Friday, October 19, 2012

I'm baaaack!

So I took a pretty long hiatus.  I had been on a roll with blogging but we found out we were expecting baby #2!  That pregnancy was hard on me, I was exhausted all the time, and with a 5 year old and a full time job, something had to go, and it was this blog.

At the time I had lost focus about what my blog was about. I wanted to tell you all my tips on how I save money and how my family is working to get out of debt. But, I was too busy trying to figure out how to make a tiny bit of money with this site while getting you all the information you can use... and that burned me out.

Since the baby came (It's a girl!) we have been in a bit more debt. We can't use as much of our income to pay off anything because we have two kids in daycare now. I need to save money more than ever!

I still use coupons, but not to the degree that I used to.  I have not done a major shopping trip in a while. We eat out way too much. I have been choosing convenience over savings way too much.

So, all of that being said, I'm going to ease back into blogging and couponing and deals shopping.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Caitlin Birth Announcement

Butterflies Baby Girl Baby Announcements
Personalized cards for babies, graduation, and Mother's Day.
View the entire collection of cards.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Extreme Couponing Reality from Jill Cataldo

If you haven't heard of Jill Cataldo, I urge you to take a few minutes to check out her site. Jill runs one of the best coupon sites I have seen, plus teaches couponing workshops, has a great couponing how-to DVD, plus has regularly appeared on TV shows and radio shows about couponing.  I love her insight on couponing and how she stresses using coupons ethically.

I read a post on her site today, Why your shopping trips aren't quite like the ones on "Extreme Couponing..." and I think it is great reading for anyone starting out in couponing.  I have been couponing as long as I can remember, but with TLC's "Extreme Couponing" and frugality being in the center of the minds of many people these days, there are many misconceptions about couponing that the show is spreading. 

I have been able to pull of some pretty serious savings at the grocery store checkout, but nothing like what is seen on this show.  This article explains some of the misconceptions, such as stores that allowed double couponing and overages that typically don't offer this benefit to all shoppers, or limit the amount of coupons doubled. 

Most of you have probably noticed that a lot of companies are imposing limits of how many identical coupons are allowed per transaction right on the coupon. One that I remember seeing recently, and saw used on the show, was $5 off any Similac.  I personally used this coupon, because initially I was stocking up on the formula for a friend (the ready made formula is usually $5 or less) and eventually, myself, since I found out I am pregnant.  On the show, I saw this coupon used as a money-making opportunity for the shopper, and I noticed she had many bottles of the formula, resulting in a small overage for each one she was purchasing.  This coupon clearly said "One coupon per transaction" on it, so I was wondering how TLC allowed this purchase to be done on their show.  Jill's article points out this situation and others that I had not even noticed.

So... long story short, do NOT become discouraged over shows like Extreme Couponing.  You do not need to save 100% every time, and eating like a normal person, it is just not possible.  My opinion is any amount saved is a great thing, buy what you will use and try to save on those things.

Happy Shopping to you all!



Coupon News: Kroger refuses coupons from a shopper

I read this article today about a Kroger shopper that had her coupons refused because she was a "Habitual coupon user". Kroger responded to the incident saying that there is not a specific number of coupons allowed in a transaction, but that they "reserve the right to limit quantities".  

The shopper's response is that she will continue to coupon and shop at a different Kroger.

I think that shoppers should be allowed to use as many coupons as they want, as long as what they are doing follows the store's coupon policy and they are using proper coupon ethics, which means not clearing the shelves, etc.  This shopper in the story was buying 20 body washes, but she has a family of 10, so I don't think her purchase was unreasonable.

What are your thoughts?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The 320 square foot home...

I just watched this video about a family that sold their 2,000 square foot home and moved into a 320-square foot home.  Our house is slightly over 1,000 square feet and there are three of us living here, and I think we are cramped sometimes.  I could not imagine living in a house like that, however, the family is being very smart about their finances in doing that.  It's pretty amazing to see, and the woman in the video made very inventive use of space.  It's interesting to watch if you have the time, check it out!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Why I am NOT an Extreme Couponer...

A few weeks ago, TLC started airing "Extreme Couponing". Since then... I have heard from several people... "I watched this show about Extreme Couponers, and I thought of you!"

