Thursday, May 19, 2011

Couponing

I wanted to share some of my attempts at the art of sales and couponing.- I have seen some amazing blogs, and the table full of food gotten cheaply. Many of you may have seen or heard of the show 'Extreme Couponing' that shows Mom's paying pennies on the dollar  for hundreds of dollars of product due to hours and hours of planning and preparation.
While I am nowhere to that level, - since before Christmas I have been trying to find as many ways to save as possible, (with the limited time I have to devote to it) and have been learning alot.
So here are some of my tips, and observations.


Always couple coupons with sales.
 - I used to ignore coupons because they were for expensive brands that in most cases I didn't buy anyway because even with a coupon, they were often more than a cheaper brand.  However, if you can match them with a good sale, or double them, - you can pay much less than you would for the 'cheap' brand.


Look for home use products.
 I have had countless women tell me, - 'I don't coupon because its all prepackaged junk food, - or sugary cereals, that I don't want my family to eat, - even if it is cheap!-
 While there are some coupons I would never use, - I have been very happy with the wide variety of coupons that are actually out there. - Such as .75 cents of Reynold Wrap Aluminum Foil. When I coupled this coupon with a sale for .89 cents a box, - I got 200 feet of name brand foil for 14 cents!!! You can NOT beat that! And don't tell me health nut mom that you don't use foil!! : )


Try to get as many duplicate Coupons as possible.
So I just told you that I got a box of foil for 14 cents. - I only wish I had had 10 coupons, and could have gotten 10 boxes for $1.40!!! This is a HUGE point. It ties into a mentality of responsible food and household storage and inventory. If you find a good sale, - GET ALOT!!! I can't stress this enough!! My only regrets are not getting more of super good deals. - If you can at all afford it, - think in quantities of at least ten, - or a year's supply. - For me, - 10 boxes of foil would probably be a several year stock, - but for $1.40!?!?! That's the price of a nice pack of gum!!! Full price where I bought it it was normally $3.98.   At the time, - you WILL feel slightly foolish, - filling your cart with an item, but please take a moment and ask
will we use this?
will it store well?
how many items will I use in this storage time frame?
Is this price likely to come again soon?
If you know that in a week, or month, or next fall you will have to buy this product again, - why pay full price later when it may cost even more when you can buy now!!??


Use Price Match Policy
As a mom of two young children, living in a small town, I have to be realistic about running to every store in a 40 mile radius just to get the best bargain. - Thankfully with some store's price match guarantee, I don't usually have to. I have been very happy with some of my 'one stop shop' make 'em match it hauls, - and I have saved my children's patience, my sanity, and gas money. I recommend always looking up the store's coupon and price match policy online, printing it and taking it with you to help avoid problems with clerks who might not be familiar.

PLAN -plan- PLAN
I have found that a few extra minutes at home preplanning and totaling what I expect to pay (since I am poor at head math, - esp. in line with a baby and 5 year old!) helps me tremendously! I am able to catch problems right there, or pre-decide what to just skip if coupons don't ring up right, etc.


Don't be afraid to put it back

There have been times when a sale, with a coupon means an item is so low, (even free) that I am willing to get it, - but otherwise it would not be on my list. - If things don't work as planned, (coupon expired, sale off, etc) don't feel badly telling the clerk you want to pass on the items. Our goal is to save money. - Don't let the unexpected sabatoge your goal! :)

                                               Don't get sidetracked with impulse buys
This is the easiest way to loose your coupon savings. It may sound simple, - but I have been guilty of unexpectedly seeing Oreos on sale (yum!) or something else and thinking 'I am saving so much it won't hurt to get this'. A few items like that and you end up spending far more than you wanted. Allowing yourself to impulse buy is the quickest way to loose all the benefit of careful planned savings. I do feel that sales and coupon shopping can help you live a better lifestyle, or be able to afford things you may otherwise pass up, with a little space and time between you and the Oreos you may decided there was something else you would prefer to spend it on!! :)

Don't buy something, even if it is free, if you won't use itNo deal is really that good if you don't want the product.From talking to a few avid couponers, - I have heard this alot. - Even if they will not use something, they get a lot because it is such a 'good deal'. - I know some people then give away or donate items to charity - but I prefer to leave those deals I don't need to someone who does. Not only that, - but if you take it home, you have to store and organize the product so that it doesn't expire and just end up in the trash can. - It can be exciting to see how good of a deal you can get, - but bottom line, - if its not something I will use, - you would have to pay me to take it! :)



