Posts filed under ‘coupons’
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I’ve written about coupons many different times over the past few years. I used to sing the praises of those little pieces of paper, but over time I’ve turned against them. At some point along the way I decided to kick them to the curb and cancelled my newspaper subscription to ensure I wouldn’t be tempted to continue clipping.
Every once in awhile my brain gives way to visions of saving and against my better judgement I try bargain shopping again. More often than not I fail miserably.
At the height of my couponing days I often wondered how much time and energy I spent trying to save money. I considered running the numbers more times than I can count, (I’m a numbers kind of girl), but often lost track of the few minutes of time spent here and there along the way.
A recent article in Parent’s magazine made me wish I kept tabs of both the time I spent and money I saved. The October 2014 issue contains an article titled “Is Couponing Really Worth It?” Beneath the title is a headline which reads, “Trolling for discounts can save your family money, but it’s not for everyone. See whether you’re better off clipping or skipping.”
The article provides a quiz to help you determine whether or not couponing will help you save money. The seven questions are:
- How much free time can you devote to couponing?
- Do you have space?
- Are you willing to travel to multiple stores each week?
- Do you buy products that offer coupons?
- Are you up for reading the fine print?
- How do you feel about haggling?
- Are you organized?
Based on your answers you’ll be labeled a “a coupon catastrophe”, “coupon capable” or “a coupon champ in the making.” (You can find the quiz here.)
Although the test is all for fun I did love the “coupon salary calculator” at the end of the article, which suggests plugging in numbers to calculate your hourly coupon “wage.” In essence this little calculation will help you determine if saving money is worth the sacrifice of your time.
Here are the details:
- How much do you spend per week on groceries and drugstore items, excluding coupons?
- How much are you spending per week, including coupons?
- Subtract line 2 from line 1. What is your total weekly savings?
- Enter the amount you spend weekly on printed newspapers (if you use their coupons) and subscription coupon sites.
- How much money do you spend weekly on printer ink and paper? (Note: The average cost per black-ink is 5.5 cents; it’s 8.9 cents for color.)
- Subtract lines 4 and 5 from line 3. Enter the total.
- How many hours per week do you spend couponing?
- Divide line 6 by line 7. This is the amount you make per hour of couponing. (Note the federal minimum wage is $7.25.)
As I mentioned I’ve never written down how much time I spent clipping, traveling to various stores, waiting in line and haggling over non-working coupons, but in retrospect I sure wish I did. Back in the heydey I’d drive to two or three different stores first thing on a Sunday morning in search of drugstore bargains. I’d love to know how much time I actually spent preparing and shopping. I did save a ton of money on those early morning ventures, but back then I definitely valued money more than time. These days with a toddler at home and a baby on the way I value time so much more than money!
My son has been sick three times since starting preschool a little over a month and a half ago. Every time he gets sick he seems to pass those lovely germs on to the rest of us. I’ve gotten sick three times in that same span of time. My husband managed to avoid this last cold, but caught the prior two.
Luckily our little guy recovers quickly, typically within a day or so, but the symptoms seem to linger in me for days on end. This time around my runny nose has turned into a deep and violent cough, which wakes me from my sleep every hour or so.
After a particularly rough night my husband suggested a dose of Robitussin. With my son happily playing at preschool, (most likely getting infected with another virus), I planned a quick, solo trip to Target.
Before heading out of the house I searched for this week’s Target deals. After all, I was heading to the store alone, which means I could take an extra five minutes to snatch some inexpensive deals. Seems simple enough, right?
Honestly, I have no idea why the impulse to clip coupons and look for bargains grabbed a hold of me. Whatever the reason I found myself printing coupons and taking note of the items I wanted to buy before heading out to the store.
I didn’t feel well and I didn’t want to risk the lure of Target’s endcaps so I went directly to the aisles I needed to visit and didn’t hesitate once along the way.
