Apr 29, 2011

Friday Freebie: Win a $5 Amazon Gift Card!!!

Each month I'll be giving away a free item on the first Friday of the month;
Friday Freebie! So for the month of May I'll be giving away a $5 Amazon Gift Card
to a randomly selected reader!

 Do you know that you can buy a book on Amazon for as little as a penny? Even with shipping as high as $3.99, five bucks can get you a completely free book (with $1 to spare!!!)! That's just one example of what you could do with a $5 Gift Card to Amazon.com, and there are hundreds more!

Here's what you have to do to enter the drawing:

1) Subscribe to or Follow this blog
2) Sign up for one of these free services I've featured (by clicking the links below):
Living Social https://livingsocial.com/redeem_invite/27802837-curdly?ref=lnk  
*If you've done all of these already, then you're good to go (though you must still leave a comment to be entered into the drawing)! 

3) Leave a comment on this post with your first name and last initial,
and what you signed up for!

That's all! Nothing else required! Check back on May 6th and I'll announce the winner! 

Apr 27, 2011

Harris Teeter - Super Double Coupons!!!

Starting today (April 27th) and going through next Tuesday (May 3rd) - Harris Teeter is doing Super Double Coupons! That means all coupons are doubled up to $1.98 in value! This is a huge money saver and a great way to use all those $1.00 and $1.50 face value coupons! 

The best site I've found for putting together Harris Teeter deals is southernsavers.com.
They tell you what's on sale, what coupon to use, and give you a link to click if it is a printable coupon. You can also create your shopping list straight from their list by checking the box by the item name. When you're finished, you click the "create my list" button and it creates a list with only your items on it! If there are things that you need that aren't on sale, you can even add those things to the list manually!It's fantastic! 
Here is what I got today at Harris Teeter: 

This is $72 worth of groceries that I got for a total of $13.72 (with tax)!
Hidden Valley Salad Kit - $1.99 (free after coupon)
(2) Butoni Fresh Fettucini Pasta - $1.50 each (free after coupons)
Rhodes Yeast Rolls - $2.39 ($.39 after coupon)
Vicks Vapor Cough Drops - $.39
Reach Dental Floss $1.65 (free after coupon)
Log Cabin All Natural Syrup - $2.50 ($.50 after coupon)
Kraft Dinner - $2.50 ($.50 after coupon)
(2) Silk Soy Milk - $3.29 ($1.29 each after coupons)
Seventh Generation Paper Towels $1.99 (free after coupon)
(2) Deer Park Sparkling Water  $1.19 each ($.19 each after coupon)
(2) Fuze Drinks $1.33 each ($.33 each after coupon)
(2) Kleenex Boxes $1.25 each ($.75 each after coupon)
(2) Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner $1.50 each ($.50 each after coupon)
Lysol Disinfecting Wipes $1.65 (free after coupon)
Seventh Generation Dish Washing Soap $1.99 (free after coupon)
Pace Picante Salsa - $2.00 (no coupon)
McCormick Taco Seasoning - $.50 (no coupon)
Grande Tortilla Chips - $2.50 ($1.00 after coupon)

I can't wait to go back for more amazing deals over the next week!!!

Apr 26, 2011

Have you Heard of Groupon?

I think I've mentioned Groupon before, but not sure if I've given you the low-down - so here I go again!

From Groupon's site: Groupon negotiates huge discounts—usually 50-90% off—with popular businesses. We send the deals to thousands of subscribers in our free daily email, and we send the businesses a ton of new customers. That's the Groupon magic.

It's free and super easy to sign up! You don't have to give any personal information - just an email address and a password that you pick. I've gotten so many different things with Groupon - but I've noticed that they mostly feature small/new businesses and often have organic, eco-friendly companies highlighted. But now that I think of it, they may send me the above mentioned deals because I specified that I was interested in those sorts of things in my profile! So they'll send you deals on things that fit your interests! How cool is that?!?!?

