Showing posts with label couponing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label couponing. Show all posts

10 Frugal Travel Tips

Deep Fried Cheese Curds
We just got back from our annual travel odessey Up North to visit our families and friends. We drove our rental car over 800 miles in ten days and maximized the trip. Between the family get togethers, concerts, State Fair, racing events and time with grandchildren and friends, it was a whirlwind tour. Of course we tried to do it in the most frugal way possible, so here a few tips I would like to share from our travel experience.

1. In the airport and airplane - we packed some granola bars, beef jerky, Diamond almonds and some candy for snacking on the plane and throughout the trip. We also brought along some Starbucks gift cards so we could enjoy a free coffee drink at the airport. Our home airport has free wi-fi so we could have internet while we waited for our plane.

2. Wi-fi - rather than be without Internet on our trip, I opted to pay Sprint a $1 a day to make my smartphone a wifi hotspot for the ten days of our trip. Our relatives who hosted us don't have internet so it was necessary. I also switched domain name registrars this month from Blogger to Godaddy and the switch happened to occur during our trip so I had to have internet to change nameservers. My site was down for a couple days, but I'm glad to say Google doesn't have control over my domain anymore.

3. Pack your favorite foods from your stockpile - Whenever we visit family we have to do our grocery shopping in different stores with different coupon policies. To avoid the frustration of having to pay full price for coffee or peanut butter, we pack it from our stockpile at home. I like to pack a few of the higher priced items that we know we want like coffee, peanut butter, beef jerky, and unique recipe ingredients.

4. Bring hostess gifts from your stockpile - I like to provide personal care items like razors, cleansing wipes, and cosmetics; gift cards, chocolates and candy as hostess gifts for our hosts where we stay. It's always nice to leave a thank you card too with some cash to show your appreciation.

5. Research your rental car discounts - Since we are state employees we can use the Avis rental car state code and get a great deal on rental cars. We paid $19 a day for a new 2014 Toyota Camry, plus taxes. If you don't have a corporate code from your employer, you can find these codes on by searching the forums for "rental car discounts".

6. Rent the cheapest car  - This has never failed us. We rent the subcompact car and when we get to the rental car counter, undoubtedly there are no subcompact cars available so they upgrade the car at no additional charge. Or if they give you a crappy car like a Kia, just say you can't safely see over the hood and want a different car. This works consistently at smaller airports like the ones Southwest Air flys to.

7. Pack Smart - This means pack light. If you can fit your clothes into a carry on bag, you can avoid airline baggage fees. Or you could just fly Southwest where up to 2 bags fly free. But it still makes sense to pack less and just do laundry once on your vacation. Bring your own detergent too. Plan your wardrobe colors to match so each item can be worn more than once. Borrow heavy sweaters and cold weather jackets from your host if the weather turns cold a couple times.

8. Use Local Coupons - Ask your friends and family to buy advance tickets to events if they are significantly cheaper, like the State Fair. Tell them to watch out for coupons for amusement parks and other activities you might be doing with them. Check the internet to find out the deals before hand and if you direct your friends to the deals they might even join you.

9. Bring or Borrow a Cooler - We always pack a small cooler for our trips Up North. It's nice to have water and soda available in your travels, plus if you have food that needs to refrigerated like party dip, beer or restaurant leftovers you can safely carry it around between events.  Use your hosts icemaker ice if you can, but don't be too cheap to buy a bag of ice if you need it. Stay hydrated.

10. Keep Couponing - Ask your hosts for their coupon inserts if you know they don't use them. If you're in a hotel on a Sunday morning, go through the free newspapers in the lobby to get inserts, or if you're stopping at Starbucks theres probably a newspaper there too with inserts.

It's important to remember that you are on vacation, and to take that splurge if you really want. These trips are to make memories and you don't want to have regrets that you were too frugal to spend some money for a wonderful experience.

The Coupon Game - Part 2

Usually on Friday I like to post my Publix Trip from the first day of the sale but I'm not really impressed with the ad this week, so I'm waiting to get the few things I need on Saturday when the new YAB flyer starts. There is a little moneymaker on the Friskies Party Mix using the $1.50/2 MQ in this weekends 12/4 SS combined with the printable Pet PQ.
Anyway, I'll update you on the coupon game with store #685. It turns out the District Manager is on vacation until next week, so the Store Manager called me yesterday after getting my customer service inquiry about the CWS. He apologized for the rude manager behavior of the night before. He skirted around the coupon and he said he would still not take it because it was not the manufacturers "intent" that it be used on trial size packages. We discussed further and I told him this issue was not resolved and I would have to contact customer service again.
So I called customer service again (800-242-1227 put it in your phones now) and explained that the store manager was still stating he would decline acceptance of that particular coupon. The CSR confirmed again that stores should be accepting that coupon as the vendor had agreed to honor them and reimburse Publix. She offered to call the store manager to ensure he would take the coupon, and then she was to call me back. A short while later she called me back and reported that the store manager had now agreed to take the coupon. Gee, that's what I wanted in the first place.
I'm still not sure he has shared this agreement with his staff, so I expect to have resistance again when I shop this afternoon. I'm sure the product will still be there because nobody can use the coupon for it. Anyway, the store manager called me again today to follow up to ensure the CSR had shared that they "came to an understanding" that the coupon was valid and should be accepted. I told him I would be in today and looked forward to a pleasant transaction.
Anyone want to take bets on how this turns out?

