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Free Chocolate Fridays

Don’t forget…

Fridays are Free Candy Bar Days!!  Who doesn’t like that?!

I’m re-posting this from last Thursday just so you can prepare yourself.

The Mars company is giving away free candy bars to the first 250,000 people to visit their site each Friday between 9am and 11pm EST.  You will be asked to enter your birth date (to ensure eligibility).  Fill out the information, and within a few days, you’ll receive an email confirmation.  Your coupon will arrive four to six weeks later.

The fun part…besides free candy?  You can do this up to five times, if I remember correctly.

Part 2 from the Previous Post

I’ve been chatting with a friend who reads my blog, and I realized that I left some things out of my previous post…say it ain’t so!

First off, I want to say that I think The Grocery Game is fabulous!  There are many good reasons to sign up for it:

  • The format of the lists makes it easier to recognize good deals.  Each grocery store list has a column for the percentage you save on each item.  You quickly learn what is considered “rock-bottom” prices.  The higher the percentage saved, the better the deal, obviously, and you start being more discriminatory about what you will and will not purchase.
  • Another neat thing about the lists is how items are color-coded.  Free items are in green, rock-bottom items are in blue, and sale items (but only buy if needed) are in black.  The lists are organized according to the layout of the store, but you can sort the lists any way you want.  You can check mark what you plan on getting and only print those items.  Lots of planning went into how these lists were devised.
  • You learn patience.  Just because an item is on sale does not mean that it’s the right time to buy something.  After four weeks (the trial period), you will probably see an item go on sale twice.  In my case, it was the Hebrew National Hot Dogs that I’m so fond of.  This go-round, I had two coupons, so I stocked up.

The main downside to The Grocery Game lists is that they don’t come out until Sunday in order to factor in the coupon inserts for that week’s Sunday paper.

My stores’ ads last from Wednesday through Tuesday, so that leaves me only two and a half days to shop.  When I’m working, this isn’t good because the week gets hectic.

If I come across a coupon in the Sunday paper for an item I bought a few days earlier (using my other web sites), I know that I can take my coupon back to the store, tell them I didn’t have my coupon during my purchase, and get my money back.  If the store gives you a hard time, return the item and re-buy it with the coupon.

Other things to remember…

  • Keep your coupons with you.  I started to put mine in the car when I went to Starbucks the other day but changed my mind.  I went straight to Walmart, where I found a great deal…if I had my $1 coupons that were at home.  Back I went, wasting precious time in my day.  It was worth the trip but unnecessary.
  • Buy two Sunday papers.  I found having two inserts invaluable this morning as I prepared to shop.  There were a couple of B1G1 items, and I was able to clip two coupons to use on them.
  • When printing coupons from the Internet, hit the back button to print them a second time.  Most sites will allow you to print two copies of a coupon but no more than that unless it’s a PDF you can download.
  • Printing coupons from the Internet is notorious for being a hit or miss thing.  A couple of the sites require that you install a coupon printer and have Java enabled on your browser.  Try different browsers.  I have the most success using Safari.  Check out THIS link, which helped me print coupons from SmartSource and RedPlum.  Folks, it can be done.  Be persistent.
  • Watch carefully while your cashier is taking off your coupons.  Just this morning, I caught one of my coupons (a biggie…$3) not being scanned.
  • Know how much items cost and watch them get scanned as well.  Several items at CVS did not ring up correctly last week.  A couple of the problems were due to signage (not my mistake, but I got the price advertised) and a couple of problems were with the way the prices were entered in the system.  I always check my receipt after I leave.
  • I have found that keeping a list of the coupons I’m using and what the item will cost me afterward helps me keep my ducks in a row and helps me when I’m looking over the receipt later.  I typically have a general idea of what I’m spending before I get to the register.  This helps me recognize a problem instantly.
  • Create a spreadsheet and enter your savings.  It’s hard to see how much you’re saving unless you put it down in black and white.

This sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it?

It’s really no different than deciding to eat healthier.

What you’re doing is training yourself by developing new habits.  Once you decide that this isn’t a fad for you, then you’ll be permanently hooked.

Consider older people today.  The generation that lived through the Great Depression learned how to save money.  When times got easier, still they penny-pinched.

Life-long habits reap life-long rewards.

Will I Pay for the Grocery Game?

Tomorrow (the 24th) is the last day of my free trial period of The Grocery Game.

