Friday, February 13, 2015

An Apology....

I've neglected the blog. I went back to school to get my master's, and I just haven't had the time. Feel free, however, to continue to print your coupons here, and I've also left up the tips & tricks. :)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Tips and Tricks for new Couponers!

Although we teach a class, I felt like we should tell you how we started this.  First off, food has gotten too expensive, so we were always out of something, and the husband was stopping at the grocery store every single night.  We'd consistently run out of something we need, and we were spending almost $1000 per month just in groceries.  So, in an effort to help you out a bit, we're going to give you a preview of the first part of the "class" - Effective Couponing - What?  You thought this was Extreme?

Well, we watched our grandmothers do it, some of our mothers would even do it. You know what I’m talking about.  The little coupon folder, and list thing.  They’d take you shopping, hand over 10-15 coupons, and be thrilled because they “didn’t have to pay the tax on groceries”. 

Well, lemme tell ya, things have CHANGED!

When my kids were young, I tried to coupon, and I quit.  It was useless.  I'd get my 1 paper, and I'd try and try and try, and it simply wasn't worth my time.  With the method I use now, I save 50-95% on everything I buy, and I coupon effectively.  

If you're here, you're at least thinking about couponing, but fully buying into it will probably take you a while. I'd bet you're about to start coming up with all kinds of excuses as to why you can't coupon, how it's going to take too much time, how it's just too hard.  If you start with just the information that is here, you're going to sit on your sofa and 2 weeks, and think that I'm a complete loon.  

Now, on to the good stuff.  Getting started, REALLY started is a 4 week process.  For the first month, you're only going to use your coupons if 1) you can get the item for free, 2) the coupon is going to expire, or 3) you've found one of those wonderful close to free deals that you aren't going to find again (Rotel tomatoes for $.08 each - or the like).  You will NOT immediately see a 50-95% savings on your items.  You will NOT immediately be able to stop buying not on sale items, and simply buy the rock bottom items.  You will have to keep up your regular spending until you find that you have a stockpile of items, and then, and only then, are you in control.  

A common excuse I hear for not couponing is “I’m so busy is it really worth it?” The easy answer is yes.  Is it hard?  At first, it can be intimidating, but I wouldn’t describe it as hard.  If you save $80 on a $200 bill, and it only took you 2 hours to cut, organize, and plan, and an hour to shop, then yes, it’s worth it.  But, you’ll save so much more. Let’s see.  Typically, you spend 20-30 minutes a day picking up last minute items at the grocery.  You spend 15-20 minutes driving to the grocery on shopping day, and you walk around in circles through the store for about 2 hours on a Saturday.  I spend 1-2 hours clipping coupons a week, 15 minutes purging expired coupons, and generally an hour shopping.  Who is actually using their time more wisely?

Why do I coupon, and how to I have the time? Well first?  I like food, I like nice personal care products, and I’m not a stay at home mom.  Second?  My kids eat.  A LOT.  Although I tried to discourage them from eating, they insist that they must, which leads me to my third point…I REFUSE to give over my hard earned money to buy things at full price if I don’t have to.  Period. 

It will take some getting used to.  You will have to continue to buy somewhat like you do now, and ease yourself into it.  Don’t expect to “get it” all at once.  You won’t.  It’s going to take trial and error.  Start trying to plan your meals AFTER you shop, not before, unless you’re going to use what you already have on hand. 

A Rabbi once told me that if you wanted to make a permanent change in your life, whether that be behavior, exercising, stopping a habit, etc, then you needed to do the different thing every day for 30 days so that it would become a habit.  I see these things all around me.  30 days to financial stability, 30 day weight loss, 30 day pins for addicts, etc.  So, understand, you’re now starting your 30 day program that you’ll end up saving money from.  Easiest 30 day program…. EVER!

If you follow the simple rules that I’m going to give you, and do what I show you, you should see a 50% drop in your grocery bill in 6 months or less.  (and yes, I’m including cleaning supplies, personal care items, etc).

