Coupon Inserts

Grocery Coupons - Tearpad shelf display of cou...

Well, I took a little stroll down to the neighborhood store to pick up today’s newspaper.  I had read some previews about what coupons would be in the inserts and knew my savings would more (much more) than pay for the cost of the paper.  I ended up buying two papers…after checking to make sure all the inserts were in both papers.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought a newspaper, come home with it and found no inserts in it at all.  Do people steal them?  Do they not manage to get them in every newspaper?  I don’t know.  I just knew I wasn’t going to miss out on these today.  I bought the papers and a small bottle of chocolate milk. That was my treat to myself for getting outside and walking this morning even though it was still pretty darn cold.

I’ll be visiting CVS a couple times this week for sure…well…for sure, unless we get the big ice storm they’re talking about (no… no more ice, no more snow, no more winter…I’m beyond ready for spring).  I use Natural Instincts hair color and it’s on sale at CVS this week and there was a $2 coupon in the paper…bonus!!  I need some foundation and the Physicians Formula has a great ECB associated with it this week.  And the Skippy peanut butter, Lipton tea and Ragu pasta sauce are all on sale.  I have coupons for each and there is a nice ECB with that purchase too.  That’ll be tomorrow’s visit.  I’m hoping to come up with additional coupons for the Natural Instincts.  If I do, I’ll definitely go back for more…can’t beat $3.99 on that brand of hair color.

My second visit’s purchases will depend on how many additional coupons I can come up with (some people I work with give me the coupons they don’t use, so we’ll see).  I do want to buy a couple bottles of the Arm & Hammer laundry detergent (BOGO..and I have coupons…you just gotta love CVS’ coupon policy…can save some serious money). 

 I’m slowly getting my little stockpile built up.  I would really like to eventually have enough cleaning and health and beauty supplies to last me a year.  Then I could just replenish what I use when there’s a great sale that I can combine with coupons.  I guess I feel “safer” knowing that I have enough to get by if something unexpected should happen.  I’ve always done this with cat food, had enough for at least a month on hand.  I guess now it’s time to take care of myself at least as well as I take care of that crazy little cat!

Kroger mega sale with coupons

A box of Irish Breakfast tea sold by Twinings

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My first trip to Kroger using coupons and really trying to get some good deals.  I had my list, a plan for what to buy to fulfill the requirements for the sale and a few alternates just in case.  I did okay, but definitely didn’t win any extreme couponing awards.  I spent $113 but saved $66…decent…better than I’ve ever done before, for sure.

I did buy 10 cans of DelMonte vegetables to get my pantry refilled (I use a lot of canned veggies when I make soup) and 5 cans of Hunt’s tomatoes, 2 cans of Hunt’s tomato sauce and 3 cans of Ro-Tel tomatoes (had a coupon for $1 off 3 Ro-Tel products)…so that’s two mega deals for a total of  $8.80.  My next deal (I actually did all of these in one transaction) consisted of 6 Balance Bars (had two coupons for $1 off 3) for a total of $1, 3 Honest Teas (had three 50 cent coupons that doubled so this was actually a money maker) that I actually ended up being 63 cents to the good and 1 box of Keenex for $1.19.  So the third deal came to $1.56.   My fourth deal was 2 packs of Kraft cheese slices (had two $1 off coupons) for 98 cents, 1 Ghiradelli brownie mix for $1.99, 2 cans of Progresso soup (had 50 cent coupon off two) for $1.38, 2 boxes of Ritz crackers (had $1 coupon off 2) for 2.47, 1 Silk Almond Milk (had a coupon for 75 cents) for $1.24, 1 Edy’s ice cream for $2.79, and 1 Digiorno pizza for $4.49…total on that deal came to 15.34.  That was the end of my mega sale savings.  I thought I came out of that in pretty good shape.

I also purchased five 6-packs of the bottles of diet Pepsi…thought I’d given it up, but I found myself buying a diet soda from the vending machine at work every day and decided  I might as well not spend so much money and actually get the product that I like (quitting is another story for another blog).

