Sometimes It's Not Worth It

So there's a deal now at Walgreens. They have Purex laundry soap for $5.99 and it's BOGO for a Megasaver deal good for a month. It means you get FREE Purex when you use your Purex BOGO coupon (2-24 RP). But only if the store manager and clerk understand to just ring in the price they will be getting reimbursed for the coupon. We all know that you can stack a store BOGO deal with a manufacturer BOGO coupon, and get both items free. But not at my local Walgreens in Temple Terrace. Mr Rivera the store manager insists you have to PAY for one (but the coupon doesn't count as paying). I tried to explain and asked if we could call another store so he could verify it's a valid purchase. He refused. We left. DH was fuming and plans to call 1800WALGREENS tomorrow to spout off about Mr Rivera's attitude problem. 

Friday Follow 2/26/10

I love these blog hops, it's a great way to discover wonderful new blogs. Browse around and follow me, and I'll check out your place too.


MckLinky Blog Hop

Free Busch Gardens Preschooler 1 Year Pass

Busch Gardens Tampa is opening a new Seasame Street Safari of Fun March 27th! To celebrate this they are offering free kids Annual passes for children 5 and under that are FL residents.   You can register and sign up online. 
 
Free Rhymes with Wheeee!
If you have a child 5 and younger, a Free Commemorative Busch Gardens Preschool Pass is waiting! It's all they need to explore the wonders of Busch Gardens and our all-new Sesame Street Safari of Fun…for all of 2010. Elmo and Ernie, can't wait!

 
Just go here!
In order for the pass to be valid you need a copy of their birth certificate when you take them to the park.  Just to verify age.
Busch Gardens is a great family park now, since they got rid of the free beer. No more old folks like us hanging around taking up tables and benches, while we have a cold bud. But its a nice place for grandchildren.
 
They just created a new parking area in the preferred parking lot for "Families with Strollers" and put up pretty pink signs along the whole front row of preferred parking.
 
We go every week to see the free concerts and have a nice walk. Pat Benatar is playing this Sunday in Gwazi Park at 4pm.

Happy Birthday Swagbucks

Today is Swagbucks 2nd Birthday! For their birthday celebration, they will be giving out Swagbucks out the gazoo. I just signed up a few months ago and have redeeemed hundreds of points for over a dozen Amazon gift cards. It's an amazingly effective way to search every day and you get points for it too. I have a favorite word that I search on every day and get points.

Two Great Matchups

Here are two great coupon matchup deals to do at Publix using the new Heathy Kids booklet and recent manufacturer coupons.
 
1. Weight Watchers Yogurt, 6 oz  (not sure of the price but it doesn't matter)
Stack the Publix store coupon BIGI with the Manufacturer BIGI coupon (1-17 SS) to get free yogurt
 
2. Buddig Deli Cuts meats 12-16 oz, $2.50
Use the Publix store coupon $1/1 from the booklet and stack with the $1/1 (2-7 SS) to get package for $0.50
 
Also still doable deal is the Vicks trial size Nyquil or Dayquil $1.39 (use $2/1 1-17 PG or $1.50/1 2-21 PG) and match with the Free Puffs WYB Vicks coupon (1-17 PG). This gives you a little overage and free tissues.
 
Also the Knox coupons expire on 3/9/2010 so get yours soon, or use them up. Some people are reporting more difficulty is getting this overage and it may be from overuse by other couponers. Just use a few at a time to ensure a smooth checkout.
 

Weekly Weigh

Actually, I haven't really been dieting, as evidenced by the evil scale - I weigh the same as I did at the beginning of the month. Still down 7 lbs overall since I started this diet, but I still have a month to go to reach my goal weight by Easter, on my birthday. I've got a big list of freebies to get on my birthday and most of them are food, so I'm definitely not dieting that day. Who can pass up free starbucks coffee, krispy creme donuts, Denny's grand slam breakfast, Qdobe burrito, and Kobe's free teppanyaki Japanese meal? Plus I aim to get my free African Safari ride to feed and photograph the wild veldt animals at Busch Gardens. Hope it's not busy there on Easter.

