Monday, January 31, 2011

Part 6 - How to live on less - Garage Sales

Why do I love garage sales you may ask. Well, there are many reasons but the main one is because I can  get rid of clutter and get paid for it. It also gives you some extra spending cash.
I have been doing garage sales since I was a little girl. My Mom and Dad had wonderful garage sales and I was allowed to be in charge of the money box. I learned a lot of vital lessons from My Mom about garage sales. Here are the basics:
1. Prepare - A good garage sale takes preparation. Make an area in your garage that will serve as your workstation. I usually put up a couple of folding tables. On one table, have some cleaning supplies like a bucket of soapy water, windex and dry towels. Clean items always sell faster and for more money. The other table will be your marking station. Once the items are clean, mark your price.
2. Pricing – When you are pricing your items, think of the lowest price you will take for the item and then price it a little higher (ie, if you want $2 for an item, mark it around $2.50-$3). People will usually offer you a lower price at garage sales – it’s expected. Negotiate when possible. Remember, you don’t have to sell the item for a lower price that is lower than your threshold.
3. Set Up Early -  I used to live on a very busy road and would start setting up around 7:30am for a sale that started at 8am. Once that first table was out, forget it, the people would show up and start rummaging through boxes. Game on.
4. Have Change – Make sure you have plenty of change available for your customers. This includes change for at least a $20 bill, perhaps more. Usually your first customers will have the largest bills and being able to make change will get you the sale.
5. Appearance – Have plenty of tables to put your merchandise on. I have found that people buy more items when they are placed on tables as opposed to the ground. Also, set up any item that may be boxed. For example, set up any playpens, umbrellas, tents, canopies or strollers. Have extension cords plugged in and available for your customers to try out any electronics. If you have higher ticket items like a TV or Radio, have them plugged in already and working. Have all paperwork (instructions, warranties…) along with the product. This will ensure a quicker sale.
Also, put out your “eye-catching” items down by the road. These would be larger items in great shape to attract attention. Bicycles, golf clubs and the like are great for this. Remember, most people aren’t going to stop if they don’t see anything that interests them.
Hang any clothing item up on hangers. This has proven to be a challenge at times but it is well worth it. In the past, I have hung clothes from the lip of the garage door, on a pole between 2 ladders, anything to show off the clothes. People will buy clothes if they are presented well.
6. Change – Move items around as there becomes space on the tables. Change out your “eye-catcher” item frequently. This makes the sale still seem fresh instead of picked over. Combine items and remove tables when necessary. As the day goes on, mark your prices down. Remember, the goal is to get rid of the stuff!
new garage sale left plt%2520(Small) Part 7: How to Live on Less ~ Garage Sales
7. Advertise – Advertising is a key to a good garage sale. Your location will greatly determine how much advertising you will need. For instance, when I lived on the busy road, I put out 2 signs – that’s it. I didn’t need anything else. Now, however, I pair up with friends who have family on the major highways.  It's no fun hauling it all out the morning of, but it's always been worth it!  If your neighborhood doesn’t do a community sale, putting an ad in the paper is well worth it.
8. Keep a Watchful Eye – I am nieve, and assume everyone is honest.  Not the case!  Keep an eye on your goods.
9. Go the Extra Mile -  Have bags available for your customers purchases. At our last sale, our kids took turns selling soda and water for their own enterprise. If it is cooler weather, we will have  coffee brewing as well.
I put extra work into our garage sales because I really want to get rid of all the”stuff” and I want to make the most money I can. Do you have any Garage Sale secrets to share? Let me know.

