The Queen of Coupons Reigns......

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thought for the Day



Monday, November 28, 2011

Did You Survive the Weekend?

As if there is more to say about Black Friday! It seems as though it made quite a fiscal statement, if not, a comical one on the fabric of this fine nation!


And it's not done yet! Roll over, Black Friday--it's time for Cyber Monday! I've been roaming the web and seeing all the articles about how uber-successful Black Friday was this year. That's good news, right? Although I'm not really understanding how that is possible in our cruddy economy and such--but the amazing numbers tell a very different story. http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daniel-gross/black-friday-boom-masks-physical-retailers-desperation-125410165.html


I think that the cartoons also given a hysterical perspective on what some actually went through to acquire the greatest deals!





Did you see the story about the fanatical shopper using pepper spray at a crowded Wal-Mart on Friday morning? That was a new low for the hottest shopping day of the year. Some people just have to ruin it for everyone, don't they?! And it was all for a lousy XBOX. Doesn't she know that was SO last year? [Sigh...] http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/police-10-injured-at-wal-mart-as-woman-pepper-sprays-customers-seeking-black-friday-deals/2011/11/25/gIQAiqjcuN_story.html- It makes you almost wonder if peoples' hearts can turn black on this particular shopping day in the year. Sounds a tad bit grinchy, if you ask me.
Now let's talk about the green frenzy that was going on! I got the most amazing deals this year! Sonicare toothbrushes for under $10 bucks. Yep. How? They were on sale at Rite Aid for $34.99, producing a $5 Up reward (good on any future purchase). So the discount went like this: $34.99-$5 UP Reward-$10 manufacturer's coupon-$10 mail-in rebate! It was stellar. Super-duper deals!!


I took a few hours out of the long weekend festivities, and hung out at the local Walgreen's taking advantage of their $58 in items that were free thanks to register rewards. Most of which I will be able to use in personal hygiene kits for the local shelters my family donates to. Men's' 5-blade razors that are normally $9.99+ a piece, were a smokin' hot deal for 99cents a piece. So I had to get a few. Ok. I got a lot. They will be a great addition to the kits for the men's shelter downtown.


So I may not have dragged home a flat panel TV for $150 or a miscellaneous gadget from the bottom of the lake of piranha shoppers...but I had the nicest cashiers, shortest lines, and scored some of the best deals without a single bad experience in my three-day shopping haul. I got bags of socks, blankets, shoes, Rubbermaid containers, toys, and xx-xxx (can't say because certain family members read this blog and are getting it for Christmas). And don't forget the loads of toiletries and personal items at my favorite stores. It was a FABULOUS Black Friday--that made my heart flutter and left me with some green for another day. Black Friday, and Black Thursday, and even Blacker Saturday ROCK!!


On a more personal note--during our holiday feast, we have a family tradition that we started not too many years back. As parents, we wanted to impress upon our kids that we weren't just having a HUGE dinner, but were actually taking part in a very special anniversary of sorts. It was a national day of Thanksgiving and remembrance for providence and free living. To honor the pilgrims and their plight for a land in which they were free to worship, we had everyone at the table say three things that they were thankful for. Now, you have to remember--seven children can come up with some pretty amusing things to be grateful for. But most of the answers were heartfelt and thoughtful. Food, family members, and friends topped the lists.


When it was my turn...I was ready! Family. Freedom. And, last, but not least-I am thankful for Coupons! Everyone laughed. But I was serious! Almost everything that they were eating was purchased with a coupon. I had been free to pay the almost free purchase price. And the people that I love the most were eating the good finds--my family.
I know I could list dozens of more things that I am also grateful for. But the things that are on the very top of my list all start with the letter F and not Letter C...sorry, coupons. I'm thankful for a Father in Heaven that loves me, a Fantastic Family, the Finest Friends, Food, [Yes...food, food, food--in all it's yummy and delicious combinations], Five great kids, Funds, and FUN! I guess coupons fall in the last category because they really are a lot of fun when you realize all the things that you can do with them to save money and move good works along!




Now that the turkey is gone, and the massive shopping is done...it must be time to start decorating for the next celebration. Bring it on!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Welcome to the Jungle!!

The countdown to the biggest shopping day of the year is just a matter of days away. It's been fashionably deemed "Black Friday" because that's when, supposedly, retail stores are back on the profit side of their financial ledgers. But what it really should be called is GREEN Friday! Because that is what the stores are hoping that you roll in with. Well. Black is the new green, right?

Getting a great deal sways many a harried customer between the volumes of mercantile contenders. In the past, I've been a leader amongst the packs of pre-dawn shoppers. No lion--(deliberate spin on words)--the thought of beating the sun up this year makes me positively want to roll over and take a cat nap! I must be becoming an old lioness, because the thrill of the hunt has slightly waned for me (possibly due to awesome Internet sales and savvy coupon purchases throughout the year)...but I'm still driven to chase the odd deal, here and there. So--with a widdled down game plan and goal in mind, it's still amusing to see those with more prowess and vigor angling and planning their saving frenzies!

I used to look forward to that fat Thanksgiving newspaper to pour over all the store ads and post-Turkey day deals. Mass media has come a long way...and most store ads are available online a long time before the newspaper even hits the driveway! I've already scoped the ads via the Black Friday websites, and I've narrowed my shopping plan down to a total of four stores--and possibly spread out over 2-3 days, no less. Stores are getting bolder with their solicitations and self-promoting; going as far as to open earlier and earlier on Friday, if not an actual day or two before.

The super sales used to be the highlight of just the Friday after Thanksgiving. Fiscal cut-backs and shake-ups have turned many into savings predators in the hopes to help make their financial ends meet. It has also driven the retail stores to not only slash their prices, but lure you in earlier and earlier, in the hopes that you will spend all your money in their store before the competition even wakes up!

Stores are stretching their sale days from one, to two or three.  Some still have sales that are limited to just hours.  So plan your excursions in accordance to the times of the sales.  You don't want to miss the great sock-fest at Freddies' because you are in the eternal line at Wal-Mart!  Back in the day...the day after Thanksgiving sale at Fred Meyer was advertised as a "four hour sale"--because it started at the store opening of 7am and ended at 11am. But somewhere in the mid-90's, it went to 6am...and finally, now 5am. It's now a "six hour sale"...with the same standard items on sale every year; like 50% off of all socks, Rubbermaid, towels, and certain household items.

My man doesn't mind being my get-away driver at stores that I can run in and get out quickly or to ones where we may also be having a joint adventure. But if any of the stores are: Michael's', Jo Ann's, or some other crafty store--I'm must hunt alone because the King of my jungle can only handle one crazy woman at a time! The rest of you make him want to RoAr!!

With many stores moving their opening times back, earlier and earlier, some as early as Thanksgiving Day or even midnight--it would be helpful to create a shopping strategy to maximize your savings and return for the money spent! There should be a method to the madness and desire to face mobs of people for the latest and greatest gadgets or toys. Where are the best deals? Target. Wal-Mart. Shopko? The Mall? Oh...the choices are limitless.

Strategize and limit your time to the stores that really have what you want. Is half of the city going to one store? Great! But I don't even want to go there! Google the stores where it's predicted to be a madhouse. See what people are going to be fighting for.  Are they what you are wanting as well?  And just remember...People literally die for flat screen TVs and handheld attention grabbers. Was that worth the savings? No thanks. Too painful and annoying for this old lioness.

Tips: If you are determined to be a great hunter...make a plan or a map. I suggest you walk the stores that you are going to shop for the Black Friday sales ahead of time. See where they are stocking the items you want. Create a map (in your head or on paper), of the best way to navigate the aisles if every one of your neighbors and their relatives are also there. Unless you are buying gifts for the entire orphanage--skip the cart and go on foot. It's faster that way. You will get caught in huge pile-ups of cart pushers and lose time if you become lane-locked! You will be able to get in and out of strategic locations faster. So--if you plan on purchasing a lot, take a shopping tote and run through the jungle without wheels!

