The Queen of Coupons Reigns......


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 and 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!!

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! 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 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 to see which ones.

What did you see today?

The Monopoly game I bought just a couple of days ago with one of those fabulous coupons printed at home--broke out of the clear packaging today and found it's way to the kitchen table after lunch. It saw some face time from four kids and dad.

I sat down to look at the Sunday paper and hollered for some liquid refreshment and help on ebay. I didn't get much response, so I had to leave the office to see what was the hold-up. I saw my husband attempting to teach four of our kids how to play Monopoly. For some reason--he wanted to introduce the kids to an old favorite. And as I write--they are progressing into game hour number 2. And if I remember correctly from my own playings as a kid--I have a good couple hours of peace left ;)

Jeff was trying to teach the boys how to strategize and accumulate properties. There's a lot of conversations about good choices and using financial smarts going on out there.

I think that it's cool that the kids partnered up in teams against their dad--the impartial player and bank.

Ashley's doing quite well. She is partnered with Jessica and they are definitely broadening their portfolio.

I had one that wasn't too interested in fierce competition. So he planted himself on the couch with some tunes and one of those Diary of the Wimpy Kid books.

So--what was I hollering about? There was an AmAzInG coupon in today's paper that I needed to order off of ASAP--if you know what I mean. We only have one paypal account--and it's not mine--so I needed some fast purchasing power to secure my blessed little savers!

The coupons are for the items seen below here. I've been accumulating these items, and others like them, all year now. This coupon doesn't expire till 12/31/11--which means that if I don't use all the ones I ordered from ebay--I've learned from lots of experience--that the sale that I'm angling for this week will be repeating at least two times before they expire. So I have time to be frugal and patient, if the stores can't buy the quantities that I would like to purchase. And I also have the chance to let the store know what I'd like ahead of time--so that they can order extras for the great sale weeks.

Recently, so many of the recent coupons have been for 50 cents, 75 cents and $1 off of one item. I haven't seen a coupon this valuable ever! And I know just where to use these money savers this week! Walgreens'!!!

I know. I've been Walgreens' biggest cheerleader in recent weeks. And this week will be no different--especially after I thumbed through the new coupons and saw this one! It reads-- $2 OFF when you buy 1 or more of the following: Crest Complete Toothpaste, Scope Dual Blast Rinse, Oral-B Complete Floss, Oral-B Complete Toothbrush. There is a limit of 4 like coupons to be used in one transaction. And with the register rewards program at Walgreens'--that won't be a problem, since the transactions generally are smaller and have to be very specific to generate the new register reward.

And with the Walgreens' ad having Crest Complete toothpaste, Complete toothbrushes, or Oral B Glide dental floss on sale 2/$5, with a $3 Register Reward--I flipped out a little. It was such a "mini-high", that I lost the ability to focus on what else is on sale this week...bummer. Looks like we'll be eating toothpaste for the next week. [Just kidding.]

Those same high dollar coupons can be used on items that are featured in another register reward sale. When you buy $30 worth of P&G products as shown in the ad: you get a $10 register reward. The same products in the singular and double register reward scenarios are included--but are in twin-packs. Because of the packaging and marketing--you can only use one coupon per package...but the bonus is that you get two in the package. [Tip. Crunch the numbers and see which way saves the most money though. Sometimes buying in high dollar amounts pays off with a combined payment of coupons and register rewards. But sometimes, it doesn't if you have pay more money out of pocket. The higher register reward amount is great for larger ticket item purchases, but if you are keeping transactions under that amount, you won't be able to use it on items to generate more register rewards. That's what I look for to determine if it's a great savings or not.]

Last post I mentioned all the coupons that can be printed at home for free. One of them was for General Mills products: Chex Mix and Bugles. They are featured with an in-store coupon at 99 cents. With the coupons, they are 49 cents a piece. Not too shabby for quick snacks. **Don't forget to cut the Box Tops off of the packaging for your local K-8 schools, as well.

And the real deal comes here...all of those prices are great, but if you have Register Rewards from last week's deals--you can add those to the bottom line for an even greater savings or just start accumulating them for future purchases and savings. I love it! The savings just roll on, and on, and on.

**Ashley would like it noted that she smoked everyone in the Monopoly game, including her father. She won with $4000 in the bank and owning most of the properties, while the rest of them went bankrupt. She's such a capitalist (wink, wink). A lesson for real life? It's always nice to see that we can teach them mad skills that they can use against us later ;)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Get Your Game ON!!

