Holiday stock-up deals

Holiday stock-up deals

Part of my cooking soup stash, about 40 in all to last all year! (note, I got at two different stores)

Now that November has started, a new season of stock-up items has arrived! Now is the time to stock up on holiday baking and cooking items. For example, Kroger has a sale on Campbell’s condensed soups (ie cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, etc) this week, which, when combined with coupons, makes them $.29 per can. A normal sale price during the year is $1 per can, so $.29 is a great deal! Also, check out their sugar deal, Domino 5 lb bags for $1.50 after coupon!

This time of year is very exciting for me because I stock up on a LOT of essentials that are only on sale once a year! Here’s what I’m stocking up on and the prices I shoot for:

Brown sugar $.50/lb

granulated sugar $1.50/4 lb bag

flour $1.50/5 lb bag

condensed soups $.30/can

turkeys (FREEZER!) $.39/lb

hams (FREEZER!) $1/lb of shank or $2/lb of the spiral sliced

pie crust $1.00 per package (for Pillsbury, which is the best!)

chocolate chips $.85 or less is a good price!

hot chocolate $.50 or less is what I go for, but we don’t drink a lot of it!

gravy $.40 a jar

Brown sugar courtesy of Publix (with more to come via a rain check!)

This is my brown sugar stash, courtesy of Publix (with more to come via a raincheck!)

 

This time of year, I try to stock up on a year’s supply or as close to it that I can get of all of these items. I know that’s not feasible for all, but, unlike most sales that cycle every 6-8 weeks, these items are only at their lowest price these next few weeks!

Especially with the meat, I try to stock up because a good ham in May will cost a good $4/lb and they freeze very well in a deep freezer (note, the freezing times aren’t as good in a regular freezer). Turkeys are also a big item that I stock up on, usually getting 5 or 6 big turkeys, because the sales usually get down to $.39/lb. You absolutely cannot beat that price for ANY meat and I’ve found that turkey works very well as a substitute in most chicken-based recipes. In fact, it usually makes for a better taste, especially if you smoke it!

Now, you don’t have to get a year’s worth of any of these to save money, but knowing that this is these are the absolutely lowest prices of the year will help you to gauge your budget and stock up as best as it allows! I may live in the South, but I don’t make sweet tea, so my sugar needs are for baking only! For someone who lives on good old southern sweet tea, storing 40 bags of sugar may not fit nicely onto a shelf! We’d have to literally be sleeping on it for that many bags to fit into my house!

Here are my last two bags of flour from last year's stock-up! Time to get more!

 

Also, your target price may vary depending on your needs! If you consume a LOT of one of these items, you may want to start stocking up at a slightly higher price, unless you have 50+ coupons available to you and your store has a VERY large stock!

Really, just try to take note and stock as best as you can! It’s one of my favorite stock-up times by far!

Friday Finals: Burning out!

I’ve been feeling pretty burnt-out lately with coupons. I think it’s mostly that I have so much else going on right now, and I’m just not feeling it! I don’t think I’ve been to a drugstore in about a month actually, and it’s not because of a lack of deals, because they’ve had some great deals! I feel pretty well-stocked, at least for my immediate family, and I am just… tired! Tired would probably be the best word for it!

I still hit up Publix, and occasionally another store, but mostly, I’ve been keeping to myself for the past few weeks to recharge!

So, this week I only went to Publix… and that’s it! I still hope to make it to CVS to get Revlon lipgloss for $.99 and to Walgreens to get a handful of back-to-school stuff ($2-3 tops), but that’s it! We’re eating from our stock, taking care of appointments, I’m focusing on cleaning the house, training my children, and a couple of my other projects, and it’s nice! It’s nice to have time to bake a triple batch of breakfast cookies, make some new activity bags, read a little bit of a book (GASP!), enjoy a baseball game with my family, and waste some time with friends! It’s also nice to have a laundry room that looks like this

(note the FOLDED and HUNG UP clothes in place of a foot deep pile on the floor that used to be there)

a bed that looks like this

and a kids room that looks clean and organized, though I won’t dare wake up the napping children to take a picture!