Sometimes it pays to have someone watching your back or waiting in the line for you to pay. Shopping in twos with a game plan will save lots of time and frustration before the sun even rises! Walkie-talkies? Maybe in the good 'ol days. Cell phones are a must if working in teams to score the hottest items.

Limit your stores to a selected few. WHAT? Did I just say that it's insane at the crack of dawn? There's going to be LONG lines, grouchy people, and empty shelves. Pick your battles and you might stand a chance of staying nice sane. I'd rather wait an hour in one line for everything I want, then 3 lines for an hour each, for only a couple of items. Think of your wasted time in terms of how much your time is worth compared to what you are really saving. If it's only a couple of dollars savings--don't waste the hour! But if you are saving hundreds...it just might be worth having someone along to talk to while you watch the rest of the shoppers making their way to the front of the store!

Where am I going? Process of elimination has concluded...Fred Meyer, Costco, Rite Aid, and Walgreen's.  I know there are deals at the "man" stores, the mall, and most retail hijackers! But with limited time frames and sell-out pricing...they just aren't worth my sanity or dollar, especially with my mad couponing skills! While the lioness is getting lazier in her old age, the lion has an even less tolerance for retail chaos. So Fred Meyer and Costco are his limit, and only if accompanied by his soothing lioness.  I already know that I'm going to be a lone hunter shopper on Thursday morning (if not accompanied by a cub or two)....at Rite Aid and Walgreen's. I'm hoping that the radio ditty will hold true and that there won't be long lines or a full parking lot!  I have no patience with being less productive--especially if dinner's waiting!

Yes!! The drug store chains are open Thanksgiving Day--or at least from 9-6pm. So while many of you will be busy in the kitchen on Thursday morning...I'm going to be busy at the cash register because there are some deals that are just too good to pass up.  Walgreen's' has almost 20 items that will be free after Register Rewards. I can handle that. I'm also hoping to accrue a lot of those little marvels to use the following week so that I can generate some Jingle Cash in a hurry.

Last tip of the day: pre-assemble or pre-mix your casseroles and side dishes on Tuesday or Wednesday, so that they are ready to bake on Thursday. I'm using Glad Ovenware for my casseroles so that their uniform shape will take up less room in the fridge beforehand. The "work" done ahead of the big feast will save so much time and effort getting the food from the oven to the plate--especially if I'm out shopping before dinner. Less chaos in the kitchen equals a more pleasant meal and celebration.

So, to all those savvy jungle bargain shoppers--Happy Thanksgiving--and here's to having a grateful heart and helping hands--this Holiday season!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Jingle--All the Way!



Walgreen's' is having their Jingle Cash promotion again this year. That's were you can earn additional savings qualified by the dollar amount of your purchases to be used the following week at the store.

Get $ 5 Jingle Cash when you buy $30

Get $ 10 Jingle Cash when you buy $50

Get $ 15 Jingle Cash when you buy $75

Get $ 20 Jingle Cash when you buy $100

There are a few rules about how to earn the bonus "cash". Jingle Cash is earned on the amount spent after all applicable discounts (i.e., employee discount, AARP, in-ad coupons) have been deducted. Jingle Cash is earned on the amount spent before any manufacturer coupons or register rewards are deducted
Jingle Cash is earned on the amount spent before any taxes are added.
Save the Jingle Cash and use it on qualifying purchases of $30 or more the following week:

Jingle Cash earned 12/4-12/10 Can be redeemed 12/11-12/17
Jingle Cash earned 12/11-12/17 Can be redeemed 12/18-12/21

Jingle Cash can only be redeemed on a purchase of $30 +Only one Jingle Cash coupon may be redeemed per transaction. [If you have more than one Jingle Cash, make sure that you divide your transactions up into the number of Jingles that you have. Save, Save, Save!] Qualifying Purchases exclude Gift cards, Phone cards, Prepaid cards, Prescriptions, Dairy, Items prohibited by law, Tobacco, Alcoholic beverages, Sales tax, Lottery tickets, Money orders / transfers, Transportation passes, Postage stamps, Prescription savings club membership, Healthcare services, Charitable contributions.

If you need more information on what this program is or what qualifying purchases means...go to http://www.walgreens.com/.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Meal Planning

I've had the best intentions to create a Meal Plan for my family. My husband suggests that we do this almost monthly. I sometimes work best in retrospect...and so I've been putting what we've had for dinner on the calendar. (Eventually I'll have a full month's worth of meals written down and then I can just repeat it... Ag! Stop. I'm a pretty darn good cook--but even I don't know if I'd want to do that.) I guess I might have to take a new approach to this assignment. The car might drive better if you get it out of reverse, right?

I found this cute website that had a great upload for creating a meal plan. If this is something you're interested in...you can just click and print the copy above or use it as a simple model to create your own. It's very simple! But, sometimes, it's just seeing what other people do and use, that jump starts an idea in your own thoughts. I've found that looking at a blank piece of paper is harder for me to think and get motivated--then looking at a sheet that breaks down a plan into daily steps. [Copying or duplicating is sometimes the highest form of praise (compliments)--because it indicates that their idea was better then what you could have done without inspiration! So kudos to all the master-organizers in the world! Life is really about the details...right down to the food we eat.]
http://wholesomemommy.com/wp-content/upload/2010/09/Meal-Plan-blank.pdf

If you think dinners are hard to plan and prepare for on a daily basis--what about lunch? http://anythingbutperfect.com/freebies/wdLunchMenuABP.pdfLunchMenuABP.pdf The wholesome mommy even linked a great planner for lunches. I'm a little beyond this stage with my kids being in school full-time--but this would have been a great resource idea if I had all my kids at home during the day. [Can you imagine what homeschoolers go through trying to come up with not one, but two creative meal plans, a day.] Hooray for sack lunches!

Ooops! I just inadvertently admitted that I am NOT a breakfast person--so, in my book, it doesn't have to be planned. It's a "fend for yourself" at breakfast time in our house. But I've have friends that have planned their first meal of the day down to a science! Mondays is always waffles. Tuesdays are always hot cereal. Wednesdays are always french toast.... You get the idea. Fry-ups are on Fridays!

But sometimes the organization and order, of having your meals planned and listed in a place that everyone can see, creates contentment and peace in the weekly routine. I have one child, in particular, that functions like clockwork. If it's 5:30pm--he's ready for dinner (hungry, or not). If it's 7am--time to get up (regardless of who's still wanting to sleep). He knows what the lunch menu at school is, even though he only buys lunch twice a month. He is driven by order and routine--and so I think that a meal plan in my house would check one more thing off the list of getting my family more organized--and give him something else to keep track of ;)

If the kids know what is for dinner-I would be more likely to ask them for specific help in preparing it--especially if I'm out running errands and get off to a late start in getting it started. And I'm lucky to have kids that would be willing to help, when asked, but I often don't even bother because I'm in a frenzied time crunch and I find it faster if I just do it myself. [I'm sure there are multitudes of mothers who have no idea what I'm talking about!] Truly, I have no desire to be like the caption in the picture above. I want my kids prepared to fend for themselves in a healthy, balanced, and capable of way! I just need to raise the bar in what's expected of them, so that they can experience what it takes to plan, prepare, and feed a family of their own!



But, if nothing else, I've prepared my kids to share in the household labors that we all benefit from. The stereotypes of old are fading and we are moving into a another realm of participatory involvement. Although, I have to say, I still think that a man that does dishes is incredibly HOT!

P.S. (Can you do that in blogs?)
I saw this fabulous idea on another blog about making your own weekly meal planner from a master copy and then having it bound at a copy store, like Kinkos. I thought the idea was exceptionally brilliant, since we don't have to "buy" somebody else's ingenuity--we can personalize and reproduce our very own, and in our own creative style. The idea is priceless! And then you have the benefit of a running record of different options and culinary success stories. If you collaborated with a friend and/or make a coordinating recipe book--that would ROCK! I'm thinking about my teenage daughter and how this would make a great values project that would benefit her for a lifetime! http://733blog.blogspot.com/2010/09/another-freebie-from-closed-shop.html

Monday, November 7, 2011

All stores are not created equal...

