How to save on gas for your car

This weeks Publix sales were not that great for my family. There really was nothing much there. But then I found a gem! There is a coupon in this weeks sales paper that is for $10.00 off a $50.00 BP Gas gift card, when you spend $25.00 in other groceries. So I started working the numbers and came up with a couple different transactions that I did. I was able to get 3 cards, a total of $150.00 in gas, and I only paid $87 out of pocket for it! How great is that!?!

The first one, sadly, I did not take a photo of but it included 4 boxes of Cheeze-its, 4 cans of Almonds, 4 bottles of Sundown Vitamins, and 2 bags of pretzels.

For all the transactions I used a $5.00 off $50.00 purchase Winn Dixie coupon that I found in the Sunday paper. Publix is great in-that they even take these types of competitor store coupons. (Try that at Walmart!) Plus, I had other coupons for all the other items I bought.

So here is photo of the second transaction...

And here is the break down.
  • 4- Boxes of Cheeze-its crackers $3.09 BOGO I used a coupon that was on the box for $1.00 off 2 making them $1.04 each
  • 4- Bottles Sundown Vitamins $2.99 I used a Publix store coupon for $3.00 off 1 and a manufactures coupon for $1.00 off 1 making them FREE with a total overage of $4.04
  • 2- bags Snyders pretzels $2.59 I used a Target store coupon for $1.50 off when you buy a box of cheeze-its crackers. Making them $1.09 each
  • 1- $50.00 BP Gas Gift card. I used the Publix store coupon found in the weekly add for $10.00 off making it $40.00
Like I said before I used a Winn Dixie store coupon for $5.00 off a $50.00 purchase.
So when you take the $10 coupon off of the $50.00 card, and then apply the $5.00 Winn Dixie card, and the overage of the vitamins of $4.04... I paid a whopping $30.96 for $50.00 worth of gas.

This is the last transaction, which I did just this evening...

I got
  • 4- Bottles of Sundown Vitamins $2.99. I used the same coupons as listed above for an overage for all of them
  • 4 - Bottles of Sobe Life water. $1.00 I used a manufactures coupons for Free Sobe that I won from and online game. Making them FREE!
  • 4- Boxes of Theraflu caplets $3.50 each I used a Publix store coupon for $5.00 off 2 and Manufactures coupons for $2.00 off 1. Making them FREE with a total overage of $4.00
    This is something that our family doesn't use. We prefer to let our body's natural immunity do its job, and we use things that complement the bodies healing process. However, getting it free with overage, is worth bringing it home even if we give it to someone else.
  • 1- BP gift card for $50.00 I used the Publix store coupon for $10.00 off making it $40.00
Again I used the $5.00 off $50.00 purchase Winn Dixie coupon. So I Paid $25.89 out of pocket of all this

I was able to get $150.00 worth of gas cards for $87.81!

Oh yeah and there was all the other grocery items for that price as well!

Really the only thing I can say is God is Good! I am just amazed at how He is continuing to show me how to make the most of what he has given us. Praise be to GOD!
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Florida Springs Family Bike Tour - Day 7

As we were planning the route, for our trip, this day was noted as almost 65 miles. And the notes said it contained a lot of rough, bumpy roads, with plenty of highway travel time. So, instead of torturing the girls by riding all 65 miles, we decided to go ahead and rent a truck. PLUS, I wanted my daughter to still 'kinda' love me when we got home. I didn't want a road rebellion right in the middle of the trip.

I'm not always smart, but I think this was a wise move on our part. If I haven't said it before, kids are very strong, but mentally they are not always willing to go along with my whims peacefully.

So, we trekked back to the closest u-haul shop, and rented the truck for the day. It cost a TON of money to do this. But, again, to save my sanity, I think it was money well spent. Unfortunately, don't tell the kids this, but it comes directly out of their Christmas gifts. I'm sure they will appreciate that! Just kidding.

