Sunday, July 23, 2006

Crash Course Part 3: Putting it to Work

Welcome Back!

If you're just coming in at this post, go here and then here first.

My friend The Blair Bitch brought up a very good point in comments.

"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."

I think that's a fabulous idea! Any way you can get your hands on coupons is great!

I just don't always have/want to spend the time. I pay for coupons mainly for the convenience, and found that this is the best way for me. I like that I can find what I want by looking at one or the other sites I listed, make a couple of clicks and have 50 or 60 bucks in coupons delivered to my door already clipped and organized. I don't mind paying $4-5.00 for someone else to do the heavy lifting. :-)


Now that you have your basic tools at hand, let's get down to work. This installment is going to be pretty long, so bear with me.

Last time, I asked you to suss out the long-term promotions that might be offered in your Wednesday Sales Circulars. I offered up a couple that were consistent in my area.

Let's start with the "If you buy $70 dollars of 'selected products', you'll get $10 off on a future shopping trip".

This promotion has been offered by our Kroger/King Soopers/City Market franchise about 5 times a year.

What they don't always point out is that you can do this up to 50 bucks.

You just have to buy about $280.00 of "selected products".

Don't freak out. Have I ever actually paid $280 to get the $50 bucks off? Oh HELL no. This is where the "process" kicks in.

As I said previously, stores KNOW what coupons are being offered. In fact, you'll probably have coupons for a good number of those "selected products" in their promotion. They WANT you to use coupons. They get reimbursed by the manufacturer.

These promotions usually run 2 to 3 weeks. The "selected products" will stay the same, which gives you time to get all the coupons you need and make a couple of trips to the store (since new coupons come out every Sunday).

Here is the kicker. The Holy Grail. The reason you can get stuff for a couple of bucks and tax.

If one of the "selected" items is on sale for $1.99, and you have a $1.00 coupon---you'll pay 99 cents for the item, but will be counted for the $1.99 towards that $280.

Does that make sense? If not, let me know in comments.

Here is a representative example of previous endeavors to show how it works. I tried to make a table, but Blogger's system just defeated me. Click on it to make it larger.

The original price was $322.05, I actually paid $78, at a savings of about 76%. But better yet, I received $173.63 in credit towards my promotional credit goal of $280.

Explanation for some of my choices?

Everyone will ALWAYS need toiletries, cleaning supplies and garbage bags.

Unless they're completely anti-social, smell funky and live in a cave. ;-)

These items require no special care except space. They don't expire. You could stick those suckers under your bed if you had to.

Since you will ALWAYS have a need for them, you can get them OUT of your grocery budget for the next 6 months or so.

Plus there's the bonus of the extra "bucks" that go towards your promotion total.

No one in my family has any weird scalp conditions, or special hair needs due to coloring or perming. All we require is something that will CLEAN our hair. If we only spend 13 to 30 cents a bottle on shampoo, it's more than a deal for us.

This is approaching what I mentioned about "expanding your horizons" in my last post.

My Hubby has it stuck in his mind that Charmin Bathroom Tissue is the "ONLY" toilet paper for him.

I'm willing to concede the Mitchum anti-perspirant thing because yes, to me, it works better on our type of stank than other brands.

But TP? You have to be kidding me! All I require is that it's soft and doesn't fall apart in my hand mid-wipe. I've gotten free packages of Cottonelle, and put the rolls in his bathroom, and he's never known the difference (or maybe he's too scared to complain--either way, it's all good).

A lot of it is just a mind-set against certain products.

Take, for instance Hamburger/Tuna/Chicken Helper, which is also on the above list.

If you're sneering, believe me, I've been there! Anyone my age (Gen X) was probably served one of the barfworthy original three Hamburger Helpers which included beefy roni, cheesy beefy roni, and some sort of beefy roni with a side of powdered sour cream as children.

These Helpers aren't our parents' Helpers any more. There's a big selection now.

I'm busy. I don't have a personal cook/housekeeper like Carol Brady did.

I don't always have time to make side dishes from scratch. Or anything else, for that matter.

These make a good base even without the beef/tuna/chicken. I saute some veggies and throw it all together.

If you look at Lipton Pasta/Rice Sides, or Pasta Roni in the box, you'll see that they only serve 2. Or 2.5.


