Wednesday, April 27, 2011

STEP 10: Storing Your Food For Maximum Life

Now that you're getting the idea and are possibly stocking up when the deals are good, I thought I'd lend my how-to's of storing foods. In most cases, storing foods in the packaging they come in is ideal. But there are also items that can spoil and/or that aren't packaged 'critter-proof'.

Let's start with foods that spoil quickly: Meats, Fruits, and Veggies: This is where you may want to consider purchasing a freezer. Your side by side or your top/bottom freezers are not big enough. Craig's List is a great place for used ones. Trust me, in the long run, it's worth it!
For meats, I strongly encourage you to purchase a decent vacuum sealer. There are occasions where meat deals are fabulous and you'll want to stock up! Here's what I do... for all my meats, I separate them into (my) family size portions. Once that's done, I sprinkle all sides with a dash of salt and I vacuum seal it. I write the date of purchase AND the date I freeze it on the package and pop it into my freezer. If there are some odds and ends, I package those in individual servings that I can turn into a nice lunch, chicken salad, or steak and eggs where lesser meat is acceptable.

Cheeses, if you use cheese mostly in cooking, then you can freeze just about all of your cheeses in the packages they came in with little consequence. Just about all cheese maintains it's flavor however some softer cheeses will loose a bit of their density and consistence once thawed which would not make them ideal for a 'cheese and cracker' setting.
Fruits and Veggies - Just about all of these can be frozen and used in smoothies, pies, pancakes, muffins, sauces, stews, and so much more. The only produce I can think of right now that does not freeze well is lettuces, cucumbers, citrus, tomatoes, and kiwi. The rest can be if prepared properly. Just about all veggies can be cleaned, chopped, bagged, vacuumed, and stored including potatoes, celery, carrots, and the like with very little issues. Fruit takes a little more work.
Berries and Grapes - Wash, Bag, Seal, Freeze
Apples- Wash, Slice/dice, spritz with lemon juice, freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet, then bag and seal for long term.
Bananas and Mangoes - Wash, Dice, Bag, Seal, Freeze
Pears - not ideal but you can puree these, put them in a small jar and freeze

Pasta, Rice, Flour, Sugar, and the like
You can keep these in the packaging they came in if you are certain you do not have to worry about rats, mice, roaches, ants, moths or other buggies. Let's face it, none of us can say we're 100% sure. So my advice for these items is to store them in air tight containers. Now I recently learned that freezing these for roughly a week will kill any stray larvae left in your foods. So you may want to consider doing that before shelving.

Now here's my trick (channeling my inner Martha), save your milk jugs, water jugs, soda bottles, and juice containers!! Small pastas can be stored in milk and water jugs. Rice can go in soda bottles, and sugar and flour can go into wide mouthed juice containers. The best part - not only do you spare the environment from another non-biodegradable, but you've critter proofed your grains! If you don't have any, you can buy generic water for around $.70 a gallon. Pretty cheap for an air tight gallon sized container, no?

Storing sugar and flour (especially wheat) in these containers is great and can actually make dispensing and measuring easier than dipping into a canister or unraveling those stupid paper bags. Another option if you like cheeseballs or pretzels, is to buy one of those canisters of them. Those containers are also great AND can store your longer and larger pastas like spaghetti and large shells OR you can use them for opened cereals. And despite what you may be thinking, these WILL save space especially on the pasta (not so much on the rice unless you fill them up)!

One more little tip... purchasing business card adhesive pouches are perfect for labeling permanent containers like this. You can print off business card sized labels from your computer and swap out when the container is emptied. Here's what I'm referring to:

Other container uses...
Jars for sauces are great for holding leftovers for lunch the next day. Simply plop a couple handfuls of the cooked pasta in there, a few spoonfuls of sauce, shake, and fridge/freeze. When you're ready to eat, thaw, dump onto a plate or bowl, nuke, garnish, and serve!

I don't know the actual name for these but those containers that lunch meats come in. Some are nice tupperware style ones others are like a press together to seal kinda thing. Both of those are great for lunch salads and sandwiches!

Egg cartons are great for starting seeds for fruits and veggies.

Baby food jars are great for storing small quantities of condiments at your place of work or packing in a lunch bag for single serving dressings, mayo, etc.

Many stockers use over-the-door shoe organizers (the ones with the pockets) to hold seasoning packets, mashed potato pouches, pasta pouches, and the like as it keeps them tidy and you don't loose them in the pantry!

What ideas do you have for keeping your foods fresh and storing them?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

STEP 9: Starting a Stockpile

A stockpile is started when the price of an item is so low that it's worth it to buy multiples of the item and stock up on it at that price. Stockpiles, despite what you've seen on TV, do not need to consume rooms, garages, or your lives. Here are my personal thoughts on the matter.

