Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sac Bee Sunday Subscription as Low as $.30 a Paper!

Why pay $2 a newspaper when you can get it delivered to your home for as little as $.30 a paper!?

Check out the deal that The Frugal Find has arranged with Sac Bee.

  • 1 Sunday paper = $19.99/52 weeks ($.38 per paper)
  • 2 Sunday papers = $39.98/52 weeks ($.38 per paper)
  • 3 Sunday papers = $59.97/52 weeks + $10 gift card ($.32 per paper with gift card)
  • 4 Sunday papers = $79.96/52 weeks + $15 gift card ($.31 per paper with gift card)
  • 5 Sunday papers = $99.95/52 weeks + $20 gift card ($.30 per paper with gift card)

If you are testing the couponing waters and don't want to commit to a subscription yet, check with friends and neighbors to see if they use their coupon inserts. I often get 2 extra sets of papers a week from my parents and Jon's parents. If you can't find any free papers, Dollar Tree sells the Sunday Sac Bee for $1. This subscription rate is a fantastic deal, and with a little time, this investment that will pay big dividends. :)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

FREE Children's Sunglasses at Rite Aid

This week (June 26 - July 2) at Rite Aid all sunglasses are Buy One Get One 50% off AND receive a $5 +Up when you buy 2. Children's Style Science and Foster Grant sunglasses are included. So buy...

1 Style Science $7.99
1 Foster Grant $3.49
- $5 Style Science Sunglasses coupon found here
- $5 Foster Grant Sunglasses coupon found here (adjusted to $3.49 per Rite Aid coupon policy)
= $2.99
Get $5 +Up for a $2.01 Money Maker!

Sweeten the deal by adding a $4.99 Got2Be product - $2 MQ from All You magazine and a $3 Rite Aid survey. You will pay $2.98 and get a $5 +Up and $4.99 back from Single Check Rebates. That's a $7.02 Money Maker!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Coupon Lingo: A glossary of commonly used terms and acronyms in the coupon world

BOGO: Acronym for Buy One Get One free coupons or sales.
Blinkie: A type of coupon found in blinking machines in grocery and drug stores
Catalina (CAT): A coupon or promotion sponsored by Catalina Marketing that prints out at check out in most grocery stores, Target, and some drug stores.
Extreme Couponing: Using coupons and sales to purchase an extremely large number of products at rock bottom prices.
Hangtag: A type of coupon found on an item in store, often hanging from the product (such as on the neck of a bottle).
IP: Acronym for internet printable coupons.
IVC: Instant Value Coupon. These coupons are often called peelies since they are stuck to items to be peeled off at check out.
MIR: Mail in rebate
MQ: Manufacturer's coupon. These can usually be stacked with store coupons.
ONYO or OYNO: Acronym for On Your Next Order. OYNO is the logical spelling, but many couponers use the term ONYO as it has a better ring to it when pronounced. ONYOs refer to grocery coupons that print out from the Catalina machine that can be used to purchase most any item at that store.
Peelie: A coupon stuck to a product in the store that can be peeled off to use at checkout. Also called an instant value coupon (IVC)
PG: Proctor & Gamble. A company that sells a wide variety of products that puts out a monthly insert in the Sunday newspaper.
Purchase: A frequently used term on coupons indicating an item. For example, a coupon may read, "Limit one coupon per purchase." Each item is a purchase in a transaction so the buyer may match one coupon to each item purchased.
FB: Acronym for Facebook, a great place to find coupons.
RA: Short for Rite Aid.
RP: Red Plum. A coupon insert found in most Sunday Newspapers
Sales Cycle: The cycle of prices on a given item that fluctuates from retail price to rock bottom (buy now) prices. This cycle varies by product but usually produces rock bottom prices every 6 to 8 weeks.
SS: Smart Source. A coupon insert found in most Sunday newspapers
SQ: Store coupon. These can usually be stacked with manufacturer's coupons.
Stacking: The process of using multiple coupons, sales, and promotions
Stockpiling: The process of buying enough products at their rock bottom (buy now) prices to last your family until the item hits rock bottom again on the following Sales Cycle. A stockpile usually is enough to last 6 to 8 weeks. Contrast this term with hoarding, which I believe is selfishly cleaning out the store to have an unrealistic supply of certain items (years worth).
Tearpad (TP): A type of coupon found on shelves and displays in stores and gas stations as a pad from which the coupon can be torn.
Transaction: A total purchase of one or more items usually concluding in payment and followed by a receipt. Some coupons read, "Limit one coupon per transaction." The buyer may only use this type of coupon once per order, or transaction.
WYB: Short for When You Buy. Many promotions require the purchaser to buy a minimum number of items to get the promotional price. For example, Save Mart has boxes of General Mills cereal for $1.49 a box when you buy (WYB) four. If you only buy 3, you will have to pay a higher price.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Get Organized!

