Sunday, March 16, 2014

Couponing For Beginners

I frequently get asked how I get such great deals and how did I get started Couponing, etc.  I also have received a lot of requests to write a blog post about this as well so here we go. I apologize if this is hard to follow along with or if I ramble on too much. I tend to be wordy, especially when I'm very excited or passionate about what I'm writing about so with that being said...

The following steps should assist you on your Couponing journey. These steps are what I did when I started out.

I'm going to have to make this post a series because this would just be way too long if I do it all at once. So make sure you come back for part 2 and 3 as well.

Step one:  Find coupons

I started receiving my coupons in the mail sometimes twice a week. Then when we bought our current house and moved to a new zip code they quit coming in the mail. To say I was devastated was an understatement. I then began begging anyone I knew that had a newspaper subscription for their coupons if they weren't going to use them. Finally about three months later Love Muffin got me a weekly subscription to the Sunday paper so I could get my own coupons in the mail without having to beg everyone for theirs.  

At first I only used to cut coupons for items I already used. I wasn't sure how invested I wanted to get in to Couponing so I started out slowly. The items that I found myself cutting coupons for the most were toiletry items, my one brand of clothes detergent and dishwasher detergent I liked to use at the time, and paper towels and toilet paper.  Then over time I began feeling comfortable trying new products because I had coupons to pair to sales items in the store.

Then I also began searching the internet for coupons for products I wanted to try or that I already was using but wanted to save money on. By doing this I found some awesome coupon websites that I began downloading and printing coupons from. (this will require an entire blog post all on its own) .

Once you have begun collecting coupons then next step is very crucial to your saving success.

 Step 2: Understand Your Favorite Store(s) Coupon Policy

Everyone has their favorite or usual grocery store(s) that they frequent. This could be out of lack of variety if you live in rural areas, or due to being a creature of habit and the need to stick to what you know, etc.  Before you begin coupon shopping at your local stores you need to make sure you fully understand their coupon policies. All national retailers have published coupon policies. The easiest way to find this information is to visit their website. Their website should have a link to their coupon policy somewhere. Sometimes it is in the really small text at the bottom of their homepage. If you can't find it easily by visiting their website, then they usually will have a search option at the top of the page. In the search box type "coupon policy" and without fail that usually always works. Once you have found this, read it very carefully and save it as a favorite or bookmark in your internet browser in case you need to refer back to it later.

The reason this step is so important is because each retailer has policies on the number of coupons they accept or some may double coupons up to a certain dollar amount and some may not. Some may accept paper coupons as well as let you use their online coupons together. This is called "stacking" Coupon stacking is the ability to use more than one coupon on one item in a transaction. Since all retailers have different rules you have to do your research ahead of time to avoid a confrontation in the store. If I had a $1 for every time I had a sales associate check me out at the store  that didn't even know or understand the current coupon policy for the store in which they work I could retire. Be educated and informed of the policies so you can be sure you are maximizing your savings and paying close attention as the items are ringing up and that your coupons come off correctly is critical so you don't  end up with surprises once they hit "total" to complete your order.

Step three:  Loyalty Cards.

Every store has them and they all call them something different. Food Lion calls them MVP cards, Harris Teeter calls them VIC cards, Kroger calls them Kroger cards, etc.  These are those plastic store issued savings cards that you can sign up to receive in the store. They give you three copies of them usually.  Two that are credit card size and one that you put on your key ring. Its very important to make sure when you sign up for the cards that you provide a valid email address when you sign up for them as well because they will in some cases email you weekly specials just for you or weekly savings for you that you can take advantage of simply by swiping your loyalty card at checkout.  Usually you will be able to pair paper manufacture coupons with these custom savings so this is key to maximizing savings. Another reason providing valid email address and phone number information is because in some cases your loyalty card offers you discounts on other products or services as you accrue points. For example, at Kroger the more you spend the more fuel points you accrue meaning that you save money at the gas pump at certain fuel branded stations by saving a certain amount off per gallon. Both Lowes Foods and Kroger have fuel point saving programs that you can take advantage of while at the same time you are saving money on your groceries with your paper manufactures coupons, loyalty cards with your store, etc.

