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Archive for the ‘Crazy Couponing’ Category

I haven’t couponed since April. The shakes went away after a few weeks. 😉 After not feeling well and spending three days in pajamas, I needed to get out of the house today. The kids and I went shopping to grab some loss leaders and begin to replenish our school supply stock. Loss leaders are the special deals usually listed on the front page of a store’s weekly sale ad, and they have quantity limits. They get you in the store so you’ll spend more money than you planned. I didn’t. Ha!

For all of you non-couponing types, these deals are good until this Saturday, and I didn’t use a single coupon. Here’s what we picked up:

Office Depot (2 different stores – both close to my house):

(6) Vinyl zipper pouches – Retail 1.99/ Paid .01 each

(6) Acrylic Rulers – Retail .99/ Paid .01 each

(6) 1 subject notebooks – Retail .99/ Paid .01 each

(3) 2 ct. Dry Erase Markers  – Retail 2.99/ Paid .50 each

(20) Foray Rollerball Pens (My favorite pens!) – Retail 1.99/ Paid .50 each

Total Retail $72.59/Paid: $11.68   84% Savings

Walgreens:

(6) Crayola Markers – .99 each

(11) 5 ct. mechanical pencils – .29 each

(4) 10 ct. pens – .29 each

(4) 6 ct. highlighter – .49 each

Total Retail $66.65/Paid $12.25   82% Savings

Office Max:

(5) 4 pocket folders – Retail 1.00/ Paid .25 each

(3) 12 ct. pencils –Retail 1.00/ Paid .25 each

(2) 12 ct. Colored Pencils Retail 2.00/ Paid .25 each

(3) Sharpie Singles Pens – Retail 1.79/ Paid.25 each

(5) 100 sheet filler paper –Retail 1.00/ Paid 0 (free)

Total Retail $22.37/Paid $3.25   85% Savings

Total Retail $161.61     Total Paid $27.18      84% Savings

These totals were before sales tax. I could have done even better if I were couponing, but summer was way too busy! Because I was a smart shopper and couponer for the 6 months leading up to summer, we were able to live off our stockpile with a few runs to the store here and there. Sadly, my coupon binder is fairly empty, so Zoe and I are working on filling it again this week. My pile of inserts is about a foot tall.

If you have these stores near you and a little extra change this week, there are A LOT of families that are struggling to buy the supplies their kids need for school this year. Buy some stuff and GIVE IT AWAY! Be a good neighbor. I know you want to. 🙂

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  1. I am the mom. In our house it is my job to select the food my family eats, buy it, cook it, and make them eat it. Yes, I said make them; two of our family members are not veggie fans. Couponing helps me feed my family for significantly less money, and I’m not talking junk food either. BUT it’s not just for moms, it’s for everyone!
  2. Couponing allows me to maintain a small stockpile of food and supplies. I know what it’s like to be food insecure, so I’ve learned the lesson of planning ahead and storing up for the lean times that may come around again for my family or our friends. It happens.
  3. When I save more, I have more to give, and I LOVE to give. I find great deals and might buy 10 of an item instead of 1. Even if I keep 5 for my family to use and stockpile, I have 5 to give away to others who are in need. The same is true for the stuff I get for FREE. I never find myself with too much stuff and no one to share it with. That is just not my life.
  4. I love FREE STUFF! Who doesn’t? I get $50-$100 worth of stuff completely free each month by combining coupons with sales. What I don’t or won’t use gets gifted to friends or our church food bank which is always in need of supplies. I am not wasteful.
  5. Couponing is fun. It’s like a game I play with my friends. We should call it “How low can you go?” Like most games, it’s more fun with a group. It’s FUN to find great deals and watch my total drop as the checker scans my coupons. It’s FUN to share those deals or coupons with friends so they can take advantage of them too. It’s FUN being part of a couponing group that celebrates each other’s money-saving victories, and helps each other laugh off the flubs we all make from time to time. I’m not a crafty person of any sort, so getting together with these ladies is my modern version of a quilting bee. Did I mention that it’s fun?

Let’s recap, shall we? Couponing saves money on my grocery bill, helps me maintain a stockpile, give more to others, get free stuff, and it is fun. So what are you waiting for? An invitation?

