Friday, July 21, 2006

Crash Course Part 2

If you're coming in late to this fiesta and wondering what this is all about, please go here first.

To everyone else, Welcome To Attila the Mom's Crash Course on Sticking it to the Man.

Otherwise known henceforth as Screw U.

Just kidding.

In our last installment, we covered a lot of things, but the most important was:

1) Stay Organized

Your time is money in this endeavor, so the better organized you are, the less time you will waste fumbling around looking for stuff. If you invest the couple of hours on the outset to get your stuff together, the rest is pretty much cake.

Now let's go on to:

2) How to Get the Right Coupons

Here are some notes on coupons...

I know it's obvious, but it still has to be said. Don't clip coupons for things you will never ever use. People really do that (said Attilla the Mom sheepishly)!

Clip for things you are sure to use.

Clip coupons for things that you "might" use if the price is right. Even clip for things you thought you'd NEVER use but might be willing to try out if the price is REALLY right!

I'll include something about expanding your horizons in the next installment.

It really isn't worth buying 3 Sunday newspapers for the coupons, unless there a whole bunch of fabulous ones that can be doubled or tripled at your local store. What's the use of spending 1.50 on an issue for a couple of great 50 cent-off coupons?

If you've got local friends or relatives you can hit up for their discarded coupons, do so only if it's convenient (think time=money).

Now clip them all out and put them in your organizer.

Do it while you're watching your favorite TV show. Try to do it on Sunday! Will explain later!

In the future, use this time to move the the old coupons to the top.

Next step:

It really does pay to hook up with a coupon-clipping service.

What is a coupon-clipping service?

There are a bunch of them online. They clip zillions of coupons and offer them for a tiny "handling" fee (plus a small processing fee and shipping).

Most are legitimate Mom and Pop businesses.

Some are scammers, or high-end operators. They want you to pay a "join-up" fee for like $99.00 dollars, or require you to pre-purchase "vouchers" good for X amount of coupons from their service.

Run away. Run far far away. In my humble opinion, if you can't pay as you go, it's NOT a good thing.

I use two different companies and like them for different reasons (I'm sure there are other good ones out there if you look). This way, you only get the coupons YOU want, and depending on availabilty, as many as you want.

The Coupon Clippers is very organized, and it's easy to find what I'm looking for because they're listed by product-type. The only drawback is that for the most part, you have to buy a minimum of 5 of each coupon.

I don't mind. Their time is money and they have to make a living too.

This is the quantity thing I was talking about before, and explains why it might be good to team up with a pal or another couple.

The Coupon Master only requires a minimum of 3. They're a little tougher to browse---everything is listed alphabetically and not by product-type.

However, their customer service is absolutely the best. And they're really fast.

Note: Don't pay for priority mail. First class only takes about 2-3 days in the continental US. Priority mail will NOT get it there faster.

Both companies accept Paypal and Visa/Mastercard. I think you can even send them a check or money order in advance and open an "account" with them. Go take a gander and familiarize yourself with them.
Also check out their FAQs---especially their list of abbreviations (Like "DND means "Do Not Double" or NED means "No Expiration Date"), so you won't be caught with your pants down when trying to reach the finish line.

One really GREAT thing about these services is that you can get coupons for things that weren't necessarily offered in your own regional coupon inserts. I love it when I find this stuff!

I'll come back to this when it's time to put it in action in the next post.

Large grocery chains know which coupons are coming out on Sundays. In the majority of the cases, they WILL have a sale on an item during the lifetime of the coupon.

If you've planned ahead, you won't need the item/s immediately. It won't hurt to hang on to a coupon until a few days before expiration.

One of the notable exceptions is Mitchum anti-perspirant. Coupons are infrequent, sales are infrequent, and in my neck of the woods, the two seldom meet. Since it's the only thing Hubby will use, I've been confounded time and time again!

Don't worry too much if your store doesn't offer double or triple coupons. Mine don't. Sometimes if I have a whole bunch and there are some great sales that make it worth it (since most stores limit the doubling/tripling to 3 of each coupon) I'll hit them if I'm down in the city. The receipts I showed in the last post were just plain coupons. With the price of gas the way it is, I pay about 8 bucks for a round trip, and it isn't worth the hassle.