By mastering the first three steps you are on your way to a new addiction. The addiction of saving money. Once you get started you can't stop and you'll never be able to pay full price for anything again!

Stay tuned for part two which I will post in a few days. Until then this should keep you busy on the beginning of your Couponing journey.

Until next time....

Crazy Jess

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Super Doubles 2/23/14

So today I finally made it to HT for Super Double Coupons.  I hate that I waited until the end to go, and I ended up going to another location that I usually don't go to and they were out of many of the best deals, and pretty much all of the free deals.  But below is what I scored this week though.  It was a pretty successful trip and I got dog food and fresh meats so I spent more than I wanted but oh well.

  • Hefty Zipper Bags - $2.99 on sale BOGO, - $1.00 off 2 coupon x 2 = .99 cents for two
  • Beneful Playful Life Dog Food (7lb bag) - $12.49 on clearance for $8.99 - $2.00 of 1 coupon x 2 - $2.00 off 1 ZVR coupon = $2.99 total price
  • Purina Dog Chow Light & Fit (4lb bag) - $6.59 each - $2.00 off 1 coupon x 2 - $1.00 off 1 coupon = $1.59
  • Newmans Own Spaghetti Sauce - $3.15 on sale 2/$4 - 3 $.50 cents off 1 coupon x 2 = $3.00 ($1.00 each)
  • Newmans Own Salad Dressing - $3.99 on sale, my weekly eVic price = $2.37 each - 2 .50 cents off 1 coupons x 2 = $1.37 each
  • Cheeze Its Crackers - $4.49 on sale 2/$5 - 2 $1.00 off 2 coupons x 2 = $6.00 for 4 boxes ($1.50 each)
  • Gain Flingz Detergent Packs - $2.99 - $1.50 off 2 coupon x 2 - $1.00 ZVR = .99 cents each
  • Franks Sweet Pepper Chilli Sauce - 3.29  on sale 2/$4 - .65 cents off 1 coupon x 2 - .55 cents off 1 coupon x 2 = .80 cents each
  • Ritz Crackerfuls - $3.99 on sale $2/6 - $1.00 Checkout51 Rebate = $2.00
  • Honeymaid Grahamfuls - 4.25 on sale 2/$7 - .75 cents off 2 coupon x 2 - $1.00 Checkout51 Rebate = $2.25 each
  • Belvita Breakfast Biscuits - $3.89 on sale BOGO - $1.00 off Checkout51 Rebate = .95 cents
  • McCormick Hot Taco Seasoning - $1.70 each on sale BOGO = .85 cents for two - .50 cents off 2 coupon x 2 = FREE
  • Buy 1 Lee Kum Hoisin Sauce ($3.99) get $2.00 off one Soy Sauce ($2.99) x 2 = $1.49 each
  • Secret Outlast Deodorant - $4.99 - $2.00 off 1 coupon x 2 = .99 cents
  • Loreal Advanced Hair Care Shampoo - $4.99 - $2.00 off 1 coupon x 2 = .99 cents
  • Loreal Advanced Hair Care Styler - $4.99 - $2.00 off 1 coupon x 2 = .99 cents
  • Loreal Preference Hair Color - $9.99 on sale for $7.99 - $2.00 off 1 coupon x 2 = $3.99 
  • Suave Professionals Hair Color - $2.59 - $1.00 off 1 coupon x 2 = .59 cents
  • Dove Deodorant - $4.99 on sale 2/$7 - $1.00 off 1 coupon x 2 = 1.50 cents
  • Ground Bison (1 lb) = $8.99
  • Smart Chicken Leg Qrtrs (3 lbs) = $6.25
  • Boneless Pork Chops (1 lb) = $4.94
  • Sliced Mushrooms - $1.99 each
  • Special K Flatbread Breakfast Sandwiches - $4.99
  • Various Frozen Veggies = $1.19 each

Total Spent: $89.15 Total Saved: $89.95

So basically everything I purchased was 50% off.  That's super exciting.

