Coupon Madness

Coupon Madness

This post is in response to so many recent posts about coupon(ing), shopping around, deals on items, cheap meals, cheap foods, etc. I would be more than willing to co-moderate a community with a person/s dedicated SOLELY to those who wish to post their grocery list finds, their grocery lists itemized with results on what they saved, cheap meals they made using items thought bought on sale, etc. Let me know if you'd like to get together, we can lighten the load on this community and start one I think a lot of people are becoming increasingly interested in. I'd also be willing to help set up people post info on in person group meetings for coupon swapping, post a main list on the info page of on-line coupon sites, swapping sites, freebie sites, Black Friday sites, sale events, how and when certain stores discount holiday items, etc. Mods if this is not ok, feel free to delete it and give me a swift kick in the pants. Personally I have no set grocery list from week to week. I have a dry erase board on my fridge, when we notice something is low or out we write it on the board. Sunday I get one or two papers depending on the coupons available for that week. (I live near Seattle but not IN Seattle. I get my local paper (The Herald; as well as a major paper from Seattle, The Seattle Times. While The Herald has all the same coupon inserts as The Seattle Times; it also has all the local weekly coupons for stores in my area (Big Lots, Fred Meyer, JC Penney, Sears, etc.). Occasionally The Seattle Times will have an extra coupon circular, in that case if they do, I may go back the next day and pick up another Seattle Times if there are coupons I can use that are greater than the value of the cost of the paper ($1.50). The last week of each month or the first week of each month (depending on how the week and days of the month line up, the next months PGE coupon circular comes in that Sundays paper; usually they aren't worth it but I've combined small coupons for $0.50 off and sales on Toilet Paper or Paper towels to get them for $.25 or even free, which adds up if you check your sales and keep coupons for things like that and look throughout the month. If there is a particular make-up you can NOT live without and it's a PGE product they vary their larger amount coupons on personal care items so if Walgreens/Rite Aid/K-Mart is running an ad on foundation for BOGO free and you have a coupon for $3.00 off, you can end up paying less than $5.00 for two of your item/s. I used to have my papers delivered on Sunday only, but there was no guarantee that they would get delivered and after the 5th time of no delivery I canceled due to being so fed up with it all. It can save you money if you pay in 3-month installments for Sunday delivery only (all papers should have this option available). I sit down with all the weekly circulars (A few are Sunday to Saturday and come in the newspaper. Most of the major grocery stores are Wednesday to Tuesday and come in a free circular mailed to everyone on Tuesday so they can plan a day ahead for the following sales.) First I clip ANY coupons I think I might be able to use whether they be food, hair, batteries, anything. I save almost all coupons up to $2. In my state they do not double manufactures coupons (occasionally a grocery store will put a coupon in their circular that will allow a doubling of a few coupons up to $1 max)...but lately Kmart has been doing promotional weekly double manufactures coupons up to and including $2 for a week at a time...which is GREAT for coupons involving lotion, makeup etc...I stock up on products like that and give them away as gifts through out the year. I end of spending about $1 or $2 on makeup that without the coupons and sales would be $8+ each. Also with the Kmart sale I realized I can get some super cheap pet treats, Febreeze items, plug-in oil scent holders, as well as Celestial Seasonings Tea for $0.42 a box, also great as gifts. My friends and family know I coupon and check for sales and that their gifts are gift baskets full of things they can use but wouldn't necessarily buy like fancy bath and body products like Aveeno, Physicians Formula cosmetics, boxed teas, household items, etc. I also ask stores where their discount "bin" is, and am able to find odd things for gifts that are 50% off or more...with additional coupons I can get things for pennies on the dollar. (I also have a separate e-mail account for freebies and offers ONLY. I fill out freebie forms only every day...EVERY DAY. In the front of my book where I have my grocery lists and receipts I have a list where I write down what freebies I've signed up for, that way I can see if they've ever been delivered and know what I can give out to those I know can use them or put them in their gift baskets.) Ex. This last year my boyfriend's cousin's gifts cost us $3.00. His family is ALL about reusing wrapping paper, gift bags, and even cards (We write what we want on sticky notes, that way they can be reused as much as a person wants, it can turn out to be pretty awesome; I got a card last year I gave to his Aunt 3 years ago, we all had a laugh because it reminded us of something that we'd all forgotten about 3 years ago.). 