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!

Finding Deals at the Dollar Tree

My mom LOVES dollar stores and buys most of our Christmas stocking items at them. I think she’d buy everything at a dollar store if she could! I remember going with her as a teenager and really paying attention to the prices and the items, and I clearly remember when I realized for the first time that not everything in there was a bargain. In fact, some of the things were MORE expensive at the dollar store than at other stores! What a moment that was! I thought EVERYTHING was cheaper at the dollar store. I then developed the opposite understanding: that NOTHING was cheaper at the dollar store and generally tried to stay away from them.

Since then, I’ve gone back and forth in my opinions of dollar stores, but I have determined, after careful research, that somethings are ALWAYS cheaper at dollar stores, and some are ALWAYS more expensive. Here are some of the items that I’ve discovered as being a ‘deal’ at the dollar store near me:

Sunglasses (I’m pretty sure they’re not as good quality UV-wise as the more expensive kinds, but for someone who loses them as easily as I do and then refuses to pay $10+ for another pair for upwards of 2 years, they’re better than nothing and certainly a great deal!)

Super glue : At $1 for three tubes, you can’t beat it!

Plastic containers : I keep a lot of my kids’ clothes items in little plastic bins on a bookshelf and these are the cheapest that I have EVER found them, and they’re the perfect size!

Kids’ craft items : Have you ever been to Hobby Lobby?! They have a GIGANTIC selection and some descent deals, but if you can find anything at the dollar stores, it’s almost assuredly cheaper there.

Party supplies : My dollar store has a huge selection of party supplies, including paper products, decorations, invitations, etc. Target and the likes may have some very cute stuff, but these are just as cute and priced MUCH less. I’ve especially loved finding the plastic ware for parties because you can’t beat the price!

Balloons : If you are needing mylar balloons, the dollar store is the place to get them! They’ve got every kind of occasion balloon you can think of, all very cute, and even some character balloons! I got some Spiderman balloons for my 3 year old’s last birthday and he LOVED them!

Water accessories : Other than certified floatation devices, they have the best-priced pool stuff, from noodles to goggles, also in characters if you want them (again with the Spiderman stuff! We love it!).

In the spirit of thriftiness, here are a few things that are NOT a deal at the dollar store, especially for couponers:

food : it’s overpriced and under-portioned compared to what’s at the grocery stores. There are very few items that I would actually say is a good deal, with large bags of animal crackers possibly being the only one!

pregnancy and ovulation tests : I’ve recently switched my mind about this, because dollar store pregnancy tests were the cheapest I’d ever seen, and I was just amazed at the savings compared to the ones in the store (and trust me when I say that they’re the EXACT same thing!), but I recently bought a set of 25 pregnancy tests for about $5 on Amazon, same price as the ovulation tests. Now, I don’t know if I’ll use 25 pregnancy tests in the next couple of years, but you can be sure that I’ll definitely use more than 5 and be able to let any friends I have use them too, so I’ll be saving potentially a lot more than what it would cost at the dollar store. (Note: I’m not crazy fertility woman, I swear! I choose to not drink AT ALL when I’m pregnant because I’d rather not take ANY chances, so I like to be absolutely sure that I’m not pregnant before I have a drink at a party or a glass of wine at night. Doing this means that I can go through some tests, but the peace of mind is more than worth it!)

Toothpaste, toothbrushes, most toiletries : When you play the drugstore game, you’ll find that you’ll rarely if ever have to pay anything for most of these items, so paying $1 for them is not a deal. In fact, I just got 9 tubes of Crest toothpaste at Kroger for free to prove this to be true. The only exception is kid’s bubble bath or kid’s shampoo/conditioner if you need either of those. They’re expensive at most stores and I don’t think I’ve ever seen coupons for either of them, so those can be good deals if it’s something that you use.

Have you found either GOOD deals or BAD deals at dollar stores?