I bought fresh fruits and veggies, milk, bread, the natural peanut butter I like, string cheese (I had a coupon for string cheese by Kraft, but it still came to more than the CowPals so I just bought the one I always buy), pasta sauce, Kroger brand of  lunch meat (for lunch for work next week), Charmin (had a $3 coupon loaded on my Kroger card) that was less than any of the other brands even with coupons, 2 tubes of Pillsbury crescent rolls, 2 boxes of Twinings Irish Breakfast tea (my favorite tea), 2 cartons of Minute Maid oj (had a B1G1 coupon), Back To Nature flaxseed crackers, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, 2 packages of Dove candy for Valentine’s Day, and a box of Crispix (can’t believe I didn’t have a coupon for that).

So I came home with a lot of food and beverages as well as some household supplies…got a few more things for my stockpile…just building it up slowly.  I know I’ll get better at this as I go on, but I’m encouraged by how much I was able to save today.  And there are four coupon inserts in the newspaper on Sunday..have already seen a sneak preview of the CVS ad and the mega deals at Kroger next week and it looks like there will be some good deals there as well!  I’m going to stick to my budget on groceries next week though…I won’t spend more than $50!  I’ll buy the fresh produce, milk, bread and peanut butter that I have to have and then go from there…I know I can do this!

Trying to plan a Kroger shopping trip…and getting stressed about it

Kroger logo

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This is my first time attempting to plan my Kroger shopping trip around what’s on sale and what I have coupons for…and it’s really stressing me out!  Now I’ve shopped at Kroger for many years. I’m familiar with the layout of my store and the coupon policy, so what’s the big deal, right?  I think I must be putting pressure on myself to get the best deals possible. The crazy thing is, I never worried about that  before so I’m not really sure why I’m letting it get to me now.

I’ve gone through the ad, my paper coupons and the coupons that are loaded on my Kroger card.  I’ve reviewed the deals and matchups that several other bloggers have written about.  I’ve been writing everything down in a little journal…how much of what to buy, what coupons I have, the price before and after coupons.  Am I making this more difficult than it actually is? 

I want to buy things that are really good deals and that are good items for me to stockpile (the Hunt’s tomatoes and Ro-Tel tomatoes are two items that I use a lot, so I want to  buy several cans of each).  I’ve gone through my coupons and have pulled together all the coupons I have on hand for the items I intend to buy.  I’ve also pulled out coupons for things I might buy depending on how well I stay within my budget.  I’m keeping those coupons separate.  I know Kroger sometimes has unadvertised specials and I want to be prepared if I come across a good deal. 

I also started sorting out my coupons today.  I’ve seen some really great ideas about organizing coupons.  I’m afraid my organizational method doesn’t even come close to some of the others, but I decided I had to start somewhere.  I started with what I had on hand (without spending any additional money…isn’t that a big part of why I’m doing this?).  I had a nice large clear plastic file storage box that I got at Michaels for next to nothing a while back.  I started filing my clipped coupons in these really pretty files (I’m pretty sure I bought those at Michaels as well, on clearance).  One good thing about this box is I have plenty of room to grow my coupon collection.  When I went to take a picture of the box and files, the battery on my camera was dead.  It’s recharging right now, so hopefully I’ll have some pictures later.

I’ve read several blogs today previewing the coupon inserts that will be in this Sunday’s newspaper…up to 4 inserts with lots of coupons for items I regularly purchase.  Very cool!  Now, do I really need to buy more than one newspaper as many bloggers suggest?  I’m debating with myself over that one.  A couple women I work with give me their inserts (after they take the coupons they want), but the problem with that  this week is that I’m pretty sure we’ll all be wanting the same coupons.  What to do, what to do?!

I’m definitely heading out to Kroger in the morning.   I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll come away with some bargains without adding any additional stress to my already stressed life.  I need to remember that I’m doing this as a challenge to myself to spend less and live life more fully.  I don’t have to be perfect (thank goodness).  I just have to make the attempt…and I’m doing it!

Fun evening with friend

Torino 2 settembre 2008 Teatro Regio The Cleve...

