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How To Coupon Well Without Being "Crazy"

As I'm getting a reputation for being a relatively crazy coupon lady, I've been starting to learn about the other side of the fence- NOT being so crazy about coupons. To me, this idea is ridiculous, but after spending some good quality time with my mom friends I learned a lot of reasons why some people just AREN'T so crazy about coupons. There really IS a way to take advantage of grocery savings without spending as much time on it or being too aggressive. But WHY are some people not such a big fan of coupons?

  • They are brand faithful to certain products.
  • They don't have time for all that clipping.
  • They can't find coupons for products they want.
  • They buy all generics.
  • They buy the myth that you can't save much with coupons.
  • They believe using coupons means you don't have money.
  • The area they live has limited competition and therefore a limited amount of coupons available.

These are some of the most common reasons people don't use coupons. It may seem easier to just admit defeat and toss the idea of coupons out the window, but I have come up with a system that can take a lot of the stress and legwork out of coupons and help you to save $.

What if you don't "need" to use coupons? The reason I started couponing was because the money didn't exist to pay full price. If it does exist, ask yourself this: What if I saved $20 each week using coupons?

$20 x 52 weeks= $1,040

What could you use that money for?

  • Annually paid expenses such as insurance
  • Vacation
  • College fund for kids
  • Investments
  • Extra mortgage payments
  • Debt Payoff
  • Savings
  • Car Down Payment
  • Christmas

Imagine eliminating some of these items from your budget altogether just by clipping a few coupons! And it's a fair trade for about 30 minutes of your time each week.

So how do you coupon without being CRAZY?

1) Shop from the sales ad. Circle any items you are going to purchase this week, and any brands you are willing to try. You can view store deals at for most regions and the best deals are going to be listed, along with where to find coupons for those items. Most store websites have a shopping list tool that you can print, which lists each item by the aisle, and will automatically print any printable coupons available for the items you add to your list.

If you're willing to pay a monthly fee, though, you can try sites like They do offer a free 4-week trial. It basically does everything for you, but it does cost you about $5 each month. I have heard good and bad reviews on this. I can say that I feel more accomplished doing the work myself, however, if you just want to save without having to do the work, this may be a good option for you.

2) Search coupon sites like and for coupons you know you can use. You do have to pay a handling fee, but it is usually only pennies per coupon, such as $.07 for a $.75 coupon that will double and yield you a $1.50 savings.

3) Stock up on regularly used items at the lowest price you can find. There are some items that don't have a shelf life and can't be frozen, but those that can, such as soups, sauces, seasonings, pasta, meats, cereal, snacks, and so on, are worth buying in bulk. If you find block cheese at a low price (usually cheaper than sliced or shredded) you can shred it and put it in freezer bags. But don't try to freeze block cheese, because it crumbles when it thaws.

4) Take advantage of OYNO (On Your Next Order) Catalina deals and try to match it with coupons. For example, my store was offering a deal where if you bought 3 Pillsbury products in one order, you would receive $1 off your next shopping order. I used 2 $.30/2 coupon to buy the smallest cans(5) Grands! Junior bisuits ($.86 each) totalling $2.24, less the $1 OYNO (you can consider this cash back) and I paid $.31 per can. But don't buy something you won't use just to get the $$ back, because that's not a savings. Just pay close attention for deals you can take advantage of.

5) Make a Menu Plan. If you base it around what's on sale and what you have on hand, you only need to buy additional items to fill in the blanks. After your list is made, search the coupon database @ Money Saving mom for any coupons for those items. It takes a little bit of practice, but I was $3 under weekly budget the first time I did this and only use 4 coupons!

Couponing does train you to think outside the box, and you can easily save time and money by just using these tips. You don't have to be obsessive, or aggressive, have a huge coupon box or binder, or buy all kinds of things you don't want. But with a small amount of effort, and setting goals for yourself, you will have that extra $1,040 in no time!

Should You Complain?

I have been told recently by friend that I am good at complaining to companies when I'm unhappy with a product. Not long ago, I was in need of a new mop and opted to buy a $5 Mr Clean mop that I was sorely disappointed with. We rent, and my kitchen has these horrible old-school tile floors that seem to be magnets for dirt, and I have small kids that don't help the matter. This mop just seemed to push the dirt around, and required extra (unnecessary!) maneuvers in order to get the majority of the dirt up, and a ridiculous amount of waiting time for the semi-clean floor to dry. Granted, it was a cheap mop, but with a big name like Mr Clean, it should at minimum do the job, even if its not outstanding results. So I requested nothing more than a $5 coupon towards their Magic Eraser mop, and lo and behold, two weeks later I had a free full sized mop at my door.

But this was not my first time complaining about a product that did not meet my expectations. However, complaining isn't something I do just to get free products. Most of the time, we tend to give a little too much grace, and have a "beggers can't be choosers" or "you get what you pay for" attitude. My take on this is simply this: If you didn't get what you were expecting from the product, tell them so! Imagine if every person who was less than satisfied with a product never told the company so--they could lose a ton of $ over a flaw they never knew about. Companies want to put out a product people will buy and tell their friends about, and it's a big part of their advertising. It may not seem like this matters, but it really does. Many companies have won me over and I continue to purchase their products when they send me coupons, which is precisely what they want.

What makes the most difference, though, is how you complain. Here are some tips of how to complain effectively.

1. Explain why you bought the product. If you've purchased other products from their company and like them, be sure to lead with that information.

Example: "I usually buy your fresh chicken and have been happy with quality, so I decided to purchase your frozen precooked chicken tenders."

2. Let them know what disappointed you.

Example: "The size of the chicken tenders was much smaller than what the package implied, and for me, did not justify the cost."