Don’t worry though, I still have this (from lunch),

this,

and this

to take care of in the next few days! This weekend I’m going to focus on family time, yard work, and the last three photos I showed you! Couponing will wait! My sanity usually wins out and this week, it wants order and not couponing trophies, though I have a couple of those too!

Here’s a re-cap of my Publix trip(s):

Total before coupons/sales = $164.23
TOTAL AFTER = $17.81 or 89% savings

I have no picture because my 1-year-old started to break the eggs on his stomach before I could find my camera and I had to control the mess before it got out of hand!

So for this week, here’s to faith, family, priorities and avoiding burn-out!

Publix trip 08/24 and coupon ettiquite

Apparently I’ve been much more out-of-it than I realized because I planned my day, cancelled a meeting and hauled all three boys across town for a doctor’s appointment that isn’t scheduled until tomorrow! *sighs* The thing is that I SWEAR it was for today and that the reminder call even said it was for today! Well, making lemonade out of lemons, I was able to make a second trip to Publix (since there’s one right by the doctor’s office!) and got twice the number of deals that I was going to get, since I didn’t want to wipe anyone out of anything!

Even if I have enough coupons, I really do my best to practice restraint/good judgement and NOT clear the shelves or take more than I feel like is fair. I don’t have a specific number in mind, but I judge based on the number of deals I could get, the number of items on the shelf, and the hotness of the deal. I don’t want to completely pass up a great deal just because there’s only two left on the shelf, but I don’t want to stop others from the opportunity to get the deal as well. It’s a judgement call usually, and if I want more than I feel is fair, I may make a second trip or go to another store.

The ‘extreme couponing’ phenomina that’s been spreading encourages taking all you can get, and that’s the wrong attitude to have. It should be more like stocking up when the price is at its lowest without being greedy.

Sorry for rambling!! Now, back to Publix shopping!! ;)

I made two trips and got the following:

Whole Fruit Sorbet x5
Publix Greenworks double toilet paper x1 (penny item!!!!!!!)
Fruit in gel cups x4 (school lunches!)
A1 Steak Sauce x6
Fresh Express salad x1
Fresh Express spinach x1
Crest kids toothpaste x1 (clearance shelf)
18 ct eggs
Advil liquid gel and regular tablets x16 (with a deal like this, four different kinds of Advil were included, each of which has a normal stock of around 20-30 bottles, so buying 8 bottles at each store isn’t a huge chunk off the shelf!)

Total before coupons/sales = $164.23
TOTAL AFTER = $17.81 or 89% savings!

I will probably be making a run to CVS and/or Walgreens to get a few items, and possibly grab some more fruit when I go pick up a prescription at Publix (and another $25 gift card!) in a few days, but this will be the bulk of my shopping this week!

Anyone else get some great deals you want to share?!

Looking for alternate deals

Sunday afternoon, I sat at the computer for a few minutes of quiet surfing. It’s something that I enjoy doing when everyone is asleep and everyone was, indeed, asleep! It WAS Sunday afternoon after all! To my surprise, I saw a post about a HOT deal on diapers at Babies R Us that was only for Sunday and Monday. Due to the extreme hotness of this deal, I knew that the only chance I had at getting some diapers (for $1!!) was to RUN NOW!!! And so I did, run that is, with two kids in tow (apparently not everyone was sleeping!), hoping to score some cheap diapers!

Well, they were out! I mean, seriously OUT!!! It looked like someone had walked down the aisle and held their arm out to knock every package into one big cart, because there were none to be found! I even asked two employees to check in the back for me, but they were, in fact, out!

Disappointed is a good word for this situation, and the trip was made worse by the unintentional loss of two beloved matchbox fire engines when they were left in the cart. But, I had big plans to price-match diapers at Wal-Mart (and buy a replacement fire engine), and get cheap diapers, though not as low as $1!

