Saturday, January 31, 2009

Couponing Jan 2009: Was it Worth it?

One of my goals for 2009 was to learn more about couponing to get the best deals, particularly via CVS.

Base Price of Items Bought (before sale price): $577.63
I didn't start calculating sale discounts until the last third of the month. Even so, what I tracked was $111.41. Going forward, I'll keep better track of this.
Man Q $83.65
ECB (redeemed): $42.80
Store Coupons: $166.80
Ecoupons: 1.70
Rebates $63.95
Total Savings $460.28
OOP $95.89

Percent saved: 83.17%

Amount spent on newspaper inserts $9. I've been getting two papers most weeks since June 2008. Since 1/4 promised to be loaded with coupons, I got three that week.

I'm stocked up on hair color for four months, on the calcium I take for two months, on fish oil I take for four months. I'm stocked up on chicken breasts and South Beach cereal bars for quite awhile. I also got a new cosmetic bag, which was a long time coming.

These figures don't include my trips to the produce store, where produce tends to be better quality and cheaper than other stores, but their grocery items are higher (Laughing Cow there is $4.99, compared to $3.39 full price at Kroger).

Is it worth it? So far, I would say yes. Experiment continues in February.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Big Lots with 20% coupon

I've never used a coupon at Big Lots in my life. Since I had one in hand, I decided to take advantage.

Pringles Select
2 Wasa Crackers (my favorite, priced at $1.70, priced at $2.39 at Kroger)
Bear Naked Apple Cinnamon Granola ($6, but would more a lot more expensive ordinarily)
2 Canned chicken (I do this. What can I say)?
3 Smoked oysters (I like these, but I'm trying to find a brand that doesn't have the smell of mercury. These weren't bad. $1 each
2 Zatarains Caribbean Rice warm up in microwave. (I love this flavor. $1.30. I can't find this ordinarily in the store. I might never again)
Dove Blueberry Almond Milk Chocolate
Apple Chips

Total $19.70
-20% discount

I didn't take a picture of this either. I was tired.

Kroger or, I'm spoiled by CVS

Last night after an afternoon with friends, I made trips to CVS (spending $6 or so on $30 worth of items (I sent for a rebate already), Rite Aid (Fructis deal) and Kroger.

I had a bunch of coupons that are going to expire. There was also that B1G1 Tyson frozen chicken tenderloins that I had coupons for that was expiring that day. Plus there was the mega sale and I didn't know it was extending to this week.

So I got
2 boxes Kleenex (left coupons in car)
1 Worchestshire sauce (a try me coupon)
1 Betty Crocker potatoes (yum), had coupon that doubled
2 Bumble Bee Salmon Steaks (with a slight sale, plus $1 coupons)
2 Veggie Steams (but they weren't the price I thought they would be (left coupons at work, but had shortcuts Q
2 Tyson Tenderloins (2 55 cent coupons and B1G1)
5 Kraft Cheeses (with 4 coupons -- I gave her five, but she scanned four, but she said she shouldn't have let me have second Tyson coupon )
1 Laughing Cow cheese (slight sale, and I had coupon)
6 Yogurts (3 Whips and had ShortCuts coupon)
1 Tropicana OJ
1 bag organic raisins clearance at $1.25

Price retail $81.62
Sales and Qs: $48.03
OOP: $33.59
Savings 58 percent

I was kicking myself for days. I didn't do as well as I should have. I was tired. I didn't take a picture.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

My CVS Score

I started the New Year with a resolution to learn more about CVSing and the enigmatic ECB phenom. I'll review the results a little later. Short version is I made some mistakes (like newbies do) and spent too much money. Also, my Mom died in the middle of the month, so I'm sure that affected things as well. For now, though, I love this deal. I'll take the picture tomorrow am.

Meanwhile, I've discovered that this works (I guess) for the Alyssa's Keeping the Kingdom First's CVS $5 Challenge.

ETA: Here it is:

The goal for tonight was just to see if the local CVS had gotten the famed Gillette Fusion Gamer razors in. Yes. Then, I've been looking for a new cosmetic bag because I've used my current one that I inherited from my grandmother since 1985. I am dead serious. Well, I'm only serious ...

Anywho, I found one not made out of cheap, shiny vinyl that will crack in two years. Yea, the inside of my current bag is all cracked in the middle, but the outside is cloth. This one is black satin. Very nice.

Modella train case 3 piece set $9.99
2 Throat Coolers (they were in this store! Finally!) $4.99 x 2
1 Gillette Gamer Razor $7.99
1 CVS Advanced Healing Lotion (filler) $1.49

-$5 $5/25
-$4 Gillette Q 12/28 P&G
-$1 CVS Lotion CRT
-$4.99 B1G1 Cooler Q 12/7 SS
-$13.99 ECBs


= $0.47 OOP + $13.98 ECB ($4 from Gillette razor and $9.98 from the Throat Coolers)

Trip Summary: Today You Saved $30.98.

Yea, I got my freebie at Rite Aid

As any self-respecting couponer knows, you can get a $2.99 rebate on Power Boost (or whatever it's called) variety of Garnier Fructis. But pair it with a $1 coupon, and you've got a $1 moneymaker.

