Friday, July 30, 2010

I just want to kick myself!

I was going to skip my weekly trip to Rite Aid (I think I said that last week too) but I decided to make a quick stop there on my way home this morning. I had my shopping list and all my coupons ready to go. There were some good deals I was looking for. One possible problem I could foresee was with a manufacturers coupon that had a Target logo on it. Some of the coupons printed from the Target website are manufacturers coupons so can technically be used anywhere but some stores have refused to accept them because of the Target logo. So the first thing I did when I got to the check stand was ask if they would take my coupon with a Target logo. She rang everything up and then called the manager. After some discussion, they scanned it and the coupon went through without problems. She then scanned all my other coupons and we got to talking about rainchecks. Since I normally go to Rite Aid on Wednesday, I've usually been able to find most of what I was looking for. However, there are other savvy shoppers in the area and today some of the items I wanted were sold out. I requested a raincheck and went through the motions with that. Then, I paid for all of my purchases which I thought was more than I had calculated before hand. This has happened to me before because I miscalculate something at home and the total is different once I get to the store. So I brushed that thought aside and paid for everything. In the car on the way home, I had this feeling that something wasn't right. I pulled out my receipt and noticed that I didn't have any of the +UP rewards I had been expecting. At home I totaled $5 I should have gotten back from my purchases which I didn't get. I looked closer at my receipt and realized that I hadn't gotten the sale prices on anything I bought either. I was upset about not getting my $5 back but then more upset when I saw I didn't get the sale prices. After taking a few breaths and thinking back to my time at the checkout counter, I remembered that I never gave her my Rite Aid Rewards card!! I can't get the special deals without scanning my card, duh. So now I want to kick myself for forgetting that most important step in the whole process. This is still very new to me and there are so many things to remember about how to get the best deals. I can assure you though, I will never forget to give my Rewards card again!!!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Summary of Month One at Rite Aid

I finally had a chance to calculate my totals for my shopping trips to Rite Aid last month. Basically, I started shopping at Rite Aid the last week of June. Since then I have spent $188.01. This is including tax but minus all coupons, so total out of pocket. I really wish I could calculate the before coupons total because that would really make for an impressive number. However, I've thrown away some of my receipts and those numbers are gone. Last week I requested my Single Check Rebate for all the products I purchased that qualified. I will be getting back $93.63 as an SCR. Rite Aid was also offering a Rite Aid gift card if you spent more than $50 on skin care products. I will be getting a $30 gift card for this. AND, I sent in for a rebate on a Neutrogena product which should rebate the full purchase price which was $39.99. This brings my total refund amount to $163.62. The difference between the amount I paid and the amount I will get back is $24.39. I was sort of hoping to break even and get all my purchases for free because that would be really impressive. But, I can't complain with paying less than $25 for an incredible amount of stuff. I hope I can do as well or even better in August. I think I may have started my own personal competition!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


This week is VBS for the girls so I've been taking advantage of being child-free and doing a lot of shopping. Mostly school supplies since those are currently on sale everywhere. Today I went to Staples because there were some deals too good to miss. For example, a ream of paper is $0.01, limit 2. I can't pass up a 1 penny ream of paper so I had to get some. Never mind that I already have 6 stacked up because I've discovered that you can get reams of paper for almost nothing. In fact, I believe some of those reams have really been free. And, with all the coupons I'll be printing and the school stuff I print all the time, I figure I'll use up lots of paper. So I went to get two more reams. I also bought 2 packs of 6 colored highlighters for $0.25 each and 2 packs of 8 Bic ball point pens for $0.01 each. When I went to the check stand, my "rewards" card informed the cashier that I am with the "Jove School for the Gifted." She asked me if I was a teacher there and of course I said yes. She then told me that, as a teacher, I could get 20 packs of the pens for $0.01 each instead of the 2 pack limit advertised for everyone else. I was conflicted so I stayed with my two packs. Is it cheating to take advantage of those special offers when I'm not a "licensed" teacher? Or when my intention is to use the pens for personal use and not school use? Does a homeschool mom qualify as a teacher? To honestly say I qualify for those special "teacher" deals? Or is that being dishonest? I really don't know. But it would have been AWESOME to get 160 pens for $0.20! What would I do with all those pens if I had them anyway...

