Oh Billy

Billy's leaving today (don't know where he's going).Holds his head in disgrace (he can't escape the truth).He knows the price that he's paid.He admits that it's too late to admit that he's afraid.Tomorrow comes. Sorrow becomes his soul mate.The damage is done. The prodigal son is too late.Old doors are closed but he's always open,To relive time in his mind.Oh Billy
Billy- James Blunt

Jesus. You know the sheet has hit the fan when you've got James Blunt replaying in your mind. (I got that "sheet" trick from this hilarious commercial about energy snacks that take the form of a sheet. Genius, albeit vulgar marketing). Does that man ever make a good feelin' happy song? Errr. Correct that, does that man make a decent good feelin' happy song? Is it asking too much for the man who offs himself on MTV video to sing something about some damn smiles, a nice round bodied beer and some good times at the ole' pub with the boys lookin' for girls? (Major stinkers the last few songs he's released, he really should stick to moanin' and groanin' about love and misery) 

LOL. That last sentence fell flat for me too. Something about this song is sticking with me these days. It's so insanely meaningful. Take the time to really listen to the song the next time you are bored, self-indulgent, and need some time to kill. The basic premise of the song is that Billy is a worthless cheating bastard and he was getting away with it for awhile. It's all fun in games until your roosters come to nest and you end up being immortalize by a British crooner whose claim to fame is drownin' himself head first into the ocean over a fish (LOL "fish" is a slang term for well.... starts with a "b" and ends with an "itch"). 

Life meanders on. I too, feel like the worthless cheating bastard Billy by spending so much time in school learning about absolutely nothing only to get unleashed to a world that yawns at the past three years of my rigorous turmoil.  I still can't find the box on the employment application that says, "Have you spent any time in a proverbial wasteland of impractical learning and social purgatory?". Nope, no such credit for that time served exists my friends. 

Time now? 5:12AM. This. Has. Got. To. Stop. I only laid my head down about four hours ago before it popped up for air with Oh Billy blaring in the mental background. Stop this ride into the abyss of absolute acrimony and disgust, I really do want to get off this time. The dog is snoring on the couch. I can't imagine how fed up he is with his owner's absolute lack of a proper sleeping schedule. How the hell is a proper dog supposed to nap 16 hours a day with a human clanking on the computer blaring Brit Brit soft rock all day? Min Pinnin' ain't easy I guess. (Don't run for the door, I already checked, it's LOCKED.) 

Let me preface all of my mental vomit by saying good things have happened in the past few days. I've got a temporary job in the works and that means I'm headed in the right direction. I had a chance to spend time with friends and do a little casual reading, something I haven't done since I started law school three years ago. Nothing but decadent reading to be completely honest with you. No more proper learning. Books on proper mise en place for pastry chefs, Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential and of course, fashion magazines.

You would think I would enjoy a break from the hustle and bustle after busting my ass for three years. Nope. Not at all. Without something meaningful and compensated to do, I am at my wits end. Thankfully, someone has decided to put me out of my misery and give me something to do for the next few months.

Phew is the word. Can't tell you how relieved I am to have a chance to grind at work again.Can't you tell by the way I'm sleeping oohh so peacefully while my little midget sick-it is snoring away. (Zimba snores and it drives me insane dammit!!!) Now if only I could get back to sleep.

Oh Billy,

P. Manolos

2AM Thoughts

I can't sleep.

It's 2AM... well, 2:46AM if you want to be exact. I've mopped the kitchen, wiped down the walls, and even cleaned that spot under the Kitchen Aid mixer. I mean, who the hell is going to walk into my house at 3AM to lift up a five pound mixer to find a few old spices and dried up flour under the motor? And why would I even be friends with such a shitty individual who would subject a friend's house to such a rigorous inspection?

Me I suppose.

Today was rough, to say the least. When you have as much time as I do to think about life, you tend to micro-analyze everything. Like the spot under my mixer, I tend to give things a much closer look when I'm not occupied with work, school, or the dog. Speaking of the dog, I can't help but envy his ability to sleep 16 hours a day at a clip without coming up for air. Usually when I leave him in his crate upstairs he pitches a huge bitch fit to get out (that's if I haven't bribed him with a treat. He's a shrewd animal...).

Well, tonight as I scrub some shit out from under the MIXER, I thought about commitments. Not relationship commitments per say, just commitments in general. I just finished school. It was a three-year commitment where I spent countless nights reading over atom-sized texts and vomiting over test scores.

I made this commitment in lieu of a future, much greater commitment made by some benevolent employer out there to keep me with a roof over my head and a full fridge. Employment is just as much as a commitment as any other relationship. Unlike your job at the McDonald's across the street, a commitment to a new law grad is a steep investment. You see, each hour you work at McDonalds, there's a definite number of profit & output. They make money off of you and can count precisely from penny to penny how much money you will make them at any given hour for any given week.

Committing to a young law grad, wet behind the ears and eager to learn how exactly to be a lawyer is a much more costly matter. That employer can count every single penny they are going to lose each year training you. For the first three years of practice, you my friend, are a big waste of money. The only reason why they engage in this money blowing scheme year after year, with eager 2Ls lined up with resumes in hand, is the hope that they will hit billable gold when you finally get your law legs about ya. Yup. It's a really, really, really, stupid practice. Firms, still shaky from the recent economy, persist in a practice of Russian Roulette in hopes to keep up with the Jones or at least keep up the appearance of having money to blow.

