Beginner’s Handbook

All posts in the Beginner’s Handbook category

Kroger Gas Points and Gift Card Promotions

Published April 1, 2012 by gweledydd

I have become a huge fan of Kroger over the past few years.  One of the main reasons I like to shop there (other than the fact that they double coupons up to $0.50) is because they have a great gas rewards program.  For every dollar you spend, you get a gas point that will knock the price of your gas per gallon down.  For instance, if you spend $300.00, you get 300 fuel points which equates to $0.30 off at the gallon!  The amount of points you can get is BEFORE coupons.  So if you get $300.00 in groceries and have coupons that make your purchase $150.00, you still get 300 gas points!  This is such a great thing for me because I have to fill up my jeep at least once a week.

 

When using the fuel points, you can get up to $1.00 off at the pump and can get up to 35 gallons at the reduced price.  This is usually enough to fill up any regular sized car, and you can pump the extra into gas canisters if you want to get the most bang for your buck.  Dad 2 will always take a couple of gas canisters to the pump with him so he can get the full 35 gallons at the reduced price.

 

Another thing to remember is that you don’t have to have fuel points in order to get a discount.  Kroger members can save $0.03 off at the pump ANY TIME as long as you swipe your Kroger card before filling up.  That may not seem like a lot, but it does add up.

 

Every now and then Kroger will do a promotion on fuel points by making their gift cards worth 4x the fuel points.  This means if you spend $100.00 in gift cards, you will get 400 points instead of only 100.  Right now (4/1/12), this promotion is going on and it is definitely worth it to grab a couple up.  They do offer Shell gift cards, and Shell also participates in the Kroger fuel points.  You can only get up to $0.10 off at the pump at Shell, though.  I have not checked to see if you can use a Kroger gift card at a Kroger gas station, but I think it is allowed.  THIS IS THE LAST WEEK for this gift card promotion, and it won’t come back around for at least a couple of months.  They usually offer this deal once every 3 months and make it last for about a month at a time.  If you need gas and have a gas guzzler, now is the time to stock up before the gas prices hit $5.00 a gallon!!!

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How to Spot a Stockpile Price

Published March 21, 2012 by gweledydd

To make sure you aren’t spending too much on your stockpile, it is a good idea to start your own price sheet.  For those of us who are just starting out, The Krazy Coupon Lady has created a WONDERFUL starter list and has given me permission to share it.  The list appears in the book Pick Another Checkout Lane, Honey, and has already helped me a ton!

 

KCL’s list is not all-inclusive, however.  There are no prices for pet items.  I have created my own list (based on Central VA’s prices) for pet care products.  If there is something you buy a lot of (like fish or microwaveable dinners) that you don’t see on the list and have an idea of what a good stock price would be, please share!  I am always looking to expand my list so that I can guarantee that I get the lowest prices.

 

Feel free to print these lists out and put them in your binder for a quick reference. 

 

Also, PLEASE keep in mind these lists are just for reference.  Some areas have better prices, while some areas have higher prices.  Don’t feel bad if you can’t find the exact same stock price.  For instance, I have not seen buffalo sauce cheaper than $0.50 a bottle in Central VA (at least not yet!), but I have been able find deodorant for $0.25 or less, which is much cheaper than other places.

 

Stockpile Prices

 Pet Care Stock Prices

Where To Find Great Deals on Shelves for Stockpiles

Published March 18, 2012 by gweledydd

Stockpiling can cost you a few dollars up front, but the savings are SO worth it!  Shelves in stores typically cost around $15-$100 depending on the type, the store, and the size.  I currently have four matching black industrial plastic shelves and two matching bookshelf-type storage shelves.  How much did I pay for these shelves, you may ask?  Answer:  a whopping total of $4.00!!!!  That’s right,  four George Washingtons.

 

How did I do this?  How did I find this deal?

 

The answer is simple: GO TO AN AUCTION!

 

My dad and his partner run Amherst Auction Services in Amherst, VA.  You can find things from antiques, furniture, households, and everything in between.  Although my dad does not accept coupons, you can still find great deals if you don’t mind used products.  I had the luck of getting the shelves above, plus a TON of shelves for Dad 2, for under $30.00.  I want to say I ended up with almost 15 shelves that night!  So if you are looking for furniture and other households for a good deal, check them out.  I will try to cross promote their sales when I think there is something a couponer may be interested in (shelves, products, binder accessories, etc…).

 

You can also find great steals on Craigslist.org.  Try to check out the free section as much as possible.  You never know what you may find!  Don’t be afraid to scout yard sales or garage sales, too.  I’ve found that plastic shelving is one of the first things to go when a family is moving or consolidating.

 

If you are planning on purchasing your own shelves from a store (for simplicity’s sake), Wal-Mart has the cheapest shelving I’ve been able to find.  Unfortunately since Wal-Mart has “everyday low prices”, there are very rarely sales on these kinds of items.  Be sure to check around at Dollar General, Ollie’s, or Big Lots.  Many people are under the assumption that stores like this have lower quality products that break.  This is not the case.  For items like furniture, clothing, bedding, etc., the reason they are so cheap is because they are usually discontinued.  If you are working on a budget, these stores are the place to go.

