Posted in Shopping Hauls and Couponing Reports

Shopping Report 11/20/16

I love couponing. And to love couponing, sometimes, you have to love math. Even those complex word algebra problems that were your bane back in school.

And you didn’t think you would ever use it in real life.

Here is the problem: You must buy a combination of 12 of the following items in order to get them for .75 each. Progresso soup, Idahoan potatoes, Campbell’s soup, Lipton Recipe Secrets, Pasta Roni, or Kraft Macaroni and cheese.  Now which coupons do you use in order to maximize your savings?

Sigh. I always was bad at math.

After glaring at both my binder and calculator for a while I eliminated Idahoan, Pasta Roni and the macaroni since I didn’t have any coupons for them anyway.  After a lot of scribbling of bad equations, I was visited by a vision of my middle school pre-algebra teacher and figured out the following: 3 Campbell’s tomato soup. (Because I love tomato soup and a tuna sandwich as a nice comfort lunch. And  you have to admit, Campbell’s tomato soup may be simple, but you know you love it. I had a coupon for the tomato soup for $1.20 off 3. I grabbed 2 Lipton Recipe Secrets seasonings with a $1.00 off 2. I had 3 coupons for .50 off 2 (which doubled) any Progresso product. I was even able to get some pot roast and chicken noodle flavors. Ok, that was the end of the coupons, but that was only 11 so I threw in a coupon-less Idahoan potato pouch to make it to the required dozen.

All that math ended up with me paying an average of .31 for each of the products. Not bad.

I also grabbed 4 Minute Ready to Serve Rice in 2 different flavors. (white and fried if you really want to know. On sale for 2/4, I had a $1 off coupon for each one. Another deal was the Breakstone sour cream. It was 3 for $5, but since the sign didn’t say you had to buy 3 so I didn’t. Take that, sale sign. I only had 1 coupons for .75 off 2 that of course doubled. I also had a load to card special for 1.50 off 2. All in all, I paid 33 cents for each.

Then came the tea. Ahh, the tea. Now, I grew up in the deep south, where a good sweet iced tea is practically the required beverage for life itself. Well, Celestial Seasonings, Lipton, and Tetley all were on sale and I had coupons for all.  Southern house wine, how I love thee.

There was a sale on grapes that if  you spent $25 you got red seedless for 99 cents each. There’s a lot of grapes in Ziplocs in my freezer right now.

There was some other small coupon savings (thankfully, with no major math) with things I needed anyway, including cat food and litter. She’s an expensive little furball.

There was a deal I had to pass up though. The store was offering a free box of store brand dryer sheets if you bought a box of Bounce dryer sheets. I had both a load to card discount and a coupon for Bounce. It would have been a great deal except that I couldn’t find an unscented version of the Bounce sheets. Now I’m so sensitive to smell, that when I was young my parents had me sniff the sodas in restaurants so I could tell which one was diet for my diabetic brother.  ( I was never wrong) My super strength smell sense may seem great, but combined with my asthma, it means I can’t use scented laundry anything. (Or soap, shampoo or anything similar.) Now I am not one of the weird and crazy couponers you see on TV that will buy literally  anything if it’s a great deal, even if you don’t need it and will never use it. I do have standards, and sanity. And limited storage space.  So with a heavy heart (and a pinched nose) I passed it by.

I did have to get a few things at full price because, you know, Thanksgiving approaches.

All in all, this was a great trip. I got around 108 dollars for 41.21 (including tax) . I know normally I say the exact amount, but I seem to have misplaced  the receipt before I typed this up.

“How did I type this up then?” you may ask. Well, obviously it was easy to find out how much I spent, I also remember the approximate pre-coupon total, since I was bragging on it to a friend from work. But for the last couple of hours, I have been going  through the old flyer. (which was still stuck in my binder for some reason) I circled everything I remembered buying and if I didn’t remember exactly what the coupon I used was, I hit the coupon database on MoneySavingMom.com to see what was available, since that is what I would have had.

I have just remembered to check my rebate apps to see what I got when I uploaded my receipt. According to my Saving Star account, I saved another 40 cents off the Lipton tea, 60 cents off the Recipe Secrets and a dollar off 3 Progresso soups. . And Ibotta says I was credited  $1 for the Lipton Recipe Secrets too. This means that actually for the 2 boxes of seasonings, I made, that’s right, made $1.29. So adding all the rebates, that brings  my total from 108 to 38.21.

