitchen we used a "year same as cash" program at Lowe's, and we need to pay it off by June. So I've shaved $50 off of my already tight, two-week household spending budget (what I use for groceries, Target, entertainment) so that I can pay $100 more at Lowe's each month. It has been very tight, but ohhhhh so worth it!

Just because I am proud of our work, and because I think it's fun to see people's kitchens, here is a pict of my fabulous new kitchen. Every day as we use it, I say to my DH, "Did I tell you today, that I love my kitchen?" It's definitely worth it!
My Kitchen Today

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Couponing Basics #1: How to Get Started!

Thursday, February 19, 2009 by Jen · 0 comments

This is my first article in the Couponing Basics series on how to get started SERIOUSLY saving money at the grocery and retail stores. Many people already clip coupons on items they regularly buy at the store--which is great--this is what I used to do for many years. But there is a way to take it a step further and REALLY get more for your money.

The Main Strategy
The main idea is actually very simple: buy items that are on sale and use as many coupons as you can to reduce the price of the item.

Most stores have advertised sales each week to lure shoppers into their store where they sell merchandise at a reduced cost. Some of these items called "Loss Leaders" are even sold to you at such a low price, the store takes a loss just to get you into their store. These are the items usually featured on the front page of a store's flyer that is available in your Sunday newspaper.
Your job is to search your supply of coupons to match coupons to apply to these items that are on sale. Many stores, Target and Cub for example, also have Store Coupons available on these sale items. Here is the key: you can use BOTH a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon on the sale item! This will get you a better price on the item you are buying. There are great online resources out there that help make this coupon matching process even easier.

What You Need to Get Started Now
1. A Source of Coupons
– A great source for coupons is the Sunday paper. To get started, save ALL of the coupons out of the paper. Some people even buy two papers, but this can get overwhelming fast—lots of cutting and filing. Or ask good friends/family to save you their coupons that they are not using.

There are lots of online resources for printable coupons as well, which I will talk about in a future article. My advice is to start with the Sunday coupons, and you will quickly move on to other sources.

2. A Coupon Organization System – There are many ways to clip and organize your coupons. Be on the lookout for Article #2 in this Couponing Basics series, which will cover some organization possibilities and my recommendations.

3. Store Weekly Flyers—Again, you will find them in the Sunday paper. Some stores like Rainbow and CVS will send their flyers in the mail. You can also find flyers at a store’s online website.

A Few Online Resources to Get You Started
There are many online couponing sites out there. And there are so many discussions about different deals and different ways to save, that it can quickly get overwhelming to some one new at this. At the same time, you might want to get started and see what’s out there.

From what I have found, there are three main, free “Coupon Centers” that provide some great resources: A Full Cup, Hot Coupon World, and Coupon Mom. My recommendation is to pick only ONE to start exploring, because they all have similarities, although each has its own strengths.

A great place to start at each of these sites is the coupon databases, coupon generators, and online coupons. You could also check out the discussion forums—especially their “new to couponing” forums—but they can be confusing.

For Minnesota readers, you might consider subscribing to a Yahoo group called MNGDA (Minnesota Good Deal Alert). Here, group members send out alerts when they see a good deal at local stores. Be careful—this can overload you email fast, but there is an option in the settings that allows you just to view it online.

Get a Couponing Email
To use most of the online couponing resources and coupon printers, you will need to sign up at their site, which can send LOTS of junk email to your account. Before signing up at a site online, get a new email account at Google, Yahoo, or Hotmail, which you will use just for your couponing activities.

Hope this information helps get you started! Some of the next few articles on coupon organization, using online resources, and online coupons will give you even more details. Please leave a comment if you would like to share your own “getting started” couponing tips! Happy Shopping

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Cub Three Day Sale

by Jen · 0 comments

Cub's 3 day sale starting today through Saturday is a 24 pack of water for $2.77. If you buy bottled water, this is a great price!

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Leaving a Comment

Wednesday, February 18, 2009 by Jen · 1 comments

I've just realized that leaving a comment here is more complicated than it looks, and I think I've fixed the problem. When you leave a comment, you need to select an identity. The easiest one to select is Name/URL, and then you will be able to post your comment. Or you can sign in to your Google Account (many people already have one).