Oh, and the total of my purchases will be $0.54 + tax after I get my rebate back for the paper. Staples has a really easy rebate program called... "staples easy rebates"! You simply visit the easy rebate web site and enter some info from your store receipt as well as your contact info. In a few weeks, you get a check for the rebate. No stamps or envelopes or hassle. Easy!

Friday, July 23, 2010


Yesterday we went to Safeway to get some groceries that we were in desperate need of. One of which was milk. While we were there, I decided to check out some items that I have e-coupons for. When people find out that I am couponing, I'm asked if I buy things that I wouldn't ordinarily, just to use the coupon. And I would have to say, "yes."

I wouldn't have purchased any of the items in this picture except that I had an e-coupon for each item. The really cool thing about e-coupons is that you can use more than one for each product, unlike printed coupons. E-coupons are coupons that you "load" to your shopper or club card. The main sites that offer e-coupons are shortcuts and cellfire. When the cashier swipes your shopper card, if you have a coupon for anything you purchased, any and all coupons for that product will automatically be deducted from your bill. In addition, you can use a hard copy coupon for the product.

Looking at my picture above. The Nature Valley nut clusters cost $3.49. I had two $1.00 off 1 coupons loaded from shortcuts and two $1.00 off 1 coupons loaded from cellfire, essentially giving me $4 off 1 bag. I then used a $1.00 off 1 print coupon to get $5 off 1 bag of nut clusters. If the bag cost $3.49, how can you get $5 off? The overage, is applied to other items on your bill. So, the extra here almost paid for a gallon of milk. The Betty Crocker warm delights brownie bowl was $1.46. I had two $0.50 off 1 e-coupons and one $0.50 off 1 print coupon for a total of $1.50 off. This made the warm delights free and gave me $0.04 to apply to something else in my bill. I have never tried the Yoplait delights yogurt but with coupons, I decided to try them. One box of 4 yogurt cups cost $2.29. I had three $1.00 off 1 e-coupons and one $1.00 off 1 print coupon, giving me $4.00 off. This allowed $1.71 to be applied to the rest of my bill. The Glade candles were "on-sale" for $3.99 each unless you bought 4, then the price was $1.99 each. I didn't have enough coupons to buy 4 but I found one candle that was priced "for quick sale." This candle was $2.49. I had two $1.00 off 1 e-coupons and one $1.00 off 1 print coupon giving me $3.00 off a $2.49 candle.

The "club" card cost of these four items was $9.73 prior to coupons. I used $13.50 worth of coupons (e-coupons + print coupons) making all items free and giving me $3.77 to apply towards other items I purchased!

So, yes, I do buy items I haven't used before and probably wouldn't buy without the coupons, but if I can get them for free, why not!?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Another trip to Rite Aid

I didn't really feel the need to get to Rite Aid this week but they had cosmetics on sale so I decided to go. Here's my run down.

3 Revlon fabulash mascaras Regularly priced at $6.99 on sale for 40% off which made them each $4.19. I then used 3 X $1 off 1 Revlon products which brought them to $3.19 each. I also received a $4 +UP coupon for purchasing over $10 of Revlon products.
1 Cryostat hemorrhoid medication (you never know when someone might need this) Regularly priced at $12.99. On sale for $8.99. I used a $2 off coupon to make it $6.99. There is a $8.99 Single check rebate on this product making it a $2 money maker.
1 Zegerid 14ct Regularly priced at $12.99. On sale for $10. I used a $3 off Zegerid manufacturers coupon + $3 off Video Values coupon + $3 off in-ad coupon making this $1. This purchase qualified for a $7 +UP coupon making this a $6 money maker.
With this transaction, I also used a $5 off $25 Rite Aid purchase coupon and $3 +UP coupons I received from a previous transaction.
My total was $11.75 (with tax) and I will receive $8.99 back with a Single Check Rebate and $11 +UP coupons which I used for the second transaction.

