The Queen of Coupons Reigns......

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Triple Score!!

So here's a great deal at Albertsons' for the week: General Mills Promo of Buy $20 in assorted products, save $5 automatically. It's also "Dairy Month" at Albertsons' and for the designated products, you get $5 OYNO print-outs with you buy 5 (essentially saving you $1 on each item before you add manufacturer coupons). And there is a Catalina OYNO print-out generated when you buy Betty Crocker fruit snacks, roll-ups or Gushers. For three boxes, you get a $1.50 OYNO; 4 boxes you get $2.50; and 5 boxes gets you $3.50 back. They are $2 a box before you add the coupons. Betty Crocker and Yoplait are General Mills products. This is a triple deal because each combination of purchases generates more savings!! So, here's a buying scenario that would have deep pay-offs in the end. For the hypothetical $20 purchase: Buy 4 boxes of any of the Betty Crocker fruit snack options. (Order coupons from ebay, or any of the coupon websites for the fruit snacks...or print them for free from www.smartsource.com and www.coupons.com --but there are printing limits if you plan on stocking up with multiple transactions...); and any of the 5 Yoplait products that are included in the dairy promo, most of which have $1 off 1 coupons available. You pay $9.50 at the register but get $7.50 back in Catalina print-outs. That makes each item 22 cents piece. Not bad. With the right assortment of coupons--this is a stock-up worthy sale!!


I'm not in need of cereal for a very long time...but I watch the coupons that come out just in case it's stock-up worthy. So make sure that you look for the coupons that are for 55cents to 75 cents off a box. Even with the $5 off $20 purchase amounts, the cereal is still a little too pricey for my blood. I prefer 25-50 cents a box...if you know what I mean. This deal still beats the local competiter's 13 hour cereal sale of $1.69 a box, though!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How to Double the Savings...


Coupons are an interesting thing. It's the only time that you are able to pay for something without having to "earn" the money to do so. Make sense? It's like Monopoly money that the stores will actually accept and deduct REAL money from your total!! How people don't realize this, I'll never know. But in the coupon world, you generally are never able to use 2 coupons on one item. There is a couple of exceptions to this universal rule. One is where the store is offering to double the value of the coupon. For example, Albertsons' does this quite a bit where they will double up to 3 coupons up to $1 each. So if you have a $1 off product couple and a "store" coupon that doubles your coupon--you get $2 off the product. It's an exciting proposition to get that kind of savings, especially when the product you are buying is $2 or under, because that means the product is FREE.


The other situation of "doubling" a coupon savings onto one product is through the combined use of "store" coupons with manufacturer coupons. Many stores offer their sale prices through the use of a coupon. Target and Fred Meyer immediately come to mind. Those coupons they advertise with are not redeemable by the manufacturer, but are for "in-store" use and savings. Just because the product has a store coupon associated with it, does NOT preclude the usability our a manufacturer's coupon. So often a great savings on the product is possible when you use both together. An example would be when Fred Meyer puts "Aquafresh Toothpaste 99cents-limit 2" on an in-store coupon. As a savvy shopper, you are aware of that there are manufacturer's coupons available for 75 cents off one product. The store coupon sets the limits and terms of the purchase. So in this case, the store is limiting the purchase amount to 2 per transaction. So, your purchase total would look like this: 2 tubes=$1.98 (with in-store coupon). When the cashier is done ringing you up, you hand over the manufacturer's coupons. 2 coupons at 75 cents=$1.50. The register will automatically deduct the $1.50 from the $1.98 total, leaving you with 48 cents +whatever taxes your state implies. So with both coupons used on the toothpaste, you are able to realize an actual cost of 24 cents a tube. (Side note: the stores only limit the number of transactions that you are doing to the number of available coupons at the door or the times you are able to print from your home computer. There is no rule that says you are not able to repeat this transaction. Just keep it reasonable and as simple as possible and things will be fine).


This type of great deal is also available at many of the local non-food stores, like Target, Rite Aid and Walgreens. Target has coupons that are available on-line at http://www.target.com/. If you scroll down and click on "coupons" it will take you to their in-store coupons that you are able to print from your home computer. You are generally able to print 2 coupons for each item from each computer. If you have more than one computer in your home, you have scored double deals already, by being able to do more than one transaction if you choose.