While there are many ways to organize your coupons, here are two of the most common methods for serious couponers.

The Binder:

This method consists of coupons cut, sorted, and placed in trading card displays in a three ring notebook.

  • It is the most organized method and can be arranged to fit your preference
  • The user never misses a coupon match up as the coupons are always available during shopping excursions
  • It can be used for all types of coupons (inserts, printables, blinkies, hangtags, peelies, etc.).
  • It is probably the most compact method of storing coupons
  • The user will not need to use a coupon database as regularly as a non-binder couponer
  • It is the most time consuming as each coupon must be cut and sorted, even if it is never used
  • It can be bulky and awkward during shopping and can make runs more time consuming unless coupons are already removed for the current trip
  • It requires an initial investment in the notebook and cards
  • It will require maintenance as coupons will expire and need to be removed on a regular basis
Whole Insert:

Newspaper inserts are stored in hanging files or magazine holders by date.

  • This method saves time as a coupon is only accessed and cut when it is needed
  • It is easy to find coupons when using a coupon database
  • It is free or very inexpensive to start and maintain
  • You only need to dispose of (or recycle) expired coupons when every coupon in the insert has expired so it is quick and easy to upkeep as long as the couponer took the time to label the furthest expiration date (see below)
  • This method takes up space
  • It would be impractical to take all the inserts to the store so shopping must be planned in advance and newly discovered savings or clearance coupon match-ups may be missed
  • A system for organizing printed coupons, blinkies, hangtags, tearpads, and other coupons must be developed in addition to this method
  • It will require regular access to a coupon database since coupons are not easy to find by searching through weeks of inserts.
I use the whole insert method and recommend the following tips for making this method most efficient:

  • Write the insert date on the front of each insert (the date is available on the ribbing, but it is tiny and will require eye strain).
  • Each Sunday, flip through the insert and find the last expiring coupon in the insert. Write that date on the front of the insert as well (so you will know when to throw or recycle that insert).
  • Consider writing any great coupons on the front of the insert or immediately pulling out any coupons that you know you will use (I pull out free item coupons and Real California Dairy coupons and put them in my wallet in case I am out and need to buy milk or need a free item to use as a filler).
Since I use the Whole Insert method, I keep all my printed coupons in a folder and loose coupons in a tub (arranged by type).

Best of Both Worlds?

I'm seriously considering beginning a coupon folder for high value and frequently used coupons. I would probably cut the coupons that I am highly likely to use and leave the vast majority stored whole insert. I'll let you know if I take the plunge into a modified binder method. :)

Coupon Tips:
  • Start slow. Either begin with the whole insert method or begin with a simple coupon folder. As you build up your collection you can invest in a better method.
  • Keep the best coupons with you. I carry high value, free item, and frequently used coupons with me. For example, I always have dairy coupons with me.
  • Divide by stores: Since I use the whole insert method, I keep a clear plastic gallon sized bag with each store's coupons. For example, I have Rite Aid, Safeway, and Target bags that contain their respective store coupons. When I plan my shopping trip, I place all of the coupons I anticipate using in the appropriate store bag with my list facing externally. Many who use the binder method also have separate sections for run and/or stores.
  • Don't throw them away: Unless you are absolutely convinced that you would never buy it even if it made you plenty of money, don't throw it away before it expires! A single coupon has made me as much as $10 on an item that I would have never thought to buy. It is often the strange pharmacy items that make you money.

