Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Walmart trip 5/23

In my last Walmart post, I swore off couponing at Walmart because it was a total NIGHTMARE! However, Fred Meyer had some deals happening and I just couldn't justify driving 4 miles all that way when Walmart is literally a block away. My husband convinced me that since it was later at night, I should be fine. So, I braved Walmart, once again, with my coupon book in hand and my ads for price matching. I know you don't need ads to price match, but I'm too lazy to write a list it speeds up the process. Even though there's no one at Walmart at 10 PM,  I thought it would be a courtesy to the cashier. 

My dad is coming to visit, so aside from the Fred Meyer deals, I had some coupons for body wash, toothpaste, and other things that are good to have as a courtesy to overnight guests, so this is everything I came away with:

Gillette men's body wash - $3.47
Gillette men's deodorant - $6.97
Tillamook butter- $3.57 x 2
Ocello Sponges - 2 packages of 2 @ $.96/pack
Bar-S 16 oz hotdogs - $2 for 2 packages


Total: $21.50


Gillette Body Wash- $2 coupon = $1.47
Gillette Deodorant- $4 coupon = $2.97
Tillamook butter- PM 2 for $5
Ocello Sponges- $1 coupon - $.92
Bar-S hotdogs- $1 coupon- $1 


Total out of pocket: $11.36 


Savings of: $10.14 or 47%


Price per item before savings: $2.68
Price per item AFTER savings: $1.42


This only illustrates the items that I purchased using coupons, but to give you an idea of how easy it is (and how cheap it can be) to put together a "hospitality basket" for your guests, I also purchased:


Shampoo- $.84
Dental floss- $.88
Toothpaste- $1.00
Toothbrush- $.74
Q-tips (travel size $.94 w/ $.30 off coupon)- $.64
Loofah (2 pack) - $.97


Included in my dad's basket, I have deodorant, body wash, shampoo, floss, toothbrush, toothpaste, a loofah, and q-tips. I ONLY SPENT $9.51 to provide my dad with all toiletries he might need while he visits. I'm pretty proud of this :) Once again, most couponers could probably do better, but I'm still learning. 

Highlights
  • Toilet paper: Although it's not noted on here, I was able to find Angel Soft TP on clearance for $.95/4 pack. These were single rolls, but the double rolls were priced at $2.54. If one double roll equals 2 single rolls, then I'd need two packages of single roll. Well, that would be $1.90 for 2 packages of single roll, representing a savings of $.64. It's not huge, but money is money. Once again, it's important to know your prices. Even with the $.50 coupon Angel Soft printed off today, I'd still be better off purchasing 2 packages of single roll TP.
  • Hotdogs: Also not noted on here were the $.88 packages of Bar-S 12 oz hotdogs. This is still a great deal, so I stocked up on those as well. 
  • Sponges: It's probably a really little deal, but it's a deal no less. Walmart had these on sale for $.96/2 pack. Four sponges for $1.92 was pretty good, but I had $1 off coupon, making it four sponges for $.92. That's BETTER than B1G1 :)
  • The savings: Yes, the savings in general. When you divide it out to price-per-item, I saved over $1 on each item. So with the savings of just one item, I was able to donate $1 to the Children's Miracle Network. Savings going to a good cause. I like that!
I went in to Walmart expecting to do at least 5 price matches, but their prices were already matched to (or lower than) their competitors. The cashier and I were making small talk when I mentioned I had planned to do so many more ad-matches, but only ended up with one. She told me that cashiers are getting so backed up, that Walmart is being proactive in their pricing and trying to reduce ad-matches by meeting or beating the competitor's prices. She also told me it's best to shop late at night or early in the morning because they re-stock the shelves, so something they're out of (like the salted butter I wanted) will be re-stocked around 10 PM and you should be able to get your hands on it then. At Walmart I learned that ad matches are becoming obsolete (at least at my store), you really have to watch their prices because a competing brand could be cheaper, and you should shop when no one else is there. Got it.

*A note of caution*
Once again, it is very important to be educated on your prices and SHOP AROUND! I saw that the 500 count Q-Tips were on sale for $2.97, but even with my cents off coupon, I wouldn't have been able to beat the generic brand "pretty" qtips for $1.94. Also, I had coupons for cents off certain shampoos. Even after my coupons, I wouldn't have come close to the savings that I realized by just purchasing a bottle of shampoo for $.84. Sometimes coupons don't mean you're getting a better deal. If there is a cheaper alternative, I'll go that route. So, be careful!



