Wednesday, September 30, 2009


This blog is strictly the ramblings of my thoughts, experiences, and expertise...otherwise known as my opinion. I do not get reimbursement from any company or product for posting my opinions. Thanks for reading, Dawn

Q & A

Is it cheaper to go through Costco or Rite Aid/Walgreens for diapers?

*Disclaimer: I have not shopped at Costco for like eight years. They are supposedly (maybe?) getting one here, but now the closest one is an hour away and not worth the membership fee for me.

Cent for cent, Costco is cheaper, 19 cents versus 26 cents per diaper. However, that is assuming you are not going to try for sales, promos, or coupons. Then it gets complicated.

Pros to buying diapers at Costco:
1) Cost...that is all I can think of.
Cons to buying diapers at Costco:
1) They don't except manufacturer's coupons.
2) The diapers come 258 per box (for size 3). Those will last you a long time and you never know when your baby could possibly have a growth spurt, causing possibly extra too small diapers.
3) You have to factor in the cost of membership and getting to a Costco.
4) Costco is a danger zone for will never leave with just the diapers.

Pros to buying diapers at drugstores:
1) They accept coupons (you can even stack store and manufacturers)
2) The run promos (Like Rite Aid's current one, buy five packs
Huggies, get one free) By doing a recent promo, I also got Huggies diapers for 12 cents each.
3) They qualify you for rebate money or register rewards, which you can roll towards another purchase.
4) Diapers will often go on clearance at these stores.

Cons to buying diapers at drugstores:
1) Price if you don't do with a promo
2) The stock may be limited when the deals are great, especially in say Utah, where they have lots of babies :)

So personally, for me and my situation. I think drugstores (or other stores running great promos) are the way to go. If you don't want the hassle of figuring out promo scenarios and you are sure your little will stay in their current size for awhile go with Costco.

*FYI, I have read on several coupon blogs that they authors have let their "warehouse memberships expire".

Deals of the week

I don't see any great deals or promotions at Albertsons. Hopefully they will release another $3 off $30 coupon or something this weekend. Then the promos will be more worth your time.

Check to see if your local KMart is doubling coupons this week (Oregon is not included). This is a great opportunity to get some free or cheap things. If they are, read hip 2 save for some awesome scenarios, including another Huggies diaper deal.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Loss Leader

Tuesday is grocery ad day. I don't know why grocery sales run Wednesday to Tuesday, while superstore and drugstore run Sunday to Saturday, but that is how it is. However, all ads have what is called a "loss leader." The loss leader is the really, really good deal or two that gets you to come in the store. It is usually the largest, (leader) on the front page of the ad. The store might even be losing money on this deal. Thus the title, loss leader. The loss leader gets you through the door in the hopes that you spend more money on other items. The trick is outsmarting the loss leader. Lots of people come in and buy the loss leader item with several other things, but very few people come in and just buy the loss leader or just a few things with it. Have you ever been fooled by the loss leader? Well, now you know another store secret.

Step #3 Gathering Coupons

Sorry this post is late, I had Monday and technology issues.

The third step is gathering coupons. There are many places and ways to get coupons.

*In the paper: The Sunday paper has inserts, but these can vary by the region or the paper you get. Experiment with several papers and find the one (or ones) that has the best ones for you. I buy three each week, my local paper (for the ads, but it doesn't have coupons), and the two papers from the bigger cities that have the coupon inserts. The inserts are called Smart Source (SS) and Red Plum (RP). About once a month there is a Proctor & Gamble (P&G) insert too. Sometimes other companies put out inserts, Kelloggs did one in September. The Sunday paper also has store coupons. Store coupons (put out by that specific store and can only be used at that store) can be stacked (used together) with manufacturers coupons.

*In the store: Look for "blinkies" and "tear pads" displays next to products. Sometimes companies put out whole booklets that are on displays (Kelloggs and Kraft did this in the last month). Also Fred Meyer and Walgreens have coupons booklets (store coupons) which can be stacked. Be respectful of other couponers though and don't wipe out the whole display :) Some stores may even have a coupon trade bin, where you put your coupons you don't want and get ones you do.

*On products: Look for "peelies" (those sticker like coupons on packages) on products and coupons inside boxes. The ones hidden in boxes are usually high values. I recently got $5 worth of Kelloggs coupons inside a cereal box.