I wasn’t in the store more than five minutes when I remembered why I gave up coupon clipping so long ago.
- Problem #1 – None of the items were in stock. Sure I had four coupons for cereal, but that doesn’t do a girl much good when the shelves are bare.
- Problem #2 – The prices listed on bargain sites weren’t reflected in my local store. One item priced at $7.99 on my favorite bargain blog was actually $14.99 in the store. Of course, I dragged that item to the price checker to verify the price and back to it’s original location when I realized it wasn’t on sale.
- Problem #3 – The promotions offering $5 Target gift cards with a purchase of ‘x’ number of items didn’t work. The cashier said the items I selected weren’t part of the special deal.
I’m certain feeling ill added to my frustration, but after failing to find three of the six bargains I quickly moved on to the register.
When all was said and done I walked out of the store with one good bargain and a roll of shipping tape that was desperately needed in our house despite the fact that it wasn’t on sale.
Over the past two and a half years I dramatically cut back on clipping coupons and scouring drugstores in search of freebies. My primary reason was a desire to save time. It was a royal pain in the you know what to drag my infant son around from store to store, pull him out of the car seat, find a way to occupy him while I shopped, distract him while we waited in long lines and strap him back into the car.
I haven’t played the drugstore games for quite a long time, but when I found myself walking out of Rite Aid two weeks ago with $15 worth of +UP Rewards I could feel the urge to restart the coupon clipping madness. You can’t use +UP Rewards on the same day you receive them, which is of course Rite Aid’s tricky way of forcing you to return to the store to buy more items, so I knew I’d be back another day.
I typically purchase vitamins through Amazon’s subscribe and save program. The combination of already low prices plus a 20% discount makes the final cost difficult to beat. For some reason I marked my frequency of shipments as every two months rather than every month and by the time I ran out it would have taken too long to receive the next bottle, so I dragged myself to the drugstore one Sunday afternoon and paid way more than necessary for vitamins. As a result of that purchase I earned $15 worth of +UP Rewards.
The following Sunday I was back in the store buying other products I needed. This time I spent a mere $1.68 out of pocket and received another $8 worth of +UP Rewards, thereby continuing the cycle. A few days later I was determined to use that coupon and end this madness but couldn’t pass up another deal resulting in a $6 coupon. Each time I walked into the store I spent less than $3, but I still had to plan my purchase, get to the store, wait in line and drive back home. This all resulted in much more time than I wanted to spend. I saved a good deal of money with those last two purchases, but when I accounted for my time it just wasn’t worth it.
What’s worse I found that a combination of sales, coupons and +UP Rewards often isn’t that much cheaper than buying the same products at BJ’s or Costco. So why go to the hassle of driving to the store every week, keeping track of just how much of a product I have on hand, reading through store circulars and clipping coupons when I can stock up on a product at a warehouse store and not need to shop again for three to four months.
I save a lot of time by shopping at warehouse stores three or four times a year. I also think my year end spending is pretty close to the prices I pay at drugstores without all of the work. I certainly spend less on unplanned items. While in the grocery store I was tempted to buy everything from cereal to large bouncy balls. I didn’t need any of those products despite the big signs alerting me to their sale prices.
Needless to say I wanted to end the Rite Aid +UP Rewards cycle and purchased one last item to use my last coupon. Wouldn’t you know the Rite Aid register had something else in mind. It printed out a coupon for $15 off $30 to be used on any purchase. Ugh!
Right now new TopCashBack members can buy a $20 Sears voucher for $1 after cash back!
Here are the details:
- Sign up for TopCashBack.
- Search for Groupon (after signing up and logging in.)
- Purchase the $20 Sears Voucher for $10 by clicking on the Get CashBack button. It looks like this:
- Within 7 days the $9 cashback will post to your TopCashBack account.
- The $20 Sears voucher will be emailed to you by Groupon just like normal and is valid in stores only.