The Coupon Game

Today in my blog feeds there was an especially interesting article. Seth Godin posted about the Four Stages of The Game:
  • You don't even realize there's a game. (And any contest, market, project or engagement is at some level a game).
  • You start getting involved and it feels like a matter of life or death. Every slight cuts deeply, every win feels permanent. "This is the most important meeting of my life..."
  • You realize that it's a game and you play it with strategy. There's enough remove for you to realize that winning is important but that continuing to play is more important than that. And playing well is most important.
  • You get bored with the game, because you've seen it before. Sometimes people at this stage quit, other times they sabotage their work merely to make the game feel the way it used to.
  • And then a new, different game begins.

    This reality struck me that my couponing is a game. I like games, I think most people do. The problem is that they can be big time wasters. So, I don't have an Xbox or 360 or whatever those game toys are called. I don't download games or even play games on my computers. I spend so much time on computers being productive, I don't want to waste my time on chat, facebook or games - if I did I would be on the computer at least fifteen hours a day. As it is, I spend at least ten hours a day using the computer. Way too many.
    So, my couponing is a game. I call it my new hobby, giving up photoshop and scrap booking since that wasn't productive. But with couponing I can make money and save money on things I would have normally spent money on. So I coupon. And its a game. And its challenging. Every successful shop is a so great feeling. And even after couponing for years, every rejection still hurts bad.
    This week has not been a great coupon game week for me - a lot of drama in my opinion. It started with the gas card deal at Publix last Thursday, when the assistant manager Bob wanted to deny me the use of a $5 off $30 PQ and the $10 off $50 gas card wyb $25 coupon, when I only just $30 on my cart. His interpretation was that it intended for shoppers to spend $80 to use both coupons. Which I explained to him I had because I had the $30 groceries plus the $50 gas card, which equals $80. I offered to call corporate to clarify, but then he said ok, you can do it this time.
    Then at another store the assistant manager said they couldn't take the Rachel Ray PQ because it was a copy. I explained that the coupon is only available online on Publix website and must be printed. The coupon is poor quality and is difficult to read, but it is a legit Publix coupon. I got the, "we'll do it this time" story again, only after offering to show the site to her on my smartphone.
    The latest drama involved the crest white strips $7 coupon and the trial pack. My unfavorite manager Bob denied the use of this coupon. I should have been on alert when the shelf was stocked with a dozen of the item. It was clear he would not give even after threats of contacting corporate or assurances that the coupon could be scanned.  So we abandoned our order and left. We did not want to escalate the situation in our close store and it was clear no one there could make the right choice. 
    So this morning I called corporate to inquire as to the status of that coupon and the use on the trial pack. Corporate assured me it is valid to use on the trial pack. They look at it as P&G's problem if the use is not what they intended. But Publix stores are supposed to accept it for the trial pack because they will get reimbursed. So the District Manager is going to get involved and hopefully we can get this store #685 trained on proper coupon review and acceptance.

