Monday, June 27, 2011

Albertsons Trip 6/27

This week (once again) I chose to take advantage of the Albertsons doublers. The lines were super long, so instead of doing three transactions, I decided to only do two and come back tomorrow to see if they had any additional stock of some items I was interested in. I'm really pleased with my shopping this week!

I bought:
Ritz Crackerfulls- $2.79
Pringles (3 packs)- $5.00
Malt-o-Meal cereal (2 packs)- $5.00
Lunchables (4 packs)- $4.00
GM Cereal (4 boxes)- $10.00
Cocoa Pebbles- $1.67

Total Full retail: $28.46

Ritz- $1 coupon w/ doubler- $.79
Pringles- $1 coupon w/ doubler- $3
MOM Cereal- $1 coupon w/ doubler- $3
GM Cereal- $1 coupon w/ doubler, $1 coupon w/ doubler, $.75 coupon w/ doubler- $5
Cocoa Pebbles- $.50 coupon - $1.17
Lunchables- $.75 coupon x 4- $1.00

Total out of pocket: $13.96

Savings of $14.50 or 51%

Price per item BEFORE savings: $1.90
Price per item AFTER savings: $.93

Now, initially the savings isn't super hardcore great, and I've given up on the idea that I'm EVER going to actually save over 50% on my groceries...


Not only did I get a catalina for free milk, something in my order triggered a $5 off your next purchase catalina. I have no clue what it was, but it printed off. I thought this was some sort of Albertsons trickery, so I chose not to apply it to my second order and waited until I got in to my car to examine the cat. If I would have applied it to my second order, my savings would have been HUGE. An additional $5 off my second order would have put my total for the evening at $8.96. FOR FIFTEEN ITEMS! I did end up getting other items that weren't mentioned (or on sale) like fruit and bread and all that jazz, but who wants to hear about regular purchases??

  • M-O-M cereal. Because of Justin's gluten issue, MOM cereal's "Fruity Dynobites" has been the only cereal he's eaten for about, oh, going on four years. I've tried fruity pebbles to no avail, so finding this for $1.50 per bag (after savings, of course) for the 21 oz...I was pretty jazzed.
  • The cereal/milk deal. When you bought four boxes of cereal, you get a catalina for free milk. So although the $1.25 per box after savings isn't super appealing, I think I did pretty well considering I get a $2.48 gallon of milk for free ;) I was also excited to see that the Cheerios box offers coupons for Pampers. I need swimmers, so that will come in handy!
  • Ritz crackerfulls. I love these, they're super yummy, and they'll really come in handy for our road trip later this week!
  • The lunchables. Normally I'm not a fan of these pre-packaged meals, but this will ALSO come in handy on our vacation. Not to mention paying $1.00 for four of them. Yes ma'am, I think I will take advantage of that!
  • The mystery $5 off my next order catalina. It's free money that I wasn't expecting. 'Nuff said ;)

Now, as I said earlier, I'm planning on heading back tomorrow to see if they have additional stock of some of the items that they were out of, like the salad that was on sale. I also need to hunt down some additional coupons, so until next time...happy shopping!
Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Review: The Skin Map

The Skin Map by Stephen Lawhead
2 Stars
Ah...The Skin Map...oh how you disappoint! 

I was so excited to read this book per the previous reviews, and in fact, I was so excited I actually decided to read this in e-book format instead of requesting a regular ol' paper book. I started reading immediately, and I was immediately disappointed.
The Skin Map  tells of the adventures of Kit Livingstone, a 27 year old man who is unhappy with his plain life, plain girlfriend, and plain London flat. Suddenly, he happens upon another dimension where he encounters his great grandfather who then informs him that he has the ability to travel to alternate dimensions/universes...whatever you wish to call them. At its core, this is a novel about time travel/alternate universes. I can't say much more about the book without giving away important details, or "spoilers", so I'll stop there. 

I felt that Kit was a poorly developed character, and I really got sick of all the negativity. I want to sit and enjoy a book, I want to feel something. I want to connect with the characters. There was none of that going on for me. Simply put: I didn't like it. 
Overall, I cannot say that I recommend this book. I'm not known for liking fiction, so I'm giving this two stars because if fiction is your thing, you may enjoy the book. I, however, won't be returning to this book. 

