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The Queen of Coupons Reigns......
Sunday, February 27, 2011
I'm not much of a Big K shopper, but I'm easily converted to a good deal--especially if the "free" word is a possibility. So here's the skinny on the Kmart deal. They are having a Super Double manufacturer's coupon event. That means that they will double five manufacturer's coupons up to $2 in value per day per customer. That's awesome. Unlike Albertsons', where you have to have the store insert with the bar code to scan that doubles up to three coupons per transaction over a 3-day event--Kmart will double 5 per day--per customer--all week long. So loading up the belt, for transaction after transaction, probably won't fly with this store--but if you skim through the ad and can match up some coupons with the products that are already on sale with a transaction total of at least $25 before coupons and doubling--that makes for a stellar deal.
Like Albertsons' and many of the major store chains, in order to get in on the deal, you have to first have the cashier scan your "rewards card." You just fill out an application at the service desk and it's free. They link it to your telephone number and have a little widget that can go on your keyring. Like Fred Meyer or Albertsons, points accrue for freebies and coupons printed at the register. And in case you didn't know--Kmart is owned by Sears--and the register card works at both stores.
The only other stipulation that I want everyone to take note of here--is that the transaction total must be at least $25 of grocery and/or drugstore items. The general rule in advertising verbage--is that is the total before coupons are handed over and the five doubles taken. Like most stores, it's OK to get your goods for "free" and nearly free--but they will not "pay you" to take them...ie. go into the negative on the register amounts at the end of the transaction. So if you are heading to town with a handful of coupons this week, it might be worth stopping at Kmart to see if there's a steal of a deal waiting for you!
**Check out the coupons in the Sunday paper to get some that match the Procter and Gamble items that are on sale at Kmart this week. You can get an extra savings of $10 on a $35 purchase (prior to those coupons) if you buy things that qualify in this area--like Olay, Covergirl, Always, Gillette, Crest, Febreze, Dawn, Iams, and Duracell.
I read some articles today that set me thinking about saving money on our groceries. We saw the cost of sugar double last fall. Wheat and grains tend to be volatile with the supplies decreasing because of blight and being sold to overseas nations. We are in for some increasing prices, and it's not going to be pretty.
Increases are sometimes very subtle. We may not notice 3-4% on a box of cereal, especially if we are bargain shoppers and never pay full price. But I saw an increase that had me thinking about my poor little wallet. I was at Fred Meyer earlier this week getting bread for lunches when I did a double-take. Like most people, I have a certain kind of bread that I favor...Grandma Sycamore's white and wheat breads. I was a little put-out because the price was $3.19 a loaf. I splurge on good bread and don't think much of paying $2 a loaf. But that $1.19 per loaf increase really hit home because of the quantity we go through. I started doing the math on what that would add up to and it wasn't easy to swallow. So the increase wasn't just $1.19 once--but several times over. And that was just on ONE of the things that we go through quite a bit of. When price increases hit frequently used staples--we tend to notice what's hitting out pocketbooks harder.
There was an older lady studying the prices of the bread as I went to make my selection this day. I commented about the higher price of bread. She grumbled back at me that it wasn't just bread! My hand faltered. I couldn't pay that for the bread--even if I had enough means to do so. I quickly rethought my choice and went with a different kind that was $2 cheaper per loaf--although not a favorite. I whistled under my breath that my bread cost too much. The lady was right. Everything is going up. It doesn't take a a daily dose of reading the Wall Street Journal to notice the increasing prices at the grocery store. It's one of the few places that we repeatedly go to spend our hard-earned money and when we don't bring home the same amount of stuff that we used to for the same amount of money--we know!