I'm so ticked off with Fred Meyer and their lame new coupon policy...that I'll have to give you the whole story tomorrow...after I cool off!


Later..... (Sorry for the long post--but there's some important facts in the details that could save you some time and money!)

I, normally, wouldn't be so angry about a legitimate misunderstanding with a store's policy regarding coupons. But what got me going tonight was an incident that occurred at my local Fred Meyer when I stopped in to get a few things that I've been wanting to stock up on. S&W beans are on sale again this week, so I stopped in after running some errands, to pick up an assortment of the legumes, along with some other groceries for dinner.

I was not aware that the chain had adopted a new coupon policy as of October 2011. (Probably due to their felonious media coverage via TLC's Extreme Couponing that showed a shopper abusing existing coupon policy at a NW Fred Meyer.) Because when my transaction was totalled tonight, for almost $40, I handed the cashier one coupon for tortillas and 20 coupons for the beans--but no coupons for the 3 packs of meat. They were manufacturer's coupons that stated: "Save 50 cents on any 2 cans of S&W beans". The manufacturers' permit one coupon per product--unless otherwise stated on the coupon.

I wasn't trying to double, overlap the coupon with store coupons, or buy 500 cases of noted items. What I thought would be an easy and straight forward transaction--turned into the first time I've ever left a cart of groceries at a store!

I was not aware of the change in coupon policy--nor was it noted anywhere in the store to inform me of such. I'm very on top of my couponing game, following the rules and policies to the letter--because that is how I teach people how to save when they are shopping and it is what I expect others to do when they are using coupons as well. But this little episode threw me for a loop. The coupons I had were general manufacturers' coupons without any limitations for use in the verbage printed on the coupon. The only hold-up was the store denying me use of them. **see store policy below

I did not clear the shelf. I did not try to use any computer generated coupons. I wasn't snippy and rude to the employees, other then asking what the new policy was and why it was so. What I heard from 4 different employees was basically the same. But that was different from what I read in the actual store policy on their website--which I had to wait to see until I got home.

I was told that I would only be able to use 5 of the coupons, of which the cashier proceeded to hand me 16 of them back. I asked him what the policy was and said that the store would only accept 5 coupons per customer per day. Yep. Then I said that we could break the beans up into 3 more transactions then--eliminating the problem. Nice and easy? No go there, either. A CCK manager was called over and she basically said only 5 coupons as well. I was in disbelief at the sheer disregard for the value of the consumer and their relationship with the store. Five coupons? Really? I'm buying 43 items and have 21 coupons. OK. I got a little frustrated when they wouldn't work with me. Then I got a lot more frustrated when the manager gave the cashier a wink for "catching" the problem and enforcing the lame "store policy".

Isn't there bigger issues in the world to concentrate on then rationing the number of coupons people hand you? Expiration dates, size limitations, purchase quantities...those are all dictated on the coupon by the manufacturer. I followed the rules. And the store said rules are not working. The product doesn't stay on the shelf when people buy things with coupons. REALLY? How about this this concept--order MORE when you have great sales and then you will sell MORE--regardless if the shoppers have coupons or not. Fence off the deals--and shoppers will find greener pastures else where!! And those stores will be thrilled to make up the difference! I know...because I spent A LOT of money at Fred Meyer!

Now--to put things in perspective. I worked for Fred Meyer for almost 10 years. And I realize that things have been updated and systems upgraded in the 12 years I've been an acting-CEO of my own SAHM-business. So let's put it this way--I've personally shopped Fred Meyer, as a consumer and loyal customer, for almost 25 years. It was preached then that the customer is always right. Now, I don't really believe that--because I saw a lot of dishonesty and crumbs floating through the store, but I do believe in customer loyalty programs and have a general understanding of how the retail stores act as mediators to the public for the manufacturers. That relationship is capitalized on with the coupon redemption policy as stated on every individual coupon taken by the store. The store will be reimbursed the face value of the coupon, plus an 8 cents handling fee per coupon. Stores get fat checks back from the manufacturers' for honoring their coupons and stocking the products for consumers to buy.

In the cashier training I went through yonks ago--it was interesting to note that store director's received cushy bonuses every year, dependent upon how well their stores performed--ie...how high the sales were. Much of those bonuses were paid from the profit margins (the 8 cents per coupon profiting margin), relating to sales' and coupon usage. Stores with higher coupon usage, actually had higher profit margins then their counterparts--and those director's were financially compensated in kind for those increased sales. So the attitude then--and until recently--was bring those coupons ON! So today was the first bad experience I've had with a retailer regarding the general use of coupons, ever!! And I didn't expect it to come from good ol' Fred Meyer.

The policy change I was referred to is found at: http://www.fredmeyer.com/. The store didn't even have a copy of their own coupon policy at the customer service desk. I asked to speak to the store director--they were conveniently on a phone call somewhere else. The home manager was brought up. Poor guy. He doesn't deal with food--let alone coupons. I explained to him the policy as stated by the other 3 employees. He didn't know why the policy was in place and said he felt sorry for me. He encouraged me to fill out a comment card and send it to the corporate offices. I agreed to do that.

I told him that I could take a copy of any store ad, Fred Meyer's included, to another store [the big W], and have the prices matched and coupons taken without a limitation or restriction to the number of manufacturers' coupons. I chose to shop at Fred Meyer instead. But I will not shop at a store that is so clearly bigoted as to limit my personal savings in direct relationship to the number of coupons I have to use. I'm still free to choose who takes my money-and my coupons! So which store do you think wants my business?


I've been plugging in my phone number at Fred Meyer for years now--so they can keep track of the dollar amount and the actual purchases I've made. Quite a stellar history, I'm sure. They can see the continuity and volume of items that I have bought. They have no problem sending me a quarterly "gift card" and sheet of coupons as a fiscal reward for being such a loyal customer. But yet they won't take $10-worth of manufacturer's coupons--for a store profit and return of $11.68.

So I was pissed off enough to call the 1-800 number on the comment card. I got absolutely NO WHERE talking to "Pablo" about the discrepancy in the customer loyalty policies versus coupon policy. My complaints were "noted" but I was told that basically it was "too bad, so sad". Um. Yea. That was a shocker. Pissed and now seeing RED. This is the company that preached customers, customers, customers. I'm guessing that that policy is no longer dictating what is going on there. Because-trust me--I would rather shop at a grocery store that will take any and all of my valid coupons in exchange for my customer loyalty.

And while I'm on it--that includes everything that I purchased that WASN'T groceries. "One Stop Shopping" is a gimmicky sales' slogan for "add-on" sales. And like most customers, I shop all the departments when I go in for groceries. So when I don't go in for groceries--the obvious, right? I won't be shopping for anything else, either.

So to the moronic customer service dude--I will tell my friends about the lousy policy changes. I will tell them that they need to shop at chains that value their business and honor the coupons that make the store profit and succeed. I hope that every couponer out there writes Fred Meyer and lets them know what they think of their policy that sets the store up as a fiscal tyrant who determines who can save money and who can't!

I totally get that Fred Meyer is owned by Kroger. So my question to him was and still is--why isn't the policy consistent throughout the company? Why do other Kroger-owned stores have more customer-progressive coupon policies? Why are other parts of the market and regions held to a different standard?
And why don't you come up with a better inventory and ordering program for your sales if you think that you are going to get "sold out" by people using coupons?

It makes me grateful for stores like Albertsons', Walgreens, Rite Aid, Safeway, and many others--that value my right to buy as many of anything that I want--and have no problem taking the appropriate number of valid coupons allowed as per the manufacturer! Cash is still King--and mine won't be going to Fred Meyer until their coupon policy is more customer-friendly!!

So read the policy closely--because you will also note that the verbage is ambiguous. All of those employees I talked to tonight didn't even understand their own store policy regarding coupons! It is true--the manager denied me use of the coupons--as stated is their right in the policy here. But the explanation was because I exceeded the number permitted--5. Whereas, the policy says that "when buying multiples of an item, only 5 coupons will be accepted in the same transaction". The cashier said I couldn't do any other transactions today and use the additional coupons--and that was also validated by the manager. But that is NOT what the policy states. True, this--"coupon policy is subject to change at anytime."