I heard a couple of radio ads for the Hasbro's Family Game Night special promoting coupons for commonly played games like Monopoly, Life, Battleship, Guess Who?, Chutes and Ladders, Memory, and more. Then I came across the coupons being featured on some of the couponing websites like and others--that linked the coupons to games they found on sale at Wal-mart. I put Wal-mart on the list for stops today to check out the gaming potential.

It was fresh in my mind, because just last week we were at Target getting school supplies, when Jeff came back through the toy department with the game of Monopoly in hand. It's such a common, all-American game--and we don't have it. He thought it would be fun to introduce our boys to it. But Mama ruined it for him. Umm. Yes. I told him we should just wait till it goes on sale. It's September. I figured it would be on sale in the next couple of months with the holidays coming. I don't know just kills me to pay full retail for stuff you know will go on sale. And seriously...within two days of this experience, my restraint paid off. I went to a website where I could print my own coupons from home...and there were the coupons for Hasbro games. I printed those babies off and took them to Wal-mart today.

The coupons can also be found here at this website:

Monopoly had a shelf price of $11.97. I used my $4 off coupon on it. WooHoo!! The Krazy Coupon Lady mentioned that there were games in the clearance section that would work with the coupons. I went looking for the Connect 4 on sale for $5.24 (with the $4 coupon burning in my wallet...), and came up with nothing, except I did find a game of Guess Who? that had been marked down to $8. It actually looked like a great game and I had brought all the game coupons with me...of which, there was one for $4 off Guess Who? Lucky find!!

So I got both games for the price of the Monopoly game before coupons. It was fab day at the mart. And the best part of the whole deal...the coupons don't expire till October. So I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for the other games that the websites mentioned were on the clearance aisles. I would love to pick up some of those for a bargain of $1-1.24 a game! They would make great birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, or for the Giving Tree during the holiday season. I love GrEaT deals!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Print Your Coupons

Wednesdays. That's the day of the week when the new grocery ads break. I've been telling people for years that coupons are pretty good predictors of what's coming on sale. I've noticed a trend of coupons coming out in the paper 2-3 weeks before the items go on sale. I found the same trend today--but not in the newspaper, but on the Internet.

As I was going over the Albertsons' ad, many of the items on the back page of the ad that's featured in the "Buy 10, save an additional $5" section, have coupons that you can print for free on websites like:,, and I'm sure that they are also available on various other websites--you just have to find them.

So the manufacturer is offering you a "double deal"--really. They are letting the stores take off the "$5" on a transaction of 10 items, which the stores will be reimbursed for; and then the are allowing the consumer to use coupons on the products as well. And at Albertsons', there is a Box Tops bonus of an additional 25 Box Tops credit worth $2.50, also printing.

So for things like Betty Crocker potatoes, that are on sale for $1 each--in a set of 10, they become $5, or 50 cents each. But the coupons are for Save 50 cents on 2...making them a quarter a box! There's a couple of different coupons available, because the one that I showed at the top of the post says Save $1 on three--making them only 17 cents a box. I can live with that. That's a tremendous savings because these are normally between $2-2.50 a box. I didn't find a lot to choose from on my ebay search, and then I found them this morning on several of the couponing websites for two free prints. That means that I won't have to miss out on this fab sale--and I won't have to wait for the coupons to come in the mail till I can cash in on the deal.

Many of the items that are included on the same deal as the potatoes, also have coupons available on the same websites. I was able to go to a couple different sites and print two copies of each. That's a great start on getting several boxes extra for storage. And I know that pizza pockets are always a hit for after school snacks. I can't cry poor if I can get them for under 50 cents a box each.

One thing that I want to stress--is that the coupons that you print at home are legitimate coupons. The stores take them and get reimbursed for them. Each coupon has an encryption on the bar code that is unique to the computer and website that you printed it from. So if you photocopy the coupons in the attempt to use the same encryption multiple times--you are committing fraud. It's an act of theft because just like a coupon you would get out of the Sunday paper--you can only use it once, and the store can only have it redeemed once. If you attempt to use it more then once, it's stealing from the store's profits and puts the whole trust in the consuming market in jeopardy. It could also result in the loss of having the manufacturer provide coupons in this manner. So please be honest and considerate in the way that you use this form of couponing.

With that being said--there are ways to accumulate more than one of each coupon legally. If you have more than one computer in your home--you are allowed two printed from each URL web address. [I'm talking in lingo I don't even really bear with me.] Each computer has it's own domain in cyberland and you can have 2 prints from each address. The more computers you have...the more prints. That is fine. But printing duplicate copies or photocopying the original print, or altering the coupon in any way constitutes fraud and is a very serious felony. It' not worth the loss in consumer integrity, or personal integrity. Be wise and be smart in your savings.

