Saturday, August 1, 2009

Building a Coupon Stash

I have couponed off and on for over 30 years. There were times I had coupons in my stash and then I would put them aside and not coupon. I am back at it heavy trying to save as much as possible on the groceries I need.
Never before has there been so many ways for me to get coupons. Here is how I have built my stash to the size it is. I want to share this with you so for those who are new to couponing you also can build your own stash of coupons.

Subscribe to the Sunday paper. There are anywhere between 1-4 inserts each Sunday. After a few weeks, you will have built up good start to your stash.
The typical inserts include Smart Source (SS), Red Plum (RP), and P&G. There is usually a big P&G insert at the beginning of the month. You can usually get a deal with the newspaper company to get the Sunday paper and a couple of other days for less than buying at the store.

Ask your friends, family, or neighbors that don’t use coupons for theirs. My sister does not use coupons so I get theirs every Sunday. Also if you have a recycling check that out.

Use Printable Coupons. There are multiple places to get printable coupons. I offer direct links to some of the coupon sites on my blog. You can usually print each coupon twice. New coupons come out each month.
Other places to get printable coupons include:
Betty Crocker

Check out the web site of a product you want. You just may find a coupon there to print.

Check your grocery store for those little machines on the isles that have coupons. Many times the coupon will match with an item already on sale, but if it doesn’t I just hold on to it until that sale comes up. And since they are manufacturer coupons, you can use them at any store that takes coupons. Some days when I am just stopping for milk I will walk the aisles. Not only is it good excerise but I will find some coupons to add to my stash. I just grab two so there is coupons for other shoppers.

Check the products you buy for coupons inside packaging. I have seen packages on the shelf one will have coupon while another will not. Grab the one that has the coupon of course.

Sign up for Samples. I try to post any freebie I see. Not only will you get what the companies are offering, but they usually will send you a coupon. I have just received in the last week 2 different freebies with coupons.

Sign up for e-coupons. These sites allow you to load coupons onto your shopping card. Nice service so you don’t have to clip or carry any of the coupons. I tend to forget what I loaded on my card so I have to write it down. I prefer paper coupons so I can see what I have

Many stores also have printable coupons on their websites, too. Some duplicate each other, but if it is an item you need/want then that is a good thing!
Target Printable Coupons at Target, Hot Coupon World, and A Full Cup
After you check out, you will probably get coupons or “catalinas” printed with your receipt. This will happen when you have used coupons for your purchase. These usually can only be used at the store you just shopped at, but if you frequent the store, you will most likely use it.

Check resources. Hot Coupon World has a coupon database that lists coupons from the Sunday inserts, as well as, any grocery internet printable coupon links. It is a great place to look if you know what you want, but don’t know where to start.

One more thought. If you have several coupons expiring in a day or two leave them by the product if you do not plan to use them. You never know when you will find a coupon left for you.
How are you building your stash? I would love to hear your ideas.

Coupon Lingo

As you read posts here and other sites there is a strange lingo used. Thought I should do a post to explain some of it. .

2/$5: This means 2 items are $5 (or $2.50 each). This is just an example of course.

$1/2: This means that the coupon will take $1 off 2 items

B1G1: Buy One, Get One Free

OOP: Out of Pocket, what is actually paid by you

ECB: Extra Care Bucks used at CVS, which is printed on your receipt when you check out. Use these on your next transaction as “money”. Watch your dates of expiring. This coupon is money to you at CVS

Exp: Expires, listed with date to indicate how long the coupon is valid .. watch your dates.

RR: Register Reward used at Walgreens, which is printed on your receipt when you check out. Use these on your next transaction as “money”.

SCR: Single check rebates offered at Rite Aid (monthly). You must sign up for the SCR program first, make the purchases, then enter information from your receipt to receive the rebate. It can take 5-7 days to receive your rebate. View Rite Aid SCR list.

SS: Smart Source coupon insert in newspaper

RP: RedPlum coupon insert in newspaper

P&G: Proctor & Gamble coupon insert in newspaper (usually only comes once a month)

WYB: When you Buy

MIR: Mail in Rebate

hope this helps you that are new.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

10 Ways to Cut Your Restaurant Bill

My hubby and I like to eat out as my faithful readers know. I was wandering around the Internet and found this article that I thought would be perfect to share with all of you. Many of these suggestions my hubby I do on a regular basis..

10 Ways to Cut Your Restaurant Bill Big Time Money Smart Life

A common piece of money saving advice is to cut back on eating out. My wife and I eat in much more than out but like to hit the restaurants on Friday or Saturday nights. Below are 10 ways that we keep our food bill to a reasonable size.

Split It
We have a few favorite restaurants where we know they serve huge portions. Sharing a meal still fills us up and is easier on the wallet.

Fill Up On Freebies
I love restaurants that bring out free stuff before you get your food. If you load up on free chips and salsa or bread sticks
and salad you can easily split a meal and cut your bill in half.

Avoid Appetizers
As mentioned above, there are many restaurants that offer free food prior to your meal. Since appetizers can cost half or two thirds the cost of your main dish, I always go for the free food instead of paying for an appetizer.

Keep it Simple
Often the simplest things on the menu are the cheapest. Look for your basic burrito, spaghetti marinara, club sandwich, or other simple standby and you’ll likely score the best deal.

Skip the Booze
Alcohol has a huge markup, what else do I have to say? If you really need a drink, stay away from the fancy $9 fru-fru drink. Instead, stick with the basic bottled beer, drafts usually cost more.

Spend Less, Tip Less
If you tip as a percentage of your total bill then lowering your meal cost will save you on the tip as well. If you buy simpler meals, avoid appetizers, and don’t pay for alcohol then you can also save yourself some money on the tip.

Take Leftovers
I’m amazed at the number of people that throw away their left over food. Taking home your leftovers won’t save you money on the meal you’re eating but it might on the one you don’t have to buy tomorrow night.

Deal of the Day
Many restaurants offer specials on the weeknights to help bring people in during their slower times. Since we typically only eat out on the weekends we don’t take advantage of this technique but my in-laws eat out a lot and save money by always knowing which establishment in town is offering the deal of the day.

Use Your Gift Cards
If you’re like us you’ll always have several restaurant gift cards floating around the house from work or family gift exchanges. Our problem is that we often forget to use them. To help take advantage of the savings, keep them in your purse or wallet for easy access.
We’ll choose a restaurant because we have a gift card but by the end of the meal we’ve forgotten and don’t use it when the server brings the bill. The tip here is to put your gift card on the table when you arrive so you remember to use it.

One restaurant visit I had a rock in my burrito. On another I had the plastic top of the salad dressing in my salad. These are pretty much automatic free meals. Of course, luckily, things like this don’t happen all the time.

However, you know that guy that comes around and asks how your meal was? Let him know and it might get you a free or discounted dinner. You don’t have to make things up, just mention what you weren’t pleased with. The food was slow coming out, it wasn’t warm, it wasn’t what I ordered, I didn’t like it, or the meal wasn’t what I expected. It doesn’t hurt to try!
Bonus Tip – Eat on Your Birthday Take advantage of the restaurants that offer a free meal on your birthday, see “Free Stuff For Your Birthday” on the Personal Finance Advice site.

We do many of the above ideas. We try to eat out at lunch the menu prices are lower. We usually drink water with lemon. And of course we look for coupons for buy 1 get 1 free. Last Sunday I printed the coupon for TGIF I had posted about. We went to lunch after church. My meal was normal price but we got $5.00 off my hubby, sister and brother in laws meals. That was a total of $15.00 price cut on our bill. We split the savings $7.50 each couple so worked out pretty good for all of us.