I won a free salad!

Thanks to Heather at Freebies 4 Mom, I have a few sweepstakes and contests that I enter online.  Today, I won one of them!  While (sadly) it wasn’t the $100,000 cash prize on the Better Homes & Gardens Play & Win Sweepstakes, I did win a coupon for a free Distinctively Dole salad!  This contest has over 15,000 winners (as reported by Freebies 4 Mom!), so try for your coupon today!

Click here and here to see what else I’ve won!

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My Trip to Wal-Mart (Or, How Not to go Freebie Shopping)

My poor bf. I’m convinced that he thinks I’m a bit mad. Not overall, just when it comes to my coupons, freebies, and scoring deals at Walgreens. I don’t think he thinks I’m crazy for wanting to save money or for getting so much free stuff. (The 5 free deodorants I’ve gotten him should have helped with that!) It’s just that I’ve invited him on a freebie-shopping trip twice now, and both times…it’s been a couponer’s nightmare.

The first time was a trip to Walgreens to do a PG Register Rewards deal that totally flopped at the checkout. (My fault. Wasn’t watching the product size.) I’m not going to relive that one just now; the latest one is more entertaining.

So I come back from retirement from couponing briefly because I see how many great Walmart deals are going on, and how many of them use internet coupons (which I can easily get), and how many of the deals get you free stuff. Ok, I decide, I’ll do these deals. Well, my dear bf offers to go with me, so one evening we go to our local Walmart. I’m not sure at what point he regretted going with me.

  • Problem #1: The Walmarts around here are not Super Walmarts, like I am used to. So, some of the grocery items on my list are crossed off.
  • Problem #2: Inventory is being taken, and because of this, many aisles are blocked off. The store has literally become a maze. You actually had to figure out how to progress through the store.
  • Problem #3: When we get to the checkout, I face coupon issues. The checkout lady was really nice, but she apparently didn’t have a lot of experience with coupons (or maybe it was just the printouts), and so she took a looooong time. Granted, I had a coupon for everything but one item…but the line behind me was growing…and suddenly…
  • Problem #4: The lights went out. Seriously. I briefly thought I’d overloaded their system w/all my coupons and sent it into automatic shutdown or something. She’s getting too much free stuff! Abort! Abort! Shut all systems down, now! Employees with flashlights appear and tell the checkers they have 30 minutes to finish checking out the people in line, and others begin leading stray customers to the front of the store. My nice checkout lady finishes checking my coupons, by the light of my cell phone. Bless her heart.

FINALLY, I was able to escape the nightmare. My patient but embarrassed bf jokes about me overloading them and making the electricity go off. He has seen two bad deal-hunting trips like this, so I don’t think he’s going to be joining me on the next one. 🙂

This post was inspired by Bargain Briana’s recent nightmarish trip to Walmart.

Posted in Coupons, Rants. Tags: . 5 Comments »

What I have learned about couponing, pt. 3

Previous posts in this series:

Part 1
Part 2

I hope some of the revelations I’ve had about making coupons more effective have been helpful to you! I may not be very active in couponing these days, but I can still pass on what I’ve learned.

  1. You don’t have to buy the number specified on a “# for $X” deal. My grocery store frequently frequently advertises its “10 for $10” deal. I know that I used to think you had to buy that number of items to get the price. Not too long ago, I was shopping with my BF and he too thought that you had to buy 10 to get the $1/item price. The good news is that in most cases, you don’t have to buy that many. Seriously. If I wanted to buy one, I’d get it for a dollar. If I had a $1/off coupon for that item…yes, that’s right, I’d get it for FREE! (my favorite!!) This also applies for 2 for $5, 3 for $4, or whatever the deal may be. Now, for the disclaimer: Sometimes the fine print does say that you have to buy the number specified to get the price, but that will vary from store to store. Just ask if you’re not sure! As I said, at my grocery store, you’re free to buy whatever number you want and can still get the deal.
  2. You can use 2 coupons on BOGO free deals. Say what? Let’s say a pharmacy (like CVS or Walgreens) is having a buy-one-get-one-free sale on toilet paper. The tp is $5.99 a pack, and this week, it’s BOGO free. Obviously, you can get two packs of the tp for $5.99 total. Furthermore, let’s say you have two coupons for this brand and type of tp. The coupon is for $2 off one pack. Now, this is the part that blew my mind when I initially learned of its magical existence: you can use both of your $2-off-one coupons, even though one item is priced “free”. You would then get two packs for $1.99 (after taking $2 off two packs). It really gets exciting when you have two coupons that, when added together, equal the cost of the item. That is, if you bought the aforementioned tp and used two $3-off-one coupons, you could get two packs for FREE!
  3. Rebates can work! Let me background this one: When I was growing up, I would read all the signs in the stores as my mom shopped. Sometimes, at office supply stores, I’d see a sign saying you could get an item for FREE. When I pointed it out to my mom, though, she said that it wasn’t free; you had to pay for it and then send in a form to get your money back, which didn’t always work. This lead me to believe that rebate offers were untrustworthy and should be ignored. Once I began couponing and researching about it, I noticed everyone talking about rebates. Apparently, they can work! Now, my personal experience with them is too detailed to outline here, but I can say that the Walgreens EasySaver program is reliable and can be worth a look. Overall, my experience with rebates in general has been excellent–so far. I know that occasionally you can get burned, but if you’re buying something you need anyways, it’s not as much of a risk. How do coupons factor in here? Well, at Walgreens, if you use a manufacturer’s coupon, you still get the full amount of the rebate. That is, if Walgreens is offering a $5 rebate on $5 aspirin and you have a $2-off coupon for that aspirin, you can still get $5 back from Walgreens, thus actually making money from the rebate.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my series on couponing. If you don’t use coupons now, the good news is that you don’t have to throw yourself into it to make these tips work. If you’re already getting the Sunday paper and you want to try these tips, pull out the grocery/drugstore ads and the coupon inserts, and see if anything you already buy is on sale. Or, do as I do, and save time: check out the many blogs run by those hardcore couponers who share weekly deals and exactly how to make them work. Without them, I’d still have the same misconceptions about the usefulness of coupons.

