The Cheap Toilet Paper Hunt… continued
March 24, 2008, 2:58 pm
Filed under: Coupons, Deals, Walgreens

Walgreen’s was all out of the Angel Soft toilet paper I was planning on getting last week. Bummer, expect I found an even better deal this week!

Scott and Cottonelle 4 packs are on sale this week at Walgreen’s for 2 for $5, with the 7 day in ad coupon. The April EasySaver Catalog has a rebate for $1 back when you buy two Scott or Cottonelle 4 packs. Since the April EasySaver does not start until March 28th and the in ad coupon expires on the 29th, this deal will only be good on March 28th and 29th. With the in ad coupon and rebate, the cost is brought down to 2 for $4. But wait, it gets better!

There are coupons for $1 off Scott Extra Soft 4 pack or larger that were in the Sunday paper last week. If you don’t have two of these, you can print them off at coupons.com or the Scott website.

Now the price is brought down to 2 for $2 or $.25 a roll! Hot dog! Remember, this deal is only good March 28th and 29th!

Digital TV take over
March 18, 2008, 6:29 pm
Filed under: Coupons, Frugality, Technology

By now, the vast majority of you have probably already heard about the nationwide transition to digital TV slated for February of 2009.

This is a bummer for Jake and me because, like many frugal (and plain broke) folks, we have an older TV that does not have the technology required to receive the digital signals. We also do not subscribe to cable (yes, we wear our rabbit ears loud and proud!). The combination of these two things leaves us with three options: subscribe to cable, buy a new TV, or buy a converter box so that our present TV can receive the digital signals.

Well, I’ll give you a wild guess as to which one we’re going to do. If you reckon that we’re going for the converter box, you’re correct! We have absolutely no money to buy a new TV, especially when our current TV is working just fine, and we don’t watch (nor do I want to start watching) enough television to make cable even remotely worth it. Plus, I heard that the converter box offers more channels than rabbit ears can pick up. I would much rather buy the box and spend money once to get more channels than pay monthly for the most basic of cable packages that probably offers the same channels as the converter box.

Luckily, the government has set up a program after my own heart: a coupon offer. All the details can be found at dtv2009.gov, the official converter box coupon program website. You can apply for up to two $40 coupons (we only applied for one since we only have one TV). The boxes are expected to cost between $50 and $70, so after the coupon it should only be $10 to $30 for a box. The coupons expire 90 days after they’re mailed out, so make sure you’re ready to buy a box when you apply for the coupon.

I’m planning on using a Best Buy gift card to cover the cost of the box after the coupon is deducted, so it shouldn’t require any out of pocket money for us. Hunt around and see if you have any remaining balances on electronic store gift cards to help cover the remaining cost of a converter box if you’re planning on getting one too.

The Cheap Toilet Paper Hunt
March 16, 2008, 3:23 pm
Filed under: Coupons, CVS, Deals, Frugality, Kroger, Money Basics, Rite Aid, Walgreens

Jake and I are getting low on toilet paper. I really don’t want to wait another week to buy more since I’m not sure if we have enough to get us through another full week. Luckily, every store I regularly patronize has a sale on TP this week.

I pulled out my coupons and found I have a coupon for every brand on sale- something that doesn’t happen often. When matching up sales with coupons, it’s important to remember (and include it in the calculations) which stores double coupons and where their cut offs are. Here’s my coupon line up:

$.25 off any Charmin
$.25 off 4pk or larger Cottonelle
$.50 off 6 pk or larger Angel Soft
$1 off any Scott Extra Soft 4pk or larger
$1 off any Scott 12pk, 2 6pks, 3 4pks, or 12 single rolls

I also broke out my calculator. In order to get the best deal when comparing prices, you have to configure what the price per unit is– in this case, it’s per roll. Usually for food, it’s per ounce. I crunched the numbers and here’s what I found:

Rite Aid has Charmin 8pk on sale for $4.99-$.25 coupon= $4.74/8 rolls= $.60/roll
Rite Aid also has Scott Extra Soft 4pk on sale for $2.99-$1 coupon= $1.99/4 rolls= $.50/roll
CVS has Scott 12pk on sale for $6.49-$1 coupon= $5.49/12 rolls= $.46/roll
Walgreen’s has Angel Soft 12pk on sale, with in-ad coupon, for $4.99-$.50 coupon= $4.49/12 rolls= $.37/roll
Kroger has Angel Soft 12pk on sale for $5.99-$1 ($.50 coupon doubled)= $4.99/12 rolls= $.42/roll
Food Lion has Cottonelle 12 pk on sale for $6.49-$.25 coupon= $6.24/12 rolls= $.52/roll
Food Lion also has Scott 12pk on sale for $6.49-$1 coupon= $5.49/12 rolls= $.46/roll
Ukrop’s (a local grocery store chain) has Charmin 12pk on sale for $6.59-$.25 coupon= $6.34/12 rolls= $.53/roll

Looks like Walgreen’s is our winner! $.37 a roll isn’t really a steal for TP, but it will do in a pinch. I have a $4 Register Reward from a few weeks ago that I will also use in my order to make the price even lower.

It can be tempting to just grab whatever appears to be the least expensive, in this case, the Scott 4 pack, but chances are, it isn’t the best deal you can get. It just goes to show that it always pays to crunch the numbers.

This one is for the books
March 15, 2008, 7:10 am
Filed under: Coupons, Frugality, Relationships

Before heading off to work, Jake, my fiance, said (all selfassured and not in a mocking tone, I might add), “I’m not going to go out to eat unless I have a coupon.”

I think I can die a happy woman now.