First and foremost, before we go one more step, stockpile realistically! Stockpiles are very much worth the effort. They can save you big bucks in the long run and having food on hand like that can relieve stresses related to tight budgets and financial struggles. So I am PRO stockpiling.

That being said, I strongly believe stockpiling should be very strategic and calculated. Sales cycle every 6 months or LESS. This means that when you consider starting a stockpile, you should really only consider purchasing the amount that your family would consume in that time frame because that sale will repeat during that time. Any more and it could easily go to waste and/or take up valuable space from another item you need room for.

Massive stockpiles valued at $45K+ are rather ridiculous in my eyes unless of course you're in the habit of entertaining large parties of people on a regular basis. You must realize that a stockpile requires maintaining. Your stock MUST be organized. Products need to be placed in expiration order as to not let foods spoil before being used. Depending on where you plan to house your stock, you must concern yourself with temperatures, critters, and humidity factors. So while couponing takes time and work, so too will your stockpile.

Sometimes the price is SOOO good, we think to ourselves 'What the hell. It'll never be this good again.' And there we go bringing home 35 of something we know we only needed 6 of. When you're 'paid' to take it out of the store, it's almost a sure bet. We've been there. We understand. However, instead of adding this product to your stock that you know you will never, ever use in it's entirety and, dare I say it, may actually be tossed out, you have some additional options.

You can give some goods to friends, family, and neighbors. Making up goody baskets is a great way to welcome a new neighbor to your 'hood. You can sell your stock at garage sales and/or flea markets. You can donate to your local schools who would greatly appreciate some extra school supplies or pasta for noodle art or rice for other activities. Or you can donate your goods to a local food bank, charity, or military entity. You can also obtain a tax receipt for the retail value of your donation that you can put towards your taxes at year's end and make out like I champ!

So there are the basics and my thoughts on stockpiling. Tomorrow... storing foods!

Monday, April 25, 2011

STEP 8: Maximizing Your Savings

Now, getting used to using coupons is only half the battle. The other half is ditching your regular shopping habits and starting anew. Whether you're minimizing your grocery bill out of necessity or simply 'because', the way to ultimately save is to start eating by sales. What does 'eating by sales' mean? This means that in order to REALLY save, you are going to plan meals according to what you have on hand and what is on sale for the week.

This doesn't just go for meal planning though. There's one more factor and for you die-hard brand namers this will be difficult. You're also going to lose your brand loyalty! This does NOT mean you have to buy generic, in fact it'll likely be MORE costly if you do but this does mean you may have to cheat on your preferred brands and purchase others. For the most part, I've been able to do it but for a few brands like Hellmann's... well... my heart stays true. :)

So you've ditched the usual list and you've accepted your brand swinging lifestyle. Great! Let's bump it up!

In order to save the most and spend the least, you are going to shop by BOGO when/if available. BOGO sales instantly give you a 50% discount. Pair that with coupons that usually save you up to another 25%, and there's the magical number of 75% saved! Now to ultimately live a frugal freak life, you can stack those BOGO sales with a store AND a manufacturer coupon for the ultimate in savings. My Publix accepts Target coupons. So here's an example using a competitor coupon from a sale a couple weeks ago:

- Kraft or Seven Seas Dressing, assorted, 14 or 16 oz bot., BOGO $3.27 for 2
- - $1/2 Kraft Dressing 4/10/2011 SS Insert (exp 5/8/2011)
- - $1/2 Kraft Condiment Items TARGET coupon

So here, you would buy 2, use one $1/2 Target, and use one $1/2 manufacturer, which makes them just $0.64 each or a savings of 90%! Not too shabby huh?
Now not all stores accept competitors and not all stores produce store coupons, so you have to do what you can with what you're allowed but if you take advantage of BOGO sales and add coupons to them (where allowed), you'll save an average of 75%.

Tomorrow, we'll talk about Stockpiles!

Friday, April 22, 2011

STEP 7: First Trip... Start Small!

When you think about shopping for the first time with coupons, you need to start small. Do NOT go in there like the Extreme Couponing show and expect $1000 worth of groceries for $10. This is possible, don't get me wrong, but for the first time, I want you to plan small!

First, select which grocery store you are going to give it a go at. For all intensive purposes, I'm going to select Publix. Their upcoming ad has already been released and you can find it at However, my personal favorite is as she not only shows which are good deals but also tells me which coupons to use or stack AND what my item price will be in the end. I prefer her layout but there are dozens of matchups out there so find the ones that work best for you!