I'd love to hear from you! Jen

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Einstein Bros Bagels--Free Coffee and Free Bagels!

by Jen · 0 comments
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Today in snail mail, I received an Einstein Bros Bagels flyer with REUSABLE coupons for Free Coffee Monday and Free Bagel Fridays. The coffee coupon is good for a free coffee every Monday before 11 a.m. The free bagel coupon is good every Friday before 11 a.m. Both coupons may be reused once a week until 3/27/09. There are additonal coupons including 1/2 off any bagel bucket.

I found this flyer in the business coupon flyers that come in my mail every Wednesday. It was right by the Red Plum Business flyers and the Rainbow mid week flyer.

Hope it comes in your mail today!

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Wed Deals of the Day

by Jen · 2 comments

Sign up for Free Goody Barrettes.

Sign up at Kohls to be on their email alert list and get a $5 coupon and 10% off coupon by email.

Sign up for a free Dr. Pepper. (I've already received mine in the mail.)

Print a coupon for TGIFridays--buy one entree, get one free--good through 3/1.

Print a coupon for Ruby Tuesday's --buy one get one. (Thanks LizzyLanguage.)

Birthday Freebies for Adults --Read an article at MSN Money about a variety of different birthday giveaways you can sign up for (Cold Stone Creamery, Houihans, Qdoba, Famous Dave's, just to name a few. (Thanks Heather.)

Mail in form for Free Mac & Cheese Crackers if you buy one box (Thanks Stephanie)

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Big Giveaway at Bargain Brianna

Tuesday, February 17, 2009 by Jen · 0 comments

Bargain Brianna is one of my favorite couponing/saving money blogs. If you want to read more couponing blogs, it's a good one! And even better, she has a Big Giveaway Over $150. Just post a comment at the giveaway post for you chance to win!

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Couponing Basics Series

by Jen · 0 comments
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"How do you even do this couponing thing? I use coupons, but how do you REALLY use them to save $$$?" I hear this from so many people who want to start seriously using coupons to drastically get more for their money, but don't know where to start. There are so many resources out there and it seems complicated. It is easy to get overwhelmed, but it is very doable for even the average shopper. Since I am just starting Cents in the Cities, I thought I would begin a series on my recommendations for getting started.

Every few days or as often as I can, I will post a detailed article on how to do it, or at least what I have tried and what works for me! The topics I plan to cover are listed below. Hope this might help you get started! And I hope this might help you Twin Cities shoppers. Be looking in my next posts for my first article: Couponing: Where to Begin? See you soon!

Couponing Basic: Topics
Where to begin?
Coupon Organization System
Main Online Resources to Get you Started
Cash or Credit
Coupon Databases
Menu Planning
Where to get online coupons
Couponing Blogs--Using a Reader
Cub tips
Rainbow tips
Target tips
Trader Joes
Drug Stores

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Cub General Mills Deal

by Jen · 0 comments
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I am getting ready to do the deal at Cub where you buy 10 GM products and get $10 off of your next order. I've done a coupon match below to help me prepare. The way to get the most of this deal is to do it more that once using as many manif coupons as you can. Do the deal once and get the the $10 off your next order. Then go back and do it again and USE the $10 off coupon, more manif coupons, and GET another $10 off next order coupon to use on next weeks groceries. DO the deal as many times as you can. This is a great way to stockpile! Good luck!

(The codes below refer to the coupons that come in the Sunday paper. SS: Smartsource; RP: Red Plum, GM: General Mills:, PG: Proctor & Gamble.)

GM Cereals (Cheeiros, Lucky Charms, Trix, Cinnamon Toast Chruch), 2/$5, 01/04/09 GM , 02/08/09 GM , 10/05/08 SS#3 , 11/16/08 SS ,

GM Granola Bars, 4/$10, 01/04/09 GM , 09/07/08 SS #3, General Mills Dollar Days booklet ,

Snack Mixes (Chex 100 cal, Chex, Gardetto's, Bugles, Cheerios), 4/$10, 10/05/08 SS#3, 12/07/08 SS , 01/25/09 SS , 11/09/08 SS , Printable ,

Betty Crocker Cake Mix, $1.29, tearpad

BC Warm Delights or Cookie Mix, $1.79, Printable, Printable , 05/25/08 GM, 12/14/08 SS, 02/08/09 GM , 10/05/08 SS#3 , 10/05/08 SS#3 , 12/14/08 SS, 11/16/08 SS , 09/07/08 SS #3 , 11/16/08 SS , 10/19/08 SS , 02/08/09 GM

BC Premium Mixes 2/$4, C 12/14/08 SS, C 02/08/09, C 08/24/08 SS, 12/14/08 SS, Printable ,