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My friend called me Monday night and wanted to know if I’d go to see the Cleveland Orchestra with her (she won the tickets).  I wasn’t wild about the idea, but I told her I’d go with her anyhow.  We went out to dinner and did a little shopping before we headed to the auditorium.   On the shopping front, we stopped in at CVS again…this time I bought another bottle of the Xtra detergent and 3 packages of the Extra dessert gum (I’d really been wanting to try the chocolate mint).  I had a coupon for the gum (and was wishing I’d printed 2 coupons for the detergent when I had the chance…live and learn, right?) and $2 ECB..so I ended up spending 99 cents for my purchase, saving $6.16…now I’m thinking that’s pretty cool!  And I did remember to get a raincheck for the Crest rinse…I’m bad about forgetting to get a raincheck until after I’ve left the store…but my good friend was there to remind me…isn’t it great to have friends?!

On to the orchestra…I couldn’t believe how great our seats were…face value of the tickets was $59 each (not a bad freebie value, right?)  But the orchestra…not exactly my style.  Of course, they were extremely talented (I can’t begin to imagine the hours and hours of rehearsal), but the music just didn’t really appeal to me.  I honestly tried to go into the evening with an open mind, but wow…I just couldn’t get into it.  There was one bit where the lead violin guy (see how much I know about this?!) played beautifully…I did enjoy that.  But that was about it.  Yep, I’m definitely not a classical kind of gal..give me some old time rock any day.

My friend didn’t enjoy the music either, but hey, it was free and it was something neither of us had done before…and it’s also something that neither of us is likely to do again in the future.  I told her if she won tickets to the opera to call someone else, but if she scored some tickets to River Dance or any kind of Celtic music, count me in!!  And it’s always good to get together with friends, even if we do something that turns out to be a bit of a disappointment…you never know until you try!

From QVC queen to couponing

Oh my, amazing how much money I’ve spent shopping at QVC over the past few years.  I never gave it a thought.  I would see something that I thought looked good, fun, interesting…whatever…and I’d order it.  I can’t tell you how many times I ended up with something that I didn’t really have a lot of use for.  To give them credit, I very rarely had an issue with the quality of their products, but QVC shopping sure does lend itself to a lot of impulse shopping.  And, since I put it on a credit card, it didn’t really seem like spending money.  Whoa…is that some kind of messed of thinking, or what?

At the end of 2010, when I was assessing my life and trying to decide what I could do to find more balance, I seriously looked at my spending habits for the first time.  What an eye opener!  I’m a long way from perfection right now (and really, do any of us ever attain perfection?  probably not), but I’ve been keeping meticulous records of my spending (where, when, what and why) and I’ve been using coupons.  I haven’t totally started keeping track of my savings with coupons (any suggestions for how to implement that?), but I intend to.

My first step to end my QVC habit was to cancel all of my auto deliveries.  That was difficult with some of the items that I love (Philosophy’s Amazing Grace), but I decided I do have enough on hand right now.  I’m going to give myself permission to order more of something I particularly love every once in a while, just not every month.  When I looked at how much I was spending with all  of these plans, I realized I was often spending close to $200 a month…are you kidding me?  $200 a month?  Holy moly, what could I have done with that money over the past several years? 

I guess becoming aware of our habits truly is the first step in making change.  And I am looking to make some major changes in my life…one step at a time!

CVSing

Today was my second CVS shopping excursion.  I have to say, I wasn’t overly enthused about what was in the ad this week.  I did buy a Garnier mousse that was on sale for $2.97 and I had a $1 coupon, so that made it $1.97.  I also bought the Xtra laundry detergent which was on sale for $1.49 and I had a $1 coupon on that as well..unbelieveable to get a bottle of detergent for just 49 cents!  I also bought a bottle of the CVS brand of headache relief (I had a coupon for Excedrin, but even with the buy one get one half off sale and coupon, it wasn’t much different…and I usually buy the WalMart brand double pack, just knew I probably wasn’t going to have time to make it to WalMart this week and I needed the pain reliever NOW…this definitely shows me why I need to stockpile…I’m learning).  I also bought the green bag  tag.  I’m a big believer in bringing my own bags, how nice to get rewarded for doing so.

