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Guest Post: Nine Coupon Myths Debunked

Guest Post by Jody Connelly

Myth #1: Coupons are only for unhealthful processed junk foods.
There
are a lot of coupons for processed junk foods. However, there are just
as many coupons for good healthful foods also. More often, I have even
been seeing coupons for fresh fruit. There are also often coupons out
for yogurt, bagged salads, and frozen veggies (which have less salt
than the canned veggies). Keep in mind, just because you’re using
coupons and saving money, you still choose what you buy and what you eat.

Myth #2: You can’t save money if a store doesn’t double coupons.

My
two favorite stores to shop at are CVS and Walgreen’s–neither one of
which double coupons. Most of the time, I find I save more there then I
do at my grocery stores that do
double coupons. Most drug stores have excellent store deals, sales, and
rebate programs that most other stores don’t have. Don’t overlook
shopping at a store just because they don’t double coupons.

There
are also often higher dollar coupons out which, combined with sales,
can net you excellent savings–even if your local stores do not double
coupons. Start looking around at sales and matching your coupons to the
sales and you just might be surprised!

Myth #3: Shopping at discount stores and dollar stores will save you more money than using coupons.
Family
Dollar and Dollar General are often just as expensive as other stores.
The disadvantage is they don’t have the store deals, rebates, and sales
like other stores do. As far as true dollar stores where everything is
$1, I’ve found that I rarely save money by shopping there since most of
the items I buy with coupons and sales, I get for less than $1 in the
first place. So for me, shopping at dollar stores are not a bargain.

Myth #4: Only poor people use coupons.

When
did saving money become such a bad thing? Contrary to what some may
think, according to statistics, people with lower income (under
$25,000/year) are less likely to use coupons.  Middle class, middle-aged people with a college background are the most likely to use coupons.

Myth #5: You should only use coupons for products you normally buy.

After
using coupons for so long now, I don’t even know what I "normally buy"
anymore. By using coupons, I’ve gotten things so cheap or free that I
otherwise would never have dreamed of buying or paying for–brands and products which would usually be quite out of our budget range.

In
addition, I’ve learned to be more creative in planning my menus around
what is on sale and being less brand-loyal so that we can save more
money by buying the brand which is the best deal.

Myth #6: Generic products are always cheaper than name brand products.

Yes,
it’s true that generic is a little cheaper than name brand. However,
generic is not usually cheaper than name brand when it is on sale and
you have a coupon. The key is to combine the store sales with coupons
to get the best deals.

Myth #7: People who use coupons spend more than people who don’t use coupons.

If you are going to the store and buying anything you have a coupon for, especially if the product is not on sale, you will spend more. However, if you use coupons the right way by combining store sales and coupons together to get rock bottom deals, you will most definitely cut your grocery bill.

Myth #8: It’s not worth it to shop at multiple stores.

The
4 main stores I shop at are on the same block and 5 minutes from my
house, so it really doesn’t take me much time to go from store to
store. But even if your stores are not as close as mine, it can be
worth it to shop at multiple stores. For instance, if you are able to
get $100 worth of product you need for $20 and you only spent $6 extra
in gas and an additional 20 minutes, then I would say that would certainly be worth it!

Myth #9: You shouldn’t clip coupons for products you won’t use.

Don’t
dismiss a coupon just because you haven’t used the product in the
past–you might be surprised at the great deal which comes along for
that very product! Besides, if you have a baby and your friend has a
cat, wouldn’t it be nice to swap the coupons you didn’t need so you
both get more of what you do need?

-Jody
Connelly is a stay-at-home mom with 5 children between the ages of 14 –
3 years old. She’s been couponing and saving money for over 4 years.
She also likes to cook, read, sew, and garden. Visit her blog here.

