Do You Count?

In the census? I'm sure most of you have responded as you are responsible, frugal, government fearing individuals who follow the laws of our great nation. Unfortunately, millions of people don't count - or haven't been counted yet. So thousands of people looking for that lucrative temporary employment, have signed up and been hired to be census workers.
The major hiring push was at the beginning of the year and starting tomorrow for the next 60 days, these workers will be out in the neighborhood trying to count the uncounted. Unfortunately, I predict the census will have an incredibly high attrition rate as these workers figure out that $14.50/hr plus mileage, plus cell phone reimbursement and paid travel time will just not be worth it. The temperature here in Tampa is forecast to be 90F tomorrow with high winds and hot sun. It will be brutal to wander around on the streets trying to find people and verify vacant addresses.
The hardest part of this will be getting those uncounted people to cooperate and provide answers that can be documented on the forms. Many of the people who don't count yet, don't want to be counted. They are the NCPs (non custodial parents) hiding from Child Support Enforcement, and the mommies hiding from Dept of Families and Children, so they can't verify the number of children they claim on their food stamps and cash assistance. They are the people with outstanding warrants and writs, deactivated drivers licenses and illegal aliens.
My friend who has completed training to be a census worker did a trial run yesterday. They were sent in pairs to the hood. The people were rude and didn't reveal any useful information. It was a frustrating experience and her partner quit on the spot. Another one down. Add that to 50% of the people who didn't even bother to show up for training! So out of a class of 18 workers, 9 showed up, and at least one more quit yesterday. So, Tampa has 8 workers left. My friend will probably not make it a week. She is older, largely overweight, and can't walk very far without taking a break. I tell her to be safe, but who knows whats behind every door you knock on.
So, if you're looking for work, I'm sure the census bureau will continue to be hiring for this tough, tough job.
You can go HERE to see an interactive map of your area to see the participation rate, and to find out more information about jobs.

Earn Amazon Gift Cards Every Month

I just won 14 swagbucks which put me over so I could redeem ANOTHER Amazon gift card this month, just in time for the payout (which is on the 1st and 16th). Seriously, if you're not a member of Swagbucks you can join right now and earn points by searching daily. If you sign up today, you'll get 30 swagbucks to get you started.

Every Friday is Mega Swag bucks day meaning you can win big bucks (although I haven't yet), but I have the hope!
Welcome Friday Followers, just leave a comment and I'll come follow you!
Have a great day!

Get Another Phone Number Free

Twice today, I've seen situations where people don't want to get involved with something because they have to give out their phone number. One is a friend of mine who is in training this week to be a census worker and they require a contact phone number from her. Another situation is an offer on the Internet for a freebie and requires a phone number.

These days people are a lot more protective against giving out their cell phone number because its a hassle to switch or deal with unwanted calls. Here's my frugal free solution - use Google Voice (formerly Grand Central). I personally have signed up for a couple of these phone numbers and have had them for years. The way it works is that Google Voice numbers must be linked to another phone number like your cell phone, home phone or work phone. When you give out the google voice number it forwards the call to your current phone and rings so you can actually answer the call if you want. It also can send a transcript of a message to your phone or email. I have mine set so that it displays Grand Central in my caller id so I know not to answer it unless I'm selling something on craigslist, or otherwise expecting a call.

You can also block callers on Google Voice so they get an out of service message when they keep bothering you.

Its great to be able to actually get the rare winning sweepstakes call on Google Voice, but usually its spam from all those freebies you sign up for. Do yourself a favor and sign up today HERE.

