January 31, 2009

Saturday Savings Roundup: Quick Trips to Kroger, Wags, & CVS

I'm linking up to the mega-list of frugal bloggers over at Money Saving Mom's weekly Super Savings Saturday post. Go see the best deals found around the blogosphere this week; you may still have time to grab 'em for yourself!

Saturday Savings Roundup, Week of January 26
{Quick Trips to Kroger, Wags, & CVS}

I didn't need too much this week; my pantry and freezer were well-stocked. I hit Kroger Sunday night before the ad changed and early Monday morning after the ad changed - and, boy, am I GLAD I did!

Our area was hit by snow Monday night, then ice Tuesday night, then lots more snow Wednesday, and then, just as the roads were becoming manageable a day later, a quick inch of sleety snow on Thursday night (known as the dreaded Ohio "wintry mix") to finish off the week. My two oldest had snow days off school from Tuesday through Friday.

Moral of the story: stocking your pantry and your freezer is a smart idea during tough weather months no matter where you live.

Onto the deals!

Kroger, Sunday January 25:


Spent: $9.81
Saved: $17.84, or 65%


Kroger, Monday January 26:


Spent: $33.39
Saved: $35.77, or 52%

For the full breakdowns of the coupons I used - and for more great Kroger deals found by other bloggers this week - visit my weekly feature, Let's Go Krogering!

Walgreens



Transaction #1:
(1) Colgate, $2.99 (earns $2 RRs)
*$1.00/1, SS 1/18

(6) Hershey Bars, B1G1Free with In-Ad Coupon, $0.89/2
*(3) Buy 1 Hershey's Dark, Get 1 Hershey Bar Free, 11/19 or 1/25 SS

Transaction #2:
(2) Walgreens Ibuprofen 100ct, B1G1Free on sale, $6.99
*(1) $2.00/1 Walgreens Ibuprofen 100ct, store coupon in red pharmacy booklet {mine came off for both bottles of Ibuprofen for a total discount of $4.00}

(6) Reese's Whips, B1G1Free with In-Ad Coupon, $0.89/2
*(3) $1.00/2, 1/4 SS

I also used the $2.00 RR from Transaction #1 in Transaction #2.

Combined Total:

Spent: $3.60
Saved: $23.59, or 87%

CVS:

{no picture}

(2) Mentos Gum 15 ct, B1G1Free, $1.69
*$0.55/2, 12/14 SS

(1) Head and Shoulders, $4.99

(2) Post Shredded Wheat, B1G1Free, $4.59
*$1.00/2, 1/4 SS

I also used $6.00 ECBs

Spent: $3.72
Saved: $15.13, or 80%
Earned: $3.00 ECBs


~~~Weekly Totals~~~

Spent: $50.52
Saved: $92.33, or 64%


I'm under my budget of $100 for the week, but I did this on purpose as I was over budget for two weeks in a row. I've been trying hard to stay on my budget of $400 for the months for all of our food and household items; I think I'm a wee bit over. And that's ok! Next month, I'll challenge myself to do a little better and see what happens.

How'd you do saving at the stores this week? Share your success in a comment!

Thank you for reading and subscribing to The New Frugal Mom!

January 30, 2009

Back to Basics: Couponing, Part Four {Evaluating}

{Every Friday during the month of January, I'll be posting my Back to Basics: Couponing series. Go here to see what the topics will be. I hope this series will help those of you out there who are just starting to use coupons to reduce your household budget. I'd love to hear what works for you! Add your ideas or links in a comment.}

Back to Basics: Couponing {Evaluating}

Congrats! You've made it to Part Four of my Back to Basics: Couponing series. So far, you've learned about collecting and organizing your coupons, planning your shopping trips to maximize your savings, and how to handle a mountain of coupons on real shopping excursion.

I hope that by this point in the series, you've had the chance to actually shop with a fistful of coupons and walk away *thrilled* by just how much you saved. It's a good feeling, isn't it? It's the opposite of the *shopping high* that some shopaholics say they feel when they're maxing out their credit cards.

We couponers don't get a *shopping high* - we get a *savings high*!

This final part of my Back to Basics: Couponing series is all about ways to take that savings thrill and make it work for you and others.

Let's go!

Documenting Your Savings

One of the best ways to keep your momentum as a couponer is to document your savings.

This can be as simple as an envelope system or as complex as a spreadsheet system; no matter what approach you take, it's important to stick with it and update it every time you go shopping.

Why?

Well, some weeks are *stellar* savings weeks during the year. Think of the big sales seasons during a typical calendar year: Thanksgiving and Christmas cooking; back-to-school shopping; Easter cooking {and goodies for the baskets}; New Year's resolutions to eat healthier and lose weight.

There's many more; you can probably name a few I left out. All of those times of year are usually preceded by big sales events at the grocery stores and lots of high quality coupons in the Sunday paper. The deals to be had during these weeks are fantastic and make shopping with coupons so!much!fun!

But there are also many *dead* weeks during the calendar year, weeks where the deals are scarce and the coupons inserts are thin. It can be challenging to find those incredible deals and as a result, you may find yourself getting discouraged.

Documenting your savings week to week will help you in two ways. One, you'll have a record of how much you've spent and how much you've saved so your savings document can serve as a good measuring tool. By that I mean if you start out trying to lower your budget by 10% with couponing, you'll have your savings document to track your spending. Once you hit that goal, you can look back at your past weeks and see how you could challenge yourself in the future to save a little bit more.

The other way it will help you is simply by offering you encouragement for those weeks when deals are scarce. Take a look a back at how well you've done and don't despair! The next great deals are just a week or two away!

I used an envelope system when I started couponing. For each month, I had (4) envelopes: Kroger, Wal-mart, CVS, and Walgreens. I put all my receipts from each store in their respective envelope and noted on the front of the envelope the date, amount spent, and amount saved of each trip. It worked well and was simple enough to keep updated.

This year, I'm using my friend Andrea's Savings Spreadsheet that she's made available to everyone who wants it as a Google Doc right here. If you're blogging on Blogger, you already have a Google account; downloading it will be very easy. If you don't have a Google account, you can set one up for free right here.

Bottom line: choose a method to document your savings from shopping with couponing that works for you and tweak it if you need to. There's no *right* method!

Stockpiling

I've touched on this a little bit in parts two and three of this series; let's look at it a little more in-depth.

Stockpiling can save you a lot of money - and time - if you stockpile those items you and/or your family uses on a regular basis. If you have tiny ones, diapers and wipes are great stockpile items. For those with older children, stocking up favorite foods is always a moneysaver since kids have a way of growing and eating constantly! Everyone needs toilet paper and soap and toothpaste and deodorant. The list really can go on and on.

The best way to know what items would be good stockpile items for you is to just take a pencil and paper and start poking through your cabinets, your freezer, and your bathrooms. See what you have on-hand and ask yourself what you *always* seem to run out of every week. It won't be long before you've got a good feel for what items you should try to stockpile.

When you see a great sale price (a price that can be lowered with current coupons) on items you know would be good for your stockpile, grab 'em! Gather those coupons and load up on those deals.

You'll find that after a few weeks to a month, you may have enough goodies stockpiled that you need to dedicate a certain space in your home for your stockpile. Depending on your family size and needs, this could be as small as a Rubbermaid box in the bottom of your linen closet (like *yours truly*) or as big as an extra set of shelves in your basement or garage. No matter what size your stockpile is, it's a good idea to keep it organized so you can quickly see what you have on hand vs. what you need to replenish.

How this saves you money? Well, easy! Now, when you run out of toilet paper or shampoo or crackers or whatever, you won't need to worry about paying full price for it when you make a last minute trip to the store. All you'll need to do is shop your stockpile. Not only will you save money, you'll lower your stress (who really wants to run out late at night for a must-have item?) and save time by eliminating extra shopping trips. Saving time is saving money!

One last thing: sometimes you'll find that you have TOO much on hand (like toothpaste), which brings me to my final topic here in part four of this series...

Finding Ways to Give Back

One of the best parts of couponing and stockpiling is ending up with *more* than I know I'll use in a reasonable amount of time. Why do I love this? Because it means I can share my extras with others, from family and friends to my local food pantry.

This is one of the reasons why I keep my personal care items stockpile in a small Rubbermaid tote; when it gets too full, I know it's time to clean out a few things and give them away. For the food items I stockpile, I simply fill up my pantry and freezer. Some months I do have extra cans and boxes to donate, but not always since I have (3) growing kiddos who like to eat.

Looking for your local food pantry? Visit Feeding America and enter your zip code to find the food pantry or food bank closest to you. They will be *overjoyed* with anything you can donate, trust me!

If donating items is out of your reach because you're on a limited budget and need every deal you can find, you can still give back by helping others learn how to save money couponing. When someone asks you how you save so much money, show them the ropes.

Or go one step further: start your own blog dedicated to saving money and whatever else is important to you. You'll have a place to add all of your favorite links that help you plan your shopping trips and before long, you might find that your posts are truly helping others.

And that, dear frugal friends, is always a good thing!

Looking for parts 1-3 of this series? Click here for links to each post.

Thank you for reading and subscribing to The New Frugal Mom!

January 28, 2009

Frugal Tip: Cakes Good Enough to Eat!



Birthdays are fun at our house; we have lots of family and friends that live in the SW Ohio area so every time a birthday rolls around, we've got a great reason to throw a big party!

We keep it simple - no petting zoos in the garage or mini roller coasters in the backyard. ;-) We have enough fun without all that whizbang spendy stuff.

One thing I do for all of my kids is make them their special birthday cake. I just made my youngest an Oswald cake for his party last Sunday; he loved it and I had fun making it.

Want to see a picture? Click here to read my full post about making fun birthday cakes for kids at Sisterly Savings.

I'm a weekly contributor over at Sisterly Savings; Jennifer is a dear bloggy buddy of mine. You can find me there on Wednesdays when I post about different ways I'm Going Frugal.

I hope you'll jump over to visit me at Sisterly Savings! Jennifer's site is a great resource for beginners!



Thanks for reading and subscribing to The New Frugal Mom!

January 27, 2009

Let's Go Krogering! Week of January 26



This new feature will be posted every Tuesday by 5:00 AM EST. I'll have a Mr. Linky at the bottom if you'd like to add your link to your own post about what deals you found at your local Kroger. Please click here to read the rules and please feel free to grab the html code for the 149x149 button from my sidebar.

As always, please add a link in your Let's Go Krogering! post back to my main Let's Go Krogering! post; don't we all just love our linkyluv? ;)

Feel free to link up to this all week and share the good deals you find at your local Kroger or Kroger-affiliated store!


A special thanks to these fine bloggers who participated in the "Inaugural" Let's Go Krogering! post last Tuesday:

$5 Dinners

At The Creek

Starting to Save

Mommy Snacks

The Frugal House

A Stitch of Faith

Thank you for participating in the first Let's Go Krogering! (and for making sure my Mr. Linky box didn't get lonely!)

My trip to Kroger Marketplace, January 25, 2009



Spent: $9.81
Saved: $17.84, or 64%


Once I received the new weekly Kroger ad on Saturday and confirmed that both the Mega Sale deal would continue through this week and that the sale price on Kroger half-gallons of milk ($1.20) and orange juice and B1G1Free Sara Lee Bread would not, I decided to to a split trip to Kroger this week.

By that I simply mean that I ran out for the items above on *Sunday* night at the tail end of the old week's sale then hit Kroger again on *Monday* morning after school drop off at the beginning of the new week's sale.

I only do this when the deals are worth it as it means *one* more trip out to the store; I try not to waste time and would rather go Krogering only once a week - but when I can load up on milk for pennies, I'm SO there!

My matchups:

(6) Sara Lee Soft and Smooth bread
~ on sale this week, B1G1Free $2.18 ea

(6) 1/2 gallons of 2% Milk, $1.20 ea (sale price)
~ used (6) Buy 1 Sara Lee Soft and Smooth Bread, get $1.00 off ANY size milk