So why did I start? Honestly, I made the mistake of watching a few of those Extreme Couponing shows.  I saw how, um, let’s say, not so smart a lot of those ladies were, and I said to myself, “I can do that…..better.”  Now, there have been no $1500 for $0 days in my world, however, I don’t have an entire church giving me coupons. I don’t dumpster dive for coupons. I don’t order $7 coupons on Ebay for $5. I don’t have grocery stores that will throw their coupon policies out of the window for a little publicity. Now, I DO know someone who dumpster dives for coupons, and if you call me and say “Hey Julie, I have 5 inserts for you for free”, I WILL drive to get them.  I have missed a week buying papers, and have bought the inserts online to catch up, but I got 15 inserts for $5 because they were coupons from 2 weeks prior.

Now, why do I call it Effective Couponing and not Extreme Couponing?  Well, that’s simple.  I don’t pay for coupons, I will never promise you that you will get $400 in product for $2.50.  That’s rare.  I will tell you that you can get $127 in product for $27. You can get  $307 in product for $105.  I’ve done that, and simply by changing the way I think about shopping. 

People that irritate me?  Cheaters.  Thieves.  Do NOT photocopy your coupons.  That’s cheating, and illegal.  Do NOT buy items with your coupon (as some of those people on Extreme Couponing have suggested) for items that aren’t listed on your coupon.  It’s not right, and the rest of us get the blame for it, and we all pay in the end.

Coupons come out on a schedule, and there are some weeks your papers won’t have them.  These are usually holiday weeks.  You can, however, still print coupons on those weeks - and you can print them at this blog!  The first week of every month usually includes a Procter & Gamble super saver insert in the newspaper as well, and those typically include tons of cleaning and personal care items.

A trip tip here – Pick your checker wisely.  I personally avoid middle aged women.  They tend to have attitudes with me, and I don’t deal with them in the checkout line, especially with attitude.  I’ve actually reported more than 1 to Kroger corporate, so now I avoid.  Teenage boys or girls, or even men, are the best.  I’ve actually had a few of them say some risqué words when I check out and my before card and before coupon total was $280, and I walk out paying $70 or less.  They’ve actually been known to bring other checkers and baggers over to look at my savings. 

Do NOT be afraid to tell your checker, when they ask for your shopper card, “I’m couponing, and I really want to see my before card cost so I can accurately calculate my savings.” Kroger policy states that you can give your card ANYTIME during the transaction, sometimes you just have to stand your ground.  John & Sophie (my favorite checkers), now look at me and tell me NOT to give them my card until we see the after coupon price, because THEY want to see how much I save too. I do NOT load coupons on my Kroger card, so after the subtotal, I could give them my card with no implications, however, it takes time for the computer to catch up, so it actually works better for me to give them the card after paper coupons.

Do NOT be afraid to ask for management in order to clarify, especially if you get attitude from a checker, when you question their interpretation of a policy.  Many times, after couponing for a while, you’ll know more about the store’s policy than the checkers do.  And DO keep a copy of the store’s policy with you, as I’ve needed to whip it out a few times.

Saving a lot of money with coupons only happens when you change how you think about shopping.  Most people make a list of “what I need”, and then they go to the store, and buy it whether it is on sale or not. Or better yet, they take no list, and they impulse buy.  You’re going to be different.  The goal with couponing is to stock up on the items when they are on sale, and then only have to buy a few items at their rock bottom prices each week.  Done consistently, you’ll soon have a well stocked pantry, with a variety of food to choose from, and you’ll have less of an “I need” list.  There’s a big difference between stockpiling and hoarding.  You’ll eventually use all of your stockpiled items, however, you’ll have more items stocked up on the back end, therefore, you’re never going to be out of anything.

There’s a lot of mis-information out there. Let’s clear a few things up.

Couponing is NOT a chore.  It’s a game, and your goal is to WIN THE GAME. Once you get started, it’s addictive, and even more so if you find people to trade coupons with.  Do you remember Pokemon cards?  Same thing, but they didn’t save you money, and all you ended up with was a Pikachu. Once you get started, as long as you dedicate a little time (usually less than an hour or so each week) – while watching TV, sitting in your room drinking coffee – it’s a breeze, and well worth the amount of money you’ll save.  Think about it this way, in order to make it even more appealing… My AVERAGE savings is $130-$270 a week, and I spend about an hour cutting & filing coupons, and less than 2 hours shopping.  What does that mean?  It means that I’m averaging making $43-90 an HOUR by couponing.  That would be $89-187k a year if it was my job.  Is it worth it NOW? 