I did that. It's the only thing I bought there (the camera last week was enough TYVM). Everyone knows what the green Garnier Fructis bottle looks like. I ain't wasting time to take a picture.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Getting More Bang for the Buck at Work

Part of my duties at work are making sure we have small gifts ready for benefactors. They give out 5 x 7 framed pictures and they love the polished cherry frames at CVS. I got a bunch the week before Mom died, but needed to finish up that task.

I went to a particular store that I knew tended to stock more (6, instead of up to 4 at other stores). I also had the $10/$50 coupon that was going to expire soon, but I didn't have time to think of another scenario.

The frames are normally $7.99. Most of CVS's sales on these frames are B1G1 50%. This week's is just a flat 25% off, which works better if you're seeking an odd # of frames.

I found 6 in various places in the frames section of the store. That would bring it up to $35.94. Since we're non-profit, we're also tax-exempt.

But that coupon was burning, YKWIM?

I had the $5/2 Duracell tearpad coupon, so got 2, 2-pack of C batteries. I had a $1 coupon for Divine cookies, so got a box. Then I got the 2/$5 Kellogg cereal deal (I left my other coupons back in the office, drat!). Live and learn.

So ...

6 5x7 frames $35.94
2 Kellogg cereal $5
2 Duracell batteries $5.98
1 Divine cookies $3.49

$50.41 :-)

-$10/$50 coupon
-$5 Duracell coupon (cashier wouldn't let me double up with a $1 P&G coupon I had)
-$1 Divine cookie CRT

= $34.41 OOP

The food went to the non-profit. I explained it to the house manager when I gave him the food. He was happy.

So, couponing is not only helping me, it is helping my non-profit to "buy" free stuff creatively.

CVS Cards

A few months ago, I thought I was being frugal by buying greeting cards at the dollar store for 50 cents each. Now that I'm starting to roll ECBs at CVS and couponing, that isn't the case anymore.

I took advantage of CVS's American Greetings buy 3 get $3 ECB deal this week. There's a 99-cent section in the card area. That's where you get your best selection of your el-cheapo cards.

3 Cards @ .99 = $2.97
1 CVS Loratadin $3.79
2 Hershey Special Dark bars 2/$1.00

-$6 ECB
-$.89 B1G1 Hershey Coupon (the coupon said limit .79, and I was only charged .50 a bar, so not sure how that will work with CVS in the end. I wasn't paying that close attention)

= .87 OOP plus $6.79 ECB

This is the first picture taken with my new camera. I can see that it'll never take pristine pictures, but I should be able to take pretty good ones in time.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Using Rite Aid's Gift of Savings

I've never had a digital camera. I had a film camera back when I was a journalist, but it got so I hardly ever used it. Finally, when I moved, I gave it to the St. Vincent de Paul Society. I didn't have enough energy to sell it.

I started looking at cameras at Rite Aid to see what could be matched up with my $20 Gift of Savings.

I found a 4.1 mp Sakar camera on sale for $39.99 regularly $59.99. In the meantime, I learned at Hot Coupon World how to get the $5/$25 coupon, so I printed that out as well.

When I went back to the store, I discovered on the box that it required a SD card. Bummer. I looked for one, and found a 2 GB card for sale for $12.99, regularly $69.99. Plus there's a $5 rebate on it this month.

So, my new digital camera so I can take future pics of deals (the camera used for this pic is borrowed from work, but a lot of times it's not available):

1 Sakar Digital Camera $39.99
1 SD Card 2GB $12.99
- $20 Gift of Savings
- $5 /$25 coupon
- $5 SCR
OOP $25.96

Full retail: $129.98 +$7.80 MI sales tax

I think ... not bad. Not bad at all.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Financial Goals for 2009

I'm actually excited about my financial goals this year. Well, I did have a goal in 2008 for the first time -- get out of debt. Period. I did that in April. I had to cash flow some car repairs and in the meantime found Dave Ramsey's radio show, which led me to frugal blogs like Get Rich Slowly and Money Saving Mom.

So this is the first full year of being debt free. Here are my goals:

1. Finish sinking fund for replacement computer (By March 09 -- $700)-- well it's starting to look like by February 09.
2. Dive into sinking fund for replacement car (Goal is $6,000).
3. Mom is in the final stages of ovarian cancer. I started putting some money aside for any related expenses in August (when gas was $4/gallon. Now that it's half that, I'm putting the overage in that account, which if anything else left (probably will because I've cashflowed all but the month when Mom was in the hospital for two weeks an hour away and gas was $4 a gallon. So this goal is getting through Mom's final illness and death without incurring debt. Anything left over will go into the replacement car sinking fund.
4. Read one investing book per quarter (can be adjusted per where my life is, see #3).
5. Get more acclimated with CVS' ECB program (which has totally intimidated me up to this point).
6. Keep track of how much money I save via couponing, rebates, sales, ECB/RRs, etc.
7. Enjoy living my first full calendar year debt free since 1994, and having a 3-month emegerency fund for the first time. EVER.
8. As funds allow, boosting EF to 6 months.
9. Once EF is 6 months (currently 3), restart putting money in IRA.