I don't know if you've ever given much thought to "trickle-down" theories. But one very crude example goes like this: a bushel of wheat doubles in price to produce and is sent to market. The purchaser has to pay more to get the supplies it needs to make products and services for the public. But they are a business, not a charity--and the price of the wheat is added to the retail price of the products for the consumer to pay for. So the higher cost of production due to poor results in weather, or from higher demand versus product--are always passed on down the line. And very few consumers give much thought to how MUCH wheat goes into the things we consume. Cereals, breads, crackers, pastas, sauces, soups, puddings....everything with a wheat derivative in it--go up in price. So a box of cereal that used to go on sale for $1.50 a box, now goes on "sale" for $2.00 a box.Marketing lingo often disguises the increase in actual cost by tricking the consumer into thinking that they are buying the product "on sale." But in reality, the stores is just passing on the cost of production on to you--the customer. The rising cost of production ultimately comes down to YOU.
We feel the increase the most because all the costs have been added to the products that we rely on to feed our families.
Think about this same theory in regards to corn, sugar, and other grains. A year ago, you were able to buy a 25lb bag of rice at the store for approximately $10. Over night, the prices doubled and tripled because the US panicked that they had over-sold their GNP (gross national product) overseas and there wasn't enough for domestic use. So supply and demand meant a drastic increase in the cost of goods. If you wanted rice--it cost a LOT more money to buy it. A rise in demand results in a rise in price. And those with the most money get the product....
But what about us that want/need the product and cannot afford it? We are forced to do without until the costs go down...OR--we use what we have in our personal inventory, that was purchased before the prices sky-rocketed. [I noticed that our favorite little Teriyaki restaurant was forced to raise the prices on the menus when rice was pricey. When staples and goods cost more, the profit margins decrease and business owners are forced to either raise the prices to the public or go out of business].
I googled "food storage" on the net and found numerous ideas and plans that suggested economical and space-efficient ways to start building a family reserve. I suggest doing something that works for your space and budget--but do it. I'm a much better shopper than gardener, so my supplies run towards the things I can buy quite inexpensively--but other means of storing, producing, and harvesting are all excellent skills to incorporate into being prepared for harder economic times and volatile pricing.
I like the quote that says: "It's better to be prepared 10 years ahead, than 10 minutes too late." It's so true. Preparation brings a sense of security and helps ease anxiety over things that are out of our control. Preparation eliminates fear and desperation. "Now go and do something today."
If you have a little one in public school or that has attended preschool, you know that March 2nd is a special day. It's Dr Seuss' birthday and to celebrate you get "seussical"!! Target has joined in on the fun and are having a Free Storytime in their stores this Saturday. What fun!!
(This really should be a picture of Rite Aid and Walgreens =)
I have no more babies or shelving space lost to cases of diapers...but I still seem to have a homing device that senses a good deal for diapers. This week at Rite-Aid, there just might be one. Huggies jumbo packs are regularly $8.99. There is a UP reward (like the Catalina print-outs) for $2 a package. But it is also marked with the blue "Buy and Save" mark--which means it qualifies for the $20 Up reward when your totals of items with the blue "Buy and Save" marks reach $100. So, if you don't have a Rite-Aid savings card (free at any register)--it might be worth a trip to the local Rite-Aid this week. This cycle on the $100 worth of purchases end this Saturday, February 26th. Most likely, a new time period and selection of products will start on Sunday, February 27th. So there is still time to get that $20!
Going back to the Huggies deal at Rite Aid--the $6.99 price is before any manufacturer's coupons and discounts from any other Up reward incentives. If you are buying multiple packages of diapers to accrue the dollar amount towards that extra $20 in savings--it will actually total up fast with the diapers because of the higher dollar value. And another way to save even more is to not only use a coupon, but apply previous Up reward savings coupons. Bonus with the Rite Aid plan--you can buy multiple packages of diapers in one transaction and the register totals them and prints off the Up rewards at the end of the receipt. Whereas, in the deal that I outline below, you would have to do one package at a time/per transaction, in order to generate the register reward. [I was a non-biased diaper user, especially when it came to which I could get the better deal on--but it seems to me that Huggies' may win this competition based on expediency and overall savings].