The Basics - 
1) Buy 2 papers for each person in your household.  Understand, however, that Kroger limits you to 5-6 like items per transaction.  If you have 5 people, that's 10 coupons, so you might have to check out twice, or have someone go with you in order to check out quickly.  
2 ) Grocery stores tend to run on a 6-8 week sale cycle.  That means, you’re going to have to change how you do things, as your “goal” is to buy the item at the lowest price during the sale cycle, and stock up on enough of the product to last you until the next lowest price comes back around.  For example – you like spaghetti, so you use Ragu once a week.  You would need to stock up at least 8 jars of Ragu to make it thru to the next time it comes on sale.  Ragu runs about $1.99 a jar, however, recently, with coupon, it was $.69 a jar.  You would then buy as many jars as you have coupons for.  Let’s say you had 10 coupons, that would be $6.90 out of pocket, however, you also saved $1.30 a jar – for a total savings of $13.00.
3) You will get to a point, and it won’t be until AFTER you’ve gotten a stockpile of coupons, where you will ONLY buy an item if it is on sale AND you have a coupon.  There are some exceptions to that rule, of course. (Meat, Milk, Veggies, Eggs – although I receive coupons for those all the time).
4) I cut ALL coupons, whether I use the items or not.  If I can find the item for free, and it’s something I’ll use in the future, I’ll buy it.  If it’s free, and I KNOW someone who can use it, I’ll buy it.  If I have a friend that also coupons, and I can trade that coupon for something I do use, I’ll trade it, and if none of the above apply, I can always leave it in the grocery store for someone else to use, also known in my house as “elfing”. If you have a shelter or other charitable institution close, and you happened to get 4 glucose meters that you’ll never use – for FREE – what better way to coupon than to pass it on.  GENIUS
5) Stop being brand loyal.  That’s a hard concept for a lot of people, as we’re CONDITIONED to be brand loyal.  However, if you can get away from “most” of that, you’re better off.  Now, I love love love Charmin toilet paper, however, it’s toilet paper folks!  I can get Angel Soft for free, and Charmin’s coupon is typically less than $.50 on a 12 pack.  I can definitely live with FREE toilet paper that I’m simply going to throw away anyway.
6) House or Generic brands are not always the best deal.  House brand cereal is typically $1.50, and I generally pay no more than $.79-.99 cents for the name brand cereal, and honestly which would you rather have? Kashi or Kroger brand? 
7) Shopping at warehouse stores is something you generally will not ever have to do again, and does not work with people who coupon.  Yes, you can get the 100-200 load All Detergent there for $13-26.  I, however, get the 30 load all for $Free to $1.99 a bottle.  I’d much rather pay $6 than $13.  Wouldn’t you?
8) “Economy” Sizes – are out.  One large coffee creamer will cost you $6, each small one is $2.  If you look at the size of the small ones, it takes 4 of them to make as much product as one of the large – so you’re saving money right?  WRONG.  So let’s say you have a $.50 coupon.  That doubles.  So, for each small creamer, you’re now paying $1.00 x 4 items = $4.00 vs $5 for the large.  Yes, this example is small, but the math works everytime. 
9) DO NOT feel guilty about throwing out coupons you don’t use.  They’ll be less of them if you coupon swap, however, sometimes, you just can’t help it.  Just sit down with your binder, before you go shopping, and throw out coupons that have expired.  It only takes a little while once you get started.
10) You’re going to have to change the way you shop.  You won’t be spending 20-30 minutes a day running to the grocery for last minute items, as you’ll typically have those items on hand (OOOH, there’s the time that you could be clipping, as you don’t have to do that every day anymore)
11) Your weekly menu will no longer be set in stone 2 weeks in advance, and “be damned the prices”.  The prices DO matter, so your menu is going to be built around your purchases. (and probably from your purchases a month ago.
12) You WILL learn to shop at multiple stores in order to get the best prices, and other stores can & will sometimes be your best friends.  (Note: The grocery stores aren’t always the best places to buy household and personal care items)
13) Coupon policies vary per store, and prior to going to any store, read and understand their policies.  For example, Kroger allows 5-6 like item coupons (depends on the store), however, Fred’s allows only one, so before you plan your shopping trips, be prepared.
14) You will become a stockpiler.  Stockpiling is MUCH different than hoarding.  I stockpile several items – cereal, shampoo, soap, deodorant, toothpaste, etc.  Now, I will probably NOT use all 26 tubes of toothpaste this year, however, they WILL get used – whether that be on teenage acne or teeth – or cleaning something off the counter.  I didn’t pay for any of them, so, okay, I’ll keep my 26 free tubes of toothpaste, and someone else can try to squeeze the last drop out of their $3.99 tube.  Ha! I win!
15) Stockup Prices – There are lots of lists on the internet, however, I don’t use a lot of them.  I would, however, suggest you find a few, and keep them handy while you’re getting started.  My current rule of them is 70-75% off sale price.  Then I buy as many as I can get coupons for.  Why not?  I’m still going to pay less than 1 at regular price.  That’s pretty much my “stockpiling” limit – pay no more than what I’d pay for 2-3 items.  As an example – I purchased 34 cans of Rotel Tomatoes – now that sounds excessive until you realize I paid $.08 each for them, therefore, my out of pocket was $2.72 - approximately the cost of two cans.  Now I’m set for the year, or a good part of it.

