Adventures in Couponing, Sales, Specials, Rollbacks and Rewards Savings

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014

I am not a couponing queen. I do not use coupons for every shopping trip (yet). I do not base all my purchases around coupons (though I may begin to later). I do not have the time to sit down and plan out elaborate shopping trips (though I wish I did).

I do, however, enjoy saving money when possible. I have read about couponing through a pro couponer. And I spent a couple of hours setting up my coupon system. And…

I have used several coupons to score good discounts.

While I am not going to type out entire receipts to show my savings thus far, but I am recording my savings. And I am including savings from my K-Mart rewards program, sales, and Rollbacks, so you can get a more complete idea of how I save as much as I do. (Learn more about rewards programs here.)

4/5: Walmart (Savings = $1.40 coupons)

1 package microwave sandwich $2.00 – .40 coupon = $1.60

2 jars mini ketchup .60 each – (2) .50 coupons = .20 for both

4/18/ K-Mart (Savings = $1.00 coupon, .99 in store special) (Made $7.00 on the purchase of a gift card.)

4 Cadbury Cream Eggs B3/G1 FREE $3.96 – .99 special = $2.97

1 Soft Soap Foaming Hand Soap $2.99 – $1.00 coupon = $1.99

1 K-Mart gift card for $25.00 netted me the $25.00 gift card = $5.00 award card + $2.00 in points

4/19: Walmart (Savings = $15.00 Coupon, $4.36 Rollbacks)

2 (7 count) packages disposable Bic Shavers (Soleil) $4.97 each (Rollback. Were $5.78 each) – (2) $3.00 coupons = $3.94 for both

2 (3 count) Flex 4 disposable Shavers  $4.97 each (Rollback, were $6.34 each) – (2) $3.00 coupons = $3.94 for both

2 McCormick Cumin $3.56 each – (2) .75 coupons = $5.62 for both

2 McCormick Chili Powder – (2) .75 coupons = $4.34 for both

4/19: Kmart (Savings = $3.88 coupons, $2.09 points)

4 Scrubbing bubbles $4.69 each – (2) $1.00 coupons – $1.88 store coupon – $2.09 points = $12.79 for all 4

4/21: Kmart (Savings =$3.50 store coupon, $5.00 points)

1 package Windex Wipes $3.49 – $3.00 store coupon = .49

1 package ladies socks $6.99 – $5.00 points = $1.99

1 roll Smart Sense TP $1.00 – .50 store coupon = .50

4/22: Kmart (Savings = .75 store coupon)

1 roll Smart Sense TP $1.00 – .75 store coupon = .25

4/25: Kmart (Savings= $9.98 coupons, $5.60 in store specials)

4 Vitamin C Drops B/1 G/1 50% off $6.36 – $1.60 special = $4.76 for all 4

4 (72 count) Roliads $4.99 each – $4.00 special – (2) B1/G1 FREE coupons = $7.98 for all 4

8 VO5 Shampoo .99 each – (2) $1.00 off 4 coupons = $5.92

4/26: Walmart (Savings = 1.00 coupons )

2 cans Dole Pineapple .78 each – (2) .50 coupons = .56 for both

4/28/ K-Mart (Savings = $1.00 coupon, $9.86 in points.)

4 Suave Body Wash $1.89 each – $1.00 coupon – $6.08 in points = .48  for all 4

1 Deodorant $2.69 – $2.17 in points = .52

1 Chapstick $1.99 – 1.61 in points = .38

5/3: Walmart (Savings = $7.00 coupons, .56 sales, plus I scored a 9 ct box of Ferrero Roche for .87. My daughters favorites!)

2 (quart size) Rice Dream Rice Milk $2.24 each – (2) $1.00 coupons = $2.48 for both

2 (pouches) chocolate syrup $2.00 each (Sale, were $2.28 each) – (2) $1.00 coupons = $2.00 for both

1 package Hershey’s Minis $2.88 – $1.00 coupon = $1.88

2 (40 ct) Wet Naps $1.97 each – (2) $1.00 coupons = $1.94 for both

6/7: Walmart (Savings = $1.00)

1 (8 ounce) Hormel Natural Choice Honey Ham $2.98 – $1.00 coupon = $1.98

6/14: Walmart (Savings = $3.00)

2 (1/2 gallons) Silk Almond Milk $3.28 each – (2) $1.00 coupons = $4.46 for both

1 (8 ounce) Kraft Shredded Cheese $2.88 – $1.00 coupon = $1.88

$48.51 savings in coupons

$11.51 savings in sales, specials, and rollbacks

$16.95 savings by using points

———-

$76.97 in savings + A great deal on Ferrero Roche + $5.00 award card + $2.00 in rewards points (+ all the points earned while shopping at K-Mart.)