Anyway, my diet siderailed due to the cold frigid weather. I feel sorry for all the folks up North where they have six months of this misery. I was so excited to ride my bicycle to work today in the 65F weather, even though it was misty rolling through the clouds on the ground. It's my therapy. It makes me happy to ride my bike. The fresh air and just being outside exercising makes me more aware of my surroundings and notice details and beauty.

I also am starving now. I read this little tip in an email and realize I don't eat enough. I'm hungry all the time, right after breakfast, and every afternoon.
Physicians often advise their patients to eat six small meals if they want to lose weight or lower insulin spikes in the case of diabetics. Small meals every three hours keep you satisfied, and speeds up your metabolism, thereby helping you to lose weight. If you get hungry again in about three hours, your food portion sizes are correct. If you're hungry sooner, you didn't eat enough. Still feeling full four or five hours later? You ate too much.

Publix Sneak Peek 2/25-3/4 BOGO deals

Ragu Pasta Sauce, Assorted Varieties, 16 to 26.3 oz jar (Excluding Organic) BOGO $2.29
Ronzoni Pasta, Assorted Varieties, 8 to 16 oz box, BOGO $1.99
Juicy Juice, Assorted Varieties, 64 oz bot, BOGO $3.65
Green Giant Canned Vegetables, 11 to 15 oz can (Excluding Specialty Corn Varieties, Three Bean Salad, And Asparagus) BOGO $1.29
Del Monte Tomatoes, Assorted Varieties, 14.5 oz can, BOGO $1.39
General Mills Cereal, Lucky Charms, Cookie Crisp, Kix, or Reese's Puffs, 11.25 to 13 oz, Golden Grahams or Cinnamon Toast Crunch, 16 or 17 oz box, BOGO $3.99
Post Honey Bunches of Oats Cereal, Assorted Varieties, 13 to 17 oz or Vanilla Clusters, 18 oz box (Excluding Family Size) BOGO $2.69
Betty Crocker Supreme Brownie Mix, Assorted Varieties, 19.8 to 22.5 oz or Dessert Bar Mix, 19.5 oz box, BOGO $2.69
Knorr Sides, Assorted Varieties, 4 to 6.4 oz pouch, BOGO $1.49
Lipton Family Size Tea Bags, Iced Tea Brew, 24 ct box, (Excluding Decaf) BOGO $2.65
StarKist Chunk White Tuna, Premium Albacore, 6.4 oz pkg, BOGO $3.19
Pam Cooking Sprat, No Stick: Original, Olive Oil, Butter Flavor, For Baking With Flour, or For The Grill, 5 or 6 oz can (excluding Organic and Professional) BOGO $3.39
LouAna Pure Vegetable Oil or Canol or COrn and Canola, 48 oz bot, VOFO $3.39
Doritos Tortilla Chips, Assorted Varieties, 11.5 to 13 oz bag (Excluding Baked, Light & Natural Chips) BOGO $3.99
Thomas' Bagels, Assorted Varieties, 20 oz bag (Excluding Bagel Thins) BOGO $3.99
Planters Peanuts, Assorted Varieties, 12 or 12.5 oz can, BOGO $3.09
Entemann's Donuts, Rich Frosted or Variety Pack, 8 ct., 16 or 17 oz box, BOGO $4.29
Nabisco Toasted Chips, Assorted Varieties, 8.1 oz bag, BOGO $3.39
Hershey's Nuggets, Assorted Varieties, 10.5 to 12 oz bag, BOGO $3.69
Keebler Club Crackers, Assorted Varieties, 12 to 16 oz box, BOGO $3.99
Gorton's Shrimp Temptations or Grilled Shrimp or Premium Fish Fillets or Fish Sticks, Assorted Varieties, 8 to 17.2 oz pkg, BOGO $7.49
Mayfield Ice Cream, Assorted Varieties, 48 oz ctn, BOGO $4.99
Green Giant Vally Fresh Steamers, Assorted Varieties, 12 oz bag, BOGO $2.39
I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! Spread: 15 ox or 7.5 oz tub, 16 oz ctn, or 10 oz bot or Spray, 8 oz bot, Assorted Varieties, BOGO $2.49
Right Guard Sport Anti-Perspirant & Deodorant, Assorted Varieties, 2.8 or 3 oz pkg, BOGO $2.79
Publix Hydro Cream or Hydro Plus: 1% Hydrocortizone, 1 oz box, BOGO $3.99

It's Winter in My Refrigerator

I opened the refrigerator this weekend after shopping for salad stuff only to find that the fresh leafy greens frozen. It's among the more unpleasant of kitchen surprises. I tried to thaw it in the bathtub (we have no sink in the remodel progress) with a vegetable strainer but it was difficult to get the center thawed. Those of you who have had frozen heads of lettuce know that the results are typically soggy and limp.
 
