Showing posts with label shop. Show all posts
Showing posts with label shop. Show all posts

Free Shipping Day Friday Dec 17

Well, you procrastinators now have a reason to put off getting that last minute gift, and its called Free Shipping Day! Yes, this Friday December 17th there are over 1400 online merchants that will offer free shipping (over 60% have no minimum limit on order to qualify) and guarantee arrival by Christmas Eve Dec 24th.
 
So If you haven't finished your Christmas shopping, this Friday is a great day to cross everyone else off your list. The online event is organized by FreeShipping.org, a site devoted to free shipping coupon codes. So far 1,408 retailers are on board.

Some sites may allow you to combine the free shipping offer with other coupon codes, while others have some restrictions. Some of the participating merchants are Macy's, Sears, LL Bean, Lands End, Kmart, Sierra Trading Company, Cabelas, Ralph Lauren, Office Max, Sephora, Victoria's Secret, JCPenney, Bath & Body Works, Harry & David, Melissa & Doug, Nike, Levi's, UGG, and the Apple Store.

Ice Ice Baby

Finally, this morning we got the final upgrade to our kitchen. Previously, I wrote about how the ice maker quit working on our refrigerator, and we had a few choices to make about how to live with no ice. Here's what went down. Of course, we all know that Black Friday sales are taking place this week and it's a great time to buy something you've been shopping for and finally the price comes down. Well, we knew back in October that we finally needed to get a fridge because the icemaker died. We decided against craigslist because of the uncertainty of the the remaining life of the appliance, so that left buying it new. We researched the features we wanted - my sister made me swear to get black handles on the stainless finish because they get fingerprints if you don't. We also have our fridge tucked into a corner so the only visible side is the front, so we opted for the frugal option to just get stainless steel doors, with black metal sides.
 
To complement the rest of our appliances we stuck with Kenmore by Sears, and ended up getting this model for $749 during the past Friends & Family sale. It is regularly priced at $1249. Currently its going for $1062, but on Black Friday it will be $699. We decided to go ahead and pay the $50 more to get it delivered when we'll be home this week, rather than have to try to arrange delivery around work. The real factor in pushing us to get the fridge now was the fact that we're home for delivery this week, and we want to start cranking out ice for our next vacation in early December at the condo in Naples.
 
So, I know you're wondering what we're going to do with the old white fridge. If you're a couponer, you know how wonderful it would be to have a stockpile fridge for all those milk, cheese and creamer deals. Well, you guessed it, the old fridge is going to be my stockpile fridge. I convinced DH to get rid of our small college dorm size beverage fridge, and we'll unplug the small extra freezer too, so really I'm unplugging two small appliances to keep the big one. Hope it works out like that. If I fill both full size refrigerators, then I'm in trouble.

How to Write a Helpful Product Review

Usually when I'm shopping for a specific item there is a process I go through before purchasing. These steps help me understand what's available out there and how it's working out for others who have purchased the same item. For this reason, as a courtesy to future shoppers and to the vendor of course, I like to write product reviews. I'm not talking about blog reviews and giveaways, since they are compensated with free product, and incentives. I generally do not follow review and giveaway blogs, nor do I participate because I don't really believe they are accurate representations of the users thoughts on the product.
My preference is to read and consider reviews where no compensation is provided to the writer. Like the kind on Amazon, or Trip Advisor or merchant websites. I also like to give reviews whenever I purchase a product. Reading uncompensated user reviews is one of my first steps to a purchase. Then I research specifications and make sure the item will work in my situation, and then I search around with google, forums and deals sites to find the best vendor to buy it from - considering my experiences, the vendor reputation, shipping cost and speed, returns and availability. I also prefer to shop Amazon first because they excel in all categories, plus my Swagbucks can be exchanged for gift cards there.
Anyway, when writing a review with the objective of informing other consumers (not impressing the product manufacturer) it is important to state some main points:
- Why you were looking for this item
- What other choices did you consider
- What is the specific application for the item
- What difficulties did you encounter in your first use of the item, or upon setup - and how were they resolved. Also point out if you think it would affect other consumers too, and what you think is the cause of these problems.
- If you did not have any problems, explain why this item is so great, what is new and improved over your old one, etc
- Lead the reader to other sources of information about this item, for example install videos on another site, or a forum where users have experience with the item
- Its also helpful to note how much you paid, if it was a seasonal sale or discount, or if there is a rebate or other deal you used too.
- Make your statements specific and accurate, don't generalize and write plain unhelpful comments without backing them up with details.
So the next time you buy something online, take a few minutes and provide some feedback in the form of a helpful product review. It really helps others.