Betty Crocker Fruit Snacks, 4/$8, C 10/05/08 SS#3, C 09/07/08 SS #3 , C 02/08/09 GM, Printable, C01/04/09 GM , C 08/10/08 SS#2, C 02/01/09 SS,

BC Ready to Spread Frosting, $1.69, Printable, 02/08/09 GM, 10/19/08 SS,

Romano's Macaroni Grill, 2/$7, 09/07/08 , Printable , 10/05/08 SS#3 ,

Wanchai Ferry Chinese Dinner Kits, $3.99, 01/25/09 SS , 11/02/08 SS , 10/12/08 SS ,

Progress Trad Soups, 6/$9, 02/08/09 , 01/04/09 GM , 11/23/08 SS , 11/09/08 SS ,

Pillsbury Crescent, Cinnamon, Sweet Rolls, 2/$4, 11/16/08 SS , 11/09/08 SS , 10/19/08 SS , 12/07/08 SS , 10/19/08 SS ,

Grands Biscuits, 3/$5, 11/16/08 SS , 12/07/08 SS , 11/23/08 SS , 01/04/09 GM ,

Pillsbury Cookie Dough, $2.79, 08/10/08 SS#2, 11/09/08 SS , 02/08/09 GM , 12/07/08 SS , 11/23/08 SS

Totino's Pizza Rolls, $5.99, Printable , 01/11/09 RP , 11/09/08 SS ,

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Online Freebies

by Jen · 0 comments
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Check out all of these things you can get free online!

Get a free sample of Starbucks coffee. (Thanks Stretching a Buck)

JCPenny $5 off $5 Coupon

Get a free Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. (Thanks Southern Savers)
Free sample of Huggies wipes from Walmart. (Thanks Marybeth)
Get a free sample of Viva Paper towels from Walmart. (Thanks Shellie)

Free sample of Crest Whitestrips Advanced Seal.
Free sample of Paul Mitchel XTG.
Free sample of Loreal Everpure shampoo.
( Thanks Common Sense With Money)

Free Lip Gloss
All You Magazine -- free sample: a great resource for coupons
free sample of Huggies Baby Wipes
( Thanks Frugal Finds)

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Some Great Target Deals This Week

Monday, February 16, 2009 by Jen · 0 comments
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A friend was at Target today and let me know about a few great deals. I hope to make it there soon!

Kotex--45 pack is clearanced for $4.48, $2. Target coupon (SS1 1/4/09), .$75 Manif coupon (SS 1/11/09), final prcie $1.73

Broccoli and Cauiflower--on sale for $1.50 each, Target Coupon for $1 off, final price $.50

Kashi Cereal Bars--sale price $2.75, Target Coupon for $1. off, $2. manif coupon, final price FREE.

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Win a $25 Walmart Gift Card

by Jen · 0 comments

Erin at $5 Dinners is giving away 2 $25 Walmart gift cards. If you haven't been there, it's a great blog for inexpensive menu ideas. Check it out:

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Contact Cents in the Cities

by Jen · 2 comments
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If you would like to ask me a question, give me feedback, or share a great deal, please leave a comment on a post you like or email me at:

jen (at) centsinthecities (dot) com

Thanks for reading!

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Cheap Cel Phones

by Jen · 0 comments

A friend of mine who knows I have started this blog has been researching cheap cel phone programs. She recommends this site:

She says: "It is the ideal plan if you want a phone but don't hardly use it. It's for kids, but adults can sign up also. For $4.99 a month you get 10 free minutes with .10 a minute afterwards. Or I think the texts are .10 each also. Anyway, long distance is free and they use the sprint network. The only down side is no roaming, and that would be fine for anyone using the phone south of Bemidji. Farther north you wouldn't get anything. I think it is a great deal for someone who just wants a phone just in case and is mainly in the Cities. Two people at my work have them, and they are very happy and very happy with the price. No contract."
Thanks rmfcoupons for the great idea!

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Minnesota Couponing Frugal Blogs

by Jen · 0 comments
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One of the reasons I started this blog is I haven't been able to find many couponing/saving $$ blogs that deal with Minnesota stores. There are some great MN resources out there, which I will focus on soon, but what about blogs? If you know of any great MN blogs, please let us know--thanks! Here are two resources I have found that might help you. They are new to me as well, but seem to have great content! Check them out if you are interested!

Quponers with a Cause --
Stephanie emailed me with a link to her blog and it looks fabulous--lots of information from an experienced coupon user/deal finder. Check it out! Thanks Stephanie!

