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! 😉

Publix, Bi-Lo and Food Lion

New ads started today for Publix and Bi-Lo!

Publix has a few nice items (GO-GURT! and PopTarts!) as well as a new penny item for today (bottled water) if you have the coupon from today’s paper!

Bi-Lo doesn’t look too exciting for me, but I did see a coupon in the mail today that will be in Sunday’s paper for $.50/1 Carolina Pride lunchmeat, which will make those $.99! That’s a great price for lunchmeat unless you’re carving your own! I’m also reading about Ecoupons for Bi-Lo, which can be combined with store AND manufacturer’s coupons. AND their new coupon policy allows competitor’s coupons, so I am hopeful that we’ll be enjoying some of the amazing deals that I’ve gotten so used to getting at Publix!

12 Weeks to Extreme Couponing, Part 8: Matching coupons with sales

Finding, filing, cutting… there are so many things to do with coupons! Now, it’s time to use them!

Using coupons is easy! You clip it, buy the item it was intended for, and hand the coupon to the cashier when you check out. It’s simple! The next part is to decide when to best use it. You can run out as soon as you get a coupon and save the $.50 at Wal-Mart, who, if you’re lucky, may happen to have the best every-day price, but if you wait till it’s buy one get one free (or half price) at Publix, AND use the $.50 coupon, which doubles to $1.00 at Publix, then you’ll get it for next to nothing instead of just $.50 off the everyday price.

The first rule of using coupons is waiting for the right sale and/or the right store (one that may double your coupon to increase its value)! In the example I gave above, Wal-Mart happened to be the cheapest place to buy that item… on a normal day. When you wait for a sale, you’re knocking at least 25% off the ‘best’ price, but you should really try to wait for at least a 50% off sale. Unless it’s a specialty item, or something that doesn’t go on sale very often, you’ll find a half-off sale fairly often!

Let me use an example of something that I bought today… Go-Gurt! I want my kids to have yogurt every day, and the yogurt that they prefer is Go-Gurt, or really any squeezable tube of yogurt! Go-Gurt is a very bad deal in general because it has 8 tubes of slightly more than 2 ounces of actual yogurt in each tube. It generally sells for about $3, as a normal, every-day price. Now, $3 is ridiculous for 16 ounces of yogurt, so I wait for a sale, stock up, and stick them in the freezer! The Smart Source inserts frequently have coupons for Go-Gurt, usually $.75/2, which isn’t much, but it helps! That would make them about $2.63 for a box. Again, not a very good price, and Kroger has an in-house brand that’s usually about $2, so the Go-Gurt isn’t a deal! So… buy the Kroger brand for now and wait for a sale!

This week, Publix had them on BOGO sale for $2.89, which makes them $1.45 each (cheaper than Kroger’s brand!), BUT when I use the coupon now, it comes out to $1.07 a box, which is about 1/3 of the regular price. I don’t have to tell you that we’re stocking up! Waiting for a sale pays off, bigtime!

Something to mention about using coupons: don’t buy an item JUST because you have a coupon for it, or because the coupon’s expiring! That’s why people say that couponing doesn’t work, and they’re right in this example, because you end up buying something that’s more expensive in the first place just because you have a coupon and it’s STILL more expensive than buying the store-brand version. Couponing DOES work and it works WELL if you learn when, why and how to use the coupons.

Be sure to check out Weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 of 12 Weeks to Extreme Couponing to work on your couponing skills!

DIY: faux wrought iron

I cannot tell you how much I love this! As soon as I collect enough toilet paper rolls, I am SO doing this! I was just thinking that I wanted some scrollwork to replace some of our older pictures, but it’s just so expensive! Doesn’t it look great?!

Publix ad 07/27-08/02

I Heart Publix has the preview for the new ad starting on Wednesday. The good news is that the Scotch scissors that are free after printable coupon are AGAIN buy one get one free and I can get another rain check for them, the bad news is that means that it’ll be that much longer till they have them in stock to redeem the rain check!

Other than that, the deals are ok, but not amazing!

Sunday sales 07/24

It’s Sunday, which means new sales for a lot of stores!

Kroger has a new ad after two weeks of the Mega event. I don’t see a lot of exciting deals, but I am thrilled about the Smart Balance milk, which has a lactose-free variety, and my husband and my son are both lactose-intolerant. The Smart Balance milk will be $1 for a half-gallon, and, since lactose-free milk isn’t cheap, so I am very happy to see this!

CVS has a couple of great deals, including Bengay, Renu, Crest and some very cheap Kotex!

Walgreens also has some great freebies, especially the ones that are free after register rewards without coupons. I’m especially excited about the Scrunci, since I’m getting low and I’ll be able to get TWO with the Register Reward deal!!!