Well, we'll post the great deals out there in just a few!!  In the meantime, enjoy this little snippet from our class!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Coupon Policies - Make your trips a little easier

Coupon Policies  - # of like items.
(Check individual sites for a full policy)

CVS – no limit as long as there is sufficient stock for other customers.
Dollar General – no limit listed as long as there is sufficient stock.
Family Dollar – no limit listed as long as there is sufficient stock.
Kmart – 4 Like Items using double coupons.  After that, all coupons will be single coupons.  Kmart’s policy changes often – so double check the official policy before your trip.
Kroger – 5 like items.  You’ll need to do multiple transactions over 5 items.
Target – 4 like items per household per day
Walgreens – No limit as long as sufficient stock.  Managers have the right to limit per transaction.
Rite Aid – 4 Like items unless management states otherwise.
Walmart – No limit listed – Supervisor approval over 40 coupons in a transaction, $20 or greater off on 1 item, $50 or more in coupons on single transaction.

Print your coupons here!!!!

You can now print,,, Smart Source, and even load Saving Star coupons directly from!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Target & Kroger Best of the Best - week of 2/10/2013

Best of the Best!  The Rest!

Dollar General
Well, there is no reason to go to Dollar General this week, yet again.

Little Debbie Snack Cakes $1.50
$.75/1 Little Debbie SS 2/03
$.75/1 Little Debbie – February All You Magazine
Makes it $.75

Maybelline Eyeshadow Singles $2.94
$1 off Maybelline Eye Shadow RP 2/03
$1 off Maybeline PRINTABLE target coupon
Use Both, makes it $.94 each

Maybelline Baby Lips $2.99
$1 off Maybelline Baby lips PRINTABLE
$1 off Maybelline PRINTABLE target coupon
Use Both, makes it $.99 each

Poise Cooling Wipes, Feminine Wash or Panty Fresheners $3.49
$3 off Poise SS 1/13 $3 off Poise SS 2/10
$1 off Poise PRINTABLE target coupon
Use $3 off mfg, and $1 off Target coupon, makes it FREE

Kroger – Starts Wednesday 2/13/2013 
Although Daytona 500 week used to be a great Krogering week, this week, it kinda stinks. There are loadable coupons that you can use, however, remember that preload coupons do not double, and in most cases, there is a paper coupon that equals them. It’s almost a “non” grocery week for me. 

Green Giant Frozen Vegetables $1
$.60/3 Green Giant frozen boxed SS 1/06
Buy 3, makes each $.60

General Mills Cereal – select $1.99
$.50/1 Cheerios SS 1/27
$.50/1 Chex Cereals PRINTABLE
$.50/1 Cinnamon Toast Crunch PRINTABLE
$.50/1 Cherios PRINTABLE
Use $.50/1 makes each $.99 (if included) 

Ragu Pasta Sauce $1.67
$.40/1 Ragu RP 1/27
Makes each $.87

Clorox Bleach $1.99
$.50/1 Clorox printable at mfg website
Makes it $.99 each

Best of the Best! CVS and Walgreens 2/10-2/16/2013

Well, changed the blog a little bit today.  You'll notice that all of the stores we're following are put under Best of the Best!  After we move to our own "site" and we are no longer on blogspot, we'll post all of the deals, but most of you don't want to know EVERTHINGGGGGGG that's on sale, just what's on stock up price, so for now, that's what we'll do.

Still working on the other stores, but for now, here's CVS and Walgreen's!