It was exhausting!  It took me two hours because they were so busy today too.  Maybe next time I won't wait until the very last minute to go so I'll get some more of the freebie items.  Either way it was a successful trip and I love savin' money honey!

Until next time....

XOXO - Crazy Jess

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Deal Shopping 1/19/14

Well, another weekend has come to an end.  My weekend was really awesome and busy.  One of the most exciting things about my weekend would have to be the great deals I got today while shopping.  I had a "me" day where I spent most of the day by myself.  I went shopping because I had so many gift cards for various places so I thought today was as good as any to see what I could find.

I started off my trip at Macy's as I received a coupon in the mail this morning for $10 off a $25 purchase, or 15% off any purchase.  I somehow ended up in the shoe department and found the most beautiful pair of Sperry's ever made.  Look how pretty they are.  I should put them in a case and look at them from time to time but never wear them. Haha, right, like that would happen.

The photo isn't even doing them justice.  They are metallic silver with glittery details on the sides.  So.In.Love.  I heard birds chirping and angels singing when I saw them.  They called to me from afar.  Something pulled me to the clearance shoe rack today, and I just know it was "them".   That sounds weird because when you think about it, is there really a clearance rack in Durham that I don't check out a least once a week?  But really, I never look for shoes at Macy's because I'm so cheap.  There I said it.

Anyway, since they were calling to me so loudly, I went ahead and tried them on.  Oh man.  It was like butter.  They felt like home.  They were shiny and glittery and on clearance, so obviously I was smitten.  What made it even better was I realized they were marked down to $47 which for Sperry's isn't too bad.  Then I remembered I had a $30 giftcard and a $10 off $25 purchase coupon so after paying tax essentially I became the proud new owner of these Sperry's for only $10.

All of this was going on in my head while I was standing by the rack and I can't lie, I did get a little too excited about it and had to share the news with the lady beside me.  She was not amused.  She was also not in to saving money or coupons either apparently.  Not sure why she was even at the clearance shoe rack in the first place.  She should have taken her snotty rear end to Nordstrom with the rest of them.  She was dead inside I tell you!  Wait, where was I with this ridiculous story?  Oh yeah, so I'm spreading the news about these Sperry's being such a good deal and I was so excited.  Then entered the random lady, but I didn't let her snotty attitude get me down.  I marched my big butt up to the register and proudly paid for my new glittery yet affordable Sperry's like a boss.  Here they are....

They are so pretty I might name them.

I've got it, I shall call them, Roxy and Foxy.  Great names for diva-licious glittery Sperry's if you ask me.

Moving on....

So, just when I thought my day couldn't get any better I managed to find my way in to Victoria's Secret to stumble upon one very lonely $1.99 table in which EVERYTHING was $1.99.  It wasn't like that mind trick where the sign says $1.99 really big and then in hieroglyphics underneath it actually reads "and up" only you can't read "hieroglyphics" so when you get to the register you're so frustrated you pay the actual sales price anyway.  No this little table was for real $1.99 - everything on it.  At first I thought only I could see the table and it was a figment of my imagination because no one was standing around the table, only the one sales associate who was stocking it with product.  I got closer and closer thinking I needed to get my eyes checked, as I was sure the sign probably said $11.99 instead but no.  It was real.

Lotions, body scrubs, perfumes, body sprays, shower gels!.  Oh my!.  It was like entering the gates of heaven.  Well, if heaven were filled with half naked skinny women that always smelled good and that wore angel wings with their underwear like that was a normal outfit.  I'm pretty sure that's not the case.  But only time will tell ha ha.

I guess after I saw it every other woman in their magially saw the table at the exact same time and they all began sworming right after I got to the table.  The women in their today were not very angelic for the record.  That $1.99 sign makes the freaks come out, and it got pretty brutal, but I managed to come away with quite a few goodies...some for myself and some for gifts of course, no cops were called and I didn't have to take my earrings out.  So all in all pretty successful.

