Gift card update

SPOILER ALERT! If you are one of my adult sons and you are reading this, you may or may not spot one of your future birthday or Christmas gifts in this photo;

For someone who doesn’t go into Walmart very often, I sure have ended up there an awful lot lately. You would think I was trying to use my Walmart gift card up as fast as I can. I am no longer deluded into thinking it will last into February. In fact, I am wondering if there will be any left in January!

The kids had some returns and exchanges to do in Dubuque so I took them to the mall yesterday, thinking the after-Christmas rush would be over.  I was wrong. Every store we went to had a long line to wait in for returns. I didn’t dare set foot in any store for actual shopping since #1) I don’t have the money, and #2) the atmosphere was crazed, which I detest unless I am at a book sale.  I did have $5 in Borders bonus bucks to use so I let Katie pick out a calendar at Borders. Even with the coupon and the half-price sale, she still had to pay $2.00.

Matthew had three movies to take back to Walmart so we did stop there, despite my feeble protests. (feeble, because part of me wanted to use up the last of my December expiring coupons)

I avoided the Christmas aisles, which were only 50% off anyway. While I do need cards and wrapping paper before next December I am fairly certain I will find some 75% off sales in the next few weeks and I’ll check our local Hallmark sometime soon for a box of cards.  After all, I netted at least a $50 savings in their store in December with those $5 coupons and it would be nice to shop local.

Missing from this picture is the Weight Watchers yogurt I got with coupons (Buy 2, get 1 Free), a half-gallon of milk, two bottles of pop for Matt and Katie and two liters of pop: Sprite for Emily who was home sick and a liter of Cherry Diet Dr. Pepper that was free with a coupon.

I wish I’d had more Gillette Fusion $4 coupons because these gift sets were on clearance for $4 and the cashier said it was okay to use the Fusion coupons (since a razor is included in the set) as long as they scanned fine, which they did. I had one $4 coupon and one $2 coupon so one set was totally free and the other cost me $2.00. Both will be put away for next Christmas.

I found the Snuggle that is $1.87 and bought the four packs they had on the shelf, free with my $2 coupons.

2 bars of Ivory soap @$1.07 a bar, minus 2 $1 coupons=7-cents a pack.

10 Sure deodorants @$1.96 each, minus 10 $1.50 coupons.  I used up the last of our men’s deodorants in my Christmas baskets and these easily sell for $1.25 at my garage sale if I don’t keep all of them. These coupons expire 12-30-09 so I wanted to use some of them up.

8 more Huggies Pull-Ups wipes @$1.64, minus 4 $3 off 2 coupons. These coupons expire the end of this week too.   I can sell all the wipes I get for $1.25 a pack at my sale.

1 Kotex panty liner @$1.00, free after coupon. These sell like hotcakes at my garage sale but I don’t have any more coupons.

5 packages of Bic pens @$1.24 each, minus 5 $1 coupons= $1.25 for 5 packs of pens, which we can always use.  Those $1 coupons were found in some December magazines.  

Clementine oranges @$4.00, minus $1 coupons.  

Total before coupons=$73.66

After coupons=$23.74

Ending balance on card= $55.18

remaining on Visa card bought with gift card= $25

Burger King gift card remaining= $2

I sat down last night and took a good long look at my spending habits with this card, something all of us should do this time of year anyway as we make resolutions for the new year.

As I said before, I don’t normally shop at Walmart this often.  Some of the things I bought I would have bought elsewhere, like the Swanson chicken broth and canned chicken, but we’ve already enjoyed two huge pots of chicken noodle soup with those purchases and I have more canned chicken in my cupboards for future meals. I also have a freezer full of frozen vegetables to use, ketchup, macaroni, Velvetta, olive oil, Spam (yuck), enough Lipton Orange and Spice tea to last me through the winter, and carrot chips and vegetable dip (a lot of these items were from my 12-21 trip with David when I bought groceries but didn’t get pictures) In other words, I was buying grocery items at Walmart, which I rarely do, so saved at the grocery store instead.  I was also able to add much more to my mother’s box of grocery items and get gift for a family I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise so I was able to share more with others.  And, okay, I had my annual drink on Christmas Eve, as well.  I also have filled two big totes with things to sell at my garage sale.  As a mom at home on a tight budget those garage sales are a wonderful way for me to make our family some money.  You might think purchasing 10 packages of baby wipes at $1.64 total is an unneccesary expense for our family, but I look at it as an investment.  Even accounting for the price I paid for the coupons. (because I do buy coupons through I invested approximately $3 in order to make $12.50 on those wipes at my garage sale in April. Sounds like a lot of work for $8.50?  Not really, because my trips to the store entail more than just buying for a garage sale.  I might pick up 1 item that will go into a tote, or I might pick up 10, but I am not shopping simply to get stock for my next sale.  I did do that last year when KMart was doubling to $2, buying up $80 worth of stuff for less than $10, and only a small amount was for our own use.  I knew then it was probably too good to last, and it was. KMart made the decision not to continue their doubling coupons, probably because of people like me. My sale last April was stocked with a lot of KMart double coupon finds, along with 100’s of books we’d gotten at Waterloo’s “$1 bag sale” book sale.  And $8.50 + $8.50 + $8.50 really adds up fast, as my $1300 grand total last April sale attests. I can’t expect that again, without the KMart doubling and the Waterloo sales, but other sales since then show I can expect a few hundred dollars anyway.

I have my own “rules” about buying for resale or purchasing coupons.  I won’t pay more than 25-cents for clothing to re-sell, unless it is a hot item with tags still attached, but those finds are few and far between.  When the Salvation Army has 6/$1 sales I will buy things like women’s plus size or baby clothing, but otherwise avoid purchasing from thrift stores for the specific purpose of re-selling.  I also won’t purchase coupons unless I am going to use them for myself in large amounts (Green Giant Steamers frozen veggies, Ronzoni pasta, Lipton tea, etc.) OR I am certain I will be able to get the item free (Tones spices $1, Fisher snacks $1, Ivory soap $1) or near free.  I have my limits on what I will spend on anything I plan to re-sell, and that is usually less than 25-cents, too.  I prefer spending less than a dime on anything I stow away for re-sale.  The only reason I was willing to buy the Sure deodorant for 46-cents each is because we need deodorant ourselves and less than 50-cents is a pretty good price. I know I can sell extras for $1.50 each.  The Snuggle coupons I bought before anyone realized they could get free Snuggle with them, so I paid 10-15-cents a coupon. Now the coupons are going for 25-cents each, or more.  Since Walmart takes the full $2 off, each coupon takes off an additional 13-cents so I end up paying very little, if anything (for those I paid a dime for) for those coupons.  By the time I finish using those coupons in mid-January, I’ll have a stock of 35-40 packages and will probably sell a few of those in April too. I’d like to get ahold of more Ivory soap coupons because I know I can make money on packs I pay just 7-cents for, but if I have to pay 25-cents for a $1 coupon then it isn’t worth it to me. 

Until next shopping trip report…

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