If you're interested in checking them out and signing up for their daily emails, click this link! If that doesn't work, copy and paste this into your browser: http://www.groupon.com/r/uu19691339

Apr 22, 2011

Earth Day

Before I post about the wonderful goodies I was able to pick up today, I think it is important to make clear to my readers what I think about Earth Day and other environmental initiatives. Today was the first day/year that I actually "participated" in any Earth Day give-aways. I hadn't avoided it in the past out of any sort of principal, but just because Earth Day was never an important part of my life. The reason for that is because I believe every day ought to be "Earth Day". I don't mean that in some "let's save the planet" sort of thing, but, as Christians I believe that we have a responsibility to take care of the Earth that God created - to tend and to keep it. So though I don't agree with a lot of the ideologies and world views of a lot of the environmental agencies and initiatives, I am grateful that people are starting to really think about how wasteful and careless we've been and trying to come up with economical and resourceful ways to do things. There is a lot to say on this subject, and it may be a little more serious of a subject than I want this blog to take on, so I'll stop with this: I appreciate all the many companies who participated (and will be participating in the next few days) in amazing give-aways - in order to encourage us to use more earthy-friendly products (theirs specifically). Freebies are fun, but I don't ever want to get so caught up in getting free stuff - that it becomes all about how much free stuff I can accumulate and forget the entire point (which is to save, and NOT to just be able to buy more stuff)! So, without further ado - here's what I was able to get today!

Starbucks - Free coffee if you bring in your own travel mug! I thought they were only giving away regular drip coffee. But, I asked the super friendly guy behind the counter what he had in decaf (I'm still nursing, so I'm still on decaf duty :( ...) and he offered to make me a Venti Decaf Iced Americano with cream and a little sweetener! It was so yummy and way more of a treat than I was expecting!!! Caribou Coffee was also offering free coffee, but I didn't make it by there!

Origins - Free trade! Bring in a bottle of your own cosmetic item from home and they'll give you one of theirs FREE! Like Starbucks, this deal was even sweeter than I thought it was. I thought you had to take in a bottle of cleanser in order to get the free bottle, but it was any bottle of skincare items. My sweet husband was with me and willing to fill out his own form for a free cleanser - so we were able to get one of each kind! I had two completely empty bottles of moisturizer that I was just hanging on to for goodness knows why - and they took them - no questions asked! So excited about those!

Lowe's - tomorrow participating Lowe's will be giving away one million free trees on a first-come-first-serve basis. I don't know what kind of trees, but I did call one of the Lowe's here in Charlotte and they are participating. We plan to go tomorrow morning to get one! 

I felt like I got more Earth Day deals, but I guess it was just because I made 6 different stops today for deals - but the only Earth Day related ones are listed above. Here's a short list of what else I was able to pick up:
Walgreens = 1 Gillette Powerglide Razor, 3 Scotch Tape, 1 Aquafresh Children's Toothpaste, 4 Cadburry Cream Eggs for a total of $4.29 out of pocket...and then I got $4 RR - so net spending of $.29! :)
EarthFare = Free dozen eggs
Harris Teeter = $62.54 worth of groceries for $19.96
Target = Ritz Crackerfuls, Lysol Wipes, and Bandaids for a total of $2.73 (I had to make a small haul today because I forgot my binder with Target coupons!!!)

If you missed out on the fun today, there are still things going on through the weekend! You an get a free tree at Lowe's tomorrow, CVS is giving away free reusable bags through Sunday (you purchase it for $.99 and then get $.99 ECB), and there is free entrance into National Parks through Sunday as well. (Thanks to Hollie @ We Love Free for this information!Click here for a link to her blog post that gives you links for more information on these things).

Apr 21, 2011

Coupon Organization

There are many different methods of coupon organization. A lot depends
on the time you are willing to invest and the amount of coupons you
have. I personally use a combination of methods: binder, accordion
file, and whole inserts. In this post, I'll briefly mention the
systems and then focus on how to create a coupon binder.

The envelope method is exactly what it sounds like. You separate
coupons by category and place each category into its own envelope. All
the envelopes are then stored in a container such as a plastic bin or
photo box. This may work for some but I like to take my coupons with
me. The box is somewhat awkward to transport.

Similar to the envelope method is the index file box. Coupons are
placed by categories into something like a recipe box and separated by
tabbed dividers. Again, carrying a box around the store can be a

Another option is a small accordion file or wallet. This is
convenient for carrying around as you shop (fits easily in a purse)
but can be constricting if you have a huge stash of coupons. I use
mine as an accompaniment to my binder. One section is designated for
catalina or store coupons and the others for any coupons that I might
be needing for an upcoming shop.