Even though this scheme is foolish, it still requires one essential, rational element: commitment. That's the problem I've encountered the past few months. Commitment. Finding someone who will commit their client's hard earned money into training me into becoming a successful, well-honed litigation machine. A lawyer is only as good as their reputation and their pedigree, so you can imagine how many of us unemployed law grads take it personally when we leave the hallowed halls of the law school to find ourselves without anyone willing to make a commitment to them.

The building blocks of human society are glued together by commitment. Our parents, whether it was willingly or forced, made a commitment when we were popped out of the womb. We commit to a set of friends, our school of choice, and most importantly, we make a commitment to who we decide to become when we have the chance to mold our own destinies.  I beg to differ with Maslow when he failed to add commitment to his hierarchy of human needs. Perhaps he meant to cover the subject under the broad category of "love." Blah.  Anyways... We make  commitments in life because we find value in taking our time and effort required to fulfill the terms of a commitment. Value is something we see as beneficial and worth any sacrifice we have to make to get the end result. We are constantly making decisions each day about whether or not something is of value.

Men understand value. I marvel at my friends who wonder why the hell their significant other hasn't proposed and the girl next door gets a ring in less than two second flat. Unlike women, men propose because two events have simultaneously converged: financial stability and timing. Don't have any allusions about being "the one" and being so in love. Our country has a divorce rate of well over 60 percent, so that's a huge bunch of you-know-what that I will not reach for a pair of boots to step in.

Nope. A man decides to propose when he is both financially ready and the timing is right. They've gotten their wild oats sown, they've had a few too many a few too many times, and frankly they find themselves becoming an increasingly odd site among their matched friends. That's when whoever they are dating at the time gets hitched. It's not magic. There's no sudden realization that this person is "the one". This person is actually like a winning lottery ticket- you got them at the right time and at the right place. Marriage is a much more rational commitment for a man.

So that's why I find myself at 2AM writing this ridiculously long blog post. I feel as if I have no value. The rejection letters pile up and I watch as my linkedin.com fills up with updates from happy, committed couples. So and so at such and such. Yadda Yadda works at boogy bot bot. (Well, that sounded stupid. Just go with me, ok?) Committed. Each morning I wake up, I think to myself what is it about me that keeps something from making such a leap of faith and sending out the "Congratulations" letter. What is the value that so many others seem to find in other people that I lack?

Such meanderings of the mind, taken at 2AM, leave you with a very naked view of who you are. I am up at night because this feeling of being an absolute piece of mediocrity isn't letting me rest. Not good, not bad, just "mehhhhhhh." Do you remember the Bible passage where God talks about his disdain for lukewarm water? Hell, who on earth DOES like lukewarm water? Hot water is good for tea, coffee, and hot cocoa. All fantastic things in my book. Cold water is great on a hot, summer day. Lemonade and Kool-Aid are just two applications that come to my mind.

But lukewarm water? God says he'll spit you out in a minute. Well God, you made your point and I feel like you just hocked a lugie known as my life out onto the sizzling 110 degree pavement. (Yes, I took the time to look up whether I spelled "lugie" right.)

Is my mediocrity what stops me from gaining a foothold in life? I'm a wonderful volunteer, but not asked to work full-time. I'm loved, but after the good times and the bad, I'm still not valuable enough for anything deeper. I'm no soulmate. Just an old shoe. An old shoe who can't seem to find someone who thinks I fit. Fit for duty. Fit for something more than just a casual rendezvous from the clearance rack. Not even the Nordstrom clearance rack, you know where they mark down $1,000.00 shoes to $500.00? Just $499.00 less and I could actually afford to take the shoe home. Maybe the rack at JCPenny. Ouch. Even typing that hurt.

I'm tested on a daily basis only to find myself at an 89.

Not a solid B. But definitely not an A.

P. Manolos

Coupons 101: Buying in Bulk

I remember a jingle someone used to sing when I was a kid. Maybe it was a commercial, maybe it was some kind of cartoon. It kind of went like this, "PEANUT PEANUT BUTTA AND JELLLLYYYY!!" I'm not a bad singer. But that's a bad song. Forgive me for that slip up.

Well, no jelly here, but who knows what the future holds ;-)

Everything in the pic was free. I wanted more of the toothbrushes, but unfortunately Kroger still has that damn 3 coupon limit. Bastards. There was a free Oikos yogurt coupon in the paper (check out the Parade magazine from last Sunday) so I was able to snag two of the yogurts at no cost.  FULL DISCLOSURE: I did order additional coupons from a clipping service. If I factor into the cost the coupons I ordered from a clipping service, I spent $5.00 for everything in the photo. Yes, the clipping service was an extra cost, but if I had paid full price for everything, I would have had to fork over $60.00. You do the math. Sixty bucks is a lot more than $5.00 the last time I was enrolled in 3rd grade.

All of this peanut butter seems insane, doesn't it? I mean, who needs 12 jars of peanut butter, right? Well my friend, that brings us to today's lesson: ALWAYS buy in Bulk. If it's a crazy low price, get the stuff while the gettin' is good. Screw the Satan that is Sam's Club. If you coupon correctly, you can kiss your $50.00/year membership goodbye and buy in bulk at the grocery store for a fraction of the warehouse cost. (Ok... don't kiss it goodbye if you are as addicted to the Sam's club pizza as I am. These hips don't lie... )

If you are truly serious about saving money, each of you should take the time to write a Top 10 list of items that you cannot live without. This is pretty easy to do, the next time you are at the grocery store write down the price of all of the essential items and post it on your refrigerator. Write down three different prices:

  1. Shelf Price- Price of the item when it's not on sale
  2. Sale Price- Price of the item when it's usually on sale
  3. Stock Up Price- Rock Bottom Price of the Item (ex. peanut butter at $1.50 each). You will want to use your coupons at this time to get the lowest price possible. If it's easier for you, this price can reflect the cost after using a coupon.
Let's use the peanut butter for illustration's sake. My boyfriend loves peanut butter. I'm not saying he is a casual lover of da nutty butter. (I'm a rapper, didn't you know?) He will sit with a spoon in hand and eat peanut butter straight from the jar. For breakfast. For lunch. For dinner. For a late night snack. Do you understand the amount of peanut butter one goes through when it makes up its own food group?

