Sunday, October 31, 2010

Step one...the basics!

Isn't that the CUTEST pirate you have ever seen?? :)

Alright, for those of you starting from scratch, let's start at the very beginning. Where do you get coupons? There are several sources, but I will share my favorites.

The first, and most obvious, is the Sunday news paper. I had been paying for a Sunday only subscription to the San Diego Tribune, until I found out some GREAT information! You can buy the Sunday news paper for $1 at the dollar tree! How they get away with that when the Newspaper clearly says "$1.85", I do not know, but I am not going to question it! Today (10/31) was a great day for coupons as there was a Smart Source and a P&G insert. I usually only get two papers, but today I got three so that I can stock pile on the good coupons. Some cities may also get Redplum inserts in the Sunday paper, San Diego's come in the mail on Mondays or Tuesdays. (Don't ask me why...)

The second favorite source is from online coupon websites.,, and are the most popular. These coupons are usually updated on the first of every month (with the exception of, which adds new ones throughout the month), as well as losing some on the last day of every month. Most of the coupons can be printed two times in one month. Save yourself some ink and only print the coupon WHEN you need it! Do not get into the habit of printing a whole bunch you "might" use. This is a huge waste of paper and ink and has the adverse affect on the budget.

The third favorite source is FREE SAMPLES! Free samples are the BEST! There are several groups that you can like on Facebook that post new free sample offers throughout the day. I sign up for all of them (if time permits). First, it is so exciting to get fun things in the mail! I have gotten to the point that I get usually about three free samples or free coupons in my mail in one day. Something other than bills! The sample sizes are great for traveling or putting in my purse. Some businesses even send full size freebies or coupons to get items completely free at the store. I know...hard to believe?! Some of the freebie sites are Freebies4mom, Free Samples, and Deal Wise Mommy. What do freebies have to do with coupons? The BEST coupons that I get, come with the free samples. Most businesses send a high value coupon with the free sample. *Score*

My fourth favorite source is simply using the manufacturer's website. When there is a good deal at a store on an item, I always look on the manufacturer's website to see if there is a coupon to match with the sale to get a stellar deal. More often than not, manufacturers have several coupons on their websites. Its always worth a try.

The fifth and probably easiest way to get coupons is with websites like and If your store participates, you can load coupons onto your frequent shopper card. You do not need to print, cut, or carry anything other than your shopping card. The coupons will come off automatically. This works GREAT with stores such as Vons that lets you use a paper coupon, an electronic coupon AND a Vons coupon all at the same time!! (And will double your paper coupons under $1...more on that later.) So you can double, even TRIPLE dip in coupons on one item at some stores.

To find out for sure if your store doubles coupons or allows an electronic coupon and paper coupon on one item, go to your store's website and read the coupon policy. If there is not a coupon policy posted, email them and request a copy. It is also smart to carry the coupon policy with you, as some cashiers and even managers do not even know what they are and are not allowed to do.

That was a lot of information. If you have any questions, let me know! You can also comment or add your own tips below. Remember, I am still learning too, so I LOVE to hear other suggestions or great finds that others come across!

Another reason why couponing is such a great idea....

I want to share with you all how AWESOME it was to have a stockpile of items on hand to help out a family in need. It is so great that I had a surplus of cereal, snacks, and hygiene items to give to a refugee family that was in need of some items. I heard of the need, and at spur of the moment I could provide those items for another family who needed them more than I did. It was awesome to be able to help, and it didn't cost me much to help either. :)

On that note, there is a special opportunity that I came across in my blog searches. I came across 30 Days of Giving. I will not know the specifics until the program starts tomorrow, but the idea is very intriguing! Basically, you commit to following the giving challenge every day for 30 days. The Facebook site, which I provided the link to, will notify you of the challenge every day. These will not be monetary challenges, but challenges to give things you already have or emotional things like time or help. (One example I heard was going into your closet and picking out five shirts to give to a homeless person or a shelter.) The creator suggests that you journal every day of the challenge. Keep track of what God is doing and how He is using you! I want to challenge you guys to look into this! I am excited to see what God can do through me and my 30 Days of Giving!

Rite Aid week of 10/31

Rite Aid is going to be pretty cool to share, because I actually live in their test market!! Certain areas of California, the sales run from Friday to Thursday rather than Sunday to Sunday like most drugstores. (That is actually a good bit of information to share. MOST grocery stores run their sales and ads Wednesday to Tuesday. Drugstores are Sunday to Sunday, unless you live in a test district like I do. ALWAYS look at the bottom of the ad to see what days the specials run. Its pretty embarrassing to go up to a register with a cart full of stuff only to find out that the sale hasn't started yet! Trust me, cashiers are not a fan ;) ) So, all that to say, I can give everyone who is not in a test market a heads up on Rite Aid before the sale even starts! How cool is that?