For one month, I’ve used the lists as a springboard for saving money.

You have all been reading about my shopping adventures.

Remember…I am not a celebrity.  I’m just a regular gal…the kind you run into every week at the grocery store.

I have not been paid by anyone to try this thing out, nor am I being paid to promote various web sites.

As I said, I’m just your ordinary blogging friend.

What have I learned this month?

  • Saving money takes some work.  Is it worth it?  Heck yeah!  I used to loathe shopping.  Just ask my family.  That’s one reason why Chicky started doing it for me.
  • Repeat after me:  “Thank you, Lord, for technology.”  Thanks to the Internet, there are loads of resources available to help you.  Remember…Google is your friend.  Need a coupon for Kotex (as I did this morning).  Just Google it.  What about Scotch Tape?  I Googled and found a great coupon that I used at CVS this week.
  • Stacking coupons saves you even more money.  Keep in mind that you can use a store coupon along with a manufacturer coupon on the same item.  Use two coupons on B1G1 (buy 1 get 1 free).  You’re getting two items, so you can use two coupons.  This is in addition to any store coupons you might have.
  • Stock up when prices are low.  Web sites such as Frugal Coupon Living, Southern Savers, and I Heart CVS put out lists of weekly store sales.  Make sure you click on coupon links!  Also be sure to check out the comments under these sites’ posts.  There are people just like us trying to figure things out.  In my case, a coupon wasn’t available at the link provided, but I found it at a different link and posted the information.  It’s all about helping out one another.
  • Subscribing to the RSS feeds of shopping web sites such as those above saves a lot of time when hunting for new posts.  Google Reader is my personal favorite.
  • Don’t buy what you don’t think you’ll use.  This is something I’ve done a good job of.  Although I’ve been uber-excited about all of my savings, I have honestly asked myself questions such as, “Will my family eat this?” and “Will this go to waste before we eat it?” and “How many school supplies do the kids really need this year?”  Don’t buy what you don’t need.  Or, if something is free, and you can’t use it, consider donating it to a food bank, school, or homeless shelter.
  • You will, initially, spend the same amount of money as before.  However, as your stash grows, you’ll notice that you don’t need to buy as much.  They say it takes about three months for this to happen.  I think in my case, it will be about two.
  • Save your coupon inserts and write the date on them.  Don’t cut them out before you need them!  Frugal Coupon Living and Southern Savers refers to the name and date of each supplement when providing coupon information.  Trust me.  It’s much easier to find coupons this way.  And, just because you don’t think you’ll need something, you might change your mind later.

Ok…time for some hard-core evaluating.  Will I pay for my Grocery Game subscription?

No.

Here’s why.

After recently discovering the Frugal Coupon Living and Southern Savers web sites, I think I can save money without paying for the “lists.”  These sites put out very similar lists only in a different format.  Their lists come out the first day store sales begin.

Southern Savers put out this post today that explains that they only list sales that reflect best prices, so if something is on sale but not on their list, try to hold off.  Chances are great that the item will be cheaper the next time it’s on “sale.”  This is, essentially, what The Grocery Game does only in a different format.

I will, however, continue to read The Grocery Game’s forums.  They are free.  The ladies there are awesome and will answer your questions quickly and in a friendly manner.

I am so glad my neighbor told me about The Grocery Game.  Her small comment got the wheels in my brain turning, and it piqued my curiosity.  They say curiosity killed the cat.

Well, in my case, curiosity saved me enough money to buy an entire litter, if I was a cat person!

Quite simply put, shopping will never be the same for me.  I like challenges, and that’s how I approach each planned trip to the store.  How much can I save?  Just how close to free can I get something?

It’s addicting.  And it’s like a virus that spreads to those around you.

The gal who bagged my groceries last week watched my bill go from $115 to $37.  She asked if I used web sites, and I gave her three to write down.

Today she bagged my groceries again.  You could see the look of anticipation as she waited for my total.

$54.55…before coupons.

After?

$16.43.

For this:

I had a coupon for every item in that picture.  In some cases, I had two or three coupons.

The Chef Boyardee was free…even a money maker of $.15 after my $1 coupon.

I got six packages of Carefree for $.34…total.  That’s $.06 a piece for a savings of 96% on that item alone!

The bagger was amazed…once again…and told me she had visited the sites I gave her and was planning on giving it a shot.  I wished her well.

