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The Coupon Lady: This is a great time to find deals

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I am so glad I that I planned ahead for a busy schedule this month. My daughter recently turned 4, and we have had family members visiting from out of state for the last few weeks to celebrate. This week, my brother is on vacation from Afghanistan, so we will be enjoying time with him for the first time in eight months.

In between family visits, we recently went on our first family camping trip with our son’s Boy Scout troop. At home, we have also been working on replacing landscaping pine straw with mulch and planting flowers in our flower beds. Add in coupon workshops, volunteering with my children’s classrooms and community projects, and you see I’ve been a busy mom!

With our schedule so full this month, couponing has been a challenge. This month, we have focused on clearance, the best grocery deals and meal planning that includes lots of “grab and go” meals.

In addition to quick-fix, I am also concentrating on meals that can be prepared in the Crock Pot. With colder and wetter weather on the way, foods such as chili, soup and dumplings make simple and filling dinners. I recently made chicken and dumplings for my family, but I added fresh mushrooms, carrots, peas, potatoes and onions to the traditional chicken, dumplings and cream of chicken soup. The result was a flavorful meal that took very little time.

Recently, Target and Wal-Mart have been marking down lots of items – mainly toys, summer items, barbecue items, patio items and school supplies. Last week at Target, I was able to pick up several items to help us complete our ongoing landscaping improvements, marked down 70-75 percent from original prices. I found bags of lawn fertilizer for $4 (marked down from $13), six solar pathway lights for just $45 (original price $150) and iron patio chairs for $8 each.

Even though my kids picked out new character backpacks a month before school started, I bought four larger, basic bags that we all can use for storing camping gear and clothing for weekend camping trips. With the 75 percent clearance sale, I spent just $12 for four bags. We also bought a $9 portable propane grill to use for camping. Other summer items that could be used for camping are beach towels, flip flops, swim shoes and folding chairs.

I recently visited Kmart’s closing sale and was not impressed. Thanks to a price-checking app on my phone, I found much better prices for most items online, matching or most often beating the supposed 40 percent off clearance price being offered in the closing sale. If you decide to go, make sure you have a general idea of the competitor prices of the items you are interested in before you shop.

At Walmart, my husband and I found Scott’s brand mulch marked down to only $3.30 a bag, which is a steal compared to the home improvement stores’ regular price of $5 a bag. Even though we had to buy 26 bags to replace the pine straw bedding around our house, we still only spent roughly $100, even after adding several pots of mums to plant around the yard.

Now that our daughter’s birthday has passed, it is time for us to start planning for fall birthdays and Christmas. With the toy markdowns currently going on at several Walmart stores in the area, now is a great time to start buying Christmas gifts for all the children in your family. I saw a good selection of Nerf guns, Legos, Bakugan, Transformers and superhero sets to make great Christmas gifts for boys. For the girls, we saw Dora, Disney Princess, Littlest Pet Shop, and much more to make the princesses in your family feel special.


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