A similar deal is going on with Pampers at Walgreens this week. Pampers are $8.99 with a $2 Register Reward, making them $6.99. Apply coupons, use other rewards and come up with a much better deal. Not that Pampers aren't a great product--but there isn't the $20 advantage on the store level. If that's inconsequential to you and you are a loyal Pampers-user--this may be the better game plan for your ankle-biter. Suggestion: if you are doing other purchases at Walgreens that will generate register rewards, do them first and then apply them to your diapers for additional savings. You still get the $2 reward from the package you buy. With Walgreens, you have to be careful not to use a register reward that came from a Pampers product on the Pampers you are currently buying--a new register reward will not generate at the end of your transaction. But if you use register rewards that you got from cereal, hair products, etc...it will. So just be careful [methodical]--and all will be well.
I like to take the Up rewards or Register Rewards and pay for my purchases with them. They act like "cash" and pay for my new purchases, saving all but the out of pocket expense of sales' tax. For example, last week I purchased 30 bottles of Speed Stick deodorant, earning me $30 in Up rewards ($2 for every set of 2). I paid for all but $2.76 (tax) with Up rewards from Colgate toothpaste that I had purchased the week before--also free except for sales' tax. I just rolled the savings from one week onto another and still walked away with another $30 in Up rewards to use next week. Valuable savings tool: If you apply the Up rewards to items that also generate an Up reward, then apply a coupon, you are doubling your savings and still getting more Up rewards to use next week. [I'm so enthralled with Rite-Aid right now that it's getting kind of addictive. But at least it's an addiction that doesn't cost very much or make me fatter!]
Another fair deal at Rite-Aid to look for is the Dove shampoo and conditioners. They are normally priced between $4.49 and $4.99 a bottle. They are on sale 2/$6 with an Up reward of $2 for a purchase of 2, theoretically making the product $4/2, or $2 each. There are coupons for $1 off each bottle available in cyberland. If you use Up rewards earned from the purchase of another item, you can buy this product for free and still have Up rewards to use on something else. Similar deals can be had on Kotex, dental products, household cleaners, snacks, and personal use products--all the time.
A similar deal on Herbal Essenses/Aussie/Pantene/Head and Shoulders started today at Walgreens. Everyone has to see what the best combination of goods works for their budget and which coupons they can get. I find it hard to pay over a certain dollar amount for hair care products because of what I was able to purchase them for in the past.
Tip: if you can get a great deal...stock up on the product, enough to get you buy till it comes on sale again, especially if it's free or near free. But don't clear the shelves of a product if it's not something your family normally uses. Other shoppers and the stores can get a little miffed at the inconsideration of hoarders, especially on the first day of a sale. But if it's a product that is regularly in stock, see if the store will give you a rain check for the sales' price (post-rewards price), rather than waiting for the product to come in past the sales' date, eliminating the possibility of the Up reward or the Register Reward. Most stores want to keep customer loyalty and will give a rain check for the product at the lower price. That creates a window of opportunity of having a "sale" whenever you want it, within the time frame of the rain check. Good luck and happy savings to you.
Alright. I eluded to the fact that Albertson's is featuring a fantastic Con Agra sale starting tomorrow--2/9. It's not as extensive in product range as before, but it's still a great deal to get in on and start building a food reserve with!
This is a high-dollar savings week for the advertised products, because the way the deal goes--you have to buy $25 worth of product at the regular price for the Catalina to generate the $10 coupon. In layman's terms, that's NOT sales' price. The qualifier for the $10 is based on the $25 of regular-priced items, but what you pay is based on the sales' prices. You then "roll" the Catalina for $10 that you get on the first transaction onto the subsequent transactions. Each transaction, purchasing in transactions of $25 increments, or thereabouts, will generate a new $10 Catalina print-out. You can accumulate a LOT of food for very little, if not free, quickly.
(There are a few other products included in this sale that I didn't research the prices of, but may be worth looking into: Snapple Fruit Drinks and Teas, Healthy Choice Complete Meals and Cafe Steamers, Reddi-wip, Marie Callender's Dinners and Steamers, Rosarita Salsa, Banquet Brown and Serve sausage and Dinners, Ro-Tel diced tomato varieties, frozen Kid's Cuisine, and assorted Healthy Choice lunch, dinner, and fresh mix entrees).