    Trial Size Trouble

    Last night we went to Publix in a neighboring community. I like going there because it doesn't seem to get totally cleared out of moneymakers and BOGO deals. I think because it's a more affluent area, less people use coupons there. But after our shop last night, I think the couponers stay away because the staff are nervous about coupons and resistant to take coupons when they realize the customer is making money on the deal. I've been scouting the clearance rack for trial size meds, in the past scoring some moneymaker deals on Zantac and Bayer with coupons that didn't exclude trial size. Just this past weekend there was a $1/1 MQ in the 11-13 RP insert for Advil Congestion Relief that stated "ANY" size. I knew there were a bunch of trial Advils CR on the clearance table at this one store, so that's why we made the trip there. Sure enough, I got 13 and planned to use 13 coupons. Along with some Idahoan potatoes, Phazyme, Sundown Vitamins there was enough overage to get some beer for our weekend trip to the NASCAR race. Except the beer was gone, so we had to ask customer service to substitute two 12 pks for a case that was on sale. They said sure, just come check out in Lane 11 when you're ready.
    So we finish our shop and go to Lane 11 nearest the customer service. Here's my list:
    14-Nov 44   114.04 22.69 90.79 tax 0.56 45 -99.51%
    Product qty price subtl B1G1 -Q   total Q# Q details
    beer 24pk 1 17.99 17.99       17.99    
    banana 2 0.35 0.70       0.70    
    HJ pancake mix pouch 1 0.99 0.99   1.00   -0.01 2 $1/2 MQ 11-6SS + $1/1 TQ
    HJ pancake mix box 1 1.79 1.79   2.79   -1.00 2 free mix wyb syrup + $1/1 TQ
    HJ pancake syrup 1 2.79 2.79   2.00   0.79 1 $1/1 TQ
    Idahoan Potatoes BOGO 8 1.33 10.64 5.32 8.00   -2.68 8 $1/1 MQ print
    Smart Balance Milk 1/2 gal 4 2.50 10.00   6.00   4.00 4 $1.50/1 MQ print zip 48047
    Emerald Nuts BOGO 6 5.79 34.74 17.37 6.00   11.37 6 $1/1 MQ 11-13 RP
    Advil cong relief trial size 13 0.42 5.46   13.00   -7.54 13 $1/1 MQ 11-13 RP
    Vit D 4 2.99 11.96   18.00   -6.04 4 $3/2 MQ email + $6/2 PQ
    phazyme 2 3.49 6.98   9.00   -2.02 2 $5/2 TQ + $2/1 MQ print
    Publix Gift Card 1 10.00 10.00   10.00   0.00 1 Get $10 GC wyb $50  x11/15
    $/$$ coupon   0.00 0.00   5.00   -5.00 1 $5/$30 PQ Take Budget by horns
    $/$$ coupon   0.00 0.00   10.00   -10.00 1 $10/$50 Sweetbay
    At this point we've been in the store about forty minutes - looking for Emerald Nuts, waiting for raincheck stock checks, waiting for them to find a case of beer in the back, etc. Finally, we check out and I hand over my coupons. The cashier starts sorting them and spreading them all over the counter. I think they do this so the cameras over their shoulder can capture the whole transaction. Actually, afterward I felt like we were being scrutinized way earlier when we were in our store. They were looking at the stuff in my cart as they were trying to find me some Emerald Nuts. Anyway, I digress. She couldn't find anything wrong with my coupons so she started scanning the MQ's first and the Advil coupon would not scan. She tried to hand it back and said we can't take them if they don't scan. I said they can verify its correct use on the right product and then do an override and enter it as a generic vendor coupon. The Advil coupon has the new long barcode and no short one, so I couldn't suggest covering up the long one to make it scan (like on the CWS). Anyway, she tried to tell me is was invalid for the trial size. I explained that if it were not allowed the coupon would state excludes trial size, which it did not. So I ask her to get a manager to approve the coupon. The asst customer service manager came over and looked at the trial size and the coupon and said they couldn't take it if it didn't scan.
    At this point DH and I are getting a little frustrated. I said I'm calling corporate right now (I have the number in my phone (Publix Consumer Relations 800-242-1227) and started dialing. Then the customer service manager says, I'll get the Store Manager. DH said thanks. Unfortunately it was after six p.m. and there was no answer at Publix. The Asst Store Manager came over and said the coupon wasn't meant for trial size and the computer wouldn't accept the scan. Then she points out "Limit One Coupon Per Purchase" printed on the coupon. At this point, I realized we were dealing with a bunch of untrained staff. I had to demonstrate using my products and coupons the difference  between one per purchase, and one per transaction. We had to explain that the whole cart was a transaction, but each item was a purchase. DH says to the ASM, "You know in my job just because the computer can't do something, doesn't mean I can't do it. Sometimes you have to approve actions and handle them manually if the computer won't perform as you expect. If the coupon doesn't scan and you have verified its the correct product, any size then you should take it. I'm not taking NO for an answer. You're not making this shopping trip very pleasurable."
    We both dislike having to stand our ground with coupons, and if it were our "home" store we would have skipped the purchase without a fuss. But this store gave me a hard time about the CWS last week too. They act like the money is coming out of their own pockets. They also know that most people are afraid of conflict and will back down and say it's okay that you just denied my coupons. The staff are friendly enough, but its not genuine. I feel looked down upon because I use coupons there and its not a good feeling. I'm sure they don't care if I ever shop there, since most of their customers are wealthy and spend a lot more than one dollar like me.
    The ASM listened patiently to DH and then said "Natasha will put in an override for you this time". Fine, we whined enough and got our way. But they left us feeling like we were wronged. I hate it when they say "we'll take it this time" - it really means don't come back and try this again. It's correct coupon use, but they don't like it. So of course, they're going to try to discourage coupon use on moneymaker deals. The store manager can do that, it's his prerogative. I'll just have to try to fly low under the radar when we go there, get smaller orders and avoid having to get "numbers" by getting fillers if my coupon count is higher than my items.
    How do you handle trial size hassles?

    Is This Being Cheap?