Northern Cheapskate--

Minnesota Coupon Adventure
Minnesota Coupon Adventure --

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My Funny Rainbow Doubles Story!

by Jen · 1 comments
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I am so excited about starting this blog--I couldn't sleep last night with all of the fun possibilities running through my head! I think it's going to be a fun endeavor for me. Since this is the 2nd day of Cents in the Cities, I thought I'd share a funny couponing experience with you!

When I started couponing a few years ago, Rainbow double couponing Wednesdays were really hot, and you could get awesome deals (still good, but not so exciting anymore). I had just started couponing so I told everyone I knew about the great deals I could get and the money I could save.

It was the Wed before my brother was getting married, and my sister and her family had just flown into MN from North Carolina. I spent the day with them catching up, preparing for the wedding, and of course going on and on about couponing.

So it was 9 p.m. and I still hadn't gone to Rainbow, and I just HAD to go--I couldn't miss the deals--so I went--and my family thought I was the Crazy Coupon Lady. I went through the check out three times (to the same cashier who gave me that knowing look) and spent a total of around $30--TOTAL. I'm sure it would have cost me over $75 full price, but don't remember all of the details.

I went home, had a beer, and shared with my family all of the very specific details for how I made these AWESOME coupon deals happen and how much $$ I saved! They thought I was the crazy coupon lady--and maybe I am (I don't mean to offend anyone by saying that, but I think I am kind of crazy about this stuff). It was really fun and I saved tons of $$$. Those were the days. . .

If you have a funny couponing story you would like to share, please post a comment--I'd love to hear it!

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Cub Coupon Match-- 2/15/09 - 2/21/09

by Jen · 0 comments
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So, if you are reading this, you know I am new to blogging. I was planning on spelling out a Cub coupon match right here (many blogs do this for their favorite grocery stores, and I did it for Rainbow already). I still plan to do this but it's not going to happen this week (I just started this all yesterday--Sunday--seriously.) There are two GREAT places I would go to do the coupon match. And I don't just want to steal their content and put it on my blog. I want to do this right! So I thought, at least to start, I'd tell you about how to do your coupon match at these two places!!! Hope that works for you right now! In upcoming posts, I will have more information on my recommendations for couponing at Cub! Happy shopping!

(If you are new to couponing, don't use your regular email. Create a new account at somewhere like gmail (I really like),, or hotmail, etc., and use it for your couponing communication. This will keep the "junk" away from your main email.)

Cub Coupon Match One: A Full Cup --
Once you go to AFC and register, go to their Coupon Database, and select Cub Foods under the Store Shopping List. It provides information on the current Cub ad with links to printable coupons and coupons from the Sunday inserts. I really haven't used this feature yet, and I'm thinking--where have I been?! It's awesome! It's one of the best coupon matches out there!

The only thing this doesn't do is match expired coupons. You all know that Cub takes expired coupons, don't you--up to 3 months expired??! If you are trying to do the GM Buy 10/get $10 off of your order, you can search the coupon database for expired coupons to use! AFC is a great place to go for the Target Coupon Generator as well--really awesome!

Cub Coupon Match Two: Coupon Mom --
Once you register at Coupon Mom, go into Grocery Deals by State and find Minnesota Deals--Cub. It gives you a table of the current ad with the coupons that match. One thing I love about this coupon match, is that you can click on the % saved and organize the coupon match by the highest % off. That way I know what things I can get free or almost free. It's a great feature! Coupon Mom does a coupon match for other national stores that I shop at including Target, Walgreens, Walmart, etc. I just wish they did it for Rainbow--this would be helpful--but no such luck!

If you found this information helpful, please share it with others--thanks:

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My First Rainbow Foods Coupon Match--2/15 thru 2/21/09

Sunday, February 15, 2009 by Jen · 0 comments
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My plan is to weekly match the Rainbow Foods weekly flyer to available coupons. I will mainly match to printables and the inserts that come in the Sunday paper even though there are other coupons out there. It is my hope that it will help me and you with our weekly shopping--especially with planning our Wed double couponing. Please be patient, as I haven't finalized a great format, but hopefully it will come as I do this more often.

There are some great "loss leader" deals this week on milk and shredded cheese. And don't forget the back page of Rainbow's flyer--lots of $1 deals. Happy shopping!