I have been frustrated with this show for several reasons - yet, I continue to watch, because I love coupons and I am still intrigued.


1.  The show frustrates beginning couponers and people that don't use coupons.


People that don't use coupons at all have told me that it is ridiculous to spend hours looking for coupons, shopping in the store, etc.  People I know who have just started couponing are frustrated because their savings don't compare to those on the show.  My opinion is, any amount of savings is good, as long as you are buying things that you need or will use.  If you are just starting out with coupons, start by looking for some products you already use - or start looking for a product that doesn't spoil, such as body wash, or laundry detergent, and stock pile a few items at the lowest price possible.  You will save money with coupons, but you will probably NOT save 99% like the people on the show.


It is easy to go to your favorite store and use a shopping list from the internet to get some great deals.  There are multiple bloggers with deal matchups for each store, so it would be easy to find deals already matched up for you.

2.  The savings for these couponers is not representative of the savings of an average couponer.

As mentioned before - the people on the show prepared 'sensational' shopping trips that would work out to them paying extremely little for their food.  Who goes into a store and buys 60 bottles of mustard, or 100 of one product?  Only a few of them showed their trips including meat, milk, or other staple items.  Remember - their trips were for the benefit of television, so they planned ahead of time for weeks - most of them were doing their "biggest haul ever". Just like reality TV sensationalizes everything else.

3.  Controversy around coupon fraud

One particular episode sparked a lot of discussion about whether the purchases made were using coupons legally.  I don't have the right to judge - BUT - couponing is a privilege, not a right.  Manufacturers put these coupons out to convince consumers to try their product and they are assuming a certain percentage will be redeemed.  Using these coupons illegally could cause couponing to stop for everyone.  By using coupons illegally, I am referring to using coupons on incorrect items that they are not intended. 

I have used coupons on the smallest size allowed - my last trip, I used Degree coupons on the trial size, because there were no size restrictions on the coupon.  Often on the coupons it will specify sizes, such as 8 oz or greater, or a specific size, 24 oz only. 

The controversy surrounding the show looks at coupon decoding. What they are referring to is that a family of products (such as Proctor and Gamble) can belong to the same UPC code family.  Someone that decodes the coupons may use a high value coupon intended for a high value item (such as Crest Whitestrips) on a high value item (like Tide).   This is illegal.  Counterfeit coupons are also illegal.  The CIC (Coupon Information Center) investigates illegal coupon use.  Illegal coupon use causes the store not to be paid for coupons used fraudulently. 


Just because the cash register accepts the coupons, whether they were for the wrong product, expired, etc, does not make it right to do.  Being a programmer, I know that the computers are only programmed to do what you tell it to.  If the store wants to go back and find out why an order was so low, or why there were so many coupons of a sort redeemed in a transaction, it is easy to find out who made the purchase due to store shopper cards, debit cards, etc.   Best bet is to stick to legal couponing.

4.  Bad coupon ethics and expectations.


Each couponer will develop their own "coupon ethics"... if you're not sure what I mean, there are many blog posts about this subject, but The Coupon Project has a good post about this, and also Coupon Gal.  Most coupon bloggers have great coupon ethics, and I'm only saying most because there could be some out there - I just have not found them yet.


Most couponers hesitate to clear a shelf.  This is shown multiple times in the shows. 

Also - I can't think of one store that I have been to that would allow 16 separate transactions, or checkouts to span hour(s).  Not saying it can't ever happen, it just is not normal. 

5.  Who needs 60 bottles of mustard, anyway?  This looks like an organized form of hoarding.

Products spoil. Everything has a shelf life, for a reason.  Once you start couponing, you will learn how often things truly go on sale. Most items have a 3-6 month sales cycle, meaning if you have a sale today, you will probably see that price again in 3-6 months. Chances are, the same coupons will come around again as well.

The exception to that rule, for me, are high value coupons.  For example, a few weeks ago, there were coupons for $3 off Nivea body wash.  $3 is the average price at Walmart, and close to that for other stores, so this resulted in a FREE product.  I bought three of these... not extreme in any sense, but a normal amount for what my family will use.  I can't lie and say I haven't bought more than we would use, but not much.  I limit myself to the space I have in the pantry and cupboards in my kitchen - I would not hide toilet paper or barbecue sauce under my kids beds.