This week was a GREAT week at Rite Aid.
Rite Aid trip October 28, 2010:
2 boxes of Frosted Mini Wheats
3 bags of Chex Mix
1 bag of Gardettos (sp?)
1 bottle of honey
1 box of my much needed hair color!
2 packages of size C batteries for Ryan's soother
5 Soy Joy bars (only 4 pictured because Ryan ate 1:)
10 packs of Trident Layers gum

Grand Total: $8.01 out of pocket
Plus $1 +UP reward to use on next transaction

Here are some HUGE pointers for Rite Aid to know before even starting to shop there.

First of all, GET A WELLNESS CARD! It is complete silliness to not have one. Its free. You cannot get any of the store sales or incentives without it. Just get it. End of story.

+UP rewards are cash back type specials that Rite Aid puts as incentives for certain items. A lot of times they are totally worth it! I have walked out paying NOTHING but tax many times at Rite Aid because I had so many +UP rewards from the last time, that it paid for the whole transaction! (And usually the printer spits out even more +UP rewards!) The rewards will print on your receipt. I cut them off immediately when I get home so that I don't accidentally throw away my receipt. That's like throwing away cash!

One thing to get accustomed to is doing the Video Values program at Rite Aid. The program is simple: you watch 30 second videos to get high value coupons. THE BEST part is that you can combine a Rite Aid coupon with a manufacturer's coupon. (The top of coupons will tell you what kind of coupon it is.) For instance, the hair color I purchased this week. It was on sale for $5.99. I had a $3.00 off coupon from and a $2.00 coupon from the video values. HELLO 99 cent hair color!!! You can find the video values located on the bottom left hand side of Rite Aid's website.

Also for watching the video values you earn points to get coupons for $4 off a $20 purchase. These are VERY handy! With the transaction above, I had the cashier scan the items, then handed the cashier the $4 off $20 coupon BEFORE all of the others. This is because once I hand him the other coupons, the purchase will no longer be $20.

Here is a link for another very high value coupon. This coupon is for $5 off a $25 transaction. Now, I have heard that some stores will not accept these, I am not sure why. My store takes them, the register takes them....never had a problem. Its worth a try, and my guess is most stores take them. It IS a coupon provided by Rite Aid. All Rite Aid coupons start with R48, as this one does.

The cashiers laugh at me, but I usually do two or three trips in and out of the store the same shopping trip. I usually make sure my purchase will be just enough before coupons to us the $5 off $25 coupon. After I pay for that transaction, I use the +UP rewards from THAT transaction on the next one. (This is called "rolling" your rewards) Make sense? So that purchase above was all from two transactions. (I also use a $5 off $25 coupon every time.)

PHEW! I know that is a lot of information, and it does make your head spin at first! Take baby steps! It took me several weeks to figure out how to "drug store heist" Rite Aid, but it sure pays off! Just some careful planning before you go in...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Organization. NOT my strong point!

Here it is! I have finally crossed the boundary of tampering into OBSESSED! When I first started looking into couponing I remember laughing at the idea of having a binder for my coupons. I was WAY too cool for that, and never planned on becoming that obsessed. That was for crazy people! I laughed at them! I said I would never carry a binder into a store...

Well here is my binder. Make of that what you will. :)

The three ring binder has dividers that are labeled for the different areas of the store. (Example: dairy, breakfast, frozen, etc.) Each section has three or four plastic trading card collecting inserts. (You can find these at Walmart or Target.) This allows me to see my coupon stash easily and find what I want. This method is SO much faster than searching through a whole stack of coupons looking for one! I am no longer embarrassed for having moved from tampering to obsessed! (Thank you to the for the tips on how to make my binder!)

Always an adventure....

Six months! That is how long I have to figure out how to stretch my dollar and make the most of our money. Currently a military family, but my husband will be a civilian in a short amount of time. With the new job, we will be experiencing some changes in our income, and need to change our budget to reflect those changes! I have made it my new "job" as a stay at home mom, to teach myself how to stretch every penny and get as much as I can for as little as possible. I am documenting my journey, as well as our journey from military family to a civilian family. My husband, my son Ryan, and I will be making some changes in our lives and I want you to share in that change.

Are you ready for our adventure? I am sure you will see all sides of me. We will laugh, cry, rejoice, and learn how to get over life's bumps in the roads. Here we go!