I too, love peanut butter.   I'll have a PB&J every once in a while and I love to bake peanut butter cookies. That being said, I probably don't go through as many jars as my boyfriend. Here's the math again:
  1. Shelf Price- $3.99 (This is an estimate, I haven't the slightest clue how much this peanut butter usually costs because it's a brand new item. Planters just came out with its own peanut butter.)
  2. Sale Price- Last week, Giant Eagle had it on sale 2 for $3.00 or $1.50 each.
  3. Stock Up Price- Free or up to 50 cents/jar

This week, the peanut butter was on sale 2 for $3.00. I had twelve 75/1 coupons. At my Giant Eagle, they will double any coupon 0.99 cents and under. Therefore, a 75 cents off coupon is really worth = $1.50. That means all of the peanut butter was absolutely free.  This will happen a lot when a manufacturer comes out with a new item. They want consumers to try it and become addicted to it, so they'll give the store an incentive to sell it at a low price (the average consumer jumps at this) and then they will release a coupon as well (couponers like us should jump at this). Stacking both the sale price and the coupon = Peanut Butter nirvana.

I bought twelve jars of peanut butter that have very, very long expiration dates (July 2012). That means I will not buy a jar of peanut butter until I am completely out of peanut butter OR if I can get peanut butter for absolutely free again.

Let's keep going with the peanut butter illustration. Still not convinced buying in bulk isn't a good idea? Try this trick. Buy something cheap in bulk when the stock up price for that item is available.  Each time you use a jar of peanut butter and reach into the cabinet to use another jar, write down how much you would have to spend if you had to run to the store that very same day and buy the peanut butter at full price. At the end of a month or two, add up the amount of money you would have spent if you didn't buy that item in bulk. You'll quickly see that if my peanut butter monster eats 1 jar of peanut butter a week, and I had to run out and buy 4 jars per month at $3.99 each, that would = $15.96.

Buying in Bulk FAQ:

Question... uhhhh... isn't it all going to expire before you can use it? Answer: Only buy what you can use. If you can't use it, then donate the item to the local food bank. This is a great way to give to a charitable cause without breaking your own finances. Ask friends and family if they need anything from your stockpile and invite them over to do a little shopping. 

Question... ummm.. isn't this like HOARDING or something? Answer: No. My definition of hoarding is when someone buys a ton of stuff they can't use before they expire. I love being able to donate to the local food bank and give away some of my free stuff as a gift bag for friends & family. The average consumer spends a ton of money on many of these items.  I can't tell you how excited my friends get when I serve up a bag of goodies that would usually cost them $50 or more. Random acts of generosity= good Karma! 

So, remember to bulk up when the price is right. You'll look strange to your friends, but your wallet will thank you!

P. Manolos

Putting Things Into Perspective

Around $55.00 for all the groceries in the pic. About three boxes of brownies, five bottles of Honest Tea, paper towels, four bottles of Axe shower gel, four cans of Chef Boyardee, three bottles of handsoap, two bags of salad, four loaves of bread, four boxes of popcorn, six bags of M&Ms and almost ten pounds of meat. The meat really pushed my out of pocket (OOP) costs, but I couldn't resist all of the mark downs, not to mention the fact that this will probably last an entire month..... or two...

MMMM. Beef, it's what's for dinner!

Yep. I paid $55.00 for everything in this picture. I entitled this entry "Putting Things into Perspective" because I want the confusion surrounding the show Extreme Couponing. I hate the show, but like any catastrophic car wreck, I've slowed down a few times to take a look at it. The show has encouraged stores to tighten up their coupon redemption policies and has given me a lot of grief at the register. Every time I pull out my binder in a store or take my coupons out of my envelope at Target, I get a comment about being an "Extreme Couponer." I usually smile and say that I'm not as good as the folks on TV, but after someone says it to you for the umpteenth time, you tend to get a little peeved. It's especially unnerving when I'm going through the checkout line and everyone is watching me to see how much money I've saved. Sometimes I do work a little magic and end up saving 90%.

However, 90% of the time, when I go shopping, I expect to save around 50-65%. Yup. I'm not walking out of the store without paying, I usually just save a lot more than the average person. I'm pretty proud of my 50 dollar haul. I was completely out of protein and I have a thing for watching TV with a bowl of popcorn.

Listen people. Extreme Couponing show is unrealistic (not to mention some of the participants are engaging in illegal coupon redemption but that's another blog post for another day). Don't feel disheartened when you gather up all of your coupons and find yourself only (and I say "only" with a smile on my face) saving 50% off of your grocery bill. This is actually a normal amount of savings anyone should expect if they plan to purchase healthy foods for their families. Produce, meat and dairy are all items that are usually a full-price purchase.   Now that I've said that, let me tell you how you can save some of your hard earned money. 