Now... look through the hottest deals and find around 4 or 5 that you like and use. Here's a few things I'm looking at:

Bic Disposable Razors, 3 or 4 ct pkg, BOGO $5.49 for two
- $3/1 BIC Disposable Razors 4/10/2011 SS Insert (exp 5/22/2011)
- $2/1 Bic Disposable Shavers 3/27/2011 SS Insert (exp 5/15/2011)
**Buy 2, use two $3/1, makes them FREE plus overage (if your store allows)

Juicy Juice All Natural 100% Juice, 64 oz bot, BOGO $3.29 for two
- $2/4 Nestle Juicy Juice Products
- $1/2 Nestle Juicy Juice
**Buy 2, use one $1/2, makes them $1.15 each

Kozy Shack Pudding, 22 oz or 6 pk 4 oz cup. BOGO $2.99 for two
- $0.40/1 Kozy Shack Pudding 3/6/2011 SS Insert (exp 6/20/2011)
- $1/2 Kozy Shack 1/23/2011 SS Insert (exp 5/31/2011)
**Buy 2, use one $1/2, makes them $0.99 each

Ragu Homemade Pizza Sauce, 14 oz jar, BOGO $1.49 for two **this is very seldom on sale BOGO so even without a coupon this is a great deal!

Solo Paper Plates or Bare by Solo Cups or Plates, 10 to 48 ct, BOGO $2.99 for two
- $0.75/1 Solo Cups Plates or Bowls
- $0.75/1 Bare by Solo Product 4/10/2011 SS Insert (exp 6/12/2011)
**Buy 2, use two $0.75/1, makes them $0.75 each

Now, looking at your short list, you now need to find your coupons. Links (in blue) go to printable coupons. You can usually get two prints out of one computer by hitting the back button a few times. DO NOT PHOTOCOPY them. This is illegal!

Once you found your coupons, trim them neatly. On printables, you'll find this fine print border around most of them, keep that on there. Do NOT trim that off as many are using that border to validate the coupon.

Next, time to head to the store. Grab your items and if you have any questions regarding the use of them, stop by your store's customer service desk and ask before heading to the check out line. "When in doubt, ask before check out!" The reason you'll want to do this is you want the CSR you talked to to be there when you check out. I've spent about and hour and a half in the store once and the person I spoke to going in, was not there when I checked out. So be on the safe side!

Last but definitely not least... STICK TO YOUR LIST! You may find other deals that you want to buy but for your first trip I want you to stick to the list that you have coupons for! Veering off and buying extras might lend to a feeling of not getting as good a deal as you thought and you don't want that feeling on your first trip!

One last note: Some stores have computer systems that only allow one coupon per item. Fear not my friends, having one MQ and one SQ where allowed will simply require a manager override. Give them the heads up when you get there so you don't have to wait long (or keep others waiting long).

Let us know how you did! :)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

STEP 6: Coupon Greed and Databases!

Now that you've got the overall idea of how to use the coupons, you may find yourself wanting MORE coupons. Don't worry, we've all been there. And admittingly some of us stay there! :)

As previously mentioned, there are online sources for you to pick through. They are:
If you're still on the hunt for coupon, there are additional places to check out. Magazines are good for a coupon here or there or if you want to get serious about it, you can look into purchasing a subscription or two to AllYou magazine. They are the #1 magazine for coupons with over $50 in coupons in each issue.

Additional options are check your product packages at home and look for coupons there. Sign yourself up on your favorite brands' websites and you'll receive coupons by email. (Remember to set up a special couponing email address!) If you don't have a Facebook account, you might wanna get one because companies are using Facebook to promote as well and you will frequently get coupons from their fan pages.

When you still have a coupon you haven't found, you can search a coupon database! Yes we have those! :) My two favorites are:
I have found these two to be the most thorough but there are plenty out there to pick through. You simply enter the brand and product you're looking for and it will show you if a coupon exists for that item and where it can be found. It's extremely handy!!!

Last but not least, when there's a must have item on sale with a coupon you don't have, you can buy coupons at a number of different sites. Ebay is my preferred first source. When searching ebay, I recommend filtering your results by distance and purchasing from the nearest party if you're in a hurry! Other options are:
Tomorrow, we will talk about setting up your first shopping trip!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

STEP 5: Types of Coupons, Use, and Terms

Generally, even if stores differ, one thing that remains MOSTLY common is you can use one store coupon with one manufacturer coupon per item. Yes there is a difference!

Manufacturer coupons are usually what you find in your inserts, on products, and in product packaging. The Manufacturer has issued these coupons and pays usually $.08 on top of the coupon value back to the store. Quite the opposite of those who think we're ripping them off. If you look at your coupon, you'll see on there in the fine print the amount they will pay the store for accepting the coupon. Most say $.08 which means if you use 50 coupons in your transaction, you've made the store an additional $4.00. Also, keep in mind that it takes the store approximately 120-150 days to see the revenue of these coupons. If you're planning on a large haul, do so at the bigger chain stores and additionally, place a special order. The smaller stores will not be able to do this in most cases.

