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Category: Coupons

It Pays to Email Companies

Is there a product your family really loves? Have you written to the company and let them know how much you like their product and letting them know you’d gladly accept any coupons they could send? Companies really enjoy hearing from satisfied customers and often are very happy to send coupons.

Here’s what Kelsi emailed me yesterday:

Last week I emailed the manufacturer’s of Luna bars asking for coupons and telling them about my Luna-A-Day habit while rocking my newborn with my foot and pumping breastmilk at the kitchen counter. Today I received six coupons for a FREE Luna Bar or Luna Protein Bar and a 100% organic cotton baby blanket! -Kelsi

Have you emailed any companies before? I’d love to hear about your experience!

Q&A Tuesday: How to Avoid Irritating Others When Using Coupons

I have learned a lot about responsible coupon use in the last year from visiting your site. You have told us how to use coupons ethically and legally, but what do you do when people in line behind you get grouchy? -Jackie

We live in a fast-paced society where patience is often a long-lost virtue. Most people are in a hurry when going through the checkout lanes and less than thrilled if they get hung up for 15 minutes due to another shopper’s stack of coupons.

Here are a few suggestions for streamlining the checkout process and avoiding irritating other shoppers:

1. Shop During Off-Hours — If you can, try to hit the stores when few others are shopping — usually earlier in the morning or late at night. I’ve found that rush-hour shoppers are notoriously impatient.

2. Be Organized — Before you even get in line, make sure you have all of your coupons together and in order and your store cards and cash at the ready. Spending three minutes fishing through your coupon box or purse for a missing coupon is likely going to frustrate everyone. This is why I recommend double-checking all your coupons before getting in line to pay to make sure you’re not missing any.

3. Choose an Efficient Cashier — I always “scout out” cashiers before picking a checkout line to go through. Choosing an efficient cashier not only saves you a lot of time, but it usually makes for a much smoother checkout.

4. Be Courteous and Confident — Invariably, you’ll have some shopping trips where the cash register or cashier is refusing to accept some of your coupons. Politely and quickly explain the store’s coupon policy or why they should accept the coupon. If a cashier is unwilling to budge, don’t become frustrated; it’s not worth having a fight over a few dollars. Just ask them to remove the item from your transaction and give the coupon back to you. In most cases, so long as you are polite and courteous, it’s not a big deal.

5. Let Others Know You Have Coupons — If you have a lot of coupons and think there’s a possibility that your checkout might be  a bit tedious, don’t hesitate to politely tell anyone who gets in line behind you, “I have a stack of coupons I’m using today, so it might take me awhile to checkout.” If you’ve warned them of this upfront, it’s their decision if things ended up taking awhile.

Those are a few of my suggestions on how to avoid irritating others when you use coupons. I’d love to hear your ideas, as well!

See why I don’t pay for coupons?

I wrote not too long ago about how I never pay for the newspaper or coupons. When a quick stop at the recycling bin always reaps a stack of inserts like is shown above, it’s hard to justify, wouldn’t you say?

Plus, if I end up not having time to clip them all, I don’t have any guilt in just chucking them back into the recycling bin because I didn’t pay a penny for them!

(And yes, I really do throw out coupons sometimes. My mantra is, “Do what you can do, with what you’ve got, where you are.” Sometimes, that means I just have to let coupon-clipping go for a week or two or four, because much more important things need my attention — like my precious children!)

31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: How To Get Started Playing the Drugstore Game

Last week, I talked about how playing the Drugstore Game had helped to significantly lower our grocery budget. If you’re new to the Drugstore Game, here are some basic steps to help you get started:

1. Pick One Store to Start With

If you have more than one drugstore chain in your area, please do me a huge favor and don’t try to learn the ins and outs of CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid all at once. Start with one drugstore chain and learn the ropes of it before adding in another.

I’d suggest beginning with CVS as it requires the least outlay of cash. You’ll likely make some mistakes in the beginning, so the less outlay of cash, the better.

2. Read, Read, Read

Before you jump in with both feet, it’s highly important that you take time to read up on how the drugstore rewards programs work and what their coupon policies are. It is vital to be well-informed and well-versed. Plus, it greatly increases your confidence level — and you need confidence in order to work the drugstore deals successfully.

Depending upon which drugstore you chose to begin with (see point #1), here are some articles for you to read: CVS 101, Walgreens 101 or Rite Aid 101. I also encourage you to look at the scenarios and deals posted in the weekly CVS Deals, Walgreens Deals or Rite Aid Deals posts and review them until you really feel like you had a handle on how it works.

3. Start Small

I know that it’s easy to want to have some incredible transactions right out of the shoot where you get $80 worth of items for $0.22, but don’t even think about going there yet. Start with a handful of items and work your way up.

I’d suggest an initial Drugstore Game scenario of around $10 to $15. This is enough that you can learn the ropes, but not too much that you’re out a bunch of money if you have some failed transactions.

4. Don’t Expect to Do It Perfectly

Notice I keep mentioning making mistakes? That’s because pretty much everyone makes them when they are first learning.

Even once you’ve armed yourself with lots of information and have reviewed deals incessantly before planning your own, you will very likely make some mistakes. It’s okay. If you’ve never ridden a bike before, you usually don’t just jump on and ride it flawlessly from the beginning. It takes practice and patience.

