Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Deals, deals, deals...

Well, first things first... should tell you about the good buys I got today. I went to Walgreens first. I got 3 Sunsilk shampoos, 3 candy things (for my kids), 1 box of hair color, 1 toothbrush...I paid $3.18 out of pocket, and got back $5.50 to use next time I'm in. First, the Sunsilk was on clearance for $1.25. I had coupons for all 3 that made them all free. The candy things were 25 cents each on clearance. The toothbrush was $4.49, I used a 75 cent coupon...got back $4.50 in register rewards for that one. The haircolor...Colorsilk is on sale for $1.99, and you get $1 register rewards back. In front of the Colorsilk display was a tearpad for $1 off. FREE hair color! Again, rr are limited, so you can only buy 1 Colorsilk per transaction.

I went to Kroger. They had Healthy Ones ham (lunchmeat) marked 99 cents..it was marked discontinued. I had 75 cent off coupons, so I got them for 24 cents each. (I only got to buy 3 because my Kroger has a limit of 3 like coupons per transaction, but heck...that's cheap ham!) Butterball Deep Fried Turkey lunchmeat was marked discontinued at $1.99 and I had $1 off coupons. 99 cents for some great turkey!! Glade Plug ins (the gel ones) are $1.89....I had BOGOF coupons, and until Oct 4th (at leat in my region) you get $2 back for each one you buy. So, I paid $1.89 and got back $4. I also had a coupon for a free Glade Scented oil warmer..you also get the $2 back on those. So, I got a free $2. All in all, $6 for paying $1.89, and I have 2 gel warmers and one oil one. (Actually, you should see my laundry room...these have been on sale everywhere...I could open a Glade store.)

So, I guess today's theme is always be on the lookout for bargains. Kroger often has bread marked down from the bakery. I get that, and either prepare it that night, or I freeze it until I'm ready for it. Rolls, cheese bread, garlic bread...even cakes and pies. I always check the marked down meat. If you use it or freeze it same day, it's fine. (Of course, I often prepare it into something and freeze the whole thing for a meal later on, but that's another blog.) I occasionally buy dented cans, marked down milk, or marked down produce. Milk can be frozen. Produce doesn't last long around here. Dented cans...well, we use a can of SOMETHING every night.

Recently, Krogers was marking down milk to $1.99. It's sell by date was 2 days away. (milk is still good several days past sell by). I bought several gallons and put them in my freezer. I have milk for all month, and I didn't have to pay $3.79 for ANY of it. When you thaw the milk it is good for at least a week. When Sara Lee came out with a free bread coupon a few weeks ago, I got coupons from everyone I could think of...I ended up with 19. I froze them. When they thaw, there is no difference in taste or texture. Invest in a freezer. It's worth it.

I meant to tell you about CVS's program today, but I got off on something else, so I'll save it for tomorrow. Keep looking for those mark downs, and try to pair them with your coupons for maximum savings.

Have a great day!

Today's product review:

Steam and Mash potatoes from Ore Ida. You steam these in the bag, and when they come out, you just mash them with a potato masher. They are SO handy. I hate peeling potatoes. The texture and taste is great. This is a good way to get real mashed potatoes quickly. They ARE pricey though, so if they aren't on sale or there's no coupon, I wouldn't bother. If you catch them on sale (with a coupon, of course) stock some. They're great in a hurry.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Let's get started!

Ok, here are some things to get you started.

Look for $1 off Johnson's Buddies products, $1 off Kotex (assuming you need them), $2 off Kashi cereal (get a printable here: http://www.kashi.com/account/new), $1 off Wellpatch, and the $5 off Febreze Noticeables starter kit (just came out this past weekend in the P&G insert).

Now, at Walmart..Johnson's Buddies soaps are about 94 cents (I say about because some Walmarts vary by a few pennies) minus your $1 off coupons, they are free. (Remember what I said about getting multiple coupons?) Kotex pantyliners are $1..minus your coupon...free. kashie cereal is about $2.98- coupon=$.98. Wellpatch has a pack of ONE patch for 97 cents. The coupon is good for ANY Wellpatch...free. Febreze Noticeables are about $5.97- coupon= 97 cents.