Funny, I just noticed everything I bought today was green…goes along with bringing my own bags, huh?!  Anyhow, I ended up spending $6.17 and saved $8.82 (would have been a lot less if I didn’t have to buy the pain reliever today).  I feel pretty good about that.  I did look at the clearanced makeup, but I honestly have so much makeup on hand now that I don’t really need anything (I probably have more than enough to make it through the end of the year without having to buy anything), and part of what I’m trying to do is live more frugally so I don’t want to spend money on things I don’t really need.

A friend called me tonight.   She won tickets to see the Cleveland Orchestra and wanted to know if I wanted to go with her..now, I’ve never been to see an orchestra but I told her I’d go..got to be open to new experiences, right?  Anyhow, she wants to go out to eat and do a little shopping beforehand…now I may look through some of the ads of stores I don’t usually make it to and see if I can score some good deals…We’ll see what bargains tomorrow holds!

Searching for balance

This morning I woke up about 10 minutes before the alarm went off.  I actually had a decent night’s sleep, for a change.  I got up, fed the cats and hopped on the exercise bike for a bit of cardio.  Then I did my daily bootcamp video from SparkPeople.com.  I ended up not doing my strength training this morning (so had to do that after I got home from work).  I then prepared my breakfast…my usual..a Thomas’ 110 calorie whole wheat bagel, Smuckers natural peanut butter, 6 oz oj, 8 oz skim milk and a cup of Irish Breakfast tea…what can I say?  I really like this and it’s relatively healthy and keeps me from being ravenous before lunch. 

I decided to see what was happening in the world (or at least my little corner of it) while eating my breakfast.  Checked out facebook to see what my friends were up to…facebook may have some issues, but it sure is a handy way to keep in touch with several friends and family members.  I stayed on the computer just a little too long and ended up having to rush to get ready for work.

Work was okay, not great but not terrible either.  I managed to get a lot done, enjoyed working with the people who were scheduled today, did some kidding around and managed not to let one of my coworkers irritate me.  Got out of there about an hour early, nice treat!  

 I spent the last three and a half months of 2010 working way too many hours, not keeping in contact with friends and family,  not getting enough sleep or exercise and eating junk. Today I was able to find a way  to balance work and home…it felt good and allowed me  to enjoy my day.  I know I can’t always leave work early, that there will still be days when I don’t eat well or get enough exercise…but the joy is in the journey and I’m planning to find something joyous in every step!

Talked myself out of spending money today!

I was at Michaels today….love that store!!  Anyhow, they had their Christmas stuff marked down to 90% off.  I looked at it, but decided I didn’t really need any more decorations or wrapping paper (I bet I have enough wrapping paper and gift bags to last at least 5 years!)

BUT…they also had some home decor items marked at 90% off…gorgeous pottery vases and containers, some kind of large woven (grass?) vases and several styles of baskets.  I really liked the pottery style containers and seriously considered buying a couple.  One I particularly liked was marked down to $1.69 and another was $1.99.  So I start talking with myself…silently…don’t want people thinking I’m any crazier than they already think I am!!  “Do I really need another piece of pottery when I have the entire cabinet above the fridge filled with pottery containers and glass vases?  Is this something that I’ll end up putting away and eventually donating to Goodwill or posting on Freecycle?”

So…talked myself out of spending the money on something that would really have been just an impulse purchase.  Yes, the amount was negligible..but that’s often how I’ve justified spending money my entire life…I’m only now realizing that those few dollars here and there will add up to a significant savings.  I think this whole frugal living thing is kicking in…I’m actually embracing it and feeling good about it.  In the past, when I’ve tried to save money (or spend less), I’ve felt deprived.  Now I feel empowered…very cool!