And I'd be interested to know what they would have to say if I were to buy 20 different things, each with a coupon. According to what they told me--I would still be only able to use 5 of my 20 coupons, even though they were all different. I'm so tired of the policy being interpretted by general employees. The policy should be clear and concise--with no need for clarification as to what they really mean. I hope they aren't telling a poor Grandma that's wielding 9 coupons, in her arthritic hand, that she's only allowed 5 and not 9, of those precious coupons!

So--shoppers', Beware. Follow the advice of the thrifty mom...at www.athriftymom.com, and print the store policies and take them with you when you shop with coupons. Not everyone got an A in English for the use of words and their meanings. If I took this policy in--I would have been able to show them what they said I could do--rather then getting the short end of the stick on my legume purchase plan. Oh well. Like I told Mr. Customer Service--it would pay more to please the customer then to ride on the coattails of ambiguity and disloyalty!

http://www.fredmeyer.com/help/Pages/coupon_policy.aspx

Fred Meyer Coupon Guidelines
Updated October 2011
This policy is intended as a general guide to using coupons at Fred Meyer stores. Because there are many different types of coupons from many different sources, a single coupon policy can’t possibly be all-encompassing. However, these guidelines apply to most coupon situations.Coupon policy is subject to change at any time.
The Fred Meyer store manager has the right to accept, decline, or limit the use of ANY coupon upon view.
When buying multiples of an item, no more than 5 manufacturer’s coupons for that product will be accepted in the same transaction, and only 1 manufacturer’s coupon can be applied to each item.
We accept coupons from Fred Meyer ads, mailers, flyers, emails, web sites and in-store displays. Our coupons will state any limitations and/or restrictions. Some of these coupons are Fred Meyer coupons and some are manufacturer’s coupons. The coupon will state if it is a manufacturer’s coupon.
Customers must present coupons in order to receive the coupon price.
Amount refunded cannot exceed the cost of the item.
We accept all valid, current manufacturer's coupons. We do not accept expired coupons or manufacturer’s coupons that state they are valid only at another listed retailer (i.e., "Good only at Safeway"). Exception:
Most Catalina coupons (the coupons that print out for you at check stands) are manufacturer’s coupons and are stated as such. Catalina coupons that are printed with another retailer’s name may be accepted at Fred Meyer. Note: This only applies to Catalina coupons and not to other manufacturer’s coupons that are designated as valid for use at a specified retailer.
We do not double or triple coupons.
We accept Pharmacy Competitor Coupons, but do not accept any other competitor's coupons.
Coupons cannot be combined with certain special pricing programs, including $4 and $10 generic prescription pricing in our pharmacy.
We accept valid, current print-at-home Internet coupons, including those sent to you in Fred Meyer emails or that you find on http://www.fredmeyer.com/, facebook.com/fredmeyer and twitter.com/fred_meyer. "Free" item Internet coupons can be accepted only if all purchase criteria is met.
Only two Internet coupons per manufacturer, per Customer, per day will be accepted.
Internet coupons that display the following characteristics will not be accepted:
Blurry
Out of proportion
Do not scan properly
Appear altered in any way

Friday, November 4, 2011

Looking Forward to Black Friday

20 days, 10 hours, 8 minutes, and 5 seconds........and counting till Black Friday.

Black Friday has been a seasonal tradition in our household to over 2 decades. [I still think it's pretty wild that I'm "old enough" to say decade, let alone over two decades, when I reference something from my past!]

But coming from my retail experience--I had to work every Friday after Thanksgiving for 9 years, because it was the hottest shopping day of the year. I didn't relish punching the time clock at 5am, or before...but that was then. Now I'm usually at the store of my choice by 5am, or before.

The stores are getting more aggressive with their sales' tactics. They know that with the economy in the tank--there's only a finite amount of money that's going to be spent this holiday season--and they are going to their rock bottom to persuade you to come to their store versus the competition. I've already blogged about what Wal-Mart is doing to earn your business...but there are other stores that are upping the ante for your saving and shopping pleasure.

As I was looking at the Black Friday ads at http://www.black-friday.net/, I saw something that caught my attention. Rite Aid is going to be open all day on Thanksgiving Day. Hmmm. That's cool. That's one of the stores that I frequent. And if I get the dinner prepped and ready to go on Wednesday...it got me thinking of all the great deals I can be getting on Thursday instead of in the crowded chaos of Friday. Ah.


Last year, our family had most of our great deals acquired before Black Friday. Internet sales and pre-Black Friday ads were stellar. I wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing deals coming out early, this year, as well. It's all about competition and persuasion--and timing.

I'm pretty dedicated to saving the cash flow on my shopping excursions, but I've never been overwhelmed by the need to go all commando to score my great deals. I know people who really enjoy the thrill of the hunt--working the aisles with their walkie talkies and shopping lists, in the early morning of post-turkey day. I "get" that kind of mindset--but I shop like that all-year, rather than on the designated shopping NiGhTmArE day of the year. [I guess I'm not as cut-throat as some people are.] I sometimes think that the ungodly early morning sprees on Black Friday are all about the bumping and grinding at the stores' doors. I still feel guilt for bumping into people because I have no interest in the grinding through people to save $5--especially if I could save the same amount on a different day without the crowds!

But I am like the crazy shoppers when I actually find what I planned on getting still on the shelf. I have no guilt about taking the last item off the shelf when the crowds are turning into mosh pits...I just don't want to get hurt when Sally Shopper goes pSycho.]

Holiday shopping--even at 5am in the morning--is still exciting to me. I'm getting the things that I want to give in my seasonal tradition. And as the crowds line up for the fiscal fight of quantities versus customers, I still want to enjoy hearing holiday music on the speakers, eat donuts and juice at the front door, and feel the excitement of being "done" with buying for Christmas in November!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fall Savings!!

When I was researching the coupon industry's tactics and time tables a few years ago, I ran across an interesting tidbit of information that I think bears repeating. Manufacturer's flood the market with over $3 Billion dollars worth of coupons every year. Over half of those coupons are released in the last four months of the year--rather then the first 8 months. That is when consumers are the most predictable with their traditional menu production and consumption. They are eating at home more throughout the holiday season and need more supplies to whip up those tasty favorites. It's the HOLIDAYS--and we do our best celebrating with FOOD! In order to maximize sales and supersede brand loyalty--the quantity of coupons and savings amounts are greatly increased.



With all the changes in the Albertsons' coupon policy and the removal of the doublers from the stores--I haven't really noticed a great opportunity for stocking up on the predictable staples. But tomorrow is hopefully the start of the count-down deals till Christmas. The entire center pages are full of deals that will render additional savings via the Catalina print-outs. Many of the items require purchases in set quantities--and most have coupons that are available in the mass market. Some of them I found on the Internet sites that are free to print. There is a limit of two prints per computer address...but at least some of the coupons don't requirement any extra work to retrieve. One than one computer=2 additional prints :)


There are dozens of others items that are on sale that will also generate those Catalina's that act like money on your next transactions. I'm thinking that a few transactions with some aptly placed coupons will fill the pantry quite nicely, on this week's sales.


Another stellar deal is the Green Giant Vegetables 11-15o.25 oz 6 for $4 ($.67 each). You get back a $2 Catalina coupon when you buy 6; making the final price after Catalina $.34 a can. If you need green beans and corn in bulk--make sure that you call the store ahead of time and have them order the quantities and kinds that you would like, so that the infamous shelf-clearers (and they are out there in droves!), won't leave you empty-handed or with the flavors that nobody likes either! This is a great stock-up price, especially since you don't have to have any coupons to purchase at that price!


General Mills cereals are also going on sale. If you have coupons to layer on the sales' prices--it beats the other competitors' sales--hands down. On the link for the Jello deal above, there are also coupons for the cereal. Don't forget to go through all the different coupons to see what you can print from home for free. Quaker oats look like they would be a great deal if you get coupons to match.