Stretching your money with holiday gift card promotions

Lots of stores are offering incentives to buy their gift cards, and they have been doing it for the past couple of years. For example, last year, coinstar offered a promotion that I was able to take advantage of. When you redeem your change for one of a few select gift certificates, you don’t have to pay any fee, plus, when you redeemed $40 in coins for an Amazon gift certificate, you would get a $10 bonus, free. The deals are usually similar, around 20% bonus, but it’s an easy way to make my money go 20% further!

Here are some of the current deals available:

Applebee’s: Get a bonus $10 gift card when you buy $50 in gift cards.

Carrabba’s: Get a $20 bonus gift card when you spend $100 on gift cards.

Denny’s: Get a bonus $5 gift card when you buy $25 in gift cards.

Outback Steakhouse (my husband’s favorite!): Get a $20 bonus gift card when you buy $100 worth of giftcards.

Red Robin: Get a $5 Bonus Buck card when you buy $25 in gift cards.

Barnes and Noble: Get a $10 e-gift card when you buy $100 worth of gift cards.

Border’s: In store – get a $10 bonus gift card when you buy $50 worth of gift cards
Online – get a $5 bonus gift card when you buy $50 worth of gift cards

Some people really hate the idea of gift cards, and I’ve read over and over that an incredible percentage of gift cards aren’t even used, but I really love getting gift cards, especially for restaurants.

Date nights are something that my husband and I have a really hard time justifying the cost of, or maybe just I do. We really and truly understand the benefit of having dates and spending time away from the kids, but it’s just hard to justify sometimes. When we get a gift card to a restaurant, it’s not just a gift card, it’s a DATE; a chance for us to get away and reconnect, even if only for a couple of hours.

So, if you’re going to give a gift card, or are planning on spending money yourself at any of these places, take advantage of these gift card promotions, and stretch your money a little further!

Walgreens deals 10/24/10-10/30/10 and How to spend little out of pocket


Here are the best deals at Walgreens this week:

Colgate Sensitive Toothpaste $3.49
-$3.50 RR
-$1/1 from 10/10 SS insert
or -$0.75/1 from October All You magazine
=FREE plus overage

Contac Cold and Flu $6
-$6 RR
-$2/1 from 10/10 RP insert
=FREE plus overage

Children’s Mucinex $6.99
-mail in rebate form printed at register
=FREE

Chestal Adult Cough $6
-mail in rebate form printed at register
=FREE

Pill Glide Swallowing Spray $5.99
-mail in rebate form printed at register
=FREE

Purex 3 in 1 $4.50
-$1 RR wyb 2
-$3/1 from 10/10 RP insert
=$1 each

Huggies Diapers $7.99
-$1 RR
-$2/1 from 09/26 SS insert
or -$3/1 from 09/02 SS insert
=$3.99

Here’s how to use these items together to end up with little out of pocket and no RRs left over:

Transaction #1

Colgate Sensitive $3.50
-$1/1 coupon
=$2.50 cost (get $3.50 RR back)

Transaction #2

Colgate Sensitive $3.50
-$1/1 coupon
=$2.50 cost (get $3.50 RR back)

Transaction #3

Purex 3 in 1 $4.50 (x2)
-$3/1 coupon (x2)
Royal Gelatin $.20 with in-ad coupon (x3)
-$3.50 RR
=$.10 cost (get $1 RR back)

Transaction #4

Huggies diapers $7.99
-$3/1 coupon
Royal Gelatin $.20 with in-ad coupon (x2)
-$3.50 RR
=$1.89 cost (get $1 RR back)

Transaction #5

Contac Cold and Flu $6
-$2 coupon
Royal Gelatin $.20 with in-ad coupon (x3)
-$1 RR
-$1 RR
=$2.60 cost (get $6 RR back)

Transaction #6

Children’s Mucinex $6.99
-$6 RR
=$.99 cost (get $6.99 in rebate)

TOTAL OUT OF POCKET = $10.58, all the RRs are used (so you have nothing left in your wallet to expire if you don’t make it back in the next couple of weeks) and you’ll get a $6.99 rebate via mail. Plus you got over $40 worth of stuff!

You could also plan your transactions without the diapers if you have no need for them, and use another one of the free after RRs or rebate items to get even more back, but I plan my transactions to help get free diapers.