Albertsons Trip 5/23

This week, I took advantage of the Albertsons "Twice the Value" coupons. I was able to snag three more from a non-couponing relative so I could expand savings. Albertsons only lets you use three doublers per transaction, so I divided my order in to two transactions so I could maximize savings. I made sure to keep the first order small, and only used that order for 3 of my double coupon items. The other doublers and the rest of my order went on transaction #2. To make things easy, I'm combining everything on here, so this is what I came out with:

Ritz Crackerfulls- $2.99
Newton Thins- $3.49
Land-o-Frost lunchmeat- $3.99
Yoplait Yogurt- 20 for $10
Pringles Big Stack - 3 for $5
Vlastic Pickles - 2 for $5


Full retail: $30.47


Ritz Crackerfulls - $2 coupons = $.99
Newton Thins- $2 coupons = $1.49
Land-o-Frost Lunchmeat- $1.10 coupons = $2.89
Yoplait Yogurt- $2.50 coupons = 20 for $7.50
Pringles Big Stack- $2 coupons = 3 for $3
Vlastic Pickles- $2 coupons = 2 for $3


Out-of-pocket total: $18.87


Total savings: $11.60 or 38%


Price per item before savings: $1.08
Price per item AFTER savings: $.67


Alberstons is a store where you really need to know your prices. They also had B1G1 Ballpark hotdogs on sale, but at $4.59/package, that deal didn't come close to the $1.50/package price at Walmart. So, if you're shopping at Albertsons, be careful!


Highlights
  • Yogurt: I love yogurt, so I had $1.55 in coupons that I decided to use. Had I doubled both coupons my savings would have been greater, but they had $1 off coupon in their coupon book for the pickles, and the pickles were on sale, so I decided to use my doubler for that. Still, I paid $.40 per yogurt which isn't too bad. 
  • Lunchmeat: I much prefer the Land-O-Frost brand, and at $2.89 for 1 lb, I couldn't beat the price. It was $1 more at Walmart, so I got a good deal.
  • Pringles: Normally I don't buy these, but we got a coupon in this week's paper. I saw them on sale at 3 for $5 and figured with my doubler, 3 for $3 was a great deal. This coupon was $1 off an 3 super stacks, which they also make whole-grain if you choose to purchase the Pringles. They're a *bit* healthier and still super yummy. 
I'm still not a "super" couponer, but I think I did pretty well for myself :) I'm consistently saving around 30% and I'm okay with that. Hey, savings is savings!

Fred Meyer trip 5/13

Now that I have a few shopping trips under my belt, I think I can officially say that I do have the hang of this, and I encourage anyone who has the means to at least try couponing. You really can save some money. 
A few weeks ago I had every intention of heading to Walgreens, but I chickened out. Instead, Brandon and I headed to Fred Meyer to take advantage of a deal on cheese and cereal. We're pretty brand loyal to Tillamook cheese, but it's a little on the expensive side. Fred Meyer had this cheese on sale for $4.99 for a 2 lb brick, so we had to go. This is what I came out with:

Kellogg Pop Tarts- 2 boxes @ 2/$4
Rice Krispies- 2 boxes @ $1.98/box
Kelloggs Fiber Bars- 2 boxes @ $1.99/box
Neutrogena Shampoo- $3.99
Neutrogena Conditioner- $3.99
Pepsi- 2 12 packs @ $3.25 per pack
Mt. Dew- 2 12 packs @ $3.25 per pack
Pampers Diapers (31 count)- $8.99
Tillamook Cheese- $4.99
Caress Body Wash- $3.99


Total Retail: $50.89


These are the deals that I played on:


Kelloggs Products- 6 for $10 w/ $2.00 coupon = 6 for $8 ($1.33 per box)
Pepsi Products- 4 for $13 w/ $3.00 off coupon = 4 for $10 ($2.50/12 pack or $.20 per can)
Pampers Diapers- $1.50 coupon = $7.49 ($.24 per diaper)
Tillamook Cheese- $1.00 coupon = $3.99 ($1.99/lb)
Neutrogena- $5 off 2 peelie coupon from in-store = $2.98 for TWO (63% savings)
Caress Bodywash- $3 off coupon = $.99


Total Paid: $33.45


Savings: $17.44 or 34%


Once again, let's take it a step further and go price-per-item:


Full Retail: $3.39 per item
With savings: $2.23 per item


Highlights:
  • Diapers: Typically I purchase the large packs from Amazon Mom; Huggies run me around $.18 to $.20 per diaper, and the Pampers cost me $.24 per diaper. I've been wanting to try Pampers, so it was worth it to me to venture out and purchase a small pack just in case they didn't work. Also, paying $7.49 for a pack of diapers isn't horrible. I probably won't do it again, but at least I didn't pay full retail ($9.99).
  • Soda: This is a luxury item around here because of the increasing prices of soda. To find 4 packs for $10 was a great deal and figured it'd be nice to have a "treat" in the house.
  • Neutrogena Shampoo/Conditioner: I don't think you could find a better deal on this set. This was the expensive $5.99/bottle stuff, on sale for $3.99, and Fred Meyer had a yellow peelie coupon on the rack for $5 off two. I happened to be looking for more Neutrogena shampoo so I was pretty pumped when I saw this deal. I saved 62% on this set.
  • Body Wash: The Caress body wash wasn't on my list because I have some B&BW that I'm trying to use up. BUT...the coupon was expiring the next day and you can't beat $.99 for  your stockpile
As much as I would love to find deals like the Shampoo and Body wash deal that I got at FM, I just haven't been able to work it out yet. I've only been couponing for a few weeks so I'm sure it comes with experience, but I am excited about my savings even if it is only half of what other people save!










Friday, May 13, 2011

Walmart trip 5/6/11

I had every intention of posting this sooner, but the week has gotten away from me. Actually, I wanted to post this last week, but I was so *devastated* from my AWFUL experience at Walmart that I couldn't bring myself to do it. Nonetheless, despite the really negative attitudes and snide remarks from people (customers AND employees) at Walmart, I still got some good deals. 

Since I'm new to couponing, I am only beginning to realize the savings that can be had by just shopping sales with coupons. So, this is what I purchased:

Gillette Deodorant- $3.47
Gillette Bodywash- $3.47
Gillette men's razors (4pk)- $5.87
Gillette men's razors (4pk)- $5.87
Ballpark hotdogs- $4.50 ($1.50/pack x 3 packages)
Doritos- $2.50 x 2 bags
Toothbrush- $1.50
Fruit Loops cereal- $1.99/box x 3 boxes (ad-match with competitor)
Totinos Pizza- $1.25/pizza x 3 boxes
Oreo Cremes- $2.98

TOTAL RETAIL: $42.38
(FYI: We were going camping-hence all the junk food!)

BOGO Gillette Deodorant/Body wash: -$3.47
BOGO Gillette Razors: -$5.87
Ballpark hotdogs: -$1.75 coupons
Doritos: -$2.50 (ad-match with competitor's BOGO Doritos)
Toothbrush: -$.75 coupon
Fruit Loops Cereal: -$3 in coupons
Totinos Pizza: -$.75 coupon
Oreo Cremes: -$1.00 coupon

Total savings:  $19.09 *or*  45% !!!!!!!!


Total paid: $23.29

Since I am an even bigger nerd/number-cruncher, I like to calculate price-per-item:

Total Items: 17
Price-per-item BEFORE savings: $2.49

Price-per-item AFTER savings: $1.37


Some highlights of this particular trip:
  • The razors. With 4 razors in a package and purchasing two packages, I paid $.73 per razor. 
  • The chips. I'm actually surprised Wal-mart ad-matched these, because their policy explicitly states that they'll only ad-match a BOGO deal if the price is on the ad. The competitor's ad said "Save UP TO $3.99". I had no problem with Walmart doing the ad-match. I don't believe that it's normal for them to do that, but they did for me. *EDIT* I wasn't even planning on ad-matching for these, per their policy. However, when the lady asked if I had ad-matches and I said yes, she specifically pointed out the Doritos. I didn't even ask for it, she just did it on her own. Weird.
  • The cereal. With the ad-match and coupons, I paid $.99 per box for the large-ish boxes of Fruit loops.
  • The hotdogs. I went in fully prepared to do an ad-match because a competitor had these on sale for 2/$7. Not a fantastic deal, but I don't regularly pay attention to hotdog prices. Imagine my surprise when Walmart had these guys on sale for $1.50/package :) Add to that my $1.75 in coupons which made these $.92 per package!
Despite all the great deals, I still had a very negative experience at Walmart, so it is unlikely that I will SHOP, let alone COUPON at the particular Walmart that I went to. I'll try a different Walmart next time, and if I still have a negative experience, then I'll likely not coupon/ad-match at Walmart unless it's a very special deal.  By the way, my photo album "coupon holder" worked very well on this shopping trip! I just removed the coupons as I shopped and put them in to an envelope, so all I had to do at checkout was pull the coupons out of my envelope. I've seen people digging for coupons on what they purchased at checkout and it always takes just a little longer-I figured the other customers would appreciate the added organization and it worked very well!