Super Savings Saturday: This Week’s Shopping Trip

Here were our grocery/household product purchases this week (pictures forthcoming–I have to figure out how to download them off our new camera and upload them to this new blog platform!):

Hen House Purchases (Most all of these deals are explained in this post.)
Diet Pepsi Max
Lipton Raspberry Tea bags
Cattlemen’s BBQ sauce
2 bottles Sierra Mist
2 bottles French’s yellow mustard
Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce
3 Rice-A-Roni Natural rice mixes
McCormick Grill Mates
Orville Redebacher Popcorn
Bag of Reese Peanut butter cups baking pieces (reduced to $0.50.)
Bag of York Peppermint patties baking chips (reduced to $0.50)
2 Hillshire Farms sliced turkey (reduced to $1 each)
8 ears of fresh corn on the cob
Frozen stir fry veggies
2 packages Dannon All Natural yogurts
3 dozen Eggland’s Best eggs
2 blocks cheddar cheese
Total after coupons: $19.45 (Total savings of $32 with sales and coupons)

Aldi Purchases
Bread – $1.19
1 Grapefruit – $0.39
1 bag bananas – $0.90
Carrots – $0.99
Two bags of going-bad bananas – I asked for a discount and they gave them to me for $0.25/bag!
Total: $4.27

Hy-Vee Purchases
Frozen strawberries – $1.77
CleanTeam wipes – $0.97, used $1/1 coupon, free
Split peas – $0.65
Chai Silk Soymilk – $2.59, Used $2.25/1 coupon, $0.34 after coupon
Deli turkey – on sale $1.99, Used $1/1 coupon, $0.99
2 pounds Braeburn apples – $0.99/lb
All natural chicken breasts – $3.59
Total: $10.29 (Total coupon savings: $4.25)

CVS Purchases
3 Crest Toothpastes – $1.99, Get $1 ECB
1 Oral B Toothbrush – $1.99, Get 1 ECB
1 Almay eye product – $6.99, Get $5 ECB
1 Tums Quick Pak – $4.69, Get $4.69 ECB

Used $3/$15 CVS coupon
Used 1 $1/2 Crest coupons and 1 $0.50/1 Crest coupon
Used $1/1 Oral-B coupon
Used $1/1 Almay coupon
Used $1/1 Tums coupon
Used $14.98 in ECBs

Total: $0.47 out of pocket
Got back $4, $4.69, and $5 ECBs!

——————-
How’d you do this week? Post
about the deals and bargains you were able to snag this week on your
blog (with pictures, if possible!) and then come back here and leave
your link below.

Super Savings Saturday: This week’s $40 shopping trip

Thanks to your input, I’m going to try and do a better job of outlining my shopping trips each week so you can see more what we’re buying for $40 and hopefully be inspired in your own grocery savings.

Since we already had most staple items and fruit and veggies both fresh and frozen leftover from the last two weeks’ shopping trips, I mostly focused on getting a few items we needed this week (like meat, milk, and eggs) as well as stocking up on some of the sale items.

Here was our Thursday evening shopping trip:
Hy-Vee
4 boxes Kellogg’s SmartStart – on sale 4 for $9, used 2 $3/2 coupons = $0.75/box after coupons
12 packages FastFixin’ chicken products – on sale for $1 each, used 12 $1/1 coupons = Free!
2 bags Corazona Chips – used 2 free Corazona chip coupons = Free!
1 Yo-Plus Yogurt 4-pk – on sale for $2, used $1/1 coupon = $1 after coupon (We love yogurt here, so I normally buy it anytime I can get it for around $0.25-$0.30/serving.)
Total: $6.14 (savings from sales and coupons: $24.38)

Hen House
Baking Powder – $1.85
KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce – on sale $1, used $1/1 coupon = Free!
1/4 Watermelon – on sale for $0.49/lb = $1.90
Blue Bunny Ice Cream – on sale for $2.76, used $1/1 coupon = $1.76
Farm-fresh organic eggs (from a local farm) = $2.69
Half gallon farm-fresh hormone-free organic whole milk (from a local farm) = $3.19
Total: $12.36 (savings from sales and coupons: $4.46)

Price Chopper (They were having a 60th anniversary sale so that’s why some of these prices are so good!)
Peanut butter – on sale for $1.69
4 small yogurts – on sale for $0.29 each
Pace Picante sauce – on sale for $0.99
Ken’s salad dressing – on sale for $0.99, used $1/1 coupon = Free!
Sara Lee bread – on sale for $1.19
2 1/2 lbs. of 93% lean ground beef – on sale for $1.99/lb = $4.86
Fritos – on sale for $0.99
2 bags Westpac frozen veggies – on sale for $0.60 each = $1.20
Total: $12.99 (savings from sales and coupons: $14.86)

[And please rest assured that this shopping outing was rather junk-food-heavy, but I promise we won’t be eating all that junk food up this next week–especially all those chicken fingers and popcorn chicken! Stay tuned for this next week’s Menu Plan Monday post to see what we’ll be eating this week.]