Rite Aid has a few good items this week, though it’s not as good as it has been in weeks past!

A new part of the Sunday ads worth paying attention to is the school supply category. Office Max (free backpack!!!), Office Depot, and Staples are all offering rock-bottom prices on various school supplies that are worth taking advantage of. Aside from the deals that require some sort of a rebate (different for each store), you can price-match the deals at Wal-Mart to save time and gas money.

12 Weeks to Extreme Couponing, Part 7: Starting a stockpile

The 12 Weeks to Extreme Couponing series continues with Week 7. If you are just tuning in to the series, be sure to catch up with weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

Starting a stockpile… how can I begin to explain how important this is.

I love my husband dearly, and I have asked him a million times (slight exaggeration) to tell me when he has only about two weeks left of his stuff. He uses different face wash, shampoo, deodorant (obviously), etc. He also consumes coffee, creamer, sweetener, and certain snacks that I don’t particularly like. With all of these items, I have no reason to glance at any of them in the course of my day, and so I need him to tell me when he’s running low. He doesn’t usually tell me until the day after he’s thrown it in the trash and is in need of more asap. I may even be forced to run to the store and pay $4 for one. Instead, I reach into the closet and hand him a new package of his favorite deodorant, which I got for free two months ago.

Now, balance is important in all aspects of life, especially when it comes to amassing a potentially large amount of stuff. Noone should allow their home to become like an episode of Hoarders, taking all you can get your hands on, or enough to last for the rest of your life. A good rule of thumb is to stock up on as much of an item as your family can consume until the next sale. For most items, this is 2-3 months, some less, some more.

In last week’s installment, I wrote about buying 22 bottles of Hershey’s syrup, a year’s worth for our family. This is much longer than the 2-3 months that I just gave as a guideline, but it’s exactly what I said. I bought enough for what our family will consume until the next time the deal comes, which is about a year’s time.

Now, space has to be an important consideration when starting a stockpile, because the stuff can begin to take over! We have a pretty small house for a family of 5 and I’ve had to adjust our stockpile over the years. I found space where there previously wasn’t any, and I’ve gotten a little creative, but I finally have a system that works well for us. We’re not sleeping on boxes of cereal, but we have a good stockpile and even areas for donations and for sharing with family and friends. Our needs are met, and we rarely have to be in the position of a last-minute run to the store to pay full-price for something.

If you’re early in the couponing game, most of your grocery money is going towards necessities, so you may not have much room to spend on stock-up items. Start with even one or two extra items to begin your stockpile with. It takes years to build a good stockpile, and with each extra item you buy, you’re saving money. The next time you need a tube of toothpaste, you can pull it out of the closet and spend the $3 you would have spent on the toothpaste on other stock-pile items. With each stockpile purchase, you’re freeing up money to buy more stockpile items and shortening your grocery bill.

Now, a few practical tips about stockpiles: When storing your items, try to be mindful of expiration dates, because nothing’s a bargain if you have to throw it out. Also store like-items in the same area. It’s harder to lose something in the shuffle if you don’t have to hunt through lots of other items. Look for unutilized spaces by adding shelves to the top of laundry rooms or closets. You don’t have to use up all the space you already have when you can create new space!

In conclusion, start somewhere, be prepared to adjust your stockpile many times over, and know that it takes time, but the savings are immediate and keep getting better and better!!!

A Sad Farewell…

I recieved an email this morning from Borders revealing certain details about their store closings and the sad road to the end. I’m so sorry to see them go, but that’s reality! Stores come and go and we’re becoming more and more of an e-reader society. It’s especially to support a bookstore in a difficult economy!

The silver lining is that they will have some great discounts in the coming weeks, starting today. The email stated that the liquidation process starts today, and they’ll be honoring giftcards throughout, and Borders Rewards points and bucks (if you’re a member of their program) through July 31. If you have any of these, make sure that you go in sooner rather than later so that you can spend it on a wider selection.

Goodbye Borders! Thanks for the good times!

Mini Smores Cones!!!

I’m in love!!!

Chocolate  + Marshmallows + mini cones = perfection!!!

Summer Reading goodies!

We participated in a few of the summer reading programs available in our area and we went on one big trip redeeming our forms today! Here’s what we got for our effort:

We got 9 books and three bundles of goodies including stickers, bookmarks, free pizza, free golf, free tacos, free kids’ meals, and free bowling! It was so much fun and I’m so grateful to all of these places for participating in a summer reading program!

On a sad note, I’m very upset that it’ll be the last year to do one at Borders since all of the stores will be going away shortly! I love Borders, in fact, it was my place to escape to when I needed some ‘me’ time! I will miss it very much!

All in all, our trip today showed my kids that reading is fun and it pays off!!!