That’s a pretty good deal, I hope I find the receipt so I have proof.

All of the deals were at Giant stores in Fairfax County, Virginia. The sales I mention here have already ended, but if you know of  a sale for the upcoming Thanksgiving week or know of another great sale in your area, please leave a comment. Happy Couponing!

 

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Posted in Uncategorized

Quick Thought

Perhaps my couponing skills have gone supernatural- Last evening I went to my apartment complex’s Halloween party and I won a 50 dollar rent credit playing Halloween bingo. See, mad couponing skills. Also, fewer jello shots than my neighbors.

Posted in Uncategorized

New YouTube Video

Just letting my readers know I have finally put up a new video on my YouTube channel. Please check it out, the channel is also called Coupon Choice Mom. The video is about where to find coupons, which I know I covered here already, but now its in video!

Posted in Freebies, Shopping Hauls and Couponing Reports

Unadvertised Deal Alert!

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UPDATE: This sale is over, sorry!

There wasn’t enough deals to do a real couponing trip this week, but there was a deal  in my area I had to let people know about. (In case anyone in my area is reading this.)   Before I finish planning a couponing trip, I make a run through to check for deals that didn’t make it into the flyer for whatever reason or which varieties are included in “select varieties”. And this is why I do this. This was an UNADVERTISED deal at my local Giant stores in Fairfax County Virginia, and just in time for Thanksgiving planning.  You don’t even need a coupon for it.

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Select varieties of McCormick products have a special going that if you buy 6, you get $3.00 off. One of the varieties is plain old brown gravy packet, perfect for turkey, potatoes, and dressing you might be needing next month. And look at that, the gravy is on additional sale for .49! 6 of those is $2.94, which means you’re already making 6 cents off this deal. If you find a rebate or coupon, that’s even better savings. (Although Giant doesn’t allow coupons on things that are already free.) I went to three local  Giants and saw the same deal at all three. However, I noticed that the word did get out, because the last one had no packets left.  So there you are.   Free gravy, no coupon or minimum purchases needed. Just a great addition for anyone’s stockpile.

Posted in Shopping Hauls and Couponing Reports

Shopping Report- Best Percentage Ever!

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83%. My new record. Down from $49.34 to $8.29. Even I think that’s great, and I’m usually very critical of myself. Now, I just got home from the store, so this is a quick one, but here’s how I did it.

The main deal was soup. I love soup. A nice thick soup is great with some good  bread on a cool night. The Progresso soup was on sale for 1.00 each, but if you bought 10, it dropped to 88 cents each. I had coupons for 50 cents off 2 cans, but Giant doubles. So I needed 5 coupons, enough for 10 cans. Guess how many I had. Well, you’re wrong, I had 7. But that was more than enough. The bad news is that it looked like another couponer got there first and there weren’t that many flavors to choose from. But she (or he, who knows) left the garden vegetable alone, and that happens to be my favorite anyway, so I’m a happy woman.  Ok, so now I have 10 cans. I also had a load to card from the store for 2.00 if I bought 10 cans of soup. Done. So with sales and coupons, they came to 18 cents a can. Not bad for soup that is usually 2.49 a can.

On to the yogurt. I only had 1coupon, so I only could grab 5. On sale for 50 cents each and a coupon for 1.00 off 5 made them 30 cents each. And it looks like the other couponer hit here first too and took all my prized peach yogurts away. They did have a couple of strawberries left, and a lemon burst, so I’ll have those.

Those new Hillshire chicken bites snack packs were on sale for 1.49, and I had a dollar off 1, so I’ll give them a try.

Two packages of Simply Potatoes microwavable mashed potatoes were on sale for 2.50 each, and two 75 centers which double gave me both for a total of 2 bucks.

Well, you can’t have too many potatoes, and the microwavable ones will keep, so I grabbed a 5 pound bag of russets on sale for 1.88 and a 3 pound bag of onions for the same price. See how healthy I’m being? Carbs non-withstanding.

Finally we have this nice frozen cracked peppercorn tilapia fish down from the original price of 6.99 to 3.99. Add my dollar off coupon and its 2 meals of gourmet fish for 3 bucks.

