Monday, May 30, 2011

Couponing for Charity 5/29-6/4

Yesterday I ran out to Walgreen's and CVS because I had RRs and ECBs expiring this week. Though it's not a GREAT week, there were deals that were worth my while. Walgreen's is probably the better store if you have to pick one. For the best deals shop Monday or Tuesday.

For all the match-ups, go to Southern Saver.
For pared down lists, go to Coupon Katie or Knoxville on a Dime.

Here's what I bought:
Transaction #1:
  • 3 Kids Aquafresh ($.99 with flyer coupon, used 3 $1/1 MC--exp. 5/31=3 FREE)
  • 1 Icy Hot all natural cream ($.99, get $.99RR, used $1/1 MC=$1 MM)
  • 1 Nabisco triscuits ($2, get $2RR Sunday and Monday only=FREE. Note: The shelves were bare of Crackerfuls but they allowed this to be part of the deal.)
  • 1 Goody's powder ($1.50, get $1.50RR=FREE)
  • Used $3RR from previous trip
OOP: $1.14
Total Savings: $14.17
RRs earned: $.99, $2, $1.50

Transaction #2:
  • 1 Ritz crackers (same deal as above=FREE)
  • 1 IcyHot cream (same deal as above=$1MM)
  • 1 Ecotrin 45 ct ($.99 with flyer coupon, used $1.50MC=$.51MM)
  • 4 Reynolds Wrap foil 70ft ($1.99, used $1MC=$.99. Offer good Sunday and Monday only)
  • Used $1.50RR from above.
OOP: $5.03
Total Savings: $20.68
RRs earned: $2, $.99

Transaction #3:
  • 1 IcyHot cream (same as above)
OOP: $.09
Total Savings: $1.99
RR earned: $.99

For all the match-ups, go to Southern Saver.
For pared down lists, go to Coupon Katie or Knoxville on a Dime.

Here's what I bought:
  • 2 Snickers bars ($.50 each, buy 2, get $1ECB=2FREE; limit one; any Mars chocolates)
  • 2 Pantene conditioners ($3.49 each, buy 2, get $2ECB, used $3/2 MC exp. 5/31=$.99 each; limit 1)
  • 1 Preparation H wipes ($3.99, get $3.99ECB, used $2/1 printable=$2MM; limit 1)
  • 1 Pampers EZ-ups ($8.99, get $2ECB, used $1.50MC-exp. 5/31=$5.50; limit 1)
  • Used ECBs from previous trips: $10.54
OOP: $5.85
Total Saved: $25.13
ECBs Earned: $8.99 ($1, $2, $3.99, $2); I could have split the transactions to reduce my OOP this trip even more, but I know I'll spend these ECBs within the next month.

For all the match-ups, go to Southern Saver.
For pared down lists, go to Coupon Katie or Knoxville on a Dime.

I won't make it to Kroger for a few more days, but I will aim to get the following:
  • Ronzoni Garden Delight pasta ($1, use $1/1 MC and printables=FREE)
  • Pepperidge Farm cookies ($1.99, use $1 MC=$.99 each)
  • Band Aids 20ct ($1.90, use $.50MC=$.90)
  • Santa Cruz organic lemonade ($1.25, use $.75 printable = $.50)
Items I'll be donating this week:
  • 2 IcyHot naturals (normally $1.99, $1MM)
  • 1 Goody's powder (normally $1.99 I think, $1.50, FREE)
  • 1 Ecotrin (normally $3.49, $.51MM)
  • 1 Preparation H wipes (normally $4.69, $2MM)
Value of goods: $14.15
What I paid: -$4.51 (that's negative $4.51)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Simplified Guide to Beginning Couponing

I recently had someone email me about where to start couponing. Watching a show like TLC's Extreme Couponing can be inspiring, confusing, and frustrating to figure out how they do that. Though I don't consider myself an expert by any stretch of the imagination, I'm happy to pass along a few tips to get you started.

1. Begin following a couple of coupon bloggers. Knoxville is blessed with a great community of bloggers, each with a slightly different focus. Checking blogs cost $0 and it could save you hundreds. My apologies to anyone I've missed.
2. Gather coupons, lots of them. Consider clipping those for products other than those you use in case they might get you free stuff. It's a good way to try new products or donate to local charities, friends, or family. Look in Sunday newspapers, print them online, and contact your favorite store to have any additional coupon booklets sent. Kroger does a great job with this. Ask friends or family for any coupon inserts they'd otherwise throw away.