The Dark Side of Couponing

One of the hardest things about couponing is the scorn we endure in the stores. The people behind us in lines sighing loudly, the cashiers as they sift through our pile of coupons and try to remember if we bought that item, and of course the store managers that treat us like we are criminals. I work really hard at couponing - getting rss feeds from tons of coupon shopper blogs with matchups, gathering inserts, filing and clipping, making a shopping list and getting the matchups, and then the easiest part of all - the shop. Except the shop is not turning out to be very fun anymore. It used to be exhilarating walking the aisles - finding a new booklet, grabbing a peelie or blinkie, finding the shelves stocked with the items on our list, and a fresh snack as the lady makes a nice meal at the Apron Station. The climax of the trip was checking out and watching as the totals drop, and then just paying a couple dollars for a cart full of product.
 
But it seems like those days are far and few in between now. There is stress involved in grocery shopping. How stupid is that? My store used to have a wonderful coupon friendly group of store managers and assistant store managers, but then things changed. We've all seen it, the shuffling of coupons by the cashier as they set some aside. Reading the small print and deciding today after years of no problems, they are going to enforce the "one coupon per purchase per customer" on the PQ. I can deal with it and offer alternatives, like my DH with me is a customer too, so we can use 2, right? It usually ends up being less than pleasurable to shop. I know from the vibes on the internet and coupon forums that everyone is having more difficulty successfully shopping with coupons. Especially the people who are really good and consistently save above 80%. We are treated like criminals because we have mastered the coupon game, and the stores don't like it.
 
Last night was one of those nights at Publix. Here's my shopping list. Nothing too out of line, except maybe getting 10 egg beaters, but there were plenty on the shelf and my coupons expire on Sunday so I had to do it. But I broke one of my rules by not getting fillers so that my item count exceeded the coupon count. I've been slack in not worrying about manager overrides or "getting numbers" as they call it to complete my transaction with too many coupons.  But holy crap, I got the new young asst store manager male who thinks that couponers are thieves.
 
28-Oct 21   49.05 7.39 36.20 tax 5.46 23 -88.87%
Product qty price subtl -B1G1 -Q   total Q# Q details
mushrooms 1 1.50 1.50   1.00   0.50 1 $1/1 TQ print
iceburg lettuce 1 1.69 1.69   1.00   0.69 1 $1/1 TQ print
tomato 1 0.92 0.92       0.92    
banana 2 0.35 0.70   0.70   0.00 1 $1/1 TQ print
Egg Beaters 10 1.67 16.70   7.50   9.20 10 $0.75/1 print
Gortons Tilapia BOGO 2 7.39 14.78 7.39 3.00   4.39 3 1/1MQ+1/2PQ
vivarin sominex 4 3.19 12.76   18.00   -5.24 6 $5/2PQ+ (2) $2/1MQ
$/$$ coupon   0.00 0.00   5.00   -5.00 1 $5/$25 competitor
 
My order rang up and my DH didn't split up the bananas to count as two items - but that wouldn't have helped anyway. I had 3 extra coupons requiring an override. First off he starts scrolling through the screen making sure I bought produce for the $1 off TQ for produce. He would only give me 0.70 off and said I didn't buy at least a $1 of produce. I asked what he was talking about, I had plenty of produce. I told him I had to guess on the weight since they don't have prices on bananas and tomatoes, my goof I guess - the tomatoes were only 0.92 instead of 1.00. I let it go. What really irked me was him trying to give me back my $5 PQ for the sominex and telling me they weren't going to pay me to shop. This store has always been cool about overage, but this guy is obviously not. DH started getting angry and told Eric the ASM, that he was insulted and this was not a pleasurable shopping trip. I told the ASM we were paying over $5 for the order, how could he say he was paying us? Anyway, this is our home store and we always try to fly low under the radar. We don't want to alienate the staff even though they are not the most friendly. We just wanted to get out of there by now. Then Eric starts trying to be nice and offers to get our names so the store manager can call us. Yeah right. He says this as he's printing a duplicate receipt and has all my Q's in hand on his way upstairs to the office. He was going to go try to figure out what happened. It was all legit, just like it always is. They just don't like it.
 
So, the dark side of couponing is that it is not for the weak at heart. You need to be confident and sure of your rights and responsibilities. Don't let ignorant staff tell you they can't let you use that coupon. A coupon is legal payment. It seems like the better at couponing you get, the more scrutiny you will have to endure. It does not get easier the better you are.
 