Meal Plan Monday

Well it's that time again, dreaded Monday!  So far so good for me.....successfully I made it to work this morning still in a good mood!  Please find below, our Meal plan for the week, bare with me I'm using up freezer stock, I won't be doing my shopping till Thursday night.  I'm only listing Dinners, breakfast and lunch are usually repeats, or simple fixes.  Breakfast usually at our house is a Morning Shake, pop tarts, cereal, toast, or frozen waffles.  Lunches, are lunch ables, leftovers, sandwiches and frozen diet meals (lol).
  • Monday - Bacon Wrapped Chicken, Kraft Homestyle Macaroni & Cheese, & Green Beans
  • Tuesday - Homemade Beef Pot Pie
  • Wednesday - Goulash (already cooked in the freezer-Thaw, Heat & Serve) & Crusty/Italian Bread
  • Thursday - FFY (Fend for yourself) Daddy goes bowling on Thursdays, and Mommy Grocery shops!
  • Friday - Crock Pot Roast, Mashed Potatoes, Carrots, Corn, & Crescent Rolls
  • Saturday - Mmmm, Something on the grill!  Steak, Garlic & Butter Noodles, & Broccoli
  • Sunday - Whole Chicken Roaster, Slippery Dumplings, Mashed Potatoes, Succotash, & Biscuits
Sounds like a Plan!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Homemade Laundry Soap

With a family of five, laundry is a big part of my life. I'm doing an average of two loads per day. So when it was time to trim the fat from our budget, laundry soap was one of the first things I looked at for savings.

I found several recipes, and most sounded pretty messy. As much as I want to save, I have no interest in standing over a stove stirring big batches of soap (But I've tried it, lol!).  But finally I came across this recipe that sounded pretty easy and decided to give it a try. I'm happy to report that I've been using it now for 9 months, and I give it a two thumbs up!

Here's what you need:

2 Cups finely shredded bar soap (about one 4.5 oz bar)
1 Cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1 Cup 20 Mule Team Borax

Each batch makes 4 cups laundry detergent and costs approx $.95-$1.00 to make. I use 2 tablespoons per load - yielding me 32 loads per batch ($.03 per load). This is for a super capacity washing machine!!! I make about 8-10 batches at a time so I don't need to bother with it very often.

- Stock up on bar soap when it's on sale. My favorite is the Walgreens Gentle Bar. This goes on sale occasionally for $.25. It shreds nicely and doesn't have an overpowering scent. I have also used Ivory and Fels Naptha.
- The Washing Soda and Borax are usually found on the top or bottom shelf in the laundry aisle (never at eye level). In my area, Washing Soda is $2.99 for 55 ounces. Borax is $3.59 for 76 ounces. I find both at Wal Mart.

Many of you have contacted me to let me know you've had a hard time finding the ingredients needed. Well here is your reason for joining if you haven't already! Each of the three ingredients are available on Alice for a great price - and always with free shipping. Plus when you sign up HERE, you'll get a $10 credit in your account once you've reached $50 in purchases.

Here's how the pricing breaks down (as of 4/10):

20 Mule Team Borax 76-oz $3.50
Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda 55-oz $2.76
8-pk Jergens Mild Bar Soap $2.49 (that's $.31 per bar!)

My 5 year old was put to work today shredding soap! This is the most unpleasant part of the process because it can be a bit messy. It also produces a strong soap smell - don't worry, your clothes won't smell like this. Luckily this detergent lasts so long that I only need to make it every 3-4 months.

Find a plastic container with a tight-closing lid to store your detergent. This one use to hold my household file folders!

If you try this, I'd love to have your feedback! I don't miss the store brands at all!
Although I must confess that I do miss the smell of Downy Liquid fabric softener. So I've started watering it down in a spray bottle and spray 5-10 sprays into the dryer before starting it.  Because of this step I've quit using dryer sheets!

Thrifty Thursday!! - Fun stuff


Can you guess what these are made out of?  Bet you can't!
Visit Suzy's Artsy Craftsy Sitcom to check it out!

DIY pendant light made from paper egg cartons

Fun Do it yourselft Craft Idea!

Make a Valentine Wreath with She's Kinda Crafty.  I'm too cheap frugal to buy this much ribbon, but I plan to hit the craft stores on 2/15 to get the ribbon on clearance so I can make this next year!

