PF: Getting started is hard

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While I have been learning a lot recently about couponing and “doing” CVS and Walgreens, thanks to Money Saving Mom, this blog’s other purpose was to track my personal finance goals and status, as well as my attempt to educate myself in PF matters.

I admit I’m a bit quite shy about having my personal financial issues out there for people to see, but I guess that’s part of accountability. Even if few see this, the possibility that some may should give me enough of a kick in the rear to get myself on track. I’ll just have to suck it up and get a clear set of goals together and then post them.

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Another free magazine – Garden Design (digital)

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My Google Alerts came through! You can get Garden Design (digital edition) free from Mercury Magazines, sponsored by Veterans Advantage. I’ve never heard of this one before, but perhaps others will be interested. Enjoy!

GH & coupons for military families

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In case anyone likes to read Good Housekeeping (which you can subscribe to for free, see my post on AdPerk), I thought I’d let you know there is a coupon booklet in the April 2008 issue. The coupons include Wolfgang Puck, Kozy Shack, Oust, Pledge, Scrubbing Bubbles, Glade, Scotch-Brite, and Serenity. I don’t know if they are in every copy, or if it’s regional, or just for subscribers. Based on the brands, I would assume it’s nationwide.

I finally cut out all my coupons yesterday. I’m grateful to Centsible Shopper for sharing the fact that military families can use expired coupons. Before, if I had a coupon I didn’t want to use or that had expired, I would recycle it with the newspaper. Last night when I was cutting out my recent find, I trimmed up the expired ones (to save on postage) and separated them into food and non-food/pet food piles, as recommended by this article on About.com. Now I just need a place to send them to, so I’m researching that online.

My first ECBs

Remember, I am new to this. I went to CVS looking for the cheap toothbrushes and LipSyl, but they don’t seem to have LipSyl. I finally ended up getting the Colgate Total Advanced Toothpaste and using a $1 off coupon. Then I got two Old Spice Red Zone trial sized body washes because I had two $1 off coupons that didn’t have a size limit. Final OOP: $2.97 (before tax). This made my very first ECBs $2.99 from the toothpaste. 😀

My first CVS!

Alas, no collection of my first ECBs. I did get several free things, though! I walked out paying only $2.08 for tax and a Sunday paper.

Here’s what I got:

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I found out about the free Johnson’s Buddies and travel-sized toiletries from Money Saving Mom. Using printable coupons, I got all of the above for free. The two Dove Cream Oil body washes were actually from Wal-Mart, but they were free, too! I found a coupon blinkie in CVS dispensing $1/1 coupons, so I took two. When I was at Wal-Mart later, I found these in the travel/trial aisle. The checkout girl examined the coupons closely, but she seemed happy to report, “You basically got those for free.” I smiled.

Coupon Boon

Yesterday, while in my hometown for Easter, I went to pick up my Sunday paper–for the coupons. Unfortunately, Dollar Tree was closed, and that store is the only place that I know of that has the paper for $1.00 instead of $1.50. I’m not too cheap (yet) to not get the paper just because I have to pay an extra 50¢, so I bought a copy elsewhere. Then I had to travel back to where my school is, so I brought the paper with me. When I examined it, I noticed that THERE WERE NOOO COUPONS!! I thought I’d just bought a bad copy, so I planned an assertive call to the paper in the morning.

Once back at my school home, I went a Wal-Mart where the Sunday papers were sold from boxes outside. I got my quarters and fed the machine its $1.50. Thinking smarter this time, I checked my copy for coupons before closing the machine door. But again–no coupons!! Same story for the other two copies in the machine. What was going on here? Are people just stealing them? I saw some wrinkly papers at the bottom of the machine, barely noticeable under the paper shelf. Reaching down, I pulled out a stack of papers that had clearly been there for a while. Apparently they had been discarded or had slipped down there unnoticed.

And what did I find when I got home and sorted through the stack?

Coupons!

(3 Red Plums, 3 P&Gs, and 3 SmartSources!)

Never paying for this again – Magazines pt. 3

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I’ve already blogged about my first free subscription, earned by watching videos on AdPerk, but I soon discovered that other sites (especially discount magazine subscription sites) occasionally offer free subscriptions, paid for by outside companies.

I have ordered Parents and Fitness (a 2-year sub) through offers on valuemags.com, but I doubt those offers are still valid. Parents just started arriving this week. I also had a 2-issue trial to Real Simple that just finished.

Besides keeping up with the posts on my favorite frugal living blogs and freebie sites, there is another way I keep an eye out for free magazine offers: Google Alerts. You can do any Google search by site, so I use keywords plus a site search, and it emails me whenever something new appears. For example, I could create this hypothetical alert: “free site:samplecheapmagz.whatever” if I know that the site “samplecheapmagz.whatever” frequently offered free magazine subsciptions. Use keywords such as “free”, “complimentary“, or “free subscription” and combine your keywords with site:sitename.whatever.

I hope some of you find this tip helpful; even if you aren’t looking for free magazines, Google Alerts can be quite the overlooked yet useful tool.