1 AirWick mini freshmatic starter kit Regularly $9.99 on sale for $4.99. I used $4 off one starter kit coupon making this $0.99
1 Smooth Move herbal laxative tea Regularly $5.99 on sale for $3.69. Will receive a SCR for $3.69
1 DrNatura ColonAide natural cleansing kit (I thought I might give this to my mom since she likes these types of things!) Regularly $29.99 on sale for $22.99. Will receive a SCR for $22.99
1 Dulcolax Balance Regularly $12.99 on sale for $9.99. Will receive a SCR for $9.99
I used my $11 +UP coupons from transaction #1 plus a $5 off $25 Rite Aid purchase.
My total on this one was $25.07 (with tax) and I will receive $36.67 in single check rebates.

I paid $36.82 for both transactions, including tax and will receive $45.66 back in rebates earning me $8.84, 3 mascaras, really good colon health, and an air freshener which may be needed after all those colon products!

Ebates and on-line shopping

If you do any shopping on-line, you need to sign up with ebates. Ebates is a shopping site that gives you up to 26% Cash Back every time you shop online. You can shop at over 1000 stores including eBay, JCPenney, Macy's, Nordstrom,, Walmart, Kohl's and Home Depot. When you sign up, you will receive a $5 gift card simply for joining. I actually got to pick a $10 Home Depot card when I signed up but they advertise that you get a $5 card. Just know that it could be more depending on what you choose. After signing up, you simply start your shopping at the Ebates site and pick the store you wish to shop from. When you order, you automatically get a certain % of your total back from Ebates. Nothing else to do. If you're going to shop anyway, you might as well get something back from using Ebates. Sign up now!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

You Need A Budget

Many of those who are older and wiser than me would probably agree that everyone needs a budget to manage their money. I believe this also. However, I have found it difficult to track our money effectively in this modern age when we hardly ever have cash in our hands. We have used Quicken for many years but it really hasn't made much difference in our spending habits. The only thing I can get it to do well is run spending reports. This comes in very handy when I need to present the HOA finances at a meeting (I'm the HOA treasurer). Our personal spending habits, on the other hand, have always been hard to grasp.
In my neverending quest to be more organized, I downloaded a free spreadsheet for my hundreds of coupons I've already acquired. When I opened the program, there was a sort of "welcome" page that described the spreadsheet creator and his purpose for making spreadsheets for money management. In the midst of his writing, he mentioned the, not-so-pleasant, task of budgeting. He then quickly described a software program I'd never heard of, YNAB3. Definitely not one of the big names. But the description was enough for me to look further and read more reviews. I liked almost everything I read and decided to download the 7 day free trial. I have had it for 2 days now and see the incredible potential it has for budgeting.
This is not a checkbook register type program like Quicken. You do enter transactions and reconcile them to your accounts. However, the difference is in the budgeting.
After setting up your accounts, you set up a budget. For me, this is difficult because I don't know exactly how much money we currently spend on things like gas or groceries. So I'm starting out with very rough estimates. I will use groceries as an example of how the budgeting portion of the program works. Let's say I budget $500 per month to groceries. As I enter transactions in the "groceries" category, they are automatically deducted from the groceries portion of my budget. I start out the month with $500. During week one I spend $60 at Albertsons and $40 at Safeway. When looking at my budget screen it will tell me that I have $400 left in my grocery budget for the month. Week two I spend $175 at Costco and $25 at Wallmart. I'm now down to $300. Week three, another $50 goes to Albertsons and Safeway each, taking the amount left for groceries down to $200. I'm just too tired to do any grocery shopping during week four so I end the month having used only $300 of the $500 budgeted for groceries that month. Now I start month two and again I have budgeted $500 for the month. HOWEVER, since I didn't use $200 of the $500 budgeted for month one, this amount carries over to the next month and I now have $700 in my budget for groceries that month. The basic design of the program is the "envelope" system. I remember my mom using this system when I was younger. She would put cash into different envelopes and use only what was in the envelopes. When they were empty, there was no more spending for that category unless you stole from another envelope. Now, YNAB3 allows you to do the same thing only virtually.
The one thing I dislike about the program so far is the inability to easily download transactions from an account. However, this may not be such a bad thing since there is somewhat of a delay between when a purchase is made and when it is posted to your account. Manually entering transactions will help us stay on top of our spending.
Are you wondering what YNAB means? Well, the creators of the software were not very creative. They simply took the idea "You Need A Budget" and condensed it down to YNAB. Clever? Maybe. Creative? Not really.
If you are interested in finding an easier way to monitor your spending or following a budget, look into YNAB3 (oh, the 3 is because this is the 3rd version). YNAB3