And that’s pretty much it. Not a huge trip (except for the savings). I’m also amazed at how healthy everything I bought is. No chocolate in sight. I’m surprised myself.

These deals were from Giant stores in Fairfax County, Virginia. If you found another good deal where you are, share them in the comments. Happy Couponing!

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Catching up with Baby Steps-We Join This Program Already in Progress Part 1

I think it’s time to catch up a little more about my attempts to become a mom. After all, I have been on this journey for almost two years now and a lot happened at first, so I thought I would get them down while I still remembered them. So, once again we find ourselves time traveling to the past. Far away back to the time when I thought it was easy to get pregnant. I didn’t know how wrong I was.

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Many times I have wondered, “Where have all the good men gone?” But, I didn’t think I would be wondering in a fertility clinic waiting room.

Getting ready to go to my consultation appointment at Shady Grove was weird. Even though a lot of the SMC women had gone there and recommended it, I still wondered and worried about what people would think when I walked in. I even worried about what to wear so I would look confident. As I opened the door I felt like back in high school and I was going to be left out of the “cool kids/ married couples club”. But a glance at a wall mirror showed that the scarlet S I was feeling was invisible to others, so I signed in, collected volumes one and two of my new patient paperwork and sat down.

When I looked around, I was surprised to see that there were only women. Were they all single like me? None of them seemed to be sitting or talking together, so they weren’t couples.

I know now that most of the women were there for daily ovulation monitoring, which is quick and no partner has to be there. Later, when I began my daily monitoring, I would also come in early every morning. But for now, I just sat in the waiting room getting more and more nervous. I knew it was stupid to be; after all I wasn’t leaving the office pregnant that morning. But now that all my hopes were being pulled closer into reality it was making me weird out a little.

The nurse had handed me a lot of paperwork to get started and there at the top of the page for “male’s information” was a box that said “check here if using donor” and suddenly I wasn’t as nervous. Why would I be? My status as a donor user was treated simply as a matter of fact. I began to feel more relaxed and less judged.

Half an hour later I was sitting across an office desk of one of Shady Grove’s finest fertility specialists, feeling just as normal, if not a little worried. There was a major issue we were dealing with. Or rather a major number. 40.

Without medical intervention, a 40 year old woman has only around a 10% percent chance of conceiving each cycle. It is a little improved with medical help, how much depending on what fertility treatment is chosen.

But first my doctor talked about giving me an all over checkup. I was immediately scheduled for a mammogram, since I have a family history of breast cancer, and a blood test for just about everything under the sun, an HSG test (Hysterosalpingogram for those who like medical tongue twisters) to check for ovarian cysts and possible blockage of my fallopian tubes, and a full DNA workup. Apparently, since I am an Ashkenazi Jew, I am prone to a lot more genetic problems than the general population. Oh, joy. I needed to be tested for Tay-Sachs, Gaucher, Cystic Fibrosis, Bloom syndrome and several other exotic diseases I had never heard of.

But the first step could be done right away, right there in the office. Just a simple ultrasound to check my uterine general health. Ok, that sounded simple enough. Then I learned what they meant when they call it an invasive ultrasound. I think my ex would have been jealous.

They had a little screen so I could see the images too, and although a lot of it looked like squiggles, some did slightly resemble images I remembered from biology books. But something seemed a little off. Although the general shape of my uterus looked the same as in the books, it also looked a little …swollen. Oh great, I thought, it’s just as fat as the rest of me.

The doctor was looking closely too. “I think”, he said slowly. “I think you may have a fibroid, you need to see your gynecologist and have an HSG before we do anything else.”

When I got home, I was typing Uterine Fibroid into Google before the door closed. I was relieved to find out most were small and easily removed and were rarely malignant.

A few days later, I was preparing to have my whole reproductive system flooded with dye for the HSG x-ray test. I wasn’t sure that subjecting my uterus with radioactivity would help the whole fertility issue, but they seemed to know what they were doing. The whole point was that they needed to see clearly what was blocking my uterus and how big it was. They were also going to be able to see if there was any blockage in my tubes. Apparently this can become common in older women. (Since when was I an older woman?) It’s just one of the many things to look for to explain why a 40 year old woman had never been able to become pregnant. Never mind that for the last 20 years I had been actively trying to prevent pregnancy and now I wasn’t, but once again there was a whole time issue they were dealing with, and it was better to do all the tests first than wait to test after the first few tries failed. At the time this was explained, I thought this was a waste, after all I felt healthy and my cycles were regular. It turns out this was a great idea, since this fibroid thing threw me for a loop.