I tell ya'!! Coupons work like magic. They are the only time that you will be able to pay for something with a piece of paper that acts like MONEY at the register--that you didn't have to earn or take from your financial savings account. Coupons are a form of payment that don't require you punching a time clock to earn. It really is the most amazing concept for saving the money that you did work hard to earn! So make sure that you go your ads this week and see what items you can buy that have coupons to match. And 'tis the season to Save, Save, Save.
**Fred Meyer started a great sale on Sunday, which will go through till Saturday. They have hundreds of items that are on a "Save $5 when you buy 10" program. One of the more stellar deals is the Campbells' Cream of Chicken and Cream of Mushroom soups that are 99cents a can. When you buy 10 of them, $5 automatically comes off--making them 49 cents a can. Great price...but if you have some coupons, which are rotating out there, you can save a lot more.


Think about the difference this way. There are coupons for 40cents off of 3 cans and 40 cents off of 4 cans out there. If you were to buy 4 cans of soup at the 99cent price and then apply one of those coupons...your total would go from $3.96 to $3.56 for four cans. But if you buy 10 cans at 99cents, $5 comes off, making the new total $4.90. If I had 3 of the 40cents off of 3 coupons--I could use 3 of them on this transaction. They would reduce the total to $3.70. That is only 14 cents more than the original example--and you are getting 6 cans more soup. If you were to stock up on the items that your family uses the most of with these kinds of sales (and they repeat cyclically--so no worries about this being a one-time gig that won't ever come your way again...), note the difference in the amount of food you would have on hand in comparison to not taking advantage of the sale with the coupon. You can put more food on your shelves that will be your cost savings until the next sale comes around. You save long after the sale is over. It's amazing! And you don't have to have a lot more money to make a difference in the amount you would like to buy.


Another stock-up item found at Albertsons' this week: Jello 3oz packages or pudding packages--4 for $3; Buy 4 and get $1 back. Applying the coupon that you can print here--will increase the savings tremendously. This is a great stock-up price because it's less than 19cents a box and it includes the variety of puddings. Yum!http://www.coupons.com/couponweb/Offers.aspx?pid=14997&zid=iq55&nid=10&bid=1101221106cf273e082781673e0827816


What to do with all those pudding mixes? Try making these cookies!






AWESOME Chocolate Chip Cookies
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
2 (3 1/2 ounce) packages vanilla instant pudding mix
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups walnuts, chopped (optional)
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour and baking soda, set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips and nuts. Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Edges should be golden brown.Read more: http://www.food.com/recipe/chocolate-chip-cookies-using-instant-vanilla-pudding-409814#ixzz1cWXwAYNj

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Christmas Sticker Shock...or Savings?



I read an article on yahoo today that sent fireworks off in my head. Happy firework displays and little, but alarming ones. Wal-Mart has a new holiday strategy to lure you away from the competition. http://news.yahoo.com/wal-mart-ups-ante-holiday-price-matching-070217877.html They are taking their price matching policy to the extreme! They are going to match the lowest price of any competitor store (including deals from Black Friday and Doorbusters) and they are going to price-match from from November 1-December 25. the customer will get the difference back in the form of a in-store gift card.

That seems pretty cool in a multitude of ways. For example, what if Barbie's dream car is normally $249. Hypothetically speaking, for Black Friday, it goes on sale for $149 at Target. If Wal-Mart has the product, you buy it there for $149, show them the competitor ad, and they'll give you a $100 gift card. That's like handing you an additional $100 for other Christmas shopping or groceries! They are definitely trying to drag the customer base back home to Mama!

In a practical sense, that is going to be hard to compete with for the stores that have most of the same non-food items as the big W! Many customers are loyal to Target, Fred Meyer, Shopko, Walgreens', Rite-Aid, and others, because they seem to have a different clientele and volumes more people on the aisles. But fiscal crunches are making even the snobbiest consumer reconsider the costs of much wanted Christmas trivialities or gifts for the fam!

And the large retailer is making it as simple as possible for the fiscally smart shopper! "... With the latest incentive, Wal-Mart is offering an even more hassle-free way of guaranteeing shoppers they'll get the best price and giving shoppers more of a reason to go to Wal-Mart first for their holiday needs.


Shoppers don't have to bring back purchases to Wal-Mart in order to take advantage of better prices elsewhere. They just need to bring in the receipt and the local printed ad to the customer service desk."

Wal-Mart brought back their layaway program for the holiday season as well. For many that don't want to go into debt for gifts but don't have the cash to buy everything they want before the shelves are cleared--this is an awesome way to "pay as you go" with your holiday buys. [Beware of "fees" that go along with this kind of deal and the money down that is required for start-ups.] But Wal-Mart is doing another smooth deal for the layaway customers with their extreme price-matching program.

"Furthermore, even items placed on layaway will be eligible for the company's "Christmas Price Guarantee" program. Wal-Mart is also hoping to tap into another stream of revenue — by giving shoppers the price difference in the gift cards, it's hoping customers will come back and spend more than the value of the card."

So any way you cut it--I think you know that Wal-Mart wants your business. Watch for other great deals coming your way this holiday season. It's not like stores not to offer the public some friendly competition. Now you have multiple places that you can ascertain your hauln before G-day!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Give Life the Bird!



I definitely have another OCD issue to work on...Pinterest. Yep. It's a real word and it's a real problem. But like most addictive personalities...I'm not complaining, but rather just admitting that I am easily obsessed and overwhelmed with the incredible amounts of inspiration and possibilities.

I've always credited myself with knowing how to save a buck, how to maximize my time, and how to satisfy the pickiest palette. So that's why I'm totally bemused that I haven't been aware of what some of you have been doing with those tasty Rotisserie chickens from Costco! WHY am I just now finding out the 101 uses of the bird besides using it as a quick meal in a fix or for dressing up leftovers???

Not too long ago, I asked a friend of mine what she was making for dinner. She described a delicious chicken tortilla soup that was boiling. I said that it must have taken quite some time to simmer and cook. Oh No!! She was boiling a rotisserie chicken that she had picked up at Costco a couple of days before with a few vegetables she just chopped. Whoa. You can boil a rotisserie chicken??? I had no idea! I never thought you could do that. I haven't thought to cook what was already cooked. But why not? No reason--and it's already seasoned. Boiling just loosens the meat from the bone and creates a flavored broth from the juices and vegetables.


I am such a visual learner and obviously that is not something that I've seen done or have heard of before. I mention this here because the Costco bird is guaranteed to be 3lbs after cooking. It's only $4.99 [in comparison to other stores that have their rotisserie chicken between $5.99-7.99!] It's fully cooked and ready to go. In the container is lots of juices from the roasted meat that has since rested and the meat is always tender and perfect. Doing the math--that's $1.67 per pound. In contrast, if I were to buy a raw, unprepared whole chicken...it would cost anywhere between 99cents-$1.99 per pound. Then I would need ample time to clean, season, and cook the chicken before consumption or meal preparation.

So, dear reader, the question is--what is my time worth, or yours--for a fully cooked bird at $1.67 a pound versus a rough mid-price range of $1.50 a pound for raw flesh? This penny-pincher has had her eyes opened and I've decided that I'm going to give a lot more attention to those juicy birds on the spit in the back of the store!

Now back to pinterest...I came across a website that the author must have known I would find eventually, because it was right up my alley!
http://www.peanutblossom.com/blog/2010/08/stock-your-freezer-how-to-use-rotisserie-chicken.html It caters to the recipes that freeze well (which I love!) and uses the rotisserie chicken to save time! So if I put two and two together--she is saving time and money by making the best and multiple uses of her rotisserie chickens! I feel like doing whooping yell of "Why NOT!" So in my fridge is sitting a rotisserie bird that I picked up today. The kids were begging to just eat the chicken--but I'm holding out! I'm going to boil it Sunday for dinner...and I can't wait!!