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I never posted the 4th shopping trip deals that I got during my November Coupon Challenge, so here they are:

Tom’s Toothpaste (Albertson’s)

Retail for 4.99 (x 6 tubes= 29.94) , on sale for 3.00, MQ -2.00/1 making them 1.00 each, Final Price=$6.00 Total Savings=80%

 

Tom’s Deodorant (Albertson’s)

Retail for 3.99 (x 6 sticks= 23.94), on sale for 3.00, MQ-2.00/1 making them 1.00 each,Final Price=$6.00 Total Savings=75%

 

Eveready Batteries (Target $1 section, Eveready is an Energizer brand)

Retail for 1.00 (x 20 packs= 20.00), MQ -.75/1 making them .25 each, Final Price=$5.00 Total Savings=75%

 

Oral B Dental Floss (Target)

Retail .97 (x 10), MQ -1.00/1 making them FREE (no overage at Target)

Total Savings=100%

 

Nivea Lip Care (Albertson’s)

Retail (can’t remember), on sale 10/$10, MQ -1.00/1 making them FREE

Total Savings= 100%

 

This was definitely a successful trip! I have learned A LOT about couponing since I began the challenge, and I continue to haul in free and deeply discounted stuff each week. I’ve co-taught 3 couponing classes at a local library and at our homeschooling group, and my latest project is writing step by step tutorials for my friends who want to learn how to do this too. I’ll be posting them here first, but I’m also turning them into a free e-book download for those who want it all in one place.

If couponing isn’t your thing, hang in there. I’ll still be blogging about other topics too. For example, my new 2012 challenge. Sadly, I didn’t complete my 2011 de-cluttering challenge. I was off to a strong start, but some personal things happened in November and I didn’t blog for a couple of months. (Which is why I’m posting the conclusion to the November challenge in February.) I did enjoy de-cluttering, and I was able to purge several thousand pounds of stuff from our house. It was awesome. And so what if I didn’t finish? I’m learning to start again where I left off, and you can too. I’m offering myself (and you) grace.

To receive the couponing tutorials (and all my other stuff) by email, click on the Feedblitz button up there underneath my picture. Updates will also be posted to Twitter and Facebook. How easy is that? 🙂

 

 

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This trip was an exercise in tough decisions. Most of my deals this week did not meet my challenge criteria, BUT (see how I feel the need to defend my decisions?) we were out of toilet paper, I haven’t bought new makeup in almost a year, I needed pads – and wanted the gift cards, and I couldn’t pass up a sale on my favorite shampoos/conditioners even if they weren’t almost free. I’m still creating my stockpile and even though I did not meet my goal with this trip, I still feel pretty good about my purchases, and I didn’t pay full price for anything. Can I do better? YES! And I did on shopping trip #4.

I’m still learning and I know that as I slowly stockpile there will be less of a need to buy stuff when it’s not at its rock bottom price. I’ll get there, and so can you. Don’t give up on either of us, okay?

Once again, this was my non-food stuff because all of the food was put away already. Hey, my table is only so big. 😉 I did get some great deals on food by shopping Thanksgiving sales with coupons! This is a lot of work to list everything and I’m REALLY glad that I do not run one of the couponing sites I follow and have to do this every day! Here we go:

Cottonelle Toilet Paper Retail 5.00, on sale for 3.99, MQ -.75/1.

Final Price=3.24 (x4) Total Savings=35%

Charmin Toilet Paper Retail 4.29, on sale for 2.99, MQ -.25/1.

Final Price=2.74 (x3) Total Savings=37%

Always Maxi Pads Retail 5.99, MQ-.50/1, Target deal-Buy 3 get $5 gift card.

Final Price=3.82 each (x6) Total Savings=36%

Oral B Toothbrushes Retail 2.99, on sale 1.50, RR 1.50, MQ -.75/1.

Final Price=FREE after register rewards +.75 money maker (x4)

Scunci Hair Elastics Retail 2.99, on sale 2/$3, RR $3.

Final Price=Free after register rewards (x4)

Herbal Essence Shampoo/Conditioner Retail 3.49, on sale for 2.99, MQ -1.00/1.

Final Price=1.99 (x4) Total Savings 43%

Garnier Fructis Shampoo/Conditioner Retail 3.49, on sale 2.49, MQ 1.00/1,

Final Price=1.49 (x2) Total Savings 58%

Garnier Fructis Hairpsray Retail 3.59, on sale 2.99, MQ -2.50/1.