The type of coupon is listed usually in the top section next to the Expiration date. There are also manufacturer coupons with store logos on them. If these store marked coupons say "Manufacturer Coupon" on them, you can usually use them anywhere.

That brings us to Store coupons. These are coupons issued by a store chain completely independent of the manufacturer. These can be a little tricky but here are a couple of examples:

Publix coupons do not have barcodes. They have LU#'s (lower right corner).

Target coupons do have barcodes and list in the upper left corner that it's a Target Coupon.

In most cases, if it says anything other than "Manufacturer Coupon", it's a store coupon.

Now for the fun part, if your store allows, you can stack your coupons. This means you can use one Manufacturer Coupons (MQ) and one Store Coupon (SQ). Now you can also use that stack on a good sale which allows you to save the most.

When the sales and the coupons are REALLY good, you can have what's called overage. Overage is when the sale and the coupons exceed the cost of the item itself. So if you have a BOGO sale on pasta for $1.25 and you have a $1 off 1 coupon. You can use two coupons (one for each item) and have $.75 overage for each pair you buy. This is why so many couponers have a huge stock of pasta! :) This is an ample time to use that overage towards meats and produce as we don't get many coupons for those items and store will obviously not pay you money for shopping there. You will have to buy more stuff to bring the balance up.

If you shop at stores like CVS where you can get store dollars back, you can score what we call Money Maker deals. Money Makers are where you use the right coupons in conjunction with the sale that you pay less for the item than the number of store dollars you get back. That's what we call a Money Maker. You're making money but it's money that has to be used at that store. Some times Target will have a deal on receiving a Gift Card back if you buy so many of something. If you have the right coupons, those can also turn into Money Makers.

So there's a bit of coupon glossary terms for you. Let's sum it up:

Manufacturer Coupons - coupons issued by the manufacturer of the product
Store Coupons - coupons issued by the store independently of the manufacturer
Stacking - using a MQ and a SQ on one item
Overage - 'extra' money earned when the value of your coupons exceed the cost of the item
Money Maker - store dollars or credit that is earned when the value of your coupons exceed the cost

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

STEP 4: Ad Matchups

Ad matchups are your new best friends. Every week someone somewhere disects the sales circulars for the store and matches available coupons for the items on sale. These will be your frugal bibles my friends!

So here's what you need to know to navigate a coupon matchup listing. These are your three insert brands that you will find in your papers:
  • PG = P&G
  • SS = SmartSource
  • RP = RedPlum
Next, there are coupons available that are NOT in the inserts but found around the stores:
  • Blinkie = dispenser found at the store, usually blinking a little red light
  • Sticky = coupon was found stuck to the product
  • Tearpad = a notepad style display of coupons where you tear off a coupon from the pad
Last but certainly not least, are links to printable coupons found online at various websites. (See the bottom of the post for resources.) And other coupons are received by mail, found in the packages, or otherwise obtained elsewhere.

In your ad matchup, you will see in order, the sale item listed and the price followed by the available coupons to pair with that sale and where to find them, and you may see a recommendation on which coupons to use or stack (we'll cover this next lesson) with the sale to get the lowest price.

When it comes to the coupons, you will see a coupon listing followed by a date and one of the above insert acronyms. For example: "$0.50/2 Dole Pineapple or Tropical Fruit 4/10/2011 SS"       This means that you will find this coupon in the SmartSource insert that was distributed on 4/10/11. Depending on your organizational method, this will either lead you right to your filed inserts for you to thumb through OR you will recall whether or not you purchased the paper on 4/10/11 and will find it however you organize your coupons.

Some matchup providers not only provide this information but also mark which ones are REALLY good deals that you may want to stock up on (to be discussed later). These may be marked by a little graphic or written in a different color depending on your go-to matchup site.

Many times you will also see a competitor coupon listed there. Just because it is listed does NOT mean you will be able to use it. You will have to verify with your store as to whether it will be accepted or not. While our online Frugal friends do the best they can, every store in every state can differ in the policies. Become friends with your customer service folks at your regular stores as you will be talking with them frequently from here on out! :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

STEP 3: Organizing the Coupon Craziness!

This is not the most fun but once you settle in, couponing can become a breeze. There are quite a few organizing methods available. Before we go into what you're going to tote them in, let's talk about how you want to organize them.