(These coupons were located on (2) tearpads at my local Save-A-Lot -- I stopped in for some yeast and bananas a week ago and lucked into finding them. Last week, I froze a bunch of bread and gave a couple loaves to my parents; this week, I froze three loaves and gave the other three to a dear friend of mine...just because I could!)

I threw in an extra Sunday newspaper for more coupons to use in the future.

My trip to Kroger Marketplace, January 26, 2009



Spent: $33.39
Saved: $35.77, or 51%


I only needed a few things to round out the stash in my freezer and pantry; I'm also trying my very best to stay firmly on budget this month so my available funds were lower than previous weeks.

I'm already sure that next week will be a split trip too so that I can load up on the last of the Mega Saver items on Sunday evening before the sale is over.

My matchups:

(1) Kraft Mayo (Mega Event Item), $2.99
$0.75/1, SS 1/18

(2) Hormel Chili, $1.00 ea
$0.55/2, SS 1/18

(1) Kraft Shredded Cheese, $1.99
$0.75/1, blinkie above product (and boy, were those EMPTY!)

(4) Rotel Diced Tomatoes, $0.87
$0.30/1, SS 1/18

(1) Cattleman's BBQ Sauce, $1.69
$1.00/1 printable available here

(1) French's Mustard, $1.69
$1.00/1 printable available here

(2) Campbell's Soup to Go, $1.99 ea
$1.00/2 printable available here {dead link}

(1) Mt Olive Jalapenos, $2.19
$0.55/any Mt Olive blinkie located next to the products

(1) Fresh Express Romaine Salad, $2.00
$1.00/1 Kroger Home Mailer

Other Sale Items:

Kroger Sandwich Bags, $1.24
John Morrel Bacon, B1G1Free, $3.99/2
Tyson Chicken Breast, $1.77/lb ($2.85)
Hot Dog Buns, $1.00
(3) Blueberries, $1.00 ea
(10) Gala Apples, $0.25 ea

Items Not on Sale But on My List:

(1) Doz. Eggs, $1.32
Bananas, $1.07
Imperial Margarine, $0.92
Roma Tomato, $0.46
Kroger Raisins 6 pk, $1.99
Kroger Yeast, $1.49
Kroger Flour, $1.99
Krober Valu Corn, $0.54
Kroger Valu Cream of Mushroom Soup, $0.63
Kroger Pinto Beans, $0.57
Kroger Valu Mushroom piece, $0.54

Don't forget to take your reusable shopping bags with you when you get your Krogering on! My Kroger discounts my total bill by $0.03/reusable bag.

Final Krogering Total:

Spent: $43.20
Saved: $53.61, or 55%


For the full list of coupon matchups for this week's sale at Kroger, go visit my friend Andrea and read her Snack Summary on this week's Kroger deals right here.

And, for my menu plan for this week (built around these deals + what I had in my freezer and pantry), click here.

And, just because I love to save you time, click here for the full grocery list of items needed for my menu plan this week. It's a GoogleDoc and you should easily be able to print it right from your browser. Let me know if I missed any ingredients so I can revise it as soon as possible!

I *heart* going Krogering! I hope you'll share how much you saved when you went Krogering this week! Leave your link below and be sure to come back next Tuesday, 02/03/07, to see what I find next week and to link up your own Kroger deals!


January 26, 2009

Back to Basics: The Budget Test Drive

{Every Monday during the month of January, I'll go Back to Basics and discuss ways to build a realistic household budget. I'd love to hear what works for you! Add your ideas or links in the comment section at the end.}

Back to Basics: Budgeting, Part Four {The Budget Test Drive}

(Go here to see links to Parts 1-3 of this series.)

This series has covered some budget basics: tracking your everyday spending by saving each and every receipt; listing your fixed and variable monthly expenses; and, last week, online tools and downloads you can use to build a working budget.

If you've been following all these steps, it's time to take your budget for a test drive!

Using whatever tool, download, spreadsheet, or notebook, set your budget for next month. Try to budget every dollar that you expect to come into your household; even if you find yourself with a small amount leftover after you fill in the amounts you predict you'll need/spend next month, assign that leftover amount to your Misc. Expenses category. Give each dollar a place and a purpose!

Test driving anything requires tweaks and adjustments as you move foward, and as you learn and gather more information. Not only will you need to update your budget to reflect *real* spending and *real* bill totals versus your current *predicted* spending and *predicted* bill totals, you'll need to watch for trends. Are you underspending in a certain category? Overspending? Did you have unexpected expenses? Maybe you had a windfall of income/cash into your household this month?

To do this effectively, you should update your budget *every* time you spend money or pay a bill. If you can't do this daily, you should save EVERY receipt and dedicate a time each week to both pay bills and update your *real* daily spending categories.

Don't fret if your *predicted* budget ends up looking very different from your *real* budget.

Remember, this is a test drive. You're testing your brand new budget out with the intent of finding errors, shortfalls, and windfalls so that you can better predict your spending needs in the future.

Bottom line: the budget test drive is a learning experience, not a pass/fail test. There is no *failure* in budgeting, only improvement. So don't beat yourself up if your predicted budget falls short of your goals; take what you learn from the test drive and build on it for the next month.

And congratulate yourself for taking charge of your financial life!

What is your best piece of advice for those just beginning to use a monthly budget? Share in a comment!

Thanks for reading and subscribing to The New Frugal Mom!

January 25, 2009

Menu Plan Monday: Week of January 26



Looking for ideas for your weekly menu? Go visit the Menu Plan Monday linkup over at OrgJunkie's webjoint. There's more menu plans than you can shake a breadstick at!

{And, OrgJunkie has a fabulous giveaway for this week's Menu Plan Monday participants! This is a great week to start linking up your menu plan if you've never participated before - go see the great giveaway and drop your menu plan link!}

I've got a pretty well-stocked pantry thanks to last week's Mega Savings Sale at Kroger (which continues through this week; WOOT!) and I didn't cook one of the meals on my meal plan from last week. I'll be adding it back into my menu plan for this week.

Monday

Slow Cooker Chicken with Mushroom Wine Sauce + Steamed Veggies + Egg Noodles

Tuesday

Bread Machine Calzone + Salad

Wednesday

Chicken and Dumplings
(I can't find the recipe link I usually use; using this recipe, cook/shred about 1 lb chicken drumsticks or thighs and add 1 tsp thyme, 1/3 cup lemon juice, and sauteed onions, carrots, and celery {about 1/2 cup of each} -- ever so yummy!)

Thursday

Bacon Wrapped Mexican Hot Dogs and Mac-n-Cheese
{This recipe looks yummy -- but not necessarily the healthiest choice! Still, these look like they'd be seriously tasty if you're planning a Super Bowl party on Sunday.}

Friday

Amy's Barbecue Chicken Salad {I'll used a bagged salad rather than separate lettuces.) + Cornbread {I'll use a mix to keep it easy!}

Saturday

We'll grab a quick bite out for dinner on our way to a family event that evening. Fear not, frugal friends; this dining experience will most definitely involve coupons of some sort! Time to bust out the Entertainment Book!

Sunday

BLTs + O'Charley's Baked Potato Soup Copycat Recipe
{Note: I'm paying close attention to the "tweaks" in the reviews of this recipe and will substitute milk for the half & half. }

I've posted the grocery list needed for this menu plan as a GoogleDoc; find it here. You should be able to print it right from your browser.

If you see that I missed any ingredients, please drop a comment or email me; I'll revise the document as soon as possible.

Be sure to come back tomorrow, Tuesday, January 27, 2009, for my weekly feature Let's Go Krogering! I'll show you the deals + coupon matchups I found for my menu plan at my local Kroger so you can get 'em, too!

Thank you for reading and subscribing to The New Frugal Mom!

Copycat Recipe Review: LaRosa's Pizza Sauce Recipe

I *love* finding good copycat recipes online; it's both challenging and fun to see what kind of yummy fave foods I can cook that taste *almost* exactly like the real thing.

In my menu plan for this week, I linked to a recipe for a copycat version of LaRosa's Pizza Sauce. If you've ever lived in the Cincinnati area, you know just how tasty that sauce is and how it totally *makes* the pizza.

I tried the recipe out earlier this week. Wanna see how it cooked up? Come take a peek!

Ingredients



I didn't have pureed tomatoes in my pantry but I did (and still do) have a good stash of diced tomatoes. With a few spins in my Cuisinart, I soon had a good puree for the sauce. Note that I experimented with using (1) can of Italian-style diced tomatoes since they already have some spices added.

Before



After



Once I had the puree done, I poured it into a stockpot with the rest of the ingredients, brought it to a boil, then let it simmer for a good 45 minutes. It reduced and thickened quite a bit during that time.

I test-drove the sauce that day by making pizza for dinner. In keeping with my copycat theme, I used this copycat recipe for Pizza Hut pizza dough (the dough is prepped in a bread machine - easy!).

Finished Product



I'd cut a slice and pass it through the internet to you but alas! Technology does have it's limits.

It was as yummy as it looks, particularly the pizza crust. The sauce was good, too, but when I make it tomorrow for our son's birthday party I'll make these changes to the recipe.

~Reduce amount of sugar and honey by 1/2 tsp each.

~Use (1) can of tomato sauce + (1) can of diced tomates to make puree. My older son wasn't too keen on the thicker texture.

~Sneak in the carrot not as diced or minced, but as puree, too, by pureeing the carrots with the tomatoes.


Do YOU have a fave copycat recipe? Share a comment and drop the link!

January 24, 2009

Saturday Savings Roundup: What I Needed + Stockpiling

I'm linking up to the Super Savings Saturday post over at Money Saving Mom today; go see how much money smart bloggers saved this week. It'll knock your socks off!

Saturday Savings Roundup, Week of January 19
{What I Needed + Stockpiling}

This was a great week for stockpiling on rock-bottom priced (or Fuh-REE!) items at the Kroger Mega Savings Event. I rocked that sale:



Spent: $75.30
Saved: $115.10, or 60%


For the full breakdown of the coupons I used, click over to my Let's Go Krogering! post where I list 'em all for you. And while you're there, add your own link to my weekly Let's Go Krogering! feature if you rocked the deals at your Kroger this week.

I also hit Walgreens to load up on goodies for the family get-together we have planned on Sunday for our son's third birthday. The RR deals at Walgreens this week are high dollar ones meaning it was a great stockpiling event, too.

My transactions:


Spent: $28.12
Saved: $56.66, or 67%

For the full breakdown of the (3) transactions with the coupons I used, go read my Walgreens 1/19 - 1/24: Get Your Party ON! post here.

And, can I confess? Although I told you here in this post how *unabashedly* Kroger-loyal I am, I made a quick run last Friday night to Meijer. I caught a look at my friend Andrea's post about the sweet 10 for $10, 11th Item FREE sale at Meijer and saw a LOT of great coupon matchups for stockpile items. Add to that the rock bottom prices Meijer was running on fresh produce (blueberries for $1.00!) and I knew it would be well worth my time to make a quick run over to Meijer.

No pictures (it was SO late!); here's the breakdown on money spent/saved.

Spent: $28.54
Saved: $32.54, or 53%