A couple of days after the test, my doctor was extremely cheerful as he pointed to some images and explained that while most fibroids were small, mine wasn’t. It was the size of a, well, I never did find out exactly how big it was, but I know it was so big, it not only filled my whole uterus, it actually was stretching it out of shape.

I had to wonder why didn’t I know? Didn’t I have any of the symptoms? Bad cramps? Nope. Irregular cycles? Nuh-uh. And the sad fact is, I had been very lax in my annual trips to the doctor. There is a possibility it might have been there for years, starting small and slowly growing. If I hadn’t made this decision, it might still be there. I wondered if I had really needed to be careful with my college boyfriend. I remember once my cousin holding my hand as I waited for the results of a ‘scare’ test. Did I never need her or the test? I couldn’t think about it because now what mattered is that my fibroid had to come out right away. Because as long as it was in there, I was infertile. Period. No pun intended.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Hello YouTube!

Several of my friends thought it would be nice if I recorded my coupon shopping trips. So, I have braved my stage fright and started a YouTube channel to be a video component of my blog. I will be posting both here and there so don’t worry that this page is going anywhere. I don’t know how often I will be posting. (Stage fright galore, it took half an hour and about 15 attempts to record the 1 minute into.) So many thanks to my friend Lorena and her daughter Julia for helping me out.  So I hope you will check it out and I will be posting another post here within a couple of days and the YouTube channel within a week. (I hope). The channel is called Coupon Choice Mom and I hope you enjoy.

.Coupon Choice Mom- The YouTube Channel

Posted in Shopping Hauls and Couponing Reports

Shopping Report 8-23-16

Whew! I just pulled off one of my best couponing trips yet. Well, my pantry is pretty well stocked, so basically everything I walked out with was from a couponing deal. And there were some pretty tasty deals. Ice cream and popsicles, and sugar cereals, oh my!

Well, I had two main deals to get, Kellogg’s cereal and Blue Bunny ice cream. Giant had the cereals on sale for $1.77 each IF YOU BOUGHT THREE. Don’t argue with the cashier like somebody was apparently doing when I got up to the register. It says right on the sign, must buy three of the participating cereals. The cereals that were participating even had small signs next to the price tags saying $1.77 if you buy three. Don’t say the store doesn’t help you save. The main rule of couponing is you must obey the store’s coupon policy. Don’t be a jerk and ruin it for everyone else. All you did was make the cashier defensive so she was already annoyed when I got up there with my coupons. Thanks a lot dude.

Ok, so first deal, cereal. As I said, Kellogg’s had a deal where it was $1.77 if you bought three. And, what do you know; I had three coupons for a cereal each. Two 75 cent ones for Froot Loops and a 50 cent one for Rice Krispies. Ok, so $1.77 times three is $5.31. All three coupons were doubled and the total off was $4.00. That leaves a total of $1.31 for the three boxes. But wait, there’s more. I had a 50 cent ecard coupon from Giant if I bought two boxes of cereal from Kelloggs, and a rebate deal of 50 cents off two boxes from Saving Star. Also a 25 cent rebate for any cereal from Ibotta. So, including rebates, I spent a whopping total of 6 cents. I don’t think 2 cents per box of cereal is that bad. I’m not sure how much sugar I can handle, so I’m giving one of the boxes of Froot Loops to a friend at work. I’ll eat some of the box of Rice Krispies, but most of it will go to make some treats. Froot Loops will just have to be my morning sugar rush.

Now, if I’m buying cereal I will need milk, which I don’t usually do since I’m slightly lactose intolerant. I can have some cheese or cream cheese or ice cream and similar once in a while. (or more with Lactaid), but drinking straight milk or even pouring it over cereal usually makes my tummy unhappy. But, sometimes the coupons smile on you and you get a pretty good substitute. Silk milk was on sale, and I had coupons. (Why did I point out I have coupons? Don’t I always have coupons?) Anyway, Silk makes many alternate milk products. I decided to try the almond milk. Now, I didn’t know if I would like almond milk, but there’s nothing wrong with trying something new. It’s one of the things I love about couponing. You can try new things for cheaper. You never know what may become your new favorite. Two half gallons of almond milk hopped into my cart for 65 cents each. The sale price was $3.00 each. A store coupon of $1.00 off two Silk brand products and an e-coupon on my loyalty card for the same deal came off first. Then add one doubled 55 cent coupon for each carton. Throw in an Ibotta rebate for 50 cents and you’ve got 2 half gallons of great almond milk for $1.30.