The same is true with the Drugstore game: you’ll probably not have flawless transactions from the very get-go. But practice and patience will pay off in big dividends. So accept the mistakes you make as part of the learning process.

5. Be Prepared With a Backup Plan

Oftentimes, drug stores will be out of an item that’s part of the rewards offer or they won’t even stock it. A backup plan is key. I often work out 2-3 different scenario ideas and then make my final game plan once I’m in the store and able to see what they have on hand.

I also would suggest finding out when a store restocks their shelves and planning your shopping trip somewhere near those times. It’s frustrating to go in and find that they are completely out of everything that is free after rewards that week. You have a better chance of finding everything on your list if you shop right after they restock the shelves. In addition, if you don’t see something in stock, be sure to ask if they might have extras in the back which they’ve not put on the shelves yet.

6. Commit to Sticking With It For Three Months

While the Drugstore Game can save you a tremendous amount of money on household and bath and beauty products, it’s certainly not for everyone. It takes time and effort and you might find it’s just not worth the time and effort for your family.

However, can I caution you not to give up too soon? If you want to really see if it’s worth, commit to sticking with it for three months. Do at least one transaction every two weeks for three months and then evaluate at the end of the trial period whether you feel like this money-saving idea is worth the return on investment for you.

What are your best tips and tricks for someone who is a newbie to the Drugstore Game? What do you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?

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New Feature: Coupon Database (and how you can add it to your site, too!)

Have you tried out our new Coupon Database? It’s an incredible way to be able to quickly and easily find all available coupons for products you’re planning to buy.

So many people have written in to ask how I find all the coupons I post. Well, the coupon database has become my number one go-to source!

Whenever I find a great deal and am wondering if there are any coupons which could be used along with the deal, I just hop over to the coupon database page, do a quick search and — tada!any and all available printable, magazine and insert coupons for that product show up.

You can easily access the coupon database any time you’d like by clicking on the “Print Coupons” link in the navigational bar in my header. For more details on how to utilize the coupon database to maximize your savings, check out this video:

A coupon database was something I had long hoped to add to my site as I’d received many requests for it, but I didn’t have a clue how to pull it off. Thanks to the hard work of Andrea from MommySnacks, Briana from BargainBriana, Marcy from StretchingaBuck and my friend, Yvonne, this long-time dream of mine has become a reality.

If you have a frugal blog or deal blog, you can add the coupon database to your site, too!

You can set up a very simple version and add it for free. Or, you can purchase a subscription and add all your own affiliate links.

We’re running a special discount of almost half-price through May 24, 2010, so if you’re interested in adding this to your site, I’d encourage you to check it out before the price goes up. It’s a great way to add value to your site and help your readers quickly be able to find coupons they are looking for. Go here for all the details and pricing.

31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: How to Maximize Your Savings With Coupons

Missed the first posts this series? Read them here.

We’ve talked about why you should use coupons, how to obtain coupons and how to organize coupons. However, those things alone won’t help you cut your grocery bill unless you know how to maximize your savings with coupons. So today, I want to help you take this new-found coupon knowledge and put it into practice — to your greatest advantage.

Take Babysteps

You hear me say this a lot. But I think it bears repeating: please take baby steps when you start couponing. Do not go buy 10 newspapers, get a big honkin’ coupon box, and spend 5 hours clipping coupons when you’ve never used coupons in your life. You’ll overwhelm yourself, take an enormous amount of time and probably end up exhausted and burnt out — before you’ve even saved a penny on your groceries!

Start with a few newspaper inserts and a small coupon organizer. Check out the deals at your local store (you can find weekly deals for almost all regional stores in the Store Deals section of our website). Pick a few of the best deals that you have coupons for and can use and work those into your grocery trip.

Once you’ve gotten accustomed to matching a few coupons with a few deals, take it step farther and start looking for more coupon sources and try planning a menu based upon what’s on sale at the store. Once you’re comfortable with that, start practicing the Buy Ahead Principle.

Learning things gradually will help you to stay sane, save money and time and really determine what works best for your own family.

Prioritize Your Bargain-Shopping Based Upon Your Family’s Needs

There are often many more savings opportunities than time and it’s easy to lose track of this when you get caught up in the excitement of saving! Time is money, too, so always remember that it’s okay to not hit every deal.

In fact, I encourage you to cherry pick: focus on the best deals that week for items you need. Meaning, if you already have 10 tubes of toothpaste but are almost out of shampoo, prioritize shampoo deals over toothpaste deals. If you have extra time and extra wiggle room in your grocery budget, than you can definitely stock up on other great deals, but focus on feeding your family first.

How Much You Spend Matters More Than How Much You Save

A 75% savings on your grocery bill may sound impressive, but the 25% spent is what matters most. Stick to your grocery budget — even when it means passing up good deals — and you’ll see much greater savings in the long run.

In addition, when you commit to not going over budget, you’ll find that you focus on only getting the best deals and you’ll more easily be able to pass up a nominal deal because it’s not in the budget.

What tricks and tips do you have for maximizing your savings when using coupons? I’d love to hear!

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