Friends! SHOPPERS!! Lend Me An Ear....

If you're an avid grocery shopper, you will have noticed that many of the foods that we commonly consume have increased in price. I notice it all the time. But I sometimes wonder if the average shopper does--other then the fact that they have to wonder why the total at checkout is higher than usual.

I saw an article today on Yahoo's Financially Fit that explained one of the reasons for this broad banded increase. We've had a really bizarre year with weather. For example, Summer didn't get into it's groove until the second week of July, here in Spokane. Then it wasn't even consistent,that's for sure. It's now September and we are experiencing a brief heatwave after a week of cooler temperatures. So what I'm getting at: did you know that the Midwest had a drought while we were still wearing our jackets in June? Fluke and freak weather everywhere can really be a damper in the price of basic commodities that are produced in other parts of the country. Take corn, for example. It's primarily produced for manufacturer's in the bread belt of the country--the Midwest. Tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, drought...all that ring a bell? Yep--the land of corn, wheat, and barley. So when you see the price of your Corn Flakes stay at $3 a box ON SALE, there's a very good reason for that.

Corn goes into a LOT of things that we take for granted. Did you know that the sweetness in a granola bar is from corn? [I have a Corn-addition. No...I'm mean Coke-addiction. That's right. Coca-Cola is sweetened with corn syrup. The rising cost of corn equals the rising cost of Coke.] It's always good to put things in perspective because sometimes a picture of the real deal washes away the true significance of the scope of the problem. This article was a "scope" into what corn droughts can do to the prices of so many things.
I was just telling my husband yesterday, while we were at Fred Meyer, that the prices on food were entirely neurotic and I was amazed that people had carts brimming with food. It got me wondering though. I don't see very many people with fists full of coupons at the registers either. Food stamp programs have updated their look and now everyone qualifying for government assistance use EBT cards (formerly given out in the form of a coupon booklet--as an obvious sign that payment was "food stamps"). Now users just swipe a card that looks like any old debit card. But still. Where are the manufacturer's coupons and store coupons being used in this savings game? I think EBT users should have to qualify in more ways then just income. How about money management? Budgeting? Meal planning? Couponing? $400 in food funds a month would be more productive in a trained coupon shopper than in the average user.

[I have this theory that a dollar earned by your own hard labor, is more valued and better spent then the dollar that is given through an entitlement program. I don't have any research to back this theory up today--except for what I've seen with my own eyes and some informative yap with the grocery money-changers. But my question is are shoppers really noticing the prices of food when their EBT cards are loaded with preset dollar amounts? Would they care how much the cost is when somebody else is footing the bill? I don't think so.... And that's my sociology degree screaming in my head.]

Here's a little story about how I'm living up to my name.... No. Not that name. The other name...Saving Spokane. I saw this very old woman at the checkout ahead me yesterday buying a 2lb block of Tillamook cheese for $6.99, some hearing aid batteries, and small container of some bland "yum yums". Alright. Her total was $16+. She handed the cashier a $20 bill and I just couldn't let her do it! I yelled for him to STOP before he cashed out her change. [My husband went beet red and probably wanted to crawl under the conveyor belt...shamed that he can't have a totally quiet moment at a check-out stand with me. The old woman didn't even hear me--thus the batteries, right? And the post-child/pre-adult cashier looked at me like I was a raving loony. But what's new? I've seen that look before, and it doesn't bother me anymore.] I opened the store ad, the one with all the "store coupons" printed down the sides...and there was a coupon that made the Tillamook cheese $4.99. All the man-child had to do was shoot the scanner gun over the bar code and Grandma was $2 richer.

Now I know that I'm in the first generation that won't live as high of a standard of living as my parents--but I don't think I have to be stingy with my money manners. Grandma looked like she could afford the extra $2. Obviously all of her money isn't going to the nursing home yet...and my efforts did earn me a smile and nod of appreciation. Why didn't the cashier voluntarily scan the coupon without her knowing? I don't know. You just don't see very many people that are trying to make it easier for others out there. Maybe it's true and we have an entitlement state of mind. But when times are lean and the costs are rising--it doesn't hurt to pass the word of savings along. It didn't cost me anything to be nice--and she surely didn't give me the $2 she would have handed over to the store a moment before. What is she going do with the $2? It probably seemed like a little thing at the moment. But what if that $2 was saved as daily occurrence? Weekly? Monthly? The little amounts don't look like much at first, but the savings would add up very quickly if it were acknowledged in every purchase.

