Monday, January 18, 2010

Saving Money...Coupons/Sales/Matching

Ok, in an effort to save some dough on our new and unimproved income I have resolved to make a good attempt at couponing...again.

I am going to let you know how we do it and am interested in any helpful hints you have or how you manage to save money when it comes to meal planning or cleaning supplies.

I watch pretty closely for meat sales. For instance, this week at C!ty Market lean ground beef was on sale for .98/per pound. I bought 22 # and split it up into 1# portions and have it frozen in freezer baggies. I am set for at least 20 meals of ground beef. Which is totally a staple in our low budget. They also happen to have pork chops on sale for the same .98/pp. They are a tad thinner than our usual center cut but my family actually likes them thin, so I bought 10# of them. Then this weekend only A!bertsons had boneless/skinless chicken breast on for $1.69/pp. That is unusually low around here. So, I bought 20# of that as well. While I spent quite a bit of money on meat about $65, I have enough meat for at least 44 meals. So, I won't run out and spend the $3.69 for lean ground beef or the $3.19 for bl/sl ck breast or the $2.99 for pork chops. We don't use huge amounts of meat per meal. The littles and I do not require as much protein as the bigs but we still get our daily requirements. It really does save me a lot.

I am making every effort to really use these in the most efficient ways possible. I understand that you can use a store generated coupon stacked on top of a manufacturers coupon. Here is a deal that is going to save me this week: T*rget has a store coupon for pull-ups $2.00 off and then the paper had $2.00 from the manufacturer and so that will be $4.00 off and if they were on sale (which they are not) then you get even more savings on them.

Another thing I didn't know that maybe you don't either. Did you know if you do a buy one get one (BOGO) or a $ off 2 items you can use a coupon for both items even though the second one is free or covered in the first coupon? Well, you can. So if you get a coupon for Gogurt -$1 off 2 boxes Gogurt and and .80 coupon you can use both of them for the two items? Essentially you are allowed a coupon per item and you can use two coupons per item if you do the manufacturers and store generated ones. Cool, huh?

Now, where I think most people, including myself get sucked into this coupon mess is when we make choices that we would not regularly buy in order to save the .75. For example there is/was a good deal at CVS for oust air spray. Well, I don't use it or buy it or need it. So by saving the big amount of savings and getting the extra care bucks (an entirely different way to save) it still would not serve my family well to put out the front money to purchase it. The extra care bucks are cool if you really shop for things at CVS and don't end up paying for things you don't love to save money on the things you do love but could still purchase cheaper at W*lMart. Or at least for me personally. Some people have this mastered and do really well at it...I am just not there - at least for now.
There are sites that will do all the work for you though. Search your favorite store name and "coupon match ups" and the start date of the circular. Like, "CVS Coupon Matchups" 1/17/10 and you can go to many sites and read how they have matched coupons to sales and if you buy it already or have wanted to try it - great! The leg work, er, mind work is done!

And one last thing on couponing. I find that most of the time the generic brand is still cheaper than using the coupon on the brand name item. And if this is the case I will buy generic. I will at least try the generic. There are somethings we just do not like in generic but in most things we like generic just fine. I generally save the most money with the cheaper/generic brand.

Did you know that W*lMart will match competitors ads? If you bring in the ad and show it to them it can be sodas, diapers, meat, produce, televisions - whatever it is they will override their price and enter in the price of the competitor. I once was fairly good at it, or so I thought. And I could easily knock off $30-$40 off by price matching at W*l Mart. That is until we realized we really did not like the taste of their meat. They do not have an in house butcher, I am not sure if having it sent in changes it but after tasting other meats from sales at local grocery stores - well, we don't care for it. This used to save me a lot until I stopped shopping for meat there and I don't put as much effort into now. I probably should.
Other things we are trying to save money
  1. We have gone to one meatless meal per week.
  2. We have eliminated all sodas. We are drinking quite a bit of tea, sweet tea, and water.
  3. We have drastically reduced the processed snacks around our house. It really doesn't save a ton of money here. I have found these snacks are very affordable and although completely nutrition deficient most teenagers appreciate the ease of grab and go junk food. On the up side our kids are now eating much better at our meal times. Plates are being cleaned again.
  4. Always search first before a purchase online. I was buying Big Daddy some new jeans online and searched here first and found an online coupon code for 15% plus another one for free shipping...yea! You just search the store or the item and all the deals are shared. They also have a daily deal page where they list what is on sale where and what code to use to get it.
  5. Have not done it yet but I heard you can get cleaning supplies/personal hygiene products really cheap at places like D*llar Tree and D*llar General. Hey, a toothbrush does not expire, nor does toilet cleaner. They are supposed to carry name brands so as long as we are comparing apples to apples it sounds promising :)
  6. Big Daddy and I totally went dumpster diving (well, not quite that extreme) in the recycle bins in our areas for coupons. We hit the jack pot. Most were in never read condition. And if they are going to be recycled no harm in using them first, right?

For your coupon 411 this seems to be a good place to start:

Money Saving Mom She even has a "start here" area in the right margin. She generally links up to the matchups and has her handle on coupons and much more. You will also find she will allow a link up for others to share their deals too and you might find another site you would like as well.

One more thing, I am very interested in freezer cooking. Essentially cooking a lot of meals ahead and having them mostly prepared and then popping them into the oven, crock pot or such and minimizing the work when we all come back together for the day. Or I have read where some will make a double batch and eat one/freeze one for later. Anyone into this?

So, there is my scoop. Any ideas, suggestions or planning that works well for your family? I'd love to hear them :)


Angie said...

Hey, I love to use thin pork chops for schnitzel. Yum! I started making my own laundry soap...very easy, cleans well, and I get 100s of load of laundry for a whopping $12.00! We don't use fab. softener, either. I also watch Krog*r, especially, because they have manager specials in the produce little snack bags of apples and grapes for .49. Great for the kids and healthy! In the fall, I watch for "older" veggies in the markets, buy them cheap, and freeze. I get apples from our friend's trees for free, and make applesauce. I cut the kids' hair, and every few months take them for a "real cut" for $5.oo at the local college. As for coupons, I haven't mastered that one yet. I get too confused!

Sugar Momma said...

Good tips Angie! Talk about being frugal. I don't think I have ever had schnitzel, have a recipe you like? :)

Anonymous said...

I go to dollar tree and get the aluminum trays with lids. 3 for 1$ and in all sizes. I cook double the reciepe and then freeze the other half. I mark the tops and date. I have about 2weeks worth of meals in there now. I freeze everything from soup to beans to spaghetti to lasana. I got some small ones for left overs so when someone needs a quick lunch I can pop in the oven. Stoffers has been doing it for years! You can use coupons at dollar general and family dollar. They do have name brand stuff at dollar tree, but make a list and stick to it or you'll buy more than you thought. Some of the big dollar trees have frozen foodnow. I've tried some and it's good. On Mondays and Tuesday mornings about 10 am Kroger starts to mark down their meat that was on special. Just think if you get there 30 min. earlier, you would have paid full price. Talk to you more later.
Luv Jan

Sugar Momma said...

Wow Jan, so savings savvy!

You have always known a way to squeeze the most out of a buck :)

I will have to try the double cooking/freezing. I think it sounds easy enough.

Good to know about Kr*ger too :)
Thanks for the lowdown. I will be at the dollar stores soon, well, maybe next payday ;)