As you can see, I have saved a lot of money by minimally using coupons. I was able to net a few extra good deals by using coupons on rollbacks, sales, and specials. And I have earned money by making a gift card purchase.

I know I could save more if I had more time to spend planning. And I might even save more by shopping at a place that doubles coupons. I haven’t been to the store to check prices and whatnot. I do plan to in the future.

I will be keeping track of my savings from here on out, and may update you on my progress at a later date.

Tell us about your savings adventures in the comments below.

You may also be interested in:

Shannon

A Simple Way to Organize Coupons

After reading the Extreme Couponing book, and checking out a bunch of blogs, I decided it was time to begin couponing in earnest. I have always been one to use a coupon here and there, but never took the time to really plan out a trip with coupons in mind.

In all honesty, I still do not necessarily plan around coupons in a big way. But I am doing so minimally, more so than before. I will likely build on my couponing skills as time goes by and I get more used to the process.

I did take a couple of hours the other day to set up my couponing system, and am glad to have that out-of-the-way. With my coupons organized, I am able to more easily find what coupons I need when I am shopping.

Below are the steps I took to set up my system.

NOTE: I was not paid or asked to promote books, websites, authors, or other products in this post here on the blog. I simply purchased and/used the products and visited the sites.

I first watched some of the Extreme Couponing shows on TLC. These shows interest me in that the people are able to buy so much for so little money. One young mother, living with family, did not have to burden her family with so many financial needs. Another woman’s family donates so much food and other items to members of her community, she is able to get her fans involved. It is truly amazing.

This prompted me to buy the book.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014

Joni Meyer-Crothers did an excellent job writing the book, and explaining all that is involved with couponing. The book helped me to understand the couponing process more, and gave me the boost needed to start down the couponing path I am now on.

The book explains different types of coupon organization systems. For instance, many people use binders with index dividers to separate categories, and plastic see-through sports card pages for the coupons.

After reading this book, I had a real good idea of the system that I wanted to set up.

I then went on to Amazon.com and ordered my organizer.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014

This is a simple poly 13 pocket coupon organizer, with tabs and inserts for labeling, and an extra pocket in the front to hold gift and reward cards.

It looks like this on the inside:

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014

Once I had the organizer in my possession, I set aside a couple of hours to set up my system.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014

I already had a bunch of coupons cut out. They had resided in a paper envelope, that was badly in need of replacement. The coupons were not organized in the least.

I also had a bunch of inserts I still hadn’t gone through, and a few magazines with good coupons in them.

First, I threw out all the expired coupons. On reflection, I will most likely be looking for a base to send these to in the future.

Then I grouped still usable coupons by like products. For example, hair care products in one pile, cleaning products in another. I had quite the number of piles when I finished.

Next, I went through the inserts and the magazines, cutting out the coupons I might actually use if I find a good enough deal on the products. I placed these coupons on the proper piles, and added a few more groups of coupons to my collection.

I then had to decide how to combine these piles in a way that made the most sense to me.

There were thirteen pockets to work with, and that was all.

I made a list. (Yes, I am a list person.)

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014

In case you are unable to read the list in the photograph, here it is:

Front Pocket: Gift Cards, Rewards Cards

1. (Shopping) List, Current Coupons (The coupons I will use during that trip. If I will be visiting more than 1 store, I will have a list for each with the correct coupons paper clipped to each.

2. Mainly Paleo (I consume a mostly Paleo diet, so this section is important for me. There are not always good coupons for this diet, so I look extra hard for them.)

3. Herbs, Spices, Condiments (Again, I use mainly Paleo versions, but there is not always such a version for what I need, and I do not always have the time to make something from scratch. So half the coupons are not for Paleo items, but are for things I will use if I have to – once in a while.)

4. Other Foods (A Paleo diet can be an expensive way to eat. When funds are low, I will eat non Paleo foods. That is what this section in my coupon organizer is for. I try to buy items from this category, but the coupons are good to have on hand just in case.)

5. Paper, Plastic, etc. (Trash bags, toilet paper, etc.)

6. Office Supplies (I am a writer.)

7. Cleaning

8. Vitamins, Meds, etc. (First aid as well.)

9. Shaving, Deodorant, etc.

10. Shampoo, Body wash, etc.

11. Other products (Household, clothing, etc.)

12. Restaurants (I usually order food once a week for dinner at work, trying to keep it as close to Paleo as I can.)

13. Store coupons, Receipts

So then I had to fill out the little tab inserts, slide them into the tabs, and place the coupons into the correct pockets. Easy peasy!