The important thing to remember for me anyway at Publix, is to pick the right cashier, make sure you have fillers to bring your item count greater than your coupon count (and if you don't - leave out the overage items that shop) to avoid having manager override required. I broke my rule and paid the price - an extremely ugly encounter at the store that just doesn't sit right with me. I don't feel like it would help to talk to the store manager or corporate either because they don't want the really good couponers around. I can't even say I spend thousands of dollars a year on groceries anymore because I don't, but I used to. I still get thousands of dollars of food and products, but they're not getting the cash.
 
So, I'm staying out of Publix for a while. I need to work through my stockpile anyway. And work through my anger and dismay at how a good thing makes me feel bad.

Window Shopping

A few weeks ago, the passenger window of the 04' Camry started failing us. The window started to lug and lurch when we tried lowering it or raising it, kind of like the motor was failing. We left it closed and decided we better get it fixed before our racing trip coming up in August. Well, today we're planning on giving blood after work and the location is near the car dealer. It would be an ideal time to both drive and then drop off a car, so I called the dealer to figure out whats involved.
 
Well to my surprise, it costs a bunch of money to make a car window go up and down. First there is the inspection fee to determine if its just the regulator or the motor, or both. And then of course they don't have parts for THAT in stock, so it takes a day to get it from somewhere else, another dealer or supplier. So essentially, it means two trips to the dealer - or leave the car for two days. For us its not that big a deal because we have other wheels to get to work, but for some people this would suck.
 
So I'm wondering what is the value of the having a window go up and down, and what is the urgency to do it. Personally, we do not like to own cars or anything for that matter, that is makeshift or only partially operable. I like everything to work as designed, so we usually fix anything that breaks right away, or we replace it. I hate broken crap, or using stuff that doesn't work. I hate that the back window windshield wiper on the SUV is wacky and only clears 1/2 the window, but I guess I can live with that. But can I live with a window that doesn't go down? Maybe. Is it worth $682 to have the window go down? Maybe.
 
But you know us - the frugal ones, we have to check out our options, call another dealer who might have parts, find a competitor coupon that they would match, or go to the local guy Elmer around the corner who's done good work for us before on the cars. I might even check out youtube to see if there's a video on how to do it myself. Who knows it might be really simple, just to pop out the door molding and pop in a quick connect regulator. Its possible. I could seek advice from my un-frugal brother who is a service manager at a dealer, but he would tell me to quit being so cheap and just bring it to the dealer.
 
We ultimately will get the window fixed because the car only has 64,000 miles on it and is intended to last forever for us. But for now all we'll be doing is some window shopping.

$1.82

We went for a motorcycle ride to run to Publix and Albertsons to get a few items. Luckily we had the T-Bag to hold all our boxes of cereal and toilet paper because as it happened, the Albertsons in Valrico is still stocked with the Marcal Small Steps TP and paper towels.  We spent $1.82 for all this stuff, saving 98%, or $76.86.

Home Depot Haggling

Home Depot Movers
 
I've been wanting to get a shade canopy for when we go to NASCAR races and tailgate, but I could never find a cheap one on Craigslist. To me the thing is just not worth $100. Well, with the weekend 4th of July parade coming up Saturday, I decided it was time to indulge in a canopy to watch the parade in the shade. So we trudged down to Home Depot with my new wallet (since mine was stolen on Sunday) full of gift cards, store credit and a couple $10 off $50 competitor coupons. The coupons clearly state they can not be combined, but I planned to ask anyway, since we were going to spend $100.
 
So we ask around, and finally a smart dude who works there directed us to the back shelves of the garden center to find the canopy. So we're looking and looking and finally spotted this grungy, ripped open, worn out box on the second shelf with a canopy. The box was in such bad shape, I told DH that we should open it up and make sure the canopy wasn't damaged. The way that box looked, it had been tossed around back there for a long time. Anyway, the canopy looked good - the feet were new and not scuffed, the canvas was still in its factory sealed plastic bag and the wheeled carrying bag was too. So, I tell DH my plan to ask for a discount based on the fact that it was the last one and the box was damaged. He said fine, I'm staying out of it.
 
We're at the counter with a young man and I asked if I could use both coupons because my item was more than the value the coupons required. He read the back and said no. I politely asked him to get a manager to get approval. When Mary the Manager came over, I explained how I would like to ask for a discount for the item due to the damaged box. I proposed that she allow me to use both coupons toward the item, and she thought about it 2 seconds and said "That's Fine". She instructed the cashier on how to enter it as a "customer satisfaction" code and they took $20 off my total. That was it, simple and quick.
 
After my haggling, coupons, gift cards and store credit, the canopy was $39 - right in my price range.
 
You too can get a coupon for Home Depot by signing up, just click the banner above or the link.