Sunday Coupon Preview

This weekend there will only be one Smartsource and one Redplum. 
Redplum coupon insert (thanks to Sunday Coupon Preview)Adult Zyrtec 24ct or larger Save $4.00/1
Aunt Jemima Mix or Syrup 24oz or larger Save $2.00/2
Ball Park Angus Product Save $0.55/1
Ball Park Angus Products Save $0.75/1
Beano Meltaways 15 ct or larger Save $1.50/1
Bengay ETS Save $2.00/1
Betty Crocker Cupcake Icing & Cupcake Creations Save $2.00/1
Blueberry Juice Drink 64oz Save $0.55/1
Caltrate 155 ct or larger Save $2.00/1
Caltrate Except 30 ct Save $1.00/1
Centrum Cardio Save $1.00/1
Centrum Ultra 100ct or larger Save $1.00/1
Centrum Ultra 200 ct or larger Save $3.00/2
Children's Zyrtec Save $3.00/1 ETS
Endust Save $0.55/1
Fiber Choice 90 count Save $0.50/1
Finishing Touch Lumina Personal Hair Remover Save $1.00/1
Garnier Fructis stylers ETS Save $1.00/1
Garnier Fructis Shampoo, Conditioner or Treatment Save $1.00/1 ETS
Garnier Headshine Color Crème with Bamboo Extract Save $2.00/1
Garnier Nutritioniste Cleanser or Moisturizer Save $1.00/1
Hillshire Farm Deli Select packages Save $0.35/1
Hillshire Farm Deli Select Hearty Slices packages Save $0.55/1
Jimmy Dean Breakfast Bowls Save $0.75/1
Jimmy Dean Breakfast Sandwiches Save $0.75/1
Kellogg's Special K Save $1.00/2
Kellogg's Special K Protein Products Save $1.00/2
Luigi's Real Italian Ice Save $0.50/1
Morton Sea Salt Grinder Save $1.00/1
Morton Sea Salt Grinder Refill Save $1.00/1
Nicorette Mini Lozenge, Lozenge 81ct or Nicorette Gum 100ct or larger Save $7.00/1
Nivea Body Lotion 8.4-16.9 fl oz Save $1.00/1
Nivea Body Wash for Men 16.9fl oz Save $3.00/1
Nivea Body Wash for Women 8.4oz-16.9oz Save $4.00/1
Nivea Lip Care .17-.35oz Save $1.00/1
OneTouch Ultra Meter Save $10.00/1
OneTouch Ultra Soft Lancets Save $2.00/1
People Magazine Save $1.00/1
Polident Save $1.00/1
Quaker Chewy Granola Bars boxes Save $1.00/2
Rhodes Cinnamon Rolls Save $1.00/1
Rhodes Warm-n-Serv Rolls Save $1.00/1
Rimmel Moisture Renew Lipcolour SPF 18 or Sexy Curves Mascara Save $1.00/1
Rimmel Product Save $1.00/1
Russell Stover 7.75 oz or larger Save $1.00/1
Russell Stover Boxed Chocolate 8.25oz or larger Save $1.00/1
Sensodyne ProNamel Toothpaste Save $1.00/1
Sensodyne Toothpaste or Sensodyne Iso-Active Foaming Gel Save $0.75/1
Super Polident Free Denture Adhesive Save $1.00/1
Superpretzel Soft Pretzel Save $0.50/1
Tic Tac Singles Excludes Multipacks BOGO
Whitman's Boxed Chocolate, 10oz-12oz Sampler or 7oz Whitman's Reserve Save $1.00/1
Whitman's Sampler ,24oz Whitman's Sampler boxed chocolate Save $2.00/1

My Month in Review

Well, last night I went to Publix to try to find some of that Yoplait Light yogurt, but it seems none of the stores carry the light version, either that or its always sold out. I'll have to get some rain checks for it tonight when I make my final trip for the month. So far I've spent $140, but that includes $145 in Publix Gift cards, so all my groceries (over $1000 worth) have been free. I've brought bags of cleaning products to work to reward those who give me their inserts, plus to spread the stockpile with those in my hallway at the office. People are always bringing in cookies or cakes or stuff they bake, but me - I bring in Shout and Scrubbing Bubbles.
This past weekend I found a tear pad coupon for $2/1 Dole Salads that are BOGO this week, plus yesterday I found the $0.75/1 blinkies. Together these make the salad mixes a $1 moneymaker each bag. So I'm going back to get our salad supplies a day early to take advantage of that deal. Plus we are planning our NASCAR racing trip and $50 of the gift cards are for my neighbor who will watch our house and dog while we're gone. Part of the planning is of course to bring enough beer for a couple days of drinking and racing. Since we're driving we can bring all we want of water, soda and beer. My latest frugal strategy has been to use beer as the filler for my overages, since we have enough gift cards for a while. I hate to buy beer at the grocery store since its really puts a wrench in the cost. We have a kegerator for our beer at home, and get a fresh barrel every 3 or 4 weeks, which is much cheaper and more "green".
Anyway, the keg popped last Friday so we had to use our reserve beer cans for most of the evening and now we need to replace that for our trip. Here's my plan for shopping tonight. We'll use a gift card to cover the $2.82 so it will be another free trip. .
Q details
carrots, cabbage
lettuce, romaine
cucumber, tomato
Dole Salad blend BOGO
$2/1 PQ wyb 1 fruit +1 veg+0.75/1 blinkie
Bud Light, 18 pk
Egg beaters
$1/1 blinkie or peelie
yoplait yoplus light BOGO
$1/1 print or yoplait bklt
vicks nyquil dayquil, trial 
$1.5/1 vicks 2-21pg
schick razors
$3/1 3-21ss, $2/1 4-11ss
$5/$20 competitor
All in all its been a great couponing/shopping month even though I had that meltdown around tax day (when I forgot to use my $21 worth of overage coupons), I think I've reached a new level. But I realize this can't continue forever. For one thing, I don't have many more coupons for overage filler items, and my competitor coupons are limited too. So, here's hoping Publix sends out some $5 off $50 coupons in the mail or something.
How was your month of shopping?