*On the internet: Internet coupons are free. You can usually print them twice.,, are the best ones. They update once a month, but are set to only so many prints per coupon. So if you see something you need, print it before it is no longer available. (You can print them all, but you are probably not going to use them all, so it wastes paper and ink.) Also company websites are great sources for coupons. If you are looking to see if a coupon is available for a specific product, you can try It tells you where to find the coupon. (These links are on my sidebar.) One word of caution, I would stay away from,, etc...those sites just seem to fill your mailbox with spam and never produce usable coupons (at least for me they don't.)

*In the mailbox: You know I love mail! There are lots of coupon books and free samples (that often come with high values coupons) to sign up for. Again, I would stick with on that. I am on several companies mailing lists and I often get coupons that work great with promotions.

*In magazines: Lots of coupons are available in magazines. Keep your eyes open next time you are browsing. Also the All You magazine has lots of coupons in it. It is a tip mag made for moms. I actually like reading it, because it is realistic. The recipes are actually very easy with common ingredients and the fashion section is stuff you would wear and can actually afford to buy. You can get this mag at WalMart for under $2 and it easily has $100 of coupons in it every month. You can also get a cheap subscription to the mag on numerous sites.

So go gather some coupons, next we will talk about how to organize them.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Rite Aid Deals for 9/27-10/3

I have had a request to post Rite Aid deals early, so here goes. Rite Aid sales go from Sunday to Saturday. My store is usually stocked very well when I get around to shopping Monday, Tuesday, or even Thursday. However, I don't live in a large city. I hope you are able to score some deals. I would recommend getting a Sunday paper. (more on collecting coupons tomorrow)
View this week's ad here
Beginner deal: Totally free after rebate (no coupons needed)
Crest with Scope Toothpaste, $2.69, get SCR (single check rebate) for $2.69
Oral B Advantage Toothbrush, $2.69 get SCR for $2.69

Intermediate deal: Money maker deals, buy a Sunday paper
Gillette Fusion Razor $9, use $4 coupon from the P&G (Proctor & Gamble) insert in today's paper, get a $5 SCR=free
Buy the toothpaste and toothbrush above, but use the $1 coupons for each in the P&G insert. Here is the breakdown, total for three items: $14.38, use $6 in coupons, pay $8.38 at register (plus tax). After you enter your receipts and request your check, you will get $10.38 back, meaning Rite Aid PAID you $2 to buy this stuff, sweet!

Advanced deal: If you have older inserts,
Do the intermediate deal, find $10.62 (or around) in other sale items your family needs so you can use $5 off $25 coupon. Check out my frugal adventure or any blogs under the Rite Aid Resources list for the best matchups.

*Don't forget to request your check for the September Rebate Period. This week starts the October Rebate Period. Also the Gift of Savings program is separate and runs until 10/17, all purchases BEFORE coupons are counted towards this total.
**Also in today's paper are three great Albertson's coupons. $3 of $30, .99 dozen eggs, and $1 off $10 of produce. It is a separate ad.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Food for Thought

According to the coupon expert Bill (the guy from the Apprentice on Rachel Ray today)...most of the coupons are used by households who make over $75,000 and the least are used by those who make under $25,000. Also of the 400 billion coupons printed only 1% are ever used! Plus set aside just 30 minutes per week to cut coupons/plan your shopping trip and save $6500 per year. Is it worth your time?

It is worth my time, for this week (sorry no pics) I would have spent $195.42 on household and grocery products, but after coupons and rebates, I spent $73.43, or a savings of 63%. Not the best week ever, but anytime I can stay under $75 and save over 50% I consider a success. How did you do?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Blog Posting Schedule

So are you enjoying the blog? Here is what I have planned:
Mondays: steps to couponing
Tuesdays: best deals of the week
Wednesdays: store secrets
Thursdays: questions and answers
Fridays: food for thought discussion, budget totals

What would you like to see more of or less of? Please let me know.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Step #2 Gathering Information

Deals vary a lot depending on the your region, the store, even your cashier's mood...The drugs stores are pretty much the same nationwide. The superstores can vary greatly, especially KMart. Grocery store deals also vary by region. Also the coupons available in the Sunday paper and online vary by region. So how do you keep up on the deals in your area? I recommend reading blogs that post coupon matchup for deals in your specific area. The Grocery Gathering at has both local (grocery store) and national (drug and superstore) blogs that you can read. (Click on the weekly deals section to find the lists.) I recommend finding a few good ones for your favorite stores in your location. I will continue to post EXCELLENT Rite Aid Deals and grocery store deals for the Northwest.