How many stores do you go to?

Today, a friend asked me “In couponing, how many stores do you go to?”

Well, in general, I go to about 3 stores each week. I have some stores that I go to each week, some that I go to every couple of weeks, and some that I go to once a month or less often.

In this season of my life, I have three children under the age of 5, all of whom are at home all day, every day. I have adjusted my routine over and over and over again, until my current routine barely resembles the one that I had six months ago, which barely resembles the one I had six months before that, etc. I’m constantly adjusting to achieve that balance of family/cleaning/couponing/prayer/outreach/socialization that I try so hard to find.

Right now, I’m extremely satisfied with my routine, although I still need a little fine-tuning and discipline in some areas. I have figured out that I have a window of about 3-4 hours each day after morning routines and before naptime in which to do what I have to do each week. During that block of time I alternate between shopping, cleaning, family time, and socialization time. I usually go shopping (on the way back from the gym) two of the five days during the week, stay at home cleaning two of the five days and leave the fifth day open for purely fun family stuff, activities, spending time with friends, or whatever seems to come up. I leave that day open for whatever God wants us to do!

On the days I go shopping, I rotate among the following stores:

Publix – every week
Kroger – about once a month
Wal-Mart – about once every two months
Rite Aid – every other week or so
Walgreens – every six weeks
CVS – every 1-2 weeks
Bi-Lo – every 3-4 weeks

I do most of my main grocery shopping at Publix for a number of reasons: they take competitor’s coupons, they have lots of store coupon booklets that they regularly put out, they have good quality produce, they offer baby club coupons that I use regularly, they have great BOGO deals each week, they are quick about giving rainchecks, and they’re usually friendly. It really is a pleasure to shop there for me! They’re nice to my kids, they give them free cookies, they have free samples most days, and they take my groceries out to the car for me. I’ve also gotten good results on the few occasions that I have to speak to a manager about an issue. Plus, they give me my husband’s diabetes medicine for FREE each month. I don’t always do it, but I really try to put my money where my mouth is and I want to support a store that does all those things and seems to really care.

Kroger has a good average on their prices, but a Publix BOGO sale beats Kroger’s sale prices any day! Kroger does have some good sales on produce though, and they have the best price on some of their in-house brands (12 packs of Big K sodas, and non-dairy coffee creamer are staples for us.) When Kroger has their Mega Sale events, you can score some pretty good deals as well! I also try to get some of Kroger’s marked-down meat when I go, because they are pretty good at marking down meat. I am picky about which store I go to though, especially for the meat. I used to go to Kroger more often, but I am not a big fan of our local Kroger, or the way that I was treated there many times, so I stopped going unless I really needed to. My local Kroger also wasn’t good about marking down the meat consistently, and the meat didn’t always look good, so I go to a different location. I try to stock up on a month’s worth of our staple items, hit up the marked-down meat, and go on a week when the deals look better than average when I go to Kroger.

Wal-Mart doesn’t do sales. They advertise that they don’t need sales to save you money. I have found that they are the lowest on a couple of items, like white vinegar, and, like Kroger, I stock up when I go. They also have other household items that grocery stores don’t carry, so I get those when I go every couple of months. I also always check out their toy and clothes clearance because I have been able to find some good deals at times!

Rite Aid is a store that I go to every couple of weeks because I can usually use overage by combining some of their free-after-rebate or UP+ rewards items with the $5 off of a $25 coupon to score some cheap or free diapers. Rite Aid is very generous with their programs and by publishing the $5 off of a $25 purchase coupons. They’re also very generous with their Video Values series, which gives high-value store coupons that can be combined with manufacturer’s coupons.

I don’t go to Walgreens very often, because I don’t like their in-house program. I’ll go if I can get a freebie or a great deal that I can’t usually find elsewhere.

I go to CVS every 1-2 weeks to take advantage of their free-after-ECBs deals that they have often, also to get my husband’s prescriptions (using competitor’s rx coupons,) check out their awesome seasonal clearance, and to rotate my ECBs. CVS is another one of those very generous drug stores that will email $4 off of a $20 coupons, as well as ECB rewards based on spending, ECBs for taking surveys, and their in-house coupon printer. I also love my CVS cashiers! Good customer service really does go a long way!