Many factors can lead to frozen vegetables, from setting the refrigerator's temperature too low to storing the produce in the wrong place. This is a relatively new development which has occurred for the second time since we moved out our refrigerator to tile the floor. Ever since we moved it back, our lettuce, cucumber, cabbage, tomatoes and carrots have froze in the vegetable crisper.
 
The first thing we did was check the temperature setting. We dropped it to the center of the range of temps. We've kept our produce in the crisp drawer all the time but now it freezes. If we take it out and place it on the bottom shelf above the crisper its okay. Manufacturers
recommend keeping produce in the crisper drawer, away from the circulating air. You don't want the moisture to transpire out of the product and make it limp, which can happen with produce on a shelf.
If the crisper is full and some produce has to sit on a shelf, it's better to keep it at the front of the refrigerator, because cold air falls down along the back wall. Along with the area directly beneath the outlet, the back and bottom of the refrigerator tend to be the coldest spots.
So we have some limp soggy lettuce in our salads. Luckily the red leaf didn't freeze, so they are salvageable. But more investigation is needed this week.

Friday Follow 2/19/10

Hi Thanks for visiting. My computer at work blocks me from pasting the Mcklinky so I have to do that later when I get home, but leave a comment and I'll come follow you, or add yourself to my followers on the side bar and I'll get over to see your blog if you have one.

MckLinky Blog Hop


Have you done your taxes yet?

Tax Act
 
I hope you at least have gathered your tax information together, and if you're ready to do them, go HERE to use Taxact which I used for my taxes. Its really easy and the prompts are clear and easy to understand. I changed from having to owe to getting a refund and Taxact helped me verify it all. I'm getting ready to submit my tax return by efiling with Taxact this weekend.

Sunday Coupon Inserts

This weekend Sunday, 2/21 you can expect to see up to 3 inserts (who knows what'll be in the St Pete Times ugh!)

1 - Smartsource
1 - Redplum
1 - Proctor & Gamble

The Computer Won't Let Me

I hate it when store personnel use that excuse to not honor a discount. Most of the time it's not true, it's simply that they don't know how to do it. The other day I had a Publix coupon for 0.55 that had expired two days earlier. I asked the assistant manager if she would approve it for me to use. She said no "the computer won't accept it". She was lying of course because we know that Publix computers accept anything. I wish she would have just told me the truth, she wasn't comfortable approving it. I could have asked another manager who always approves my requests and I'm sure he would have said fine go ahead use it. I don't usually use expired coupons and always ask approval to do so, but I did use it anyway because I was mad she lied to me. The computer accepted it. duh.

Then last night we ran an errand to get a new all in one printer scanner copier fax machine. It's one I've been watching for a price drop since before Christmas and this is the first week its been on sale. Except it was on sale at Office Depot, and I wanted to get it from Staples to get an extra $50 off for recycling an old BJ200 Canon printer, and also to use my staples rewards coupon. So I grabbed the OD ad and found the last printer on the shelf and the assistant manager tried to assist us. He said the "computer wouldn't let him" combine the discount from the price match and the recycling discount. We reviewed the policy for price match and it didn't exclude any other offers so we said it should be honored. But the computer wouldn't let him do it. It was a frustrating experience because he insisted in his 4 years of experience it couldn't be done. We asked him if he was comfortable letting us walk away and get it from Office Depot and he said he was sorry the computer couldn't combine it.

So as we walked out we called 1800STAPLES and got some help from customer service and they said it was a combinable deal and it should be able to work, and if he couldn't get it to work the manager needed to just do it manually. duh. That's what we were trying to tell him he should do in the first place. After a 15 minute call he finally led us over to a register to try to sell us the printer. He ended up having to just use a generic $50 discount rather than the recycling discount, but we ended up walking out of there with the printer for $146 when it was regular price at $299.