Another blog to read, one of my favorites, is Freebies 4 Mom. This is the blog that actually got me started on my new shopping journey (more on that later). It provides the best (meaning trusted and screened) samples and offers from companies. Signing up for free samples is a great way to get high value coupons and get to try new products.

And last one great deal for you local readers, Fred Meyer has Fred Meyer Instant Oatmeal one sale for $1/box, with in ad coupon. You can pick up an ad at the customer service counter. There is a ten box limit. A great price if your kids like oatmeal like mine do.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Q & A

Question and Answer time

What is a catalina? How does it roll? A catalina is any piece of paper that prints out of that little box next to the cash register. ("Catalina" is just the name of the company that makes the boxes.) They may announce new products or promotions, but most of the time they are coupons. They are triggered by what you buy. For instance, buy baby food, you will probably get one for diapers and formula, or buy frozen food and maybe you will get one for another kind of frozen food.

The most valuable catalinas are the ones you earn by doing promotions. Like buy $25 worth of certain products, get $5 back to spend on your next purchase. This comes out in the form of a catalina. Grocery stores like Albertsons and Safeway use these the most. You can also get them at KMart, Fred Meyer, and Walgreens (they are called Register Rewards at Walgreens.) Make sure your cashier gives you all your catalinas when you leave, you never know what you might get. Also, the promotion ones usually print out after you have paid, so watch for the flashing green light on the box, if it is still flashing, it is still generating catalinas for you. Make sure you get them and not the lucky person behind you.

A rolling catalina is when you do a promotion, earn a catalina and then turn around and do the promotion again (on your next shopping trip), use your catalina coupon, and then earn another one. Sometimes they roll nicely, sometimes they don't. I will be sure to point out when one is rolling nicely. FYI a "shopping trip" is defined when you leave the store, so technically you can go to your car, unload your car, and come back in to complete another transaction.

Which brings me to a second question,
Where do you get Gerber coupons?
Gerber coupons are hard to come by considering how often you need to buy baby food when you have a little one. I get them from two main sources: Catalinas and home mailer.

The catalina machine will usually print out Gerber coupons when you buy baby food or graduate products. Sometimes they will also print out if you buy Stoneyfield or BeechNut products too (it doesn't work the opposite way though, if you buy Gerber, it won't give you BeechNut). These catalinas are not always high value coupons, but if you need to buy baby food anyway they help.

The second source, which is better is to sign up with Gerber to be on their home mailing list. They will send out coupons every few months according to your baby's age. Lots of companies do this, here are a few to sign up for if you have babies. They also will send you coupons, free samples, and information geared towards your baby's age. Sometimes these site also have coupons on them.

*Bonus: Did you know you can use a coupon and a formula check together when purchasing formula? You can! The formula checks that Enfamil/Similac/
Good Start issue are considered checks (ie forms of payment), which are different than coupons. Formula coupons often come out of the catalina machine. Also if you move, these mailings are not considered "first class" mail and will not be forwarded, so you need to sign up again...something I need to go do. Someone at my old house is scoring some major coupons!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Step #1: The three rules

If you are looking to learn how to buy coupons off ebay, dumpster dive, steal newspapers, obtain 8 newspaper subscriptions, price match at the register, or any other embarrassing, extreme, or unethical couponing have come to the wrong site. If you are looking to save some money and learn how to be an empowered consumer, stay logged in. You will be a deal diva before you know it!

Why do I coupon? Three main reasons: 1) I like to save money and the rush of a good deal. 2) It helps me build my stockpile of food storage. and 3) It makes shopping a fun game!

So where/how do you start? I am going to go slow and explain as much as I can over several posts. I don't want to overwhelm or confuse anyone. Remember this should be fun. It will take time and a new way of thinking, but it is worth it. Also, don't get discouraged because it gets faster and easier the more you coupon.

So here are three things to remember as you start your new way of shopping.

#1) ALWAYS use a coupon with a sale and/or promotion and/or rebate! If you use a coupon on a regularly priced item, you are going to loose money. For instance, Dawn dishwasher soap, big bottle priced at $4.29, use $.75 coupon pay $3.54. Bargain brand dish soap is regularly priced at $3.29. However the next week, Dawn dish soap may be part of a promotion. Then it is sale priced at $3.79, use $.75 coupon pay $3.04 plus it qualifies you for extra savings on the promotion.

