Friday, April 22, 2011
Twice a year, I work outside the home terrifying children at the mall taking their pictures with Santa and the Easter Bunny. It doesn't bring in much, but it serves as a profound reminder to me of how much moms who work outside the home have to juggle. I am not cut out for it. I come away from those few weeks each year with an even greater resolve to stretch every last dime we have.
This week, my frugal challenge was to test the coupon policies of various stores to see exactly how much I could save and whether or not one particular store was worth my effort to even walk in the doors.
First, however, we went to Publix where I had enough coupons to get overage! I walked away with $160 in groceries for my remaining balance on my sales tax of $2.09!
I still look at the receipt and can't believe it.
Then, I hit the store I hate...WalMart. I've been reading the I Heart the Mart blog, really debating whether or not their new generous overage policy made it worth shopping there. I went to WalMart fully intending to take advantage of the overage. I knew it would cause an issue, because the store I go to always has issues with coupons. I purchased a few items, such as the dental floss and infant formula, to send to Danger Girl's class canned food drive. It was my first time EVER buying infant formula since I nursed all of my babies! The store paid me 83 cents a can. And of course, customer service had to be called and there was a minor ordeal. The cashier didn't like me, but the ladies in line declared I was the Coupon Diva.
My total after overage was $2.72
Then, I went to the store where I know I can always get great coupon deals...CVS. I love that place. I almost broke the bank yesterday, spending an entire $1.21. I used all my ECBs, but I'm totally good with that. I'll get more fairly quickly. And we're totally stocked up on toothbrushes, toothpaste, bodywash, and shampoo...Not too shabby this week!
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
So, I didn't want all those coupons and all that time going to waste on the strategy I had developed. I followed all the coupon rules, I even went so far as getting my coupons pre-approved by the store manager who stood over the cashier in case there were any questions.
I bought items that with coupons, all retailed for under 50 cents. I didn't buy more than 20 of an item. My coupon rule of thumb is 2 items per person in the family. We are a family of 8, so 16 is our "limit"...the extras are being donated to a food drive at dd2's school.
I broke it up in to two transactions in order to maximize the use of competitor coupons. At one point, my total was down to 37 CENTS with coupons still to ring. She was given the go-ahead to run the rest of the coupons and I ended up with a balance of -$3.63! The cashier was downright afraid that she had to give me back change! And to be honest, it felt weird to me, too!
So, we decided to roll that negative balance in to the next transaction. Again, I got down to a negative balance which took money off my sales tax. This made me feel weird, but the manager said that since my coupons were all for items I had, no coupon funny business, then the overage was allowed to come off the tax. Since the store will get reimbursed for the total amount of the coupons, that excess will go towards the tax eventually. Sounded funny to me, but what do I know.
After all was said and done I got
20 cans pineapple
18 frozen veggies
20 boxes yakisoba
14 snickers eggs
2 smart balance milk
1 gravy mix
Retail value of more than $160. I paid $2.09
Part of me wish I would have had a bigger audience. People applauding my mad couponing skills. But, in the end, I'm not sure I'm comfortable with this level of extreme couponing. It felt like I was cheating the system. I played by the rules. No coupon fraud. Bought what I was supposed to. I didn't clear any shelves.
Yes, extreme couponing on this level CAN be done. It takes time. But ya know, I'm going to be content with my usual 80 percent savings at the store. That's still amazing savings. It still lets me stock up on pantry items for dirt cheap and spend more money on fresh fruit and produce.
I may do a mega-extreme trip every once in awhile, but I don't think I'm going to make a habit of this.
Friday, April 15, 2011
After that fun experience, I came home to print some additional coupons only to find I was out of ink! No worries there since I had an Office Depot rewards card from recycling ink! I was able to pick up ink absolutely FREE!
So my savings today is 100%!
Tonight's dinner is also a next to nothing meal. Dinner for 8 for under $3!
Creamy Pizza Baked Spaghetti is an adaptation of a Rachael Ray recipe Neapolitan Baked Ziti. I've posted the recipe before, but for this version we add in sliced pepperoni and use jarred sauce. I also serve some steamed broccoli and rolls on the side. The sides come up to 75 cents!
Creamy Pizza Baked Spaghetti
- 1 pound ziti with lines(19 cents)
- Jar Classico Pasta (50 cents)
- 3 tablespoons butter (6 cents)
- 3 tablespoons flour (6 cents)
- 2 cups milk(FREE)
- 1 fresh or dried bay leaf(2 cents)
- Freshly grated nutmeg(2 cents)
- 1 C mozarella (33 cents)
- 1 package pepperoni ($1)
Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain.