Part 5: How to Live on Less = Shop Seasonally

I have learned that you can save quite a bit of money by shopping seasonally for certain items. This works for groceries as well as other types of products.
January – Watch for all the After-Christmas sales on wrapping paper, trees, bows and ribbons as well as gift packs. Exercise equipment and gym memberships can also be found at a good price for all the New Year’s resolutions.
February - Jewelry will go on sale in preparation for Valentines Day. Buy chocolates after Valentines Day when they are deeply discounted – just because the packaging is outdated – the chocolate isn’t.
March – Now that winter is coming to an end, now is the time to buy winter wear for next season. You will find great deals on vegetables and all the fixings for Easter Dinner at the grocery store – stock up now.
April – Small appliances will be on sale from now through June for both Mother’s Day and also June weddings.
May – Stock op on BBQ foods. You will find tons of sales at your grocery store for bbq sauce, charcoal and more. You can also find gift packs left over from Mother’s Day deeply discounted (perfumes, lotions and such). Save these for Christmas or an upcoming birthday.
June – You can find great deals on tools as well as recliners for Father’s Day.
July – Again, you will find great deals on barbeque type items at your grocery store. Stock up now while the price is right.
August – Stock up on all your school needs for the entire year now. You will need more than what is on your child’s list before the school year runs out. It is much better to buy that extra paper now for 10¢ than later for $2!
September – This is the best time to buy a car as the newer models are coming out. I have always bought cars on the last weekend of the month as some sales-people are trying to meet their quotas and will be more willing to make a better deal. This is also a good time to look for outdoor patio furniture as it is end of season.
October – Larger appliances like TVs and refrigerators will go on sale in preparation for newer models. You will also find sale on furniture around this time as the weather gets cooler and people are looking at staying inside more.
November – Now is a great time to pick up costumes for any occasion as well as candy and chocolates. There will be sales for Thanksgiving meals so stock up on the stuffing and canned vegetables while they are at their lowest.
December – Fall and winter are great times to buy bikes and toys. You can also find good deals on Gas Grills in the off season.

Stay tuned for Part 6 on buying clothing.

Part 4: How to Live on Less - Stockpiling

Stockpiling – What is it and why is it so important?

Definition of Stockpiling:  A supply stored for future use, usually carefully accrued and maintained.
Once you understand the concept behind stockpiling, you will know where your foundation for savings will be coming from.
Before my couponing days, I would go to the grocery store weekly and buy what we needed. I would wait until we were almost out of an item and then put it on my list to buy that week. This was what I grew up with and all I ever knew.
Until, our financial state became so desperate that I had to learn a new way.

Buy what is on sale (and use a coupon) when it is on sale – whether you need it right now or not. I am referring to items you will use up in the near future – shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, deodorant, razors, cereals, crackers and so forth.
For example, this week at Walgreens you can get a money-maker deal on Old Spice and Gillette body wash. I have plenty of body wash on hand – I don’t need body wash. However, getting it for Free or in this case a money-maker – why wouldn’t you get it now? Wouldn’t you agree that if I waited until I needed body wash, that this deal would not be available and I would be paying about $4? By doing the deal now, I am saving at least $4 (actually more because I have a BOGO coupon and a $1 off coupon).
By buying these items for your stockpile when they are free or cheap, you are saving your family a ton of money each month.
There are times where you can get items for free, that maybe your family doesn’t like or use. Consider getting these items and donating them to your local food bank. Or, if you have some items that won’t get used before an expiration date, donate those as well. Remember, your savings can be a blessing to other families as well!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Jan 16th Drug Store visit!!

Whoot Whoot!  I must say this trip really excited me....then again what doesnt excite me!

I shopped at Walgreens and Rite Aid today.

My total  spending was $14.02!  Once I calculate my total savings Ill update.....

4 - Pantene Shampoos
4 - Pantene Conditioners
3 - Sinex Dayquil
1 - Sinex Nyquil
4 - Hormel Chili
4 - 4pk toilet tissue
2 - Lays Stax chips
1 - Combos pretzel snack
1 - TGIF potato skin chips
1 - Burger King ketchup fries chips (eww, my daughter had to have them)
2 - Kraft Homestyle Mac n Cheese
1 - Cadberry Egg (not pictured)
1 - Extra pack of gum (not pictured)

Yesterday, I visited Walmart and cashed in on 16 free tubes of Colgate toothpaste with my $1.00 off coupons!