Here are the methods generally speaking:
  1. By Category - ie. Dairy, Meat, Canned Goods, Cereals, Etc.
  2. By Isle - you'll need your stores guide found on the cart if they have them or cheat and snap a photo of it with your camera phone like I do! :)
  3. By Expiration date - self explanatory
  4. By insert and by date - organized by the date the insert was distributed and then by the insert type (SS, RP, PG)
  5. Alphabetically by Brand
I've done a few different ways and I'll spout off a few pro's and cons about each:
  1. Category - If you're not brand specific and simply need to find a deal on shampoo, this is fine. If you're strategizing your ads and coupons to the T then you may find yourself searching through categories too much for too long.
  2. Isle - This to me is more of a secondary organization that would come in handy after you have your deals and coupons picked out. But again, like the categories, if you're simply in need of a product found in Isle 10 of your store then you'll quickly be able to go to it.
  3. Expiration - I get that we want to use coupons up before they expire but how you're going to find a coupon on the spot for Hunt's Tomato Sauce on clearance (just an example) without knowing IF there's coupon and WHEN the coupon expires is beyond me.
  4. Insert and Date - This was working quite well for me. I simply binder-clipped my inserts together by date and filed them in a big box. When the time came to find a coupon for a sale, it states the required information and you go to it and clip them out. HOWEVER, you will likely hold on to expired coupons much longer than needed and it's a bulk pile!
  5. Alphabetically - I started this way and I'm going back to this. Filing alphabetically by brand makes the most sense to me although it requires more work. If I need bread, I'm going to go to the section, find the best priced bread, and look up the brand to see if there's a corresponding coupon. Done deal. Sales are never on a general product category like "shampoo" it's always a specific brand of shampoo offering the deal. So this way, although you have more up front work, I believe you save the most time in this method.
That all being said, what makes sense to me, DOES NOT have to make sense to you! :) It's YOUR coupons and YOUR coupon organization. Do what you feel most comfortable with!

First, decide on whether you want to carry your coupons into the store or not. Why would you do that? Stores regularly have unannounced sales and there are always clearances. You can easily miss out on a huge deal because your coupons were left home.

On the other hand, you can also veer off a list more easily if you have your money saving deals in hand and could potentially buy an item for not so great a deal simply because it sounded tasty at the time and you happened to have a coupon for it and purchased it even without it being on sale. So you decide! :)

Next, here are some methods of containing your coupons:
  • Coupon Organizers - Us serious savers like to laugh at these. You've all seen these mini-wallet sized organizers made of a plastic like material the has an elastic band you pull around the whole thing. You can find these anywhere from the dollar store to office supply stores. They are about the size of a wallet and have dividers in them to label as you will. They can roughly hold 100 or so coupons comfortably. How serious do you think you'll be?
  • Envelopes - If you're just starting out and you're not sure if you'll be able to keep it up, you can simply use a box of envelopes. Label the envelopes in one of the above methods, pop them back in the box, and voila! You have a mini organizer.
  • Accordion Files - These are found at office supply stores and are intended for file use. They are large enough to hold inserts or cut coupons (may be too deep for cutting) and they can be labeled in a number of ways.
  • Index Card/Recipe Box - These are cute and fun and come in a number of different sizes. You can easily find dividers for them and if you remain on the smaller scale, you can still take these into the store. My biggest problem with these was that if you drop the sucker... you will cry! Unless you invest in a solid lock and key system, those coupons are all over and all out of order. Also, because the files have play room, small coupons can easily shift around and even slip under the dividers and other coupons.
  • Photo Albums and Binders - This is probably the hottest method. Photo albums come with 3x5 or 4x6 pockets making them 'ready to use'. Binders allow purchasing of different sized pocket inserts allowing a combination of sizes to be used. However, as great as this is... you'll be doing a lot of cutting to make them fit! Some couponers separate edibles from non-edibles using one binder for each and then utilizing the above noted methods.
  • Insert Boxes/Files - If cutting coupons every Sunday for an hour seems like a headache, you can always go to the Insert box. Simply bunch the like inserts together and file them by date. You can stack them in a box or get as organized as a file cabinet with hanging folders to support your inserts. Con - They get heavy QUICK. Depending on how many inserts you plan on keeping on hand, these can add up very quickly. I purchase 6 every week and 3 months worth probably weighed around 25 pounds. You will not be toting these around and you will certainly not be taking them into the store. Also, insert paper itself is very thin. If you go in and out a couple of times a week, you're bound to rip them. And lastly, you will likely end up hanging on to expired coupons for way longer than needed because you're not able to go through the inserts as quickly as some of the other methods, the expired coupon may be on the same sheet as other valid coupons, and very few sites offer notices of when whole inserts expire although you can count on P&G to expire every month.
Personally, I was on the insert box but recently converted to a binder with alphabetical filing. I plan to simply put A brands under A but in no certain order and so on and so forth to see if that works for me. If not... back to the box. :)  UPDATE: It took me two weeks to fully convert my coupon inserts into a binder. So far, It's not bad at all! I'm kinda liking it. Not only are coupons 'ready-to-use' but it only weighs a few pounds and zippers closed. I think I'm on the binder train now.... permanently.