Disclaimer: You must understand this very basic rule when printing your own coupons. You CANNOT, EVER, photocopy them and try and use this multiple times. That constitutes fraud and jeopardizes the use of these kind of coupons at all. The computer will generate a specific bar code and identification number for each print. The registers are basically computers with a key pad. They will detect a coupon that has already been used and alert the cashier. If it does not-- the store auditors will catch the misuse and log it. To error in your favor as a consumer is NEVER a good thing because the ramifications will effect all users. So please know that if you are only able to print 2 coupons per computer...that will limit the quantities you are able to purchase with a store coupon and manufacturer coupon combined. There are generally NO limits on the amount of manufacturer coupons you are able to use. So it always pays to know your store programs and policies before you put yourself in an awkward situation.
At the top of this page, I put a picture of 2 coupons that I printed from my computer. They are for the same products, but one is a store coupon and the other a manufacturer's coupon. Both coupons require the purchase of 2 John Frieda hair products. Both take $3 off the total. This store coupon came from Target, thus only usable at Target. They have the products for $4.49 a piece. Two of those would cost $8.98. So hypothetically speaking, you give the cashier both coupons and your remaining balance is $2.98. That's a tremendous savings because ONE product would have cost $4.49. In my search for the manufacturer's coupon for the in-store coupon double option, I found a manufacturer's coupon for $2.50 off ONE John Frieda product. I would only be allowed to print 2 from my computer, and I would be able to use two of those coupons in conjunction with the in-store $3 off coupon. The quantities outlined on the coupon cannot exceed the purchase quantities. So on this transaction, the total is $8.98 minus the $3 in-store coupon and two $2.50 off one manufacturer's coupons for an exceptional buy at 98 cents!! That's the better way to go. Your quantities are limited and you'll only be able to buy a few at a time, but if you did this weekly, bi-monthly...you'd be surprised at how fast your reserves will build up and how it will become very difficult for you to buy anything at full price again.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fred Meyer Deals


Today is the last day of sale that's actually pretty tremendous at Fred Meyer. It started a couple of days ago and ends today--but the day is still young. It's a coupon for $5 off non-food purchases of $25 or $10 off purchases of $50 or more. This is the weekend of birthday parties at our house and I needed several gifts. So I headed to the Toy department to make my selections with the in-ad coupon in hand. I struck gold. There was $3 off coupons for board games hanging in the aisles. The store coupon specifically says that it may be used in conjunction with other coupons. Yeah. That means this is going to be a great deal! I found several games that had percentage off tags. One game is Pictureka! It's an addictive family game that's normally $24.99 and A LOT of fun to play. The label said they were 50% off ($12.49) and then a $3 off coupon could be used as well, making them $9.49. So for transactions of $25-50, I can use the big coupon for another 20% discount off. Mental calculators start computing the possibilities of these kind of deals. I note that 2 games only comes up to $25. I could have left it at that and bought the 2 games for $20, minus the 2 $3 off coupons, and left for around $16. But I had a few other things in mind, so I decided to go for the big spend of $50 and save the $10.


So I bought 2 Pictureka games, 2 sleeping bags for an upcoming camping trip, and 6 packs of gum. Our total after tax and with the gum being Buy one Get one Free (bribery tools for the kids)was $40.59. Yee Haw!! That probably sounds like a lot to you, but that was pretty amazing considering the 2 games would have cost $50 before tax. But I got the sleeping bags and gum and spent a lot less than I could have. That's the kind of deals we can use to supplement our activities without breaking the bank. I would have spent $35-40 on 3 birthday gifts alone. This transaction without discounts would never have happened without coupons otherwise--because it would have been $90 before tax. Mental alert: NO WAY!! At least not for me.... I got everyone pretty pricey gifts and helped out our own family with no cost difference in my plans. Gotta love it!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Double Coupons Coming...

In the upcoming Sunday paper, there is going to be the Albertsons' double coupon sheets. Normally this wouldn't be worthy of a posting by itself...but if you think in multiple food dimensions, like I do--you put two and two together and come up with FREE a lot. So I was thinking about the dairy coupons that I have coming for yogurt. I was going to go get all my yogurt this weekend...but I'm going to wait till Monday (FOR SURE!!) because I can double those $1 coupons on the Dannon to make the whole transaction -$3. Now, the store won't be giving you any money back, but that doesn't preclude the fact that you can buy a pound of hamburger for FREE with your FREE dairy products, or add a gallon of milk, cereal, staples, etc. I LOVE these kind of deals. It's a no-brainer about what to stock up on because everything is stock-up worthy when it doesn't cost anything. I just have to make sure that there is room in the garage fridge for all that yogurt. Disclaimer: I'm thinking that we are going to be sending the tubes of yogurt to every activity that my kids need a snack for. Oh well. Normally I wouldn't be able to afford to send that kind of treat in large quantities. But when you get everything for free...you can be the cool mom with the goods that everyone wants for snack helper.