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014

And I have that little front pocket to put the reward and gift cards into. I also kept the extra tab inserts, in case I decide to change the pocket labels at a later date.

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014
Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2014

It really was an easy system to set up, and I am happy to have it available to bring shopping with me.

Tell us about your coupon system, or tell us about why you haven’t set one up yet. Maybe we can help!

You might be interested in:

Food Storage Using Sales and Coupons

Tips for Shopping Dollar Stores

Store Rewards Programs

Purchase from the Discount Carts

Eating Frugally in a Bad Economy

Shannon

Free Samples

Photo by: mimiliz on morguefile.com
Photo by: mimiliz on morguefile.com

I read that people acquire many freebies by filling out short request forms online. Some of these people seem to have many samples arriving at their home every week. I just don’t have time for all that. I work full-time, and I write.

I do receive a few newsletters that point me in the direction of many freebies, but I do not have the time to spend on filling out the request forms for each. I mainly spend a few minutes each week scanning the newsletters, and once in a while find something I might like to try, or something I already know I like.

I have received these freebies, over the course of about a two month period.

3 Britt perfume samples

9 ounce Arm & Hammer Truly Radiant toothpaste

1.7 ounce Repair and Protect Pantene shampoo

1.7 ounce Repair and Protect Pantene conditioner

2 samples of Tums

.16 ounce Garnier Clean Nourishing Cleansing Oil

a subscription to Family Circle magazine

I gave the perfume samples to a coworker because the scent wasn’t for me, and the Tums went into my purse so I can have them on hand the next time heartburn kicks in.

The rest of the samples I put into a basket and save for an evening when I want to pamper myself. The samples aid me in determining what products I will bother with in the future, and usually come with a coupon. Sometimes a product (full size) will be available at the dollar store, and I will have a $1.00 coupon, netting me another (almost) freebie… all I pay is tax.

While I do not have a lot of time to spend on finding and filling out forms to receive free stuff, what I do acquire is helpful in determining what products I want to buy in the future.

NOTE: Other than the freebies I received like anyone can, I have not been paid in any way by the companies in this post to mention their names or products.

Shannon

Sometimes, People Send Me Free Stuff

By: curugon on morguefile.com
By: curugon on morguefile.com

Every so often, someone will come across one of my blogs and email me. They want to know if they can send me things to try, and then write about them on a blog.

I do not always say yes.

Why? Sometimes I already know I don’t like the product. Other times, the product may not align with what I want in my life.

I don’t feel like wasting my time giving bad reviews for these types of things. So I just say no.

Back in April, Laura emailed me about sending a relaxation kit including some Softsoap Coconut Island Quench body wash.  I responded with “This sounds great to me! Tell me how to proceed.”

I gave her the information she needed, and waited for my box to arrive.

What was I expecting? A trial size of body wash, a cheap candle, and some type of massager…

What did I get?

  • 2 full size (15 ounce each) bottles of Softsoap Coconut Island Quench body wash (Smells amazing!)
  • 2 (1.3 ounce each) coconut scented candles in holders (Bath and Body Works. Also smell amazing!)
  • a bath pouf
  • a wooden muscle massager

This kit was sent to me by Colgate-Palmolive for review purposes, and I am happy to report that I am pleased!

I do intend to buy this body wash again. I will do so with coupons, hopefully coupled with sales to save as much as I can. I will also be checking out Bath and Body works during a sale.

So I wonder…

How many others are lucky enough to receive good products to review?

Shannon

Book Review: Extreme Couponing- Learn how to be a Savvy Shopper and Save Money… One Coupon at a Time by Joni Meyer-Crothers

These are the bottom shelves of my pantry shelving unit in the little room. Notice the two drawers at the bottom.
These are the bottom shelves of my pantry shelving unit in the little room. Notice the two drawers at the bottom.

Have you ever watched the show Extreme Couponing on TLC? I have seen a few of the episodes, so I was interested in reading this book.

My book review on Goodreads.com:

In this book, Joni Meyer-Crothers walks you through how she does her couponing. Her strategy nets her free items, as well as deeply discounted items, that allow her not only to take care of her family but also to help others on a large scale even while her husband is out of work.

Joni was a single parent for a while, and had gone hungry herself. She knows what saving all that money couponing can mean for a family.

She teaches couponing lingo, explains how to go about making transactions in detail, and walks you through the entire process of couponing for your family and others. And at the end of the book, she gives you more tips for living frugally.

*****

Learn how to save money on food, personal hygiene items, household cleaners and more.