Part 3: How to Live on Less – Grocery & Drug Stores

When I first went grocery shopping with my handful of coupons, I would do my normal shopping, hand over my coupons and wait with great anticipation to see how much I saved. However, I was quickly disappointed to see that I only saved a dollar or two. What was I doing wrong?
Shop the Sales
Well, for starters, I wasn’t shopping the sales. I was going in and buying what I wanted whether it was on sale or not. The key is preparation. Scan the ads before going to the store. Decide your menu for the week based on what’s on sale. For example, if the store has boneless, skinless chicken breasts for only $1.68/lb, stock up and plan on having 3 meals made from it. Luckily, you can do a lot with chicken…lol.
Pair the Sale with a Coupon
Shopping the sales is great, but it gets even better when you pair the sale with a coupon! Once your stockpile has a good foundation (we’ll learn more about this later), you will find that this is all the shopping  you will need to do. I generally do not buy anything anymore if it isn’t on sale and I don’t have a coupon for it.
The deals to really get excited over are the BOGO’s (buy one get one free). I love BOGO’s. Did you know that if you have a coupon for a BOGO free product, and that product is on sale at the store for BOGO Free you will get both for free?? This totally perplexed me. 2 for Free? Well, the store takes the hit on one for the sale at the store, and the manufacturer takes the hit for the second one from the coupon! How sweet is that.
Also, many stores allow you to stack a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon. This essentially allows you to double your savings. This is important to me, as in our area of Florida, no stores double coupons. How do you know whether it is a store or manufacturer coupon? Well, all manufacturer coupons will say that on the top of them (or somewhere on the coupon). Store coupons will say ‘Target coupon’ or ‘CVS coupon’ and so on.
You can find the weekly store matchups right here on Crazi every week. We do the work for you.
Change Your Thinking
In the beginning, I had to have a paradigm shift in my thinking about how to save money on groceries. I was brought up with the notion that if you buy in bulk, that’s how you will save. So, I would use my 25¢ off coupon on the large items, thinking I was doing it correctly. Wrong. When using coupons, buy the smallest size possible to maximize savings. Having multiple coupons will allow you to buy more of a product you will go through. For example, if you have a $1 off Deli lunch meat (with no size restrictions), ask for $1′s worth of the meat. It is now free. If you have 4 of these coupons, you will get $4′s worth for free. Whereas, if you bought a pound for $5, you will end up spending $4. I hope this makes sense.

Drug Store Games

I love to shop at drug stores. I didn’t always. I used to think that CVS was overpriced…that makes me laugh now.
The 3 major drug stores all have a rewards program – CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens. CVS calls them Extra Care Bucks and you need to have a card to get these. Walgreens calls them Register Rewards – no card needed. Rite Aid has Single Check Rebates.
No matter which store you have near your home, you can benefit tremendously from these programs. It is with these programs that we now get our personal care items for free! Yes, I said free.
Here’s how it works. Each week the stores will have a few products that will  qualify for one of their rewards. For example, CVS this week has the Blade 5 razor for $6.99 with a $6.99 ECB. You would pay the cashier for the razor ($6.99) and on your receipt, you will receive an ECB for $6.99. This is good towards your next purchase. In essence, you get the product for free.
Now, say we had a coupon for $1 off that same razor. We would pay the cashier $5.99 and get back $6.99 – thus, making a dollar. We call these money makers! These are what make us smile…lol.
Each week, go to the drug stores and take advantage of these deals. This will help you build your stockpile for the least amount of money. I can’t tell you the last time we spent money on shampoo, deodorant, body wash, toothpaste, toothbrushes and such.
Playing the Drug Store games alone has cut a tremendous amount of money off our monthly spending. Take the time to really understand your stores reward system. Your wallet will thank you.