If you're interested in purchasing, Amazon sells this book. 
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 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


I've been thinking of revamping my coupon photo books. You're probably thinkin' "What the heck is this crazy lady doing blogging after midnight" but my hubbs is asleep on the couch and I just keep getting wrapped up in searching for coupons. My newspaper company is offering five Sunday newspapers each Sunday, plus regular 7 day delivery, for only $25/month. That's $11 more per month than I'm spending currently and I can guarantee that I'll save more than $11 per month.

So, I think I'll need a new system. 

I love my system. It's discreet and I just whip out my teeny tiny little coupon photo album, all the other couponers looking at me like I'm crazy, while I look at them like they're crazy for toting around this ginormous coupon binder. That takes up valuable cart space, man! Not to mention I would just feel like an idiot carrying around this huge binder...all the looks of disgust (yes, I said DISGUST) from other customers who have come to resent couponers, those aren't a problem with my handy dandy photo book that I just slip in to my cart if I get any nasties shot my way. Sheesh, doesn't EVERYONE carry around a photo album of their kids in their purse (wink, wink)? 

If you can't tell, I'm a little self-conscious about being a couponer. So, I need another discreet system that might be a bit bigger than my photo album. I'm thinking a recipe organizer. The ones that hold index cards. Meh...I'll sleep on it, do some coupon organizing tomorrow, and then let you know.

And yes, I do recycle all my papers, so no worries...the additional papers would either be donated to the schools (when school is in session) OR recycled.
Thursday, June 16, 2011

Shopping trip 6/15

I have a joke for you...
When you say "Safeway", take the 'F' out of 'way'. 
Haha...there's no 'F' in 'way', as in "There is no F'in way I'll shop there again!" (The joke is courtesy of my husband...I'm not that clever).

So the ads came out yesterday and I was so excited by all the deals! For the first time ever, Safeway caught my eye with their "buy two packs of coke, get two free, PLUS two free bags of chips". I calculated the costs and figured I would spend $6.99 on two 12 packs and get two free. Additionally, I had a $2 off 2 coupon, so that would make it $4.99 for four 12 packs of soda! I get, no. Try $6.99 PER 12 PACK OF SODA! There was no way I was paying $13.98 for all that soda when another local store was running a promo for 24 packs of Pepsi for $4.88. Nonetheless, I wandered around the store and scored:
Crystal Light boxes of the individual packets: $2.99, on sale for 2/$5 (not very good)- paid $3, or $1.50 for each box of singles

Clearance hot chocolate - 2 boxes of 10 for $1.38 TOTAL (orig. $3.39/box)

Full retail: $12.76
Total OOP: $4.38

Total saved: $8.38 or 65%  (go me!!!) 

However, I decided to hit up Walmart and do some last-minute shopping and ad matches because I knew I wasn't going to have time before camping this weekend. I purchased:

Cake mix (2): $1.16 each - $2.32
Chex Mix Traditional flavor (2): $2.16 - $4.32
Mt. Dew (24 pack): $6.89
Pepsi (24 pack): $6.89
12 taco shells (2 packs): $1.00 each- $2.00
Taco seasoning: $.78
Jose-ole Carne Asada: $2.88

Full retail: $26.08

Cake Mix: Ad match $.88 - $1.76
Chex Mix: Ad match $.98 - $1.96
Mt. Dew: Ad match $4.88 w/ $1 off coupon: $3.88
Pepsi: Ad match- $4.88
Taco seasoning- FREE with purchase of 2 Jose-ole products
Carne Asada: $1.10 coupon- $1.78 (I'm aware this was cheaper a few weeks ago)
Taco shells: $1/1 coupon- $1

Total OOP: $15.26 or 41%

Unfortunately, my excitement over some of my deals was short-lived. I found out the cheese that I bought (not listed here because it wasn't a deal) that was SUPPOSED to be marked down I was charged full-price for- a $2 difference. Also, I discovered that the taco shells that I bought actually expired March 6, 2011. Um, thanks Walmart...product on your shelves 3 months past the expiration date? What is THAT?! So, it looks like my attempt to avoid Thursday shopping won't happen; I'll be headed back to Walmart to ask for a price adjustment on the cheese (which I'm HOPING they'll do) and to return the expired taco shells. Boo :( On the plus side, I can look for some more coupons and use them tonight, including the $1/1 cheese product AND the $.75/1 gallon of milk, any brand!