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rite Aid trip

I've decided that I may have to make weekly trips to Rite Aid. In the past, I haven't enjoyed shopping very much. However, now that I have my shopping lists and coupons ready before I leave the house, it makes the experience much better. So I'm not opposed to frequent, short trips anymore.

The summary of tonight's trip is as follows:
Total spent, $50.59 (that's including tax)
I cannot easily tell how much the price was prior to coupons (my calculator is not close at hand right now.)
I will submit for a $39.99 rebate from Neutrogena.
I will also get back as a single check rebate $7.69
Which makes my total cost $2.91!

Now I want to calculate the total cost of my purchases, prior to coupons.
$71.64 (not including tax).

Something I thought about later. With each receipt, Rite Aid prints off a coupon for $1 off a $10 hair care purchase. This is part of their +UP program. This can be used pre-coupons. Tonight I purchased $12 of shampoo. I could have used this +UP coupon to get an extra $1 off but maybe I'm just being too greedy!

Albertson's doublers and B1G1 meat sale

Yesterday was the last day to use the Albertson's doubler coupons. I don't know of any other opportunities to double coupons in this area (yet) so I have to take advantage of the doublers when they come out. I get three copies of the paper which gives me three sets of three doubler coupons. The last time I used doublers, I learned that you can only use three doublers per transaction. So this time, I had all my transactions planned and set all my items on the belt. Three sets of three doublers would make three transactions to use all of them. When I got to the cashier she told me they've made a new policy which requires you to leave the building between each transaction. Oh boy, what a pain. She was very nice about it since I had all my items unloaded from my cart and on the belt. She rang up all three transactions with the warning, "don't do it again." Here is what I got and how much I paid.

Transaction number 1
4 boxes Kellogg's poptarts 12ct
2 boxes Kellogg's Rice Krispies, big box
2 boxes Kellogg's Frosted Flakes big box
They were having a special. Buy 8 items and pay $1.50 each. So the total for this part was $12. Then I had 4 coupons for $1 off 2 items. I could only double 3 so these coupons removed $7 making the total for 8 boxes, $5. I also bought:
2 Skinny Cow ice cream cups, small $1.25 each
use 2X$1 off any skinny cow product to pay $0.25 per ice cream cup.
Total for transaction #1 was $5.50

Transaction number 2
6 boxes Kraft Mac & Cheese for $0.79 each
I used 3 $0.55 off 2 boxes coupons and doubled them, making each box $0.24 (the price at Costco is $0.50 per box).
I also bought a bag of Jet Puff marshmallows for $1. No coupon but I needed some to make the Rice Krispie treats with the boxes I bought in transaction #1.
I found some chicken tenders in the meat dept that were priced at $5.24 and $5.14 with $3 off stickers on each package. Making the chicken tenders $2.24 and $2.14 for about 1pound each. I don't know if this is a good price or not but I couldn't pass up $3 off.
So, transaction number 2 was a total of $6.82.