On Friday, we took a field trip to a nearby free arboretum with some friends. On our way home, we hit Aldi and CVS to finish out our shopping for the week. Here’s what we got:

(Excuse the quality of the picture–my camera died today so we had to use the cell phone to take this! And don’t ask me why there is a yogurt in the picture, too. I guess three-year-old Kathrynne snuck that in when I wasn’t looking!)

Aldi
1 mozzarella cheese – $1.89
1 cheddar cheese – $1.89
1 pack of strawberries – $0.99
1 bunch of bananas – $0.91
Total: $6.11

CVS Transaction #1
5 Glade sprays – on sale for $0.97 each, used 3 $1/1 coupons and 2 B1G1 coupons
1 Colgate Sponge Bob toothbrush – $2.99, get $2 ECBs, used $0.50/1 coupon
1 Colgate Total Advanced toothpaste – $2.99, get $2 ECBs, used $1/1 coupon
1 Aquafresh Extreme Clean toothpaste – $2.99, get $2.99 ECBs
1 Colgate 360 toothbrush – $3.99, get $3.99 ECBs
1 Schick Intuition razor – on sale for $8.88, Get $6 ECBs, used $4/1 coupon
2 CVS 4-packs of toilet paper – $1.59 each
Used $3/15 CVS coupon
Used $3, $5, and $5.98 ECBs
Paid $2.30 out of pocket
Got back $6, $4, $2.99, and $3.99 in ECBs

CVS Transaction #2
2 Colgate 360 toothbrush – $3.99, get $3.99 ECBs, used 1 $1/1 coupon
1 Colgate Sponge Bob toothbrush – $2.99, get $2 ECBs
1 Colgate MaxFresh toothpaste – $2.99, get $2 ECBs, used $0.75/1 coupon
6 Bliss milk chocolate small candy packages – $0.25 each (added as fillers since my total was negative)
Used my $4, $6, and $3.99 ECBs earned from my transaction above
Paid $0.13 out-of-pocket!
Got back $7.98 and $4 in ECBs!

If I had it to do over again, I should have bought one 4-pack of toilet paper per transaction and then I would had paid less out-of-pocket in the first transaction and not had to add on the Bliss chocolates to get my balance above negative in the second transaction. Hindsight is 20-20, isn’t it?

All totaled, we spent $40.03 on groceries and household products this week–$0.03 over our $40 budget. I’ll take it, especially since we had $1 leftover in our grocery budget from last week. And we’ll not mention the fact that if I had done a better job of calculating at CVS, we wouldn’t have gone over in the first place… oh well!

This week’s $40 grocery trip and menu

We shopped at Hen House and Aldi for  groceries week, in addition to CVS. We went on Thursday night, not realizing that the Hen House 3-day sale didn’t start until Friday. So we waited to buy some of our groceries because I couldn’t bear to spend the non-sale prices. Above is pictured our first trip.

[For those of you in the Kansas City area, through tomorrow the LiveActive cereals are on sale for $2.99 at Hen House. Use the $3/1 coupons and get them free!]

And here’s the second trip when the 3-day sale prices were in effect! Since we were already going to be right there and waiting would save us around $5-$8, we decided it was worth it.

All totaled, we spent just under $38–with enough change to spare for two trips to CVS.

CVS transaction #1: I somehow ended up with a total of $0.00 after the coupons and ECBs!

CVS transaction #2: Total after coupons and ECBs: $0.93! And we got around $15 ECBs back! Yay!