Sometimes I'll cut out the rebate coupons and use them if they are for $5 to $10. Basically it takes a little more effort than I'm willing to put out for $2.39 minus my stamp and envelope. If you've got the inclination, go for it!

Hopefully by now you've got your hands on the Wednesday sale circulars from your major grocery stores (In our area, I call them the big three---Albertson's, Safeway, and Kroger/King Soopers/City Market). Sit down and and study them for a minute.

Do they have any extended promotions? The ones I most often see are the "Spend $70 on selected items and receive $10 off a future shopping trip" or the "Buy More Save More". If you buy 3 or more of selected items you'll get coupons for money off future visits.

Kroger USED to have a promotion that said if you bought X amount of selected items you could get 20 cents off a gallon of gas at one of their affiliated stations. Haven't seen THAT one in awhile, although recently, Safeway had a promotion that offered 10 cents off a gallon at "their" gas stations.

There are some that offer movie tickets, but I don't bother. I just want cold hard cash. ;-)

These are the promotions (not the movie tickets!) that will save you the big bucks if you work them correctly. Take a good look at what their "selected" items are.

Spend some time going over the circulars. Hopefully if you do this each week, you'll get an idea of what items go on sale most often on a regular or semi-regular basis.

I guess I should say that for the most part, the things I'm talking about are boxed, frozen, canned or packaged in some way (hence, the coupons). I'll hit the "fresh" stuff up soon!

Catch up with you for the next installment in a couple of days! I'm working on one of the "Buy More, Save More" promotions as we speak, so I hope to be able to show it in action.

Later Gator!


34quinn said...

I am a frugal I love these posts...I not only use coupons ( of course only the ones on regularily purchased items) ..but also I will comparison shop and buy loss leaders.
I use a pantry to stock up.
Here is another great way to save.
on the internet...go to find a location nearest you.
They are everywhere USA and CANADA. you would be surprised how many little branches there are in your neighbourhood.
it is where you can give and find things FREE of charge.
Need a bike for your child>? post a request on freecycle and wait for the emails to roll in of offers. Have an old suitcase or dresser etc you need to get rid of but hate the thought of tossing it in the an OFFER on freecycle.

Those receiving the items do the picking up and you get to choose who you "gift" it to.

The only item not allowed on freecycle are live animals/ and services..but other than that anything goes...the key is NO MONEY offered or received for items.

Now big ticket items and newer things are generally not there but I have been amazed by the generousity of the things Offered on this site. ie) toys, clothes,furniture,right down to the kitchen sink,.

I have taken up enough time here in your comment section. But it is such a great resource and so many do not know about it.
ENJOY and happy freecycling.

Attila The Mom said...

Great ideas, Quinn!

Pendullum said...

I am a pantry type of gal...
I go to Chinatown for my sauces, I go to the Dollar store for my spices...
and I walk I do all my vegies fresh every second day...(I live in the city makes it a wee bit easier)
I walk everywhere...
and I find that every little bit helps...
Good luck sticking it to the man...
Still sad that you lost all your credits through the university...
That just bugs me...

Lisa Goldstein/Kelly Kelly said...

Holy cow, this is great stuff. I love the title of the school. Screw U. I'd enroll there any time.

Jod{i} said...

Awesome...I ran across these and thought you may(if you havent already) like to check it out...

Maritza said...

I am so ready to do this!!

Mr. Fabulous said...

Man, this is quite an ingenious operation!

Annie Drogynous said...

More great advice, thanks! However..

Why pay for coupons online when you can get them for free? There are tons of free sites that I use and that can easily be found.

My Krogers has it's own gas station. If you use their VIP discount card at the pump, you get at least 10 cents off the price. Not much but I think anything pretty much counts as far as gas is concerned.

shirley said...

Wowie. :~O

You realize you could've become a nuclear physicist with the dizzying intellect you've displayed!

erika said...

I just saw a coupon for Mitchum deodorant. $0.75.