The exception to this is if you are donating products.  Not saying the food bank needs 60 mustards, but it is nice to donate a reasonable amount of products if you are able to.


I don't believe I fall into any of these categories.  Yes, today I bought 7 - 4 packs of yogurts, and 7 boxes of pasta, but I will use these in a reasonable time. I eat 2 yogurts a day - so this is really only a two-week's supply. I am frustrated with the show because it only shows the extreme. I do understand that no one would watch a show where I am getting three free bodywashes, but still.



To learn how to shop with your version of "extreme couponing" - stay tuned for future posts!

Shopping Trip Brags!

I went shopping last week on Friday and finally got to hit up the stores... stopped at CVS, Walgreens, Walmart and Target.  Most of the stuff I got is for our stockpile... but picked up a few things for a friend as well - for free! And today I hit up Giant Eagle with some of my coupons...





CVS

Aquafresh Kids Toothpaste  - 1.00 – 1.00 coupon = FREE   (Got raincheck for two more, since I have two more coupons)
Aquafresh Kids Toothbrush – 3 @ 1.00 – 3 @ 1.00 coupons = FREE
Stove Top Stuffing – 2 @ .88 – 2 @ .50 coupons = .76
- Plus - earned $1 ECB for using my green bag tag!

Target

UP Ibuprofen 24 ct – .99 - .50 Target Coupon = .49
Zantac 30 ct – 7.59 – 2.00 Target Coupon – 5.00 Mfr Coupon = .59
UP Pantiliners - .87 - .50 Target Coupon = .37
A&D Diaper Cream – 3.94 – 2.00 Target Coupon – 1.00 Mfr Coupon = .94
Aquafresh Trial Size – 3@ .97 – (3) 1.00 Printable Coupon = .09 profit
Nature Made Fish Oil – 2 @ 5.84 – 4.00 Coupon + 3.00 Coupon = 4.68 for two
Visine Trial Size – 3 @ 1.97 – (3) 2.00 Coupons = .09 Profit

Walgreens

M&Ms Bags 2/2.00 – 1.00 Walgreens Coupon – 1.00 Mfr coupon = 1.00 Each
Silly Bands – 4 @ .25 – For easter baskets
Used 2.00 Register Reward from Last Time
= 1.07 for all

Walmart

Similac Formula – 3.84 – 5.00 coupon = 1.16 profit   (giving to a friend)
Candyland – 5.00 – 3.00 coupon = 2.00
Toy Story Operation – 5.00 – 2.00 coupon = 3.00
Floss – 7 @ .88 – 7 @ 1.00 coupons = .84 profit
Nivea Men’s Body Wash – 3 @ 3.00 – 3 @ 3.00 coupons = FREE
Dial Nutri Skin Lotion – 1.97 – 1.00 coupon = .97
Tide – 2 single load packets @ .97 – 2 @ 1.00 coupons (no size restriction) = .06 profit
Degree trial size deodorant – 3 @ .97 – 3 @ 1.00 coupons (no size restriction) = .09 profit
Carefree pantiliners - .94 – 1.00 coupon = .06 profit

 



Giant Eagle
Allegra 5 ct - 5.99 - 5.00 coupons = .99
Jif - 2.00 - .35 cent coupon from commenting to the company (doubled) = 1.30
Fiber One Yogurt - 2.00 - .50 coupon (doubled) - 1.00 e-Offer - FREE
Trix Yogurt - 2.00 - .75 cents off two (doubled) - .75 e-Offer = 1.75 for two
Wolfgang Puck Soup - 2.50 - $1 coupon from writing to the company - $1 e-Offer = .50
Breakstone Sour Cream - 1.50 - .50 (doubled) = .50
Skintimate Shave Gel - 2.00 - .55 (doubled) = .90
San Giorgio Quick Cook Pasta - 1.39 - .55 (doubled) = .29 each box
Smuckers Jam  - 2.00 - .75 coupon (doubled) = .50
Steamfresh Vegetables - 3 @ 1.00 - 1.00 coupon/3 = 3 / 2.00
Ortega Taco Seasoning - 2 @ .78 - .50 coupon/2 (doubled) = .58 / 2
 
And I received 2 - $2 off your next shopping order!