If cutting coupons isn't your thing, the insert method might be the
perfect fit. This saves a lot of prep time (I sometimes revert to this
method out of laziness!) but a downside is that finding a specific
coupon takes longer. If you are clipping your coupons for that day's
shopping trip before you head out the door, this works fine. But, if
you are shopping and find an unadvertised sale or clearance, digging
through 50 inserts for a matching coupon can be a drag. When I end up
with multiples of an insert, I cut one or two for my binder and keep
the extras in a large accordian file.

The most popular method of organization among avid couponers is the
binder. I'll admit to feeling like a big dork schlepping my binder
through the store. My resolution has been to keep it concealed in a
large purse or reusable shopping tote. I can still flip through it
with ease but keep a little bit of dignity too (or so I pretend).

So, what do you need for a coupon binder? First, obviously, you're
going to need a 3 ring binder. Lots of sites suggest investing in a
high quality binder but I've found that the cheaper ones hold up just
fine (I've had the most success with flexible binders). I am in the
business of saving money so spending $30 on a storage system doesn't
make sense to me! There is also a debate over zippered vs non zippered
binders. Zippers hold everything in place but make getting in and out
a little cumbersome. For this reason, I prefer the non zippered.

Next you are going to need clear plastic baseball card holders (which
can be found at Target or Walmart) or photo album sleeves (good for
oversized coupons) and a set of tabbed dividers. The coupons should be
placed into each pocket so you can see both the amount and expiration
date. If you have to fold a coupon, make sure the pertinent info is
still visible. This makes it much easier to pull expired coupons. Use
your dividers to sort categories by alphabet, expiration date, or
products. I have mine labeled according to products: free items,
snacks/cereal, refrigerated, frozen, beverages, other foods, baby,
personal care, household, pharmacy and miscellaneous. Each tab is then
divided into subcategories. For instance, under the personal tab, I
have 2 pages devoted to toothpaste. When I come across a clearance
item, I can flip to the right section of my binder and find the
corresponding coupon in a matter of seconds. I also keep weekly sales
ads clipped to the inside of my binder for reference or price matching
and have a pocketed pencil pouch for oversized coupons, notecards,
scissors, etc.

Hopefully, this gives you some ideas on organization strategies. Take
a little from here and there and find what works for you!

Apr 20, 2011

Product Reviews I: Make-up

All of my couponing in the last few months has given me the opportunity to try out quite a few new products. I've mostly been impressed with the new things I've tried, but there are a few things that I'm sorry to report are less than stellar. When I started this post, I thought I would just write on a few things. But as I've worked on it, I've found that there are a lot of things I could write on. So, I'm going to divide this into a three part series. I'll start with something fun - cosmetics!!!


Maybelline FIT Me!
I received a huge fold out cardboard display in the mail about 2 months ago, giving tiny samples of all the various shades of this foundation. I was really excited because, though it wasn't enough to cover the face by any means, it was just enough to put a sample on the jaw bone and see if it matched your skin. When I found a sale at Target a few weeks later, I was able to go in with my coupon that they sent me and get the shade I found that matched the best. Well, unfortunately - it didn't match well at all. It's much too dark for my skin shade. I can only gather that this is my fault. I will likely save this foundation and use it in the summer when I'm typically a little darker skinned. It is a little more runny than I generally like, and the coverage is very light. I felt it very necessary to use my concealer for the "trouble spots" as well - which presented an interesting look considering my concealer is the right shade for my face. After the coupon - paired with the sale, I think I only paid about $5.00.

L'Oreal True Match 
I had no big color wheel to help me out on this one, but there was a nifty little thing at CVS that allowed you to hold up a sample to the inside of your wrist and see what matched best. I debated and debated, and finally picked one that turned out to be a little too light. Maybe I should mix it with the Maybelline for just the right shade?!?!?! :) I was really disappointed in this one. I generally like L'Oreal make-up, but this has kind of a funny smell and is very runny. The coverage seems to be decent considering how runny it is, but I felt kind of pasty after putting it on. I did buy this on sale at CVS, with a coupon, and using ECB's - so my out of pocket was quite minimal (maybe $1-2). 