Always read the coupon for where it either says "any" or "not valid on trial size". If it says ANY, it can be used on smaller or trial sized products. I personally do not buy trial sized products unless I am going on a trip. I don't want to store a million little bottles. I also know that the coupon will likely come into play soon, and I can get a full sized product free or really cheap.

Also, Walmart's coupon acceptance policy is here: http://walmartstores.com/7655.aspx
Print it and keep it with your coupons. Some Walmarts do not want to take printable coupons. The corporate number is on the website should you have any problems. (Some Walmarts have no problems with printables)

Now, let's move on to Walgreens. I hope you have a Walgreens. They have been rocking lately. Walgreens has a program called "Register rewards". If you buy certain products in the ad, you get a coupon for your next visit. These do not roll on the same product. For example...this week, if you buy and Oral B Cross Action toothbrush for $4.49, you will receive a coupon for $4.49 to use on your next order. (BTW- if you use the 75 cent coupons that just came out this weekend, you come out 75 cents AHEAD for buying this toothbrush). If you take your $4.49 coupon back into Walgreens to buy another toothbrush, another coupon will NOT print. HOWEVER, if you use that $4.49 coupon to buy the Kellogs cereal on sale ( 2/$5 and get a $2 RR), you will pay 51 cents out of pocket for the cereal, and get $2 in RR back. To roll, the RR must be from different companies.

The downside about Walgreens...there is not a "coupon policy" across the board. There is what it is SUPPOSED to be, and there are managers who make their own. WG DOES take printables. You CAN use a WG STORE coupon (the store coupons are in the ad, as well as the Easysaver booklets at the front of the store with the ad) and a manufacturer's coupon at the same time. For example, let's say your aluminum foil is on sale with the 7 day coupon in the ad for $1.50, and you have a man. coupon for 50 cents. Using both coupons, the price is $1. You CANNOT use 2 man. coupons on the same product. You ARE allowed to use more than 1 RR on an order as long as you have more items than you do coupons, and the amount of the RR doesn't exceed the price of your order.

Also look into the Easysaver rebate program. Often, the rebates run along with sales and coupons. Recently, Glade items were on sale, there were good coupons out, and rebates from the Easysaver. All you have to do is go to the Walgreens website and enter your number on your receipt. Click save. At the end of the month, claim your rebates. You can only claim them once a month for payment, so be sure when you do, you are done buying rebate items for that month. They will send you the rebate in a check, or on a gift card. If you choose gift card, they will add 10% to it. I always get the gift card. You can then use it the next month to buy more rebate items. If you keep your gift card after it is empty, you can just enter the number and have them load the same one instead of waiting for another in the mail.

I hope I explained that well enough. Questions can always be sent to me at dimestretchermom@gmail.com.

Writing companies

What products do you like? What do you use most often? Have you ever written the companies to let them know? Look on the back of your favorite products. Is there an email address? Or, just Google the product. There will likely be a "contact us" on the website.

I bring this up because often I write companies and tell them what I do and do not like about the products. Companies like to know what is working well about their products, or what isn't. They also will likely reward your time with some great coupons. SCJohnson has one of the best customer services I have ever seen. Sometimes I tell them what I like, sometimes I tell them what I don't like. Either way, they usually send me coupons not only for the item I wrote them about, but also a little booklet of coupons for various SCJohnson products.

I have written to companies about food, cleaning products, health and beauty items, pens/school supply products...even restaurants. Most send some kind of coupon. Kraft does not. Ever. At least for products you like. I have never written them about a problem with a product because I haven't had any. You can write them and let them know your opinion just to let them know they are appreciated, but you probably won't get a coupon.

Be honest. Give them an honest opinion on products that you have tried. Be enthusiastic if you liked it, or kind if you didn't. There is never a reason to be rude about it. For example, recently, I bought a bottle of Arm and Hammer spray cleaner. My trigger leaked every time you used it. I wrote them and told them that I had recently bought their product to try, and the trigger leaked. I didn't know if it was just my bottle or a flaw with the design, but I wanted to let them know and I thanked them. They sent me a lovely email and refunded my purchase price of the bottle. I feel good about Arm and Hammer, and will continue to buy and recommend their products.