Sale Guidelines: SAVE $10 On Your Next Shopping Trip when you buy $25 or more of participating products. Purchase must be made in a single transaction using your Albertsons' Preferred Card. Coupon issued at checkout. Limit one coupon per transaction. Minimum purchase requirement calculated after manufacturer coupons.
What this means: You buy $25 of "regular-priced" goods, but the register totals what you pay based on the "sales' price". You pay the balance owed on the first transaction and a Catalina coupon is generated for $10 that you can use on your next order. For example: you buy 3 Blue Bonnet margarines and 7 Healthy Choice soups and your total will come up to $10. You pay the $10 and you also get the $10 Catalina. You can turn around and use that $10 on your next order. So if you have another $10 total, you "pay" that amount with the Catalina, you have zero out of pocket expense and still generate another Catalina to use on your next order.
Albertsons' Check-Out Policy: You are able to do three transactions before you need to exit the check-out and get back in line, so that everyone has their turn paying for the great deals. They anticipate that this is going to be a blockbuster of a sale and that there are going to be lines of people taking advantage of getting some great products for free. So--3 trannies, back of the line. Now--everything is different when there's no one waiting behind you. You can roll as many transactions as you want, until someone gets in line behind you. BE COURTEOUS. There are stores that are opening up lanes for just this promo deal. The store on 57th and Regal will have 2 check-out lanes that are for nothing except these kind of transactions. Most stores are prepared for the lines, but the customers need to play by the store rules and Be Nice.
Here are some of the match-ups that would make for a great deal:
3 Blue Bonnet Cubes + 7 HC Soups = $10 minus $10 Catalina =FREE
5 Blue Bonnet Tubs + 6 HC Soups =$10 minus $10 Catalina =$1
4 Hunt's Puddings + 6 HC Soups = $10 minus $10 Catalina =FREE
4 Ro-Tel Tomatoes + 6 HC Soups =$10 minus $10 Catalina =FREE
6 Guilden's Mustards + 4 HC Soups =$10 minus $10 Catalina =FREE
4 Hunt's Ketchup + 6 HC Soups =$10 minus $10 Catalina =FREE
4 Hunt's Tomatoes + 7 HC Soups =$11 minus $10 Catalina =$1
2 Rosarita Salsa + 7 HC Soups =$11 minus $10 Catalina =$1
3 Pam Cooking Sprays + 6 HC Soups =$13.50 minus $10 Catalina =$3.50
3 Hunt's BBQ Sauce + 6 HC Soups =$12 minus $10 Catalina =$2
2 Wesson Oil + 5 HC Soups =$11.98 minus $10 Catalina =$1.98
6 Hunt's Spaghetti Sauce + 6 HC Soups =$12 minus $10 Catalina =$2
2 Reddi-wip + 7 HC Soups =$12.58 minus $10 Catalina=$2.58
4 PP Peanut Butter + 4 HC Soups =$10.76 minus $10 Catalina= 76cents
3 Marie Callender's dinners + 4 HC Soups =$13 minus $10 Catalina= $3
3 Marie Callender's Pot Pies + 4 HC Soups =$13 minus $10 Catalina= $3
3 Kid's Cuisine + 6 HC Soups =$12 minus $10 Catalina= $2
5 Chef Boyardee + 7 HC Soups =$12 minus $10 Catalina= $2
5 Banquets + 7 HC Soups =$12 minus $10 Catalina= $2
5 Manwich + 6 HC Soups =$11 minus $10 Catalina= $1
2 HC steams/dinners + 6 HC Soups =$12 minus $10 Catalina= $2
3 HC entrees + 6 HC Soups =$12 minus $10 Catalina= $2
Boy--that's A LOT of soup and other stuff!! FYI--The stores know that there is going to be a lot of Healthy Choice Soups purchased to just get the great price on the other products, and so they are setting up stations inside the store for the local food banks if you don't find a need or want that kind or amount of soup.
I'm scoring a lot of peanut butter on this deal and so a lot of my transactions actually don't have any soup in them because the regular price on the peanut butter is $3.29 and acts as a higher mediator in accumulating the $25 needed to generate the Catalina. This is an amazing way to stock up on basics like canned tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, soups, cooking oils, condiments, and quick dinner ideas. Most of the expiration dates on the products are months out, if not a year or two.