So there you have it! Methods to file them and methods to contain them. You can mix and match how you'd like. There is no right or wrong way. Everyone has their own method or methods in organizing. The only must is that you ORGANIZE! :)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

STEP 2: Sunday Insert Previews

As discussed in our previous step, Sunday Coupon Preview is a great source. Here is what we're expecting this Sunday and next.
Click on the 2011 Insert Schedule across the top menu and locate your month and day. For this upcoming weeks you should see:
17 — Smart Source and Red Plum
24 — No Inserts scheduled

So the 24th is a couponless paper thanks to Easter. Use this time to purge expireds, arrange, and maybe work on a good list of trips.

Now we look at what to expect in our 17th SS and RP inserts. Jusging by the listings, we should see TWO SS and 1 RP insert. Here's the previews:

RedPlum Coupon Insert
Bertolli Pasta Sauces Save $1.50/2 (5/15)
Cap’n Crunch Cereal Save $1.00/2 (8/31)
Cheer Detergent any Save $1.00/1 (5/31)
Degree Men Adrenaline Series Anti-Perspirant & Deodorant Save $1.00/1 (5/15)
Degree Men or Women Anti-Perspirant & Deodorant Save $1.00/1 (5/15)
Degree for Women Premium Anti-Perspirant & Deodorant or Body Mist Save $1.00/1 (5/15)
Era Detergent any Save $1.00/1 (5/31)
Febreze product with Gain Save $1.00/1 (5/31)
Gain Detergent any Save $1.00/1 (5/31)
Gain fabric softener or sheets Save $1.00/1 (5/31)
Head & Shoulders Shampoo buy One Get One Head & Shoulder 13.5oz Conditioner FREE to Save $4.74 ( 5/31)
Hellman;s product 16.5oz or larger .75/1 (5/15)
Iams canned dog or cat food Buy 3 Get 1 FREE to Save $1.00 (5/31)
Iams Healthy Naturals dry dog or cat food Save $1.00/1 (5/31)
Iams Premium Protection dry dog or cat food Save $1.00/1 (5/31)
Iams ProActive Health dry dog or cat food Save $1.00/1 (5/31)
I can’t Believe It’s Not Butter product .75/2 (5/15)
Knorr’s Recipe/Sauce/Gravy Mix Product .50/2 (5/14)
Lipton Recipe Secrets product .60/2 (5/14)
Natural Instincts Hair color Save $3.00/1 (5/31)
Nivea body lotion 8.4oz- 13.5 oz Save $1.00/1 (5/15)
Nivea Express Hydration Lotion or gel 8.4oz – 13.5oz Save $2.00/1 (5/15)
Nivea for Men body wash 8.4fl oz- 16.9 fl oz Save $3.00/1 (5/14)
Nivea for Men face care product or TWO shave gels 0.5 floz- 7oz Save $2.00/1 (5/141)
Olay Regenerist Facial Moisturizer or cleanser no trial Save $3.00/1 (5/31)
Osteo Bi-Flex caplets, softgels or powder no liquids Save $6.00/1 (5/29)
Pedigree Jumbone treats for dogs Save $1.00/1 (5/29)
Pedigree Marrobone treats for dogs Save $1.00/1 (5/29)
Pop Secrets products Save $1.00/2 (5/29)
Rimmel product Save $1.00/1 (6/30)
Scope Mouthwash 710 ml or larger Save $1.00/1 (5/31)
Scotties facial tissues 5 boxes or 2 multipacks Save $1.00 (5/14)
Shedd’s Spread Country Crock Spread .60/1 (5/15)
Sundown vitamin or supplements product Save $1.00/1 (5/31)
Waverly paper plates, plastic cups or napkins by Hefty Save $1.25/2 (8/15)
Zyrtec 24ct or larger Save $4.00/1 (5/30)
Zyrtec 24ct or larger Save $7.00/1 (4/24)