Best of the Best! 

CVS 2/10 to 2/16/2013 
$10 ECB WYB $20 Aquafor or Eucerin Lotions, limit 1
$1 off Eucerin hand or body lotion RP 1/27
Buy 4, use 4 $1 off, makes each $1.49

$1 ECB WYB 2 Hall’s Cough Drops $1.50, limit 1
$1/2 Halls SS 2/03 $1/2 Halls SS 1/06
$1/2 Halls PRINTABLE smartsource
$1/2 Halls PRINTABLE
Buy 2, use $1/2, makes each $.50 each

Walgreens 2/10 to 2/16/2013

 Dawn Dishwashing Liquid $.99 with in ad coupon, limit 3
$.50/1 PG 1/27
Makes it $.49 each

Halls Cough Drops $.99
$1/2 Halls SS 2/03
$1/2 Halls SS 1/06
$1/2 Halls PRINTABLE smartsource
$1/2 Halls PRINTABLE
Makes each $.49

$4 RR WYB Almay Intense I Color Eye Cosmetics $6.99
$2 off Almay SS 1/20
Makes each $.99

1000 BR WYB 2 Tresemme Shampoo or Conditioner or Stylers 3 for $10
B1G1 Tresemme Shampoo or Conditioner RP 1/27
Buy 6, use 3 B1G1 Coupons, makes them $1.16 after points

2000 BR WYB $10 Advil Congestion or Advil Allergy & Congestion Relief $5
$3 off Advil Congestion Relief, Allergy & Congestion Relief, Cold & Sinus, or Allergy Sinus RP 2/10
Buy 2, use 2 $3 off, makes each $1 after points

1000 BR WYB 2 Finish Capsules, Gelpacs, Tabs, Power up or Jet Dry – 2 for $7
$2.15 off Finish Powerball, Gelpacs, or Quantum SS 1/06
Buy 2, use 2 $2.15 off, makes each $.85 after points

2000 BR WYB 2 Ponds or Simple Skin Care 25% off
$2 off Simple PRINTABLE
Buy 2, use 2 $2 off coupons, makes some as low as $1.49 each

$4 RR WYB 2 Mitchum or Lady Mitchum Antiperspirant $3
$1 off Mitchum SS 1/06
Buy 2, use 2 $1 off coupons, makes each FREE

Right Guard or Dry Idea Deoderant B1G1 $2/2 Right Guard Total DefensePRINTABLE
Makes each $.49 each

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Whole Foods - Some really good deals!

Think you can't coupon at Whole Foods?  Well, you can!!!


Couple of really good deals!!

Earth Balance Organic Soy Milk $3.49
$1 off Earth Balance PRINTABLE smartsource
$.75/1 Earth Balance Soy Milk – Whole Foods – January Whole Deal Booklet
Use Both – makes it $1.74

Nasoya Sprouted Tofu $1.50
$.75/1 Nasoya  Tofu – PRINTABLE
$1.25/2 Nasoya Whole Foods – January Whole Deal Booklet
Buy 2, use Store & 2 $.75/1 mfg – makes it $.12 each

So Delicious Vanilla Coconut Milk $2
$.55/1 So Delicious PRINTABLE
$1/2 So Delicious – Whole Foods – January Whole Deal booklet
Buy 2, use store and 2 $.55/1 makes each $.95

Annie Chun’s Spicy Chicken Ramen $1.99
$.50/1 Annie Chun’s – PRINTABLE smartsource
$1.50/2 Annie Chun’s – Whole Foods – 2013 Whole Planet calendar
$1.50/2 Annie Chun’s – Whole Foods – January Whole Deal booklet
Buy 2 use $1.50/2 and 2 $.50/1 – makes them $.74 each

Muir Glen Organic Tomato Sauce $1.19
$.60/1 Muir Glen
$1/2 Muir Glen – Whole Foods – January Whole Deal booklet
Buy 2 use $1/2, and 2 $.60/1 – makes them $.09

Mojo Bar $.99
$.50/1 Mojo Bar – Whole Foods – January Whole Deal booklet
Makes it $.49

Muir Glen Organic Diced Tomatoes $1.66
$.60/1 Muir Glen
$1/2 Muir Glen – Whole Foods – January Whole Deal Booklet
Buy 2 use store and 2 $.60/1 – makes it $.56