How To Save On Meat & Produce:

How can you save money without drowning in free BBQ sauce and deodorant each month? Well first off, don't be afraid of discount meat. I chuckle when people pass off the Manager's special section to pay twice the price for the same quality of meat. Discount meat in the store isn't bad meat. The store isn't legally allowed to sell you any edible items that isn't safe for human consumption.  That's why recalls exist people, because the food was bad and they weren't supposed to sell it to you. Many times the food that gets recalled wasn't marked down in the first place. 

Stores mark down meat and produce because they need to sell them quickly before the "Sell by X" date.  My rule of thumb is to buy it and either cook it the same day or place it in the freezer. If you live alone, like myself, be sure to buy plenty of freezer bags and separate the meat into single serving portions. Use a sharpie to mark the date you bought the item as well as what exactly is in the bag. All meat begins to look the same after a few months in the freezer, so setting up a system of expiration dates and labels will help you keep track of what you need to eat quickly and what you can save for a rainy day. Meal planning is also crucial to saving money. The more last minute trips you make to the grocery store, the more often you'll find yourself spending over your grocery budget. 

Shop the sales ad. The best way to save money on both produce and meat is to take a look at the store's sales ad each week and buy what's on sale. The store takes a loss for the items shown on sale to draw you into the store and sucker you into making a lot of unplanned purchases. Well, you're smarter than that because you will make a list of all the sales items and stick to the list when you get to the store.

As for produce, always purchase produce in season!!!!  Do NOT buy strawberries in December or pomegranates in the middle of June.  Buying produce locally and in season will guarantee that you will save money because you aren't paying for the damn strawberries to get shipped from Florida to the Mid-West. If you can't live without strawberries in December, why not freeze the extra strawberries purchased in season? Be sure to take a look at your farmer's market and check out how much you can buy in bulk at a discount. You can also join a farmer's co-op and purchase items in bulk at a set price. Frozen vegetables are also a great choice and often come with fantastic coupons to boot. Studies have debunked the whole "fresh is better than frozen" theory, so don't feel bad about filling your freezer with a few Steamers from Krogers (check out this article here if you don't believe me: Frozen vegetables more nutritious than fresh, study says - New York Daily News)

Well, I'm off to plot another fantastic week of savings. Lots of laundry detergent and peanut butter this week. I'll post pics when I get a chance.  Damn Krogers and the 3 coupon limit.

P. Manolos

Recipe of the Day: No Fat Banana Bread

Found this online when I bought a bunch of bananas that were too ripe for eating, but perfect for baking.  I made this little baby and I had to throw it away to prevent myself from shoving the entire thing in my mouth:

MMMM. Sooo delicious and healthy to boot! Did I mention I failed miserably at keeping it healthy by putting a slab of cinnamon butter on top of each piece I inhaled? Sorry. A girl's gotta have a little fun in life.

Non-Fat Banana Bread

Banana Bread
3 (over) ripe bananas
1/2- 3/4 cups sugar (the less ripe the bananas, the more sugar you will need)
2 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour (I often replace one of the cups with whole wheat flour)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Mash the bananas in a large bowl and add the sugar. The sugar will help liquefy the mixture.  Whisk in the eggs, and then sift in the dry ingredients. Still until evenly combined. Bake in a greased a floured loaf pan at 325 for about 1 hour or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow to stand and cool for 15 minutes before removing from the pan.

Risin' to the Occasion,

P. Manolos

Coupons 101: Rebates are Real

Gotta love free $$$

I'm sure all of you have seen a rebate form before. Yet, how many of you actually buy a product and send in the form? No, I'm serious. How many of you actually take the time to find a stamp, keep your original receipt, and send the form in the mail the very next day after your purchase. I'm sure many of you are thinking that rebates are a waste of time. You have to buy a specific product and wait what seems like years until you get something in the mail. Well, after this post I'm hoping you will change your mind and try to rethink your grocery shopping strategy.

See the pic above? A few months ago, I bought a first aid kit. Nothing fancy, just a small kit for my car, my house, and one for my boyfriend's new apartment. Johnson & Johnson had a rebate deal where if you buy at least two of their first aid products, they will send you a free first aid kit bag. All you need to do is send in your original receipt with your purchases circled and the UPC from your first aid items. In approximately 6-8 weeks, they will send you a first aid bag. Yippee right?

Wrong. ((Shakes head solemnly)) The reason why you should be excited is because of the coupons included in the first aid bag or any sample you request from a store or manufacturer. Manufacturers want you to try their product and they want you to continue to use it. The whole point of coupons are to draw the customer to the store and to get them addicted to buying their product so they will buy it full price the next time they run out. Fortunately, you are much smarter than the manufacturer and you will NOT buy anything full price. You'll just buy 10 of them at the sale price WITH a coupon.

Manufacturers also want to reward you for your loyalty by giving you money back. I'm talking cold, hard, CASH. (well actually a debit card, but you know what I mean). A few weeks ago, I purchased Cascade Action Paks for my dishwasher. Before the good old days of couponing, I would go to Sam's Club ((cue horror music.. will explain hatred for Sam's Club another time)) to buy dishwasher detergent in bulk quantities. I would drop $6-8.00 for a product I can now, thanks to the manufacturer's rebate, get for free.  Just send in the original receipt and the UPC from the dishwasher detergent and they will send you back the money you spent on your purchase.  The FULL price of the purchase, regardless of whether or not you used coupons. So for a product I bought for $2.00 (I had a Target Q and a Manufacturer Q), I just got back $3.49! Yup. That's a profit of $1.49!! 