So my point is, don't believe sales people when they use the excuse "the computer won't do it", because it's a lie. They just don't know how to do it.

How Do I Do It?

A few of you have left comments on facebook or the blog asking how I manage my coupons and saving strategies. The latest success has been taking advantage of the Publix in ad coupon for a free $10 Publix gift card when you buy a $50 Amex gift card. This is a great money maker even though you have to pay a $4.95 activation fee. The reason its so great is that it gives me a balance to deduct coupons from, like the $5 off $50 store coupon, or Walgreens register rewards. I don't have to actually buy products to deduct the coupons, I'm deducting from the value of the gift card.
 
The other nice thing about the gift cards, is after the initial out of pocket (OOP) you can just roll the card to purchase another one, then get the free $10 Publix Gift Card. So everytime I buy one I get $10 free, plus I have store coupons for $5 off, or a $10 register reward., so I make about $20 each time I do the transaction. So far I have $100 in gift cards from my initial OOP of $39, plus all the groceries in the past few days have been free. It has decreased my OOP for the year to only $87 for $1253 worth of product (93% savings).
 
I know this sounds confusing and it is. I'm not trying to make it seem simple, but it can be managed. First of all, I've been doing this for almost a year now and finally have progressed the point where I can get paid to shop. If I were really extreme, I could make hundreds of dollars this week with the Amex deal and buy all the groceries for the rest of the year with my earnings. But I don't have the time or inclination to make 40 transactions at the grocery store this week. Besides I don't really want Publix to realize they are paying me to shop since I prefer their coupon policies just the way they are. There are no other vendors out there as accommodating by accepting competitors, stacking and offering tons of coupons. I don't want to abuse the system.
 
If you are interested in couponing, you have to enjoy it. It takes a couple hours a week, to find and organize coupons, then plan your shop, and clip the coupons you need. I don't clip coupons until I need them. I get two Sunday papers and pull out the Smartsource and Redplum, General Mills or Proctor and Gamble inserts. I write the date on the front, and put them all back in the plastic bag the paper comes in, and I file them in the front of my coupon box. I don't even look at them, just date and file. I do the same with the Publix Green and Yellow advantage buy flyers, and other coupon books - just file them in the coupon box.
 
I subscribe to over 100 RSS feeds and the majority are coupon blogs with all the deals. If you are interested in learning how to set up a RSS feed reader I have created a job aid I could share that shows screen shots and has instructions on how to set it up. My favorite blog is www.iheartpublix.com because she gets the ad posted on her blog with coupon matchups on Monday afternoon, 2 days before it comes out on Wednesday.. This way I can see if there is anything I need, or anything I can get for free, and best of all anything I can make money on. I note the items I want and start my own spreadsheet with item, quantity, price, if its BOGO, coupons, and final price, plus a column for coupon details (value, date and insert type; ie. $1/1 2-14RP means $1 off 1 item found in Feb 14 redplum).
 
Product
qty
price
subtotal
-BOGO
-Q
TOTAL
Q#
Q details
  
One important thing to make couponing extremely successfully, is to occasionally buy stuff you have absolutely no need for. For example, if you get the $4/1 Knox Gelatin coupon from your Jan 17 RP insert, it says "any" size. Knox makes a plain gelatin product that costs $1.39. Well the coupon deducts $4, so it is a $2.61 profit for each one you buy. I have no need for gelatin, so I donate it to someone at work who gives it to the elementary school she tutors at, so they can make fingerpaints.
 
But you might say, how do you know this coupon is out there when you don't even clip until you need it? Well, that's where the blogs come in – they all post this deal over and over since its such a good one.
 
Another important way to make couponing so successful is quantity. Using one gelatin coupon isn't going to save you tons of money, only $2.61. So you need a bunch of them. Sometimes the great coupon is a printable from a companies website or from coupons.com (click the banner on my sidebar), and you'll need more than one computer. I have four, and two old ones are only for coupon printing that I hook up to and print about once a month if needed. If the coupon is in the newspaper, either buy them from a coupon clipping service or ebay, or get your coupons from asking people at work or your neighbors, or collect them from recycle bins on recycle day when people put them out, or on Mondays hit the apartment recycle bins, or newspaper recycle drop off centers at stores like Walmart.
 