A trip to Wal-Mart just wasn’t in the cards though, at least not before Tuesday. Frustrated and yearning to replenish my diaper supply at a rock-bottom price, I turned to Amazon, where I saw a GIGANTIC box of diapers, with an e-coupon, and a 30% discount from subscribe and save and Amazon Mom, and the cost per diaper turned out to be almost the exact same as it would have been if I had made it to Wal-Mart! It wasn’t as low as some who were able to score at Babies R Us, but it was just as good as the $3.50 per pack that I wanted to pay at Wal-Mart, if I had been able to go!

The moral of this story is to keep looking. If one door closes, look for an open window, and if that doesn’t work, go for the doggie door! The point is that deals can be had in unexpected places. I never expected to find a great diaper deal at Babies R Us in the first place, and I certainly didn’t expect to see that enjoying 2-day shipping to my front door was just as good of a deal as dragging my children to Wal-Mart and praying that I would find a cashier that understood the store’s policy so as to avoid a long and difficult check-out! Keep looking!

And as for the fire engine, we found a very nice replacement at the customer service desk at Publix for $1.09! ;)

Abbreviations: a new language!

When you’re getting your feet wet with couponing, you’ll see that the couponing world uses a LOT of abbreviations! Some are common sense, and some, even I have to pause for a second to remember what it means! Clarise asked me last week about abbreviations and I promised her that I’d write a post listing all that I can think of, so, HERE GOES!!

Q – coupon
MQ – manufacturer’s coupon
SQ – store coupon
BOGO – buy one get one free
BOGO50% – buy one get one 50% off
$1/1 – $1 off of 1 item
$1/2 – $1 off of 2 items
ECB – extra care bucks, which are CVS’s store money
RR – register reward, which are Walgreen’s store money
UP+ – up plus reward, which are Rite Aid’s store money
OOP – out of pocket
MIR – mail-in rebate
YMMV – (I’ve seen a few sites that use this one) it means, your mileage may vary, which also means it may or may not be true at your store

Also, when I’m posting about specific shopping trips, and I’m itemizing it, it’ll look like this:

Carolina Pride smoked sausage BOGO $3.99 x10
 - $.50/1 (doubled, x10)
 = $.99 each

This means that I bought Carolina Pride smoked sausage, it was on sale for buy one get one free at $3.99 (the price listed is the full price), and the x10 means I bought 10 of them. The next line means that I used a $.50 off of one coupon, the coupon doubled and I used 10 of them. The third line means that the final price for the sausage is $.99 each.

Couponing really has a learning curve, so these abbreviations will become second-nature after a few months! I tried to list all the abbreviations that I could think of, but if anyone thinks of another one, leave a comment and I’ll add that too!

photo credit

Changes to Kroger Fuel program!

Kroger is FINALLY doing something to try to bring in more customers! They’re changing their fuel program. Now, for every 100 points earned (through groceries, prescriptions, etc) you get $.10 off per gallon, UP TO $1.00 OFF PER GALLON!

Now, you’d have to buy $1,000 worth of groceries to accumulate enough points to get $1 off, but you could also get your prescriptions at Kroger or you could buy Shell giftcards (100 points for every $50 you spend) and use both the giftcard AND the points.

Now, this is still not nearly as good as the instant 20% savings when you buy a $50 gift card for $40 at Publix (not currently running, but I’m crossing my fingers to get one more in before summer starts!). It’s still much better than their current program, and I’m glad to see Kroger reaching out to try to get some more business. I still love Publix more, but I may consider warming up to Kroger.

OFFICIAL Publix coupon policy

Apparently the talk of Publix publishing a corporate coupon policy was real, because they’ve done it! Honestly, there’s nothing new to report from the stores around here, except that they may be limiting the number of BOGO deals. One of the stores in town does that already, limiting the number of items to 4 per customer. Now, I think that’s a little extreme, but I’m not upset about the new policy. If anything, I think it may help couponers to have a physical policy to show cashiers that may not be used to couponing.

I’m also excited to see that Publix is accepting competitor’s prescription coupons!!!!! I may have a new pharmacy!!!

Go HERE to check out all the official rules!

CVS 101

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any kind of an introduction to any of the stores, so I thought I’d start with CVS, which is my favorite drug store!