3. Organize coupons. Don't let the monster binders scare you. You can start with a few envelopes and paper clips. If you get more into it, you'll figure out the method that works best for you.

4. Change your mindset of how you shop. Start by checking out the weekly flyer to see what's on sale. Southern Savers and Coupon Katie do match-ups (pairing the sale price with available coupons to give you the best savings). When you see a good deal for something you buy anyway, stock up. You don't have to clear the shelves or have an excessive stockpile. But it's nice not to HAVE to shop every week and to never pay full price.

5. Don't chase every deal. Start small, use a few coupons, and gain confidence gradually. I try to limit my shopping to one grocery store and one pharmacy a week. I'll go to Target, Earthfare, and Staples each once a month. Make sure you have a rewards card if applicable for every store you frequent.

6. Explore other ways to save in bulk. When strawberries, blueberries, and tomatoes are in season, I pick a LOT and freeze, dehydrate, or make jam or salsa out of them. We also buy a portion of cow and chip away at that over the course of a year. My brother is a hunter; so I have all the duck and venison I want. Three Rivers Market also sells several organic goods by the case.

7. Have a plan and stick to it. Once you know what's on sale, figure out what meals you can make with that. Set a menu for the week and stick to it. Minimize waste by eating left-overs or using extra meat in a different recipe. Reducing your waste is one of the biggest ways to save money. And when you're in the store, resist the temptation to buy anything not on your list. Train your kids to expect that if it's not on sale and you don't have a coupon, you don't buy it.

8. Check out the pharmacy deals. I've learned I can usually save 85-90% on certain items at Walgreen's and CVS. But this can take some time to figure out. Check guidelines for shopping at the local blogger sites. Some stuff you can typically get for free are oral hygiene products, body wash, pain medication, shampoo, feminine needs, and chocolate. I usually do weekly posts called Couponing for Charity to walk you through specific deals.

9. Be realistic. If you're truly buying what you need for your family, you probably won't save 95% in a shopping trip. Be happy if you save 20-40% starting out. You'll figure out where you can save on the deals that are right for you.

Was this helpful? Are you ready to start couponing? Do you still have questions? Ask away.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Dilemmas of a Coupon / Green Addict

In preparation of buying and dividing our first local, grass-fed cow amongst several families, I needed to buy a new scale. Nothing fancy, just reliable. When I purchase anything, I consider two costs: the initial one and the long term costs. I would rather pay more upfront if it's going to last longer. But then my couponing excitement sets in, and I'm eager for the best deal. Not even buying a scale is easy for me.

My first thought was buy the least expensive one at Bed Bath and Beyond and use the 20% off coupon. But EVERY scale in that $20-$30 price range got slammed in the reviews for not being reliable or not being able to put a new battery in it.

Not wanting to buy something that will be junk in three years, I turned to Kohl's because I had $30 in Kohl's cash to use. Their cheapest one was $40, but the company boasted "150 years of reliability." I decided on the LED version, hoping it would last the longest.

Of course, I was having internal turmoil because it was my husband's birthday and I could have gotten him two polos for free instead. Scale, shirts, scale, shirts. Ugh!!! I opted for the scale and went on my merry way.

But then two days later, I get a 15% off coupon I could have used AND that scale went on sale for $36--meaning I could have gotten it for less than a buck. Grrrrrr! I don't know Kohl's policy of matching a price within a given time period of your purchase, but I'm certainly not making a trip just for that. If you know, please leave a comment.

Going green and saving green is not always easy.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Couponing for Charity 5/8-14

I'm winding up another group of items to donate and this time, they're going to help victims of the tornado. We recently drove through parts of East TN that were severely impacted: roofs off houses, tractor trailers wrapped around each other, trees flattened. It was humbling to see the effects of mother nature. There are several local groups gathering goods for tornado victims; Coupon Katie and Frugalissa Finds list a few. I will be taking mine to Faith United Methodist Church because I know Gabrielle will make sure it gets to the right people!

If you're going to pick one store this week, I'd head to Kroger. Water is in high demand right now and Kroger has two ways to get free to cheap water through the mega sale (prices reflect savings once you buy 10 participating items).