The Helpers serve 5. What's the better deal if you can get the Helpers for less? All you have to do is jazz it up. The Alfredo Tuna Helper minus the tuna (or even with) is great with onions and mushrooms. Or broccoli. Add a little fresh garlic...mmm you get the picture. Or throw in some sauteed shrimp or scallops.

Now let's put it all in action!

When you get your Wednesday circular, and you see a promotion, check out and see what coupons you have on hand for the "selected items". How long does the promotion last? If it's 2-3 weeks, you have time to work with.

Keep in mind that in the following Sunday paper, there's a VERY good chance it will contain coupons that will be relevant.

So do you order coupons now from the coupon-clipping service, or on Sunday?

It's hard to say. You might want to go to their websites and see what/how many they have in stock. If it's a big name franchise that's running the promotion across the country, the coupons might go fast. Or not.

Remember that it will take 4-5 days for any coupons you order to get to you.

Next, sit down with your notebook and make a list. How many of what product will you have to buy to meet whatever goal you have? How will you store it? How many coupons can you get your hands on?

If you're working with a pal to rack up those promotional dollars, you might want to share the same Value Card. Don't forget to split the savings as well. ;-)

Buy More Save More Promotion

Our Kroger chain started the above promotion a week or so ago. If you buy 2 or 3 of an item, you get a store coupon for $1.00 off your next visit. If you buy 4-5, you get $2.00 and so on (there are different offers for different "selected items"). It runs until August 1. I got out what coupons I had, and made my first trip to the store.

Of the "selected items" I got (click on the left receipt):

6 packages of Pillsbury Toaster Strudels and Scrambles, because they were on sale and I had a ton of coupons.

I know it's junk, but the guys love them, and I have lots of freezer space. ;-)

I also bought 6 packages of Lender's Bagels and 9 Cans of Pillsbury Grands biscuits.

A service organization that Hubby belongs to is hosting a brunch and his contribution is Biscuits and Gravy for 40. Since I already have about 10 rolls of bulk breakfast sausage (bought at 50% off!), all he needs is milk and spices when the time comes and he's good to go!

I'm a real sucker for good coffee. I love Seattle's Best Breakfast Blend. They had it on sale for this promotion, and I had coupons, so I splurged and bought 3 of them. I know it screwed up my percentage, but hey! It's coffee! I bought some 8 0'clock bean coffee as well, which wasn't part of the promotion, but they were Buy One Get One Free, and I love their Columbian.

Also bought a whole bunch of those Snackpack puddings. Even thought I didn't have any coupons, they were 50% off and the little guy loves them. Plus they don't have to be refrigerated, so they can be stored in the pantry.

Anyway, although I only saved 39% off my order (all that damn coffee!), I also walked out of the store with $22.50 in coupons towards my next purchase.

Since Number One Son had to be in the city to take a biology test, I decided to run over to one of the stores in the same chain that double coupons so you can see that the savings "really" isn't enough to make it a deal breaker.

I got all kinds of good stuff. I folded the receipt on the right where the coupons were, simply because it was too long for the scanner.

The only thing that wasn't on sale was the Electrosol, but I had a 2.00 coupon that was about to expire and it was too good to go to waste.

Also, there was one of the freak in-store deals that happen from time to time (which is why you should always bring your album of coupons with you!). I guess they're discontinuing these particular items, but they had some Mrs. Smith's pies marked down to $1.87. I had 3 $1 coupons, so I grabbed them.

As you can tell, I only saved about 6 dollars with doubling. If I didn't already have to be in the city, it wouldn't have been worth making the trip.

I also walked out with $6. more in cash coupons.

Since I've been doing this for awhile, my freezers and pantries are full of staples and meat.

All I really need to buy on a weekly basis is fresh stuff (milk, fruit, veggies, bread, etc).

So how do we apply this to fresh stuff and items between promotions?

Stay tuned!

Keep sending in your money-saving tips and tricks. I'll post them with a link to your blog in the last installment!

And thanks for dropping in!


Rootietoot said...

You make me tired.

Attila The Mom said...

LOL! I make me tired sometimes, too. ;-)

Pendullum said...

Does your husband know the system too???
I think I need a nap now...
I am so unworthy...
My mind is spinning,,,

KL said...

And how much do ya charge if I just have you do it all?? Oh wait, the shipping would waste all the savings, eh? LOL

Say hi to the Little Guy for me!!