Within 12 weeks, the $9 cashback can be credited to your checking or PayPal account. Or if you chose to be paid in an Amazon Gift Card, you will get $9.45 back instead!
This offer is for new TopCashBack customers only and ends 6/17 or whenever Groupon ends the deal.
Right now you can receive a free $20 in-store credit voucher for the Body Shop via Groupon and TopCashBack. Here are the details:
- Groupon is selling a $20 voucher for The Body Shop for $10.
- TopCashback is giving $10 cash back on the deal, which means you’ll earn back the $10 you spent on the Groupon.
Here’s how to take advantage of this deal:
- Visit the Body Shop Deal on TopCashBack.
- Click the orange button that says $10.00.
- Purchase The Body Shop’s $20 in-store voucher priced at $10.
- Within 7 days you should receive $10 in cash back to your TopCashBack account
This will make the $20 voucher free after cash back. After 60 to 90 days the TopCashBack credit can be paid to your checking or PayPal account.
Please note: The purchase should only contain the $20 Body Shop voucher priced at $10 and there is a limit of 1 $20 Body Shop voucher per TopCashBack account/member.
Also – You will need to create an account if you have not already done so.
If you like the Body Shop this is a great deal!
Yesterday I decided to take advantage of super double coupons at Harris Teeter. For a few days each year the store doubles coupons up to $2.00. With a couple of $2.00 coupons in hand you can quickly save $4.00. I don’t subscribe to the newspaper anymore so I only receive coupons from the circular when my dad or mother-in-law choose to pass them along.
I actually like this model. I found myself clipping and sorting a bunch of coupons I never used and never having the patience to stop at three or four different stores with a two year old in tow. So I gave up couponing and didn’t give it another thought until I saw the sign at Harris Teeter the day before.
I was curious if any good deals existed and after a five minute search on the good old internet I found a bunch of items with printable coupons that made items free or close to free after coupon. I needed to stop into town the next day anyway, so I printed out fourteen coupons and went on my merry way.
I shopped for everything I needed and found the shelves well stocked when I got there. I had no problems grabbing each desired item and reached the checkout counter in record time. It helped that my son was munching on one of the free cookies you find in the store’s entryway.
When I reached the cashier I made certain to tell her that my son had eaten a banana shortly after entering the store and asked her to weigh the largest banana left in the bunch so I could pay for it. She actually laughed at the idea and told me it cost a whole 24 cents. “It doesn’t matter,” I told her, “I don’t like my karma to take a hit for things like that.”
The first coupon beeped and deducted money off my total, but the second one failed. She set it aside and ran a few more coupons through before the system complained again. Ten of the fourteen coupons succeeded so I wasn’t worried when she asked a store manager or assistant manager over for assistance.
As soon as the woman walked up to the counter she accused me of going to another Harris Teeter before shopping at this one. She asked in a very derogatory tone if I “tried to use my card earlier in the day or at another store.” She didn’t look me in the eyes when she asked this but just kept staring at the coupons.
I told her I knew the policy. That I had fewer than 20 coupons, (Harris Teeter only doubles the first 20), and that I did not visit any other stores that day. Even after the cashier informed her that the second coupon failed, but others after had succeeded the manager acted as though she didn’t believe her.
I’m not a fan of that accusatory tone. I know the manager wasn’t there when I offered to pay for a banana, but a girl who pays for a banana is not about to try to stiff the store over a few dollars worth of coupons. It put a sour taste in my mouth and reminded me why I gave up on the idea of couponing a few weeks ago.
It’s just not worth the hassle. The coupons don’t work. The store managers are nasty and I still paid over $50 for all of the other products that never have coupons like organic produce and free range chicken. I think this last experience officially ended my desire to coupon.
Before my son was born I decorated his nursery with two sets of wall decals. The first contained a series of baby jungle animals including monkeys, elephants, lions, alligators, frogs and giraffes. The second was an elegant tree with soft blue leaves and three tiny song birds.