    Please give me some feedback on this, I don't want to be cheap and I will do whatever is the right thing to do. Here's the situation:
    Our team at work is planning on giving our boss a gift for Boss's Day on Monday. The person who usually gathers all the donations and gets the card is on vacation so I got together with with another gal and we decided that we would do something similar to what we've done in the past for the boss - give her a gift card and I put together a goodie bag of stuff from my stockpile. The boss loves these gifts as she's a more practical person like me, not into flowers and fashion. Anyway, this other person and I decided on a $25 gift card from the team, and I would put together a nice pink Publix bag of Olay, candles, cat food and treats, chocolate snacks and nuts, Gain detergent, pens, scissors, tape and hand soap. I have a free blank greeting card from Shutterfly with a nice flower picture on front that we can write whatever we want in it. We're asking each of the 8 people on the team for a $3 donation toward the gift card. I figured I would just pull a $25 Publix gift card from my stash and put it in the card. I also got one of those "Take Your Budget By the Horns" coupon booklets yesterday from the USF Store (you can still get them folks!) that have a $5 off $30 coupon each month through May 2012.
    So, I called people on the team since we're located in three different facilities and I explained what we're doing and said I could get the $3 from each person at the remote sites at later times this month. So I have to front the money for the gift card, that's why I was just going to pull one from my stash and keep the cash as it came in.
    Anyway, I was talking to another coworker on another team about what they're doing for their boss and I mentioned what we're doing. They all know I'm into couponing and have lots of stockpile stuff, but they still laugh about it. So, I said I was donating the product and putting together a bag of stuff and getting the $25 GC from my stash of them. Well, you would think I had said I was stealing it! This person I was talking to was appalled that I would take cash from coworkers and keep it. I asked what the difference was, either I take the cash to Publix and buy a gift card today, or just pay myself for the gift card. She doesn't really know that the gift card was a gift from doing a giveaway or from overage on previous shops, but it is.
    As it is, all the people at my facility have paid up and I have only $12. I'll get $3 on Monday, and $6 more on Wednesday, and the final $3 on Halloween. So, if it is cheap to just use one of my own gift cards, I'll have to buy a gift card when I only have 1/2 the money - so I'll have to use one of my personal Publix gift cards plus the $12 to buy a $25 gift card. That just seems stupid to me. So there you have it, my dilemma of the day.
    What would you do? 

    Simplify Couponing

    It seems like a lot of people would love to try to save a bunch of money with coupons, but they just can't get the grasp of it. Of course the simplest thing to do, is nothing. The next simplest thing is to read the early version of the store ad that you get in the mail or in your email, and plan your shopping list around the ad. If your store is Publix and you get the Buy One, Get One (BOGO) items, you'll save 50% right there.
    However, this won't give you the greatest savings. Its not that hard to put a little more effort into your planning and get greater savings. Here are some simple things I'd recommend to keep your expenses down and get the products you want and need for less money.
    1. Know your favorite stores coupon policy. They all have them online on their websites, just google it and tons of blogs have it referenced too. You need to know if you can stack a manufacturer (MQ) coupon with a store coupon on one item, can you use a MQ on a free item when there is a BOGO sale, can you use competitor coupons or price match competitor ads? There are definitely some stores that give you more coupon savings options and I would recommend you shop there. I prefer shopping at Publix because they accept stacking coupons, competitor coupons and they have BOGO sales each week. Sweetbay is almost the same policy but they lack the BOGO sale items each week. Winn Dixie won't accept competitor coupons but they allow stacking of their WD & MQ coupons, plus they have BOGO sales each week.
    2. Once you know the policy, you need to get your coupons. I would recommend buying a Sunday paper for each person in your household to get the coupon inserts. If you can't afford a paper, sign up for the free newspaper in your city that has coupon inserts (in Tampa its the Centro). Or you can go "recycling" in your neighborhood and pull out the coupon inserts from your neighbors recycle bins on the curb the night before recycle day. I used to do this for a year when I first started couponing and would regularly get a dozen copies of inserts in 30 minutes while I walked my dog. Its pretty easy and its free. Once you start saving your grocery money, you may want to give it up and just buy your papers. There is another local blogger that can sign you up for a fifty cent subscription to the Tampa Tribune Sunday paper if you're interested let me know. I would not recommend buying coupons from clipping services, its not necessary unless you live in the boonies and your local paper sucks.
    Also follow some blogs with coupon links where you can print coupons. Many of these are the same as you'll find in the paper, so if you get the paper you don't need many of these. Sign up for facebook and you can print coupons from manufacturers there. Pick up the coupon booklets at the store when you shop which will have store coupons.Get blinkie coupons from the red light flashing boxes on the store shelves. Get coupons even if you don't know for sure you'll get the item. It might go on sale and you'll be glad you have the matching coupon.
    3. Organize your coupons. This step is where people get frustrated and waste a lot of time. The simple way is to just write the date on the top of the insert and file it in a box in chronological order. Keep peelies and blinkies and printed coupons in an envelope. You probably won't have too many of these to worry about organization, just keep all like coupons together. Only carry coupons in your clutch that you need for your shopping list, and possibly for overage items.
    4. Preview the Ad - find out how you can see the ad early, usually several days before it starts. There are many blogs that post the early Publix ad, and walmart, Sweetbay and Winn Dixie. It is also available on the forum which is one of my favorite resources for coupon deals. By previewing the ad, you can make up your list of what you need, see what coupons match up, and pull your coupons from your box. Or print the ones you need from the links in the preview. If you have to buy coupons from a clipper service this preview will give you a few days to order and have the coupons you want shipped to you in time for the sale.
    5. Make Your List - I make my list using Excel so it is actually a spreadsheet that shows the count of coupons, count of items, cost of items, BOGO discounts, coupon discounts, tax and my total. I also use my smartphone free app Grocery Tracker that is essentially the same spreadsheet but on my phone. It allows me to make changes to my list in the store and still keep track of my total.
    6. Shop. I recommend shopping on the first day of the sale if you can. If you can't, find out when the trucks restock your favorite store and shop that day. If its Monday, go shopping Monday. Get in the habit of bringing your own reusable bags with your coupon clutch, and you'll never forget your coupons. If they are out of an item, make sure you get a raincheck from customer service. Try to shop with out distractions, leave the kids at home if you can. If you can shop with a partner, it is much more fun and lots of times it helps to have a "runner" get some forgotten item, or pick up a raincheck too.
    These simple steps take less time per week than you spend doing your hair. I'm serious, you can spend about an hour a week and cut your grocery bill in half, or more. The important thing is to just stay organized, file those coupons and monitor the ad.
    Your pocket book will thank you.