#2) It is OKAY to let a coupon expire. (This is harder than is sounds.) Just because you have a coupon, even a great one, does not mean you have to use it. Using every coupon will end up costing you money.

#3) You DON'T have to hit every deal in town. (Also harder than it sounds.)
This will also end up costing you money. You don't need to drive all over town for the free toothpastes or cheap soup, those sales will pop up again and again. Choose one or two stores to shop at and learn their system and promotions. It will make it much easier for you.

I am not an expert, I just like to share what I have learned and am learning with you. Remember, I am working on these too and your own personal experiences are the best teacher. Good luck and happy shopping.

I heart Rite Aid

I have always loved drug stores. Maybe it was because the drug store in my hometown had an eat-in lunch counter complete with twisty bar stools. Maybe it is because I fell in love with the Walgreens around the corner while we were in graduate school. Or maybe, just maybe it is because Rite Aid pays me to shop there...hmmm, probably all three. Drug stores are awesome! They combine the best of convenience stores and super centers, without the drawbacks of super centers and convenience stores. It is also a great place to coupon shop. Even if you don't have a Rite Aid in your small town (and I also heart small towns), it might be to your advantage to visit Rite Aid when you go to the big city.

Rite Aid has a program called Single Check Rebates. Every month they put out a rebate catalog of 100+ items that have full price or partial price rebates. They also frequently have coupons or free gift packs you can earn. These rebate item are combined with sales to make great deals. It is a simple rebate system. You simply sign up at under the Single Check Rebate section. Then after you shop, enter three numbers off your receipt and you are done. At the end of the month, simply log in and request your check and it will arrive in your mailbox. You don't have to mess with UPC codes, receipts, or the post office. I get my check, cash it, and use the money to earn more rebates. Recycling money, now that is smart shopping.

Best of all, the rebates can be combined with coupons. Rite Aid also frequently has $5 off $25 purchase coupons that you can print out and use. Also shows you the weekly ads so you can see what is the best week to buy a certain product. Watch for the next post, which will be the Rite Aid Diaper Deal I have been talking about. Step by step instructions to follow.

Deal of the Week

Through Saturday, you can get a great deal on Huggies diapers at Rite Aid. Here is the breakdown. Buy three packs (priced at $11 each) and get a $10 rebate. But...there is an extra rebate program going on right now. Check out the Gift of Saving Promotion. So this diaper purchase, will also qualify you for a additional $5 Rite Aid Gift card. So let's get started, choose your level of expertise.

A) Beginner (no coupons needed)
1) Sign-up at Single Check Rebates (this also signs up you up for the gift of savings)
2) Go to any Rite Aid and purchase any 3 Jumbo packs of Huggies Diapers/Pullups/Goodnites
3) Enter your receipt online on the Single Check Rebate page. An email will be sent to you when your rebate is approved. It will also automatically add your receipt to the gift of savings program.
4) At the end of the rebate period (9/26) request your check.
You spend $33 and get $10 check and $5 gift card back, so you spent $18 on three packs of diapers.

B) Intermediate (with coupons)
1) Sign-up at Single Check Rebates
2) Go to Rite Aid and make your diaper purchase.
Use three Huggies manufacturer coupons that you may have. Here are some links if you need some:
$2 of any Huggies product (you can print this twice)
$2 off overnights (also can print twice)
And a Rite Aid coupon
$5 off $25 purchase at Rite Aid
3) Enter your receipts online.
4)At the end of the rebate period (9/26) request your check.
Spend between $21-24 dollars, depending on coupons, and get back $10 check and $5 gift card, so you spent around $12 for three packs of diapers.

C) Advanced: Repeat steps 1-4 of the intermediate level, then save your receipt and send it with at least two other Huggies diaper receipts to Care Givers Marketplace They will send you a rebate check for $.75 per pack of diapers.
So around $9.75 for three packs of diapers.

* A few things to remember with Rite Aid Rebates. You can do this and most rebates only one time. You also can only request your monthly check once, so make sure all your receipts are entered before you request it. (Make sure you are on the log in page for the Single Check Rebates and not just the Rite Aid log in.) Also the total for the gift of savings program is BEFORE all coupons and rebates, so that means all of the $33 will go towards the program.