First, CVS does not double coupons, none of the drug stores do in fact. Because of this, it’s not always a great place to get food items, but it’s a GREAT place to get health and beauty items for free!

Each drugstore has a program, and CVS calls it’s program Extra Care. You have an Extra Care Card that is only yours, and your purchases can generate Extra Care Bucks (ECBs). The thing about drug stores is that you can get some amazing deals (I haven’t paid for toothpaste, mouthwash, floss, etc in years now!) but you do have an itnitial out-of-pocket expense. The items are usually free AFTER ECBs, which means you pay for the item upfront, and then get a slip of paper ‘bucks’ good for your next purchase. After a couple of weeks, your out-of-pocket (OOP) expense will be minimal, because you use the bucks you earned the week before on this week’s buck-earning items.

Now, each week, CVS has certain items that generate ECBs when you purchase them and they’re advertised in the weekly ad. Sometimes these are good deals, and sometimes they aren’t. The best deals are the items that are free after ECBs, especially if you can use a coupon in addition to make it a money-maker!

For example:

Starting 04/24/11, CVS has Blink Tears eye drops on sale for $7.99. You will also get $7.99 in ECBs when you buy it, so, it’s free basically, after the initial out-of-pocket.

BUT… a few weeks ago, there was a coupon for Blink Tears in the Sunday paper for $1 off. So this is a money-maker item. You can use coupons on any item, even the ones that generate the bucks. You’ll spend $6.99 for the drops, and get $7.99 back after your purchase. Again, you have an initial oop, but doing this for a while, it’s much less. I’ll be getting this using some of my ECBs that I earned this week, so I’ll only pay $1-$2 OOP and get the $7.99 ECB back.

Now, these bucks have an expiration date, but it’s been my experience from talking with the staff that they’ll take them, even if they’ve expired, up to a month after, so you have some grace with that! You also can use them only on pre-tax totals. They can’t be applied to tax, and you can’t use them to buy alcohol, gift cards, etc. The limitations are printed at the bottom of the bucks.

CVS is great because they also have a few other perks to their program. The coupon scanner machine prints out coupons every day when you scan your card. Sometimes it’s nothing special, but a lot of those coupons have gotten me some free stuff when you pair it up right.

They also frequently email you $ off of a $ purchase coupons when you sign up with your email address. These are a GREAT way to score some overage or use that money towards a higher priced item. You need to hit your target price BEFORE coupons, but you don’t have to after coupons, so you can use ‘free’ items to maximize your savings.

For example, you can use freebie items (like the eye drops I mentioned above) to hit the target price (ie $3 off of a $15 purchase, $15 being the target price in order to get the additional $3 off). Then you could throw in a few free-after-coupon deodorants (Dove Men+ deodorant starting Sunday!), and now your total is $12! If you buy anything that’s $3, you’ll get it for free because you’ll be using the $3 off of your $15 purchase coupon. You could get some single roll paper towels, a couple bottles of shampoo, Easter candy, or anything you need really! You could also get something more expensive, and basically have a $3 coupon towards it.

Probably my favorite thing about CVS is their prescription coupon policy! If you get prescriptions (and who doesn’t get one every once in a while at least?) you can use competitor’s prescription coupons at CVS! Target and Kmart are FREQUENTLY publishing prescription coupons in their ads. Usually it’s either $25 for a transferred prescription or $10 for a new or transferred prescription. Now, you can play the transferring game, which is transferring prescriptions from one pharmacy to the other to use the coupons (it’s very time-consuming and they pharmacy techs don’t like you very much for it) or you can just use the $10 gift card coupons for a new prescription. I keep them in my purse and car for an unexpected round of antibiotics. With five people, it happens every couple of months, and I’m able to pay, literally, nothing out of pocket for all my CVS purchases when I roll my bucks and use my gift cards for the balance. It’s an intermediate couponing strategy, but not as complicated as it seems!

