Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Shopping

Another busy Sunday, but we sure got some great deals today! Here are the totals for today:
Total spent: $56.50
Total coupon and sale savings: $150.39 (73%)

Walgreens purchases
 We stopped at King Soopers, Safeway, Petsmart, and Walgreens today. I will also be making a stop at Rite-Aid at some point during the week. This was the first time I've used coupons at Petsmart, but I will definitely start making it a habit...we saved a whopping $40 today! We scored 2 bags of dog food, 2 bags of cat food, and a bag of Greenies (our dog's favorite treat) for $27.03 (including tax). Our stockpiles are looking very full, and I will also be making a trip to our local food pantry to donate some items that I don't think we'll be using.
My custom tank top
I've also finished my sewing project that I started yesterday! I have another tank top that I want to modify as well, but I'm pretty happy with the way my first project turned out! I may be wearing this one to work tomorrow.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

How to plan a shopping trip

DH tells me that when he tells his coworkers at work that his wife got 8 bottles of Jack Daniels BBQ sauce for $0.14, they ask "how is this possible?" Well ladies and gentlemen, there really is no secret trick here. It takes time and dedication and motivation, and you have to be able to learn from your mistakes and not dwell on deals you might have missed or transactions that didn't go perfectly.
With that said, I thought I ought to outline how I've typically been planning my shopping trips. Pre-couponing, our method was pretty straightforward. We kept a list on the fridge that we would add to during the week when we ran out of something. On Saturday or Sunday morning, DH would plan the dinners for the week (since he's the chef in our household) and tell me what he needed from the store. We would never even look to see what was on sale that week, much less use coupons.
The method these days is a little more complicated. Fortunately, couponing doesn't have to mean going over the weekly ads with a fine-tooth comb and trying to remember each and every little coupon that you have. There are several websites I consult multiple times a week:
  • Southern Savers: The nice thing about this site is that since they're based in the South, their Kroger ads come out sooner than ours do (King Soopers' sales run from Wednesday to Tuesday, Kroger sales run from Sunday to Saturday). This site also gets the weekly ad matchups posted quickly; the drugstore ads are almost always posted by Thursday evening. The bad thing about the site is that the prices are not always the same (things tend to be a bit more expensive up here in Colorado). Another thing I wish this site had was a better rating system; they'll put an acorn symbol next to the deals they think are really great, but other than that there isn't a whole lot of guidance.
  • Hip2Save: this is one of my favorite coupon sites. It is updated very regularly (many times a day) and has almost all of the giveaways, daily deal sites (such as Groupon), as well as weekly ads for drugstores and grocery stores. Again, this site is not local, so the prices aren't always the same. I do think this site does a better job of finding all the great deals each week though.
  • Denver Bargains: the obvious advantage of this site is that it is local. The prices are always correct, and they also post deals at local restaurants and attractions. They also have a rating system, which will help guide you (especially in the beginning) in deciding whether to stock up on an item that week or just buy enough for one or two weeks.
  • Bargain Blessings: another local site, and this one has a really good rating system too.
Ok, so now you know which websites can help guide you to coupon matchups. The whole point of couponing is to save you money, right? I'm sure everyone has seen Extreme Couponing and wished they could get out of the grocery store paying next to nothing. Well, that's not going to happen in the beginning. Unless you have massive quantities of coupons available to you and can live on floss, body wash, and dehydrated noodles, you're still going to have to spend money. What you're going to want to focus on is sticking to your budget and simultaneously increasing your percent savings. Think about it this way: you're going to spend the same amount of money you've been spending on groceries (or you can lower your budget a bit, if you want) but you're going to be getting at least 50% more product for the same amount of money. Eventually, you will have built up your stockpile to the point that you won't be spending much at all on groceries.
So the first few weeks, still buy what you need for the week, but if you can alter what you buy a little bit to match up with sales it will help. For example, if you normally buy one brand of lunch meat every week for lunches, but there's a different brand on sale that week, buy the brand that's on sale! Even without coupons, you're already saving money on something you were going to buy anyways. I do this for produce and meat every week, as there aren't a whole lot of coupons for these products.
Once you've determined how much you will spend on things you need for the week, you can then decide what things you're going to stockpile. You've found all the good deals by doing the research online, so now you have to figure out what things you'll actually use. Make sure you have enough coupons, and make sure you are familiar with your store's coupon policy. For example, King Soopers limits you to 3 like coupons (not items) per transaction, so plan your stocking up accordingly. Some people get around this by doing multiple transactions in the same trip, others might make multiple trips in one week or just stick with using 3 like coupons.
Once you've made your list, you might want to arrange it in the order that you go through the store. For example, I usually shop produce, then meat, then personal items, then dairy, then packaged products, and finally frozen items. Arranging your list to match up with the way you progress through the store will keep you from forgetting an item and having to run back and forth. Before you head to the store, double check that you have all your coupons (I use a small binder clip to keep my coupons together). I also bring my accordion file, in case I run into any unadvertised deals that I have a matching coupon for. Grab your reusable bags and you are ready to go!