Smartsource coupon insert #1
Air Wick Freshmatic Ultra Starter Kit $4 (5/29)
Air Wick Freshmatic Ultra Refills B2G1F to $5.50 (5/29)
Air Wick Freshmatic Starter Kit $4 (5/29)
Air Wick Freshmatic Compact Refill $1.50 (5/29)
Air Wick 100% Natural Propellant Spray B1G1F to $1.39 (5/29)
Aveeno Active Naturals $3/2 (5/31)
Aveeno Active Naturals $1 (5/31)
Ban Solid .75 (6/4)
Band any .40 (6/4)
Bausch & Lomb Alaway eye drops $5 (6/30)
Bausch & Lomb Opcon-A eye drops $1 (6/30)
Betty Crocker Fruit Shapes, Fruit by the Foot, Fruit Gushers or Roll-Ups .50/2 (6/11)
Biz $1 (5/29)
Biz $1.50 (5/1)
Brita Pour-Through or Faucet Mount System $4 (6/26)
Brita Multipack filters $1 (6/26)
Brita Bottle $1 (6/26)
Cheerios Cinnamon Burst .75 (5/28)
Desitin no trial size .75 (6/26)
EarthWise Entirely Natural Premium products $1/2 (5/31)
Enfamil or Enfagrow large size powder 22.2 oz+ $2 (5/31)
Farmland Breakfast Sausage Links $1/2 (5/31)
Farmland Sausage Rolls $1/2 (5/31)
Farmland Hickory Smoked Bacon 12 oz or 16 oz $1 (5/21)
Farmland Diced, Cubed or Julienne Ham or Turkey, Deli Style Lunch Meats, Special Select Sliced Meats or Ham Steaks .75 (5/21)
Fiber One cereal .50 (5/28)
Finish Jet-Dry Rinse Agent or Turbo Dry .55 (6/12)
Finish Dishwasher Cleaner .40 (6/12)
Finish quantum $1 (5/22)
Finish Powerball or Gelpac .75 (5/22)
Godiva Chocolate Bar or Godiva Gems 1.4 oz+ .50 (5/31)
Green Giant Frozen Bagged Vegetables 19oz-240z .40 (6/11)
Hamburger Helper, Tuna Helper or Chicken Helper .75/3 (6/11)
Johnson baby or Natural product .50 (6/26)
Johnny Cat Liner Bags or Johnny Cat Litter .40 (12/31)
Jose Ole 16 oz+ $1 (6/30)
Kraft Homestyle Mac & Cheese Dinner $1 (5/17)
Kraft Big Slice, Kraft or Cracker Barrel Natural Slices $1 (6/12)
LightHouse products $1/2 (7/31)
Listerine Total Care Mouthwash 1L+ or Reach Toothbrush or 1 Reach Floss or 1 Reach Access Flosser $1 (12/31)
Listerine Total Care Mouthwash 1L+ and/or Reach Toothbrush and/or Reach Floss, or Reach Access Flosser $2.50/2 (12/31)
Listerine Mouthwash 1L+ .50 (12/31)
Listerine Total Care Plus Whitening Mouthwash 32 fl oz or 1 Restoring Listerine Anticavity Mouthwash 1L $1 (12/31)
Listerine Agent Cool Blue 500 ml or Reach Kids Toothbrush $1 (12/31)
Listerine Zero Mouthwash 1L+ $1 (12/31)
Listerine Pocketpaks 24ct+ or Listerine Pocketmist or Plax Rinse or Listerine Essential Care toothpaste .50 (12/31)
Lysol No-Touch Hand Soap System Starter Kit $3 (5/17)
Maxwell House .55 (5/31)
Nature Valley Granola Thins .75 (6/11)
NatureSweet SunBursts tomatoes 10.5 oz .55 (6/11)
Neosporin or one Band-Aid product .50 (6/30)
Neosporin AND one Band-Aid product $1.50 (6/30)
Nicole by OPI Nail Lacquer $1 (6/30)
Oreo Fudge Cremes 11.3 oz $1 (5/16)
Pillsbury Sweet Rolls or Grands Sweet Rolls .50/2 (7/9)
Pillsbury Crescent Dinner Rolls .40/2 (7/9)
Pillsbury Italian Meal Breads .40/2 (7/9)
Pillsbury Refrigerated Grands Biscuits .30/2 (7/9)
Reach by design Toothbrush 1ct or 2 ct $1 (12/31)
Reynolds Wrap Foil except 20, 25, 30 sq ft .75 (5/31)
Ritz Crackerfuls Filled Crackers 6 oz $1 (7/10)
Schick Hydro 5 refill $2 (5/28)
Schick Hydro 3 refill $2 (5/28)
Schick Hydro Shave Gel .75 (5/28)
Schick Quattro for Women Razor or Refill $2 (5/29)
Schick Intuition Razor or Refill $2 (5/29)
Scotch Brite Greener Clean $1/2 (5/31)
Tena Serenity Pads & Tena Men and Women Underwear $1 (7/31)
Totinos Crisp Crust Party Pizza $1/5 (7/9)
Totinos Rolls Snacks .40/2 (7/9)
VTech Toy priced $19.99 $5 (7/31)
Wheat Thins Crunch Stix $1 (6/26)
WhiteCastle Microwaveable Hamburgers or Cheeseburgers .50 (7/16)
Woolite Carpet and Upholstery $1 (5/31)
Yoplait Fiber One Multipacks .50 (6/11)
Yoplait Yogurt 32 oz .50 (6/11)
Yoplait Greek yogurt .60/2 (6/11)
Yoplait Greek Yogurt 4 pack $1 (6/11)
Yoplait Go Gurt or Trix Multipack .75/2 (6/11)
Yuban $1/2 (5/31)