I have used coupons minimally throughout the years, but not like this woman and others do.  My most recent trip to the store did not even net me any free items. However, I saved $3.00 on razors, a dollar on body wash, .50 on butter, and $1.00 on toothpaste, so it was not a total loss.

It is my plan to do far more couponing, but I don’t see me netting all those great freebies and very cheap prices. Why? I can’t seem to find a place that doubles or triples coupons.

Know of any?

Please let us know in the comments, or email me personally at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. And tell us how you save money by using coupons.

NOTE: One way I can see to net freebies, at least minimally, is at the dollar store.

Shannon

Business Idea: Trash to Treasure

Image By: alvimann at morguefile.com
Image By: alvimann at morguefile.com

If you are living frugally out of necessity, you may be open to a business Idea. I have seen wonderful creations made from people’s cast-offs. Tables and benches that have been redone, candlesticks made from shortened bedposts and other items, and little girl dresses made from old pillow cases. There are a plethora of things that can can be made from “trash”, if someone wants to take the time to do so.

Many of the items used to make “new” things can be found free of charge, or at a small cost. When figuring the price you want to sell for, consider the cost of the item(s), as well as the cost of materials needed to fix it up or to create something new. Also, figure in your time. Small items will not take as much of your time as larger items. The more time you spend creating or fixing something, the more you can charge.

Not only can you earn money on these items, but you are also preventing unnecessary waste. There is no reason for much of what goes into landfills to be placed there. You can prevent this waste by working with cast-offs, earning yourself a little money on the side. Who knows, you may decide to make a career of it.

This venture may be an in-season one, gleaning from yard sales and flea markets, as well as community clean-up days, or it might be a year-round one. You decide. Maybe it will simply be a when the mood strikes kind of deal. However you look at it, you can be earning money.

Making this a business venture means spending a good deal of time on it, likely year-round. If you want to consider it a business, then you will have to invest the time and some amount of money up front to get started. And you will have to learn some basic business practices and at least minimal record keeping skills. Keep receipts. All of them. And an inventory list.

Shannon

Live on Less

Photograph by: Clarita on Morguefile.com
Photograph by: Clarita on Morguefile.com

In order to live on less, it is necessary to make some tough choices. You have to be aware of what is truly necessary in life, and what is not. The difference between wants vs. needs.

For instance, having a cell phone so you can keep in touch with people no matter where you are is a desire. A want. Not a need. On the other hand, having a cell phone because you have a child with a serious medical condition might be classified as a need. People should be able to contact you at any time if there is a problem. Now, having a cell phone with the ability to get online is not really a need, unless you are a business person who uses certain apps for that business.

Now that you can pin point exactly what you need, this tips will aid you living on less:

  1. Start looking into ways to save money on utilities. There are ways to use water, gas, oil, electricity, etc. that will save you money. Research ways online, and check with your local utility companies.
  2. Find ways to spend less at the grocery store. Think store brands, and coupling coupons with sales, including clearance sales.
  3. Figure out how you can spend less on clothing and other basic needs. Visit church and other thrift stores. Come up with a yard sale plan. Wait for sales. You can even purchase items online with coupons.
  4. Decide what you have to spend more on. For instance, someone with bad feet may need to purchase Sketchers with the rounded bottoms or their feet will hurt them so badly they cannot walk. This is fine. Cut corners elsewhere. NOTE: I do have this issue, and I buy Sketchers to help with my foot problems. They are sold on the sketchers website. These sneakers used to cost over $100.00, but the site has them reduced to under $50.00. The last time I had to make a purchased, I found a coupon that enabled me to purchase two pair at about $70.00. I was very happy with that purchase!

Let us know how your family is living on less in the comments, or email me privately at shannonlbuck@gmail.com. I always answer my emails :)

Shannon

Top 10 Tips for Frugal Living

Image By: cohdraon morguefile.com
Image By: cohdraon morguefile.com

With the need to spend so much money on rent/mortgage and the bills, it is necessary to save money in other areas of life. Living frugally is becoming a necessity for more and more people each year, and these tips will help you along the way:

  1. Look for other modes of transportation to get you back and forth to work, as well as to other places. Transportation for a Healthier Planet will provide you with good ideas that will save you a good deal of money.
  2. How to Reuse 10 Common Household Items will set you along the path of saving even more money, and give you ideas for reusing items.
  3. Stop using cheap plastic food containers. Consider buying glass containers, and using canning and other jars. Save money in the long run, and be healthier.
  4. If you are a crafter, learn to repurpose your old scraps. Doing so will provide you with plenty of opportunities for new projects that you will spend next to nothing on.
  5. There are programs out there specifically geared toward helping seniors. Read Free Food for Seniors if you are low on money.
  6. Find different ways to entertain your family, such as going for nature walks or hanging out at the park. These activities are free and will bring your family together more than going to the movies.
  7. Learn how to orchestrate affordable celebrations for Christmas, Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July. And find ways to make gift giving more affordable.
  8. Shop the dollar stores when it will really save you money.
  9. Take advantage of store rewards programs. Use the cards during sales (with coupons!) and earn points toward free merchandise.
  10. Shop yard sales productively. Remember to always have a plan.