I'm still thinking about that quote that says it's better to be prepared 10 years early, than 10 minutes too late. What would it hurt to have a few months supply of staples to feed your family on hand in cruddy economic times. Food is always in fashion ;)
Just to see if you read all the way to the bottom...there are some coupons that you can print for free from the privacy of your home that you can use with this awesome deal. http://www.readyseteat.com/brand-coupon.do
The Con Agra sale at Albertsons', that starts on Wednesday, is going to be tremendous. The stores in the greater Spokane area are ordering vast amounts of inventory to cover the super shoppers' needs. There is going to be a lot of great deals that don't require a handful of coupons-so don't feel like you can't get in on the great deal that breaks Wednesday morning.
But I saw some deals in the Walgreens and Rite-Aid circulars that are worthy of mentioning here. The items that are included in the Register Rewards (Walgreens) and the Up Rewards (Rite-Aid) programs are almost always a great deal, especially when combined with coupons.
For how to use the rewards program at Walgreen, follow to these links and see how it works:
At Walgreens--some of the great deals I saw are: Hershey's Candy--Sale Price: 2/$5-$2 in-store coupon=2/$3. [I need to check if the "in-store" coupon is a manufacturer coupon or not, because if it isn't, there is a $2/2 coupon available, making the bags 50 cents each.]
Register Rewards--Get $5 in Register Rewards at checkout when you buy $15 or more of participating products (good on your NEXT in-store purchase). There are five things that are included in this deal--but the two items that you could really get a deal on are Skippy peanut butter and Ragu spaghetti sauce because there are coupons available on both of these items. You would have to buy a total of 10 items to reach the $15 mark to generate the $5 register reward, and that $15 is prior to coupons. I found coupons for Skippy that range anywhere from 40cents to $1 off each bottle. If you had the $1 coupons, combined with the register rewards $5 OYNO--the peanut butter is free. The coupons for the sauce are not as high as the peanut butter, but still make for a good deal. Some are $1.25/3. That's for a total of $6.25 in coupons for a 10 Ragu purchase, bringing the total to $8.75 (with coupons) and then receiving the $5 off for your next purchase. However you look at it, 88cents a jar for Ragu with $5 to still spend, is quite an improvement on $1.50 a jar. I saw some coupons that were Save $1/2. With the combined savings, they would end up being 50 cents a jar. Bigger savings is the goal, so definitely search for coupons with higher values for individual items. Remember: you are not limited to just one or the other in this kind of scenario because it's only for a total of $15 from any of the advertised items. So, theoretically, you could have 4 peanut butter and 6 Ragu--or any number of combinations.
--Gillette Venus or Fusion ProGlide Razor System--great coupons available
--Kotex Feminine Care (tampons, pads, pantyliners)--great coupons
--Colgate Toothpaste--coupons available for tremendous savings. **The store has printed a Limit 1 coupon printed per offer. That means that you can only get one register reward for the two toothpastes purchased in any given transaction, even if you have numerous toothpastes. So if you are looking to generate more than one register reward, you will have to purchase only 2 tubes per transaction and NOT use the Colgate register reward to pay for the next set of 2 tubes of paste.
--Aquafresh Toothpaste--99cents with in-store coupon. Apply a manufacturer's coupon for bonus savings.
--Huggies/Enfamil--$5 register reward for $25 purchases. Layer with high dollar coupons for a great deal.
There are lots more deals, depending on your needs and coupons. The key to extra savings is to not be limited to the advertised price. See if there is a coupon that can be stacked on to the sales price and if it generates a register rewards. Register rewards can be used on anything in the store and act as cash in purchasing them. So if you are super thrifty, you can do several transactions paying for a few items at a time and paying for them by only using the register rewards. You "roll" the previous register reward onto the next item that also generates a register reward. Purchasing things this way reduces the cost of the individual item significantly and is further reduced by a manufacturer's coupon.