Final Price=.49 each (x2) Total Savings 86%

Dawn Dishwashing Liquid Retail 1.49, MQ -.50/1 doubled.

Final Price=.49 each (x2) Total Savings 67%

Schick Razors Same deal as the last post.

Final Price=FREE. Total Savings 100% (x2)

Command Adhesive Hooks Retail 2.99, Target Coupon -1.00/1, MQ -.50/1,

Final Price=1.49 (x1) Total Savings 50%

Energizer Batteries Retail 4.49, Target Coupon -1.00/1, MQ -.1.00,

Final Price=2.49 (x1) Total Savings 45%

Cover Girl Eye Shadow-4 color Retail 5.79, on sale 3.47, MQ-2.50/1,

Final Price=.97 (x4) Total Savings 83%

Cover Girl Eye Shadow-single color Retail 3.79, on sale 2.27, MQ -1.00/1,

Final Price=1.27 (x4) Total Savings 66%

Cover Girl Perfect Blend Pencils Retail 5.99, on sale 3.59, MQ -2.50/1,

Final Price=1.09 (x2) Total Savings 92%

Cover Girl Wet Slick Lip Gloss Retail 6.99, on sale 3.50,

Final Price=3.50 (x2) Total Savings 50%

Loreal Double Extend Mascara Retail 12.99, on sale 6.49, MQ -1.00/1,

Final Price 5.99 (x2) Total Savings 54%

Total Retail=$234.13

Total Spent=$88.10

Money Saved=$146.03

Average Savings = 62%

Not terrible. Not great. I’ll do better next time. 🙂

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I’ve decided that the word “extreme” doesn’t suit me. There’s nothing extreme about creating a small stock pile to get my family through leaner times, or using coupons to get free stuff which allows me to reallocate the money I saved to other areas of my budget. It’s not extreme to shop a few different stores each week. I am fortunate enough to live in an area where King Soopers is across the street from Safeway, which shares a parking lot with Walgreens. That’s 3 of my possible 5 stops in 1 block. The other 2 stops are usually Sprouts (love their produce) and Wal-Mart for whatever I couldn’t pick up at the other stores. They are about a block from each other and only a few miles from the first stops.  I call that smart. From now on you can refer to me as a “smart couponer.” 😀

Confession: My binder was a bit of a pain to put together. I thought I could get away with using clear zipper pouches to house the coupons, and that buying baseball card pages to organize my coupons was a waste of time and money. Having to dig through 100+ coupons to find the right toothpaste coupons to get them all free (from my first shopping trip of the month) convinced me otherwise.

There are many ways to organize your coupons, but I advise you to use a system that makes sense to YOU. I recently joined a couponing group here in Denver and several of my new friends like the Krazy Coupon Lady’s system. I chose to improve on the system I was already using with my small accordion file. It’s mostly alphabetical with non-food items at the front of the binder because that is what I use the most. Here’s what you’ll need for my method of organizing: A sturdy 3-ring binder (mine is 3.5”), 2-3 packages of baseball card sheet sets, a few sheet protectors, tabbed dividers, paper trimmer, scissors and/or rotary cutter and self-healing mat, a black marker, and a little patience. (Click on the pictures to enlarge them.)

You can see from this picture that I get specific in my categories. I designated tabs for me, Benny, and the kids, but everything else is general use. Benny uses specific body wash and deodorant, but his section is also for general manly smelling stuff, while mine is for lady specific items like feminine hygiene products and girly body sprays & perfumes. I had so many makeup coupons that I made it a separate tab. In case you’re wondering, I have a baby tab because several of my closest friends have new babies at home. I’m all about saving them money too.

My categories are: Baby, Benny, Cleaning, Dental, Deodorant, Hair & Body, Household stuff (batteries, light bulbs, 3m hooks, etc.), Kid Stuff, Laundry, Lotion, Make-up, Niki Stuff, Paper Products, Razors/Legs, Sophie Stuff (our dog), Vitamins/Meds, Baking, Boxed Foods, Breads, Canned Foods, Cereal, Condiments/Dressings, Dairy/Eggs, Drinks, Food Storage, Frozen/Fridge, Meats, Soups, and Snacks.

I also sub-categorize behind each tab when needed. For example, my cleaning section has a page or 2 each for laundry soap (even though I make my own, I’ll take advantage of free soap any day), stain treatments, air fresheners, cleaning products (409, glass cleaner), dishwashing soap, and tools like sponges, Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, etc.