Part 2: How to Live on Less – Lingo, Coupons and Organizing Them

When Bobby and I became serious about saving money, one of the first things I turned to was coupons. I had used coupons before, but didn’t really know the ins and outs of how to get the best deal.

The Lingo

One of the first things I had to do was become familiar with the Lingo of coupons. You can see our extensive list here at Learning the Lingo.

Building Your Coupon Stash

I had a hard time figuring out how people were getting so many of the free products when there was only 1 coupon in the paper (yeah, I was a little slow…lol). There are many ways to help build your coupon stash – which, by the way is essential to shaving money from the monthly budget.
1) You can order more than 1 Sunday paper. Or, if you are like me and have family close by who don’t use theirs, you can ask them to save them for you.
2) Print coupons online. I love printing coupons. To me, it’s the sound of money printing! There are tons of resources for online printable coupons. Some of the biggest are, Cool Savings, Red Plum and Smart Source.
3) Look for store coupon booklets. Walgreens keeps theirs (usually) up near the front of the store where the fliers are located. No matter where they are kept, find them!! These can be a gold mine. A store coupon is a coupon produced by the store and usually can be paired with a manufacturer’s coupon – giving you greater savings. This is called stacking.
4) You can buy coupons from clipping services or even on eBay. Now, I thought that was the weirdest thing when I first heard it. Why would you pay to save??? Well, say there is an awesome deal on Huggies and you have reached your print limit and cannot get anymore. You can go to CouponClippers or QHunter and order the coupons for a small fee. If the amount you are spending on the coupons is negligible compared to what you are saving – isn’t it worth it?

Organization of Coupons

Now, if Bobby reads this he will probably start laughing out loud. You see, I am not the best organizer.  I didn’t get the gene. Needless to say, this was tough for me in the beginning.
First, I tried the insert method. I would keep all the inserts and label them with the date on the front. Then, when it was time to shop, I would know exactly where to find the coupons I needed. Unfortunately for me, I was not organized enough to know what coupons I wanted for my shopping trip and ended up at the store without ones I needed.
I decided I needed to be able to have all my coupons with me at all times. So I took a small photo album (4×6) that had horizontal slots. I made my own labels and filed my coupons accordingly. This worked well for me, but because the pages were meant to be handled so much, it began to tear.
I currently use the binder system and I really love it. It has the size pages that I like and comes with great dividers (for the organizationally impaired like me). 
I only clip/print the coupons that I now I will use. In the beginning, I printed out everything – ended up just wasting my ink and paper. By only clipping the coupons you use, you won’t end up buying something just because you had a coupon.
The key is to find out what works for you. You may have to go through a couple different methods (or even make up your own) before finding one that is just for you.
Next time we will see how to use these coupons to score products for Free in Part 3: How to Live on Less ~ Free Items and Money Makers.++++


Monday, January 10, 2011

Part 1: How to Live on Less ~ Starting Point

Attitude of Gratitude

The first thing Bobby and I had to change was our way of thinking. We had to sit down and agree that saving money was something that had to be done and that we were willing to do it. We had to not only come together as a team, but we had to be a united front when we discussed this with our kids.  We talked about the fact that money would be very tight so we wouldn’t be doing a lot of ‘extras’.
One of our main talks concerned our hearts. We talked about having an Attitude of Gratitude. If we are thankful for what we have, we don’t need much else. It was a heart change – for everyone.

Starting Point – Evaluate
I can’t tell you how many times we had heard about creating a budget. But you know what, we never took the time to sit down and do the work. Once we did, we felt empowered knowing exactly where we were at and knowing that we now had a plan in place. Our situation didn’t immediately change – but we were on our way.
Create a budget that works for your family. There are many free budget templates on the web. I found this one to work for our family. Sit down (with your spouse) and decide what you will allocate to each category.
Look at your bills and see if you are overpaying for anything or if there is anything you can cut. We looked at canceling our cable to find a cheaper alternative. Once our cable provider knew we were on our way out, they made us a deal on a much cheaper plan (our cell phone company did the same). You will find that many companies will do a similar offer to save your business.
Creating a budget really is the starting point. Now that you now where your are starting, you can choose your destination! Set some goals. Write them down and make them personal and specific with a time frame attached to them. I have to admit, I am terrible at setting goals. I may have some ‘idea’ of what I would like, but I have a hard time writing them down. I am glad to have a husband who reminds me that this is so important.
Join us for Part 2 … Coupons: Learning the Lingo & Organizing