I'm thrilled. That's the best use of time and money in domesticity that I've come across in a long time! I feel revitalized in my love of fowl! And just in time for the seasonal time-crunch! I'm going to get started on my plans to give my life the bird since I need to stock the freezer with quick, ready-made meals; reacquaint myself with recipes that I rarely make because there's too many steps from preparation to gracing the dinner table; and I'm going to try a few new recipes to add to my meal repertoire. That is my Ode to the Rotisserie Chicken!




Friday, October 14, 2011

Poor, Poor Peanut Crops.......








It's an interesting thought, when you think of how many of the major crops that produce staples in the American diet, have failed in recent years. We've heard about the price of corn soaring, the blight in wheat fields, the decreased availability of rice...and now peanuts. The droughts and low yield of peanuts this year has recently been reported going to lead to a major increase in the cost of peanut butter and other peanut-based products.

It's just one more tidbit to ponder over when you start your shopping adventures and notice the shocking increases in the costs of food. I'm totally convinced and dedicated to the principle of short-term and long-term food storage. I can weather this peanut crisis better than most. But for the average consumer--what will your spread of choice be when you are choosing between $5 a jar peanut butter and 33cent cans of tuna? It's not like we eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches everyday--but when the prices soar and you run low in the pantry reserves, you always seem to crave it more then before. Know what I mean? So with the elements and crop failures out of our control...those few bottles of peanut butter, that are stacked somewhere between the diced tomatoes and the elbow macaroni, seem like my personal nuggets of gold right now.
http://www.wreg.com/news/wdaf-prepare-to-shell-out-the-dough-for-peanuts-20111011,0,438043.story?track=rss

Organizations and families that rely on these staples obviously are going to feel the price increases the most. But like corn products and by-products that we take for granted--we don't always see the number of brands that include peanuts, peanut oil, or make peanut-based products. We'll see increased prices in numerous candies, sauces, oil, and oil by-products.

It just makes me want to go NUTS!!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Layering the Deal...

I've talked a lot about all the different ways to score a great deal. The potential is as endless as people are creative (and honest ;) But one of the best ways to save the most amount of "actual cash" output--is to "layer the deal". I don't know if that's a real "couponer" term...but I have my own definition about what it entails. I'll illustrate with a few scenarios coming up in actual store ads.

For example, a multitude of stores have Cover Girl make-up products on sale right now. You can buy them at the grocery store for 25% off. But grocery stores usually charge higher prices to begin with, so maybe, not the best place to stock up, if you know what I mean. Then the drug/combo stores--like Target, Fred Meyer, Shopko...they'll put them on-sale for 25-40% off. A lot of the traditional drug stores, like Walgreen's, Rite-Aid, CVS...get a bit more creative with the numbers and make you think about the percentage off with "Buy one, Get one 50% off"...which can generally mean 25% off both items--but requires a purchase of a minimum of two items. Wal-Mart likes to boast that they don't do weekly sales because they are already beating everyone else's prices...but not necessarily TrUe, if you shop the sales, like I do.

So which sale do you use the coupons on? Depends. The principle of using the coupon never changes. The key is to place the coupon on the lowest priced item. Wal-Mart boasts their prices are the lowest. But it's a numbers game. Sure they might have an exact item at Target for $3.99, and it's $3.97 at Wal-Mart. There is no lie in their claim because it is a whole 2 cents cheaper. But say our hypothetical item is Cover Girl Blush for $3.99--the same price at Walgreen's. But at Walgreen's it's included in the "Buy one, Get one 50% off" deal. The verbiage indicates that I must buy two to get the deal; thus making the price of one item $3.99 and the second $1.98, for a total of $5.97. So the decision on which store is really the best place to buy the items becomes contingent on the coupon itself. Is it for one item or two?

If the coupon's usability is determined by a purchase of multiple items--the items at the traditional drug store are then the lowest price. For example, a coupon that is for "Save $1 on 1 item" makes every store the same price, within pennies. You only have to buy one item to use the coupon. [But also--if you buy 2 items and use the coupons anyway--you are still paying more then if you had used the coupons on the exact same products at Walgreens'.] If the coupon states that it is for two items, you still want to hold true to the principle of placing the coupon on the lowest prices--making the drug store the better deal in the end.

So, ultimately--it's your call. But!!! Many of the drug stores, and sometimes the grocery chains, offer additional savings on top of weekly ad reductions, that will sweeten the deal and increase the savings substantially. My case in point is that next week Rite Aid has Cover Girl products on sale for "Buy one, Get one 50% off"--just like this week, but they also have an Up Reward that will generate for $10 with a $30 purchase of the products. Now the $10 is like saving another 33% off the already reduced sales' prices...before coupons are taken at the register.

So while Cover Girl is on sale at Walgreens' and Rite Aid this week for the exact same prices...the deal becomes a no-brainer next week with the additional $10 back for the same prices. There is a limit of 1 $10 per household (or Wellness card users), but the $10 Up Reward can be used on any items in the store. I like to use the register rewards to purchase items that will generate additional rewards, so that I ensure that the savings cycle continues. I call this "layering the deal"--because not only am I taking advantage of a traditional "sale", I'm capitalizing on the store's savings programs for increased savings, and then I'm using coupons in conjunction with the lowest prices for the ultimate savings! That's a total of three discounts on each item, for a "layered" savings.

I think that I already highlighted the coupons that came in last week's ad pack for Cover Girl's face products--Save $8 on 2 items. SteLLaR CoUpOn!! But combine that with the BOGO deals--and even it's greater. And combine it with an additional $10 to spend on anything--and it's StuPeNdOuS!!!!

So when you are looking through your weekly deals, make sure to peruse the store ads to compare the sales to each other. Comparing and contrasting highlight the savings you can have if you are patient. There are mega deals to be had. (HELP!! The epinephrine is starting to flow and the sale doesn't even start till next week!!)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Deals of the Day...

Deals tend to run in highs and lows. Some weeks are like bumper crops of retail greatness and other weeks are just plain drought-worthy. But I'm a firm believer in plugging along. But it does seem somewhat out of my routine not to be heading to my favorite drug store every morning this week--while just last week, I became personally acquainted with at least 20 "beauty advisers" in my extreme shopping escapades in the greater Spokane area. I'm taking a well-deserved break from the big W--until, maybe, tomorrow...

Case in point--you know it's a "great deal" when the man of the house isn't complaining about how long I'm gone or that it's the sixth store in one day or that I've been to Walgreen's six days in a row. Last week I stocked up on costly razors for pennies on the dollar, loads of toothpaste and toothbrushes, granola bars, Kettle chips (yum!), OxyClean tablets, maxi pads, and Carmex body lotions...just to name a few. After using the 12 cent Halloween cups as my "filler item" on every transactions--let's just say, I have enough cups for half of the kids that go to our local elementary. (CrAzY!! I know...but it was the cheapest item in the store last week to use for the blessed little transactions that needed just one more item to let me use all of the coupons in conjunction with the register rewards as well). After accumulating the stockpiles I planned for, and then some--I still had over $60 in Register Rewards that don't expire till 10/15.

Most weeks work great when you can just roll the previous register rewards onto the next week's deals. But this week is kind of dry. I usually like to place my register rewards on items so that it will also generate a new reward and still be able to use a manufacturer's coupon. There aren't a lot of those kind of deals going on at the big W this week...so I'm going to hold back a few to use on the next week's ad. That's the beauty of the register reward--while they have a shelf-life--it's usually a couple of weeks that you can cross them over onto new and different ads.
I did stock up on Act II popcorn tonight while I was waiting for one of my kidlets' dance lessons to get over. The individual packages are on an in-store coupon for 4 for $1. I purchased 36--using $8-worth of register rewards--and only had to chip in $1 for the difference!! Since there is no sales' tax on food items in our state--it was a clean transaction with only one greenback being handed over. That was worth it too! Most boxes of popcorn go for $2-3 a box, with only 3-4 bags per box. Register rewards paid the bulk of the price and left me paying around 2.5 cents per package. For that price...let them eat popcorn--instead of cake, right?