For all the match-ups, go to Southern Savers.
For a pared down list, go to Coupon Katie.
  • Deer Park 3 liter ($.49)
  • Propel Fitness Water 24 oz ($.49 each, use $1/2 MC=2 FREE)
  • Nivea men's body wash ($2.49, use $3 MC=$.51 MM)
  • Reach toothbrush ($.49-$1 depending on your store; use $1/1 or $.50/1 that doubles MC=FREE toothbrushes)
  • Carefree pantyliners ($1, use $.50 MC that doubles=FREE)
  • Scotch Brite Green sponges ($1.49, use $1/1 printable=$.49)
  • Ronzoni pasta, most varieties ($.49, use $1/2 printables=FREE pasta. You can only use 2 like internet coupons per day, per customer. You can use two of each kind since they have different numbers on the validation code. So you can get up to 16 free boxes of pasta a day. They may not need them for the tornado victims, but someone will want them.
For all the match-ups, go to Southern Savers.
For a pared down list, go to Coupon Katie.

If you can find the infant care coupon books at Walgreen's, I would definitely recommend getting the Pampers deal to donate to tornado victims. Baby goods are in high demand. I have not been able to find those coupons, but Coupon Katie found them in Fountain City. Check out this good scenario for Pampers wipes and diapers.

The Cottonelle deal is also still going through 5/15. 12 rolls of TP for $2 is a good deal!

You can also get free toothpaste, toothbrushes, and body wash after coupons and RRs.

This is a snoozer week at CVS. I say skip it and save your ECBs for future sales.

For all the match-ups, go to Southern Savers.
For a pared down list, go to Coupon Katie.

You can get free infant toothbrushes, dental floss, body wash, and Tums.

Once I do my shopping this week and can go through some receipts, I'll update my totals.

Thank you to all who are following these posts and for donating what you can, when you can.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Couponing for Charity 5/1-7

Hi couponing, divas. No, I have not disappeared, and no I have not stopped Couponing for Charity. I have actually been getting the deals the past few weeks but haven't had time to post the deals in advance or my results. But I'm here to get you inspired again to help those less fortunate. I just returned from Walgreen's and CVS and got some great deals for us and others. If you're going to pick one, head to Walgreen's.

For all the match-ups, go to Southern Savers.
For a pared down list, go to Coupon Katie.

Here were my transactions:

Transaction #1:

  • 2 Cottonelle 12 pack (look for the tall roll; the other isn't the deal; $5 each, buy 2 get $3RR, used 2 $.50 printables and 1 Walgreen's coupon from the May book that took off $2; price after coupons and RRs=$2 each)

  • 2 Fixodent cleansers (on sale for $3.99, get $1RR; used 1 $3MC and 1 B1G1 MC=2 FREE)

  • 1 Gum Eez Flosser (on sale for $2, get $2RR=FREE)

  • 2 Hershey Reeses (on sale for $.49 each; filler items but my favorite)

  • Used 2 $4RRs from previous trips

Total OOP: $3.15

Total saved: $22.59

Total RRs for next time: $6

Transaction #2:

  • 2 Tylenol Precise creams ($7.99 each, used 2 $5 printable MCs and 1 Walgreens coupon from May book that took off $6=both FREE)

  • 2 Fixodent cleansers (same deal as above; both FREE)

  • 1 Wal-Zyr (allergy medicine for my son--on sale for $4.99)

  • 1 Hershey Reese's (filler)

  • Used $4RR from last week

Total OOP: $2.50

Total Saved: $35.39

RRs for next time: $1


For all the match-ups, go to Southern Savers.

For a pared down list, go to Coupon Katie.

Here's what I bought:

  • 2 Pantene products (rang up $2.99 each, less than advertised; buy 2, get $1ECB; used $3/2 from 5/1 paper=$1 each)

  • 1 Cascade action packs ($4; buy $10 of Cascade and Mr. Clean products, get $3ECB)

  • 2 Magic Eraser packs ($3 each; used $1.50/2 from 5/1 paper; see above deal)

  • 2 Colgate Maxfresh ($2.77 each; get $2.77ECB; used 2 $1MC= $2MM)

  • 1 Ivory 3 bars pack ($.99, used $1 MC from 5/1 paper=FREE)

  • Used $2 off $10 ECB that printed at kiosk

  • Used $11.97ECBs from previous trips

Total OOP: $.56

Total Saved: $31.69

ECBs for next time: $9.54

I'll be donating the Fixodent (at least $20; didn't get exact non-sale price) and Colgate ($6.58) and keeping the rest. I'll update all my totals another time. Don't forget to pick up some free pasta at Kroger. What are your favorite deals this week?