I hope I haven’t bored you with my shopping adventures.  I will continue to update my total on the sidebar of my blog.  And there will be posts where I can’t contain myself and will just have to share stories of my latest shopping trip.

I hope I’ve inspired you to start saving.  If this poor economy does nothing but causes us to be more mindful of what we spend, then at least that’s one positive, right?  Why waste money if you don’t have to!

Oh, and for the record, since June 30th, I’ve spent $445.56.  I saved $519.12.  So, WITHOUT the coupons, I would have spent $965.08.  My savings was 54%.

With the numbers laid out like that, I find it a bit disconcerting to think about how much money we’ve been wasting the last few years.

My ultimate goal is to cut grocery and “miscellaneous (i.e. Target/Walmart/CVS)” shopping in half.  I think I’m on my way!

What Would Dr. Phil Say?

God must really shake His head at some of the stupid things we humans argue about.

Take, for instance, the Mr.’s and my latest disagreement.

This is actually an ongoing thing, stemming from the earliest days of our marriage.

Do we argue over money?

Not very often.

Did he blow a top when I spent $200 on airline phone charges years ago before I knew that you got charged even if the person never picked up the phone?

Nope.

What about the time when I had the bathroom faucet taken apart and couldn’t put it back together with the mammoth wrench I had purchased.

Nope.

What drives the Mr. insane and will cause him to shake the walls with his yelling is…

and hold onto your hats…or rather your pants…

When he finds an roll of toilet paper on the hanger…one square left…and a new roll of toilet paper on the back of the potty.

Yes folks, this is what drives the man nuts (well…it’s one of quite a few things, but let’s not go there).

Truth be told, though, the situation is not as simple as it seems.

You see, I play a small role in the evolution of his anger (in this matter only, of course).

For a woman who will not hesitate to fix an oven, risk her life changing out the doorbell, or climb ladders to trim trees, one of the tasks I loathe the most is changing out the toilet paper roll.

I will, in fact, avoid it at all costs.

I have no explanation for why I feel so strongly about it.

I mean, it’s not a nasty job…certainly not near as bad as scrubbing the outside garbage can, which I did for the first time ever in my entire life yesterday evening.

There is just something I cannot stand about pulling off the empty roll and replacing it with a new one.

Now, you must understand that in the AuburnChick home, we go through a LOT of toilet paper.  The Mr. has Crohn’s Disease.  It’s a debilitating disease of the small intestine that pretty much keeps a person in close proximity to a restroom.

We buy the most expensive toilet paper — Charmin Aloe — and place it in the master bathroom only.  In fact, he’s known to travel with a few rolls of it, keeping it in his suitcase so the maids don’t inadvertently change it out.

The kids get what I like to nickname Gas Station Toilet Paper.  When you use it, it feels like you’re rubbing a Brillo pad across your rump.  Chicky actually used to ask for it.  She hates toilet paper that falls apart while you’re using it.  Rooster likes the good stuff but only gets to use it if the kids’ bathroom is occupied, and he has to go to the other one.

What was my point?  Oh yeah…we go through a lot of toilet paper, so replacing the empty rolls is almost a daily thing here.

I’ve tried my best to try to figure out a way to make it so he doesn’t know the new roll on the back of the potty hasn’t been used.  Thus far, I’ve been unsuccessful.

Have you ever noticed how you kind of have to pull on that first piece to dislodge it from the roll?  It’s a grand feeling…kind of like opening up a treat.

Weird, I know, but hey, whatever rocks your boat.

I’ve tried gently mashing down the end where I’ve pulled from…to re-stick it to the roll.

That doesn’t work.

Licking the edge of that end piece and sticking it down doesn’t work either.

Ewwww…gross…I can hear you now.

I’ve actually never done this, but it HAS crossed my mind…that’s how desperate I am.

Instead, I face the wrath.

Yesterday, I braced myself as he rushed straight for the Reading Room after getting home from work.

I can’t help but wonder if the Mr. didn’t go in, guns blazing.  You see, he knows my MO by now.  Of course, I didn’t disappoint.  I’m so predictable.  He let it be known, quite loudly at that, that he knew my game.

I would have taken cover except that I was stuck on the couch, sore from a day of working outside in the yard.

Some couples need therapy to learn how to handle money issues.

Not us.  We like to be different…stand out from the crowd.

Hmmm…I wonder if Dr. Phil has ever dealt with toilet paper issues in relationships.

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