    Does Couponing Make You Fat?

    As I pull on my pants each morning, lately the button seems a little harder to get closed. My tummy is a little more jiggly, and my boobs are bigger. I hate to step on the scale because I told DH and myself that I'm going to lose some weight as swimming season is here. But it hasn't been happening. I did step on the evil scale earlier this month and weighed about 12 pounds more than I want to be. According to my favorite weight log site, I'm about 15 lbs over the desired weight. Either way, I don't like it.
    I usually have no trouble losing weight quickly and maintaining the loss, but this past year has been different. I'm a firm believer in the thought that you can't improve what you don't measure. So I log my weight into  (its free BTW) and I know that I used to weigh my goal weight last year in April 2009. I gained about 20 lbs by Christmas and then lost 15 after New Years, but now its creeping up again. My bike riding has been pretty consistent with about 380 miles ridden each quarter (I ride about 15 of 20 weekdays to work each month.) It did drop off during the winter when we were remodeling the bathrooms and kitchen so I could meet with the contractor each morning, and have the car to pick up supplies. I rode about 150 miles the 4QTR, and 200 miles the 1QTR of 2010. This lack of exercise probably contributed to my weight gain, since my body is pretty responsive to exercise.
    However, now I am riding almost every day, and walking an hour a day, and still not losing weight. I eat the same breakfast and lunch I've had for years ( I know boring!) cereal with a banana, and a lettuce salad w/ chicken, plus a yogurt. So dinner is the change. And guess what we now eat for dinner? Yup, you guessed it - all that prepackaged, processed food that we get cheap with coupons. Frozen fish fillets, Curlys BBQ pulled pork, Zatarains Jambalaya with Premio sausage, Steamfresh meals, TGIF appetizers, Contessa frozen pasta meals, etc..
    Since I've been couponing over a year now, I have it down to a point where I don't really even have a grocery budget, I spend less on food for the month than we spend on our cheap SERO cell phone bill. But, its taking a toll on my health and beauty. I'm trying not to buy the junk food, but when its free with coupons I can't resist. I tell myself I'll give it away, or serve it when we have company so that we don't eat it. But its just so darn convenient to open a package and have a quick meal.
    So, the struggle continues. The evil scale vs the full freezer.