Covergirl NatureLuxe Silk
I received a sample in the mail (it is one I signed up for) with two different shades. There was enough in each sample for me to get several applications out of them - which was really nice. I was really impressed with how smooth and silky it was. It was a nice, thicker consistency and spread easily and evenly across my skin. I was also impressed at how well the samples matched my skin color. I had to choose from images online, and with my track record of not picking the right shade, I was a little skeptical. But these were perfect for now and for later in the summer. After using these two samples for a few days, I was convinced this was what I wanted to try. CVS had a sale last week on Covergirl, so I was able to pair it with a coupon and get the foundation (normally priced at a whopping $12.99 for 1 oz) for about $6. I've been using it this week and have been very pleased with it. 

On the flip side, I've been a loyal Mary Kay make-up user for the past 10 years. I've loved everything that I have ever used of theirs and I have a fantastic rep who is so helpful, quick in replying to emails with questions, and always has my order shipped to me (for free) within 2 days! Oh, and did I mention that she has 11 children that she homeschools? And she's pregnant with her 12th?!?!?! She's AMAZING! So, if you're in the market for Mary Kay, click here and she'll take great care of you! Anyway - I've been using MK Medium-Coverage foundation for 8 years and LOVE it - and it's only $15. The only reason I've deviated over the past 4-6 months is because I was trying to pinch pennies and had all these coupons for make-up. Since I've been using the MK for so long, I also wanted to try out some of the newer things on the market now that weren't there before, and see if I could find a better/cheaper option. Well - the Covergirl NatureLuxe is the only thing that I've found that even comes close to competing. And, if I had to pay full price for the Covergirl ($12.99 at CVS), then I would definitely just go ahead and get the Mary Kay!

Rimmel - Extra Super Lash
I got this mascara only because I had coupon stacks at Target that provided me with overage. I did need mascara, and I thought that if I actually liked this product, it would be a bonus. Well, it's ok. Like I said before, I've been using MK make-up for years and I love their mascara - but it is about $10 and I reasoned that at the cost of nothing, I might as well try the Rimmel. Well, I gave it a good try - about 2 months worth and people, I'm here to tell you - it's not even close to the same. I was ok with it until I got a sample of Clinique's High Impact Mascara in the mail about 3 days ago. I think I was trying to convince myself that the Rimmel was fine and that there wasn't that much of a difference. Well, I used the Clinique on Sunday and it was so wonderful! The brush has so many more bristles, the consistency of the mascara itself is just so much smoother. My eyelashes don't clump together and I don't have to rub the side of the wand against the side of the tube to take off excess mascara. There really is no comparison. I just checked the Clinique website, and the mascara really isn't as pricey as I thought it would be - only $14.50. Now that's a far cry from free + overage, but if you're anything like me, I will spend a little more money on things that I am actually putting on/in my body (facial products, lotions, foods, etc.), if I'm getting higher quality. I think this is a good example of having given something a try, but finding it not such a great "deal". Sometimes there are reasons why things are so cheap... :)

Tune in to the next installment for a review of facial/body lotions, and soaps/body washes! Plus, if you've tried some new things recently and have thoughts you'd like to share, leave a comment with your review!

Deal of the Day - April 20

Have you heard of Gaggle of Chick's? It is a lot like Groupon, and the other services like that. It generally sticks with household and childrens items - and they have a little bit of an natural/earthy/green slant. Well, when I signed up a while back, I got a $10 credit. I've been holding onto it until I found something I really liked. Well, today their deal is for $30 worth of Eat Cleaner products - for only $15. So, I checked out the Eat Cleaner website and their stuff looks pretty cool! So, I got the $15 certificate for only $5 (with my $10 credit), and if I order from Eat Cleaner before the 24th, they have a special (because of Earth Day) that will give me free shipping on any order $30 or more! So, this is how it will work. 

