Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Stroller Strategy: The Usefulness of Cup Holders

Day 41

I still take unplanned shopping trips. I know, I know, I should be ashamed of myself. I know that planning transactions is how I score very deep savings and yet I still find the need to run into a store on a pinch and NOT save nearly as much money.

But I always have my coupon files on me. So on these unplanned shopping trips, I still try to sift through my coupons quickly and use what I can. For this, I have found my baby stroller cup holders to be an excellent tool.

When I find a coupon that matches up with a product, I stick the product in the stroller basket and the coupon in the cup holder. I go through the entire shopping trip sorting through my coupon file and removing the applicable coupons and putting them in the cup holders. When I get to the register, I have the products in my stroller basket and the coupons in the cup holders and I can get out of there as quickly as if I had planned the trip…well, almost!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Deals on the Go: Why I carry scissors in my coupon organizer

Day 40


I would encourage anyone who is couponing to carry scissors with them. I have had so many moments where I have been glad to have scissors/wish I had scissors since starting this project.

Sometimes coupons are left on my windshield. Sometimes they are in a store circular that you come across at a doctor’s office. Or in a magazine at the salon. Or sitting in an envelope in the mailbox. Or at the end of a receipt.

And I have found that if I do not clip it and organize it in my coupon holder right away, the likelihood that I will remember to do so later is quite small.

So a small child sized pair of scissors in my purse has been a lifesaver, or more appropriately put, a money saver.

Friday, May 24, 2013

To Buy or Not to Buy: My take on unnecessary items

Day 39

Perhaps it is because I started this project in the spring, but I have noticed a large amount of sales on allergy medications. Every week there are some really deep savings on allergy meds. I once calculated that I could have gotten a bottle of a brand name allergy medication of about $0.60. It almost seemed “too good to pass up.” But I did pass it up.

I passed it up because it is a totally unnessisary purchase for me. Nobody in my household uses allergy medications. Perhaps if I were to find a friend or family member who uses the medications I have found on sale, I would advise them and help them score some deep savings. But the idea of stocking items that we do not use does not appeal to me. And the way I reason it, if it is a product I will never use, then it is a waste of money. Even if it is pocket change, it is a waste of pocket change.

If it were an item I could donate, like dog food for my local animal shelter or canned goods I could donate to a soup kitchen, I might feel differently. But I just cannot bring myself to purchase a deeply discounted item that I can’t fathom a use for.

Perhaps you feel differently. If so, please comment, I would love to hear it!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Angry Cashier

Day 38

I went to the pharmacy today and purchased some cosmetics and shampoo using a combination of coupons and store sales and catalina’s (those recept coupons that print out with some purchases). It was quite a show.

In my experience thus far, most cashiers are so supportive and accommodating and patient with my planned couponing shopping trips. But today, I ran into a wall. Everything was going smoothly until one coupon refused to scan. I had read all of the fine print and knew that it should work, so I insisted that she “try again”. When she did, it did work (I’m not sure what buttons she had to push to make it work, but suffice to say that it did work).

 Then, I showed her a bar code that was sent to me via e-mail for an additional $3 off of a purchase. The e-mail clearly said, cashier “can scan code from smartphone or printout” but she insisted that she could not scan my phone. I asked if we could “try it” and she became cross and shouted across to another cashier, “Can you explain to this lady that I can’t scan a phone!” Then she looked at me menacingly and said, “Do you want me to call a manager?!”

I should have said “yes.”

But there was a line and she was upset, and it is a coupon that won’t expire soon, so I said “no, it’s ok.” And I left spending $3 more than I was planning.

But the receipt from this transaction printed out even more coupons and savings, so I will definitely be back- but perhaps I will visit another location!

SAVINGS TO DATE: - $ 661.59  (previous total- I will calculate this transaction with another transaction at the same chain in a later post)

 TIME SPENT TODAY: - 20 minutes (10 planning and 10 shopping)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Couponing Rule to Live By #3

Day 37


Another item that you can score deep discounts on is deodorant. If you are not picky about brands, there is almost always a coupon/sale combination for deodorant each week. Also, I have noticed that my local dollar tree sometimes stocks brand name deodorants, so if you have a coupon, you will get it for under a dollar. My best price for deodorant was 0.06 each, scored with a BOGO offer and a coupon for $2 off of 2. But even 0.80-0.90 is pretty good for an item that can retail for over $3. Consider this when you come across a deal on deodorant and STOCK UP!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Couponing Rule to Live By #2

Day 36

Never pay more than $0.80 for Dish Soap. I mean the kind that you use for washing dishes by hand. One brand or another of Dish soap is almost always going on sale. And I have not come across a newspaper yet that does not contain at least one coupon for dish soap.

It is just one of those items that you are better off waiting for the perfect moment to combine a coupon with a store sale and then stock up. I have quite a few bottles in my stockpile after only a month of couponing.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Savings on Birthday Gifts

Day 35

My daughter is in a wonderful class of 18 students. Almost every student in her class has a birthday party in which my daughter is invited. I try to take my daughter to everyone’s birthday party. I know this sounds crazy, but we live in a town other than the one we grew up in, so my husband and I have only a few close friends and no family locally. So I feel like spending time with her friends from school and attending their parties is an important part of her socialization.

That being said, I need to economize on spending on birthday gifts: Both for the sake of time and the sake of money. I can’t go out and purchase a gift every time there is an invitation. So when I find something good, I try to capitalize on it. Last month such an opportunity arose.

My local Pottery Barn Kids had marked down a bunch of items that make great birthday gifts. Many of the items were projects, books, puzzles, and interesting kits from National Geographic. All the items were on clearance and boasted an additional percentage off. I bought about $50 worth of toys and games. On Saturday my daughter had a birthday party to attend and I chose 2 items from the Pottery Barn Kids Shop: A National Geographic Kit and a Football themed game. One item was originally marked at $29.99 but I paid $3, the other was $9.99 and I paid $1. So for a grand total of $4, I was able to give a very nice party gift. And I saved $35.98 off of retail.

In addition, I placed the purchases on my Pottery Barn Credit Card, which gives me $25 in gift certificates for every $250 spent, so while I might be a long way off from the gift certificate, I am one step closer than AI was before!

SAVINGS TO DATE: - $ 697.57  (previous total + $35.98 saved off retail)

 TIME SPENT TODAY: - 0 (This occurred during a regular outing)