Now, I want to take a minute to tell you how much I resisted the coupon thing, mainly because of one thing: shelf-clearers. I didn't want to be labeled as an "annoying coupon lady" who took 45 minutes to check out and bought every darn box of sale cereal/medicine/soda on the shelves. I had my very first run-in with one of these "shelf clearers" last night, and the experience wasn't great. She seemed to be there for every deal I was there for. She cleared out the shelves of Hawaiian sandwich rolls, coffee, hot dogs, bacon, and some other things I wasn't there for, like the entire stock of Advil. No joke, roughly 100 boxes of Advil. I ran in to her occasionally throughout the store, but it wasn't until she was in front of me in checkout and I saw her massive pile of Advil that I remembered my poor hubby needed allergy medicine. I turn around and head for the allergy section, took about five minutes to figure out what I wanted, and came back to the same checkout line, where the woman was still maybe 1/2 way done with her order. This woman took *forever*, handing over a massive envelope full of coupons. Walmart, given that it was after 10 PM, only had two cashiers open. Lines were backing up, people were getting antsy, and knowing that I might take awhile with my ad-matches I let people go in front of me. Finally, the coupon master was done with her order. Carts full of stuff and her grand total was $22 and some change. 

I really dislike "shelf-clearers" because I think it's just good manners to leave some of the stuff for other people. But I have to admire her wicked couponing skills. I'm still only saving roughly 40% on a consistent basis, but this woman had to have saved over 90% on her bill. I do also have to give her credit for going when the store is less busy, and it is unfortunate that Walmart only had two cashiers working. I was torn between walking up to her and yelling at her for being so inconsiderate or walking up to her, dropping on my knees begging "teach me everything you know!" 

When I approached the register, the cashier was probably mind-stabbing me as soon as I told her I had ad-matches and coupons, given her 1/2 hour experience with the last coupon lady. I was very well organized and despite the large amount of coupons and ad-matches I seemed to have, I got through the line in a little less than 4 minutes from start to finish (I had a lot of groceries...)

Yesterday was just not my day. I still did okay, but if I would have been paying attention to the register instead of putting my groceries in my cart I would have caught the cheese mistake, and if I had paid attention to the taco shells, I would've noticed the expiration date. Then again, as a customer in a store I expect things to NOT be expired and to be priced accordingly. Mistakes happen, and it's a lesson learned.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Albertsons Trip 6/13

I've taken the past few weeks off of couponing, questioning whether it was really worth all the effort that I put in to it. Nonetheless, I just couldn't stay away, especially after I saw some of the savings I could have this week. I took a trip to Albertson's to take advantage of the doublers. Typically the shelves are BARE for things that are on sale, but I found Albertsons to be well stocked and prepared this time around. Everything I came for was in stock except for a few of the cereals that were on sale such as Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms. They had *plenty* of Cheerios and Mult-grain Cheerios, and since the MG cheerios are usually a little bit more expensive, I used this opportunity to grab a few boxes :) These deals run through *today* so if you happen to read this today, you can see exactly what I paid! I'm writing the initial prices pre-sale and pre-promotion, so for example this week they have a "save $5 when you buy 10 items". I'm listing the items BEFORE that discount, so keep that in mind. Some prices were with the preferred card, so for simplicity's sake, I just listed the preferred card price :)

Original Prices:

Old El-Paso taco seasoning - $.99 x 4 = $3.96
Welch Fruit snacks - $2.50 x 2 = $5.00
Bisquick Shake-n-Pour- $1.25 x 2 = $2.50
Cap'n Crunch cereal (on clearance- the big box) - $2.00
Multi-Grain cheerios/Golden Grahams - $2.38 x 3 = $7.14
Chicken Helper/Hamburger Helper - $1.49 x 3 = $4.47
Fruity/Cocoa Pebbles (gluten free for oldest boy AND on clearance) - $1.67 x 4 =$6.68
Totinos Pizza Rolls- $1.49 x 2 = $2.98
Totinos Pizzas - $1.49 x 4 = $5.96
Yoplait Smoothies - $3.49 x 2 = $6.98
Buddig Lunchmeat- $3.50 x 2 = $7

Total= $54.67

With coupons AND sale:
Welch Fruit snacks= $.55 w/ doubler- $3.90

Cap'n Crunch cereal= $.50 w/ doubler- $1.00

Multi-grain Cheerios & Golden Grahams- $1.00 w/ doubler= $5.64
* With sale: -$1.50 = Final Price: $3.64

Hamburger/Chicken helper= $.75 = $3.72
*With sale: -$1.50= Final Price: $2.22

Totino's Pizza rolls= $.40 = $2.58
*With Sale: -$1.00= Final Price:  $1.58

Totino's Pizzas= $.75 w/ doubler = $4.46
*With Sale: -$2.00= Final Price: $2.46

Yoplait Smoothies= $1 coupon w/doubler & $.75 coupon- $4.23
*With Sale: -$1.00= Final Price: $3.23

Buddig Lunchmeat= (2) $1 coupons w/ one doubler- $4

Shake-n-pour= $2.50
With Sale: -$1.00= Final Price: $1.50

Taco seasoning= $3.96
*With Sale: -$2.00= Final Price: $1.96

Fruity Pebbles= $6.68  **against my better judgment, there was a coupon for this that I chose not to print, so savings could have been better!!

Total with coupons AND sale: $32.17

Savings = $22.50 or 41%

Price per item BEFORE savings= $1.88
Price per item AFTER savings= $1.10 or $.78 off per item :)

  • The BIG box of Cap'n Crunch. I've had the coupon in my purse for ages just waiting for it to go on sale. I just happen to notice the green "clearance" tag and there were plenty of boxes. If only I could find some more Cap'n Crunch coupons, I'd buy some more boxes for the stock pile I'd like to start!
  • Yoplait Smoothies. I've been wanting to try these but they're always so expensive. I was so excited to get the $1/1 coupon from their facebook page, PLUS the $.75 off that was in the coupon inserts this week (I think it was this week!!) With the sale, I paid $1.61 per package. Without the sale and coupons, these are normally priced at $3.49 so I think I got a GREAT deal.
  • Buddig Lunchmeat. Lunchmeat is always so expensive, so I was excited about the 2/$7 sale at Albertsons. Then I saw that Safeway has them on sale, B1G1 free :( I DO NOT shop at Safeway, and I'm not telling YOU to not shop there, but I dislike their store/prices/employees. However, I was able to print 2 $1 off coupons and use one of my doublers for a price that was too good to pass up and almost just as good as Safeway's deal. 
  • Shake-n-Pour pancakes. These are fantastic to put in the camper and make a quick, easy breakfast. I'm all OVER this sale and am considering going back and purchasing 10 more for my stockpile. We eat a lot of pancakes when we're sue me! And I promise, I will NOT clear the shelves. Albertsons had these very well-stocked as well, which I really appreciate.

Couponing can be pretty confusing if you don't know what you're doing, and it's no wonder that I was so put off by it for so long because coupon policies are different at EVERY store (even different locations of a chain store like Walmart) and it gets difficult to follow and remember all of the policies. I also purchased some fruits/veggies and tortilla chips that I didn't take in to account here because I'm illustrating the savings of using coupons/sales together. I was excited that most everything in my purchase had a coupon, and even if it was only cents off, it doesn't matter because money is money! 

I'm also getting more familiar with what things should cost, so shopping at Albertsons can be tricky because there are things that seem like a good deal, but are much cheaper elsewhere. Vitamin water was 4 for $5, but they're on sale right now somewhere else for $1. I'm actually holding out for another buy 10 get $5 off promotion when VitaminWater is included so I can stock up. I hope it's soon!