Get Free Books for your Summer Reading


Ashley, my oldest, got her summer reading list from her new Honors English teacher at the junior high a few days ago. It was 2 pages long and included the list I read in AP English in high school, many moons ago. I was shamed to admit that out of all the books, (and I have thousands....), I did not have some of the best classics like A Tale of Two Cities. Why not? I even loved that book! So I headed down to the local Borders to check out the inventory and ultimately to purchase the new Stephenie Meyer novella "Bree Tanner"--not included in the required reading, duh....and came across a fabulous deal!!



It's Border's Summer Reading "Double Dog Dare". If your kids read 10 (yes...only 10) books during the summer, write down the titles and return to the store, they can choose a free book from the 10 choices that the store will be giving away for bringing back the list. FREE BOOKS. That's a small bit of heaven in my world. This deal is good for children under the age 12 and under. So I picked up 5 forms--one for each of the kids. We are going to do this as a family and make a day out of getting our free books. Some of the free books that the kids get to choose from are childhood classics like: Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary, Miss Daisy is Crazy! by Dan Gutman, Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown, Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes, The River by Gary Paulsen, etc. There are options for all ages...which suits me fine. They can trade with each other and that's 5 books I didn't have to buy to entertain the troops.


I know that Barnes and Noble does something similar--so we may be combining efforts for 2 books per kid with one reading list. Ever thought "2 birds with with 1 stone" would apply to free books? Nice. So with the free tickets to Silverwood for their reading logs during the school year and coupons for free books for summer reading...I think that my kids are catching on to how reading pays off handsomely. As a parent, I'm just pleased that there are avenues to reward good behavior and choices that aren't directly instituted by me. These rewards validate what I've been preaching the whole time and do it in a way that the kids are looking forward to participating. Yeah!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dairy Promo at Albertsons'

I thought this deal ended yesterday...but it's still going on at Albertsons. When you buy 5 of their listed dairy products, it prints a $5 off Catalina. (To find the products listed in the promotion, go to www.athiftymom.com or look at the month long flier available at the store). So all purchases need to be done in increments of FIVE. I just ordered some great Darigold sour cream coupons off of www.ebay.com. They are the Buy 1 Get 1 Free coupons. So the break down on this transaction goes like this: Buy 6 containers of 16oz sour cream at $1.89 a piece. The total=$11.34. Hand over the 3 B1G1free coupons; that will take $5.67 off of your total. At the conclusion of your transaction, you receive $5 Catalina print-out. If you deduct this Catalina from prices, it makes SIX containers of sour cream 67 cents. I love sour cream's longevity too. It's one of those foods that you can put in the fridge and if it gets lost for a few weeks--it's all good. Literally. Unless you're double dipping in it or forgetting it for a year, it stays good well past the dates on the container. So I am going to stock up for the rest of the summer on sour cream for just a couple of bucks. LOVE IT!!

I'm also going to take advantage of the great deal on Dannon yogurt. We got hooked on the Activia yogurts. I just bought some tonight at a competitor store thinking I did OK buying it at $2.29 and then putting $1 off coupons on them. Not realizing the sale still going on at Albertsons'--I bought 5 products. But with the $5 off and the $1 coupons together--it's going to be a HUGE savings at Albertsons--actually FREE. I really like the Dan-ni-nimo kids yogurts as well. They are on the same list of inclusions and are also on sale at $2 a set. The beauty of this one--there's a $1.50/1 coupon available in cyberland. That makes it beyond free. Shhh....don't tell the store that you are making a deal before their very eyes. I Love it!!

But as for the 5 I bought tonight: Ever have one of those "What was I thinking?" moments? I should have read the ads a little closer before I spent money on those yogurts. I could have just used coupons to get them for free and saved the money! Oh well. Even the coupon queen doesn't always see the forest through the trees. Just one deal at a time is a great way to shop. Problem is that occasionally, multiple sales that are truly tremendous get missed without a little forethought and preparation. So plan to save...and don't forget to save some time to plan! Good luck and happy shopping.

Quizno's is the Bomb!!

So I've had lunch at Quizno's at least 3 times a week for the last 3 weeks. Go figure. Why? Because for every adult sandwich you purchase, you get a kids meal for free. So--for $4, I feed Jessica and myself. Delicious. I got hooked on the toasty Torpedo tuna melts. But I may have a new favorite. Jeff and I had lunch there with the chitlin for a total of $5. Fabulous! We ordered the Roast Beef and Cheddar on Rosemary parmesan bread (dressed it up like it was the Black Angus Sirloin...) to share and Jessica got the kids' meal for free. Can I just scream how GOOD that sandwich tasted. I have a new favorite to switch up my daily options. But parental disclaimer: I think I've ruined the 5 yr-old's perception of "lunch". She thinks that it's supposed to be in a public place--every single day.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Save those Box-Tops!!