Bi-Lo has very good deals, plus great mark-downs on produce, but I made a decision a long time ago to put it towards the back of my priority list. I just can’t do it all, and I gave Publix priority over Bi-Lo. I’ll occasionally go to Bi-Lo, but only on weeks where the deals at Publix are slower or I the deals at Bi-Lo are better for what I need.

So, there’s a VERY long answer to a very short question.

Rite Aid this week and stacking coupons and using overage to your advantage


First, it’s gonna be an awesome week at Rite Aid!! Here are the freebies:

Neil Med Nasa mist spray $9.99
-$9.99 SCR
-$2/1 coupon HERE
=FREE plus profit

Neil Med Nasogel $5.99
-$5.99 SCR
-$2/1 coupon HERE
-FREE item rebate HERE
=FREE plus profit

NeilMed NasaDOCK Plus Drying Stand at $5.99
-$5.99 SCR
=FREE

PediaCare Gentle Vapors Vapor-Plug $6.99
-$6.99 SCR
-$1/1 from 10/10 SS insert
=FREE plus profit

Pediacare cough syrup or cold $4.99
-$4.99 SCR
-$1/1 from 10/10 SS insert
=FREE plus profit

KidsEEZE soft chews $4.99
-$4.99 SCR
=FREE

EmergenC immune booster shots 2 pack $3.49
-$3.49 SCR
=FREE

Sucrets $2.99
-$2.99 SCR
=FREE

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter lip butter $1.99
-$1.99 SCR
=FREE

Comtrex 24 ct $3.99
-$3.99 SCR
=FREE

Auto Immune support shots 2 pack $2.99
-$2.99 SCR
=FREE

Blistex ointment $1.99
-$1.99 SCR
=FREE

Udderly Smooth lotion $1
-$1 UP+ reward
=FREE

Dove Shampoo or Conditioner $3
-$2/1 Rite Aid Video Values coupon
-$1/1 coupon HERE

Then, here are a couple of awesome scenarios that Southern Savers put together:

Profoot products: Miracle or Triad Insoles, Flextastics, Pump Pouches, Heel Cream, Synovium or Proclearz $5
-$10 SCR wyb 3
-$2/1 Synovium Gel coupon HERE (x2)
-$1/1 Profoot product coupon HERE (x1)
=FREE wyb 3

Olay ProX Skin Care cleanser $17.99 (x3)
-$2 off Olay Facial Cleanser, PG 9/26 (x3)
-$10 UP+ rewards wyb 1 Olay ProX skin care (x3)
-$20 rebate wyb $50 or Olay ProX products from P&G 10/10 insert
-$5/$25 coupon HERE
=FREE plus $7 profit!!!

Purex 3-in-1 Sheets BOGO $7.99 (x2)
Lysol Wipes BOGO $3.99 (x2)
-$1 off Lysol wipes, 28-80 ct, (Rite Aid coupon) printable
-$1/2 Lysol Disinfecting Wipes 09/19 SS insert (or $1/1 from promo flyer, I got mine at my ped’s office)
-$3/1 Purex Complete 3-in-1 laundry sheets 10/10 RP
-$3 UP+ reward
=FREE

Now, with all of these deals, work out the best scenario for yourself using a combination of SCR items, UP+ items, and items you need in conjunction with the $5/$25 coupon.

For example: I haven’t finalized my plans yet (I have to double-check that we’re actually getting the coupons that we’re supposed to get in our paper tomorrow,) but one of my transactions might look like this:

Huggies $11.99
-$3/1 from 09/26 SS
Neil Med Nasogel $5.99
-$5.99 SCR
-$2/1 coupon HERE
-FREE item rebate HERE
Dove Shampoo or Conditioner $3
-$2/1 Rite Aid Video Values coupon
-$1/1 coupon HERE
Pediacare cough syrup or cold $4.99
-$4.99 SCR
-$1/1 from 10/10 SS insert

-$5/$25 coupon

Total before coupons=$25.97
Total after coupons=$11.97 (which would be your out of pocket expense)
Total after SCR and rebate=FREE plus $5 profit

I think I’ll be doing a few transactions this week at Rite Aid, but this one illustrates my point well.