I did buy a couple of baskets…one was small enough to fit in the cubby hole in my desk…and I’ve actually been looking for exactly that.  The other one was a large basket that I’m going to use in my bedroom closet..another thing that I’ve been looking for over the past several weeks.  I spent $1.69 on the small basket and $2.79 on the larger one…so I guess I didn’t actually not spend any money today, but I sure spent less than I would have in the past.  Oh, and I had a gift card to make my purchases…and there’s still money on it…woohoo!!

Read a blog today that was listing some of the things that CVS will have on sale next week. One of the items was Xtra laundry detergent for $1.49…and they provided a link for a $1 coupon…49 cents for laundry detergent.  Seriously?  I’ve never tried that brand, but I’m willing to give it a whirl…and I just read about their coupon machines.  I didn’t notice it when I was there the other day, maybe not all stores have them?  Of course, I wasn’t looking for it either.  But you can bet I will be on my next visit!

Obtaining coupons

Wow…I had no idea that there were so many ways a person could get coupons.  I always just thought you found them in the Sunday paper and the occasional magazine.  Blogs have opened a whole new world of couponing to me.  I subscribe to several blogs now and am amazed at how much time people are able to put into them.  There’s so much info…what coupons are out there, where to get coupons, where to get the best deals by using coupons with what’s on sale.  I’m trying not to feel overwhelmed…trying to do the whole baby steps thing…learn as I go.  But it really is a lot of fun!

So I glanced through the Kroger ad online this evening and think I’ve come across a few good deals where I can combine a sale price with a coupon…Kraft singles on sale for $1.99 and I just printed off two coupons for $1 off 1 package..so that’d be just 99 cents..I think that’s pretty good.  And Kraft singles are actually something I buy and eat.

I’m wondering if I’m better off going to two different grocery stores…there’s a Kroger close to where I live and a Marsh a block from where I work.  I don’t usually go to Marsh, but I think I may give it a try on my lunch break one day next week.

I don’t subscribe to the newspaper, but a couple of the women I work with are going to give me the coupon inserts from their papers.  And I was able to print out a $10 off $30 purchase at PetSmart for one of them (I was telling her about using that coupon the other day and she said she’d like to have one if I could find it again). 

So I’m slowly building up my coupon stash.  Can’t wait to see how much I can save on my next trip to the grocery store (likely on Monday or Tuesday).  Who knew saving money could be so much fun?!

My First CVS Shopping Trip

Well, I did it…I took my list and my coupons and took the plunge.  I stopped at CVS after work last night.  I’ve been reading all of these blogs about how much money people save by shopping at CVS, buying things that are on sale, that they have coupons for and that offer ECBs.  Granted I didn’t have a lot of coupons since I just started getting into this whole couponing culture….but I had a few.

I needed Natural Instincts hair color (yes, I color my hair…have for years…and Natural Instincts is the least harsh on my hair), didn’t have a coupon, but it was on sale for $5.99…picked up one box.  Then I decided to try this ECB thing…picked up a tube of Crest toothpaste and some Tom’s of Maine deodorant (again no coupons for either, but I know I’ll have coupons for future purchases)…got 2ECBs for the Crest and 3 for the deodorant.  Did buy two bags of M&Ms, on sale for 2/$4, had a coupon for $1 off 2, so that made them $1.50 each and I got 1 ECB for that.  I also had a coupon for buy one get one free diet Coke (yeah, yeah…diet Coke and M&Ms…what’s wrong with this picture?) and buy one get one free Orbit gum.

So, got all of that for under $20 with $6 off a future purchase.  I really think I’ll do better in the future…one possible problem I could see with this is that I could end up buying things I don’t really need just to be using the coupons and ECBs…I have a plan for that tho…go through the ads, make a list of only the best deals of things I actually need, search thru my coupons and come up with the best possible scenario.  Then follow my list…but…do I also want to be just a little flexible in case I come across some fantastic deal on something I use?  Hmm…I’m going to have to give that some thought.

All in all, I’m feeling pretty good about my first attempt at CVSing…I didn’t come away with two bags of merchandise for under $1, but I believe this is something that I’ll get better at as I do it more often.  Anyhow…it was pretty fun!!

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