The room looked incomplete after my husband painted the walls a soft shade of yellow. Those wall decals filled the blank space with warm colors and friendly animal faces. Whenever a friend or family visits my son’s room they comment on those wall decals and ask where I bought them.
Wall decals are such an easy way to spruce up an otherwise bare room. They are typically easy to apply and just as easy to remove whenever you tire of them. Ever since I decorated my son’s room I’ve considered purchasing more. I really wanted to place one above the headboard in my room, but really couldn’t decide on a design I loved.
When the kind folks at Cozy Wall Art offered to send me a sample I couldn’t resist the offer. One of the best perks of writing this blog is definitely the offers to try new products and I jumped at the chance to try one of their decals.
I spent hours looking over the options before selecting one that I really loved. I actually went back and forth on a number of different designs. They have a couple of really sweet wall quotes I considered buying for my beach house and two or three fish related wall decals.
I ultimately chose the Cherry Blossom wall decal, which is reminiscent of the tree decal on my son’s room. I haven’t had time to install it above my headboard yet, (I just got back from the beach on Thursday), but I plan to wash down the walls and install it tomorrow. I can’t wait to see how it looks against the purple paint in our bedroom. (Yes my husband agreed to purple paint in the bedroom.)
If you’ve been looking for something new to decorate your walls I definitely suggest checking out the decals at Cozy Wall Art. All readers of One Frugal Girl will receive a 20% discount on products when you enter the coupon code OneFrugalGirl20 at checkout. As an added bonus you’ll also receive free shipping on all orders of $50 or more (after the discount) and and all orders under $50 will ship for a flat rate of $5.95 via US Priority Mail.
Note: I received a free wall decal for writing about Cozy Wall Art, but the thoughts and opinions in this post are my own.
A month ago I considered giving my newspaper subscription the boot. I called the Washington Post to cancel, but was quickly convinced to remain a subscriber for a significantly reduced price.
I spent the next three Sundays reluctantly picking up the paper on Sunday morning. The coupon inserts would sit on top of our dining room table for days and when I finally took the time to sort and organize them I found very few worth clipping.
Then we went on vacation and I realized that I really didn’t want to deal with clipping coupons when I returned. I can cancel the paper for two weeks, but I won’t receive a refund or extension and that my friends is simply money down the tubes.
There are so many coupons available from the Internet these days that I rarely find a need to clip the ones I find in the paper. In fact, many of the Internet coupons are better than the ones you can find in print.
So I finally called the Washington Post and cancelled. They tried to persuade me to remain a subscriber, but this time around I held my ground. Goodbye Sunday paper! Goodbye big coupon binder!
I am a huge fan of Chipotle. In fact, I met a friend there for lunch yesterday afternoon. If you love Chipotle and haven’t tried Plink yet, this might be your best opportunity to do so. If you register at Plink and make ANY purchase at Chipotle by Sunday August 18th at 11:59 EST you will earn 1,000 Plink Points, which is enough to redeem for a $10 gift card of your choice at a ton of different stores and restaurants including Amazon.com.
What is Plink? The Plink program enables you to earn points for shopping at your favorite stores and dining at your favorite restaurants. It’s designed so you don’t have to carry around an additional card or clip coupons before going out. When you dine or shop you simply pay with the card you register with Plink and your rewards will automatically be credited to your account.
- New Plink members only, one sign-up bonus per person.
- Plink Member must link a credit or debit card and make a purchase at Chipotle by Sunday, 8/18 11:59 EST.
- Purchase is necessary (after the member links a credit/debit card to their Plink account) to qualify for the bonus 1,000 Plink Points by Sunday, 8/18 11:59 EST.
- Bonus 1,000 Plink Points will be awarded within 7 business days of the transaction posting date.
- Chipotle purchases that occur on 8/19 or later will not qualify for the bonus.
So what are you waiting for? Click HERE to get started.