So what does this have to do with corn and droughts? And why the price of food is increasing. Manufacturer's still have over $3 BILLION in coupons that are available for consumers to use on their grocery and household purchases every year. Just yesterday my husband told me he didn't know why I was so concerned about the prices of food, since I'd coupon them to death. Ah. A light bulb moment. He gets it, after all. Using coupons equal a certain peace of mind--especially in the hard times. It means that I can stock up on cereal during drought seasons. It means that the cost of beef, pork, and chicken (corn-fed animals that I think are pretty tasty...) may go up, but I can off-set the cost of consumption through couponing my necessities so low that I don't gag on the inflated price of meat. It's a win-win relationship--with these coupons.

Research corn. Find out all the different things that it goes into and watch those items increase in price. And when you are finished with corn, move onto wheat, cotton, rice, sugar...and the list goes on. We are more globally connected then we realize. When the crops fail in California or get blown away from the vines in Florida--we are all going to pay for those losses. Sometimes we are so "local-centric" in our view of consumption that we don't realize that the grocery store is just the middleman to the rest of the country's agricultural reserves. Capitalistic marketing and quick transportation have brought Georgia's peaches, Florida's oranges and Iowa's corn to our tables within hours of harvest. Devastation anywhere in our country will eventually be felt at home.

So prepare. Buy smart. Buy ahead of the drought. And who can really predict disaster and drought? No one. So that means study out the ways to save money even with the rising costs of basic goods and services. And, by golly--if you are one of the many that are receiving assistance to fill your cupboards every week--do not pay more for food than I would. Spend some time learning about how to save money on the second-highest expense in your life. It's a skill that will last a lifetime--and will continue to benefit you once the entitlement programs are over. Because you can't fund bankrupt programs from a bankrupt economy. [Remember all those theories and analogies about old dogs/new tricks, not riding a dead horse, money not growing on trees...and it still doesn't.] At the end of the day--you will still have to eat--so learn some mad shopping skills, in the mean time. We could be just a drought away from unafforadable!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Fabulous Tip!

I don't know why this hasn't occurred to me after all these years of bargain shopping and couponing. But last week one of the cashiers at Walgreen's put me on to a great tactical move to make it faster and less crazy during check out with multiple transactions. What is it, you are asking...why, it's paying with a store gift card. She explained to me that she had another coupon shopper, [are there other crazy hoarders out there doing 20 transactions a day at the local Walgreen's???] that buys a store gift card and loads it with a designated amount of money in the first transaction, and then that is how she pays for the subsequent transactions. I saw a glimmer of the idea when she explained that so me as I was digging for $5 in change over 20 transactions--but today I SAW the light!

**Sidenote to self...It's not like I mind using my debit card 30 times in as many minutes--but it causes anxiety in my better half to see the card just being swiped in a rather neurotic fashion. So with only one purchase on the card showing on the bank records...that log equals: "Oh...she's been to Walgreen's today..." Rather than: "What the h*ll took 30 different ways to pay for it?!?" It's not my fault...well. Maybe. I love him. But he doesn't get the whole separate transaction theory in the cause of saving money. He's says it's not logical. OK. But I didn't make up the store policy. I just go by it--so I can go buy it...if you know what I mean!

Anywhoo......I'm planning on buying 40 tubes of Mitchum deodorant this week--armed with $1 off coupons and great register rewards from last week. There is a $2 Register Reward for each transaction and I found that it is easier to buy a set of like items in a set of transactions at first, to accumulate the register rewards to use on the upcoming orders--rather than jockeying back and forth between different items to roll the register rewards. I decided to do that today and so I loaded a gift card with $50. And then I started my micro-splurges, one transaction at a time, swiping the gift card to pay for each purchase. No PINS, no confirmations of charge amounts--it was SO EASY!! Not only were the lights on--I was a deer in the headlights!! I have a NEW trick in my game plan of winners!!

I had numerous transactions that were 50 cents to a dollar. So swiping the gift became the answer to saving time, rather than digging for the loose change at the bottom of my purse. It was so tidy, effortless, and SmArT!! So to the savvy coupon shoppers out there that perfected their payment styles--my hat goes off to you for teaching this dog a new trick!