Writing the companies helps the company as well as you. They get ideas on what products are working, and new ones to develop, and you get coupons. It's a win/win!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

First things first...

What you need to do is get you some COUPONS!!!! I love coupons. Love them. You can get coupons through inserts in your local newspaper, online at places like http://coupons.smartsource.com/, http://boodle.com/, or other online sites, and from stores themselves. Pay attention to the blinking coupon boxes on aisles, look for tearpads with coupons..collect, collect, collect. If you can get multiples of the same coupons... awesome.

Next, you need something to keep all of those coupons in. An envelope just won't do. You can purchase a coupon organizer from the store, but if you are like me, you will outgrow it quickly. Some people have a binder that they have filled with the clear pages baseball cards or photos go in. These work pretty good, but be careful, because if you turn it upside down on accident, they will go flying. I use a box I got from Rubbermaid. It's about the size of a shoebox, but it is made like an index card box. It closes and clamps shut so my coupons stay put. Be sure you put your name and contact information on your coupon holder in case it gets lost or left behind...it happens more often than you think. *blush*

After you have a container, divide your coupons into categories that make sense to you. You can go buy the aisles at your favorite store, or similar categories. For example, I have:
breads, fruits and veggies (because they are all in a similar area in my usual stores)
snacks and cereals

These are what works for me. Yours may be different.

Now that you are set up, you can start shopping. DON'T be a snob. It's ok to be brand loyal to certain things..if I don't have Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, my kids will mutiny, but be flexible. Try new things!!!

Match your coupons to sales. Usually, once a coupon is out, it will be on sale within 4 weeks. That's not an ironclad rule, but it's fairly accurate. Sometimes, the item will be on sale that very week....sometimes, they fool you. It will be on sale that week, but cheaper in 4 weeks. This is where it's handy to have multiples. If you buy a couple of that product this week, you still have coupons for the next sale.

Items also rotate. What is on sale now will generally be on sale 12 weeks from now. If you can buy enough to get you through that 12 weeks, you will see it again. This isn't possible with all products, such as certain perishables, but most things can be stockpiled.

Look for stores that double coupons. Some do, some don't. If they don't, that's ok, too, but you can get pretty good bang for your buck at a doubling store. My Kroger, for example, doubles up to 50 cents, so I can save $1 on every item that I have a 50 cent coupon for.

Couponing isn't hard. It may seem overwhelming at first, but pretty soon, it is second nature, and the rewards are amazing. Next blog, I'll let you in on a few more secrets.

Today's product review- Macaroni Grill Chicken Marsala boxed dinner.

These are not with the frozen foods, they are with other boxed dinners like Hamburger Helper, etc. You add your own chicken.

I have to say, this is incredibly delicious. It's a little pricey...I found it to be 50 cents cheaper at Walmart, and I used $1 off coupons, so I ended up paying $2.50 a box, but it was worth every penny. I love Macaroni Grill, and I love chicken marsala. The instructions were easy to follow, and it was done in about 20-25 minutes. Can't beat that. It made more than I thought it would when I opened the box. I would recommend it. There are other varieties, but so far, I am so in love with the chicken marsala, that's all I have tried. Hope you like it!


Welcome to all readers!!

I often have people ask me to teach them to do what I do. What do I do? I save money. I have a ferocious shopping habit, and if I don't save money, I can't shop, nor can I feed my children, who eat like every meal is their last meal.

In this blog, my goal is to give you hints, tips and tricks to save yourself and your family money. I will also probably review products that I try. I always like for people to tell me what they think of things before I buy them, so hopefully, it will help you out, too.

Let me tell you about myself first. My name is Jennifer, and I am a stay at home mom. I have 3 sons, the youngest just started preschool. I used to work retail, and I also delivered newspapers. I love to make a game out of how much money I can save. We eat well (my hips will tell you this), we have tons of cleaning products and health and beauty items stocked up that I got dirt cheap or free. So, stay with me a while and hopefully, you can be a dimestretcher, too.