I file the coupons so that I can easily read them when my binder is sitting in the child seat of a shopping cart. If a coupon is too big to fit the slot, then I fold it in a way that I can see the dollar amount and the expiration date can be seen by looking at the back of the page, or fold it the other way so I can see both the amount and the date. It depends on the coupon. Here’s how each page looks:

        

The front of the binder (before the baby tab) is reserved for special store coupons like King Soopers and Target. I don’t get many that are King Soopers specific, so I don’t fold those over. I also keep one of the clear zipper pouches to hold coupons that are about to expire and those I plan to use each week, like Michaels and Walgreens. The back of the binder holds a few sheet protectors with copies of the coupon policies for the stores I frequent in case I meet a checker who doesn’t understand their store’s policy. I’ve been told store managers can change coupon requirements and that some things are left up to individual stores as to how they enforce quantity limits, but the general coupon policies are available on the store’s website.

The biggest challenge for me has been learning coupon lingo and understanding what is and isn’t allowed. Especially what “one coupon per purchase” means. The Krazy Coupon Lady has an easy to follow, illustrated explanation here, but sadly her B1G1 Free scenario is being banned from a lot of stores. Couponing 101 has a handy glossary you can check out too.

Does all of this sound like a lot of work? It was for the first few weeks, but after a month of this, I’m fairly comfortable. There are websites that pair coupons and sales for the region you live in to help you get the most for your money. Here in Denver, I use Bargain Blessings and Denver Bargains. I also subscribe to Sunday Coupon Preview to see what coupons will be coming in the Sunday paper each week, which I buy at the Dollar Tree on my way home from church.

I’d like to say a few words about the actual clipping process. The Krazy lady mentioned above, and several others who have taken the time to make YouTube videos, staple their multiple copies of coupon pages together before cutting them so they can carefully align the coupons. I just line them up and use my bypass blade paper trimmer to cut through all 11 coupon pages at once – without stapling a thing. I line up my pages, slip them under the plastic guard, put a finger or two on top of the guard to hold the pages firmly in place, and then slice. It’s that easy. Occasionally I have pages that are arranged so my usual method would cut through a coupon instead of around one, so I lay the pages flat on my self-healing cutting mat and use my rotary cutter to cut through the pages until they’re small enough to fit in my paper trimmer. Quilting methods work for couponing. Who knew? This is so much faster than using scissors, and I used Michael’s and JoAnn Fabrics 50% off coupons to buy these tools. I’m just thrifty that way. 😉

        

This is definitely my new hobby. I already had the tools from other projects I’ve done, and the sheet protectors and marker I repurposed from my homeschooling stuff, so my new expenses were the baseball card sheets (Wal-Mart) and the binder, which I bought on clearance at Staples. All worthy investments. What I saved on my first shopping trip alone would have paid for all of these items.

Are you still intimidated by couponing? Come on over for a cup of Chai and I’ll help you get started.

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Congratulations Barb! Send me your email and I’ll send you the codes.

Thank you to everyone who entered, and stay tuned for another give away after Thanksgiving. I know you love free stuff as much as I do! 😉

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Wow. Last week was so busy that I’m a little behind on posting the amazing deals I got. This is for Nov. 6th-12th:

FYI: OOP= Out of pocket expenses. MQ=Manufacturer Coupon. B1G1=Buy 1 Get 1 free. King Soopers (one of my favorite stores) periodically hosts a Mega Event=Buy 10 participating items (you can mix and match to reach your 10 items) and get $5.00 off your order, or .50 off each of the 10 items. Walgreen’s register rewards print at the register and you can spend them like cash on your next visit. I used multiple coupons on these items, and still paid tax on my free items. Not everything is pictured here because I had already put most of the groceries away. I didn’t want to take 40 cans of soup and broth out of the pantry.

Kleenex retails for 1.99, on sale for 1.49, Mega Event item -.50 off each, MQ -1.00/3. Final Price=.66 each (x 12) Retail= 23.88. OOP= 7.92. A 67% savings.

Satin Care Shaving Gel retails for 2.30, on sale for 1.99, Mega Event item -.50 each, MQ for -1.00/1. Final Price=.49 each (x3) Retail-6.90. OOP=1.47. A 79% savings.