How do you practice living the frugal life? Share your best tips in the comments, or email me personally at shannonlbuck@gmail.com.

Shannon

Tips for Stocking Your Pantry: Food, Personal Hygiene, and Household Items

Photograph by: JessicaGale on Morguefile.com
Photograph by: JessicaGale on Morguefile.com

With regular food costs, as well as prices of other necessary items, not getting any lower, it is important to find ways to cut costs as much as possible where we can. If one has the space, a pantry is a great way to stock up on items in a way that saves money over the long run.

How?

There are some simple ways to save money on items you will need over a period of time. For instance, you can:

  • Shop when items are on sale, for starters.
  • Better yet, clearance sales save even more money. Be sure to check expiration dates. You will want to use these items before they go bad.
  • Couple a regular or clearance sale with coupons for more significant savings.
  • Always keep money in an envelope, placed in your purse. This money is set aside to be used specifically for stock up purposes. You never know when a store may be having a good in-store deal that has not been advertised.
  • Be sure you are only buying what you will use. It is a waste of money to let products expire.
  • If you can get items free of charge with coupons, do so. Even if you will not use them, someone you know may want these items. Or, you can donate them.
  • When you patron yard sales, look for items such as partially used shampoos and conditioners. You can often get an almost full bottle for a quarter. Even new bottles of personal hygiene and cleaning supplies can be purchased.
  • Also at yard sales, you may find Mary Kay, Tupperware, or even Avon items, all new, at great prices. Stock up when you do, if you will use the items.
  • Dollar stores are great as well. For example, shampoo is sold for a dollar. If you have a coupon for just a quarter off, you are only going to pay .75. Ask at each location you frequent if they accept coupons, as many do. If you can find .50 cent coupons on any items, or better ones, try to find more coupons and stock up.

How do you save money on stock up items? Let us know in the comments, or email me personally at shannonlbuck@gmail.com.

Shannon

Living the Low-Income Lifestyle, When You don’t Have To

By anitapeppers on morguefile.comA lot of people live the low-income lifestyle out of necessity, it is true. But that is not so for everyone.

There are many people who do not need to live frugally, but choose to just the same.

Why? For a variety of reason including:

  1. They want to save for a family vacation.
  2. The money they save is what will pay for their wedding.
  3. Taking a year off work to travel the United States is their life dream.
  4. They want to build a well-stocked pantry, to be prepared for anything that may happen, such as loss of job or serious illness.
  5. A couple may want to start a family, and one wants to stay home with their children.
  6. To save for retirement.

These are just a handful of reasons why someone who does not necessarily have to may choose to live below their means. There are others.

However you look at, the desire is there. This is a good thing, that teaches many valuable lessons in the long run.

How might you get started living more frugally? To begin with, you might:

  • Keep a jar handy for loose change and dollar bills.
  • Put a certain amount every day into the jar, such as $2.00 or $5.00, on top of the loose change.
  • Use coupons when you find a good sale, and add that change to your jar.
  • Cut back on services such as channels you do not have time to watch.
  • Downgrade to a domestic car that uses less gas, placing the money you save each week into the jar.
  • Downgrade to a smaller home with smaller payments, or a place that uses less energy, or replace appliances with energy saving models when ready, placing the money saved into the jar.
  • Learn to shop dollar stores, thrift shops, clearance sales and yard sales.
  • Learn to cook from scratch.
  • Cut how often you go out in half. Find more affordable ways to enjoy yourself at home.

Put the money saved into a savings account at your local credit union, and maybe look into ways to make that money grow. Maybe CD’s. Research well, and choose investment options that fit your needs.

There are some people who do not believe in the use of financial institutions, and this is fine. Other options include:

  1. Stocking your pantry.
  2. Paying off vehicles.
  3. Paying down the principle on your mortgage.
  4. Getting rid of credit cards after paying them off.
  5. Paying off student loans.
  6. Furthering your education for a better career path.
  7. Starting your own business, as long as it is one that will hold up in a bad economy.
  8. Making home repairs.

What will you do with money you save?

Shannon

New Name. Same Blog.

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