There are a ton of rebate opportunities out for many of the products you already by full price. Let's use the M&M movie ticket rebate as an example. 

1. M&M/Orville Redenbacher Movie Ticket Rebate- Every time you buy two packs of M&;M 9.9oz size and purchase the Orville Redenbacher popcorn, you get a free movie ticket voucher ($9.00 value). For example, last week CVS had a great deal on M&M and Orville Popcorn. Unfortunately, between work and being sick I wasn't able to completely take advantage of the deal. But for illustration's sake, here's the math:

Orville Redenbacher Pop-Up Bowls (my favorite!) 2/$4
M&M 9.9 oz bags of candy 2/$5 (not a great price, but not bad)

Buy 2 M&Ms (use $1.00/1 pretzel or $1.00/2 any flavor) and 1 Orville Redenbacher Pop-Up Bowls 

$5.00+$2.00 = $7.00
-2.00 (buy 2 pretzel bags flavors)
=$5.00 total (total comes out to $6.00 if you use the $1.00/2 coupon)
Send in the rebate form for the movie ticket, wait patiently and you'll get a $9.00 voucher in the mail

=$3.00 profit !

Popcorn has a pretty long shelf life and you can always freeze M&Ms. I love to bake cookies with the plain M&Ms so this is a great deal for me. There's always the option of donating excess goodies to the local food shelter. The limit is 4 movie tickets per household. It's a win-win situation for me. If you're interested in this deal, check it out at:


Be sure to buy the M&;Ms and popcorn when they're on sale. The M&M coupons should be available on eBay or from an online coupon clipping service. This deal is until 12/31/2011, so you can always wait for Orville Redenbacher to issue a popcorn coupon. Well, I'm going to get back to work (Fellowship work that is). I hope you're having a Funday this Sunday. (hahahaha? ok, well at least I'm laughing)

P. Manolos


Send Help.

I haven't posted in a few days because upon my return from working out of town, I came back to this mess. I can't even begin to describe to you how freakin' behind I am on my coupon clipping and organizing. The newspaper man from Hell of course ignored my vacation stop and dropped off three newspapers at my door. I'm sooo lucky that no one took my papers while I was gone. And on that thought, I'm very lucky no one broke into my freakin house. . Did I mention Krogers has hand soap on sale for  18 cents each?!?! You realize what to do when handsoap reaches 25 cents and below, right? You buy a crapload of it.

Unfortunately they're on to me. I ran over to the Kroghetto near my house (I live in a working class neighborhood, so it's a pretty shabby store) to buy 10 (out of the 20 I plan to buy) bottles of handsoap only to get stopped by the checkout girl and told they can only take 3 of my coupons. WTF. I admit, I kind of knew there was blood in the water when I read the fine print of the Kroger ad this week, which states (up to 3 coupons accepted) but I just didn't want to believe it.... and I hoped in the bottom of my little frugal heart they would let me slide.

NO SUCH LUCK. So I've made several trips back and forth to krogers to pick up hand soap. Stupid and insane really. Just think about it. If I wanted to walk in there and buy 100 freakin bottles full price, they wouldn't blink an eye. Yet, for the sake of keeping up stock, they limit me to 3 hand soaps because I'm using coupons. Sigh. I understand where they're coming from, nothing is more frusterating then going to the store to get a good deal only to find out they are out of stock. I pride myself in being a responsible couponer and making sure I only take my fair share.

Limits don't solve anything. People who want to abuse the system and get more than their fair share will think of other ways, much smarter ways, to get more product than the store's stupid 3 coupon limit policy.  Don't feel bad for the stores. The men and women who run the multi-national grocery chains are smart and know exactly what coupons come out when.

So what's my solution? I think stores should just keep track of how much of the loss leaders are bought in any given sale period and make sure they order more than enough for everyone. That's it. I also encourage any of the shelf clearers lurking around to make a special order with their store if they plan to wipe out the shelves. It's not hard and it's free to do.

Well, I better get back to working through the mess that is my home. Hope all is well on your side of the screen.

P. Manolos

Today's Obsession

Zimba's birthday video from a few months ago. Who can say no to such a cute little bundle of joy? I'm out of town right now and my Mom & Dad have Z until I can get back home. I miss him like crazy. I had no idea when I got him that I would feel so attached to the little bugger. And to think I seriously thought about naming him Satan.

Puppy Love,

P. Manolos

Errr... I need a Spankin' BAAADDD

Well, sort of. I'm thinking of all kinds of devious plans to clear out CVS and run with all of their merchandise. J/K. BTW- I went back to CVS and used one of my coupons for the Olive Oil. I'll be damned if I let that deal get out of my clutches without scoring some cheap olive oil. I'll probably go to another CVS to redeem one last coupon. Yes, I'll have 4 bottles of olive oil. But guess what? I'm not going to be the sucker going to the grocery store paying $7.99 for olive oil. Stockpiled until at least 2012. Thankfully, olive oil has a very long shelf life.

Insane deals are coming in the future. INSANE I SAY! If we were in the same room I would run laps and shake you with all my might.

Don't be like this guy. He's waiting for this week's CVS/Wags ad in the paper. TOO LATE BUDDY. 

What I love about drugstore deals is that they often have ad scans online two weeks before the sale even happens. Yes. I said it. TWO WEEKS. So you can plan ahead and purchase all of the coupons you need from your friendly clipping service weeks before the ad hits your front porch.

Soooo... drum roll please!! 
Get a $10 ECB when you buy an HP Inkjet Cartridge for $19.99, Limit 4.