If enough people buy the deal from Gaggle of Chicks, I'll get a e-certificate from them tomorrow in my email for $30 to use on the Eat Cleaner site. They have a special Eat Cleaner Bundle for Gaggle of Chicks that includes 4 oz Concentrate, Fruit + Vegetable Wash Refill, plus 10-Ct. Wipes - Individually wrapped, great for travel and lunchboxes, and a 40-Ct.for $30. So, I'll get that and qualify for the free shipping. Plus, I'll get a Eat Cleaner Tote bag because of the Earth Day promo! 

If you're interested in this deal, click this link and can get it too. Plus, you'll help me earn credit as well! :) I'm not sure if they're still offering the new sign-up credit; I didn't see it on the site. But even at $15, that's still a 50% discount, plus free shipping, plus the free tote!

Apr 18, 2011

Rue La La - $20 Just for Signing Up

Click on the link below to sign up for a free account at Rue La La! When you do, you'll get a $20 account credit!


This is site that has a wide variety of items from lingerie to coffee makers to resort packages. The items for sale change daily, so if you don't really find anything you want immediately - you can check back each day until you do.There are a few things listed today (4/18) in the $20 range - salt/pepper grinder, some camisoles, and some mens t-shirts. So - you can potentially get some things for close to free! *Just checked - shipping is a flat rate of $9.95!!

Apr 16, 2011

The Difference between Purchase and Transaction

I don't really consider myself a coupon newbie because I've been using coupons for a while now. But, I've just recently (in the past 2-3 months) really gotten into it full-force. I just ran across this comment on a different site that I frequent (hip2save.com) by a reader named "Melissa", and I thought it was really helpful. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten confused or thwarted by cashiers because of this, and I didn't have the knowledge to back up my claim to use multiple like coupons!

Sometimes cashiers think ‘purchase’ and ‘transaction’ mean the same thing, but they are not. Each item you put on the counter is a ‘purchase’, all of the items combined are a ‘transaction’. Some coupons do say one per transaction, and that means just that – one per transaction. One coupon per purchase means if you are buying 2 items, you can’t have the cashier scan 1 coupon twice, you need 1 coupon per item you are purchasing.

This cleared up so much confusion for me. I think I'm going to print it out and put it in my coupon binder so that I can remember it next time a cashier gives me grief! :) 

Apr 15, 2011

Blue Cross Insurance vs. Walgreen's Prescription Savings Club

I was introduced to the Walgreen's Prescription Savings Club by a friendly pharmacy employee about 6 months ago. I picked up my two regular 90 day supply of my prescriptions at the negotiated Blue Cross Blue Shield rate of $10/month (for generics) - so the total came to $60 for both medications. When I got home I found a little hand written note on the bag that told me how much I would have paid had I been using the Walgreen's Prescription Savings Club plan; it seemed too good to be true! So, the next time I needed my prescription refilled I went in and talked to someone in the pharmacy about it. The program is only $20/Individual and $35/Family. I was hesitant, but the first time that I used it (which was right when I signed up for it), I was able to get my exact same prescription that had previously cost me $60 with BCBS - for a total of $30! So I recouped the $20 I paid for the program, plus $10 - immediately. That translates to a $100/year savings - just on the prescriptions I take every month! Plus, the program gives you a 10% discount on all Walgreen's brand items in the store and discounts on photo services! I had seen the signs for this program many times and immediately discounted it because I had insurance and was sure that my insurance had negotiated the best rate possible. But this was a very pleasant surprise! So, if you have prescriptions that you have to get filled every month, or get prescriptions filled regularly - I think this is definitely worth checking out!

Apr 14, 2011

Bella Nova Squeaky Shoes

If you'd like some super cute shoes for your daughter, niece, or any special little girl - I have a friend with Bella Nova Squeaky shoes for about 1/2 off the retail price! Each pair is only $15 + shipping. She only has 4 pairs left, so you'll need to act fast if you'd like one!
 Bella Nova Squeaky Shoes - Plaid - Size 9 - $15.00
Bella Nova Squeaky Shoes - Ducks - Size 6 and 9 - $15.00 each 
(how cute would this be for sisters to wear for Easter?!?!?!)
Bella Nova Squeaky Shoes - Sandals - Size 7 - $15.00

I'm not much for things that make noise, but I was in the grocery store a couple of weeks ago and heard this cute little squeaking sound. I turned around to find a precious little girl who had on a pair. They were absolutely adorable and the squeak was really cute and not annoying! The little girl was SO proud of them and was so cute about showing them to me! Just leave a comment if you're interested, or if you're having trouble leaving a comment - you can email me at lisahuntington1979@gmail(dot)com!