I'm planning on doing some couponing tonight at Walgreens, so hopefully it won't take me a week to write about the shopping trip!

*I wanted to add a note/word of caution to watch the scanner carefully. On the Fruit Loops cereal, she initially only did the ad-match for ONE box of Fruit Loops and charged regular retail for the other two. Sweetly point out the error to the cashier if this type of thing happens, as they WILL NOT catch it on their own. Also, be aware of any limits when doing ad-matches. She thought there was a limit of 1 on the Fruit Loops cereal which is why she didn't do all three at the ad-match price, so I had to SHOW HER the ad to prove that there was no limit on the $1.99 cereal. *








Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Coupons

With all the latest craze over couponing shows, classes, and blogs, it's hard to not realize that couponing is super "hot" right now. Personally, I've always despised coupons and couponers...they go in the store with their little binders and take darn near everything off the shelves. It's disappointing for the rest of us who just want a box of cereal!

Needless to say, I have had some bad experiences with coupons and couponers. I always figured I could get the generic brand stuff for cheaper WITHOUT using a coupon anyway, so what's the point? Besides, I'm not clearing the shelves for my personal stockpile; something that irritates me to the max about some couponers out there.

However, my church put on a couponing seminar for our Women's brunch a few months ago, and since then, I've dabbled with coupons. When I play my cards right, I've discovered that I really can save some money.

Now, most couponers use a binder to organize their coupons. The thought of walking through a store with a giant 5 inch binder full of coupons literally put a pit in my stomach. My thoughts were "Everyone will know what I'm doing, and I'll get treated badly because they'll think I'm trying to buy the store's entire stock of B1G1 hotdogs". The other issue is that when grocery shopping with 4 kids ages 6 and under, the LAST thing I need is to have to juggle a giant binder full of tiny pieces of paper! So...I devised a strategy!

I went to Michaels last night (40% off one item coupon in hand) and I had every intention of purchasing baseball card protector sheets for couponing...I had warmed up to the idea of a binder after spending probably an hour sifting through coupons in my little envelope while at Albertsons :( Something needed to change. Unfortunately, Michaels didn't have any of the baseball card thingies that I was looking for, so I went to the scrapbook section thinking some plastic inserts might be over there. Lo and behold, on sale for $2.99 were some lovely top-loading photo albums. Holding up to 36 photos each (I promise I'm not getting distracted) I figured this would be my solution. Guess what? IT WORKS and it works beautifully. I loaded all of my personal care/laundry/dish product coupons in to my lovely blue photo album:

36 capacity photo album: $2.99

Works beautifully!

Obviously, this would not work for someone who coupons on a larger scale, but since I am just getting started, I can make this work. I can put the coupons in my album, have it handy when I'm going through store ads, and I can just pop them in my purse when I go shopping. I have one for the personal care/cleaning products and one for food items. So far, the system is working great! For those of you who are new to couponing or aren't that serious about it, I highly suggest this as a method for organizing your coupons. You can probably find top-loading photo albums at the dollar store, but the price on these with the 40% off was too good to pass up.

Review: Max on Life



Max on Life: Answers and Insights to Your Most Important Questions
Rating: 5 Stars
Max Lucado is arguably one of the most popular non-fiction Christian writers of the era, and he hits another home run in this book, Max on Life. Think of this book as a Q & A session with Max Lucado, where people ask a number of questions regarding faith, God, salvation, love, etc. and you are able to sit in and hear all the answers. This is a great book that addresses some very important and very common questions that the modern day Christian might have. 

The book is divided up in to a few main sections: Hope, Hurt, Help, Him/Her, Home, Haves/Have-Nots, and Hereafter. Inside these main sections are a variety of questions pertaining to that particular subject with a scripture index at the back of the book for handy reference. I devoured all of the 250-ish pages of the book, it was THAT good. I appreciated the questions as most of them are questions that I have had at one time or another, and I appreciated Lucado's answers to these questions, as well as Biblical reference when it was required. 
This book is an easy read, it's a fun read, and it's an informative read. Definitely a keeper, I would recommend this book to everyone I know. I give the book FIVE stars.

If you are interested, you can purchase the book from Amazon




Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”