It's only the beginning of October, but now is the time to start watching for deals on Halloween candy. Walgreen's has their Mars candy bags on sale 2/$5 with a $1 off coupon in their monthly coupon booklet. Most of the coupons from that book expire on 10/22--so consumer, beware, lest you miss the chance to buy the candy on sale with multiple coupons allowed! If you can get your hands on some of the manufacturer's coupons that are in circulation, you are allowed to use a store coupon with a manufacturer's coupon--and combining those towards the sale price, you can get the bags as low as $1 each! That's tremendous, especially if you get as many trick-or-treaters as we do!!

One other great deal I noticed that doesn't have a register reward--but may just be too good to pass up--is the deal on Cover Girl Cosmetics at the big W. They are on sale for Buy 1, Get one 50% off. Not too shabby, as sales go. But there was the most amazing coupon in the Sunday paper that will have this one flying off the shelves. The coupon was Save $8/2 on Cover Girl face products. Uh. Yep. That's noteworthy because a pressed powder is around $5.99. The second one would be $3...add the coupon and you are paying 50 cents a piece (plus sales' tax). I love that kind of deal ;) I just may have to use a couple of my register rewards to make up the difference and call this one the "extreme deal of the day"!!

Remember to look at everything as a potential deal to be made. Just because it's not set up the way you thought would be best or most savings--maybe a strategically placed coupon will make it a better deal in the long run. You never know what's out there. The best shopping is done on-line (comparing ads with available coupons) or with the newspaper before you even get to the store. Have fun--and happy shopping!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Miz Persnickety Comments....



So I had a comment on my blog that needed "moderated" before it could be published or deleted.... It called me a hypocrite for talking so "nasty about overweight people". Of course, the commenter hid behind their statement, as it was posted from "Anonymous". But I just had a couple of thoughts I wanted to share with Miz Persnickety, regarding the general purpose of my last post.

[And just for the record--I am totally aware of the national trends in obesity and lifestyle choices. Thus I would never set myself up to be used as an Extreme Couponing model for the way I shop. What I do with coupons for my family is a blessing. I share my tips and ideas with others so that they can also be blessed. If I was truly a hypocrite--I wouldn't offer you any advice on how to save your hard-earned dough. So leave your impudent comments about my family and my kids in your empty wallet!]

My comments about Extreme Couponing were directed at the abuse of some shoppers, and particularly the ones that sometimes commit fraud. [Fraud is always a bad thing. But in any extreme case--it could also be a felony--and a serious trespass of moral and ethical values--but, nonetheless, a crime...just saying!] In this episode of Extreme Couponing with Faatima, what she was doing missed the "coupon fraud" title--just barely--but crossed over into unethical and abnormal behavior. She based her entire purchase around coupons that were not intended for the items that she purchased. And because there was no mention of size restrictions on her particular coupons, the store honored them--although the pictures clearly showed full-size boxes, and not trial-size single servings. Fine. I have no problem with that. But she went on to purchase ONE THOUSAND boxes--all of which had a 6-9 month expiry date clearing noted on the box--all for a family of three people. Bells went off in my head. Actually, more like screams! Screams that said SOMETHING is wrong here. She accrued a $500 deficit (what the store owed her) because of her "Save $1 on 2 boxes of cereal" coupon. It was a coupon of questionable use to begin with.

She deliberately plotted her purchase of 1000 boxes to cover a vast portion of the $1800 worth of more items--on which she used additional coupons for. This would mean that she was technically "doubling",tripling, or quadrupling and more, the savings of each coupon's face value! Many of which, I'm sure, openly stated that they are NOT to be doubled or tripled. **That is the gross abuse of the coupon's intended purpose.** But I'm thrilled she got her deceptive ways out in the open. Because you can guarantee that things are going to change! Most stores and chains have already added safety nets in the computer and register software to catch such actions. That's reality. You can't have something for free that didn't have a properly designated coupon applied towards it to begin with. Ask yourself this: Why would General Mills want to give any family $500 of free groceries and 1000 boxes of cereals??? Think on that and then tell me what you think they'll do to prevent that from happening again!

What is shown on TV for millions to see as their guide to shopping with coupons, is mostly, utter nonsense. As a fellow consumer--you need to be aware of why store policies change, how manufacturers market with coupons, how stores redeem coupons, etc. etc. etc. And when there is a NATIONAL CAMPAIGN showing the exploits of how one savvy shopper milked the system--you can be sure that the stores are going to catch on and make sure that there is NOT a national trend of coupon abusers rushing to the market!! So, Miz Persnickety, I could care less about the size, color, or gender of this or any other fellow couponer. But what I am concerned about is that she was being heralded as a great, albeit questionable, example of extreme couponing. And the icing on the cake was the ignorant comments about how she was going to ship it all to Hawaii!! Yep. And I thought we were talking about reality TV.

Things to remember: Food has expiration dates. It has to be rotated and used--not just stockpiled and mass accumulated. It's exceptionally heavy when you're talking about the massive amounts Extreme Couponers, like Faatima, have conglomerated (as depicted in the episode I am referring to). By the time she saves enough money to pay the freight charges to get out of her violence-riddled neighborhood--the bulk of the food won't be any good. The show is exasperating and a farcical example of the EXTREME. Extremely questionable. Not to mention that she was extreme in her approach, her attitude, and her quantities, but most importantly--she was extreme in her perception of Reality.

So my advice to anyone who is trying to learn mad couponing skills to make ends meet in today's economy--do not follow the example of sensational TV. Practice some common sense. Follow the store's rules. Be honest in your efforts and use of copuons. There's always going to be a bad apple in the bunch--but if you have a good relationship with your stores and yourself--couponing is a lifestyle choice and not a freak break from reality!

And despite Miz Persnickety's extreme criticism--I think couponing is awesome. It closes the gaps in what could be deemed as trying times for so many families. It empowers shoppers' purchasing abilities without relying on the arm of administrative government programs. It means that you can have peace of mind in times of draught, famine, economic, natural or financial disasters. It's a "savings account" of money you didn't have to spend. But that could all come to an end because some extremists efforts were capitalized on for ungainly purposes. The national retail market has already started to limit and quantify the amount of items sold to avoid exorbitant exploitation by greedy and selfish people. So file that thought, Miz Persnickety. And till then---Happy Couponing!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

EXTREME Thoughts on Coupons




I saw this article this morning--and totally agreed. Drug stores have added a whole new dimension to my super shopping streak. But there are things that I would never buy at the local drug store. Cereal. That's right. It already has a very convoluted price because it's an emergency/fast purchase item if you are really needed cereal when you stop for your health and beauty needs. But I have found some GrEaT deals on snack foods. Just yesterday I bought 18 bags of Bugles and Chex Mix at Walgreens. I had printed off the 50 cent on 1 and $1 off 2 coupons from the printable coupon sources and used them on the store sale of 99cents a bag. They are normally $2.49+, so 99 cents seemed like a fair price to begin with. But with the coupons--it went stellar. I threw a couple of Register Rewards in from other transactions--and I came under $5 for all the snack items. And the bonus--most of the expiration dates on the packaging are for June-August of 2012. There's no need to use these all up right away. It's an awesome deal, all the way around.

Normally I would not buy granola bars from a drug store. They go on sale at the grocery store way too often to worry about stockpiling an assortment from drug stores that don't usually have more then 8 boxes of one item on their shelves. But this week at Walgreens'--Nature Valley granola bars and Thins are on sale for 2/$4. In the ad circulars this weekend, there were lots of coupons for these very products. The best was 75 cents on Nature Valley Thins. That makes a box of these yummies only $1.25. Now that's fair and pretty good for a drug store, especially since they are also on sale at Albertsons' this week and the best price after the coupon is still $1.75 a box. So crunching the numbers pays off here--but don't plan to buy your stockpile of snack bars at Walgreens', unless you have made arrangements with the store to order the amount you would like to purchase ahead of time.

Last night, during some Internet researching, I came across two websites that might be a boon for couponers. I still have to go through them closer and try them myself--but from what I can gather so far--www.savingstar.com and http://www.dealoftheday.yp.com/ look like great places to get savings information for your local areas.