    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

    Frugal Excess

    So, you all know I'm battling with my OCD (Obsessive Coupon Disorder) and I'm not making much progress. I've gone to the store every day this week for one thing or another. It's especially troubling because usually when I set my mind to do something, I can pull out the willpower and do it. When I decide I need to lose 10 lbs, I just change my diet, up my exercise and a month or two later I've lost the weight. Same with saving money, if I know a large expense needs to be paid, I just do the math and save a portion each month until we have enough to go ahead with the purchase. But this couponing is whacking me out. I find it extremely hard to not save money. I don't really think its that bad of thing to be addicted to, as far as addictions go. Sure, I can talk myself out of buying something I don't need or won't use - but what about the stuff I will use? Everyone needs to do laundry and clean their bathrooms, right?
    Anyway, one of the biggest traps in being frugal is the sense of security I get from having a sufficient stockpile of something. My DH is sabotaging my frugal efforts by using the products we've purchased excessively. His thought is that we have more so he uses it more generously than we would if we knew it were the last package. For example, we have 20 plus bags of Eight O'Clock coffee. They are not large bags, only 12 oz I think. It seemed like he was getting a new bag every week from the stockpile and I asked him to write the date on a bag to see how long it lasts. Well, he just opened a new bag and the previous one lasted 12 days. So 1 oz per day. I guess that's about right to make a pot of coffee. But it seemed like he was burning through it (his job is to make coffee every day), when really he wasn't. However, there are items I know I tend to use generously (cheese, sauces, salsa, salad dressing) because I know I have plenty more. 
    I've only been couponing a year, so I'm going to chalk it up to inexperience. Once I get more comfortable with yearly cycles on coupons and sales, I'll be able to control my insecurities about the quantity to stockpile. So for now, I'm going to just increase my awareness of my feelings and try to acknowledge my fears of not having enough, or fears of spending too much for something.

    It's Not Working

    On Friday, I confessed my addiction to couponing, and vowed to stay out of the stores until my next regular shopping day - next Thursday. Now its Sunday and I just back from Publix. I also went to Publix yesterday, and to Walmart. Between the three trips, I spent $2.86 and saved $93.51. It was great savings, but I've failed to stay away from stores.

    My vow is not working. I told DH he's making it hard for me to succeed at my mission to curb this behavior. He says we "need" Benadryl itch relief sticks and if I don't use a coupon, he's going to get them anyway. What could I say?

    Anyway, I guess I need to just focus on some other behavior modifications to curb this addiction. I know I'm not going to go recycling on Monday for sure. We'll see what else I come up with.

    Confession of A Coupon Addict

    I am finally willing to admit that I am addicted. It is consuming my thoughts constantly, and it must be controlled. I am addicted to coupon shopping. It's the thrill of the hunt for the deals, and triumph of finding the shelves stocked, and ready for my match ups. But, last night my DH brought to my attention that it has to stop.
    Here's my confession. We went to Publix and everything was well stocked, all my moneymakers (Zantac, Schick razors, Aleve, Bayer) and all the scrubbing bubbles products I wanted. Notice I didn't say needed, because in the previous 3 days I had also been shopped and got multiples upon multiples of scrubbing bubbles. I didn't need more, but the thing is I got approval from the store manager to use the $5 Target Gift card wyb 3 scrubbing bubbles products. So I got 12. (mind you I already have over a dozen at home). My newest challenge this week has been to get gift cards for my overages, so I can actually go negative on my orders because the gift card absorbs it. So I can get the dollar value high with all those $7.99 starter kits, and then I can use multiple Publix $5 off $50 coupons, plus a competitor $5 off $30 coupon and before you know it - they paid me to shop. So, this week I've accumulated $90 in gift cards from my coupon overage.
    But I screwed up yesterday. Bad. I was so excited when I saw the travel items I use for overage, and started filling the cart, I was too pre-occupied to pull the coupons to match up with the items. I pulled all the other ones but not my overage items. When the total at the end of the shop was $33, I was wondering why it was so high, but didn't want to prolong the checkout, it was already too long - the cashier wanted to double okay the Target gift card coupon with the manager, etc. So, I figure it must have been from throwing a couple things in the cart that weren't planned. Of course my mind is churning, "what happened, why wasn't it twelve dollars???" as we walk out the store - and then it hits me. I forgot to give them my $5/2 Zantac coupon and the $3/1 razor coupons and the $1.50/1 nyquil coupons. I did the math in my confused little brain and realized I paid $21 more than I should have. So we're checking the receipt and sure enough I didn't use the coupons, checked my envelope and there they were in the back. We debated about going back in to apply them, but decided against it because they paid us $7 already for the $40 gift card and our cart full of groceries. How could I go in and say pay me $21 more?
    I suppose I could go back and have them apply the coupons to the receipt, but I figure its a lesson learned. I can use the coupons next week, since they don't expire for a while. But, I confess I have a problem and I need to control it. I was so despondent, forlorn and felt like such a failure for paying that much for groceries. Thirty three dollars is the most I've spent in almost a year for any shopping trip. It just kills me. The stupid thing is, most people would be ecstatic to have a shop like that where I saved $144 (81%). That's what makes me realize I have a problem.
    Here are indicators of my coupon addiction, maybe you see yourself here too:
    1. I have bought coupons from a clipping service
    2. I get multiples of the Sunday paper delivered just for the coupons
    3. I go "recycling" in the neighborhood scrounging through peoples curbside receptacles for coupons on recycle night ( I know, Yuck)
    4. I create a spreadsheet list for my shops, calculating quantity and prices. I panic if I don't have it. I update it many times throughout the day as I figure out new combinations of purchases, and new deals.
    5. I clip and print coupons almost every evening while on the computer.
    6. I bought an old PC just to print more coupons, now I have 5 computers (I know, WTF!!)
    7. Add to that, I have 2 printers
    8. Of course my fridge and freezer are full all the time
    9. I bought an extra freezer to store food from my couponing.
    10. I have to freeze some foods that won't keep in the fridge (meat, cheese) because I've purchased more than I can eat before it would go bad.
    11. I bought a big storage shelf to store my stockpile, and its full and overflowing on the floor.
    12. Of course, all the new kitchen cabinets and bathroom cabinets are full of product.
    13. I've got coworkers and neighbors who give me their inserts, as if my 6 isn't enough, plus the 10 I get from recycling. Why do I need 20 copies of coupons??
    14. My coupon insert box is full and I'm starting to stack on top of it
    15. I buy stuff I know I don't need. I just got 36 Gatorades last week on deals, did I really need the 20 more Powerades? There's only 2 of us to consume all this stuff. And who needs 2 dozen scrubbing bubbles products?? Our bathrooms are brand new from the remodel, they're not even dirty yet!
    16. Before couponing, I hated to shop and would only go once a week - 4 times a month. Now I go almost every day to the store. I went 11 times in April and its only the 15th. I shopped 22 times in March.
    17. I have a hard time giving the stuff away if I think I might need it someday - even if its a remote chance.
    18. I buy cat food and treats when they're free, and I don't even have a cat. Now how bad is that??
    19. I'm signed up on several coupon forums to make sure I get all the deals
    20. I subscribe to over 100 coupon blogs and read hundreds of entries daily to keep up with the deals
    Okay, I think you get the drift. I'm confessing my addiction and I'm ready to change. I've vowed not to shop except one day a week, not matter what deal I'm missing. Check back later for my list of corrective actions to help me curb my addiction.
    Do you have any advice on how to control this obsessive behavior? I'm open to suggestions.