*I must give credit to my favorite coupon websites, afullcup.com and iheartcvs.com for this info** WAIT UNTIL 8/21. I don't want you to run out tonight, buy a ton of ink cartridges, and then give me the finger when you don't get an ECB.  *

Umm.. if that didn't make you faint I don't think you understand me. One of the banes of my existence is the constant need to supply plenty of ink and paper. Lucky for me, I had coupons for Target brand paper last (and this month). It's just the damn ink that is so expensive. I always end up saving a lot more than what I spend on supplies, but it's always nice to catch a break.

So you know I'll be doing this deal 4x. Yup. I'll use ECBs to pay for each cartridge, so I won't have a lot of out of pocket costs, but I will be getting something very useful in return. Let's just hope this stock will last til Christmas. I'm still debating on whether I want to roll the ECBs into a new transaction or if I want to save them for a rainy day. Decisions, decisions!

Well, here's another plan, again I didn't think of this on my own, giving credit to my friends at afullcup.com, I plan to get a $10.00 gas card for less than $10.00. It's my weekly challenge. You know how old people like to do the NYtimes crossword puzzle on a daily basis? Yea, kind of like that except it's a weekly deal and I get a ton of stuff for free or with an added profit.

CVS Sunday 8/14/2011

4 Airwick @ $6.99 = $27.96
2 Glade Air fresheners @ 99c = $1.98
Total = $29.94

Then subtract your coupons
-4 Airwick $4/1 coupons
$5/25 CRT 
Pay 8.94 OOP. Get 10.00 gas card. 1.06 MM.

Hot isn't it? Can you feel the temperature in the room rise? Honestly, part of my obsession with this deal is that I HATE paying for gas and one gas card per week takes care of all of my gas needs for the week (can you tell from that phrase that I'm an unemployed law grad?)

P. Manolos

Preparation is Key

I hate being unprepared to go to the grocery store. I remember all of the damn money I would waste back in the day, before I was converted to the Church of Clipping. I would fork over $100.00 per shopping trip and think I've got a good deal on stuff.

So you can imagine how pissed I was when I forgot to use my coupons to get $2.00 off my purchase at CVS today. You see, CVS has a fantastic deal on olive oil this week. Not just any olive oil, but Filippo Berio. Brand name stuff. Good stuff.  Did I mention I'm completely out and I've been using Canola Oil as a substitute until I found a good deal. Here's how the deal would have worked out in an idea world:

Buy 2 Filippo Berio Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Regular Price $8.99, Sale Price $3.99 (On sale until 8/12)

2 x $3.99
-$5.00 ECB earned on the Dove Hair product deal
-2 $1.00 off Filippio Berio coupons 
= 0.98 cents for TWO bottles of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

I know, insane huh? Due to my epic failure to reach into my purse and get out my $1.00 off coupons, I spent $2.00 more than I had to. Still a good deal for Olive Oil, but I would prefer to keep the extra $2.00 in my pocket.

If you're still starting out, remember that the best way to save money, even without using coupons, is to make a list of everything you plan to buy that day. Be sure to check out how much you plan to spend.  Write down what you need and how much everything on your list will cost you. Stores take advantage of many shoppers by luring them into the store to buy a loss leaders, only to end up with a ton of stuff you didn't plan to buy in your cart. (Loss leader = lingo for items a store takes a loss on selling to lure customers into their establishment).

That's how CVS got $2.00 more from me than I planned today. I'm away from home attempting to coupon in a strange place and I completely got frazzled at the Register and didn't think to myself I need to pull out the rest of the coupons in my purse. [ did I mention Brown Eyes was with me? He's a big distraction from my savings game, let me tell yeah ;) ].

I'm $2.00 poorer dammit,

P. Manolos

I'm seriously thinking about heading back down to CVS tomorrow to get my discount. I'm not kidding you, I probably will wake up before volunteer (I don't call it work b/c I don't get paid) and see if they'll let me get my damn 2 bucks back.

Insane Walgreens Deals

I have to admit, when I first started couponing, I stayed the hell away from the drugstores. The whole Register Rewards thing seemed way too complicated. Man, I was soooooo wrong. Check out these insane deals. Remember, they're only for this week so hurry up and stock up!

This week, the Keri Lotion is on sale for $5.99. I usually don't but this lotion because it's insanely expensive. But if you still have your Keri Lotion coupons from last week's inserts, check this out:

Keri Lotion
Buy 1 at $5.99
-$2.00 coupon
= $3.99, Get $5.00 Register Reward back. That's a $1.01 money maker and you can use the $5.00 Register Reward for something else. 

Buy 4 Degree Women's Deodorant, Get $4.00 Register Reward
Buy 4 Women's Degree Deodorant Trial Size, 0.99, Get $4.00 Register Reward
Use 4 0.75/1 Degree Deodorant, any from RP 7/31
Pay $0.94,  Receive $4.00 Register Reward
$3.04 Money Maker

Thanks again to The KrazyCoupon Lady.com for the head's up! I used my $5.00 Register reward to buy the Purex that's on sale. I have a secret obsession with laundry detergent. Seriously.

Wheelin' and Dealin',

P. Manolos

The "Someday" Newspaper

Sunday morning is almost like Christmas morning to me.  I wake up and dive out of bed in my pjs, and rush downstairs to see what the newspaper man has left me. I say newspaper man because unfortunately we no longer live in the age of the cute little newspaper boy who would  ride around on his bike throwing out papers.  Between the Newspaper guy and the mailman, I'm having a tough time figuring out who pulls at my heart strings more these days.