Transaction number 3 had most of the meat.
I bought another 2 boxes of Mac & Cheese and doubled another coupon.
I also bought 2 bags of Mission tortillas for $1.99. I had two coupons for $0.75 off any one bag of tortillas which I double to make each bag cost $0.49.
I took advantage of the buy1get1 meat sale and bought four packs of round steak at $2.25/lb (adjusted price), two packs of fresh chicken breast at $2.50/lb (adjusted price).
The total for transaction number 3 was $30.29.

I recently found a list of "stock up" meat prices which I will be on the look out for from now on. Our freezer is pretty well stocked but if the price is right, I will try to take advantage of it to replenish our supplies.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Beating Costco

I have to admit that I once thought Costco had really good prices. Buying in bulk from the big warehouse is supposed to be cheaper, right? I suppose this is true most of the time for most of the people. However, I'm learning that with a little effort, you can beat Costco prices and sometimes even make a little money while doing it. This is really cool to me. I love getting stuff for free and making money too! Right now, Office Depot has some items that are free or close to free after mail in rebate. In the past, I've hesitated to do rebates because it seemed like too much work to fill out the forms and I never sent them in by their due date. Now that I see I can get most of my money back, I'm going to be very diligent about sending in my rebates. The first couponing website I was introduced to is hip2save. This is the deal she posted for Office Depot.

Wanna make some $ with your Office Depot purchase?! Check out this deal scenario below…
Buy 1 Swingline LightTouch Reduced Effort Stapler $13.99
Buy 2 Office Depot Brand Multipurpose Paper Reams 500 sheets $6.29 each
(I would encourage you to buy 2 as this is great paper for printing coupons :D )
Total $26.57
Use the $10/$25 coupon found here
Pay $16.57
Submit for the $13.99 Swingline mail-in rebate
Submit for 2 $5.29 Mail in Savings Visa Prepaid cards from the paper purchase
Final Cost FREE plus $8 moneymaker!

Tonight I stopped by Office Depot on the way home and purchased all the items above. When my rebates come back, I will be ahead $8, two reams of paper and a stapler. A ream of paper costs almost $3 at Costco so I definitely beat Costco with this one!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Still learning

I guess I need to learn a little more about how to blog well. My tables below didn't turn out very well. There were supposed to be columns to show which number went in the coupon column and which went in the +UP and SCR column. It looks all squished together. Sorry about that, to whoever might happen upon this blog and read it.

A Really Good Shopping Trip

I've decided that my new favorite store is Rite Aid. My Rite Aid is quiet and clean and I never feel like I'm holding up a line while using my coupons. The cashiers are awesome and accept all coupons without question. PLUS, you can stack many coupons on each item to make for some really great deals. Rite Aid has two separate programs to help in your couponing mission. Since I'm still new to blogging, I don't know how to link to the individual pages directly yet. But, you can find the links at The first program is the video values program. By watching very short videos, you can earn manufacturers coupons for certain products. These coupons can be stacked with other manufacturers coupons found in coupon inserts or printed on line. Plus, these two types of coupons can be stacked with Rite Aid coupons. Thus allowing you to use three coupons per item! The other program at Rite Aid is their Single Check Rebates. Every month they give rebates on certain products, sometimes up to the full purchase price of the item. The cool thing is, they don't care if you used a coupon at purchase to pay less. They'll still refund the full amount!! I've learned that in the couponing world, this is called a "moneymaker." You end up with more money than you had. And, I guess, we can include a third benefit from Rite Aid with their +UP rewards. These are coupons that print out after the purchase of certain items. I had a hard time understanding these at first but I think I've got them down now. So, here's my shopping trip from last night. Please remember that I am new to this and it took a lot of planning to make my shopping list and then a lot of time in the store finding the correct products. Last night was only my 3rd time in Rite Aid. Also, while I was there, I realized that I had pulled the wrong coupon for the body wash. Fortunately, I had my coupon binder with me to find the matching coupon. Otherwise, I would have had to scrap the body wash from my list. Here's the rundown. I used two transactions to use two $5 off $25 purchase coupons. Oh, that's another really cool thing. The $25 is PRE coupons! Here we go.