Anyhow, we rented a truck, and threw all of the bikes and gear in the back end. And headed on down the road. Essentially we knocked the entire length of the south side of Gainesville on this leg of the trip. We traveled from Manatee Springs State Park back over to Gold Head Branch State Park. I think we rode 15-20 miles for the day.

We spent the last 2 days at Gold Head Branch. Enjoying the park, and the local town of Keystone Heights. Another point to remember, when you are on your bike... it is ALWAYS several miles back to the closest town from the park campgrounds. So, in the case of Manatee Springs, it was about 6-7 miles. In the case of Gold Head Branch it was 6-9 miles (depending on where you camped inside of the campground). In a car, that's no big deal at all. On a bike, it equals a 30-60 minute ride. That's okay, but just keep that distinction in mind when doing your planning.

Civilian Conservation Corps constructing road....Image via WikipediaGold Head Branch State Park is a pretty cool park. It was originally built during the 30's, in the Great Depression, by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corpse). A concept America should have thought about before they threw all of their money at a bunch of bankers. Who knows what we could have done for the infrastructure of our country with all that money. Look at how well built things were back then:

Here's one of the buildings, still standing, from 70-80 years ago. They sure did a heck of a job on the stuff they built back then. Oh well, I guess!

Anyhow, it is a great park. The lake itself is not a spring, so it's not super clear, blue water. But it was SO cool to jump in, and it was absolutely refreshing on a hot day.

The craziest thing for us, was jumping into the lake on the very first night of our trip. We rode 40+ miles, and the girls and I were hot and tired. We were so late getting into the campground, that the sun was setting when we actually got into the water that first night. So, we just wanted to go jump in and feel refreshed. It was delightfully cool, and felt so good to head back down to camp after going for a super fast swim. It was about a mile (or so) from our campsite to the lake, so we had to ride to get everywhere.

Finally, we came back to the lake, at the end of our tour, and I noticed this sign:

So then I told the girls it was okay to go ahead and play in the water:

Actually, after they saw the sign, this was about as far as they would go in the water. And that was about all Chris would let them do as well. I couldn't resist though. I had to get back in. It was SO refreshing, and felt so good. Under normal circumstances, if there are dozens of people in the water, I wouldn't expect a gator to be anywhere near this portion of beach that they have roped off for swimming. It was a bit eerie to see that sign though. It makes you think twice about getting in the water... that's for sure.

Gold Head Branch also has an interesting creature that you can take a photo of. He's called the Mossman. I assume, it's similar to the Bigfoot or Swamp thing stories that have floated around the country for decades. This one is pretty cool.

Then, you get a few shots of us hanging around the campsite, doing what we do best... goofing off.

Finally, a few shots of the other great outdoor activity you can explore at Gold Head Branch. There are a couple of large lakes here for exploring. And with lots of wildlife running around, this has to be a great way to enjoy the area.

I'm sad to say, this is basically the end of our tour. We did have one last day of riding, but it concluded with use riding back to Palatka, FL. It was an inglorious finish, with some of the strongest headwinds and worst traffic of the entire trip.

Waiting for us was Mogwai, our trusty steed. I don't know that I've ever seen the girls happier than at that moment when we pulled into the parking lot, and were finally done pedaling.

Kaitlyn actually admitted that she had more fun on the trip than she expected. But, I don't know that she would have enjoyed one stroke more on the bike pedals than she absolutely had to.

If you have any questions or comments, I'll be glad to help out in any way that I can. Overall, traveling across a part of Florida by bike was one of the coolest things I've ever done. And it was encouraging to know that Chris and I were much stronger than we ever thought at riding. After this experience, a cross-country trip seems TOTALLY plausible.

I think Chris will have more details, and specifics, that I have left out over the length of the trip. But, I hope you've enjoyed checking out the journey.

All the best,

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Has it been that long?