10 Part Series: How To Live on Less ~ Introduction

Beginning Today, we are going to be starting a new series here at CraziCoupons. This will be a 10-Part Series titled “How To Live On Less”.
Before I started CraziCoupons, we did our best to make ends meet, after the birth of our 3rd child this became difficult.  My work did not offer maternity leave, and it seemed it would be forever before we would catch up again.  I became as frugal as I knew how to be.  I began following Dave Ramsey (a topic we will later get into). We had to cut our spending – and fast!
We weren’t extravagant with our spending by any means, but as we really delved into our budget, we were amazed at what we found.
This series comes directly from what we learned and what we did to make it work and are still working at becoming debt free.
This 10-Part Series will include topics concerning clothing, vacations, stockpiling, home expenses, groceries and non-essentials, coupons, frugal meals and much more.
Whether you find yourself in a similar situation as we are in, or are facing unemployment or just want to shave some off your budget – we believe you will benefit from this series.
Stay tuned as we walk with you on this journey of saving.
Feel free to leave comments on things that have worked for you or any questions you may have for us. Your input is more than welcome!

Ways to Organize

Another Coupon Organizer

I have a lot of coupons - and not a lot of time. So I've been looking for a *cute* and functional change from the typical coupon binder. I've seen several ideas online for coupon boxes using everything from recipe boxes to tackle boxes to briefcases! But yesterday while shopping in Michaels, I found the perfect solution:

Ta-daaah! Using this box, I'll be able to quickly clip and file coupons each week without wanting to *ahem* throw them across the room. Here's how I made it:

This week, Michaels has the Recollections Photo Boxes for 3/$5 or $1.66 each. The Martha Stewart Punch Pad cost $6.29 and contains 30 decorative sheets of card stock that are just about the perfect size for making dividers! Total purchase price: $7.95

Inside the box, I was thrilled to find some pre-made dividers that I used as templates. Here's what mine look like:

Next, I printed my titles on regular copy paper,

cut them out, and glued them on. Voila!

If you're really creative, you could even decorate the box!

Target Coupon Policy

Target Coupon Policy

I've heard from several of you who have had problems using coupons at Target. Thankfully, the corporate office has issued a public written coupon policy available for print HERE. I'll be carrying this along with me for all future shopping trips.

I can only hope they require the employees to read it!

Walgreens for Beginners

This is a Walgreens sale flyer.  Along with weekly discounts, it contains store coupons and Register Rewards deals. These are your tickets to coupon nirvana.

If you don't get one in your Sunday paper, you'll find them in a rack near the entrance of the store.

Lesson 1: Store Coupons
Store coupons are good for one week and can be combined with a manufacturer coupon on the same item.  In coupon vernacular, we call that "stacking". Here's an example:

Buy one box of Kraft Velveeta Shells & Cheese
-Clip the above store coupon to get it for $1.50
-Use a manufacturer's coupon you printed online or clipped out of the Sunday paper for $.50 off
After both coupons, your final price for one box will be $1

Not too shabby.

Lesson 2: Register Rewards
Most weekly sale ads will have several RR deals.  In the above example, Complete Multi-Purpose solution is priced at $7.99.  When you buy it, you'll get a $7.99 RR.  It prints at the end of the checkout process and is good on a future store purchase. So it's like getting your money back as Walgreens credit.

But wait.
There is also a $2 off coupon from a recent Sunday paper available for this product.  Now when you go to checkout and use your coupon, you'll pay $5.99 out-of-pocket for it.  But your RR will still print out as $7.99.  You just earned two bucks and a gold star for the day.