Item Cost Coupons +UP reward SCR
Crest toothpaste $2.49 -$0.75 $2.00
Renu contact solution $7.29 -$4.00 $7.29
Kendall first aid gauze 2 for $7.00 -$2.00 $1.00 $3.00
Gillette Body Wash 2 for $8.00 -$6.00 $2.00
Allergy Buster $9.99 $9.00
Blink eye drops $7.99 -$1.50 $2.00

Total $46.76 -$16.25 $5.00 $21.29
I also used $13.00 +UP coupons I had from the last shopping trip I took and a $5 off $25 coupon I had. This made my out of pocket cost $12.51. I got $5 +UP back and will get $21.29 back in rebates.

Here's transaction number 2.
Item Cost Coupons +UP reward SCR
Crest toothpaste $2.49 -$0.75 $2.00
Mitchum deodorant (3) $10.50 -$2.25 $2.00
Crest mouth rinse $4.99 -$2.00 $3.00
Glide floss 2pk $5.99 -$0.75 $4.00
Milk 1 gallon $1.99 No coupons, I just needed milk!

Total $25.95 -$5.75 $2.00 $9.00
I used the $5.00 +UP rewards earned from transaction number one above plus a $5 off $25 purchase. This made my out of pocket cost $10.21 with a $2.00 +UP coupon back to use on my next purchase and $9.00 to come back as a single check rebate.

Here's my total for the entire shopping trip. Total cost of items $72.72. My out of pocket was $22.72. My single check rebates from these purchases will be $30.29. So, I guess you could say, I earned $7.57 by shopping last night! That's awesome!! Shopping doesn't seem like such a chore when you can make money doing it!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


I just finished inputting all the data I collected last night at CostCo. Call me a geek but I'm really proud of this. It's really reassuring to be able to look at the numbers and know exactly how much I've been paying. In the end, I'm not sure that CostCo has the best prices. For example, the price for Heinz ketchup in the really big jar is $0.04 per ounce. Right now, Target has a 40oz bottle on sale for $1. This calculates to $0.02 per ounce. That's a 50% savings right there. Even though I don't have a coupon, I'd be getting a better price buying at Target. I may have to make a trip over there before they run out.

I also discovered that I recently made a good decision to buy some FiberOne bars on sale at Target for $2 per box and use a $0.50 off coupon. This turned out to be $0.25 per bar and at CostCo they are $0.32 per bar.

I now know that we pay $0.50 per box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Rite Aid is selling boxes at Buy 1 Get 1 Free. Plus, I have a coupon. So as long as this calculates out to <$0.50 per box, I'll try to use all my coupons to get a better deal than CostCo!

Monday, July 5, 2010

In the beginning...

As of today, I've been couponing for about 1 month. I've learned many things along the way and have found that it is possible to save a lot of money with coupons. One thing I felt needed to be done was to make a list of how much we currently pay for the items we buy most often. Currently, we do most of our shopping at CostCo. I love buying in bulk because it means fewer shopping trips and I usually have what I need on hand when I need it. Tonight we took a trip to CostCo and I went down every aisle and wrote down the price and quantity of each item we purchase frequently. I plan to put this info into a spreadsheet to have on hand whenever I evaluate a deal. It's only a good deal if it saves me money. So, the goal at this time is to beat CostCo prices. In order to do that, I need to know what CostCo prices are. Tomorrow I plan to input my data in my spreadsheet and start analyzing the numbers. We'll see where that takes me...