Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My Soap Box -Then the 3/8 Shopping Extravaganza

A lot of you have asked me how exactly the whole 'couponing' thing works, so I am going to start working that out for you all!  First a side note......

Here is my soap box:  Now, I have ALWAYS been a pretty darn saavy shopper- looking for sales, finding coupons to go out to eat, buying local yearly coupon books, giving into fundraisers, ect ect ect.  Lately it has gone to an extreme, for a couple reasons. 

  • First.... A fool and his money are soon parted.  For many years I have worked two jobs and had more money than I really needed.  At the same time I was bombarded with debt and stress.  I didn't understand how to make my hard earned money work for me.  Scott and I would go out to eat often, 'forget' the coupon at home and make foolish purchases without barely thinking it through.  We, like many Americans these days think of the 'now' instead of the later and were 'wanters' not 'needers'
  • Second- As many of you know- we made a huge sacrifice 3 years ago- We left our 'good' jobs, home, friends and (my) family in Alaska and headed to Idaho to make sure that we would be a part of Alexia's life.  This was a no brainer at the time which it why it was such an easy decision to make, however it turned our world upside down.  Scott was able to find a job that he settled into as soon as we moved here.  We found a house that we liked online and drove right up to it upon our arrival.  The sellers agreed to let us 'rent' until I found a job to qualify and purchase the house.  Everything seemed fine until it turned out it took me 5 months to find a job and it was a Temp position at that.  I held that job for 7 months, then it ended.  5 MORE months out of work and then I found another Temp position at another company (that barely paid more than unemployment and I was already pregnant at this point).  I worked there for 4 months, and then that position ended.  Here I was, 7 months pregnant, no job and still fairly new to the area.  We got by on Scott's income and my unemployment ok.  I focused on not having the 'best' stuff for Tyler, rather functional and necessary items.  After he arrived last March, I was still getting unemployment and we were getting by fine.  To make a LONG story short, my unemployment was denied when Tyler was around 5 weeks old and I was faced with what no one wants to face....... Not enough money to pay the bills and a brand new baby to take care of.
  • I fought my unemployment denial like crazy for the next 6 months or so.... continuously got denied.  We were stuck in a rock and a hard place.  It seemed like everything that could go wrong, did.  Instead of being a volunteer at the local Food Bank (which I had been doing to keep myself busy)  I found that I needed them.  We didn't qualify for any assistance from the state or any local programs, and to top it off we only had one car.  Finally, in the summer of 2010, I came across a permanent position at the company that I had the first Temp job at.  I applied and forgot about it.  In case any of you don't know- It is REALLY hard to find a job right now.  The area I live in is pretty horrible for that.  In July of 2010, I got an interview and a week or so after, was offered the job.  I now have a position that I feel is stable, good pay and great benefits.  I have been here for 7 months and feel at home.
The reason for this soap box is to let you know that I was a fool.  After TRULY feeling what it is to struggle, Scott and I stepped back and found the way.  We are now 'needers' instead of 'wanters' (Although we are human and 'want' things.... we just don't grant ourselves the satisfaction of it...all the time.)

Couponing is a way to make sure that we have what we need when we need it and if we have a rough month where we can't afford something, we have our stockpile to fall back on.  It also is a great way to get a thrill at the grocery store.  AND, a great way not only to get a discount on items, but a GREAT way to start saving cash. (I'll touch on 'SAVINGS') at another time.

3/8 Shopping Extravaganza - I have to admit, this wasn't the BEST shopping trip, but pretty dang good!  I had a coupon for EVERY SINGLE thing in this picture (including the produce- in fact almost all the produce was FREE)...wait.... oops I threw the St Pat's Day shirt for Tyler in the mix ($4) that wasn't in the original budget....yeah yeah- broke my own rules. 

Albertsons- Retail $42.93 - I pd $14.78
Walmart- Retail $106.91 - I pd $55.86

Total Retail $149.84 and I paid $70.64 

I got *more* than 50% off my groceries today :)

The type of coupons I had today were as follows:

  • Twice the Value coupons from Albertsons (Walmart accepts them too, so I used at both places)
  • Many were regular manufacturers coupons from the Sunday paper for example;
    • B1 Vicks product, get a free box of puffs tissue- so I bought Vicks tissues and got Vicks tissues free
    • $1 off 1 Dannimals product.  I had 4 of these and doubled them all with the 2x the value coupons, so the little packs I got for .49 cents each and the 12 packs I got for around $2.50 each.  My problem was that I shopped too late and so things like the Dannimals were limited supply :(
  • Most my coupons I used in conjunction with another coupon.  This is not doubling or stacking, I just think being smart!  THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT TO GET THE MOST FOR YOUR MONEY!!!  I figured out this handy system when I found some coupons on e-bay for 'FREE PRODUCE -up to $1, WYB 2 Kraft dressings'.  I purchased a ton of these coupons in January -Expiration date is late March.  I was patient and watched carefully on e-bay for coupons to go on auction for at least $1/1 bottle of Kraft dressing.  I knew that if I could wait and find those, that I would be able to wait for 2X the value coupons to come out from Albertsons and then do my shopping at Walmart.  The REGULAR price at Walmart for the Kraft salad dressing is $2.  I had (7) coupons for $1/1 bottle.  I had my Albertsons 2X the value coupons.... AND I used (3) 'FREE PRODUCE -up to $1, WYB 2 Kraft dressings'...........essentially I came out of that scenario with (7) bottles of Kraft dressing and $3 worth of produce for FREE.... I paid NOTHING!!!
  • I had other coupons that I used with each other.... You can probably see that I have A LOT of chips going on up there....  I had the following coupons (and yes, I had to think very carefully about this transaction to make sure everything was correct):
    • (3) coupons for 1 FREE dip -WYB 2 Lays family size chips
    • (2) coupons for 1 FREE bag of Kettle chips- WYB any 2 bays Lays
    • (4) coupons for $1 in FREE Produce- WYB 1 bag of 'made w/ natural ingredients' Lays
      • In a nut shell- I paid full price for 6 bags of chips, but in return, I got all the following for FREE:
        • 3 jars Tostitos Queso $8.94 value
        • 2 bags Kettle Chips $5.56 value
        • Produce of my choice $4 value
I totally dig on the WYB coupons. 
Last week I had another scenario shown below that is a good example of using several coupons in conjunction with each other:
3/5 Walmart and Walgreens: Total Retail $68.77  I paid $28.12

My fancy WYB coupons were:
  • B3G1 Can Chefboyardee (Walmart had them the cheapest @ .87 ea)
  • FREE snackpack pudding WYB 4 Chefboyardee
  • I PAID for 21 cans of CBRD and got 7 cans FREE and 7 packs of Pudding FREE

Not sure what is going on with the format of the blog right now, so I'll wrap it up for today.  For those of you who are just getting started with couponing, here are a couple good websites to get you started: (my personal favorite) (purchase groups of coupons for very little) (for printable coupons) ('like' pages and you'll get deals/coupons sent to you)

Weekly ads: (Help you figure out your list before you even leave your chair)

Also- Call your local newspaper and ask them what their special is for bundles of Sunday papers.  I currently get 5 Sunday papers for $3.12 a week.  (Obviously the coupons are worth WELL more than that!)  Only trick here is that you will typically have to pay up front, but I was able to do it in a 13 week span, so it wasn't very costly.

Signing out!

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