Submit Your Blog to Search

If you're a blogger, you want to get your wonderful work out to as many people as possible. Here's a simple way to ensure that your blog will be included in the bot crawl of the major search engines. Just click on the links and add your blogs URL address.

Publix Sneak Peek

Kelly over at True Couponing blog has the Publix Sneak Peek for 4/29 - 5/5 posted early. Hop on over there to see the BOGO deals for the week. 

When Coupons Get Others Mad

I've been thinking

One of the things that bugs me the most about being a couponer is that people (and by people I mean, cashiers, managers, other customers) think I am getting away with something, ripping off the store, cheating the system, some even say I am stealing. And it makes me furious.

This attitude comes from a lack of knowledge about how coupons work. If you're here reading my blog, you probably know how coupons work. Here's a quick reminder for all of us...

Manufacturer's coupons: When the stores submit these to the clearinghouse, they are reimbursed FULL FACE VALUE plus $.08 per coupon. So the store makes MORE money by accepting your coupon than by the average shopper handing over cash/credit.

*If a coupon is difficult to read/scan at the fault of the manufacturer/design, the store can charge the manufacturer even more for the handling of these q's.

*Most Clearinghouses are huge conveyor belts that scan coupons to tally the reimbursement value, so that cashier that agrees to "give it to you for free, shouldn't that be enough?" by marking your $1 coupon down to $.75? Just made $.25 for the store. That huge scanner doesn't pay a single inkling to that little $.75 the cashier wrote on your coupon.

*Stores even get reimbursed postage for the cost of shipping the coupons to the clearinghouse.

Doubling/Tripling coupons: A gimmick to get you in the door. The store eats the cost of doubles/triples. They consider it worthwhile if it causes you to shop there rather than at... Wal-Mart.

Competitor Coupons: This is truly a loss for a store. There is no reimbursement value for competitor coupons. Like doubling/tripling, accepting competitor coupons is a gimmick to get you in the doors to buy all your other items at their store rather than the competitor. Stores that accept competitor coupons are using a brilliant marketing strategy. They are counting on you wanting to buy all your items in one place, and hoping that if you have a competitor's coupon that you can use at their store, you'll stick around for the other things as well.

Store Coupons: Store coupons are a little tricky to define. Let's take Publix as an example. Regular Publix shoppers will notice that those Advantage Buy Flyers have coupons and sales that rotate on a regular basis. One that appears often is the $6/2 Sundown Vitamins coupon. The CEO of Publix may be a nice guy, but he's not browsing the local store looking for things to give away. I promise. :) What happens is, some head honcho at Sundown gets together with some head honcho at Publix and they strike a deal. The value could be based on number of coupons redeemed, or number of stores that run the sale. Specifically for Publix, the most recent numbers show that Publix is getting reimbursed approximately 75-80% of the Store coupons' face value. So don't let anyone say to you "Publix doesn't get reimbursed for these" "We can't give it to you for free" "We can't pay you to take it". Because that shows lack of knowledge of how these q's work.

BOGO deals (Publix): You may not be aware of this, but like the store coupons, sales like the Mega sales at Kroger and BOGO sales at Publix are also marketing ploys that are reimbursed by the manufacturer! If Publix is selling Scrubbing Bubbles BOGO at $3.99/ea, that means, you, the consumer, will pay half price for the item, or $2.00. At the end of the sale, Publix tells Johnson and Johnson, hey, we sold 100 bottles of Scrubbing Bubbles, costing us $199, now pony up. And Johnson and Johnson PAYS Publix for running the special and promoting the product. It is another form of advertising. Most recent numbers show that BOGO sales at Publix are reimbursed at approximately 70-80%.

ETA: It occurred to me I failed to mention rainchecks. Rainchecks are another loss for a store. The store is reimbursed the difference of the sale to the store, but if a raincheck is issued, the store is the one to eat the cost when you do use the raincheck. The manufacturer will cover the "deal" for the week the item is on sale, but the store is responsible for keeping the items in stock. If a store has to issue a raincheck, then the amount of discount given is lost since it is beyond the sale week. This is a reason you will have limits enforced on rainchecks.

It makes me crazy that people have this mindset that people who use coupons are abusing the system. I hate that. As long as you are an honest couponer, using legit coupons and following the store rules, then you are doing no such thing. Abuse comes from illegal photocopies, stacking two manufacturer coupons on one item, and so forth. That is true abuse of the system. Most of us? We are just honest people looking for a good deal.

And in the end? The store wins. The store wins BIG by catering to couponers. Let me show you what I mean. . .