I'm up to my eyeballs in Box-Tops and Campbell's' soup labels right now. It's that time of year--time to close the books. My life has been crazy busy for so many months and it's getting to wind-down a bit for the summer break. But before I get too anxious and excited to have a break, I have to finish counting thousands of little pieces of papers to sort, clip, count, tally, and ship off for redemption. I keep reminding myself that I LOVE BOX-TOPS because it is a truly amazing fund-raiser and cash-maker for the elementary schools. What other way can you get that kind of return without doing almost anything except buying and eating food. (That's the best part of this story, right?)


Many of the products we routinely buy and consume are owned by the General Mills company. They print a mini "coupon" on their products called a Box Top. It's redeemable by schools that are K-8 for 10cents-50cents in CASH a piece. Loads of our favorite cereals, Huggies diapers/wipes, all kinds of products like Old El Paso, Betty Crocker, Kleenex and Ziploc are just some of the products that are part of the General Mills family with these redeemable tokens somewhere one their packaging. When we clip and send those tokens into the schools, they are able to send them to the manufacturer, along with the thousands your friends and classmates also return, for a CHECK for CASH for your elementary school to use at their discretion. Fabulous, Fabulous. (I'll rant about the great labels for education program that Campbell's does in a bit--but they do NOT redeem their labels for CASH, but points to use to purchase products from a catalog instead).


Last year, our elementary school received a check for over $2000 just from the Box-Tops collections we did at school. There are always numerous elementary schools in the nation that go over and beyond and you hear about how they bought a mini-van with their collections. Now that's A LOT of Tops!! But when I'm sorting the bundles I receive into piles and taking note of how it's generally 2-3 kids per class that are bringing in the majority of the tops, I wonder to myself how many of the 22 other families just throw them away. Now I realize that not every family is a huge consumer of General Mill products--but when was the last time you did NOT buy at least some CEREAL that had tops on it. Throwing a top away is like throwing a dime in the garbage every time you finish a box of cereal. That is REAL money.


I think that it is totally altruistic of the General Mills company to donate at least 10 cents of their profits for every product they sell. And when you think of the food industry and how many products go out with a redemptive label on them--it's millions of dollars we are talking about. And I sure, just as the majority of coupons are thrown away without every being used, there is a vast amount of those potential money-makers that are tossed. So here's the plea--THINK OF THE CHILDREN and what their schools need and could use that money for. Last year at my brand new, upper middle-class stocked elementary--the teachers ran out of supplies like paper clips, tape, post-it notes, etc...and there was no money left in the budget to fill those needs in late spring. So the PTO purchased those supplies for the classrooms through funds received by collecting Box Tops. That's amazing. No Cash Drives were done, no complaining about how we don't pay enough taxes.... Money that hadn't been there to begin with in the PTO budget had been filled through a collective drive and later in the year, there was money in the account because of General Mills--that purchases could be made to help the school out. Fabulous!!


So--when you see those little labels, DON'T throw them out. We even have grandmas and grandpas trimming their goods when they purchase them. The majority of our cold cereals have tops on them. There are always Back to School promotions that are going on just prior to school that offer coupons at the register that you can return to the schools for 50-200 Box Top credits. DON'T THROW THOSE AWAY!! 50 pointers are worth $5!! That's an amazing way to accrue lots of cash for your schools!! And they are available at almost every grocery store in the nation via purchase of General Mills products and a Catalina printer at the register. Don't forget to save those print-outs! If you don't have kids or your kids are too old for the school program, pass them along to a friend or neighbor that can turn them into the school. There's a cashier at Albertsons' that always asks the customer if they are going to turn those print-outs in. I'm thrilled that she does that because many people would think that because it doesn't effect them-they can just throw it away. But what goodness that is thrown away!! So just keep an eye on what you already buy, and become a generous contributor to the school programs without ever having to write a check, sponsor a kid, buy some obscure chocolate bar, etc. Just eat--save, and give!!
This is the funniest little story about Box Tops. I took my kids to the YMCA to swim while I sat in the lobby and clipped/sorted/counted the Box Tops into baggies. Lots of people were in and out of the changing rooms and traversing through the glassed area in front of the pool area where I was seated. Nobody even noticed that I had commandeered a whole table and was going to town with my scissors until a couple of the custodial staff came by and asked what I was doing. I told them that I was getting our school's submissions ready to mail in for redemption. The guy kind of chuckled and said, "Oh, for a minute there, I thought you were that lady I saw on TV with all those coupons. The one that got $500 worth of food for $4!" WHAT? It was my turn to laugh because I told him I WAS that lady from TV with all those coupons :) And, interestingly enough--that aired over a year and a half ago and he still remembered my face. I guess no matter where I go--somebody will recognize me--I just don't know what for until they tell me. Too funny.