Free Orange Chicken! and other weekend adventures

Mmmmmmm orange chicken
 Last night DH and I were total scammers and stopped by 2 different Panda Express restaurants to pick up a free box of orange chicken (no longer available). He had done a little research earlier in the evening and found out that orange chicken freezes and reheats just fine, so we stuck these bad boys in the freezer. We'll be making some fried rice to serve with it later this week, and as we already have most of the ingredients for that in our stockpile it should be a really cheap Chinese dinner at home.

This morning I stopped by Old Navy because they are having a $2 tank top sale this weekend. I was hoping to find some basic cotton tanks that I could use for a sewing project that I've been meaning to try for a while now. The only things I really found were basic rib-knit tanks, but I went ahead and got a couple anyways since they were so cheap. I also picked up a couple cute shirts for myself from the clearance rack, and a few undershirts for DH. With the 10% off coupon I printed the night before, I got 8 shirts for $31 (with tax).

I will update tomorrow with our weekly grocery shopping and Walgreens trips, as well as post pictures of my sewing project (if I get it done tomorrow, that is). Happy savings everyone!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In the Mail

More freebies in the mail

First freebie of the week came in the mail today
The packaging totally makes it look more impressive than it is, but I can't complain about 2 free packs of Emergen-C (still available)!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Weekly Grocery Trip

It seems like there really aren't any good deals anywhere this week! I'm going to take a break from the drugstore game this week, so my only trip this week will be my weekly King Soopers trip. We just got back, and we were well under our weekly budget of $75.

Total spent: $46.76
Total coupon and sale savings: $41.61 (47%)

There's a tiny mega event running at King Soopers this week, it looked to me like there weren't too many products included. Next week (unfortunately) will be the same mega event, so I went ahead and bought some of the Kellogg's cereals that were included in the sale.
I did find this promotion that goes along with the mega event, and I should be able to get a $5 gas card back! Add to that the new King Soopers fuel policy, and I should be able to fill up relatively cheaply the next time I need to.

Monday, June 13, 2011

$1.98 at Target!

A great day at Target today! Here's what I got
Target's running a promotion this week where you get a free bottle of Degree body mist when you buy Degree deodorant, so all of the deodorants and body mists were completely free!
I also used my $5 gift card from last week's John Frieda deal to pay for this trip, so this didn't cost me a penny out of pocket!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Busy Sunday!

Our stockpile is filling up quickly!
 We made stops at 5 different stores today...I am exhausted! But our stockpile is finally starting to fill up again and we got some really great deals as well. We went to: Walgreens, Safeway, King Soopers, Walgreens AGAIN, and finally Rite Aid. Again this week I threw away the receipts after entering them in my grocery savings spreadsheet, so the totals from this week include sales tax.