Future Looking Brighter? No, but I do like the inserts this week :)

My Weekly Christmas gift I guess you could say. Except it's just for the coupons... and the ads... and I already know what inserts I'm going to get before I even get the paper...... Did I mention I pay for 3 of them each week.

I pay for three... but I don't always get three. It's been a war lately with the newspaper man over how many papers I "should" get. The past four weeks had been uneventful. He's stopped by, delivered three papers, and left. Rinse and Repeat. Great job! Totally tip worthy.

But this Sunday I woke up with only that guy pictured above all by his lonesome self.  Well, where the hell are your friends? I ordered THREE SUNDAY NEWSPAPERS DAMMIT. It irritates me to no end to have to call the Dispatch. Did I mention they are located in NEW HAMPSHIRE? I have to ask them almost every month to get their butts in gear and deliver my freaking newspapers.  Thankfully, the automated system worked this week and a very irrate newspaper man stomped on my steps and mumbled profanities under his breath while he handed over the other missing copies. Every time he misses a delivery, he comes back red-faced asking me why the hell do I need three of the same paper. I just smile, thank him, and close the door as quickly as possible. I don't know if he is testing me to see if I would notice I only got one paper or what. Ohh I do notice buddy, and I will be calling your supervisor to give him hell too.

Bad customer service. There are no words for how mad I get when someone does sloppy work and expects me to put something in the tip jar. Also, why the hell are there so many tip jars in the first place? A few weeks ago I went to a self-serve restaurant and they had a freakin' tip jar out at the register. WTF? So I'm tipping you to go get MY food? I have all the respect in the world for waiters/waitresses. They work damn hard and deserve the tips they earn from patrons who come to bitch about their food. The guy who sits there and presses a few buttons for me? I. Don't. Think. So. But I digress from my original diatribe...

Why the hell do you need 3 copies of the Sunday Paper?

I order three of the same Sunday newspaper because I use every single insert to save on my grocery and shopping bill. I know, I know what you'll say next. Well,  doesn't that cost alot of money?  When you factor in the savings from shopping with coupons during a sale, my newspaper ALWAYS pays for itself. I pay $27.00 per month for my Sunday newspaper service. I typically save over $200.00 every single shopping trip.  I also sell my services as a coupon clipper on eBay to recoup get rid of any coupons I don't plan to use. I haven't had a lot of time to work on this b/c of the bar exam, but now that it's over I'm running on all cylinders.

So here's some newbie couponer tip about the newspaper. Start with just ONE. I know it's tempting to go out and get a stack of papers, but trust me, when you're starting out, you need to just keep it simple. One Sunday newspaper each week for two or three weeks to start out with. Look online to see what inserts will be available each week. Typically, there are NO inserts in the Sunday paper if it's a holiday weekend. You'll find 1 Procter & Gamble insert per month, and on a rotating basis a Smart Source or Red Plum insert. It's very important to subscribe to the paper because the ad system places a priority on home subscribers. Therefore, you are more likely to get all of your ads if you subscribe than if you go to the store to buy the paper.  If you end up only getting one and realize you need multiple stacks of the same coupon, then you can always order it online .... errr.. from me (::: devious smile::) or another trustworthy coupon clipping service.

Once you get to know the sale ads and how to work the system, then you can be a crazy coupon lady like myself and order three at a time. Or four at a time. Four is a good number because many of the coupons are limited to "four like coupons per shopping trip." I don't order four because my parents send me their ads every week. But for now, just start with one and then work your way up to three or more m'kay?

Money doesn't grow on trees, but it does come in the newspaper,

P. Manolos

Today's Obssession

Nom nom nom nom nom. Mr. Chicken loves his Beggin Strips. I bought 16 bags the other day (I had some awesome coupons but we'll chat about that later). We're having trouble eating our dog food so I'm glad he's at least able to muster enough of an appetite to eat some fake bacon (can you smell the sarcasm?).

I'd write more but I'm exhausted. Just got back from plundering CVS and now I've got an hour drive back to Dayton to visit my family this weekend. Woo hooo.

P. Manolos

Coupon 101- Generics Suck

Shut Up. Class is in session. LOL j/k. I'm never rude like this in real life. Just pay attention, ok? I'm going to spend the next few days talking about all the myths brainwashed consumers like yourself have about coupons. This will be quick and painless.

Errr. I'm all ears, what's up?!?!

Myth #1- "The Generic Brand is Always Cheaper "

EPIC FAIL. That's what stores want you to think. Stores began to capitalize on consumer laziness by creating their own generic brands. They typically price them 25% less than the brand name and place both of them next to each other. An everyday consumer who is concerned about their budget will naturally pick the generic brand because it's cheaper. However, with a coupon AND a sale price on the brand name, you often end up spending less money than you would for the generic. Let's take an example of something we all use everyday: Razors. (And if you don't, might I suggest taking this blog as a sign from heaven that you should start?)

My beau usually buys the cheapest generic package of razors to save money. He's a no frills kind of guy. He's the type of guy who wants to be in and out of the store quickly.  In his haste to save and skip out, he reaches for those ugly flimsy packets of razors that typically cost around $2.00. He looks over at the brand name, specifically the Gillette ProGlide and thinks, wow, $9.99 for one freaking razor? I'll just go with the generic and save eight bucks. Good deal, right?

WRONG. First of all, the cheap ones always sacrifice safety for convenience (come on guys, how many of you have been nicked by a cheap razor?) and they end up costing you more in the long run because you will have to replace them more often.  So, put some toilet paper squares on all those cuts on your face and let's think twice about that Gillette ProGlide coupled with a deal.