Apr 8, 2011

Coupon Frenzy Part II: Organizing your spending

Have you ever gone on vacation, checked into your hotel, just started to slip into that amazing vacation relaxation mode...when you realize you've forgotten something??? Whether it's your razors and shaving gel or the batteries for the camera - you've got to have them! So down to the hotel convenience store you go to pay the most astronomical price imaginable for these things. But you do it! Why? Because you have to have them. The cost of not having them (no pictures for your vacation? Hairy legs at the beach? No way!) is too much to pay! They charge an arm and a leg, because they know that if you're buying them there - then you're desperate! When you have to have something - you loose your bargaining power. You have no other option than to pay $10 for a 4 pack of AA batteries - so you've got to do it! I have friends who do not like to stock-pile for various reasons - but one common response is: "I don't buy things unless I need them", they say "When I run out of shampoo, then I buy more shampoo; I don't need 50 bottles of shampoo". In their minds, it is wasteful to spend money on things that you don't need. My answer to that is: when you wait until you need something to buy it - you turn every shopping trip into a visit to the hotel convenience store. If you have to have shampoo (because you're out) - then you have to pay whatever the price is at the store regardless of sales or coupons. You are paying the most you could possibly pay for that item, every single time you buy it. So if it is something you use all the time, that isn't perishable - why not stock up? To me it's a no-brainer! 

But, with all of the great deals come some challenges. For everything that is worthwhile, there has to be a little discipline - right? So, how do you keep yourself from spending TOO much? If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you may think that's impossible with deals like the ones I've mentioned before, but it definitely is! You can easily get so caught up with how much you're saving, that you forget and loose track of how much you're spending. I am far from all the answers and I am relatively new to aggressive couponing, but I am a cautious spender - so hopefully some of these tips will help!

1) I have a flexible spending account. I deposit money in this account that I want to keep separate from our family checking account that we pay all of our bills out of. I use this account when I need to pay anything that's a joint gift or expense (friends going in together to buy something and people are giving me money for it that I have to turn around and pay for at a later date), or when I purchase a piano book for a student and the parents are going to reimburse me. Every now and then I'll get a little surplus from this or that (normally when I sell a piano book to a student that I've had on my shelf for a while, or have a garage sale, or sell a book on Amazon). This is my "free money". When I want to buy something out of the ordinary that is not budgeted, this is the account that I use. So, when I found wooden refrigerator numbers set from Meritline on sale for $1.50 (shipped), I knew I could buy it without having to check the budget. When Target had a daily deal two weeks ago for t-shirts, I was able to buy 3 super cute, soft, comfy t-shirts that I really needed for tennis (but weren't in the budget) for $13.60 - shipped - and not have to even think about whether or not I should do it or not! This is a great way for me to keep a handle on my spending: if it's not in my flex account, then I can't buy it...no matter how good of a deal it is! If it's in the flex account - then I can "splurge" on my great deals to my heart's content.

2) I pay cash for all my non-necessity deals at CVS, Target, and Walgreen's and I write down everything I spend in a little log that I have. This way I'm at least aware of what I'm spending and if I don't have cash to cover it (unless it is an absolute necessity) - then I can't get it! When I get gift cards and credit as a result of purchases, I make sure those GC/Credits go towards the things we really need and not on splurges. I used to feel like cash ran through my fingers like sand a sieve - but now I feel like it is a real checks and balance for me. It is a tangible thing that helps me gauge what I can spend. If I only have $5 in cash - then I have to be creative in my transactions so that I don't spend more than that. It makes me more savvy!