Total spent: $100.78
Total coupon and sales savings: $168.27 (63%)
Total savings after RR and +UP: $188.26 (65%)
Not included in this total was the great deal on Huggies I scored this week at Rite Aid! We don't need them in our household, but my little brother uses Pull Ups so I picked these up for my dad and stepmom.
  • Huggies Jumbo pack diapers normally $11.99, on sale this week for $8.99
    • -$3 MQ (no longer available)
    • -$1 Huggies Rite-Aid Video Values coupon (watch by 6/25)
      • $4.99/pack! (58% savings!)
Another pretty good deal I was excited about was the mix and match beverages sale at King Soopers. You get 5 free when you buy 10, so they end up being $0.67 each. We were able to print out a couple of the free Lipton iced tea coupons on Friday (no longer available), and since these were included in the sale we paid for 7 beverages and got 8 for free. This made them $0.46 each!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

In the Mail

More in the mail on Thursday this week:

  •  Free sample of Garnier moisture rescue and $1/1 coupon (no longer available)
  • $8.99 rebate check from Staples!
Already another fun week for freebies! Here's what I got in the mail on Monday
  • Sample of Gold Bond body wash (still available)
  • Jamberry nail shields! (deal no longer available)
  • Coupon for a free Yoplait yogurt (no longer available)
I'll update later this week with any more freebies that arrive!

Weekly Wrapup

It's a little late in the week, but here's the summary of our grocery shopping, plus Target and Walgreens trips!
Target and Walgreens finds
(in my cleaning frenzy this morning, I threw out my receipts, so these totals are overall for the week and include sales tax)

Total spent: $97.93
Total coupon and sale savings: $137.60 (58%)

A few weeks ago, I would have been very impressed with 58% savings. This week, however, there were a few impulse buys at King Soopers (we bought jam at *gasp* full price, not even on sale) and with summer classes starting, I had less time than usual to plan my shopping trips.

My FAVORITE deal of the week was at Target. Right now, if you buy any 3 John Frieda products, you get a $5 Target gift card good on your next order. I had just tried the John Frieda root awakening shampoo and conditioner because I got a sample in the mail last week and loved it! Plus, it seems like there are John Frieda coupons everywhere right now. I got 6 shampoos and conditioners for about $14, plus got $10 in Target gift cards back! Check out Hip2Save's post about it for more details!

Wondering what to do with your expired coupons?

At the end of each month, I go through each category of my accordion file and pull out the expired coupons. Throwing them away each month just felt so wrong, like I was throwing out money or something. So this month, I found a way I can put these coupons to work!

Our troops overseas can use coupons at their local Commisaries up to 6 months after they expire! There are a couple of different organizations you can send these coupons to. This month, I sent them to Coups for Troops, an organization that will organize and send coupons to military bases.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

In the Mail

Here's what I've gotten in the mail so far this week, I'll update if/when I get anything else:
  • $12 Allure rebate check from a Rite-Aid deal available a few weeks ago. I've received $18 in rebates in the past 2 weeks, not too shabby. I'm expecting a lot more soon too!
What a great week! I've been excited to check the mail every single day, because it seems like every day I got something new and exciting. Here's what else I've gotten this week:

I missed my installment of In the Mail last week since I was out of town, so I'll put up the picture my DH sent me
  • Free ZonePerfect bar and a $1/1 MQ (no longer available)
  • Coupon for a free bag of Ore-Ida sweet potato fries (no longer available)

Product Review: Nail Shields

Since I've started couponing, I've been able to try a lot of products that I probably wouldn't have bought otherwise. I thought I'd start a new series to review some of these great finds! This first post is also to brag about a great deal I got yesterday.
Nail shields are kind of like stickers for your nails. They look and feel just like nail polish once applied, and once you get the hang of it they're really pretty easy to apply. And they come in TONS of different colors and designs, which I love. I first tried out the Sally Hansen kind a few months ago, and loved them. I got so many compliments and comments on them. I didn't find that they lasted the full 10 days promised, but they lasted longer than when I polish my own nails. The only problem with these (in my opinion) is the price. Last time I checked, they were about $9 for a package (which only gets you 2 applications).
So yesterday, when I saw a deal that could possibly land me FREE nail shields from a different manufacturer, I jumped on it. Here's how it went down:
The design I picked out
  • I signed up with a website called  which works kind of like Groupon. When you sign up for this site, you get a free $10 credit.
  • Yesterday's deal (expired now, sorry guys) was a $15 voucher to Jamberry Nails for $7.50. I used my $10 credit to purchase the voucher.
  • I headed over to Jamberry's website to pick out my nail design. It looks like all their nails run for $15, which was perfect. There was no charge for shipping, so my entire order was completely FREE!

I'll update this post to let you all know how these nail shields compare to the others I've tried before. But hey, you can't complain about free, can you?