Frugal Sports Attire

As I was gathering my clothes this morning to go for my bike ride to work, I was thinking how great it was to have exactly the right thing - like padded lycra shorts, polypropylene tights, keen commuting sandals, padded fingerless gloves, etc. None of these items are cheap to buy, but once you get them they last forever. And I really mean forever. My bicycle shorts are over 20 years old, so are my tights - I wore them when I was in my twenties. They are top quality and will probably last the rest of my biking days. The Keen commuter sandals were expensive too - $115, but they too will last forever and in my opinion worth the cost avoidance in preventing numbness and pain from absorbing too much road shock while riding.
 
My point is that just because something costs a lot, doesn't mean its not a frugal purchase. To have proper athletic gear is critical to enjoying the activity, and therefore doing it as much as you can. It also will help prevent injuries and irritants that you may get from wearing inappropriate clothing or cheap clothing that doesn't offer the protection you need.
 
However, there are areas where its not critical to have all the fancy apparel. I always wear plain $5 hi vis tshirt when I'm riding, I skip the colorful biking jerseys. I also just wear regular socks, or when it gets warmer I won't wear any.
 
But you may ask, what if I want to get active and wear the proper apparel but I can't afford $40 shorts, and $100 shoes. Well, here are some tips.
 
1. Search Craigslist for used running shorts, bicycle attire or other sport gear you need.
2. Go to garage sales that list clothing, although sporting attire may be rare to find.
3. Go to 2nd hand consignment stores and ask where the sporting attire is, they'll have good quality gently used stuff.
4. Google "used sports clothing and your city name" to come up with retailers that sell used sport equipment, like Play It Again Sports.
5. Ask your buddies if they have any old clothing that doesn't fit but is in good shape. I use lots of my husbands old biking stuff, like gloves, shorts and panniers.
6. Use inexpensive garden gloves over your fingerless gloves during cold weather.
7. Cut the arms off old long underwear or turtle necks and use them for arm warmers when its cold.
 
There are lots of ways to be creative with your clothing, but you might look like a nerd. But who cares. Not me.
 

My First Shop of 2010

Last night we went to Publix for our first grocery shop of the new year. We don't really need much since we're trying to use up our stockpile, as I talked about in the Eat From the Pantry Challenge but we do need to get a few produce and dairy items. You probably didn't notice that I didn't post new year resolutions, but I didn't. I don't really feel ready to do that yet. I have been thinking about goals though, and have decided my frugal shopping goal is to spend less than $1000 this year at the grocery store. This would work out to an average of $19.23 per week, or about $77 a month. This is a huge stretch goal because in the past our groceries were our second highest household expense at about $4000 a year. Basically, we are going to try to cut our grocery budget by 75% using coupons, stockpiling stuff on sale, and shopping the BOGO deals at Publix.
 
So back to our trip yesterday to Publix. I felt unprepared for the shop, and was printing and cutting out Target coupons to stack with the MQ's on Special K Cereal because I didn't remember that Target had some matches. I was relying too much on the blogs to outline the deals, and they missed some key coupons that I had (like BOGO MQ on the Special K cereal to match with the BOGO sale, so all boxes were free). I need to increase my awareness of what coupons are out there and what I have. I also didn't preplan the purchases on a spreadsheet (which I've never done) but this would have saved me more money. I had extra $5 off $50 coupons but only used one, when I could have thrown the other one in since our total was over $145 before coupons. I had two expired store coupons from last months flyer, and had to tear out two new ones from the Green Advantage Flyer. I also made the mistake of not splitting the order so that I used less than 50 coupons.  Also the last coupons (the stacking Target Q) confused the clerk and she called over the manager to approve. Then at the bottom of the pile finally, they start beeping because I have too many coupons. I also had more coupons than items in my cart which requires manager override too. I don't mind doing this but the store was "alive at five" and the line behind me was getting impatient. I told the girl that I'll use them next time. So these mistakes cost me about $7. At the end of the transaction the total was $27 and the savings were $135, for 84% savings. So, the $27 is more than the budgeted amount per week of $19. If I had planned my shop better I would have come in about $20, only $1 over budget.
 
I'm not really fond of having grocery shopping become a mathematical worksheet, but I suppose why not. After all, its one of our biggest expenses of the household. Its actually amazing how so many people just don't make the time or effort to use coupons to save hundreds of dollars every month. I can save more money using coupons than I could make in a part time job. Maybe I should just quit my day job and become a professional grocery shopper. I could just split the savings with the people. It would pay me and they would spend less on groceries. Think that would work? Who wants to sign up?