3. Tell them what you would like them to do to compensate for your dissatisfaction.

Example: "I would be willing to give your company a chance to restore my faith in your products by sending me a few high value coupons."

4. Let them know you will be sharing your experience with family and friends. This is key, as there is no way for them to know how many people you will share your experience with.

What if you had a good experience, though, and you want to let that company know how much you love their products? Sometimes, you can send them a letter of praise, tossing in the fact that if more coupons were available, you would purchase their product more often. A lot of companies will happily send a few coupons along, but of course, they are rarely very high in value since they already know they don't have to win you over.

Just remember if you do decide to complain, try to do it without ranting or raving. It really doesn't benefit anyone to trash talk directly to a company!

CVS 8/31

I'm going to start by saying I really need to double check the CVS coupon policy on competitor coupons. As I mentioned in my previous post it seems a lot of stores that used to accept them do not. I am not sure whether it's regional or not, but this cashier has been at CVS for a long time and knows her stuff, so I know she was telling me the truth!

Here's what I got today:

Transaction #1

Excedrin Extra Strength 124 Ct $9.99
CVS Ibuprofen 100 Ct $4.99

-$1 Excedrin Coupon

Total (On FSA Card): $13.98
Got Back $3 ECBs

(Note: I got the wrong Ibuprofen, and didn't get back my $1 ECB :()

Transaction #2

Campbell's Condensed Soup (2) 2/$1
Dawn Dish Liquid $.97
Downy Softener Sheets $3.99
Gillete Deodorant $5.49
Gillette Body Wash $3.99
Pamper's Cruisers $8.88
Crest Glide Dental Floss $3.97
Pantene Hairspray Trial Size $1.29

- $5 Total ECBs
-$12.94 Mfr. Coupons

Total OOP: $13.37
Got back $3.50 ECBs

This month's P & G insert has a coupon for any Pantene hairspray or styling product that DOES NOT specify size, so that is how I got the trial size for free. I have seen this happen a lot, but I want to say I THINK it is an oversight, as they did this with Tide for a while which allowed you to get the single load packet for free at WalMart and Target. A lot of people must have done this because WalMart pulled them from the shelf and shortly after P&G started putting the specified size on the coupon. I am curious to know why they do this from time to time, though, so if anybody knows I'd be interested to hear about that :)

Weis 8/31

Weis is usually not my primary store, however, when there is a good deal I do my primary weekly shopping there. This store is much different from the one I was used to, and for some reason, it feels like everything was put on a merry-go-round and flung throughout the store! However, this week, I feel like I did pretty well for myself, and learned a few lessons on the way.

Weis used to accept all competitor coupons but I have noticed most stores who used to hold this policy are tightening the reigns. Coupon policies seem to be changing, and not in our favor, so we have to find new ways to adjust.

Here is a recap of my trip today:

Items purchased:

San Gorgio Quick Cook Pasta (2) 10/$10
Ronzoni Garden Delight Pasta (2) 4/$5
Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Pasta (2) 4/$5
Bisquick 20oz $1.85
Weis Quality Raisins $2.50
Marcal Small Steps Single Roll (4) $.89
Gerber Graduates Lil Crunchies (2) $1.99
Weis BBQ Sauce $1.29
Chi Chi's Flour Tortillas (2) $1
Pamper's Easy Ups $9.99
Yoplait Single Cups (8) 20/$10
Breyers Yo Crunch 100 Calorie $2.50
Egg Beaters Egg Whites $2.50
Weis Turkey Franks (5) $.99
Mt Dew 6 Pack (Small Cans) $2.59
Weis Broc/Calif. $1.35
Herb Chicken Bullion $1.24 (Clearance)
Sobe Lifewater (4) 10/$10
Weis Pancake Syrup $2.50
Coke Zero Mini $3.50
Minute Maid Water Falls $2.00
Gain Dish Liquid $1.00

Total Before Savings: $97.01
Total OOP: $52.26
Savings Percentage: 40%

One big downer today was that I NEEDED training pants for my son, and the store brand was $8.99. Using a $1.50 coupon for the Easy Ups would have made them $8.49, but I completely forgot to use the coupon. I was really ticked about this for a while until I checked my receipt and realize that the Ronzoni Garden Delight Pastas were $1.25, but the coupons doubled to $1.50. Plus, for the Sobes, I had two BOGO coupons and the cashier put the free ones in for $1.39 instead of $1.00. Between these two, I gained back $1.38, so I felt a lot better realizing I really only lost 12 cents. I do want to point out that if I had noticed these mistakes, I would have brought it to the cashier's attention. She was very patient with my large stack of coupons and I give her much credit for that!

Some tips I want to bring up from my shopping trip today:

1. Hot dogs freeze very well. We are really picky about hot dogs here, they MUST be turkey and the cheapo ones won't do! I can't usually get them at such a low price, so I cleaned out their stock of turkey dogs and stuck most of them in the freezer.

2. Make sure you check your stack of coupons BEFORE you even get in line. Today, I decided to "pull over" and go through and put the coupons that ought to double at the top, those that wouldn't in the middle, and the "FREE" coupons at the bottom. This way, I can watch to make sure the doubles go through, and the cashier doesn't have to set aside the "FREE" ones for the end. It saves time, and prevents the "oh crap" moment when you're already home and notice a coupon that should've doubled didn't.

3. Warn your cashier that you have a lot of coupons, and thank her for her patience with you. My cashier was minutes from getting off work and had had a long day. She was very appreciative that I was nice to her, since the person right behind me had started badgering her with special requests before I had even paid. It really stinks when people are rude, so try not to be one of them!

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