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