One more thing, if you go to CVS and find that they’re completely out of something that you wanted to get (ie a money-maker or free after ECB item), you can get a raincheck and they never expire! NEVER! It was a glorious day when I learned of this little tidbit! That meant not running from store to store trying to find this really hot deal before the week’s sale changed! I could just get a raincheck and get it in a week or two (or 12) when they restocked! They even raincheck the ECBs that generate from an item’s sale, which is different than the other drugstores. Trust me when I say this is a big perk!

It’s a lot of information, but it’s really not too complicated once you start doing it! Any questions?

Rite Aid basics

Marie asked me about Rite Aid, specifically how their UP+ rewards work. Rite Aid is quickly becoming one of my favorite stores (along with CVS and Publix) due to their programs.

First, they have their Single Check Rebate (SCR) program, which is a simple in-house rebate program. Usually it’s a certain $ amount back through SCR for buying a certain product, and sometimes it makes the item free. Once in a while, it even makes the item a money-maker when you use a coupon as well (ie buy an item at $9.99, use a $2/1 manufacturer coupon, get $9.99 back from SCR, making it a $2 money-maker!) The SCR is like any other rebate, except that it’s an in-house rebate that you can submit online, which means you can still submit the items for manufacturer’s rebates with the receipts (which is one of the ways I get all my Olay skincare for free!). You can also still use manufacturer’s coupons, and Rite Aid/Video Value coupons (when available).

Video Values is another program that Rite Aid has. It’s basically a program that gives you coupons for watching short videos (most are around 30 seconds long). Most of them are for specific products (Kleenex, Huggies, Sundown vitamins, Chex mix, etc) but if you watch enough videos, you can earn a $4 off of a $20 purchase Rite Aid coupon, and they usually have a couple of $1 off of any purchase coupons as well. You can use these along with manufacturer coupons, and the products will still count towards any SCR or UP+ rewards available. For example, you could use a Video Value coupon (which is a Rite Aid coupon) for Kleenex, as well as a manufacturer’s coupon, AND you could also use any and all $1 off of any purchase coupons. If you can get your pre-coupon total high enough, you could also use a $4 off of a $20 coupon from the Video Values program, as long as you hand the cashier that coupon before you hand him/her your other coupons.

The UP+ Rewards is a fairly new program for Rite Aid. It’s taken a few months of trial and error (for both myself and the cashiers) to get a good knowledge of how it works. UP+ Rewards are VERY similar to CVS’ ECB program. They’re printed out at the end of your receipt after you purchase an eligible product. They’re tied to your account (you need a Wellness card to generate and redeem them) and they have expiration dates (and they DO expire!) Sometimes it will also print out a $1 off of any $10 beauty coupon in addition to the UP+ reward. You can buy as many of the items that generate rewards as you are allowed (some have a limit, but some don’t!) and you can redeem as many rewards as you want to in a transaction.

I’m better at understanding something when I have examples, so let’s do one! Motrin PM 20 ct is on sale this week for $3, plus you get a $2 UP+ reward, plus you can use the $6/2 coupon that was in last week’s paper. SO…

Buy Motrin PM $3.00 (x2)
- $6/2 coupon (you’ll pay nothing out of pocket!)
- $2 UP+ Rewards (x2 for buying 2)

=FREE (with no out of pocket expense) and a money-maker of $4 (two $2 UP+ Rewards!)

There is no advertised limit on this one, so you could get as many as you have coupons for! The UP+ Rewards do expire, so I usually try not to leave the store with any in my pocket, in case I don’t get back in the next couple of weeks, so you could then use them to buy… baby wipes (on my brain because we need some!) or anything else you need or is on sale.

I have had a couple of experiences where it DID NOT print the UP+ Rewards like it was supposed to, and I had to show the cashier the ad, who told the manager, who called corporate, who gave me cash back instead of the actual rewards. The system is still fairly new, and it has a few kinks to work out still, so don’t be afraid to say something if it doesn’t work out the way it’s supposed to. Make sure you have your ad with you, and you know EXACTLY how the transaction should work out so you don’t second-guess yourself and lose money.

I hope that helps Marie! Let me know if any of it is confusing!