Tidbit: I went into the store today with $28 in previous register rewards. I went a little gangbusters on the Suave shampoo and deodorant, with a few Colgate toothpaste and Finish dishwasher tablets to boot...but I still have money on my card and now have $44 in register rewards to start knocking my next stock-up session down with. Oh. It's a rush, especially when it's stuff we use, need, and store. The donatables are great, too, but the day to day goods really add up when you have to pay full-price. So--get a gift card for YOU and sweet power-shoppin' to you!!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Waiting for Monday......

As a general rule, I don't shop on Sundays. No oxes in the mire, no emergencies, no need to speed down to Walgreens. But Monday is tomorrow and I'm heading there first thing...because I have deals to make. I ordered my dishwasher tablet coupons last week for the ad that broke today. They are on sale for $3.99 with a $1.50 Register Reward. I got $1/1 coupons. And while not necessarily free, they are going to be a great price once I apply the register rewards from last week. I'm sitting on $28 in register rewards to start my deals tomorrow--and I can't wait!!

All the deals haven't quite gelled in my head about what combinations I should buy them in to maximize the savings. But one of the deals I'm pleased about is the Suave shampoo sale. It's on sale for 2/$6 with a $2 Register Reward. I have coupons for Buy One, Get One Free. What's nifty about Walgreen's--they apply the price of the highest item as the price they put in the coupon box. Since both items are the same price in this deal, it will be $3 taken from the total. So I will pay $3+tax for two 32 ounce bottles of product and then get a $2 register reward. Since I am getting TWO bottles (one for free), I am able to use a register reward from last week without having to use a "filler" item in the transaction. That's awesome! So I'm thinking that since I have $5 register rewards to use, I'll buy the dishwasher tablets and two bottles of Suave together, put the coupons on the transaction, and then apply the register rewards. That should bring the total down substantially...

Transaction 1:

Finish Dishwasher Tablets--$3.99

Suave Shampoos (32 oz)----$6.00/2


Minus coupons---------------$1+$3

New Total---------------------$5.99+tax

Register Reward----------- -$5.00

Grand Total-------------------99cents+tax


Bonus------------------------$3.50 in Register Rewards to use on the next transaction

I've planned my combination of items I'm going to purchase around the register rewards that items produce and if there is a coupon available for them. I've been shopping for a lot of personal care items so that my family can assemble hygiene kits for the local shelters. We've been fortunate to find amazing deals on deodorant lately, so that will be another item that we can add to the kit.

Transaction 2:

Mitchum Deodorant---------$2.99

Carmex Healing Lotions----2/$10


Coupons-----------------------$3 ($1/1 for Mitchum and 2 printables for Carmex)

New Total---------------------$9.99

Filler items--------------------75 cents--3 cans of tomato sauce @ 25 cents each

I'm going to need 3 of them because I want to use the two register rewards from the last transaction, plus a $5 one that I earned on M&Ms last week. Remember to choose the cheapest item available, if possible.


Register Rewards----------- - 8.50

Grand Total-------------------$2.24+tax

Bonus: $2 Mitchum Register Reward + $5 Carmex Register Reward=$7 RR

If you are doing multiple transactions for the same item, you will have to alternate every other transaction if you plan on using the Register Rewards to buy the additional items, because if you use a Carmex Register Reward to buy more Carmex lotions, a new Register Reward will not print. You can avoid this situation by having your transactions planned ahead of time to assure that you are generating new rewards, as well as being able to use the ones that you already have.

Filler items...necessary little transaction makers! Last week was brilliant because Pentex highlighters were on sale for 9 cents each. Almost every transaction I did had a highlighter thrown in to keep the ratio between items and coupons/register rewards. Register Rewards aren't technically coupons, but the register sees them that way. So if you have 3 bottles of soap, you have to have 3 coupons or register rewards, in any combination--and no more, or you will need a filler. And the amount of the coupons and register rewards cannot super cede the amount of the transactions before sales' tax. For example, if you total is $3.20 with tax and you have the cashier a register reward for $3--it probably won't work because only $2.96 of the total is hard pricing and the rest is tax.... The way around this is to add a cheap filler. They have 25 cents candies near the front registers--or look for usable fillers from the add, like the highlighter scenario I did last week.

Remember that even though an item may be deemed as "free" by applying a coupon/register reward to the are still on the hook to pay the sales' tax for the item as if you had paid sales' price in full. An item for $2.99 that you have $2.99 in coupons/rewards for...will still have a balance at the end of the transaction of whatever your state's sale tax is for the $2.99 price. In Washington state, more specifically Spokane County, I pay 8.7% sales' tax. So I would have a remaining amount of 26 cents to pay. But paying the governor is still better then paying full price...sales' price, or even half price.