Smartsource coupon insert #2
Act Dry Mouth bottle $2 (5/31)
Act bottle 16.9oz+ $1 (5/31)
Allegra, Allegra-D or any Children’s Allegra $5 (5/7)
Ascriptin $1.50 (7/31)
Benefiber $1 (7/16)
Benefiber Plus Heart Health product $2 (7/16)
Bufferin 130 ct $1 (7/31)
Dannon Greek 5.3 oz cups .50/2 (5/31)
Doans Extra Strength Caplets $1 (7/31)
Excedrin 20 ct+ .75 (6/4)
Excedrin 80 ct+ $1.50 (6/4)
Gas-X $1 (7/16)
Gas-X Prevention $1 (7/16)
Good Nites Jumbo Pack+ $2 (5/14)
Huggies Little Swimmers $2 (5/14)
Huggies Little Swimmers Sun Care product $1 (5/14)
Huggies Pull Ups Jumbo pack+ $1.50 (5/14)
Huggies Diapers $1.50 (5/14)
Huggies Little Movers or Little Snugglers Diapers $2 (5/14)
Huggies Baby Wipes 64 ct+ .50 (5/14)
Keri Lotion $2 (7/31)
Maalox $1 (7/16)
Maalox $2.50/2 (7/16)
Mineral Ice Pain Relieving Gel $1.50 (7/31)
Myoflex Pain Relieving Cream $1.50 (7/31)
OxiClean Original In-Wash Booster or Pre-Treater $1 (6/30)
OxiClean $2/3 (6/30)
Ortega .50/2 (6/30)
Physicains Formula $1 (7/31)
Prevacid 24HR $3 (5/15)
Purina Beneful Snackin Slices any size $1 (7/17)
Purina ONE brand beyOnd Dog food any $2 (5/16)
Purina ONE brand beyOnd cat food any size $2 (5/16)
Scott Naturals Paper Towels $1/6 (5/29)
Scott Naturals Bath Tissue 4 rolls+ $1 (5/29)
Scott Naturals Flushable Wipes .50 (5/29)
Spice Island $1/2 (6/19)
Starbucks Coffee 11, 12, 20 oz bag $1.50 (6/30)
U by Kotex Pads $1 (5/28)
U by Kotex Liners $1 (5/28)
U by Kotex Tampons $1 (5/28)
Zaditor $3 (7/31)

See anything you use regularly? If so, buy more papers!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

STEP 1: Even Numbers, Compare & Preview

If you intend to maximize your savings, you are going to need to buy your newspapers in even numbers. Many buy their papers in groups of 3 or 5 but the key is simply even numbers. The reason for this is almost every week, you will see a Buy One Get One (BOGO) sale somewhere. If you have taken this advice and purchased your papers evenly, you will always have a coupon for each of those sale items to make for a great deal!

Now before you rush off to snag another paper, you're going to want to compare your neighborhood papers. Many areas have 2 or more major papers and not all of them are created equal. It's important to check the papers you purchase to make sure they have the scheduled inserts in them. In my area, one paper doesn't always have the SmartSource insert while the one that's 1/2 the cost always has them all! Lucky me!

So how do we know what's scheduled in the paper? Glad you asked! Click below and bookmark!

They have an annual calendar of scheduled inserts along with a listing of what coupons will be in each of those inserts. Now you'll want to peak at this before buying your papers as there are weekends where no inserts are published (usually holiday weekends), and if there's a coupon you know you're going to use a lot, you can buy more papers than usual! It's an incredible tool that you will want to keep in a handy place!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Welcome to the Idiot's Guide to Couponing!

First, congrats on refusing to pay retail! Once you get the hang of things, I promise you will have the skills to save at least 75% off your grocery bill and/or pay less than $1 per item on average! Let's get to a few early steps.

Here are a few preliminary steps you can take before diving head first:
1. Decide on one primary Drug Store and one primary Grocery store to concentrate on.
2. Call or go online and familiarize yourself with their specific coupon policies at the locations you will be shopping at.
3. Find out what competitors they accept!
4. Note what days the ad cycles begin and end.
5. Create a separate email account specific to couponing. You'll thank me later!
6. Subscribe yourself to their ad notices via email. Subscribers get the ad previews early in many cases so this allows you a couple extra days to get your trip in order.
7. While I will be touching on the different coupon organizational methods, have a bit of fun making a pro's and con's list on the methods you know about and begin brainstorming on the methods that will work for you!

There's a brief 7 steps to keep you busy! I'll see you next time!