May 172014

I’ve been struggling with the ideals I founded in Encourage Hope.  I started this organization with the idea of sharing education, so others would find financial peace, and then use their education and savings to help others.

I’ve changed a lot over the last five years. I’ve lost my parents, I’ve watched my son struggle with depression, I continue to deal with bell’s palsy, and as my children grow, my role as a mama has changed, too.  But, the one thing that has remained constant, and burns stronger every day, is my mission of encouraging hope.

Coupons, however, aren’t as big in my life as they used to be.  Although I love a great deal, I don’t have the passion I used to have for combining sales with coupons … Truth be told, I’m ready to be known as someone much greater than just the coupon lady.

“Part of being a winner is knowing when enough is enough. Sometimes you have to give up the fight and walk away, and move on to something that’s more productive.” – Donald Trump

Please understand I am not giving up Encourage Hope, as a whole.  But, I am going to move in a different direction, and focus on what we can do to help others.  One of the beautiful things our organization does is bring together couponers and non-couponers for the greater cause.

Our facebook page will remain the same, and will offer some great deals, outreach information, and inspirational quotes as we work towards providing for others.  Please find us, and like us at

As I work to move forward, please know I will still be in touch.  Please visit to learn more about our new direction.  Although there will be obvious changes, you’ll begin to see other parts of my company – divisions I’ve always worked on in the background – coming to light, and I’m so very excited to begin sharing the big picture with all of you!

Thank you for your continued support!

Apr 262015

Our mission is really important to me – it’s why our business was founded, and I work very hard to share with others how to save, so they are able to help others in need.

I received an email this week, and I wanted to share it with you.  She asked to remain anonymous, but I want everyone to see how making just a few changes in your shopping habits can truly help many people in magnificent ways!

“As for the donations, I was never able to be as generous as I would have liked in the past. I would pick out a few extra items whenever I shopped with the thought of putting a spaghetti dinner “in a bag” or with needed items like peanut butter or macaroni. I was never as faithful with our first of the month collection days as I should have been. Now, I feel as though I have been so blessed with the knowledge of how to obtain these bargains and the abundance far surpasses my family’s needs. I have definitely put some hours in to researching good buys and learning the ropes…but I want to share the fruits of that labor with others. God never gives you something to keep it to yourself. I have even found myself pointing out good deals to people I don’t know in the store as I shop and see them looking at similar items. It’s exciting to have a simple and practical gift of knowledge (and groceries) to share. And the gift goes on, and on, and on…”

Apr 192015

Did you know between all of our stores in Bloomington-Normal, we have multiple sales cycles?  Schnucks, Cub Foods, and Jewel runs Wednesday-Tuesday, Kroger runs Thursday-Wednesday, and Meijer, Walgreens and CVS all run Sunday-Saturday.   This means your best days to shop will be Thursday, Friday and Saturday because no matter where you shop, you’re hitting the stores during their current sales cycle!

I always suggest shopping during non-peak hours, so don’t do major shopping right after traditional work hours because it will be extremely busy.  Saturday, as well as Sunday after church, also tends to be a bit busier than during the week, but if you have your transactions planned, you’ll be in and out faster than most people who are browsing the aisles.

As crazy as it sounds, there is coupon etiquette!  If you have a lot of coupons, it’s always nice to let the person behind you know.  If they choose to stay and wait, that’s fine, but you won’t feel rushed (especially if you’re using a u-scan), and they know they may choose another lane if they are in a hurry!

Please never, ever clear the shelf.  If you are planning on making multiple purchases, and you want the entire shelf of product, please ask the grocery manager to place a special order for you. Most are happy to do it, and it allows individuals who aren’t wanting many items to still get in on the deal without the frustration of no stock.  The only exception to this request is if there are only a few on the shelf, and of course, you are entitled to take what you’d like.  But, if you want 30 of something, and there are 31 on the shelf, please do make the request to special order.

Be courteous to your cashier.  I can guarantee you will all run into the one person who is having a horrible day, and they will make it seem as if it’s your fault because you have coupons.  I’ve been there.  Often.  But, stay calm, and remember how much you’re saving! If you are organized when you reach the check-out, your transaction will be much smoother than someone who is digging around looking for coupons!  And, the nicer you are, and the more organized your system is, the more your cashier will love you for making it easier on them.  I promise!

Apr 122015

Using coupons is a great way to save money, but using coupons on sale products that also offer a manufacturer or store promotion is the ultimate budget crusher!

Previously, one of our local stores offered a variety of cereal for just $1.49 a box without any coupons!  This is an amazing deal for cereal that is normally over $3 each!  But, there was also a manufacturer promotion on selected Post cereal!  This great deal was found on the front page of the sales ad in our Sunday Pantagraph!  I’ve said it before, but having the actual ads to view is priceless!

If you bought four boxes of cocoa pebbles, your cost would be approximately $6.  But, for each four boxes purchased, you’d also receive a $3 catalina, which may be used like cash on your next order!  By combining the sale price with the manufacturer offer, your net cost becomes only 75¢ a box!!

When cereal is this low, it’s stock up time.  How much cereal does your household use in six to eight weeks?  That’s your magic number!  If your family eats two boxes of cereal a week, it makes sense to purchase 12 boxes at this price!  If you don’t, you’ll run out before the next sale, and have to buy at the current retail price set by the store!  And, for under $1, you can buy another box to donate to a family who needs a little help up!

Another great deal found previously was on Duncan Hines brownies!  They were on sale for $1.09, and in a Smart Source coupon insert in our local paper, there was a coupon for 50¢!  With the coupon doubled in value, the brownies became only 9¢ a box!

And, finally, a superb deal on body wash!  Nivea body wash was on sale for $4.88 a bottle.  With a store promotion offering $5 back when you spend $15, it became more interesting!  There was also a $1 coupon off each bottle in our local paper to utilize!  To reach $15, you’d need to purchase four bottles bringing your cost to $19.52.  I used four $1 coupons, and earned back $5!  Now my cost is only $10.52 for four bottles, or just $2.63 each!  With just a little planning, you’re saving nearly 50%!

By combining your coupons with sales, finding manufacturer and store promotions, and buying to give, you’ll soon love shopping!