WIPE-OUT!!


Did anyone see the Pampers' wipes coupons from the Sunday Proctor and Gamble coupon circular? Holy Cow!! $2.00 off ONE package. FYI=Wal-Mart carries them for $1.97. Stock up, stock up. I looked online for coupons. Talk about price-gouging. The coupons are expensive. I have to admit that I did buy a set on http://www.ebay.com/ that I thought was a pretty good deal in comparison to the rest. There was forty coupons for the wipes and forty coupons for $1.50 off diapers included for $14.99+99cents shipping. They're coming from California, so I should have them by Thursday. That's the most I have ever paid for a set of coupons--but there are FORTY golden coupons. After dividing the cost of the coupons between all the packages (and I'm not using the diapers)--I'm at 40 cents a package. Truly tremendous for brand-name wipes! And even with my youngest 2 years closer to Depends, baby wipes have become a staple in our household and preschool--so 40 packages is an investment that will not go amiss.



I'm not too savvy with the Rite-Aid and Walgreens' savings programs. But I am going to make a concerted effort to figure them out because I'm all over a good deal when it comes my way. I did notice that there is a Proctor and Gamble Buy $20 Get $5 back deal going on at Rite-Aid. Their wipes are 29 cents more expensive than Wal-Mart, but I would get $5 back for every breaking the transaction into $20 amounts. Ultimately--buying them this was would pay myself back $5 of part of the coupons price--thus lowering the cost of the wipes. Now that's what true savings is all about...



So--I would track down every neighbor and friend that doesn't have kids and ask them if they are going to use that Pampers' wipe coupon that came in the Sunday coupons. Stellar, stellar, stellar.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Seriously Noteworthy Kraft Deals again...

For everyone with a Safeway store within the sound of my voice: hear ye, hear ye. Check out the deal on Kraft in this week's ad. Seriously delicious. You'll have to research the full products list that is included, but there are 2 products that have me giddy: macaroni and cheese and the salad dressing. Why more salad dressing, you wonder? It's a conjunction sale. For every 8 Kraft products that you purchase, you automatically save $4 at the register. And now through 6/27--there is also a Catalina coupon that prints for $3 off a 4 bottle-purchase of Kraft salad dressing. So.....Safeway has the salad dressing for $1.49 a bottle--you must buy 8 to qualify for all the deals. That's $11.92 minus the $4 automatically=$8.92. You add the Catalina savings for $5.92, then hand over the coupons. I just ordered "Save $1/2" from www.thecouponmaster.com and from www.ebay.com. The beauty of this deal: there is a coupon for $1 off produce for every two bottles of salad dressing purchased. So--not only is the salad dressing a mere 16 cents a bottle, you can get $4 of free produce for every transaction of 8. Do 3-4 transactions...that's a lot of dressing (no worries--expiry is all next year) and a lot of produce. And who said you can never get a coupon for produce??? Schweet Deal!!


(Disclaimer: the Catalina deal on Kraft is also running at Albertsons' through the same dates--but the key to getting a truly stellar deal that is stock-up worthy is to apply the coupons to the lowest sales price. And at Safeway, the sales price plus the automatic savings seals the deal on this transaction. It didn't take very long to realize the difference in savings isn't pennies this time).

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Cold Stone Creamery Coupon

http://images.eonline.com/static/on/shows/20_years_of_e/docs/E!Anniversary_Coldstone_coupon.pdf



Our family has the traditional favorite treats, including ice-cream. There is a Cold Stone Creamery coupon that is good through the end of June for 20% off total purchase. On a single purchase this would not be earth-shattering. But taking 5 kids out for ice-cream? We generally don't because it would cost most than taking them to dinner. But a 20% discount is a head in the right direction for an upcoming night out. The anniversary concoction of mint with the brownies and fudge sealed the deal for the soon-to-be event.



**Anyone like Blue-light specials? Check out the enormous Catalina coupons that are being generated from $50 K-mart purchases. Over 2,500 different products can be used to create the total and generate uber-excellent coupon. I will look more into this when I return to the Inland NW--because it's good through 6/30. I LOVE stellar deals combined with adequate time to plan a strategy. Time is always acceptable in a good deal.