As one of my kids was flipping channels last night, they stopped on TLC's Extreme Couponing. I made him stop and we watched the episode with Faatima (LaRgE black lady who wants to move to Hawaii) and a military mom from Las Vegas. AGGG!! At first I thought the show was pretty awesome because it would inspire people to see the potential in planning their grocery trips and to use the coupons that are already available to the public. To me--couponing means building up a reserve and having things on hand that didn't cost me a fortune. But the nut jobs that TLC uses for their shows do not show practical shopping methods or common experiences. They capitalize on the hoarding, marketing abuse, and shocking behaviors or circumstances that lead to this kind of shopping. The episode wasn't too neurotic for me until the black lady started taking over 1000 boxes of single serving cereal at 25 cents a box, and paying for them with $1/2 coupons that were intended for larger boxes. Because the coupon didn't state that it was for a certain size or larger...the store took it. Ok. I get that. BUT 1000 BOXES??? Yep. She planned her whole savings trip around the purchase of this much cereal because it created an overage that the registers allowed her to use towards the purchase of other items. She had a $300 overage that she stockpiled meat and higher dollar items that didn't have coupons for. Thus the name EXTREME Couponing. And I don't remember what part of the country she was in or recognize the chain of stores--but that would NEVER go over here in Spokane. Our main grocery stores have registers that would stop that kind of coupon abuse.


She had her head wagging, and her attitude on display during the whole check-out time. [That's the kind of customer I would walk a mile away from if I were the grocery store.] NINE hours in the store and at least that many carts and she takes it out to her brand new truck and trailer. The most idiotic and outrageous thing I heard her say was that she was building up her food supply because she was going to take it all with her to Hawaii--which they were saving money to get there. And she was going to take ALL of her mounds of food with her. Um. Yea. Stupid!! Obviously she hasn't checked with freight companies that ship belonging to Hawaii--because you have to pay by the pound for your belongings to be transported. So, MOST people would be eliminating whatever is the heaviest and bulkiest--like FOOD--to save money on freight charges. But Faatima is thinking that all her "free" food is going to Hawaii with her. Well--good luck with that, because it won't be so "free" after she pays the exorbinant amount to move it!

I just have one other friendly bit of advice for "Faat"-ima and her man. They need to revisit the story about the Alphabet tree before they head for the land of palm trees. Some very important letters like HCG would come in very handy so that they can save even more money! Like for airplane tickets. Right now, they'd have to buy FIVE+ tickets to get their family of three to Hawaii. Those three little--or big letters, depending on how you look at them--could save them a lot of money when the airlines won't force them to buy TWO seats a piece to see those palm trees. Plus!! She's really going to need that extra money to pay the shipping costs for all that food! Lord, Have Mercy!

I think the next part that made my skin crawl was the previews for an upcoming episode with the North Carolina woman who deems herself the "Shelf Clearer". Yep--that's a proud title. She was snotty enough to say--too bad--you should have gotten here earlier. Ugh. Such white trash mentality. Who really needs 56 bottles of Hot Sauce? I get hoarding. I really do. I hoard things that I'm going to USE!! Toilet paper. Cereal. Canned vegetables. But hot sauce? Not so much. And I doubt she will either--and she just made it impossible for the customer that wants to buy the ONE bottle, that would last them a year, impossible. Rude!! http://insidetv.ew.com/2011/08/31/extreme-couponing-season-2/

Watch this clip to see the annoying woman at work! Now I confess--I've cleared a few shelves myself. But I've also shared when others have asked...and I don't clear the shelves of things that I won't personally use. But never to the extent that the Queen of North Carolina does here. There definitely is no shame in using a coupon anymore! But she is the perfect reason as to why stores place limits on certain products. It's the abuse of the store and their desire to please all customers that truly impedes the power of a single coupon user. Stores don't want unhappy customers and shoppers like QNC make for other unhappy shoppers. So watch out! Changes will be made. Quantities rationed. Policies updated. It's already happening in other parts of the grocery universe.

Couponing has become a new sport. Once naysayers, now reformed, are filling their carts with items that match sought after coupons. Printable coupons have made searching and clipping anonymous coupons less tedious. Coupons equal money saved. And a whole new breed of shoppers is coming to life. But that brings some pros and CONS with it, as well. Fraud. Coupon fraud is rampant. I know it's out there. I preach against it. But now I've seen it. Guess where? That's right--on Extreme Couponing! The show is such a breeding ground for misinformation and abuse. The most notorious example is Jamie Kirlew from Maryland that appeared in one of the first episodes. Check out her abuses! http://jillcataldo.com/alleged-tlc-extreme-couponing-fraud My advice: DO NOT DO WHAT SHE DOES!!

Crime is crime. She is the poorest example of what couponing is all about. She's a coupon whore. Agg......did I really just say that? Yep. It's true though. And I hope they nail her butt to the wall for it. Everyone should play by the rules. Too much of our world has revolved into an Entitlement mentality. And with the extreme publicity--we can see how there are those who would steal and cheat a system that was designed to help them out. Shame on her! And even more shame on those who thought what she did was no big deal!! (You've got to read those comments under the article to see what I'm talking about! People truly amaze me with their total disregard for honesty and fairness).

Coupon. Coupon. Coupon. Save as much money as you can--and always use a coupon. It's a lifestyle choice. Maybe coupons are lifestyle enablers in hard economic times. Maybe they are a source of entertainment and activity. Maybe they are an addiction :)))) But for whatever reason that you use them--use them properly and they will bless your life. And one more thing--don't watch Extreme Couponing for tips or methods for "how it is done"...see it for what it is--entertainment. Reality TV is not Real Life. There's a little truth in everything--but it's usually wrapped up in a bunch of pretty little lies. Be smart. Learn your store policies. Be honest. Follow the rules. And you will start saving money in earnest when you do what is right!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Awesome Albertsons' Goes "Printable"



I thought I would check http://www.thekrazycouponlady.com/ and it was a HIT!! There was atiddly-bit about Albertsons' offering doublers that can be printed from home!! Oh My Gosh...goodness is still out there. You don't have to buy the Sunday paper to get a set of doublers. Wooooo-HOOOOOOOOO!! When the the chain stopped making the doublers available in the store, I knew that the major stock-up days were dwindling. It meant the only way to get doublers in mass quantity would involve buying, begging, or stealing them. I have serious moral issues with two of these methods, and for the third--I'm a cheapskate! What good would it do to spend $2 just to save $3. That's like taking two steps forward and one step back. So the printables are BRILLIANT because they are free!! Thank you, Thank you, and Thank you Albertsons'. Go here to print a set of your own.


The doublers will double any coupon up to the face value of $1. But, for example, if the item you are attempting to buy is 99 cents and you have a $1 coupon...the register will automatically adjust the doubler to 99 cents. No more getting credit for things that you don't "pay for". Albertsons' has done major overhauls on the way they handle their sales with mass coupon usage now. I think that it's mostly from the "extreme" publicity that TLC's "Extreme Couponing" show brought to the chain, that showed some savvy shoppers applying their windfall savings towards items that didn't have coupons applied towards them. No more "free meat" or "freebies" driving your totals into the negative balance. You can only get exact store credits courtesy of new software on the registers.


The northwest region doesn't have any stores that routinely double coupon values except for Albertsons'--who limit that privilege to a total of three per customer per transaction (up to three transactions in a row)--and only if they have the hard ad with the double coupons, in hand. And the access to the doublers has been severely tightened by no longer being able to get them in the store itself. It's driving many of the novice couponers to steal...literally. I know that I've ranted before about being honest...but hard times seems to have some people shelving their morals and principles for the sake of $3. (BTW--so not worth the sale of your integrity....)


So under the circumstances, I'm extremely pleased that I was able to print a set of doublers at no cost and also have the doublers that I got from our Sunday paper. It will be worth the trip tomorrow to use them. Especially on the items that are taking an additional $5 off when purchased in sets of 10. Go to http://www.albertsons.com/ to see which ones.