I could actually get all of these free after SCR items by themselves, but by combining them to equal $25 before coupons, I can use the $5/$25 coupon and the individual overage of the items after coupons to get free diapers as well! That’s stacking coupons and using overage to your advantage! The diapers aren’t even on sale, but you can still get them for free (or whatever else you may be in need of!)

When to buy coupons…

Did you know that you can BUY coupons? Well, technically, it’s illegal to buy coupons. You are paying for the time of the seller to find and clip the coupons, but not the coupons themselves! So you can’t REALLY…

Legal talk aside, you can buy from Ebay, or direct coupon clipping service websites, such as The Coupon Clippers. It’s a few cents per coupon (depending on the value of the coupon) and you also usually pay shipping and some sort of handling fee.

I don’t buy coupons as much as I used to. It’s taken me quite a while to figure out when it’s a good idea to buy coupons, and when it’s not. Because you have to buy quite a few coupons at a time to make the cost worth it, I’ve found that there are only a few reasons to straight out buy coupons.

1) There is a high-value coupon for something that you use frequently. If you consistantly buy/use something, and coupons are few and far between, this is a good way to stock up at a low price. For example, my husband and son are lactose-intolerant. I have finally found, after much trial and error, that they do best when consuming Lactaid, which is lactose-free milk, not soy or rice milk. The milk can be bought with an expiration date of about 2 months in the future, and it’s usually about $3.79 per half gallon, so that’s some expensive milk! Luckily, I’ve been able to really stock up in the past few months using some $2/1 blinkie coupons, but if I hadn’t been able to find any of the blinkies, this is one coupon that I would definately be willing to buy. Spending up to $.10 per coupon in order to save $2 on something that I KNOW we’ll use, is worth it!

2) There is a coupon that will make something free or a money-maker. Mahatma rice is a good example! Mahatma has been publishing a coupon for $.50/1 package of any size rice. Publix frequently has the package of Mahatma saffron rice on sale for $.69. Publix is one of the grocery stores that doubles coupons up to $.50, which means that that $.50 coupon will give me free rice, and $.31 in overage! A few months ago, I bought 40 of these coupons for about $.10 each after shipping. This means that I came home with 40 packages of free rice and a profit of $8.40, even AFTER paying for the coupons.

3) There is a coupon for something that, when paired with an awesome sale, will make a long-term storage pantry item extremely cheap. A great example of this is pasta. Starting Wednesday, Publix will have Barilla pasta BOGO $1.27. There is a coupon out for $1/2 whole grain Barilla pasta. This means that, with the coupon, the pasta will be $.13 per box. For a large family, or one that uses pasta a lot, this is a great deal! Pasta also has a very long shelf life, so buying a six month supply, as long as you have shelf room for it, is a good investment.

Here’s the breakdown to get the actual cost when you’re buying coupons for this kind of a deal. If you’re looking at a six month supply of pasta (estimating two boxes per week) that’s 48 boxes. Say the cost of the coupons are $.15 per coupon. The cost for the pasta would be about $.21 per box (each coupon good for two boxes.) The cost for the six month supply would be $10.08, about the same price as 8 boxes at regular price. The total savings for those 48 boxes of pasta would be $50.88.

If you’re interested in “buying” coupons, Ebay is good for large amounts of one specific coupon or hard to find coupons. The Coupon Clippers is a good site if you have a few different coupons that you want.

Creative Gardening

NOTE: The following post is purely satirical, and a way to invite others to laugh at myself.

In the present economy, many are considering tackling more and more on the home front. The higher cost of production of many goods and services that we had become so used to outsourcing makes the bringing back home of these items necessary for survival. Homemade is back in style, and it’s taking many forms. From canning to couponing and much more, we’re finding more and more ways to save our money by doing things ourselves.

