Maximize your Potential Savings

A few years ago, a friend told me about a concept called “Super Couponing”. The lady who started it lived right in our area, had a free blog, and held free seminars in which she taught how to coupon. I looked into it and tried it, and LOVED it. It is a totally different way of shopping, but if you’re looking to maximize your savings, it definitely works. (Click for Supercouponing and Jill Cataldo’s blog.)

At least a month ago (before we really started going healthier), I received this alert from Meijer:
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This alert is referring to catalinas – the coupons which print at the register. These particular coupons can be used as money off your total basket; you can apply it to anything. What makes them even more awesome is that you can use as many as you want on an order; potentially, if you had enough of these, you could use them to pay for your entire shopping cart (except for tax, I think).
Here’s another example so you have an idea:
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When you follow the requirements on the alert, you will get a catalina for the amount specified. Around the same time, I also received these catalina coupons:
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Now here’s the thing: I could have used these right away, seeing as I would already be “double-dipping” by using the coupons AND receiving money back. But if they’re not on sale, Tombstone can be up to $5 a pop. I usually don’t buy them unless they’re around the $2.50-3.50 mark. Especially since we’ve been eating healthier, I don’t want to expend extra money that could be going towards healthier items. But everything in moderation still applies, and these are good to have on hand in an emergency, or if I’m running behind, and cheaper and quicker than Delivery or Take out pizza.

Here comes the strategy: I wait as long as possible (until the week of expiration) to see if they will go on sale, and then I use everything all at once. Usually it pays off.

Like… This week! I’ve been watching the ad and they haven’t been on sale the past several weeks, but this week they are 3 for $10.

So I will purchase 5 Tombstone pizzas for $16.65 total. After my $2.50 coupon, I will pay $14.15 and get $3 back to use on my next order. That’s like getting 5 Tombstone pizzas for $11.15, or $2.23 each. Not bad at all!!

So you see, it’s true: Good things come to those who wait!

Click here for current national catalina offers.

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FREE Carseat Canopy

I always thought these were adorable – but they’re also very practical. Better than throwing a blanket over the top of the infant seat,  for sure. If you’re not expecting, this would make a great gift.
Check out the email below for the coupon code for a free one ($50 value!). All you pay is shipping.

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Thanks to my very best friend for sharing this.  She knows I can’t resist a good deal 😉

5 Tips to Offset the Price of Buying Organic & Natural

1. Know your budget. I almost forgot to include this; but being aware of and sticking to a predetermined budget is the first step to maximizing your savings. Having even an approximate amount in mind will keep you from overspending unnecessarily.

2. Plan your meals based on sales. Most grocery stores put out a weekly ad – even the more popular produce stores, like Whole Foods or Mariano’s – and if you don’t get it in the mail, you can view it easily online. I usually base dinners around a protein, and buy the family size packs so I can either separate into 2 meals or make a Second Meal from the leftovers. The protein (fish, poultry, pork, beef, etc.) will usually be most expensive, so consider this first before looking at other specials. Then check out the produce sales. We shop at Meijer, and their store brand organic often goes on sale. This is how I decide what to buy that week. Same goes for their Meijer Naturals grocery products. If you can’t afford to buy everything organic, check out the Clean 15 & Dirty Dozen lists. If you’re only buying a few items organic, you might want to choose items on the Dirty Dozen list to reduce the chance of pesticides.
*Note: If you’re just starting out, it might take awhile to understand what a good sale price is. Don’t stress. Just do the best you can for now, and eventually it’ll be second nature to know when an item is overpriced, when it’s an average buy, and when it’s at a DEEP discount price.

3. Make a list and stick to it. Write down everything you plan to buy based on the ad. Double check your meal plan for the week, cross check your pantry, and add any missing ingredients to your list if necessary. If you’re on a really tight budget, estimate the cost of each item and get an approximate total, adjusting your list if necessary.
Then, when you get to the store, STICK TO YOUR LIST. I know the lure of the produce section… you suddenly get the urge to try a blood orange for the first time… or to buy an exotic root vegetable you’ve never used before. THIS. IS. BAD. Not only will it put you over your carefully constructed budget, but if you don’t have a recipe or specific use in mind for that item, chances are you will end up tossing it anyway, or wasting another item you bought. Reducing your waste (Read: the stuff you throw away because it’s gone bad) is a huge way to save money. If you were really deliberate about your list, you should have just enough produce to make it through each meal of each day for the week. Resist the urge to impulse buy; if you see something new you want to try, make a note of it, search recipes when you get home, and put it on the list for next week.

4. Check for coupons before you go. Part of the reason I love Meijer is because of their mPerks. Not only are there coupons for name brand products, but also for their store brand – which as I said, has great organic and natural products. So when I find a coupon that matches with a weekly sale, it’s a home run! or a 3 pointer! or a touchdown! (insert your favorite sport term here.) So check your favorite grocery store’s website for store coupons on generic items, including produce. Some stores have rewards programs; others have digital coupons you can load to a loyalty card. A little research goes a long way.
And if you are buying a specific brand name, check your local newspaper inserts. In our area, the best website for this is www.coupontom.com. It references an extensive catalog of all the current paper and printable coupons. When you search an item (by brand name or item name) it will pull up any coupons available and where to find them.

5. Enroll in rewards programs. As I said earlier, research if your favorite store(s) has a rewards program. A lot of stores have a point system connected to a loyalty card – and the points can then be converted to savings later. Some stores have a quantity requirement program (Buy 10, get the 11th free). Other stores give stickers based on your total spent within a qualifying time period, which can be returned at the end for products. Meijer has a great one they’ve recently instituted – you choose one reward in each of three categories. (For example, Spend $60 in produce, Get $5 off.) This is cumulative for the entire month. Once you reach the goal amount, you can ‘clip’ your reward to your mPerks account, and it is applied toward your total basket on your next trip. You can work towards 3 different rewards at a time, and if you finish a goal before the end of the month, you can choose another one. Again, check your favorite store’s website, or ask an associate next time you’re in store.