~~~Weekly Totals~~~

With my *extra-curricular* trip to Meijer last Friday night, I came in quite a bit over my $100 budget; that's ok with me. I budget for the month, not for the week. As long as I break even for the month, I'm satisfied.

What aiming for a monthly budget total allows me to do is to spend a bit more during weeks when the best sales occur, sales with items at rock-bottom prices that I can stockpile. Right now, my freezer and pantry are loaded with goodies; all I really need to buy next week are a few perishable items and I'll be good to go!

Total Spent: $131.96
Total Saved: $204.30, or 61%

How'd you do saving at the stores this week? Share your success in a comment!

Thank you for reading and subscribing to The New Frugal Mom!

January 23, 2009

New Ad Widget: YouData



If you look over to the right sidebar, you'll notice I've added a YouData ad widget. (If you're reading me in your reader, click on through to the site to see what all the hullabaloo is about; thanks!)

I am SO excited to be partnering with YouData to bring you quality advertising that actually pays YOU the reader!

That's right! You heard me correctly - YOU get paid to view the ads at YouData.

The idea is simple: advertisers want to get their ads seen by the right audience. You create a MeFile at YouData that allows YouData to customize the ads you'll view based on your data. You view ads and get paid each week in your PayPal account. How sweet is THAT?!

Setting up a MeFile is easy; it took me only a few minutes to set up my own MeFile. Last week, after clicking through a handful of ads which took me only a few minutes, I earned $6.36 paid directly to my PayPal account. Easy money!

How does having a YouData ad widget help me as a blogger? Well, one of my goals with this new version of The New Frugal Mom is to earn some income through my blog. But the LAST thing I want to do is alienate you, my fine frugal readers, with sidebars cluttered with links, ads, and affiliates that aren't relevant to my content. Nor do I want to sell my blogging efforts by writing Paid Posts -- I like saying what I mean and meaning what I say without having to write to someone else's specifications.

YouData respects both you as a reader (dudes, they PAY you to view their ads!) and me as a blogger (I earn a few pennies each time you view ads from my widget). Talk about a WIN-WIN situation!

I should also tell you that after you view your ads in my YouData ad widget that you'll see a little slider that says "Keep/Give" at the top. This is essentially a tip jar; if you want to share a few pennies with me as an act of kindness and to support this blog, you can move the slider to select what percentage you'd like to keep/give. This is strictly voluntary. I deeply appreciate your readership; any extra pennies you toss my way will be greatly appreciated as well.

For more information about the philosophy behind YouData, read this page at their site.

And if you have any questions for me, don't hesitate to ask in the comments section or simply drop me an email. Sharing valuable information is what makes blogging work!

Thanks for reading and subscribing to The New Frugal Mom!

Walgreens 1/19-1/24: Get Your Party ON!



Do you have a party coming up on your family calendar? Maybe one that involves pigskins and NFL bragging rights for the next year?

We're not hosting a Superbowl party on February 1st but we are hosting a smallish family get-together on Sunday to celebrate my youngest's birthday. He turned three today and we're looking forward to another fun family celebration with our close family members who live in our area.

I've got some of what I'm cooking for the party, but I still needed some party snacks and supplies. Luckily for me, there are some really great deals at Walgreens through this Saturday (01/24), including (2) high dollar Register Reward deals that I used to stockpile some goodies while I got what I needed for our party.

Take a look!

Transaction #1



Buy $20 of participating Pepsi or Frito-Lay products, receive a $10 RR.

(3) 12 pks, $3.00 ea

(2) Doritos, $2.50 ea

(2) Tostitos 13 oz, $2.50 ea

(1) Gatorade, $1.00

Total: $20.65 (paid cash)
Earned: $10.00 RR

(Remember to keep that receipt so you can send it in for the $15 of Pepsi/Frito-Lay Coupons offer right here!)

Transaction #2



Buy (8) participating Unilever products, receive a $10 RR.

(2) Ragu Sauce, $1.99 ea
$0.75/2, RP 1/18

(1) Lipton Tea, $2.99
$0.60/1, RP 1/18

(1) Q-Tip 500 ct, $2.99
$0.30/1, RP 1/18

(4) Skippy Peanut Butter, $1.99 ea
$0.40/1, RP 1/18 {I used (4) coupons.}

Total: $15.36
Used $10.00 RR from Transaction #1
Final Total: $5.36 (paid cash)
Earned: $10.00 RR

Transaction #3



(2) 1/2 Gallons of milk, $1.49 ea (sale price)

(1) Walgreens Mixed Nuts, $3.49
In-Ad Coupon, $1.99 ea
$0.50/1, Walgreens store coupon (located in the red $50 coupon booklet available at the pharmacy that reads: Thank You for requesting your FREE Medicare Part D Plan Report)

(2) Blue Diamond Almonds, $3.49 ea
In-Ad Coupon, B1G1Free
$0.75/2, 1/18 SS

(1) Dixie Napkins 200 ct, $1.99 (sale price)

(1) Dixie Plates 24 ct, $1.99 (sale price)

(3) Extra Gum 15 ct, $0.66 ea (sale price)
$0.99/3 Instant Value Coupon in January Easy Saver Catalog

Total: $13.11
Used $10 RR from Transaction #2
Final Total: $3.11


Trip Totals

Spent: $28.12
Saved: $58.66, or 67%

I got just what I needed to round out my party supplies; we don't drink much pop here at out house. I only buy it when I'm having a get-together.

I was also able to stockpile some great items we use either every day or every week. Stockpiling saves you mucho $$ over time once you determine which products are used most by your family. When those items go on sale with coupons available to lower the total price, it's time to grab 'em!

So what are you waiting for - grab your coupons and your Walgreens Ad and January Easy Saver Catalog and go stock up for your next party!

For the best coupon matchups at Walgreens this week, go visit my friend Andrea and see her Snack Summary for Walgreens this week right here.

For help on how to shop Walgreens with coupons to get the best deals, read my Back to Basics: Walgreens Explained post right here.

Want to see how other supersmart bloggers are rocking the deals at Walgreens this week? Go visit my blogging buddy Denise's weekly linkup, Drugstore Divas. You'll find links to even more ways to save!

Thanks for reading and subscribing to The New Frugal Mom!

Back to Basics: Couponing Part Three {Implementing: When to Shop; Coupon Policies; Hidden Deals; Stacking Coupons; and Leaving a Good Impression}

{Every Friday during the month of January, I'll be posting my Back to Basics: Couponing series. Go here to see what the topics will be. I hope this series will help those of you out there who are just starting to use coupons to reduce your household budget. I'd love to hear what works for you! Add your ideas or links in a
comment.}

Back to Basics: Couponing (Implementing)

In part one of this series, I talked about the importance of collecting and saving every coupon that comes your way and methods to keep them all organized.

In part two of this series, I explained how to plan your shopping trips around the store sales and the items on sale that have coupon matchups; I also listed some of the different online resources you can use in planning your shopping trips.

Now that you've got a growing coupon collection and a budget-driven shopping plan, it's time to hit the stores! Let's grab some deals!

When to Shop

As I mentioned here in my post about couponing etiquette, your best bet is to shop your grocery store during off-peak times. You'll avoid the crowds and the long lines when it comes time to check out.

But you should aim to shop not just during off-peak times but during ones when the store will be well-stocked. For example, if you go late Saturday evening you might find the shelves emptied by the shoppers from earlier in the day.

Grocery stores do the bulk of their business on the weekends; if you shop during an off-peak time on a Thursday, you'll likely find the store personnel busily filling the shelves as they get ready for the shoppers to come. Mondays are also a good day to shop (later in the day if possible) because the store is being re-stocked after the busy weekend.

It may take you a few weeks to find the best day that works for you and for your schedule; once you do, try to stick with it because you'll get to know the cashiers who are usually on duty on the day and time you go shopping. It always helps to build positive relationships with them!

Coupon Policies

Despite many grocery stores being part of a larger corporation, there is often differing coupon acceptance and redemption policies from store to store and from region to region.

You have two routes you can pursue to get a clear answer on your local grocery store's coupon policy: you can contact the corporate office via their website or Customer Service 1-800 number and request a copy of the policy for your store be emailed to you (so you can print it and carry it with you) or you could ask your store manager for your store's policy. I recommend contacting the corporate office because having it in writing is invaluable.