Now for the fun stuff. ICE CREAM!!!! My local Giant just started carrying Blue Bunny brand ice cream, so there was a deal that you got a free carton of ice cream if you bought two boxes of any of the novelty items. I had a coupon for $1 off any two Blue Bunny novelty items and it seems that the small “mini-cones” were on sale 2 for 7. So that makes three dollars each plus a free carton of ice cream. I picked the Bunny Tracks flavor because, well, I like caramel. Which is also the flavor of the mini cones I picked out so I’m not complaining. Anyway, so that’s an average of two dollars for every ice cream product. These are normally over five bucks each, so that’s not a bad discount.

While on the yummy icy treats aisle, I stopped for some Luigi’s Italian Ice. It was on sale for 2.50 and I had two coupons for $1 off 1, so I grabbed a couple of boxes. Now, my freezer is probably going to be stuffed full at this point, so I better leave well enough alone and hit the register. Then I turn around and see that Bird’s Eye Viola meals were on sale too. $3.99 isn’t bad, especially since I had a $1.50 coupon off one in my binder that was about to expire anyway. I grabbed some sweet and sour chicken for dinner.

Although not my biggest trip, definitely one of my better ones, percentage wise. Original total: $42.20, after coupons and rebates $11.60! That’s right, you heard me. 73%! That’s pretty good, don’t you think? I only hope I’ve got enough room in my freezer. Now I’ve got to get home and hide all the ice cream treats from myself before my next deal will be only on Lean Cuisines and mineral waters.

These deals were found at the Giant stores in Fairfax County, Virginia. If you know of a deal I missed there, or if you know a good deal in your neighborhood, please let me know in the comments. Happy Couponing!

 

Posted in Frugal Living

On a Treasure Hunt- Part 2

I’m back.  I know you were waiting for me more anxiously than you were waiting to see if Jon Snow was still alive. Well, here I am, and with a lot less bloodshed.
Years ago, almost every single coupon available was in the newspaper. Well, newspapers are closing all over the place, and that includes the coupon inserts. The internet has taken over. Here are the ways to get deals, coupons, and rebates online and with your smartphone.

Load to Card Coupons

Before I go any further with electronic savings, I am going to assume everyone here has their local store loyalty card. Or even more than one. It’s a good thing to go ahead and get cards for each of the stores in your area, even those you don’t go to that often. That way, when you do end up unexpectedly going, you have a card to get the store deals. Many stores have sales which are only available to those with a loyalty card.
In addition to sales, most stores use their cards for exclusive “load to card” coupons. Giant’s program is called MyGiant and Safeway has Just4U. Once the store knows what kinds of products you buy, it wants you to continue and the competitors want you to try their brand instead. It’s kind of like Catalinas. You just need to log onto the store’s website or app and register your store card. Then you can go to the coupon section and click on the deals you want. The discounts will be taken off at the cash register. What makes these discounts especially great is that the discount is completely automatic, meaning you can use paper coupons (both manufacturer and store) in addition to these deals. Also, I have noticed lately, at least in Giant’s case, that the “load to card” deals are often for products that have coupons available on coupons.com. That is making makes it easy to save big.
And don’t forget, many rebate and points programs can and will use your store card to keep track of point earnings. Since you can often register more than one card with each site, it is another reason to get cards from any store you might possibly use. You will earn points without even trying.
Also, a lot of grocery stores use the cards to participate in some sort of gasoline rewards programs. With your groceries, you might get so many cents off a gallon.  Special deals might get you extra points, so if you get a lot of points, wait until your tank is almost empty to fill and get the most use of that deal.