Register Rewards are as good as cash. You can use them to buy anything except what's excluded in the fine print, which is usually alcohol, tobacco and stamps.  You can even use them to buy something that will give you another Register Reward.  We couponers call that "rolling".

If you want to roll your RRs, here's what you need to know:
1) You cannot use a Register Reward to pay for a product that produces another Register Reward if it is from the same manufacturer.  Here's an example:

-Procter & Gamble gave me a $2 RR for buying an Oral B toothbrush on my Tuesday shopping trip.
-I'm planning to come back on Wednesday to take advantage of a deal that gets me a $5 RR when I spend $20 on Febreze products (also manufactured by P&G).
-If I use my $2 Oral B RR to pay for part of my Febreze purchase, I can kiss my second RR goodbye.  Because she ain't gonna print.

2) When you have RRs to spend, remember that they will only pay for your purchase before tax.  If yours is a $3 RR and your purchase comes to $2.98 pretax, it won't work.  You'll just get beeps from the cash register, sighs from the folks behind you in line and head scratching from the cashier.

3) Walgreens registers are set up so that they will not allow more manufacturer's coupons to be used than # of items purchased.  This can be a problem when using a RR because it scans as a manufacturer's coupon.  Here's a purchase example:

I'm buying (4) Dove hair care items and using (4) $1 off coupons plus a $3 RR.
That's five coupons for a four item purchase.  Not gonna work.
Solution?  Add a "filler" item.  A single pencil for $.20, a pack of gum, a candle votive, etc.  Anything.  So long as you are buying 5 things, to go with your 5 coupons.

What If My Register Reward Didn't Print?
I get emails all the time from folks who say their cashier/store manager told them that the RR didn't print because they used coupons.


Most often, when your RR doesn't print it is because there is a programming issue with that particular Catalina machine.  Or sometimes it's just outta paper.  The best advice I have is to save your receipt and contact Catalina Marketing to get your RR by mail. Or you can request that the cashier/manager do a return and refund your money.

You can learn more about Register Rewards by reading THIS article over at Hot Coupon World.

Lesson #3: Coupon Overage
At Walgreens, the cash registers are programmed to deduct your total coupon amount from total purchase price of any given item.  Here's an example from a deal I did during Christmas:

Snickers Nutcracker Candy Singles on sale 3/$1
I have a coupon for $2/3

Even though the coupon is for $2 off 3 products, the register will add up your total Snickers purchase and deduct $2.  So if I buy 6 Nutcracker candy singles for $2, I can use my $2/3 coupon and get all six for free.  However, if I just buy three for $1, the coupon will "beep" when they scan it because there is a $1 overage.

Always remember that when your coupon produces an overage you will have issues.  It has been my experience that cashiers don't know what to do with a coupon beep, other than to tell you it isn't a valid coupon.  If you want to avoid checkout drama, just be sure to purchase another product from the same manufacturer to absorb the overage like I did in the Snickers example. 

Your only other option is to bring in a copy of the Corporate Coupon Policy and show the cashier bullet point #2 under Multiple Coupons.  It states that he/she is required to manually adjust the value of the coupon down to the price of the item.  Be prepared for this to be the more lengthy of the two options, because it's likely he/she will call the manager in on this one.

My Secret to Speedy Checkout
Go to the beauty counter!  Most people do not check out at the beauty counter so you are less likely to create a line if you have a lot of coupons.  Beauty employees are usually more than happy to check you out because they get a bonus at the end of the month based on the dollar amount of their checkout transactions.  So even if no one is standing at the counter, don't be afraid to ask an employee working in that area if they are able to check you out!  In my experience, they are more than happy to!

What Is Walgreens Corporate Coupon Policy?
I'm so glad you asked!  They have finally made their policy available online!  I highly recommend you stop over HERE and print a copy to keep in your coupon binder!

Couponing 101

This post will provide a starting point for your couponing adventures. Other stuff you'll want to learn:
-Abbreviations and Coupon Lingo
-Walgreens for Beginners

Up until a few years ago, I had always assumed couponing was a waste of time.
I can remember as a young woman sifting through the Sunday inserts and finding coupons for things like overpriced vitamins, unnecessary cleaning items and frozen dinners manufactured by some company I'd never heard of! When I did find a coupon I could use, it was only a few cents off - so I figured what's the point?