If you find yourself in a situation where your coupons aren't accepted as per that store's coupon policy states they should be, you can request the mistake be remedied at the customer service desk. If the error is still not resolved, you can then contact the corporate office and use the coupon policy as a reference. As always, be gracious; it will get you much further than ranting and raving.

Hidden Deals

One of my favorite hidden deals at my grocery store is items on clearance or items that are reduced for quick sale. Items with expiration dates are often reduced in price when they're within a day or two of their expiration date; you can often find bagged salads, store-made procude cups or bakery items, meats, and dairy items at these quick sale prices.

Buying items at reduced prices is really a judgement call; my rule is if it looks fresh and fine and I know I'll use it within a day or can freeze it, then I'll buy it. I also shop at Kroger where the standards for freshness - even on reduced items - are very high.

Some of these perishable products have coupons available in your Sunday inserts or from other sources which, when applied to the reduced price, can make the item pennies or free.

If you're looking for the best day to shop for finding reduced for quick sale items, try Thursday (stores want to have their best presentation for the busy weekend) or the day before the new sale week begins.

Stacking Coupons

Stacking coupons happens when your store offers their own store coupons off a product and you have a manufacturer's coupon for the same item. You can *usually* use both of these together (depending upon your store's coupon policy) for greater savings.

Some grocery chains send their customers store coupons via USMail; some offer them within a magazine or other store publication. Look through the magazine racks that are usually found near the grocery carts for these.

It's important to note that you cannot stack manufacturer coupons; that's simply double-dipping and will only hurt all couponers in the long run as manufacturers and stores become more restrictive.

Leaving a Positive Impression

Be kind and friendly to your store staff; cultivate positive relationships. My five year old son loves chatting with one of the department managers at our Kroger; when I'm at the store without him, the manager asks how he's doing.

Remember that you're not just a customer in your store, but a guest. Be a good one! Use your good manners. Don't let your kids trash the displays. Try to clean up your mess if you drop something. Smile and say, "Hi!" It won't cost you a thing and it may just make that cashier's day to be treated with kindness.

Join me next Friday (01/30/09) for the final part of this series: Evaluating. We'll talk about tracking your savings, building a stockpile, and finding ways to give back.

Did I miss anything? Do you have any questions or suggestions? Leave a comment and share! I really do appreciate every comment you leave!

Thank you for reading and subscribing to The New Frugal Mom!

January 20, 2009

Let's Go Krogering! Week of January 19



This new feature will be posted every Tuesday by 5:00 AM EST. I'll have a Mr. Linky at the bottom if you'd like to add your link to your own post about what deals you found at your local Kroger.

THE RULES:

1. Make sure you leave a link in the second box of the Mr. Linky form that goes DIRECTLY to your Let's Go Krogering! post, not to your home page. (Copy the permalink for your Krogering post and you'll be good to go!).

2. Make sure you mention that you're linking up to my main Let's Go Krogering post at The New Frugal Mom in your blog post and link to my Let's Go Krogering post for that week. Thank you very much for doing this -- sharing linky love makes blogging fun for everyone! *You can also grab the button for this feature; see my sidebar or the end of the rules.*

3. In the first space of the Mr. Linky box, leave your name/site name, then in the parentheses tell us how much you spent/saved and where your Kroger is located so others near you can find the same deals. If you don't want to be specific (for example, I shop the Lebanon, Ohio Kroger Marketplace), you can simply add the region in which your Kroger is located (for example, Cincinnati). Kroger deals vary slightly across regions; my hope is by adding the approximate region where you shop, you'll be able to help (or be helped by) others near you.

4. If you could note which coupons you used and where they're located (for example, Smart Source 1/18 or printable here {embed link} or blinkie above product), that would be just PEACHY and very helpful to your fellow Krogerers.

5. If you find something on clearance that matches up with available coupons, share that, too!

6. If you shop one of the grocery stores that is part of the Kroger Corporation (see the list of Kroger-owned grocery stores in the "Chains" portion of this Wikipedia entry about Kroger), feel free to join this linkup. Just be sure to write the name of your Kroger-owned store in the Mr. Linky box (for example, Dillons, Ralph's, Fred Meyer, Smiths, etc). Many times, similar deals are offered across the range of grocery chains that Kroger owns.

7. Empty links will be deleted as will links to inappropriate content.

Thanks for reading through those rules! Next week, I'll just add a link to the rules after back-dating the rules post in my archives.

Here's the button if you want to grab it!



Copy and paste the code below into your post:

<em><a href="http://thenewfrugalmom.com/"><img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_4PVFXX60X44/SXU4fv9g92I/AAAAAAAABUE/ptuH4SRJ0WM/s400/LGKrogering+149x145.png" border="0"" /></a></em>


Now onto the fun!

My trip to Kroger (Lebanon, OH Marketplace), January 19, 2009



Spent: $75.30
Saved: $115.10, or 60%


I rocked the Mega Savings event (buy 10 participating products, get $5.00 off your total order at check out; limit 3 per order) as well as grabbed some other deals for which I luckily had good coupons.

Remember, Kroger in the Cincinnati region offers unlimited doubled coupons and doubles coupons up to a cap of $1.00.

My matchups:

(6) Sara Lee Soft and Smooth bread
~ on sale this week, B1G1Free $2.18 ea
~ also used Kroger mailed coupon for $0.55/1 Sara Lee SS Bread


(6) 1/2 gallons of 2% Milk, $1.20 ea (sale price)
~ used (6) Buy 1 Sara Lee Soft and Smooth Bread, get $1.00 off ANY size milk
(these coupons were located on (2) tearpads at my local Save-A-Lot -- I stopped in for some yeast and bananas last Friday and lucked into finding them. I put (4) loaves in my freezer and gave (2) to my mom and dad. Be sure to look around your stores for those tearpads, too!)

(1) Little Debbie 100 Cal Snack Cakes, $1.79
~ $0.55/1 printable here

(2) Cottonelle 4 pks, $0.99 ea
~ (2) $0.50/1 printable here (page 1)

(3) Hormel Pepperoni, 8 oz, $3.49 ea
~ (3) $0.55/1, SS 1/18

(2) Healthy Choice Fresh Mixers, $3.69 ea
~ (2) $1.00/1 printable here
~ (1) $1.50/2 via ShortCuts*

(1) No Yolks Egg Noodles, 16 oz, $2.09
~ $0.50/1 printable here (page 2)

(2) Kids Yoplait Yogurt 6 pks, $2.38 ea
~ (1) $1.00/2 printable here (page 2)
~ (1) $1.00/2 via ShortCuts
*

(6) Hunts Diced Tomatoes, $0.99 ea
~ (2) $1.00/3 printable here

Yo-Plus Yogurt 4pk, $2.49 ea
~ (1) $1.00/1 via Cellfire*
~ (1) $1.00/1 printable here


Mega Savings Items (Buy 10, get instant $5.00 off at checkout; limit 3 per transaction)

(2) Orville Redenbacher Popcorn 3 pks, $1.99 ea ($1.49 after Mega Sale Discount)
~ (2) $1.00/1 printable here

(3) Chex Mix, $1.99 ea ($1.49 after Mega Sale Discount)
~ (2) $0.60/1 via ShortCuts (different exp. dates)*
~ (1) $0.60/1 via Cellfire*
~ (1) $0.50/2 (peelie found on front of bags in store today)


(1) Cheetos, $1.99 ($1.49 after Mega Sale Discount)

(1) Goldfish Crackers, $1.49 ($0.99 after Mega Sale Discount)

(3) Kleenex Tissues, $1.49 ea ($0.99 after Mega Sale Discount)
~ $1.00/3, SS 1/4

(5) Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers, $1.49 ea ($0.99 after Mega Sale Discount)
~ (4) $0.50/1, GM 1/4 and SS 1/11
~ (1) $0.60 printable here (dead link)


(6) Kraft Shredded Cheese. $1.99 ea ($1.49 after Mega Sale Discount)
~ (6) $0.75/1 blinkies found above product (This blinkie was above the product last week; I grabbed a few last week then grabbed a few more today. Note: this blinkie does NOT double.)