Websites

The first thing you need to do in getting online coupons is to go to your favorite free email program and make yourself a new email. Yahoo, Gmail, whatever, it doesn’t matter. Make yourself an email address that you will only use for couponing and deal making. Use your name or initials and the word coupons if you want something easy to remember, or just make anything up, it really doesn’t matter. That way, you can sign up for coupons, newsletters, samples, and sweepstakes and your real email inbox is kept clutter free, just check this one when you have some time.
Now that you have a magical couponing email, it’s time to create a magical couponing Facebook page. Use the email to create a couponing Facebook. Don’t use it to like your friends or even link it to your regular one. Just use it to like products. Check your news feed for this one once in a while. Sometimes a product will offer a printable coupon to the people who like them, or even a free sample of a new product.
Now you want to hit those coupon websites. The most famous and oldest of these is Coupons.com. There’s also SmartSource.com and Save.com which used to be red plum. These are simply the websites for the newspaper insert companies but they have additional coupons online. Just click the ones you want, make sure your printer is on, and hit print. Viola, coupons galore.
When you first “click clip” these and hit print, it will prompt you to download a program. Provided you are on the sites listed, it is perfectly safe. (Never download a program from an email, no matter what the deal the subject line promises) The program will add a mark to prevent photocopying and keep track of how many coupons you print. The sites have a limit. For instance, Coupons.com only allows 2 prints per computer. Let me stress, each COMPUTER has the limit. People often have access to more than one computer. Ask your friends or the co-worker next to you if you can borrow his computer for a minute or two.
Now, don’t forget to check the manufacturer’s websites. Here again, your couponing email will come in handy, since a lot of them require you to sign up for a newsletter. But they will also allow you access to exclusive coupons for specific products. If the company has released a new product or even simply a new flavor, you might find more coupons than usual since the company wants you to try it.

Blogs

Many people coupon, and many of them blog about it. Obviously you know this, otherwise you wouldn’t be here.
There are many other blogs, and the great thing about these is that not only can you enjoy learning about coupons but you also can find out about deals that you may not know about. You can socialize with other couponers and learn new money saving tricks.  You also can find coupon databases. Databases make it easy to search to see if there’s a coupon for a particular product. They will tell you if one is available and where you will find it. There are so many couponing and thrift blogs, look around and find ones that most appeal to you.

Apps

Whether Android or Iphone, if you type coupons into an app store search bar, you will get a lot of results.  My personal favorites include Ibotta, Saving Star, RetailMeNot and Checkout51. There are many more available, and you may like others better. Some, like Target Carwheel are store specific, but most are not. A lot of them work similarly.  With some you search for a store or product and it will pop up a barcode for the cashier to scan or (if shopping online) a promo code to type in the box at checkout. But many work in a “rebate” way.

The greatest thing about these rebate apps is that they are  completely separately from paper, or even load to card coupons. They are rebates, and you get them even if you got them item free with coupons. Most stores nowadays won’t let you get money back with coupons, but if it’s free and you use a rebate app on top of that, it’s still getting something for nothing.  This is the most common way to “get paid” to take something out of the store.
With a rebate app, you select the product you want before you buy it. Either during shopping trip planning, or while at the store before you get to the register.  After you get home you prove to the app you actually bought the item, usually by taking a picture of your receipt. When the rebate clears, it is added to your account. When you want to cash out, you can either receive a paper check, or allow the money to be deposited in a PayPal account.

Points programs

It’s not just grocery stores that have loyalty cards anymore. Restaurants, coffee shops, and other places have them too. If you go the same place often for a breakfast bagel and coffee, see if they have a points card. Starbucks and Caribou do, and many others as well. My couponing group meetups are often at Panera Bread, so you bet I signed up for their rewards, and have already gotten a couple of free sandwiches.
Always look for points programs, Plenti covers many different retailers to combine points, pet lovers have Purina Perks, there is Similac Strong Moms for new moms, and many others. I love Kellogg’s Family Rewards. You get points for what you were going to buy anyway, and can get some cool stuff to cash in the points for. Why waste it?
My last birthday, I had a ball getting free stuff. A pancake breakfast at IHOP, ice cream at Baskin Robbins, a free cookie from a place in the mall, A&W root beer, pretzel, ….I just realized why I gained a couple pounds on my birthday. Oh, well. The point is, if a place offers a birthday club, it doesn’t hurt to sign up. Just use your couponing email, and make sure to check it more often during your birthday month.