I can not believe that it has been so long since I posted my grocery deals. Thankfully there are plenty of good things to report!
God is continuing to bless us with so much as I am learning to make our money go as far as possible. We have been able to send food each week to a local church for their food pantry. And still have plenty in our pantry and freezer to feed us. What a blessing couponing has been to our family!
First are some of the things that I got last week. This was actually 3 different trips that I combined into one photo. So the total for all of this before sales and coupons was $68.39 and what do you think I paid for it after sales and coupons? I paid an out of pocket grand total for all of this of .87cents! Yes that is right .87 is all I paid for this! That is a 99% savings!!

Here is the breakdown~
12- boxes Garden delights Pasta $1.71. I used a rain check that I had from a couple weeks back for buy one get one deal and then used 12 Manufactures coupons for $1.00 off each box making each box FREE with an OVERAGE OF $1.74

6- bottles Sundown Vitamin D $2.99 each. I used 3 Publix store coupon for $6.00 off 2, and 2 manufacturer coupons for $1.00 off 1, and 2 manufacturer coupons for $3.00 off 2. Making them FREE with an OVERAGE of $8.06

24- jars of Beachnut baby food (again I am not pregnant, it is a great item to donate to food banks!) .55 BOGO I used 2 manufactures coupons for $2.00 off 12 jars making the total for all $2.60
6- bottles Hersheys chocolate syrup $2.19 BOGO I did not use any other coupons on these so they were $1.09 each

8- Mentos gum $1.00 and I used a manufactures coupon for $1.00 off each Making them FREE
3- International Delight Coffee Creamer $1.50 each and I use a $1.00 off manufacturer's coupon on each making the .50 each.

So that makes for a grand total of .86 cents!

And here is this weeks grocery trip. This was a great trip with lots of things purchased including a 23lb turkey for Thanksgiving!! The total before sales and coupons was $189.70 And the total after sales and coupons was $ 27.13. That is a total savings of 86%!
And here is what I got

2- Ritz munchables crackers $3.69 BOGO used a manufactures coupon for $1.00 off each .84 each
2- Bic utility lighters $3.49 BOGO used manufactures coupon for $1.50 off each .24 each

4- Wheat thins sticks $3.49 BOGO used a manufactures coupon for 1 free and another for $1.25 off one and 2 others for $1.00 off one and a Target store coupon for $1.00 off 2 Nabisco crackers. Making them all FREE with an OVERAGE of .76

2- Planters Cashews $4.29 BOGO Used a manufactures coupon for $1.00 off each and a Target store coupon for .75 of each making them .39 each

2- Triscuit thins $3.49 BOGO used a manufactures coupon for free box and another for $1.25 off one making them both FREE with and OVERAGE of $1.25

4- New York style bagle crisps $2.69 BOGO used manufactures coupons for $1.25 off each making them .09 each

2- Bags Fresh express salad $3.69 BOGO used manufactures coupons for $1.00 off each making them .84 each

1 bag baby carrots .99 (No coupons used for this)

3.11lbs- Sweet potatoes .33 per lb $1.21 (No coupons used for this)

2- Bags Celery $1.69 BOGO (no other coupons used for this) making them .84 each

1- 5 lb bag Potatoes $1.99 used a manufactures coupon found on the bag for $1.00 off making them .99
2- Uncle Bens rice $1.99 BOGO used a manufactures coupon for $1.00 off each making them FREE with .01 OVERAGE

2- Betty Crocker Muffin Mixes $2.59 BOGO used manufactures coupons for .50 off each making them .79 each

4- Sundown vitamins $2.99 used 2 Publix store coupon for $6.00 off 2 and 2 manufactures coupons for $3,00 off 2 making them FREE with an OVERAGE of $6.04

10- bags Birds eye frozen Veggies $1.79 on sale for 50% off used 5 BOGO coupons and 1 $1.00 of 3 manufactures coupons making them .34 each

4- Kraft Shredded Cheese $2.00 used manufactures coupon for $1.00 each and 2 Target store coupon for $1.00 off 2 making them .50 each