(2) Kraft 2% Milk Cheese Slices, $1.99 ea ($1.49 after Mega Sale Discount)
~ (2) $0.75/1 blinkies (same blinkie as above)

(5) Quaker Oatmeal Cereal Packets, $2.49 ea ($1.99 after Mega Sale Discount)
~ (4) $0.70/1, RP 1/4
~ (1) $1.00/1 Kroger register catalina


(2) Pace Salsa, $1.99 ea ($1.49 after Mega Sale Discount)
~ (1) $0.40/2, SS 12/14

Other items I bought on sale:
~ (1) lb Kroger Ground Chuck, $1.79
~ (1) 1/2 Gallon Kroger OJ, $1.20
~ (1) Land of Frost Turkey, 16 oz, $3.00
~ (1) Kroger Deluxe Ice Cream 1/2 gallon, $1.99
~ (1) Kroger Zips Crackers, $1.67
~ (1) Driscoll Strawberry, $1.50

And items not on sale, but on my list:
~ Bananas, $0.48/lb
~ Kroger flour, $1.99
~ Lemon, $0.74 ea
~ Kroger Wild Rice Mix, $0.99
~ Kroger 3 pk Yeast, $1.49
~ Jiffy Cornbread Muffin Mix. $0.43
~ Kroger Valu Cream of Mushroom Soup, $0.63
~ Kroger Valu Can of Mushrooms, $0.54
~ Kroger Tuna (can), $0.74
~ Kroger Vegetable Shortening, $4.49
~ Blue Bonnet Margarine 4pk, $0.72
~ Sweet Potatoes, $0.99/lb
~ 1 Doz Medium Eggs, $1.32

For the full list of coupon matchups for this week's sale at Kroger, go visit my friend Andrea and read her Snack Summary on this week's Kroger deals right here.

And, for my menu plan for this week (built around these deals + what I had in my freezer and pantry), click here.

And, just because I love to save you time, click here for the full grocery list of items needed for my menu plan this week. It's a GoogleDoc and you should easily be able to print it right from your browser. Let me know if I missed any ingredients so I can revise it as soon as possible!

I *heart* going Krogering! I hope you'll share how much you saved when you went Krogering this week! Leave your link below and be sure to come back next Tuesday, 01/27/09, to see what I find next week and to link up your own Kroger deals!

Now it's YOUR turn! Share your best deals from your local Kroger and help a fellow shopper save some $$!



++~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~++

*There is an overlap of my Cellfire and my ShortCuts coupons with paper coupons although I did not intend for this to happen. My friend Andrea just posted about the official policies for using Cellfire, ShortCuts, and P&G ESaver coupons which details that they should NOT be stacked with paper coupons.

I believe in ethical couponing (adhering to policies) and did not intend to stack these; in fact, I had redeemed some of the ShortCuts coupons during my last trip to Kroger and did not expect to see them redeemed again on my receipt.

My point: I'm not advocating stacking ECoupons with Manufacturer paper coupons in the listings above although it did happen that a few of my items ended up stacked today. As I understand from Andrea's post about this important issue, Kroger is working with all of the ECoupon providers to come up with a fix for this within their register system.

Until that happens, I will be sure to check my Cellfire, ShortCuts, and P&G ESaver accounts each week before shopping and note which coupons are loaded so I don't double up with paper coupons as well.


Thank you for reading and subscribing to The New Frugal Mom!

January 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday: Week of January 19


Looking for ideas for your weekly menu? Go visit the Menu Plan Monday linkup over at OrgJunkie's webjoint. You're bound to find something yummy for dinner!

Monday

Chicken Strips, Sweet Potato Oven Fries (My kids LOVED these last week and I have some sweet potatoes left in my crisper.)

Tuesday

Spaghetti and Meatballs (I'll use jarred sauce + the meatball recipe.)

Wednesday

Chicken and Dumplings
(I can't find the recipe link I usually use; using this recipe, cook/shred about 1 lb chicken drumsticks or thighs and add 1 tsp thyme, 1/3 cup lemon juice, and sauteed onions, carrots, and celery {about 1/2 cup of each} -- ever so yummy!)

Thursday

Minnesota Pork Chops with rice and veggies

Friday

Pizza with Bread Machne Pizza Dough and this copycat recipe of LaRosa's Pizza Sauce (If you've ever eaten LaRosa's pizza in Cincinnati, you KNOW how good that sauce is!)

Saturday

Free night (we have a parish dinner we're attending after 5:30 Mass)

Sunday

Birthday party for my soon-to-be three year old!

Assuming success on Friday, I'll make more pizza with the copycat recipe of LaRosa's Pizza Sauce, along with cake and party snacks.

++~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~++

I've posted the grocery list needed for this menu plan as a GoogleDoc; find it here. You should be able to print it right from your browser.

If you see that I missed any ingredients, please drop a comment or email me; I'll revise the document as soon as possible.

Be sure to come back tomorrow, Tuesday, January 20, 2009, for my weekly feature Let's Go Krogering. I'll show you the deals + coupon matchups I found for my menu plan at my local Kroger so you can get 'em, too!

Back to Basics: Building a Working Budget

{Every Monday during the month of January, I'll go Back to Basics and discuss ways to build a realistic household budget. I'd love to hear what works for you! Add your ideas or links in the comment section at the end.}

Back to Basics: Building a Working Budget

This is the third part of this four part series. In part one, I chatted about how important it is to track your day-to-day spending. In part two, I discussed the importance of gathering and itemizing your monthly expenses.

Now it's time to take the data you gathered in parts one and two and format a working budget for your household.

You can keep it simple: grab a spiral bound notebook, make a page for each month, use a ruler to create columns and rows, and then enter your expense categories. As you pay bills or do your shopping, you can pencil in the amounts you've spent.

You can also utilize some of these spreadsheets found online:

Personal Budget Worksheet for Microsoft Money; it's basic + functional.

A list of 10 different free downloadable household budget sheets from Christian Personal Finance. These include a debt elimination budget sheet and a wedding planning budget sheet. Good stuff!

Pear Budget, an online budgeting tool. The first 30 days are free; after that, you pay $3.00/month. It's fully customizable and looks very comprehensive but also very simple.

You can also check out the budget downloads available at Dave Ramsey.com.

Mint is the online budgeting site I would recommend if you're ready to move beyond basic budgeting and use one tool to align all of your financial accounts along with track your spending. It's totally free and the features offered are phenomenal. If you're looking for one online tool to manage every dime that comes in and out, this is the one. I plan on signing up for this myself and I'll keep you updated about how it's working for me.

And, while I did promise to make my own Google Doc budgeting spreadsheet available for download today, I've still got many formulas to finish within the document. And, quite frankly, I think you'll do just as well (if not better) by using one of the ideas I've mentioned in the above list.

Whichever method you choose, make sure it's one that you feel comfortable using day in and day out otherwise you won't use it.

Decide to spend some time this week on working on building your budget; don't necessarily try to do it all at once, especially if you're working on a spreadsheet and trying to plan out the full calendar year. Do it a little bit at a time. When you're done, sit down with your spouse and discuss it together. Communication is essential when it comes to financial success in your marriage.

What online tools or downloads do you recommend for budgeting? What hasn't worked for you? Share your knowledge and help someone else. Thanks so much for commenting; I truly appreciate each one of your comments!

Thank you for reading and subscribing to The New Frugal Mom!

January 18, 2009

Couponing Etiquette: DOs and DON'Ts


Good manners are always in style, and that goes double for us couponers.