    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.

    Publix Pays

    I'm not sure exactly how to report my latest shopping trip, but I think I got paid to shop at Publix. I bought the usual salad fixin's and some BOGO items with matching coupons to make them really cheap. The money makers were the knox gelation (4) and some shedds country crock (2). I did happen to have two $5 off $50 Publix coupons I could use since the total was over $100, and the free milk gallon with $100 purchase coupon, plus an $8 walgreens register rewards coupon. The unique thing was the sale this week on American Express $50 gift card get a free $10 Publix gift card. There was a $4.95 activation fee on the AMEX card, so it was only a $5 money maker.  Well, at the end of the transaction, I paid $39 and walked away with a cart full of groceries and $60 in gift cards. So, I think they paid me $21 to take away my groceries.
    I did the same thing today saved $51, spent $39 and walked away with a bag of groceries and $60 in gift cards. I used the Amex card from yesterday to pay so no OOP from my wallet. Now I have $80 in gift cards remaining, and my OOP was $39 from the initial shop. So $41 of it is profit.
    Now I'll be able to pay for my groceries for about 2 or 3 months with those gift cards. It's absolutely amazing that this is legit. I can't believe more people aren't doing it. It's funny sometimes in the store, I'm behind someone in line and see all the food they're getting where they could have used coupons, and then they pay over $100 or $200. I just shake my head.

    My Recruit

    One of the biggest supporters of my fanatic couponing and frugal efforts is my DH. I'm proud to say he's even willing to venture out on his own for a deal if he's seen it happen before. Like the Bayer Contour meter deal at Wags, we each got one yesterday, and then he was tickled to be able to buy gum, altoids and other treats with his $10 RR. So this morning I sent him off to work with another Bayer coupon and he's going to stop at one Wagreens on the way home, and I'm going to check another one. Being we live in the #2 Frugal City in America (Tampa) it seems like all the stores are depleted of deals on the first day. So hopefully, one of us will score or both. How about you, do you recruit?