This is my price match haul. Before Easter, every local store ran sales. I literally brought 6 sales fliers to one big box store that is blue. (i think you know which one) I had them price match
2Cottonelle TP for 5.00 vs.   7.89 reg price
4Wheat Thins  for 2.00 vs. 2.97 reg price
8TollHouse Choc Chips for 1.79 (PLUS 1.10 off 2bags coupons) vs. 2.85 reg price
2Miracle Whip for 1.99 vs. 2.85 reg price
1Jiff Peanut Butter 1.85 vs. 3.95 reg price
Betty Crocker Brownies for .89 (didn't take my 1.00 off 2 coupon:( vs. 1.50 reg price
20 Green Giant Steamer Bags for .79 vs. 1.78 reg price.(with 1/ .40 off coupon- wish i had 20!!)
Reynolds Wrap for .89- .75 cent coupon vs 3.85 reg price.
2 Aveno body washes for 4-3.00 off2 coupon
1 Nivea body wash for 2.99 reg price WITH 3.00 off coupon= FREE!! !:)
 Even though I didn't get to use my brownie coupon, and wish i had had more of other coupons, (if I had more for the steamers they would have been 39cents each!!!!!)and wish I had gotten a lot more peanut butter!! It was still a very successful trip. It was about 102 dollars and I paid only about 50. And this was mostly just price matching!! -

Here are the body wash bottles. - The Nivea was 100% FREE!!!
If only I'd had a lot more coupons!!! :)

 I recently discovered a chain store that has a store card, and also doubles coupons every day all day for up to $1. . It isn't in our town, - but is in 2 other towns we go to frequently for work, and while the regular prices are actually pretty high, they run some tremendous sales.
Here is my haul.



$5.00    Pringles at 99 cents each (One of hubbys few liked chip brands)

$3.75    3 Dozen Eggs at 1.25 each (they were something I was out of)

$6.00    12 BBQ Sauces at 49 cents each.

$4.98     3 lb. Bag Chicken Breast $4.98 (GREAT sale, - I have a stock of whole chk. so this was a  luxury 'instead of take out' quick dinners item. - can't even feed us off a $ Menu for this, - and it will be at least 3 fast easy meals)

$32.50   65 lbs. pasta for 49 cents EACH- (just over 1 year supply if we eat 1x a week, - but for us since we eat more like 1x every 2 weeks it may last 2 years. - It expires in 2015- so we are good!!)



With NO coupons, - just hitting a great sale, I over $140.00 worth of food for just over $50.00.

                                                           Practical Questions
The way couponing works is to save large amounts of any coupon for products you would like, - in an organized way, and then save them to couple with good sales. After a time you will get a feel for what sales come and when is the best way to use your coupons.
  If you do not get local sales fliers in the mail,for price matching - you can look up most online, to see what general sales there will be. - However, keeping an eye on your local clearance is a fantastic way to save.

So I am sure the biggest question you have is where to get these amazing coupons. - I am still working on the best way to build my stock pile. Obviously the most direct way is to buy news papers that have coupon inserts. - However if you have friends or relatives (esp. elderly) that receive papers but don't want the coupons it would be a great way to get more.)
  Serious couponers I know buy huge amounts of newspapers (a mom of 9 I talked to recently buys 40 every week. She had 3 carts FULL and paid less than $50) my husband likes to point out that this is a $80 dollar a week expense, and wonders if she can possibly get her money back, - but after seeing her haul and hearing that she does it up to 3x a week I don't doubt it.

     The other thing to be aware of is that there are websites devoted to coupons and couponers. Many online coupons can be used WITH paper ones to really increase your savings. Usually you can only print 2 coupons per computer, so having multiple computers in a family would be a huge asset.

Below are the sites I use and trust. - I would be cautious about giving out your information to just any site, though I know some require membership and email address. - I have not used any like that so far.

 These are blogs dedicated to helping you save. They tell you what stores have what sales, and how to get your bang for your buck. They helped me get started.
http://moneysavingmom.com/

http://www.kansascitymamas.com/

These are sites I love to print coupons from. They are free, do not require membership, and after you download their printer application once you are good to go. Make sure your printer is on and ready WITH paper tho, - because if you 'clip' and hit print, even if it doesn't, - it won't let you exceed your limit.

http://www.redplum.com/

http://www.coupons.com/couponweb/Offers.aspx?pid=13101&zid=pt82&nid=10&bid=alk0519130538bd3f2500820212

Hope this helps you get started! Here is to saving and stocking up for our families!! :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Food News

Think the news doesn’t affect your life? At least, - in any significant immediate way?
Think again Moms, - here is news that affects your next trip to the grocery store.
I cannot urge you enough, my friends, please consider the wisdom of building up food storage and preparing yourself  and family.   Weather alone may be enough to bring unexpected devastation to your area. Even if it doesn’t touch your town, - it may change your life.  
  *Alabama, third largest poultry supplier in the country devastated my tornadoes that killed 3 million chickens, and disrupted / destroyed the state’s poultry production.  Here’s the article.
  *Kansas wheat crop-  you need to read this if you want to understand why we,  ‘who live in the middle of nowhere’ Midwest are affecting the household budgets of every family in America today. Countless stores and chains raise prices because of Kansas wheat crop.
In the midst of high prices, you still have to be concerned about the food’s safety. Today’s food recall.
Even if you haven't gardened before, - this may be the year to consider starting. Lettuce is sooo easy, and healthy and fun to grow!       

   Here are a few more interesting articles on topic.
Kansas to plant 20,000 acres of cotton, the new, low water crop.
New Genetic Engineering of Wheat- this article promotes GM wheat as a good answer to drought.
Farmers tempted to flip crops  based on high corn prices?
Food Prices Rise world wide.