Axe Shower Gel retails for 3.82, Mega Event item -.50 each, MQ for B1G1. Final Price=$1.66 each (x8) Retail=30.56. OOP= 13.28. A 57% savings.

Suave Body Wash retails for 2.00, MQ for B2G1, MQ for .50/1, Walgreen’s deal-spend $10 on Suave products and get $3 register rewards. Final Price=.50 each (x 11) Retail=22.00. OOP=5.50. A 75% savings.

Holiday Gift Sacks retail for 4/1.00, on sale w/ Walgreen’s coupon for 10/1.00. Final Price=.10 each (x 80) Retail=20.00. OOP=8.00. A 60% savings.

Spices retail for 1.79, on sale 2/3.00, Walgreen’s coupon made the Final Price=.69 each (x 9) Retail=16.11. OOP=6.21. A 61% savings.

Carefree Pantyliners retail for 1.49, on sale for .99, MQ for -.50/1. Final Price=.49 each (x 9) Retail=13.41. OOP=4.41. A 67% savings.

Oregon Chai retails for 3.99, on sale 2/5.00, MQ for -1.00/1.  Final Price=1.50 each (x 3) Retail=11.97. OOP=4.50. A 62% savings.

DEAL OF THE WEEK!! Schick multi-pack razors retail for 6.28, on sale B1G1, MQ for B1G1. Final Price=FREE (x 20) Retail= 125.60. 100% Savings! ***Some of the packages were specially marked with a promo code inside. 2 codes = $10 iTunes gift card. Limited to 2 gift cards per person while supplies last. I got $20 for iTunes and will be passing the other codes/gift card offers along to friends, and 1 lucky reader. 🙂

Not pictured (because it was already put away in the pantry and fridge):

Progresso Soups retail for 3.19, on sale for 4/5.00, MQ for -1.00/4. Final Price=1.00 each (x 20) Retail=63.80. OOP=20.00. A 69% savings.

Swanson Broth retails for 1.59, on sale for .99, Mega Event item -.50 each, MQ for -1.00/5. Final Price=.29 each (x 20) Retail=31.80. OOP=5.80. An 82% savings.

Challenge Butter retails for 4.69, on sale for 2.79, Mega Event item -.50 each, MQ for -.75/1. Final Price=1.54 each (x 3) Retail=14.07. OOP=4.62.  A 67% savings.

Hormel Chili retails for 1.41, Mega Event item -.50 each, MQ for -1.00/2. Final Price=.41 each (x 2) Retail=2.82. OOP=.82. A 71% savings.

Imagine Organic Broth retails for 3.39, on sale 2.49, Mega Event item -.50, MQ for -1.00/1. Final Price=.99 each (x 2) Retail=6.78. OOP=1.98. A 71% Savings.

FREE with special King Soopers Coupons, no purchase necessary:

2 dozen eggs (Retail= 3.26)

1 lb. butter (Retail=3.29)

1 Kraft Salad Dressing (Retail=1.49)

1 pkg Oscar Meyer deli meat (Retail=4.32)

1 pkg Hostess Cupcakes (Retail=4.29)

Total Retail=$406.35. Total OOP=$84.51. Total Savings= $321.84.

Savings percentage for this trip: 79% Plus the $20 iTunes gift cards, and $30 in gift cards to give away. 🙂

Want a chance to win a $10 iTunes gift card?

Leave a comment on this post and my lovely assistant will draw a winner on Thursday morning. The winner will be announced here on my blog and on my Facebook page on Thursday at noon. The codes for the gift card will be emailed to the winner the same day. Once emailed, the responsibility of code redemption falls to the winner. Visit schicktunes.com for official rules. Be a good sport and spread the word. Good luck!

Next Post: Some how-to tips, links, and pictures of my binder. Yes, there is a method to my madness.

***POST UPDATE: As per Kris’s request, I updated the post to include actual money spent and saved and checked all of my math – some of which was incorrect. I also want to add that some of the retail prices would have been cheaper at other stores, but after comparing the sale/coupon pricing, it was still cheaper to purchase the items at King Soopers and Walgreens. These posts only include the sale/coupon deals, and as you can tell by quantities, I am trying to create a SMALL stockpile for the months our financial support wanes and my grocery budget has to shrink. I think that is one of the smartest things our ancestors did – save and put stuff away to get through the leaner times. Happy saving, friends!***

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