    What's Up Wednesday

    Well I'm drawing a blank on topics that are great and interesting, and unique. I could post all the deals like all the other bloggers but you've read them and deleted them all day long - freezer bag, photo cards, home depot, etc... So I'm just going to share with you a typical frugal day. To truly live a frugal lifestyle, its about "laying the track" so that you're ready for the train. When there's a deal at a store and you've saved your inserts, you've laid the track and are ready to just clip and shop. That's how I do it. I don't cut until I'm ready for the deal, that way I can find the right coupons. Sometimes I have coupons cut and in my shopping envelope, but if I don't use them they can get misplaced. I like to just carry what I need, plus a few extra sets like phazyme, bayer or knox for overages.
    Anyway, here's just some frugal activities I do while at work (shame on me) to prepare and take advantage of cheap, free or good deals.
    • check my email for coupons, click on mypoints.
    • click my swagbucks account to get some points, I have a couple words I search and win on everyday. I do it at work and then later at home, same words and get points to convert into Amazon gift cards. Some referrals would be great, but I'm not really getting much in that way.
    • Check which is secret shopper service to see if they have any shops available I want to do, such as Five Guys.Yum
    • Click on some sweepstakes that I think might have good odds, these are bookmarked in my google reader.
    • Read feeds on my google reader for any deals I need.
    • Print some coupons
    • Update my shopping worksheet in preparation for shopping. Which by the way I am super excited to shop at Publix tomorrow. My plan is to spend $10.18 to get $224.18 worth of products for a 95% savings rate. I'm going to have to split the cart into two purchases so my DH can get his own 24pk of free publix water too. I think I might even take a picture of the shop and post my spreadsheet, so be sure to check back to see how I did it.
    • I cut out more coupons when I got home.
    • Ate from the pantry which is going well, down to only 2 boxes of Seasations fish fillets left, and 2 starbucks ice cream. Remember those deals?? Yeah, I stocked up. At the end of the month I'll post the starting and finishing count of eating out of the pantry, at least the fridge and freezer. Right now my entire kitchen is stored in paper boxes as we get set to install new cabinets next week.
    Well thats about it, I'm sure you do lots of frugal "laying the track" activities each day to live your frugal life. Keep it up.

    Tampa Is The Second Most Frugal City in America

    MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. - (Business Wire) A Georgia peach tastes especially sweet when purchased with a coupon, if Atlanta residents have anything to say about it.
    The Georgia state capital tops the list of Most Frugal U.S. Cities, according to the 2009 Savings Index1 released today by, the premiere Web destination for coupons and savings. The average user in Atlanta saved over $531 using coupons from the site in 2009. Tampa, Florida follows closely in the number two position.
    "The top couponing cities reveal the tremendous savings potential coupons offer nowadays," said Jeanette Pavini, Household Savings Expert. "By spending just minutes each week printing online coupons, anyone can really cut back on their household expenses. I don't need to tell people in Atlanta and Tampa that coupons are essentially found money."
    Cities in the Midwest and South account for almost one-half of this year's top couponing locales. Ohio alone is represented three times – Cincinnati (#3), Cleveland (#8) and Columbus (#20) – making it the country's most frugal state. St. Louis (#4), Minneapolis (#5), Kansas City (#10), Indianapolis (#16) and Wichita, Kansas (#19) also add to the Midwest contingent.
    The South's strength in couponing is reflected in the fact that more than one-third of the top 20 couponing cities are in the Southern region of the United States. In addition to Atlanta and Tampa, other Southland cities on the list are: Nashville (#6), Charlotte, North Carolina (#7), Raleigh, North Carolina (#11), Oklahoma City (#13), Miami (#14) and Dallas (#18).
    Pittsburgh, coming in ninth, is the top-ranking Northeastern city in the Index. That city along with Boston (#12) and Washington, DC (#15) make up the Northeast's only representation.
    Just one Western city made this year's top 20 list, according to the Savings Index: Denver, ranking number 17.
    "Multiple cities in both Ohio and North Carolina appear on the list," said Pavini. "Shoppers in all parts of the U.S. should look to the Buckeye and Tar Heel states, where consumers are putting money in their pockets every month by using coupons smartly."
    Rank     City   State   Savings Index
    1.     Atlanta   GA   918
    2.     Tampa   FL   522
    3.     Cincinnati   OH   511
    4.     Saint Louis   MO   468
    5.     Minneapolis   MN   351
    6.     Nashville   TN   308
    7.     Charlotte   NC   306
    8.     Cleveland   OH   272
    9.     Pittsburgh   PA   254
    10.     Kansas City   MO   254
    11.     Raleigh   NC   243
    12.     Boston   MA   229
    13.     Oklahoma City   OK   207
    14.     Miami   FL   205
    15.     Washington   DC   191
    16.     Indianapolis   IN   186
    17.     Denver   CO   186
    18.     Dallas   TX   186
    19.     Wichita   KS   159
    20.     Columbus   OH   152
    About Incorporated Incorporated is the leader in digital coupons. The company's flagship,, is the premier site on the Web dedicated to coupons and savings. currently has 19.5 million unique monthly visitors, making it the 39th largest Web property in the U.S., according to Nielsen data for October 2009. carries offers from hundreds of top brands, such as Johnson & Johnson, General Mills, Kimberly-Clark, Kraft Foods and Clorox, and works with hundreds of retailers, including Kroger, Safeway, CVS, Walgreens and Kmart. The company also offers the and Grocery iQ mobile applications for the iPhone and iPod touch. Incorporated was founded in 1998 and is based in Mountain View, California. To learn more or start printing coupons, visit To learn more about the company, visit
    1 Savings Index ranks cities (with a population of 300,000 or more) based on each city's total printed coupon savings on and the network in 2009 relative to its population size. With an index of 918, Atlanta residents are nine times more likely to print coupon savings than the average American city dweller.

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