Here's a few simple tips for new and old couponers alike:

~ DO shop during off-peak hours.

Saturday and Sunday are busy, busy days at grocery stores around this fine nation. The aisles are crowded, the lines are long, the shelves start out stocked but empty quickly, and the cashiers are doing their best to get people checked out as fast as they can. These are not the best days to try out your new mad couponing skillz.

Instead, try going to your grocery store on a slower day or at off-peak times (ie: if you must go on Saturday, go very early in the morning before the crowds). You'll find more of what you're looking for on your list and you also won't slow down the line when you check out.

~ DO have your coupons organized.

If you're building a menu plan each week, creating a list from that menu plan, then locating the coupons you'll need for your shopping, you're already halfway there. Be sure that you have the coupons you'll hand the cashier ready to go before you step into line so you won't be scrambling through your binder or envelope for this or that coupon at the point of sale.

Once I've got everything on my list, I pull my cart over into a quiet aisle (usually the toy aisle -- I let whichever kiddo is with me look at the toys while I get organized) and go through the coupons I brought with me for my list. Sometimes I use all of them, but sometimes I don't; it depends on what's in stock and if I find a better deal in-store. I gather all the coupons needed for what's in my cart and then I head over to the registers to pay, giving my store loyalty card and my coupons to my cashier at the beginning of the transaction. Again, this saves time for you and the cashier in line.

~ DO smile and say HI!

For some of us, being outgoing and friendly comes easier than others; I'm one of those people who can strike up a conversation with just about anyone. Just a simple, "Hi, how are you?" can make a big difference to a tired cashier who's been dealing with people all day; I know from personal experience as I worked in retail in high school and waited tables through college.

Being on the front line of customer service is a tough job; when you have a customer that treats you like a *real* person, you'll go the extra mile to help them. Remember, if you shop that store regularly on the same day and time, you're likely to see the same cashiers week after week. Build a positive relationship with them!

~ DO let others go first.

Sometimes, you find yourself with two or more transactions worth of goodies, particularly at stores like CVS and Walgreens. If there are people behind you after you finish your first transaction, be gracious and considerate of their time. Let them take their turn while you head back to the end of the line.

If you're at your grocery store (at an off-peak time, of course!) and you see only one cashier is open but there are two or three other shoppers that need to check out, offer to let them go before you, particularly if they only have a few items in their cart. They'll appreciate it and you'll have a few extra minutes to make sure all of your coupons are in order.

~ DON'T take every peelie, blinkie, or tearpad coupon you find.

Gathering some coupons you happen across on your shopping trips is fine; taking every single peelie off of a group of products is not. It's just greedy, and that kind of behavior gives all couponers a bad name. Leave some for the rest of us!

~ DO check your receipts carefully and get errors corrected at the Customer Service Desk.

ALWAYS check your receipts at the grocery store; errors do happen. If you find a price that rung up wrong or a coupon that wasn't accepted, take the receipt over to Customer Service and politely (remember that smile and say HI thing?) ask for them to correct it. If you're at a drugstore that doesn't have a customer service desk, simply get back in line or go to another register (the photo center or makeup counter) and ask to speak to a manager about an error on your receipt.

~ DON'T try any funny business!

There are so many great deals to be had with coupons, shoppers card discounts, and store loyalty programs; all it takes is a little research and planning on your part. Don't use multiple shoppers cards for one store or try to pass coupons that are suspicious in origin. Saving a few more dollars isn't worth it if you're doing something that is just plain wrong.

~ DO practice random acts of coupon kindness.

Have a bunch of coupons for a product that you won't use? Leave them sitting on the product for another shopper to find. See someone at the store you know with some products for which you've got extra coupons on hand? Give them the coupons and save them a few bucks. Does your cashier or do the folks in line behind you ask you - in utter amazement - just how you saved so much money? Share your knowledge! Point them to the websites your frequent (even your own) and tell them they can do it, too!

Those are my basic rules of Couponing Etiquette; did I miss something important? Do you have anything to add? Please leave a comment and share! I love to read all of you comments and appreciate each one of them!

Thanks for reading and subscribing to The New Frugal Mom!

January 17, 2009

Saturday Savings Roundup

Rather than have different posts for each store I shopped this week, I'm going to put all of my weekly savings into (1) post each Saturday so you can see just how much couponing can help you save money in your household.

Just a note before I start: my weekly grocery budget for all groceries and household goods is $100. I have three kids (1 daughter & two sons who eat like champions) and a 6'4" husband. Both Knute (hubs) and I are very active athletically.

My point? We eat...a lot!

Luckily, we don't have any food allergies or special nutritional diets to take into consideration when buying food and planning meals.

Why I'm sharing this? Because I think it's important for you to know how I allocate my grocery spending and also how I use my budget + coupons and sales to increase my total buying power.

One more thing: your best grocery budget is what works for you! Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that other people have different families and different needs. Maybe we feel *bad* that we spend more than this person or feel *good* that we spend less than that person. The only person you should compete against in comparing your grocery budget is yourself. Challenge yourself to do a little better week after week and track your progress to see your personal success.

Onto my deals + savings for this week.

KROGER:




Total spent: $85.15
Total saved:
$65.14, or 43%

See my Let's Go Krogering post right here for the full list of what I bought, the sale prices, and the coupon matches.

CVS:


Items Purchased:
CVS Brand Pullups: $6.49 (on sale from $10.49)
24/7 Lip Plumper: $10.00 (marked down from $20.00)
SoyJoy Bars, 6 pk: $6.00 (on sale from $7.49)
Dove Pro Age Lotion (I'm getting old, peeps!): $7.00 (marked down from $14.00)
Hubba Bubba Bubble Gum Tape: $1.29

Qs Used:
$10/1 Any 24/7 Product (CRT -Cash Register Tape - coupon I received a week ago)
$10.50 ECBs

Final Total: $10.49
Paid with an Rx Transfer Gift Card

Total Spent: $0.00
Total Savings:$53.27 + tax or 100% (WOOT!)

My last stop...

Walgreens

{No picture; sorry! It was late last night and I needed to hit the hay!}

Items Purchased:
(2) Mitchum Deodorants, $3.79 ea
(2) Children's Valentines sets, $1.99 ea (on sale from $2.99 ea)
(2) Walgreens Fabric Softener sheets (on sale B1G1Free, 2/$2.99)

Qs Used:

In Ad Coupon, Mitchum $1.99 (limit 3)
(2) $1.00/1 Mitchum printable coupon

Total Spent: $9.66
Total Saved: $10.01, or 51%

~~~Weekly Totals~~~

I actually came in a bit over my $100 budget because we swung through Kroger last Sunday after church to pick up a few doughnuts for the kiddos (really -- just for them; Knute and I got boring bagels), some spendy lightbulbs we needed and didn't have on hand ($6.00!) and another newspaper for the resident Coupon Diva (*yours truly*), all of which cost $9.53.

Total Spent: $104.34
Total Saved: $128.49, or 55%


I'm over by a few buckeroos, but I'm not sweating it. It looks to be a promising week at Kroger come Monday and I have a feeling I'll come under budget next week.

How'd you do saving at the stores this week? Share your success in a comment!

Back to Basics: Walgreens Explained



Shopping the deals at Walgreens, is a little trickier than at CVS (my explanation of how shopping CVS can save you big money is right here) because there are more ways to save and because of a different register system that requires a little more attention to detail on your part when you're handing over your coupons.

I did have a version of this on my first blog; here it is again in as few steps as I can detail it.

Back to Basics: Walgreens Explained

As always, first check the store locator for Walgreens to find the closest one to you. If there isn't one close to you, skip reading this post. Your time is too valuable to waste!

First, let's detail the different types of coupons you can use at Walgreens:

Manufacturer Coupons
These are your Sunday insert coupons, printable coupons, peelies, blinkies, etc.

Register Rewards
These are catalinas (coupons that print at point of sale) for a certain value that can be used like cash on your next purchase at Walgreens. Each week, a few items at Walgreens generate RRs at point of sale; some weeks have more than others. Check your ad carefully. Two important points to remember:

* The cash register system at Walgreens classifies a Register Reward as a Manufacturer Coupon; and,

* You CANNOT use Register Rewards you earned on one product to then buy the same product again. This is a critical point, and is different than the ECB system at CVS, where you can use ECBs earned on one product to then buy the same product again.

(A CVS example: assuming a limit of (2) for this deal, you buy toothpaste for $2.99, earn $2.99 in ECBs, then buy a second tube of toothpaste for $2.99 and pay with the $2.99 in ECBs you earned on the first transaction; this works with ECBs at CVS but DOES NOT work with Register Rewards at Walgreens.).

*You CAN use Register Rewards to buy a DIFFERENT product that earns Register Rewards, and then you can "rollover" the second set of Register Rewards by using them to make a second purchase of the first product you bought.

(A Walgreens example: You buy (1) tube of toothpaste at $2.99 that earns you back a $2.00 RR {Register Reward}. You make a second transaction, purchasing a razor for $9.99 that earns $6.00 RR. You hand your cashier your $2.00 RR from the first transaction and pay the difference of $7.99 and earn back $6.00 in RR. Then, you make a third transaction, purchasing the toothpaste again for $2.99 and $3.00 worth of goodies you need. Your total comes to $5.99 + tax; you pay for your third transaction with the $6.00 RR you earned in your second transaction and have $0.00 out-of-pocket (OOP) owed -- essentially, you get your third transaction for FREE. You also earn a new $2.00 RR on the toothpaste you purchased in that third transaction. This example is basic; you can add in manufacturer coupons to save even more.)

IVC (Instant Value Coupons) Coupons
These are the coupons found in the Walgreens Easy Saver Catalog for each month. You can print them from their website here or you can grab a copy of the ESCatalog from the front of the store (it's usually in a side pocket of the weekly ad rack).

These are Walgreens store coupons, which is different from the Maufacturer coupons mentioned above. This means you can "stack" a Walgreens IVC with a Manufacturer's coupon for even greater savings.

(Example: You purchase a tube of toothpaste for $2.99; you use an IVC from the Easy Saver Rebate Catalog for $1.50/1 on that toothpaste. You also use a Manufacturer coupon for $1/1 on that toothpaste. Your net cost after both coupons is $0.50 + tax.)

In-Ad Coupons
These are also Walgreens store coupons, meaning you can "stack" them with Manufacturer coupons just like you can with the IVC coupons.

These are found in the weekly ad circular; clip 'em and use 'em! You can also find printable versions here; you'll just need to enter your zipcode to get your local store ad.

Walgreens Store Coupons
If you're lucky enough to happen across these, grab 'em! Often, you'll find pamphlets of Walgreens store coupons near the pharmacy. Again, these are store coupons that can be "stacked" with manufacturer coupons.

Online Printable Walgreens Coupons
These are generally released monthly or quarterly, and usually for a certain dollar off your total purchase of a set amount. You'll need to register for a free account with Walgreens and opt to receive email updates to get these coupons in your inbox.

An important note about Walgreens $$/$$ printable coupons. The final total is calculated after ALL coupons are redeemed. Example: you get a $5/$20 printable Walgreens coupon in your email box. Your total must be $20 after ALL coupons (manufacturer and in-store) are redeemed.

The Easy Saver Rebate Program

**Walgreens has ENDED the Easy Saver Rebate Program, May 2009**

Remember the Easy Saver Catalog (ESC) I mentioned above when talking about the IVC (Instant Value Coupons)? The coupons are just one small part; the best part is the monthly rebate items located in the catalog.

Each month, Walgreens offers around 50 (sometimes more, sometimes less) items in their Easy Saver Catalog that earn you a cash rebate. Unlike the ECBs at CVS, this rebate does NOT print at the end of your receipt. Instead, you need to enter the receipts for each rebate item you purchased into Walgreens online system (you can still fill out the form inside the Easy Saver Catalog and send it in via USMail; doing it online is a bit faster and saves you a stamp). At the end of that month's rebate period, your full total of rebates will be tallied and Walgreens will send you a check for that amount.

BUT, you don't want a check. What you should do, IMHO, to increase your overall savings, is opt for the second choice that Walgreens offers for their Easy Saver Rebates: a Walgreens Gift Card for the amount of your rebates plus 10% of your total rebates.

(Example: you earn $10.00 in rebates for the month; opting to have your rebates loaded to a Walgreens gift card will earn you 10% more, or $1.00, giving you a full total of $11.00 on your gift card.)

You'll receive a Walgreens gift card for the first month you do a rebate; after that, you'll be asked when you're entering your receipts for the next month's rebate items if you would like a new gift card of if you would like your rebates loaded to your current gift card. Walgreens will email you to let you know when those rebate dollars are loaded (and ready to spend) on your gift card.

The ultimate goal is to "roll over" some or all of your rebate dollars each month by buying more items in the next month's Easy Saver Rebate Catalog. And if you can "grow" those dollars (increase them) by purchasing items that are FAR (Free After Rebate) with a current coupon, you'll be rocking and rolling!

(Example: Shampoo priced at $3.99 is FAR; use $1.00/1 coupon to purchase it for $2.99. Enter online or send in by mail for the rebate amount of $3.99 + 10% when loaded to your gift card. You'll receive $4.38 in rebates ($3.99 + $0.39) for an item you only spent $2.99 to purchase, a net gain of $1.40.)

Redeeming your Coupons

One big difference between using the ECB system at CVS and the varied methods of saving money at Walgreens is the difference in the way the registers at both stores accept coupons. While the CVS registers will accept total coupons than your total items (you have 3 items, but you have 4 coupons total), the Walgreens registers will NOT.

So, if you come up with a shopping scenario where you have (4) coupons for only (3) items, you'll need to add in a "filler", a small, low-priced item (scan the ad carefully and you'll see plenty of items under $0.50) to bring your item total up to (4). And remember, the cash registers recognize RRs (Register Rewards) as Manufacturer coupons so be sure to count those in your totals.

Also, you do need to be mindful of the order in which you hand your coupons over to the cashier. It actually does matter and can change your final total (or cause the register to beep mercilessly and frustrate the cashier).

The order in which you should hand your q's over to the cashier:

RRs, Walgreens Store Coupons (IVCs, In-Ad, other Store Coupons); Manufacturer Coupons, then, $$/$$ Walgreens Printable Coupon (example: $5/$20) if you happen to have one of these - they're rare but wonderful!

Bottom line, when redeeming your coupons at Walgreens, remember:

*Total Number of Items MUST = Total Number of Coupons

*RRs, Store Qs, MFR Qs, $$/$$ Qs


*****That's it!*****

You can see from all the different ways to save and ways to earn money at Walgreens that the savings can be quite significant - but it can also be quite confusing.

My best advice: start small. If you're new to shopping with coupons, learning the basics of couponing can be daunting enough. Give yourself a small budget to use each week at Walgreens and start off with small transactions so you can learn what works and what doesn't.

For help in finding the best deals each week and gaining more knowledge about how to build shopping scenarios at Walgreens, start bloghopping! Go visit my friend Andrea's weekly Walgreens Snack Summary; visit Denise's Drugstore Divas each week; and visit the mega-linkup of shoppers deals at Money Saving Mom each week.

You can also visit the girls over at Be CentsAble and check out their Grocery Gathering each week to find the best deals + coupon matchups for Walgreens.

Don't be afraid to chime in to this post or any of the other bloggers I mentioned (or any blog!) with a comment if you have a question or something isn't clear. All of us were once beginners, too! We remember very well how overwhelming it can be!

Did I miss anything? Do you have any questions? Leave a comment - I'd love to hear what you think!