Obviously, I wasn't paying attention.

Then one day I stumbled across a video that showed me how to save big bucks by combining store sales and coupons. It was a eureka moment.  In this economy and with 3 kids to feed, I thought I'd give it a try. And the rest my friend, is history!

As you collect coupons, keep in mind that you are purchasing to build a stockpile of nonperishables: canned goods, paper products, toiletries, etc. Think about setting a goal to have 3-6 months of these products on hand. By doing this you eliminate buying out of necessity which is when you pay the most. If you have a stockpile of shampoo, you'll be able to wait until it's free (or dirt cheap) before making a purchase. But if you're out of shampoo, you'll gladly pay the shelf price for it!

Don't worry, stockpiling won't cost you any extra out of pocket. Just figure out how much you spend per month on these items and use that (or a portion of that) as your stockpile budget. I'll show you how to make it s-t-r-e-t-c-h!

The two best places to find coupons are the internet and newspaper inserts.

Newspaper Inserts
Consider buying multiple copies of the Sunday newspaper. The general rule of thumb is one for every family member.  If you live in a small town, you may want to purchase a newspaper from a nearby city if it is available as they generally have more coupons.

You can preview the coupons that will be in upcoming newspapers HERE. Sometimes you hit the motherload, and some weeks I just skip buying the paper altogether.

If you'd rather skip the hassle and expense of buying multiple papers and clipping coupons, use a coupon clipping service or buy your coupons on ebay!

Internet Printables
The three main sources for internet printables are, Redplum or SmartSource.  You can also occasionally find them on the manufacturer's websites. 

This is where I lose most people. I start to hear the it's too hard/too confusing/I don't have time excuses.
Well, I'm not buyin' it, sister!
I'm not denying that it can be overwhelming at first. But it's like anything else - you learn the ropes slow but sure, and get into a routine. Pretty soon it's a breeze. Start by visiting CraziCoupons each Saturday morning to see my Walgreens coupon match ups. Plan to buy one or two things free with coupon until you feel comfortable enough to fill your cart with freebies.

Here's an example:
Softsoap hand soap is $2.29 and you have a $.35 off coupon.
But when the soap goes on sale for $.99, using your coupon gets you 72% off the regular price!
You'll end up paying less for three than you normally do for one. The extra two go into your stockpile and you don't have to buy hand soap until it goes on sale again!

There are several frugal blogs that will do all the work of matching sale prices to coupons.  You just need to clip 'em!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Coupon Abbreviations and Lingo

Sunday Coupon Inserts. These are the names of the different inserts you'll find in your Sunday newspaper. Ordinarily, you'll see these abbreviations accompanied with the date the newspaper came out:

SS - Super Saver
RP - Red Plum (sometimes also called Valassis)
PG - Procter & Gamble
GM - General Mills
KG - Kellogg

Other abbreviations:

B1G1 or BOGO - buy one get one
MIR - mail in rebate
RR - register reward (Walgreens)
FAR - free after rebate
IVC - instant value coupon
ECB - extra care bucks (CVS)
OOP - out of pocket
YMMV - your mileage may vary. Means all stores may not accept or participate.
IP - internet printable
MC or MQ - manufacturers coupon
Q - coupon
SCR - single check rebate (Rite Aid)
WYB - when you buy

Catalina - coupons for $$ off your next purchase that print out alongside your receipt at the register.
Stack - use two coupons together. For example, Walgreens allows you to use a Walgreens store coupon with a manufacturers coupon on the same item.
Peelies - coupons you find on the product itself (peels off)
Blinkies - sm coupon machines found in many stores that spit out coupons. They have a blinking light, hence the name.
Hangtags - just what it sounds like. Coupon is on a tag that hangs from the product.
Tearpads - just what it sounds like. Usually tearpad coupons hang on shelves near the product.