For example, I'm going to CVS this week to capitalize on the Extra Bucks program. I plan to grab my boyfriend more of his new favorite razor (thanks to me of course, he's hooked and sniffs around the stock pile closet looking for more when he's out of them). Here's the math:

CVS Special Gillette ProGlide Razor: $9.99, buy 1 receive $5.00 Extra Care Bucks (ECB) back.
- $4.00 coupon
Pay $5.99, get back $5.00 ECB
Total Spent = 0.99 for a great Razor

Generic Brand: Still $2.00, and you just end up nicked, cut, and just busted looking.

You know you want me :)

Some of you skeptics are saying well hey, you still had to spend $9.00 and you just got back store credit. Well, think about this. How often do you go to the same store? Once you're at the store, how often do you buy other purchases besides what you actually need? Or if you're a casual couponer, how often do you end up needing something you don't have a coupon for? Wouldn't it be nice to get those other purchases that DO NOT have coupons for free? The $5.00 in ECB I just got from the razor, I plan to put that towards other stuff I need AND get them for free (I am out of packaging tape right now, thank goodness they have a B1G1 special). It's as if you are recycling the same money over, and over, and over again.

Awesome lesson huh? Not bad for your first day at Pink Manolos School of Saving.  So throw away that nasty disposable razor and get your man something his handsome, chiseled features can trust.  If you're a girl, who freaking cares if it's a razor marketed for men? If it's good enough to glide smoothly across a man's face without a nick, imagine what it will do for you legs!

Save $$, put it towards a new Louis Vuitton bag,

P. Manolos

Today's Obsession (And probably for the rest of my life...)

Do you know what THIS is?

Deodorant is always free.

For those of you who guessed it was a coupon, you will receive a special, limited edition Pink Manolos pat on the back. I'm sure you are all puzzled as to why someone who professes an obsession with couture and designer fashion would post a picture of a coupon on her blog. Well, give me a chance to explain.

I used to clip coupons after I graduated from College. Not aggressively or with any rhyme or reason. I would just cut a few and then stick them in a coupon index somewhere. I laughed a few weeks ago when I found a random coupon from 2007. Oh the nativity.  I didn't really understand the power of a coupon until a few months back in Jan. (yes, even before the Extreme Coupon show).

I was out with a girlfriend shopping at target and I had casually clipped a few coupons from the paper and brought them with me. Nothing strategic, just a few coupons here and there to go with what I had already planned to buy at full price. I went up to the cashier and as soon as she said "you saved $30 dollars" I became hooked on coupons.

My coupon obsession began to grow like a snowball rolling down a steep wintry hillside. I went from a casual clipper to a strategic shopper in less than three weeks. I no longer find myself paying $100.00 for groceries. I cringe to think about all the money I wasted walking into the grocery store with no plan, no list, and worst of all, an empty stomach. You couldn't pay me to go into a grocery store without a plan, coupons, or even a chance to look at the weekly savings ad. At the same time, I refuse to buy more than what I can use in 6 months and when I have extra freebies, I plan to donate them to the YWCA downtown where there are a lot of needy families who would be able to use them.

Many of my friends at law school make fun of me, but I take comfort in the fact that they piss away their paychecks spending money on essentials I get for free or get paid to buy (will explain the process later). So, in honor of my new Obsession of the Day (and a lifetime) I'll include a few coupon posts here and there.  I'll always love designer couture. Now that I save so much money grocery shopping, I can turn the deodorant pictured above into something more chic, like this:

Delicious Pearl Chanel 5159 Black Women's Sunglasses.

My Life So Far

Blogging. Sometimes you have to take a break from it in order to find something really provocative to say. I took a five month break to work on everything else in my life- school, the boy, friends, and the bar exam. If you haven't read my blog, or just started reading because I've suddenly started blogging again, consider this entry your crash course into all things Pink Manolos.

Vitals: I'm a 26-year old female living in the Midwest. I have two siblings (1 brother, 1 sister) and two fantastic parents that literally made me who I am today. My Dad is the epitome of the All-American man, hard working, stubborn, and loves his spot on the couch. My Mom is a RN who spent most of her life taking care of others without thinking about her own needs.  I also have a dog, who you will find, is a gift and a curse at the same time:

This is Zimba. AKA Mr. Chicken (Don't ask about the nickname) AKA Sugarbutt. He likes to sit on the vent after a long, hot summer walk. Who knew I adopted a genius?

Here's my house, errrrr, at least the deck. I'd study outside for the bar just so I could get a little Vitamin C in my system. Not to mention the fact that I would do anything to keep myself focused on studying.  I would put a pic of my front yard up, but it's an absolute mess and I haven't had the time or the patience to do any weeding. Did I mention I LOATH yard work? Luckily for me, Brown Eyes came and cut down the grass in the backyard with a mower and his bare feet.

Speaking of Brown Eyes, did I mention that I love to love?  In the past, my blog was my own way of grieving over a bad relationship. I was trying to get over it, but now I'm over it and on to something much better. Brown Eyes and I have been together for almost 2 years now and things just keep getting better between us. He's a very private person, so I won't mention his name or blog about him frequently. Just know that I've never met someone more intelligent, passionate, and dedicated than him. Yet, he still farts a lot. I guess that just comes with the territory when you're dating a man. Ah well.

Sooo the first rule of blogging is to be brief..... On that note, I'm out !

P. Manolos

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