Some of the savings opportunities/deals I see at Rite-Aid:
Know the Program. (http://www.riteaid.com/) You can earn a lot of the Up rewards to use like cash if you pay attention to what the store has marked with the "Buy and Save" blue labels. All you have to do is spend $100, prior to the discounts with coupons and previous Up rewards. The $20 Up Reward for $100 in items marked with the blue "Buy and Save" label in the ad and by the product in the store. Some of these items that are marked with the blue label also generate additional Up rewards. Pay attention to the dual savings. This $20 rebate program runs through the month of February, and expires on the 26th. Purchases between now and then accumulating to $100 (prior to manufacturer's coupons) will generate on $20 reward to be used on any purchases at Rite-Aid. (I love this program!!) I have been able to buy so much stuff on the cheap and generate my rewards cash already.
Just yesterday, I purchased 12 large 48 ct packages of Stayfree Feminine Care products and 10 tubes of Colgate Total toothpaste for 35 cents. Now--I know what you're thinking...35 cents!! Yep. But here's how it went down. Each Stayfree package was $6.99. Do the math, times that by 12. [$83.88 before tax]. The toothpaste was $3.79 each on sale for $2.99, generating $2 Up rewards each. I had coupons for both items. For the Stayfree, I had "Buy One, Get One Free" manufacturer's coupons and Save $1 on each tube of Colgate. The cash register automatically takes $6.99 off of each set of pads (x6 sets). I hand over the coupons and the cashier takes $6 off per set (that is the max the coupon would allow per set as per the manufacturer), and $1 for each of the 10 tubes. I still have a pretty significant cash total even after the coupon discounts are taken. But I use the $2 Up rewards from the toothpaste deal last week to pay for the tubes this week (that way it generates the new rewards this week) and 2 of my $10 Up rewards...bringing the $30.35 total down to 35 cents. Euphoric!! And I generated a lot of dollars towards the $100 bank to earn my $20 Up reward that I can use on next week's deals.
So for some good deals I see this week:
--Covergirl Cosmetics, Olay skin and Bath care, Pantene products, and *Secret products--a $5 Up reward is generated when you buy $25...play with the numbers ahead of time and get come great coupons because they are on sale too--Buy 1 and Get the second 1/2 off! **Ok. There's a coupon in this week's ads that is for Secret (Buy 2, Get 1 Free). What you would do is buy 6 deodrants--with 3 at regular price, and 3 at half-price (the register will automatically do that) and then hand over the coupon at the end. The cashier should mark the price in the box of the first deodrant that is regular price, making it "free" as well. This could add up to the $25 you need to get the $5 back and it could be very, very inexpensive overall for a bunch of great products!
--Maybelline Cosmetics/Physician's Formula Cosmetics--same type of deal but you only have to spend $20 to get the $5 back, and the second product is also half off! --Gillette razors--great coupons available [like $3 and $4 off of each package!] to use in addition to the high dollar Up rewards
--Gillette and Old Spice Body Wash--2/$8-$3/2 Up reward=$2/5 minus 2 manufacturer's coupons for $2/1; making the grand total $1 for 2 bottles. **Rite-Aid stipulates that there is a limit of 2 Up rewards for this deal per household. But hey! Four bottles for $2, who's complaining, right?
--Colgate Toothpaste--2/$5-$2 on 2 Up reward=$2/$3. There are coupons available but this deal is also limited to 2 per household. (It also is marked with the blue Buy and Save and helps generate the $20 off Up reward). --Arm and Hammer toothpaste--Buy one, get one free (also has blue "buy and save" label). There are $1/1 coupons available.
--Lysol spray cleaners--2/$5-$1 Up reward=$2/$4+$1/1 coupons=$1 each
--Scope Mouthwash--$2/$5 on sale and there are $1/1 coupons that came in the 2/6 paper! [Just in comparison, the same mouthwash is advertised at Walgreen's this week at $3.99 a bottle. Ouch! That's a no-brainer.]
Remember to think outside the box when you are looking at the ads and see if there is really a better deal going on. Coupons create a golden opportunity to stock up for the same price that you would have already spent and never have to pay full retail price again. Be aware, be smart, and it will pay off in green!