Do you have any tips or a good method to share?

How to Save Without Using a Single Coupon!

Can you save money in less than 10 minutes a week without printing or cutting a single coupon? YES! While I'm definitely a fan of coupons, many friends and family are concerned that they do not have the time or interest necessary for collecting and using coupons. If that is you, read on!

Most items in the grocery store are on a sales cycle that causes prices to fluctuate from regular retail (a.k.a. "price gouging") to rock bottom (a.k.a. "BUY NOW"). This cycle may last 6 to 8 weeks. A Cheerios example:
June 1-14: $4.49 (retail)
June 15-21: $2.49 (sale)
June 22-28: $4.49 (retail)
June 29-July 5: $2.99 (sale)
July 6-12: $4.49 (retail)
July 13-19: $1.49 (rock bottom sale) Run, don't walk, to the store and buy Cheerios!
July 20... Retail again and cycle repeats
While this is a fictitious example, most products follow a similar cycle.

Here's where you come in. Become familiar with what you spend on items that your family needs or wants. Check the weekly ads at your favorite store and buy enough of the items that hit rock bottom prices to last 6 to 8 weeks.

A Tale of Two Moms

Learning Lana's family consumes 1 box of Cheerios every week. She buys one box every time she shops. According to our fictitious cycle she would pay aproximately $29 dollars for 8 boxes of Cheerios over an 8 week period.

Savvy Sarah's family also consumes a box a week. She waits until Cheerios hits rock bottom then buys 8 boxes at $1.49. She pays aproximately $12 for 8 weeks worth of Cheerios.

Moral: Knowing the best prices on your family's favorite items and waiting until they hit rock bottom to buy results in big savings.

If you only have 10 minutes a week and no desire to mess with coupons, go through your store's circular and list all the items that your family needs that are at rock bottom (buy now) prices. Buy enough of those items to last the cycle (6 to 8 weeks). On perishable items that won't freeze, try to buy only the items that are on sale and plan your meals around those items.

This method may take a cycle to see savings. The first month or two of stockpiling may cost a little bit more as you purchase larger quantities of groceries, but savings will become very apparent as you don't have to rush to the store to buy more Cheerios at the mercy of that week's price. ;)

Quick Tips:
  • Get to know the rock bottom (buy now) prices of the items your family needs. You can either chart the items or keep a couple months worth of ads to track cycles.
  • Review the ad and buy the items that your family needs that are on sale. If any item is at rock bottom price, buy at least 6 weeks worth.

You Can Do It!

Have you ever looked at your budget and wondered how you could squeeze out another dollar to pay a bill, save for the future, or give to those in need? Perhaps your family has seen the price of food, gas, and housing rise while income stagnates of even decreases. Cancer brought about huge changes in our lives. In addition to the heartache of fighting this difficult disease, we had to face the reality of increased expenses and decreased income. Prioritizing our time and energy meant that I quit tutoring and Jon was unable to continue window cleaning as a side job. Thankfully we had insurance, but we suddenly had increased medical, travel, and grocery expenses. With our financial situation looking bleak, I remembered my sister's encouragement to try couponing. From the moment I matched my first coupon to a sale, I knew the blessing of her advice would bring hope to our stretched budget.

My goal is to teach you how to:
Save big on your grocery bill (our grocery bill has been cut in half, even as our family has grown)
Find, organize, and use coupons
Get paid to shop!

With the tips and strategies I share, I'm confident that you will save hundreds or thousands of dollars a year!