3) This is kind of a re-iteration of the first paragraph - but I buy ahead. When I buy things that are on sale with coupons, I eliminate the necessity buying by a huge margin. For instance, if I went ahead and stocked up on toothpaste 2 weeks ago when I could make money buying Crest Pro Health - then the temptation to buy Colgate this week at $.50/tube is eliminated. I don't need to the toothpaste - so I'm not forced into buying it. My husband laughed at me a couple of weeks ago when I was contemplating the purchase of some John Freida Shampoo and Conditioner. It was on sale at Target for $5/bottle. I had a Target coupon for $3/2 bottles, and then I found coupons hanging on the bottles for $2 off each one. So that made the total cost only $3 for two bottles. Later that week I was at CVS and they also had the same shampoo and conditioner on sale - but it was $6/bottle, and I had 2 coupons for $2/1...and it was also going to generate a $3 Extra Care Buck. So - the total net cost of these two bottles was going to be $5 at CVS. It was a good deal, but I decided not to buy them because they were going to cost be $2.50/bottle rather than the $1.50/bottle I had gotten them for at Target. My husband laughed because $2.50/bottle was still a great price - more than 50% off! But - I knew that I had gotten better before, so I was in a position to refuse a good deal in favor of holding out for a great deal.

4) No matter how well you plan and organize, there are always going to be things on your necessities list. Hopefully as you get better and better at organizing and stock-piling, that list will dwindle, but there will always be a few things. Those things have to come first. If you have a $100/week budget for all groceries and toiletries - and you find all kinds of amazing deals and are able to get $1,000 worth of stuff for only a $100 - but still haven't bought milk, bread, and veggies...then you've been careless in your spending! You have to get your necessities first and then stock-pile.

5) Couponing is not extreme - it's smart! You do not need to get so obsessed with this that it takes over your life! I'm sure most of you have heard the hype about Extreme Couponing. While it is amazing what these people are able to do, that's not what your average couponer is doing! I think what Colin said on hip2save was really quite good - so I'll just refer to you that here.

So you have to have some discipline and some organization, but it's totally worth it. There are many more aspects to the saving, organizing, and discipline issue - but I'll probably leave those to our coupon guru, Hollie. Check back later this month for her next installment on coupon organization! Please leave your ideas in the comments section! If you have trouble leaving a comment, just email me at lisahuntington1979@gmail(dot)com! 

Apr 4, 2011

Coupon Frenzy; getting the best use out of your deals

A common question that I've been asked is (in one form or another)if, because I'm using coupons and finding great deals, I find myself buying things I don't need or wouldn't otherwise have bought. The idea behind the question is that just because you're getting a good deal doesn't mean you need the item you're buying. And if you don't need it, then you're wasting your money buying it - no matter how good of a deal you've gotten.

I must admit, there is some validity in this concern. But, if I didn't have an answer for it - I probably wouldn't be writing this post! :) In all seriousness though, we do need to be careful that we're not being wasteful and also that we're not putting ourselves and our families in a bad situation. If you have no intention of using an item, or making sure that it gets put to use by someone else, then don't buy it. An item purchased at 90% off - but sits on your shelf for 10 years - is a waste of money! Buying an item on super sale, but that your family can't stand and will not eat, is a waste of money...unless you happen to know of someone who likes/needs that item! Buying things that you wouldn't normally buy is not necessarily a waste of money and can, in fact, be a real opportunity for your family to learn to try new things and expand their horizons. Also, buying things that are free or next to free, that you know you will not personally use, presents a real opportunity to actually make some money on your deals - or to give things away! Remember, just because you don't eat/use certain things, doesn't mean that someone else doesn't! The picture below is from my most recent trip to Walgreen's. You'll notice several different items, but the key ones are the Biore products, the Snicker Eggs, the OxiClean Tabs, and the Luster Toothpaste.
OxiClean was on sale for 2/$5, minus $2 in coupons, minus $2 in RR = $1 total for both items. 
Biore was buy one get one free, minus $1 coupon, minus $5 RR = $2.99 for both items 
Luster toothepaste was on sale for $5.99, minus $1.50 coupon, minus $4 RR = $.50 total. 
Snickers Eggs were on sale for $.29 x 7 = $2.03 - $2 coupon = $.03 for all 7. 