DutchBitch said...

Now... I WISH they would bring THIS over to Dutchyland... I am envious of the coupon system!

Annie Drogynous said...

Wow, you linked me!! I'm flattered, lol.

I was just online this morning and thought I'd mention there are some really cool organizers being advertised on some of these coupon sites. I know, the littlest things excite me.

I bookmarked some of the pay-for-coupon sites you mentioned so thanks!

What's also great about clipping coupons online, is that there are sites where you punch in your zip code and they will specifically tell you which stores in your area have the double and triple coupon savings.

Not to take away from your genius, but I buy a lot of store brand items instead of name brand coupons. A lot of the time you buy name brand, you're really just paying extra for the name and 9 times outta' 10, the store brand items are just as good. Plus if you have a VIP discount card for that store, they tend to take off more for store brand items when they scan your card than they would if they have a promotion going on for a name brand item.

I'm like you, toilet paper is toilet paper to me as long as it's 2-ply. Again, store brand.

And like you said, stores like Krogers that appreciate you being a customer, will send you a booklet of coupons, usually for the products you tend to buy the most, and will give you those great $5-$10 off coupons.

Thanks for all the great tips, Mom! You're the best. Well, next to me, of course, lol.

Erin said...

You're amazing!

shirley said...

Huh? Did they base Good Will Hunting on you? You came across a chalkboard with a crazy formula & solved it, didn't you?

Mr. Fabulous said... should totally teach a course on this. Color me IMPRESSED!

Lisa Goldstein/Kelly Kelly said...

i have sooooooo much to learn.


Attila The Mom said...

Pen--he's labor and I'm management. I don't expect his little pea brain to understand the inticracies of the mere coupon.

Just kidding. I give him a list and and a fistful of coupons and withhold sex if he doesn't follow it to the letter. ;-)

KL--first you want me to fix you up on a date then you want me to shop for you. Why don't you just move here for pete's sakes?

Dutchy---don't you have national healthcare? We have coupons instead of that. LOL

Blair---send the link for the organizers, and the free coupons sites if you have the time!

I don't think you're taking away from my genius, simply because I haven't finished my presentation. LOL

Although Kroger must value you as a customer more than they do me, because they've never sent me a "booklet of coupons"! How would I get one of those?

Erin---No, no I'm not. Anyone can do this. The explanation takes more timr than the actual action does!

Shirley---don't you have a pothole to fill somewhere? LOL Just kidding.

Mr. Fab---I've seen how you shop. I want MRS. Fab to be impressed. So there!

Lisa---stop laughing at me! ;-)

Annie Drogynous said...

Mom, I can't send you links for the organizers but the following links I noticed had links to obtain organizers. They all say, like you, the best thing to do is stay organized. I've come across websites specifically to instruct people on how to stay organized! Perhaps you should have your own link there!

I have been shopping with Kroger solely for 7 years now, ever since I moved down south. If you have the Kroger Plus card and take advantage of it by having the cashier swipe it with every purchase, you should eventually get these coupon booklets sent to you in the mail (which usually include the $5-$10 off coupons I spoke about). Or, you may just want to ask a customer service rep. at your market.

Most of my links are Kroger-related but the few that I've found helpful have are:
(this is more of a directory for free coupons including Krogers, Albertson's and even Costco)

There are a ton more online, just Google and go.

Annie Drogynous said...

Oops! That long link didn't work.

Just go to

Attila The Mom said...


Kim Ayres said...

Yes I still love you; yes I'll still leave a comment; but don't expect me to read 3 mega-volumes about saving coupons!

Ruth Dynamite said...

Attila, I kneel before you and bow my head. I am not worthy.

From now on, I'm going to clip coupons and attempt to get organized, as you suggest. I'm going to print out your instructions and internalize them. You are my grocery shopping mentor, like it or not. And believe me, I have much to learn.

Beki said...

Money saving ideas?

Shoplifting? ;o)

Kevin Charnas said...

I'm not thrifty and I need professional help, but I'm scared...

Kara said...

I am convinced I REALLY need another freezer. I always see things I *could* stock up on, but my freezer is so tiny I can't barely fit a frozen pizza in it (and actually, the ones with the big boxes we have to ditch the box to make it fit!)

One of these days I WILL have one!