Then I left there and headed down to Belks to see what I could find there.  It was a pretty good trip because I found a pair of gray pants for work (thank sweet baby Jesus because every pair of work pants in my closest are black).  They were only $19 on clearance so that was a win for the day.  I also found these two wall art picture frames for $7 each so naturally had to get those too.

I also got some GREATTTTT deals at Macy's on work clothes as well.  I still can't believe it.

I got a royal blue Calvin Klein skirt for $20, a black/white Calvin Klein sleeveless top for $9 and a brown sweater for $24, all at Macy's.  I was able to use my coupons so I spent a total of $50 but saved $167.  

At Belks I got this tan/cream leopard print sleeveless top as well as a black/white damask top that you can't really see in the picture.  Might be a good thing because it's for a special occasion so I don't want anyone to see how smokin' hot it is.  So, long story short I spent about $40 at Belks but saved $120.  That was even without a coupon if you can believe it.  Belk has great clearance sales if you didn't know.  

So then after all that excitement at the mall I decided it was time for my weekly HT grocery store trip to coupon shop on my way home.  Today's trip was very successful.  I didn't take a photo of everything I got, just the items that were the "best deals" but basically I spent $40, and saved $67.  So I got $107 worth of groceries for $40.  This week I didn't need to spend much because we have a lot of meat stocked up so there wasn't much to get this week regarding perishable food.  I can menu plan for the next 2.5 weeks with everything we have stocked up so today really was just meant to be a trip for me to get produce for my meal prep my breakfasts and snacks for work.  

See details below pic for regular v sale v coupon v final price paid if you're interested.  If not continue to the next section.

Best Deals This Week:

Apple Cheerios: $4.26, on sale 2/$4, on eVic for $1.77 - .75 cents off 1 x 2 = .27 cents
Total Cereal: $3.69, on sale 2/$4, - .75 cents off 1 x 2 = .50 cents
Quaker Oats Medleys Bars: $3.99, on sale 2/$6, - $1.00 off 1 coupon = $2.00 (great deal because these are NEVER on sale)
Gain Detergent-50oz: $7.49, on sale $5.99, on eVic for $3.77 - .50 cents off 1 x 2 = $2.77 
Ortega Reduced Sodium Taco Seasoning: $1.19 each, on sale 4/$3 - .50 cents off 2 x 2 = .30 cents each
Marzettis Simply Dressed Salad Dressing: $3.79, on sale $2.99 - .75 cents off 1 x 2 = $1.49 each
John Freida Shampoo & Conditioner: $6.99, on clearance for $2.38 - $3.00 off two coupon = .88 cents each
Loreal EverCurl Shampoos: $6.99, on clearance for $2.38 - $2.00 off 1 coupons = .28 cents each
Campbell's Slow Cooker Sauce: $3.49, on sale 2/$4 - $1.00 off 1 = $1.00 

While I was shopping at HT today I even shared some coupons some other shoppers.  There was one couple in particular that I could tell money was an issue for them based on the conversations I couldn't help but overhear as we made our way from aisle to aisle so I offered them some coupons on items they were getting that I didn't need.  You could tell it made their day so I felt good to be able to help.  Maybe it will inspire them to start couponing themselves.  Every penny saved counts.

So all in all it was a pretty successful shopping day for me.  I managed to get great deals and completed almost everything on my to-do list.  I never made it to Target, but maybe tomorrow during my lunch hour I can fit that in after I make my way to Dollar Tree to pick up some wedding related items.

So, that's all for today.  I will leave you with some humor to lighten your evening.  I apologize in advance for the naughty language on one of them but it's rather hilarious.  Honestly.  If you don't laugh at that one then we can't be friends anymore.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

2014 - The Year of Being Awesome

So, it is three days in to the beginning of 2014 so everyone and their cousin's neighbor's grandma's stepson's daughter is making resolutions that they intend to give up on in two weeks.  Not to be a "Negative Nancy" but you get what I'm saying.  It's the same thing each year.  I get it.  However not I!