By investing a little time and research, buying healthier, natural, and organic food can be realistic for even the smallest budgets!

Coupon Codes: Children’s Place, JoAnn Fabric, Yankee Candle &more 1/29-2/1

CHILDREN’S PLACE:  Site-wide sale. Ends TODAY 1/29. FREE SHIPPING on all items. COUPON CODES:
40% off = SAVEFORTY
30%off $60 or more = N6HT30EM
25%off Everything = G7HT25EM
*Remember you also get 5% off if you have and use your PLACEcard.

ORIENTAL TRADING CO: 
COUPON CODE: WCE4286
Good for…
FREE SHIPPING and $5 off orders of $59 or more OR
FREE SHIPPING and $10 off orders of $79 or more

JoAnn Fabric:
Lots of sales including 60% off frames (ONLY today 1/29), 50% off drapery hardware, 50% off Swarovski beads/crystals, 50% off stamping supplies.
COUPON CODES:
50% off one regular priced item = VKPB032 (good thru 2/1)
FREE SHIPPING with $50+ order = EQCU030 (good thru 1/30)
*cannot combine offers*

FAMILY CHRISTIAN STORES: 50% off select books
COUPON CODE: 131194317 = 25% off entire purchase regular priced items (good thru 2/16)

YANKEE CANDLE is also running their Buy 2 Large, Get 1 Free sale. Honestly I’ve seen better (like last month’s Buy 2 get 2 – which was also for any size!), but if you are planning on getting a few as gifts, you can get one free for yourself while you’re at it. You do need a coupon for this sale, which you will get if you are signed up for their email list. (Sale thru 2/26)

OLD NAVY 20% off sale ends today. COUPON CODE: TAKE20

Target Mobile coupons

Did you know Target has mobile coupons? These are different from the paper coupons in the newspaper inserts, can be combined with manufacturer AND Cartwheel coupons! Hello, stacking possibilities!

When you sign up for mobile coupons, you get a text to your phone with a link which opens a window in your internet. At the top is a barcode, and below lists all the coupons attached to that barcode.

The most recent coupons:
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Stacking opportunities:
*Add Cartwheel coupon for 25% off all Valentine’s Day greeting cards and combine with mobile $1/2.
*Add Cartwheel coupon for 10% off Neutrogena cosmetics and combine with mobile $2 off any one item.
*Cartwheel coupons for various %off women’s clothing, stacked with $3 off $15 purchase of women’s clothing. (See here for examples)

Don’t forget – you get 5% off when you use your RedCard.

Lots of opportunities to save!

To sign up for Target’s mobile coupons, click here.

Happy shopping!

Old Navy – clothing Deal!

I’ve been waiting to place this order for a little while now – I had some SuperCash saved from Christmas Shopping (started 1/21), a $5 rewards from the new Old Navy card I opened while Christmas shopping, and a 15% off I received when they messed up a previous order this summer (only good until 1/31). Then of course, I shopped clearance and sales to get the BEST BANG FOR MY BUCK!

This is the pre-coupon total:

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Pre-coupon total: $57.28

On their website, if you spend over $50, you get shipping FREE. So actually, shipping would’ve been about $7.50 (Total was $60), but by ensuring my order was over $50, I got that free also.

Next I used the 15% off coupon, the $5 Rewards, and the SuperCash… here was my grand total:

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Post-coupon total: $25.31

I love great deals, don’t you??? 🙂

I received the confirmation email, and love the summary of charges. If you include the free shipping I definitely saved over 50% 🙂
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Make money on groceries!

I heard about this app a few weeks ago, but didn’t download it until today, when i received an email saying I could earn on bread and milk – two things that were in my grocery list today. I didn’t have time to download the app before the trip, so I was nervous I missed the boat.
No worries!

All I had to do was take a picture of my receipt, then scan the barcodes on my milk and bread. They also ask you to complete these little tasks (they were not complicated). One of them was sharing the Ibotta link on Facebook, and the other 3 – well you basically just click on this little circle and either take a one question survey or read a short blurb on how to earn money on the app or info about the product.

The categories are separated into grocery, restaurant, movie, fast food, etc, and then by sore or location. So you can easily add offers for things you already buy. Then you can cash out your earnings through PayPal or on a gift card.

I am excited to see how much extra I can earn this year using this app!

Click here to download the app and sign up: http://ibotta.com/r/tL7phQ

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Various categories to earn

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Grocery stores


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More grocery stores


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More participating grocery stores

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Earn at places you already frequent (we go to all 3 of these! )

I’ve only had this for about an hour and I’ve already made money.
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Catalina coupons

I don’t want to spend too much time on the basics of couponing here, as I learned all I know from Jill Cataldo’s free Supercouponing class and blog. And if you’re really interested in learning the couponing ropes, you can visit her site and learn from the Coupon Queen herself! But there are a few things that are so awesome that they are worth mentioning.

And one of those that everyone should be aware of is catalinas. No, not the dressing… those free coupons that print at the register.

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These babies are awesome. You don’t pay for anything to get them – not printer ink or paper, or newspaper. They just print based on what you already buy. At Meijer lately I’ve been getting a lot of these store coupons.
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This is another reason I like Meijer. I feel like I’m rewarded for my loyalty 🙂 Bonus? Since they are store coupons, I can use these high value puppies on name brand items while ALSO using a manufacturer coupon. Can you say savings?!? 🙂