Here’s what’s on the menu for this week:

Breakfasts
Banana bread, cottage cheese, strawberries
Oatmeal in the crockpot with bananas
Waffles, grapefruit, cottage cheese
Cold cereal, fruit
Potato pancakes, fruit, eggs with cheese

Lunches
Sweet potatoes, homemade bread, cottage cheese
Beans/rice, guacamole
PB&J, carrot sticks
Baked potatoes, cheese, broccoli
Leftovers

Dinners
"Haystacks" (Build-your-own type of meal we had often growing up–I just set out corn chips, shredded lettuce, Mexican beans, tomatoes, cheese, salsa, etc. and everyone makes their own taco salad of sorts.), corn on the cob
Italian chicken over brown rice, banana muffins, green beans
Lasagna casserole, homemade breadsticks, broccoli, strawberries
Barbecue chicken pizza, corn on the cob, grapefruit
Italian beans and brown rice, chips and guacamole, fruit
Meatballs, corn on the cob, sweet potatoes, homemade bread

See more menus for this week here.

Financial Shape in 2008: Monthly Check-up

It’s the beginning of May–wow!–and that means it’s time for our monthly Financial Shape in 2008 Check-up. How did you do in April?

Here’s how we did:

Short Term Financial Goals for 2008

1) Have our fully-funded emergency fund in place (6 months’ worth of living expenses) by the end of April.

As of March 11, 2008–DONE!

2) Switch health insurance plans and open an HSA.

We were approved for our new health insurance plans in April and have also set up our HSA. So another goal to check off the list! Woohoo!

3) Start up an IRA and invest at least 5-10% of Jesse’s income in this.

Started in March. (We plan to increase this to 12-15% of his income as soon as we purchase our home.)

4) Open up a mutual fund for each of our children and invest $50 per child per month in it.

Started in March.

5) Save up and invest $30,000 this year towards paying cash (100% down) for a house in 3-5 years.

Now that Goals 1-4 are finished, we’re working super hard on Goal #5! We opened our house savings mutual fund the end of March, and as of the end of April, we have $2500 in it. I was hoping it would be more like $3000, but I’m grateful that we at least made some decent headway.

Our short-term goal is to save $15,000 in our house savings by August 31, 2008–this is a rather ambitious goal, but we’re working hard towards achieving it and are excited to see if we might actually make it!

Frugal Mother’s Day gifts

Do you have any suggestions for frugal Mother’s Day gifts? My husband and I are moving for him to go to law school and don’t have a lot of extra money right now to buy our moms gifts, but we still want to give them something to make them feel special. Thanks! -Jessica

Here are just a few of my ideas:

-Write a card. Many moms would find a heartfelt card expressing appreciation to be one of the most touching gifts ever. You could even write it on inexpensive stationery or get creative and make your own card to save the $3-$5 it often costs to buy a card. You might also check your local dollar store for inexpensive cards.

-Make up a basket of goodies. Do you have lots of extra fun items you’ve gotten for free or almost free with coupons? How about making up a gift basket or care package to send to your mom? Write little notes on each item and package it up beautifully and she might just think it was the greatest gift ever!

-Put together a special photo album. With all the great photo deals recently, you could probably pull this off very inexpensively and it could be incredibly meaningful if your mom loves something like this.

If your mom lives nearby, here are a few more ideas:

-Do something with her. Instead of buying a generic, over-priced fruit basket or flower bouquet, what about doing something with your mom? Think about something your mom really enjoys doing which is also inexpensive and invite her to do it with you. Perhaps you could go browse antique stores, or hit some garage sales, or go out for coffee? You might also consider inviting her over for an afternoon tea or lunch!

-Make something for her. What would she like and use that you could also make for her? Perhaps it’s her favorite cookies, or a bouquet of fresh flowers from your garden, or handmade thank you notes that she can use?

-Give her a service gift certificate. What’s something your mom doesn’t enjoy doing–maybe cleaning her bathrooms, washing her car, or cooking? Make up a gift certificate for her which says she can choose whenever she’d like for you to do this particular chore for her and you’ll do it–up to an amount of times specified on the certificate!