One way to save money is to create your own vegetable garden. I have tried this for a couple of years now, and I have reached one very important conclusion: it’s hard! I think it will take years and a lot of back-breaking work to will this Georgia soil of mine into producing fruit (or vegetable) bearing plants.

I began to research. The more I researched, the more I read about people, like me, who would like to have a successful garden, but don’t have the optimal space, lighting, etc to accomplish it. I happen to have a yard, but am having trouble finding a spot with a combination of good soil and good lighting. I was so frustrated. Finally, I went outside and just started looking around for untapped spaces that I had missed as possibilities. Finally, I saw the solution to my problem: my gutters.

The gutters are a perfect place for a garden! It may sound silly, but think about it! It gets plenty of sunlight, you can put in whatever soil you like for optimal growth, it gets plenty of water, it’s unused space, and it’s out of the way of kids and animals. It’s perfect! Plus all I have to do is point the hose at anywhere on the roof, and the water will filter down to the plants!

Luckily, in the craziness of life, we haven’t cleaned out our gutters in quite a while, so we had already accumulated quite a collection of nutrient-rich debris. Mother Nature even took it upon herself to show me how easily a gutter garden could be started. Check out this picture of my lovely starter plants!

Now, the only problem I have is how to get on the roof to plant actual vegetable plants in the gutters without my falling off…

Getting things for free…

I went through my bathroom closet last night, which is where I keep all of the extra free stuff that I find every week, because it was literally overflowing. I decided that I am going to gather up all of this, to show everyone what I have been able to get for free, or profit, this year.

A little FYI, I started this stash in January of this year, these are all items that I have gotten for free or profit, and this isn’t everything. These are the things that I haven’t given away yet (yet being they key word,) used personally, or put in my own private stash. These also don’t include any food items, which I also frequently get for free.

I also want to talk a little bit about the whole idea of getting stuff for free. It’s truly addicting! Literally, I could get a lot more than I do, but I don’t find it prudent to do so. I’m constantly reevaluating so that I don’t get caught up in the thrill of a deal. I set a couple of base rules for myself, with the help of my husband.

1) Don’t get anything that I/we wouldn’t use. I have a small stockpile of items that I KNOW we use. I try not to let it get too crazy, not buying more than is peaceful to stock, no matter how good the deal is. This is something that everyone has to evaluate personally. I have seen pictures of entire rooms dedicated to stocking up on great deals. This is neither something that we can do, nor something that would be peaceful for us to do.

2) Don’t get anything that I/we wouldn’t use, unless I know someone specifically who could use it. I have gotten quite a few things for my mother or my brother, etc that I know they could use. I also started collecting a large stash of these free things (lotions, bodywash, make-up, toothpaste, air freshener systems, etc) to give away to my family. I got the idea from someone who posted at Christmas that they make boxes of this stuff to give to family members as Christmas gifts. My Mom and my aunts all thought this was a WONDERFUL idea, so I’ve been collecting for that, but I am going to have to do it twice a year I think, because there’s just so much! I also have been getting health related items, like the glucose monitor money-makers at Walgreens this week, to donate. I have heard of many people who do this as a ministry, recruiting others to do the same, and giving the items to shelters, or needy members of their church. I love that concept and would really like to get something like that going here someday, but God hasn’t told me it’s time yet.

3) Don’t get anything that I/we wouldn’t use, unless I know someone specifically who could use it, or unless I can make money off of it. My husband, who HATES (not a strong enough word) any kind of clutter, actually was the one who suggested this, which floored me! He said that I could just throw it away after I made money off of it, but I consider that highly wasteful, and not in keeping with what God would want. (I think he was just kidding by the way… mostly…) I will find somewhere to donate it to, even if it’s just Goodwill.

Honestly, I try to look at all of this couponing stuff as a means that God has given me to bless not just my family and our budget, but others as well. I’m still praying about how he wants me to use all of this, including this blog, but right now, this is what I do with it.

ps. The picture will have to come later. I have a VERY unhappy baby.