When I shop at Publix, I use the trick of buying multiple moneymakers to build up overage to afford the items I need. This helps reduce my out of pocket expense. Do I need 10 bottles of Aleve? 8 Rolls of J&J gauze? 10 boxes of Phazyme? Not right at the moment, and I certainly wouldn't walk into Publix and pay for all of that with cash. So Publix makes a higher profit by selling to me than the average person who runs in for a few things.

My most recent shopping trip:
For Items I use regularly that I stockpiled or needed (eggs, Morningstar, fruit, etc)

Total Cost: $125.61
Total store coupons: $5
Total Mq's: $64.15 (Quantity of mq's presented: 51: $4.08 handling fees)
Total doubles: $4.50
Total BOGO: $60.49

For Moneymakers:
Total cost: $108.96
Total store coupons: $103
Total Mq's: $82

(Quantity of mq's presented: 41: $3.28 handling fees)
For this scenario, we'll go with an 80% return on BOGOs and store q's.

So, for this trip, after reimbursement, the store will have received approximately $288.50, losing $38.20 in store coupons, doubles and BOGOs.

BUT If I wasn't a couponer, and only bought the items I needed/wanted, and we're assuming I am still stockpiling... The store would have made $120.62, losing $17.60 in store coupons, BOGOs and doubles.

When I shopped, I cost them $20.60, but I brought in an additional $167.88.

Now. Which stores was it that wanted to turn away the couponers????

This is a post written by another great blogger and posted with permission. I couldn't do it justice to paraphase, plus its her content, so just visit her blog I Prefer Publix to see all the comments if you want. Originally posted Sunday, January 24, 2010

My Publix Plan

Here's my plan for this week, getting another gift card with those great scrubbing bubble coupons. So already this month, I've spent $133 but $100 of it has been gift cards, so really only $33 for product. I have 65 coupons so I hope they have aborted the 50 count rule (I've heard they have), otherwise I'll need manager override. I'm going to definitely have to warn the people behind me at the check out that I have a bunch of coupons so it'll be a while. Don't worry about my OCD, I'll be giving a bunch of the cleaning products away!
22-Apr 65   148.20 30.92 106.59 10.69 65 -92.79%
Product qty price subtl -B1G1 -Q total Q# Q details
carrots, cabbage   1.99 0.00     0.00    
lettuce, romaine 1 1.89 1.89     1.89    
cucumber, tomato 2 0.75 1.50     1.50    
onions 1 0.50 0.50     0.50    
bananas 1 0.32 0.32     0.32    
mushrooms, sliced 1 1.69 1.69     1.69    
water 2.5 gal 1 1.99 1.99     1.99    
Dole Salad blend BOGO 2 3.59 7.18 3.59 3.10 0.49 4 $1/1 PQ+0.55/1 blinkie
yoplait yoplus light BOGO 2 2.50 5.00 2.50 2.00 0.50 2 $1/1 print
windex glass cleaner BOGO 2 3.39 6.78 3.39 3.00 0.39 3 $1/1 4-11ss+$1/2 PQ
Egg beaters 4 1.67 6.68   4.00 2.68 4 $1/1 blinkie
Cascade Farm granola bar 3 1.99 5.97   5.00 0.97 4 $1/1 print+$2/3 PQ
Scotties tissue 60ct 6 0.99 5.94   8.00 -2.06 8 $1/1 print+$1/3 PQ
All detergent 50 oz 6 2.99 17.94   12.00 5.94 6 $2/1 2-7RP
Publix giftcard 1 20.00 20.00   20.00 0.00 4 Get $5 Target GC w 3 scrub
scurb bubl bath clnr BOGO 12 2.99 35.88 17.94 19.50 -1.56 16 $2/2 PQ+0.75/13-28ss
peanuts in shell, roasted 1 3.29 3.29     3.29    
Dt Mt Dew 2 liter BOGO 4 1.75 7.00 3.50   3.50    
garlic clove 1 0.09 0.09     0.09    
texas toast croutons 2 1.39 2.78   1.00 1.78 2 $0.50/1
thai kitchen (sesame oil curry) 1 2.99 2.99   1.00 1.99 1 $1/1
reusable shopping bag 1 0.99 0.99   0.99 0.00 1 free bag wyb GE CFL bulb pk
GE energy smart bulb 2pk 1 1.99 1.99   2.00 -0.01 1 $1/1 PQ+$1/1 4-18ss+free bag
vicks nyquil dayquil, trial  1 1.29 1.29   2.00 -0.71 1 $1.5/1 vicks 2-21pg 1-17pg
aleve, 6 caplets or 2pk 4 1.09 4.36   8.00 -3.64 4 $2/1 PQ GAB
schick razors 2 0.99 1.98   6.00 -4.02 1 $3/1 3-21ss, $2/1 4-11ss
Zantac 2 1.09 2.18   4.00 -1.82 2 $2/1 1-31ss
coupon   0.00 0.00   5.00 -5.00 1 $5/$20 competitor