What I have learned about couponing, pt. 2

As I mentioned before, couponing may at first seem impractical, but do some research and you will soon find that it can save you money and doesn’t have to be complicated.

However, my main point here during this post series is to share with you some simple realizations I had about coupons as I learned more about how to maximize their effectiveness.

  1. You can combine coupons with store sales. I’m sure this is obvious even to non-couponers, but it’s an important point to remember when trying to get the most for your money.
  2. You can use coupons on clearance items. The tricky part about this one is finding something that is on clearance that still has a non-expired coupon. This is because many items on clearance are not the newest products in-store (e.g. holiday candy), and coupons tend to be for either new items (Save $1 when you try our new, improved breath mint!) or “old reliables” (Cheerios). (Speaking of holiday candy, although it almost always goes on clearance after the holiday is over, the coupons are almost sure to expire on the day of the holiday.)
  3. Catalinas (the coupons that print out of the machine by the receipt machine) with a store’s logo on them do not have to be used at that store. However, the Catalina (or other coupon featuring a store logo) must say “Manufacturer’s Coupon” at the top. To contrast, Target coupons are often found in the Sunday inserts, and they feature the Target logo. Since these say “Store Coupon” at the top, they are not eligible anywhere but at Target. But they can be used for #4:
  4. Store coupons can be combined with manufacturer’s coupons. Some stores such as Walgreens and Target issue store coupons which can be collected from various sources. (Walgreens’ coupons are found in the weekly ad and in the EasySaver booklets; Target coupons can be printed online and found in the Sunday inserts.) This means that if Walgreens includes a coupon for $0.99 lip balm in their weekly ad and you have a $1 off coupon for that same lip balm, you can get it for free!

I’m sure this information is obvious to many people, whether serious couponers or not. Not all of it was obvious to me, though, so I thought sharing it with readers just might help someone out there. I didn’t know about #3 until recently. And #4 and #1 can be combined (store sale + store coupon + manufacturer’s coupon) to get things for very cheap or free.

Stay tuned for the rest of my list in an upcoming post!

Mailbag excitement

Part of the reason I look forward to getting my mail each day is the possibility of receiving some of the freebies I’ve requested. As for this week, not only did I get some toiletries I’ll end up using, but I got something I have been keeping an eye out for: a pedometer.

I’ve been needing a pedometer since I’ve started exercising more, but now I have one for free from the Tylenol Arthritis Keep Moving offer. It also came with an exercise DVD. Request yours here. The tampons, pad and pantyliner were part of the Kotex sample pack which you can request here. A $1 off coupon was also included, plus an invitation to take a survey. The survey gives you another coupon to print out when you’ve completed it! The little blue bottle is an Old Spice Body Wash sample from Walmart, with a $1 off coupon. Finally, I got a bilingual Pond’s sample and coupon. An impressive haul, especially when I get something I’ve been needing!

Recently, even when the mail carrier brings me bills and unwanted advertisements, I can usually count on receiving a sample, coupon, or the latest issue from one of my free magazine subscriptions. 🙂

What I have learned about couponing, pt. 1

When I first started couponing, I wondered, “How practical can clipping coupons be?” I already knew that it didn’t make sense to buy something simply because you had a coupon for it. That’s what the ads want you to do. “Try it out, it’s ok, you have our coupon, so it’s cheaper!” Also, buying a newspaper and printing internet coupons seemed like an impractical (and possibly money-wasting) way to acquire a slip of paper that could save me a measly 40¢ the one time in two months that I’d buy peanut butter, for example. And that was only if I remembered to bring the coupon to the store and actually hand it over at checkout.

After reading much on the subject (see my blogroll for recommended reading!), I realized that it was possible to make couponing a worthwhile activity that actually saves money. The biggest thrill (as I’m sure many couponers will agree) was that you could get things for FREE! (and fairly often at that, especially from CVS!)

Recently, I sat down with a pen and paper and outlined exactly what it was that changed my mind about couponing. As I began following the recommendations and shopping scenarios posted by others, I learned several ways that couponing is actually simpler than you may think! Over the next few days, I will share these realizations with you, hopefully so that you can make couponing work for you.

Johnson’s Coupons on AdPerk

Recently I told you about two new magazine subscriptions from AdPerk, courtesy of Johnson’s. The ads are all sponsored by Johnson’s, advertising shampoo, lotion and the Bedtime products. While I was on the site, I discovered some coupons! There three coupons:

  • $1 off Johson’s Shampoo
  • $1 off Johnson’s Baby Wash or Baby Lotion
  • $2 off Johnson’s Bedtime Sweet Sleep set, Dream set, or two Bedtime Bath, or two Bedtime Lotion

To get your own coupons, go to AdPerk and click on either of the Johnson’s-sponsored magazines (Redbook or Parenting). When you are on the magazine’s video selection page, click a video. On the video page, along the right side, there are sponsored links to baby information and coupons! The coupon that shows up will correspond to the type of commercial you watch.

Enjoy your coupons!

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