6- Nestle Toll House Cookie Dough $2.79 BOGO used manufactures coupons for $1.00 off each making them .39 each

1- Breakstone sour cream $1.00 used a manufactures coupons for .55 off making it .45

2- Jars Dill Pickles 2.79 BOGO used manufactures coupons for .55 of each making them .84 each

1- pack Publix Bakery Dinner Rolls 1.99 used a Target store coupon for $1.00 off making them .99
1- Pringles can $1.75 used a manufactures coupon for free can making them FREE

1- 23lb Frozen Turkey .59 per lb no coupons used total $13.58

It is really amazing how with a little extra planning you can save so much and stretch you money even farther. It takes me an hour each week to go over the sales and write my list and gather the coupons to go with it. So really not that much time at all considering how much I am able to save.
If you have any questions please ask. I would love to help in any way that I can!


Florida Springs Family Bike Tour - Day 6

Yesterday was a dismal failure with the maps. We missed three different turns we were supposed to find along the way. That was a little bit discouraging. We were hoping, today, that we would NOT repeat that again.

Because of the longer ride yesterday, we didn't expect today to be a very long ride. We just weren't sure how long it would be. So, we got packed up early and headed out for nice, leisurely day.

As we were leaving the Hart Springs campground, we were greeted by a bald eagle. Something I have never seen in Florida. And something I didn't expect to see.

And Kait rounded up this large grasshopper, and wanted to show it off a little bit, before she let it go. Nobody else wanted to touch it. I wasn't going to go near it... let me tell you. AND, she wanted me to remind everyone, that she kissed one of the grasshoppers for part of the field trips to Crystal Springs they do for class.

And then, before we could leave the Hart Springs park, Chris thought I looked so cool that she decided to snap off a couple shots of me riding through. Of course, she had to get the girls in the pictures as well. But, really, I knew it was because I was looking so good in the saddle.

I suppose it was actually because I begged her to take some pictures of us in action. I was like... "Come on babe, get some shots of actually riding the bikes... Pleeease!". She finally agreed once I told her we could get a Starbucks frappucino once the whole trip was over.

Amazingly, we expected to have to travel for several miles to get to the next town. It turned out to be a couple miles down the road. When we realized this, our day just shrank by about 10-12 miles, effectively taking an hour or so off of our travel time. So, we had a little time to hang out.

We stopped in a little town of Fort Fanning, and actually took a picture of the Suwannee River. Although, it didn't turn out to be that big of a deal.

We had a lot more fun posing in the park, taking promo shots for Sunny D with the girls. Of course, Keeley belching right in the middle of the shoot made for a hilarious break from the highly stressful nature of the work we were trying to do.

And then throw in a picture of me, for humors sake. And Chris sitting there relaxing before we headed back out on the road again.

From Fort Fanning, we only ended up being about 10 miles from our final destination for the day.

One of the most important stops for today...

We made it to a town called Chiefland. The first decent sized town since we actually left on our tour. What do I mean by decent sized? They had a Walmart. How amazing is that? No other town that we had passed through, had a Walmart that we could find.

The importance of this stop can't be overstated. Kaitlyn had been complaining about the soreness of her cheeks for miles. And no, I'm not talking about her rosy, red face cheeks. She wanted padding for her booty. Ever since we saw the 'tushion' at Stephen Foster State Park she had been asking about us stopping to get her a seat cushion. And this... Walmart, was our first opportunity to get one for her. Pretty sad, right? 6 days of riding, and this is our first chance to get her a tushion.

Anyhow, we picked up the seat cover and headed out to Manatee Springs State Park. Interestingly enough, the 6 miles to the state park turned out to be some of the most difficult riding we faced during the entire trip, and it was because of a super strong head wind blowing right in our faces. That was actually the first headwind we had come across for the whole tour. And man was it strong. Sometimes, you push, and it feels like the wind is just stopping your forward progress instantaneously. It was a tough trip to the park that day.