I first of all, don't make resolutions ANY time, let alone at New Years. I do however set goals for myself. Sometimes these goals are daily, weekly, monthly, for the entire year etc.  Usually I manage my goals like a "to-do" list and mark things off as I accomplish them.  Sometimes when I have time I might blog about them but this year has been hella busy so my blog was kind of left behind.

With that being said....

My to-do list for 2013:

  • Coupon Seriously - meaning save money and never buy anything full price if I can help it.  (The fuel to this fire might have been prompted even more by my five seconds of local fame on the WRAL SmartShopper blog which was written right when I first go in to couponing)
    Coupons Coupons Coupons
    One of many good deal "hauls" from HT
  • Organize my closets and stick to the organizational plan - done, although still have more improvements I want to make.  So that one is still on the list for 2014.  Thus no picture.  Sorry!
  • Redo the desk in the living room to make it prettier - done, like a boss might I add.  I rock!
    Desk - BEFORE
    Desk - AFTER
  • Get my eye surgery - Booooooom.  Done.  Damn I look good too.  Worth every penny I had to pay out of pocket.
    First pic I took after eye surgery
  • Meal plan each week - yep, did that too, even got a dry erase board for the refrigerator to write it down on.
    My cute weekly menu board
  • Eat healthier - somewhat successful at that.  I attempted this year to recreate recipes I like to make them a little healthier, made sure I ate breakfast every day, became more mindful of the ingredients in some of the items I was buying, etc.  I also quit drinking cows milk and stick to only Almond or Coconut Milk which helped my digestion issues some.
  • Create a budget and stick to it - I need a freakin' gold star ya'll.  I not only stuck to our weekly grocery budget by week but I also saved us a lot of money on groceries by sale shopping and couponing.  We were also able to pay off some credit cards last year as well.  (Patting myself on the back right now.).  I'm such a dork I kept track of what I spent at each store I typically go to (Harris Teeter, Kroger, Target) and the amount I saved per trip to make sure my yearly spend is what I had budgeted.  So for this year I was at my budget per week of $50.00.....oh yeah!
  • Be Awesome - that comes so naturally that I had NO problem marking that one off the list for the year.
So basically I'm stating for the record that I accomplished ALL of those goals aka my "to do's" last year 100% or darn near close. The only thing that could still use improvement would be the healthy eating because I did have quite a few cheat days, but doesn't everyone?  Meaning that I'm still leaving that one on the list for 2014 because I'm currently researching the Paleo diet now and honestly there is always room for improvement in healthy eating anyway.

So my to-do list for 2014 looks a little something like this:

  • Plan a budget friendly but beautiful wedding - already successfully working on that one - blog post in the making on that note
  • Continue Couponing only this year with a $40.00 per week budget - might be hard but I'm up for the challenge
  • Continue being awesome - hellooooo I do that EVERY year.
  • Try to continue to eat better but not beat myself up if I have one cheat day 
  • Organize the cabinets in the kitchen more efficiently
  • Install shelves in the hallway closet
  • Create a plan for the laundry closet and draw up plans for the "pantry" I want built in the kitchen.
  • Repaint the foyer and hallway and decorate the wall at the end of the hallway accordingly
  • Fancy up my "getting ready" station in our bedroom to make it cuter and more girly (I'm sure Love Muffin will be THRILLED about that! :-)
  • Have a yard sale and get rid of some stuff, while making $ in the process
  • More dilligently track our spending in areas we didn't track last year to better manage our funds in those areas
  • Buy a new laptop.  For real.  This one has seen better days and is circa 2008 which is ancient in computer years.

So....basically we have established that I am amazeballs and rocked 2013 and made it my you know what. So I'm sure 2014 will be equally as amazeballs. (I think I'm too old to say amazeballs.  It's almost as bad as me saying "totes" or another one of those shortened words all the "kids" are saying nowdays.)

Anyway, do you make resolutions?  Do you ever find that you actually stick to them?  Or do you find that you are more of a goal setter and are pretty successful at marking the goals off your list?

Until next time...