I've never used any of these items before, but for a total of $4.52 + tax, I can try them all. I use cloth diapers with my daughter, so the cloth diapers are getting a little (how do I say this delicately???), icky. Her skin is pretty sensitive so I have stayed away from most items, but I thought the stain boost in the Oxiclean might be something easy and cheap to try out! If it doesn't work, or if it irritates her skin - it's only a $1 investment. Not Bad! I LOVE face products - I could probably blow my budget on facial cleansers and moisturizers. So, when I get an opportunity to try something new for so cheap (these Biore products would have normally cost me $18 + tax), I take it! I always wash my face in the mornings, and I always take off my makeup at night. Side note: Did you know that NOT taking off your make-up at night will age your skin up to 7 days??? Yikes!!! Moving on... I've got to have something to do that with - so why not try different things? I'm a dyed in the wool fan of Colgate, but I do not have the luxury of buying it at all costs. Thankfully it goes on sale often and there are nearly always coupons. However, because I coupon I often get deals for Crest, Arm and Hammer, and even recently for an all-natural toothpaste from Earthfare. The Luster toothpaste normally sells for $7.99 for 2 oz tube and I was able to get it for $.50. My husband has stains on his teeth from growing up in a town that had too much flouride in the water. At this point, we can't afford the treatments at the dentist office and the whitening trays haven't worked - so I figured trying this toothpaste which cost me $.50 was worth a try! The Snickers eggs were a great, super cheap addition to my prize bag for my student. 

Since starting to coupon, I've been introduced to Garnier Nutrisse Towlettes - I got an 8 month supply for a total of $8. I'm not tied to any particular brand of toothbrush - and it's a good thing. In the last 2 months I've been able to get about 12 toothbrushes with sales, coupons, and rewards from drug stores - for completely free and even made money on them sometimes! Same thing with body washes - from Clean and Clear, Goldbond, Right Guard, to Gillette and Aveno! Here is my receipt from my trip to CVS this morning. Now, I must admit that this is my best trip yet! 

You can see from the receipt that I purchased: 
2 Oral B Toothbrushes
1 Crest Pro-Health Rinse
1 Glide Dental Floss
2 Right Guard Body Washes
1 Goldbond Body Wash
1 Visine Travel Size 
With sales, coupons, and $7 in ECB's - I was able to pay only tax = $1.90!!! Plus, I walked away with another $13 in ECB's. What does that mean? I actually got everything on that receipt for free, plus I made about $4! But I'm getting side-tracked. This post is not about what great deals you can get - but whether or not you should get them! What am I going to do with all of this stuff? What do I need 12 toothbrushes for, or 6 different kinds of body wash? Well, there are a couple of options: 
1) Use it as an opportunity to try different things. Yes, I know - there are some things that you just can't compromise on. I will always (well, almost always) use Charmin TP and I will NEVER buy off-brand chocolate syrup (the only brand-name being Hershey's). But, there are some things that I don't have a strong preference for - in fact most things!
2) Make a "free shelf" in your linen closet, pantry, or garage. Things like toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo/conditioner, really any kind of toiletries, are great to have on hand for guests who have forgotten this or that. But also canned goods and dry goods are great to have on hand to add to your church's food pantry, or when the boy scouts leave those paper bags on your front steps. Also, the toiletries are great to have on hand for the women's shelter or when a natural disaster strikes and people need basic necessities. What a great way to be able to help people when you don't have much money!!!
3) Sell them in a garage sale! So what if you only make $.50 for a $3 bottle of body wash that you got for free! There is good to be had all around! You made $.50, and you were able to provide someone with a brand new bottle of body wash that they would have had to pay $3 for at the store! A few weeks ago I was able to get Tena Security Pads at CVS - and because of the sale, coupon, and ECB's - I was able to make $2.50 on that purchase. Now, I certainly don't intend to be using these any time soon - but I can sell them in my garage sale for $1-2, make a total of $4.50 on the product, and provide them to an elderly person for 90% off! How cool is that? 
4) Swap your items! Have a swap party with your friends and bring all the things that you don't want or need!
5) Send a care package to a soldier over seas!!! I have two brother-in-laws who are Marines and they have both spent time in Iraq/Afghanistan. They LOVED getting care packages. If you don't know a soldier to send something to, ask around - someone does! 

This post is getting rather long, so I'm going to do a follow-up post later this week on budgeting and how to "control your inner-spender" with all of these deals.

So these are just a few of my ideas! If you've got some - please share in the comments section!!!