However, when we got there, none of the girls were warm enough to even want to get in the spring water at Manatee Springs. Not me, though. I had NO problems getting in. Any time I have ever done any physical exertion in Florida, I get nice and toasty warm. And a jump into a chilly spring is just the perfect thing to cool off with.

There turned out to be a tremendous amount of wildlife at manatee Springs. Here are a few of the local residents we saw during the day.

And, here are a few shots of swimming and scuba diving in Manatee Springs. The girls were too cold to go into this spot, but I was all over it. It felt fantastic! The depth of this spring was actually much lower than the other ones, so it wasn't really possible for me to go down and look inside that well. Plus the velocity of the water coming out of the spring pushed me back quite easily.

It was a gorgeous swimming hole, and apparently the manatee think so as well, because they come back up to this spot in the winter, when the other Florida coastal waters are too cold for them.

I am going to finish this post with a HUGE word of warning about the wildlife at Manatee Springs State Park. They aren't afraid of you. If you think they are... you're wrong. So be careful.

Nightfall had just arrived in our camp. We were finishing up with our dinner, and had packed some stuff into the bike trailer leaning against the tree. We had seen all kinds of animals throughout the day... deer, birds, armadillo. and squirrel. So we weren't expecting much else. Christy and the girls were actually inside the tent getting everything prepared for the next day, and I was messing around the picnic table.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see a little animal sneaking up to the bike and trailer. I don't think much about it, because I didn't expect them to stick around for too long. So I glance over and realize it's raccoons.

I didn't expect this, so I actually got up and took a couple of steps towards the bike. And I let out a... 'Hey! Get away from there.' Instead of scaring the 'coon off, it freaking pulled on the velcro to the roof of the trailer and reached inside to grab the bag inside. At that point I realized that just my presence wasn't going to do a dang thing to this animal. I stepped back over to the picnic table, all the while watching the raccoon trying to pull something out of the trailer. I grabbed a hold of some tent poles. And I bounded back over to the bike and yelled, 'Hey! Get out of here!' And I took a wide swing with the pole, slapping the top of the trailer, making this real loud WHAP! I was only a couple of feet away from the coon, so I didn't feel safe (at all) if this thing decided to come at me.

Thankfully, the slap with the pole actually caused it to stop what it was doing, and take a step back. I yelled again, and slapped the tree beside the bike. And then, it slowly stepped back a few feet. It didn't back off much though. It kinda drifted back about 4-5 feet into the shadows, but it didn't disappear. And that was when I realized there were 2-3 of them, all floating just out of the light. Christy came out of the tent and provided me with some back up. And, after a few tense minutes of minor skirmishes and calling out to them to leave, they scurried off into another campsite next to ours.

That freaked me OUT!

I have never had an animal that didn't back down, at least a little bit, when we have been camping like this. And that raccoon didn't give a rat's behind about me being there. It wasn't even phased by me one iota. If I didn't slap the trailer, that thing would have rifled through the entire trailer at its own leisure, and I wouldn't have been able to do a whole lot about it.

That was pretty wild! All I can say, if you ever stay at Manatee Springs... watch out for the wildlife, because they are NOT afraid of you. Too many people playing around and feeding them have caused them to have no fear of people. And it was a little bit intimidating.

After they left, I piled all the bikes up into a big heap, and I wrapped them up with bungee cords, hoping to keep the animals out of them. The armadillos even come out at night, and go around scrounging for stuff to eat. You can hear their feet scraping around in the leaves all around your tent during the night. And after the way they tried to rip into the trailer, I felt like my face might be next. I didn't sleep well that night, I can tell you that.

We have no pictures of the raccoons, because their attack occurred completely under the cover of darkness. Talk about ninjitsu... they must have spent some time in the best black ops training in the country.

'Nuff said?

I sure hope so.


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