If you’re couponing, you probably like getting stuff for free. Use your couponing email to sign up for sites like Freebies.com, Freebiefrenzy.com etc. These sites will let you know what samples or promotional giveaways are available. Besides samples, I’ve gotten promotional items like a tote bag, mugs, mouse pads, sewing kit and more. A lot of these sites also list current sweepstakes. This is why you have that couponing email, go ahead and enter, you have nothing to lose.

And that boys and girls, concludes my lesson. Hopefully you use these and last weeks’ tips to start finding coupons and starting your own collection. See you in a few days! Happy Couponing!
Posted in Frugal Living

On A Treasure Hunt- Part 1

coupons for blog

 

Today, I’m going back to some couponing basics. One of the first major things every couponer wants to know. “Where &*$%# do you find all those coupons?”  The short answer is, well, everywhere. I know, you were probably looking for something more specific than that. So here are the main ways that you can get printed paper coupons. Of course, you can get even more coupons online and I will go over these in my next post. (Hence, the part one of my title, I promise not to pull a Mel Brooks on you)
The first thing you need to know about coupons is that they are part of any company or manufacturer’s advertising budget. Therefore, when the budget restarts, look for more coupons to come out since they have that allotted money right off. More coupons will come out around the beginning of the fiscal quarter with a HUGE haul at the end of the year. There won’t be as many coupons right before a major holiday though. Manufacturers’ are guessing you will be using the holiday deals to shop for larger household items and they don’t want to waste budget money on a futile attempt to get you in the supermarket.
And on to the little paper treasures.

 

Newspapers

 

While newspapers used to be the mainstay of all couponers, that is no longer the case. But it’s always best to start at the beginning.
Just about everyone knows about the Sunday inserts. Many papers even advertise how many coupons are in Sunday’s paper in the upper corner. The two main companies that put out the inserts are SmartSouce and RedPlum. Once a month, Proctor and Gamble will put out an additional insert. Sometimes each company will put out more than one in a week. On any given week, the number of inserts will vary from none to six.

Papers themselves can be pricey, especially if you’re buying more than one for the coupons. Some Dollar Tree stores carry either the current or the previous weeks Sunday papers. If you are only getting the paper for the coupons, this is a great deal. And don’t forget to check out your local free paper. The Fairfax County Times in my neighborhood often carries the weekly coupon inserts.

A quick warning: When buying the Sunday paper, check the plastic wrapping around the inserts, if it’s torn open, make sure the coupons are still in there. Couponers who resort to illegal and rude methods of getting coupons are rare, but they are out there.

 

Magazines

 

Women’s magazines are a great coupon resource depending on what their focus is. Magazines like Real Simple or Good Housekeeping often have many coupons for household products. Fashion magazines will have coupons for beauty and grooming supplies. All You, which used to be the WalMart store magazine, has expanded and usually carries a wide variety of coupons. Once in a while I will come across a good coupon in a magazine at a doctor’s office waiting room. I’ve never been told no by a receptionist when I ask if I can clip it. Always ask though. And don’t forget about store magazines.

 

Grocery Fliers and Magazines

 

Besides letting you know what’s on sale, usually a flier will have additional coupons. Some of them might be for a one or two day “flash” sale or for extra points on a gasoline program.
Many stores also have a monthly store magazine. For instance, Giant has one called Savory and Wegman’s is called Menu. They are free and located near the front. These will have coupons for not only name brands, but some store brands as well. And since some of them will be store coupons, you can combine them  with manufacturers to stack deals. (More on this later) As a side note, the magazines also have some nice cooking advice and recipes.

 

Blinkies and Tearpads

 

Blinkies are the little dispenser machines on the shelf right next to the product it’s for with the tiny flashing red light. There are also Tearpads which are the notepad coupons also near the products. Now, just because the coupon is there, doesn’t mean you have to buy it right away. It’s there now to tempt you to buy now. The expiration dates usually aren’t right away. Grab a few now and wait until later when the product is on sale to buy it.
Don’t be snobby about coupons. One day Klondike was on sale and I already had a store coupon, but when I got there, there was a Blinkie shining on some one dollar offs. A woman walking past put a box in her cart. I (always sharing the couponing love) called after her “Miss, there’s a coupon here for that!” She turned to me and replied “No thank you, I don’t  use coupons”. I have to admit I was a little confused since she was already buying it and they were right there, and I was stunned by her attitude, so she walked away and paid 3.50 for her box and I got some ice cream goodies for 50 cents.