Sunday morning routine
March 9, 2008, 3:28 pm
Filed under: Coupons

Every Sunday morning, I walk to a small, local grocery store a block over from our apartment to pick up the Sunday paper. I always get a nice chuckle from the man who owns the store when I pay the $1.84 with exact change in coins. The coins are usually taken from our change jar or scooped out of my wallet in the rare event that I actually have any physical money in there. This morning I paid with mostly dimes and nickels since we were low on quarters.

I like to buy my paper from this small store for several reasons. For starters, I like the exercise, even though a 2 minute walk probably doesn’t do too much to improve my health in the long run. Regardless, I’m getting outside for 2 extra minutes and breathing fresh air. Second, I’m not using up gas or putting unnecessary miles on my car by going to another store a few more blocks away. Not only does that help the environment, but it also helps my wallet. Third, I like the fact that I’m supporting a local store. I work for an independent bookstore so I know how hard it is for locally owned businesses to stay afloat. I know that this man appreciates my loyalty, even though it’s only $1.84 once a week. He recognizes me and knows that I always come in for the Sunday paper. If I went to Kroger, for instance, most of the employees wouldn’t even notice I was there or care what I was buying. I know I could probably go to a dollar store and get the paper for a mere dollar (as I’ve heard you can do) or get the paper delivered straight to my doorstep (possibly saving me money in the long run), but I don’t mind paying that extra $.84 a week because it’s putting money back into my community and getting me out and about more.

You may be wondering, why do I go out and buy the paper every Sunday and only on Sunday? The very simple and short answer is COUPONS. Yes, coupons, those little controversial slips of paper that entitle the barer of said paper to save additional money on a certain product. I can sense the eye rolls. Believe me, I can. Jake used to be a coupon skeptic. “Oh come on, 35 cents off of a can of stewed tomatoes really won’t make a difference in our budget.” Well, not really, but when you use that coupon when the stewed tomatoes are on sale for $.75 and your store doubles coupons, you’ll only wind up paying a measly nickel for those tomatoes and that, my friend, will make a huge difference in your budget when you can consistently match up sales and coupons.

Paying that $1.84 for a paper is a simple investment since all you have to do is use two $1 coupons (or 4 $.50 coupons, etc) and you’ve made your money back and more! You’ll find plenty of coupons to choose from since nearly every week of coupon clipping generates a nice sized stack.

No, I’m not a crazy coupon lady. I much prefer the term “coupon queen,” as a friendly cashier said the other day at Walgreen’s. Yes, I do buy things when they aren’t on sale or when I don’t have a coupon for them. Sometimes. And it hurts to do so. But, yes I do it on occasion. Hey, why should I pay full price when there are so many ways to get an item for way less or free?

Once I get the paper and return to our apartment, I hunker down with my scissors, a Sharpie, my small accordion-like file folder full of coupons, and usually some breakfast and get to work. I dissect the paper into what I actually want to peruse (the front section, metro/local news, the business section, the “Flair” section which includes the Jumble and Sudoku puzzles, Parade magazine for my pop culture fix, a few select fliers, and the holy grail of coupons) and the sections that go straight into the recycling bin (the sports section, real estate section, classifieds, and the rest of the towering stack of fliers). Now that the paper is a 1/3 of what it was, the actual news sections get put aside for later in the day or week, depending on how busy life gets, and I dive straight into the coupons.

When I cut out coupons, I will usually clip anything that I know Jake and I buy or we could possibly buy if it were on sale/free. I pay special attention to coupons for new products because they will inevitably go on sale and or have a rebate, making them very cheap or free, in the coming weeks. I also keep family members in mind when I clip coupons. I clip out denture item coupons for my dad, hair color coupons for my mom, baking item coupons for my grandma, and baby item coupons for Jake’s brother and sister in law.

Why do I even bother cutting out coupons for other people? Because, if I don’t clip them out, they will just go straight into the recycling bin and have no potential for helping anyone out. Also, my family knows how strapped for cash I am and giving them coupons is one thing that I can still do for them even in my frugal state. It shows that I care, that I’m thinking of them, and quite often will lead to a phone call, coupons, or fliers from one of them informing me of a great deal I should take advantage of. Once other savvy shoppers now you’re a savvy shopper too, the flood gates open up and they reveal a plethora of opportunities to save some serious money.

Once all of the coupon clipping is done, I usually call my mom for our weekly chat (the routine isn’t just for the newspaper) and flip through the fliers I pulled out. I usually only spend time on the CVS, Walgreen’s, and Kroger fliers. I’ll look for things that I know Jake and I need and for things that are on sale, offer rebates, and or things that I have coupons for. One thing to keep in mind while clipping coupons and looking for sales is to only stick to things you know you need or you’ll use in the future. You’re not saving any money if you buy things you have no use for just because they are on sale. The only exception to this rule is if you are going to give it away to an organization like a food bank. I will circle things that I think we’ll get and if I have a coupon for it, or think that I do, I write a little “c” next to the item to serve as a reminder to dig out the coupon before we go shopping. Once I finish looking through the fliers, I usually go online to see the fliers for stores I frequent that don’t distribute their fliers in the Sunday newspaper. If I see anything I like, I keep tabs of it in a Word file. I add my findings from the paper fliers to this Word file as well.

By this time, the conversation with my mom is drawing to a close and I can pay attention to filing away my coupons. This is also a good opportunity to find any expired coupons and toss them in the recycling bin. I divide the coupons up by category (such as feminine care, toothpaste/brushes, personal care, shampoo/conditioner/hair care, paper products) and then file them in according to their expiration date. I make sure to pull out any coupons that I think I’ll need for the coming week and put them in the front compartment.

I know that I will reap the benefits over and over again of spending the time clipping out coupons and matching them up with sales and for that reason I really like spending my Sunday outside of work doing so. After all, isn’t the best kind of routine one that you enjoy?