Place a medium-size saucepot over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the flour, stir to combine and cook for about a minute. Whisk in the milk, add the bay leaf and season with some salt, pepper and a couple of grates of nutmeg. Bring up to a bubble, turn the heat down to low and gently simmer, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and discard.
Combine the cooked ziti with the red sauce in the pot the pasta was cooked in and transfer everything to a baking dish. Top with the pepperoni and white sauce. Sprinkle the mozzarella over the top, transfer to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Instead, I'll give you a quick rundown on the great deals I was able to score.
My first trip this week was to WalMart for games! I found a deal for Toy Story 3 Operation. I picked up 3 of the games for just $6! The best part is, the game qualifies for Hasbro's Family Game Night promotion where you buy any Hasbro game and get a FREE tombstone pizza! In the end, I'm going to have 90 percent savings for 3 games and 3 pizzas!
To continue on with our pizza theme this week, I headed to WinnDixie where I picked up their "meal deal." The meal deal usually isn't a deal. The price for the "free" items are usually added in to the main item and the free items' prices are usually raised slightly. This is why it's so important to know how much things usually cost. But, if you do the meal deal with lots of coupons, it gets to be a great deal. In order to use your coupons on the freebies at WinnDixie, your reward card must be scanned AFTER the coupons.
This week, the meal deal was 6 totinos pizzas, 1 box mozarella sticks, 1 box little debbie snack cakes, 1 box italian ice, and one bottle of Hawaiian punch for $10. I managed to get it down to $6. With WinnDixie's pricing, an overall savings of 70 percent is VERY good. I'm usually pleased if I can get to 50 percent savings there.
Finally, I hit my favorite Publix. I didn't do a stockpile run for three reasons: one my coupons didn't arrive, two my pantry is in disarray and three my freezer is full of pizza. After I clear out some freezer space, I'm going back to stock up on veggies.
I had a really difficult time with the transaction yesterday. The clerk didn't know what he was doing with the coupons. He separated out all the coupons in front of him, scanned an item then went searching for the coupon, read the entire thing three times, rang it in wrong a couple times, had questions about several of them...it was a mess. The thing is, I grouped my coupons in order as they come down the belt. If he would have just left them in a stack his life would have been easier.
In the end, I had $90 worth of groceries before coupons. I used a gift card I won from Almost Crazy Coupon Lady to bring my out of pocket (before tax) total down below $10 for a 90 percent savings! Not too shabby.
I heard about a few other sales that I'm hoping to snag this week. We'll see how it goes.
Did anyone else find any good deals that I missed out on?
Monday, April 11, 2011
Monday, April 4, 2011
Monday: Italian Chicken (using Cooking Creme) and pasta
Tuesday: pork chops, scalloped potatoes
Wednesday: Chicken tenders and dipping sauce
Thursday: Beef Stir Fry
Friday: Little Miss's birthday dinner
Sunday, April 3, 2011
We don't often stay out til midnight since it's well past both of our bedtimes.
As we left the theater, and turned out on to the main road, the intersection is at a Y. The left turns in to the mall loop and the right turns out on to the road with a median in between. As we turned right, a car was supposed to turn around the corner...but the driver went straight. If D hadn't accelerated she would have T-boned us. She hopped the other curb and continued on the loop.
We flipped around. D called 911. We found where she parked her car with the two flat tires and waited for the officers who had pulled someone else over to take our statement.
Finally made it home. Still totally unnerved a day later. hopefully I'll feel better
Friday, April 1, 2011
I am positively giddy with excitement. It's not too often I can get things down to free because I usually buy a lot of things in one trip and use the overages to bring down the cost of other items.
But today, I tried to see if Publix would give me change BACK if I had more coupons than total. WalMart has recently changed its policies to allow this. I know CVS won't. And, I found out my Publix won't either. Still, I'm pretty happy just to pay the sales tax! This was all FREE (48 cents sales tax)
Earlier this week, I hit Publix and separated my purchases in to two transactions so I could take advantage of two $5 off $50 coupons I had. I ended up spending just $40 overall (before tax) for $200 worth of groceries!
My second transaction had more overage than my first, so I paid $15 for:
12 boxes of cereal
4 snickers eggs
1 gallon skim milk
2 half gallons lactose free milk
1 box finish dishwasher tabs
1 schick intuition razor
4 cans ravioli
2 garnier curly hair styler
2 corn starch
I felt so happy about how I spent my grocery budget this week that I went to WalMart (gasp) and spent $2.16 (after coupon) on a jar of nutella. I'm hoping for a nutella sale before my coupons expire, but I just couldn't wait. Those who have tried nutella completely understand.