 

Catalina’s

 

These are the coupons printed out with your receipt. Never forget them. They are usually high value and connected with what you just bought. On occasion they might even be for a general  discount over your next shopping purchase.
It may sound bad, but I always glance over at the self-checkouts on my way out of the store . If no one is standing there, I grab any catalina’s left behind. I don’t know why people leave them, it’s like leaving money. So many people don’t know how cool couponing can be.
Once, I went into a store and saw an empty and closed self-checkout with catalina’s coming out of the machine down to the floor. Well, I grabbed them. One of them was for 5 dollars off my next purchase courtesy of Campbell’s soup as a reward for buying 10 cans. I don’t even usually buy that product, but someone did, and they got me 5 bucks off my purchase that day. Thanks mystery soup person.
And here is why manners always matter. I am always trying to be the southern lady I am and be polite, kind and charming. (Wow, I can hear my friends laughing hysterically from this side of the computer) I know sometimes it doesn’t work out, but I try. Now since I mainly shop at the same store, the cashiers know me and will save me the catalina’s other customer’s leave behind. So many people refuse them, so once again, I reap the rewards. Literally.

 

Packaging

 

You see a lot of labels that say save one dollar now, details inside. They don’t lie, there is a coupon tucked in there somewhere. Sometimes there is one even when one isn’t advertised on the outside. I recently tore open a box of Luigi’s Italian Ice to put in the recycling. Written on one of the cardboard sides was a coupon for fifty cents off my next box. (And it will double) It had no expiration date. Seriously, the coupon says does not expire. That’s pretty rare these days. Once a type of female product was on sale for 1.50 each. Tucked into each box was a 75 cent  coupon which the store would double  As the cashier scanned one, I opened one flap and grabbed the coupon for her to scan for the next box, and so on.

 

Mail

 

If you have a store loyalty card, your store will be sending you store coupons in the mail. This is also where you will get your local coupons from Valpak, Money Mailer or other local coupons. This is your main source of non-grocery coupons. Many restaurants, local entertainment venues, home improvement and repair stores, and even dentists and lawyers advertise with coupons in Valpak.

 

Friends and Family

 

If you want to get multiple copies of the same coupon inserts, you have to ask for them.
Look around for coupon swapping clubs you can trade with. Meetup.com might have some listings. If you can’t find one, start one. It’s a great way to socialize as well as get more coupons.  Grocery stores have community bulletin boards, so put one up looking for clubs. And let me do a shameless plug here. If you live in Fairfax County in Virginia, or you are willing to drive, check out meetup.com and look up the Centreville Clippers. Come on by for a meeting, I promise not to bite.
Let your friends and colleagues know about your couponer status. My friends save their coupons for me, and I often come into work or even back from lunch to find coupons sitting on my chair.
If you are near me in the DC area, we have a huge advantage. Coupon inserts differ by area, especially states. So when you live in an area (like here) where another state can be across the street, you might have co-workers from other states (or districts) to beg coupons from.  Also, any long distance family might be willing to mail you their coupons. Some areas of the country don’t allow stores to double coupons, so those areas might have higher value coupons. If you have family in those areas, ask them for their extras.

 

Where NOT to get coupons

 

Dumpster diving? Really?  Those pristine clean ones you see on TV? Yeah, nope. The cake is a lie. Most bins get covered in slime and the papers are half decomposed within hours. There are a lot less dangerous and (let’s face it) more sanitary ways to get a few coupons. No need to risk infection. Not to mention a ticket from the cops, since it’s usually illegal.
Speaking of illegal, NEVER steal your neighbors newspaper or mail.
Never buy coupons. This is very illegal. Never use “clipping services”. That’s just a way to get around buying coupons.  Either way you are risking receiving what looks like great coupons but were actually printed in Photoshop or something. Using one of these is theft of goods.
By the way, don’t try to snip the expiration date off or photocopy any coupons. The barcodes are there for a reason and the machine senses all.

 

 

As I said at the beginning newspapers are no longer the flying flag of coupons. Nowadays, everything’s on the internet. My next post will be about finding coupons and rebates all over the web.