1. clip coupons, 2. organize them (I have an small expandable file folder, I organize them by product: dairy and meat and fish, baking and nuts, snack food and diet items, frozen food, personal products and makeup, pet items, etc.) 3. make a grocery list of things I am out of, low on, and am looking for to try with recipes 4. go through each circular and write down any sales of items and their prices in a lined notebook, I have especially for coupon-ing in which I also staple any receipts I have from sales. (separating them by store) 5. get out any coupons I can use on sale items 6. figure out which store has the best deal on what 7. place coupons with the fliers that have the best sales, then place them into individually marked envelopes with the store names on them 8. confer with bf on any meal he might be craving Ex. If he wants my crockpot cheesy potato soup I make sure to make it when there is a sale on cheese, potatoes, cream, etc. I always have at least 6 lb. of unsalted butter in the freezer. I buy it when it's $2 or less a lb. and stock up, that way I don't have to buy it when it's $4 or more and not on sale. I try to stock up on items I know we use a lot. Ex. I'm a bake/pastry chef but my boyfriend does not like homemade bread, he prefers the stuff that sits on the shelf for 6 months without molding. Last week there was a sale in which certain brands of PB and grape jelly or jam were each on sale if you bought them together, with buying them together you also received a free loaf of bread. I had coupons for both the PB and jelly. So I stocked up on everything and bought 3x each. I also make PB milkshakes for the boy and myself once a week or so (using store brand ice cream, when on sale I stock up); so the PB can be used for that, sandwiches with the jelly, and PB and J cookies I make in bulk, roll out into logs, cut into slices, and throw in the freezer to bake individually when we want them (these and nearly any other cookie can last up to two months in the freezer when stored properly). I also try to go to stores EARLY in the morning. Most stores stalk their shelves nightly or every other night (It doesn't hurt to ask stalkers what their restock nights are, I haven't had any problem asking and being told, just be pleasant when you ask). The stalkers usually finish around 7am, that way I have ample time to go through each lane, check off my list, and I'm not in anyone's way. SEVERAL times I've gone to a store in the afternoon or at night and they have been completely sold out of said item/s on sale (I have NEVER had a store allow substitutions for sale items). They WILL offer rain checks on items BUT: there may be a maximum number of product allowed, an expiration on the rain check, and I've never been able to get the combination sale on a product that I'm only getting a rain check on (By this I mean sales in which you must by 10 of said item/s in order to get a reduced price per item: say in my cart I have the 4 Orange Juices, 4 Cream Cheese, but they are out of sour cream. Now in the flier they are $2.00 on sale each, but if you buy 10 they are $1.50, they will give you the items for $2.00 but not the $1.50 you would have gotten had you been able to get all the items you wanted on sale. Sunday morning I went to two stores: QFC total: $31.93 # of items: 39 man. coupons: $28.60 store savings: $35.31 total savings: $63.91 QFC trip consisted of stocking up on mayo, cream cheese, canned chili, sour cream, and items I received free after combining sales and coupons. Albertsons: total: $60.89 # of items: 42 man. coupons: $18.80 store savings: $116.58 total savings: $135.38 Albertsons trip consisted of stocking up on diet coke (with savings was cheaper than Costco), potatoes, various cereals like Rice Krispies (for treats throughout the year and Chex (for making homemade Chex Mix), Tea (use this as part of gift bags for presents, weddings, etc.), Carnation Instant Breakfast (great for a morning drink while driving to work, cheaper than SlimFast or Costco brand). I also do things like make a pound or two of pasta at a time, eat some of it for one meal, add some olive oil or butter to the rest and throw it in a container or bag and into the fridge it goes. Then through out the week when I'm busy I put some broth (that I bought on sale, made with leftover meat/bones, or use bouillon cubes) on the stove, add whatever veggies and seasoning I like, let it come to a boil, put some of the leftover pasta into the soup, put it down to a simmer for a few minutes, then I have a bowl of hot soup in under 10 minutes, use leftovers, eat veggies. AND a recent study shows those that eat soup more than other foods feel "fuller" longer than those who don't and thus snack less and eat smaller meals. These are all just my own way of doing things. I'm sure everyone else has great ideas and suggestions. I am in no way a "badass" at coupon(ing); but I thought due to everyone's interest in these topics it might help some people out. Please post a comment and let me know if you'd join a community about coupon(ing) and such. Also please comment if you'd like to help me set up a community and moderate it with me. Or you can comment and tell me I'm a pompous twit, whatever you want.
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