I take the dog for a walk on Monday nights when recycle day is Tuesday, and get inserts that way. Pretty soon you get to know which houses always throw out coupons and which don't .I can walk down one block and get 5 inserts, and another block to get my count up to 8 or 10. It takes about 20 minutes and I'm well stocked. It helps to go to the nicer part of the neighborhood where people are less likely to use coupons. If its raining, it's a little tougher since people won't bother putting out recycling bins, so I'm out of luck. If it's a great coupon weekend with like 4 inserts, I'll usually buy some extra papers if it might rain on Monday.
 
So now I've got my coupons, and I've got my Publix Sneak Peek and started my plan for the next week. The great thing about the sneak peek is that you can see if an item will be on sale next week, or should you use your coupon now. Sometimes when coupons expire at the end of the month, its better to just use it now rather than wait for a BOGO to stack it with. I have some coupons I got from home mailers that will stack with BOGO, like Zatarains rice mix. It is $2.29 and BOGO, and I have 15 $0.50 coupons. So it makes each box 2.29/2=1.15-0.50=0.65 each. It would be great if Publix doubled coupons but they don't so this is the best deal I can expect to get, 0.65 each. So here's the entry on my spreadsheet.
 
When I have everything on my list I check the coupon to item ratio to make sure there are more items than coupons or equal items as coupons. Below you can see I have 28 coupons, and 41 items so its okay. Otherwise the register won't accept the excess coupons and requires manager override from a store supervisor.
 
Here's my plan for Thursday shop:
18-Feb
41
 
86.18
27.39
39.41
19.38
28
-77.51%
Product
qty
price
subtotal
-BOGO
-Q
TOTAL
Q#
Q details
carrots
1
1.99
1.99
 
 
1.99
 
 
lettuce
1
1.89
1.89
 
 
1.89
 
 
cucumber
1
0.75
0.75
 
 
0.75
 
 
romaine
1
1.99
1.99
 
 
1.99
 
 
onions
1
1.00
1.00
 
 
1.00
 
 
bananas
1
1.49
1.49
 
 
1.49
 
 
mushrooms portabella
1
1.69
1.69
 
 
1.69
 
 
GG froz veg BOGO
4
1.00
4.00
2.00
1.00
1.00
2
0.50/2 1-03gm or 2/07ss or print
Zhills water 2.5 gal
1
2.50
2.50
 
1.00
1.50
1
$1/1 blinkie
Eat Smart stir fry veg
1
1.00
1.00
 
0.00
1.00
 
 
Zatarains mix 5.2-8oz
10
2.29
22.90
11.45
5.00
6.45
10
0.50/1 party or $1/2 1-24rp
Cofeemate crmr 32oz
2
2.19
4.38
2.19
1.50
0.69
2
0.75/1 2-7rp
Knox Gelatin
2
1.39
2.78
 
8.00
-5.22
2
$4/1 MQ 1-17RP
Seapak flounder 8-28oz
2
7.59
15.18
7.59
2.00
5.59
 
$1/1 2-7ss
Dial soap 3ct BOGO
2
1.87
3.74
1.87
1.00
0.87
1
$1/1 TQ flip clip savd bklt
Kraft grated parmesan
1
3.00
3.00
 
0.00
3.00
 
 
Progresso Soup BOGO
2
2.29
4.58
2.29
0.50
1.79
2
0.25/1 2-7ss or 2-7gm or 1-17ss
Organic Valley milk ½ gal
1
3.50
3.50
 
2.75
0.75
1
$2/1 +0.75 Dec Greenwise PQ
puffs, 60ct tissue
2
1.33
2.66
 
3.66
-1.00
2
$1/1 mailer+ 2-07rp B2vicksG1freepuffs
vicks nyquil dayquil, trial
4
1.29
5.16
 
8.00
-2.84
4
$2/1 vicks nyqil or Dayquil 1-17pg
coupon
 
0.00
0.00
 
5.00
-5.00
1
$5 off $50 PQ
 
I mostly only buy the items on my list, no impulse shopping. If I need it I'll write it down and come back another time to get it when I have a coupon. If it's something like bananas with no coupon, and I forgot to write it on the list but we normally get them, then I'll get it.