(For those newer to coupon land: SS--Smart Source, RP--Red Plum, GM--General Mills, PG--Proctor & Gamble)

Front Page Deals
Chicken of the Sea Tuna, $.39 with coupon out of Sunday flyer, ($.25 coupon from Birthday Card Home Mailer)
4 lb bag Navel oranges 2/$5
Roundy’s Shredded Cheese $.99, limit 4
80% Ground Chuck, $1.89
Roundy’s Gallon Milk $1.68, limit 2
Green Seedless Grapes, $.99 lb

Possibilities for Double Coupon Wed:
Sparkle 6-8 Roll Paper Towels, 2/$10 ($1 coupon or $.25 coupon--RP 2/1/09)
General Mills Cereal or Granola Bars 4/$10 (many coupons out there: GM 2/8/09, Jan All you Mag,
Betty Crocker Website, )

Nature Valley Granola Bars 4/$10 ($.50 Coupon 1/4/09 GM)
Michelina’s Entrees 4/$5 ($1 off 5 coupon 2/8/09 SS)
Freschetta Pizza 2/$10 ($.75 coupon 2/8/09 SS)
Yoplait Thick & Creamy or Whips Yogurt 10/$5 ($.60/3, Eat Better America, $.40/6 GM 2/8/09 or GM 1/4/09)

Yoplait 32 oz 2/$3.5 ($.50/1 SS 1/25/09)
Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice 2/$6 ($1/2 1/4/09 RP1)
Coffee –mate 2/$4 (
printable, $1/2 SS 1/4/09)
Smart Balance Spread 2/$5 (
printable, $1/2 RP 2/1/09)
Arm & Hammer Laundry Detergent (
Softsoap Liquid Handsoap 10/$10 ($.35/1 SS 2/1/09)
Colgate Toothpast $.99 ($1/1 SS 2/1/09)
Tylenol Caplets, ES Tablets, Arthritis or Cool Caps $7.49 ($1/1 RP 2/8/09)
Listerine $4.19 ($.50/1 RP 2/9/09)
Secret, Gillette, or Old Spice Clinical Strength Deodorant $6.99 (Gillette, $1/1 or 2 PG 12/28/08,
Post Honey Bunches of Oats, Raisin Bran, or Fruity Pebbles 2/$6 ($1.2 SS 1/25/09)
Hellmann’s Real Mayo 2/$7 ($.50/1 or $1/2 1/18/09 RP)
Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Drink, Buy 2/get 1 free ($.55/1 RP 12/7/08)
Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa 4/$6 ($.50/1 All You Magazine 12/26/08)
Fisher Nuts 2/$8 ($1/1 SS 12/7/08, SS 12/14/08, SS 1/18/09)
Buy 5 Chex Mix, Bugles, Gardettos, or Cherrios Snack Mix, get $5 off order at check out:
Chex Mix ($.60/1
printable, $1/1 printable)
Cheerios Snack mix ($.5/1 SS 1/25/09)
Orville Redenbacher’s Gourmet Microwave Popcoren 2/$7 ($1/2 SS 1/18/09; $1/1 All You Mag Nov 2008)

Rice A Roni or Pasta Roni 10 for $10 ($1/3 Sunday Supplement 1/4/09; $1/4 1/4/09 RP1)
Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers 10 for $10 ($.50/1 GM 1/4/09)
Jell-O Gelatin or Pudding 10 for $10 ($1 with 3 pks jell-o and ½ gallon milk SS 2/8/09)
Kleenex Facial Tissue 10 for $10 ($1/4 SS 2/8/09; $.40/1 1/4/09 SS2)

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Cents in the Cities

by Jen · 0 comments

Welcome to Cents in the Cities--a saving money resource for Cities shopper. I started Cents in the Cities because I love, love, love to share great deals and ideas, and I am always looking for “family friendly” ideas and activities that don’t break the bank. In all of the blogs I currently read, I haven’t found one that focuses on the grocery stores I shop—Cub, Rainbow, and a few others in the Twin Cities area. So I am planning to use Cents in the Cities to highlight deals at these stores along with the national stores we all shop at. Even if you are not a MN reader, I am hoping that the ideas posted here will be adaptable to your own situation and community.

I am a SAHM of two great children (with one more on the way in August 2009), living in a southwest suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota. I have been “couponing” for about three years and am an avid reader of many blogs and websites dealing with saving money and living simply and frugally. Though I consider myself a savvy user of technology, I am new to the world of creating my own blog, and plan to use Cents in the Cities to learn all the “ins and outs” of blogging. Thanks for going on this blogging journey with me!


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