 

If you have a handy man in the family, consider building your own.  Wooden shelves are stronger and can be customized to your space.  You also have the opportunity to paint them any way you choose.  This is a great option for those who don’t have a garage or basement.  Instead of having large, bulky, plastic shelves in your living room, build your own wooden shelves or cabinets to house your goods and match them to your interior!  This is a HOT, trendy alternative.  Check out this video that teaches you how to build your own.  Don’t forget to wait for a sale and couple your purchase with a % off Lowe’s or Home Depot coupon!

Is Couponing Worth It?

Published March 18, 2012 by gweledydd

Many people ask me if couponing is worth it.  Is all the time spent searching the internet for deals and clipping coupons worth the few savings you receive every month?

 

I am here to tell you that it absolutely IS WORTH IT.

 

I have been reading KCL’sPick Another Checkout Lane, Honey, and there are great points in the book about how you can use coupons as an organization tool to help you save money on everything from groceries to buying a house.  I took some of the principles in the book and made a spreadsheet this week to help keep track of our savings.  The spreadsheet consists of three pages: our monthly budget, my couponing trips, and my coupon savings per month.  This spreadsheet would work best if I had a before-coupon total to compare it with.  I am planning on going back through my bank statements eventually to compare, but having this visual still helps tremendously.  This week my husband and I were able to figure out areas in which we can cut back to start paying more towards his car.

 

I wanted to make this spreadsheet available to others in case it can help you as well.  You’d be surprised how much money you are actually spending if you keep track of your weekly expenditures and monthly payments!

 

Budget Planner

Organizing Coupons on a Budget

Published March 9, 2012 by gweledydd

I made a post a while back about the different types of coupon organizing systems, and now I want to share how you can create your own binder on a budget.  If you have looked at my page, you have seen my personal binder.  I was lucky in that I used to play guitar and have three or four binders full of guitar tabs.  I was able to consolidate and took my best zipper binder out of the bunch to make my coupon binder.  I only had to pay for the plastic organizer sheets, which retail at Walmart for less than $5.00.

 

So how can you make your own coupon organizer if you are on a budget?

 

One of the ways I suggest you do this is to take advantage of Walmart’s overage policy.  Earlier this week I posted a deal to get Renu contact solution free at Target.  Well, it is also free at Walmart AND you can get $0.50 of overage using the coupon.  This may not seem like much, but it does begin to add up.  By coupling your free deal with products that may not have coupons like binders or plastic organizers, you can save tons of money on setting up your organizing system.  My first coupon organizer was a simple plastic accordion folder, which retails at Walmart for about $3.97.  If you get 8 of the Renu and use 8 coupons, then the accordion folder is completely free!

 

CVS is also a great place to get binders.  Binders are usually not a sale item, so you can wait around until they have a 20% or 30% off coupon.  Let’s say CVS has a zipper binder for $19.99 and you have a 30% off coupon that makes it $14.00.  Usually when these coupons come out for % off, CVS will still have plenty of gift card deals.  Couple this with a gift card you get back from your couponing finds, and you could pay $4.00 OOP for your binder!

 

Take advantage of back-to-school sales and dollar store bargain finds.  If you don’t care whether you have a new or used binder, there are used binders for sale on many sites.

 

There are also plenty of things you can do at home to make your own organization system.  Whether it’s recycling boxes to make a storage bin or using an old scrap book or string to bind together pages, making your own organization system is up to y0u and the options are limitless.  Whatever your method, be prepared to pay a little out of pocket to get your dream system.  Don’t think of it as a waste of money; think of it as an investment.  The more organized you are, the more likely you are to continue using coupons.  The small investment you make in your organization system will pay off quickly once you start saving 70 – 80% on your grocery bills.

Pick Another Check Out Lane, Honey

Published March 7, 2012 by gweledydd

 

I am a huge fan of the Krazy Coupon Lady.  I found out today that she has written a book with tips and tricks on saving with coupons that I think would be a great addition to anyone’s coupon library. The reviews on Amazon are great, and you can get a used copy from Amazon for a decent price.  The book retails at normal price for $11.99, which is still a lot cheaper than other coupon books I have seen.  There are no gimmicks, nothing extra to buy, and no hidden agenda.  The authors, Joanie Demer and Heather Wheeler, both just want to help people save money.  Some of the things included in this book are:

 

  • How to save 70% or more on groceries every time you shop.
  • How to organize your coupons
  • How and what to stockpile.
  • The History and Anatomy of Coupons
  • and Much, Much More!

 

I am adding this to my reading wish list.  Plus, if you are on a budget like me, you can still find great information at their website for FREE.  If you are interested in purchasing their book, click on the pic below to go to amazon’s item description page.

 

Buying in Bulk vs. Buying When You Need It

Published March 5, 2012 by gweledydd

One thing that comes up a lot in couponing is whether or not one should buy in bulk or buy only what they need. This conversation also applies to whether or not one should stockpile. While I am a strong proponant of ordering stock ahead of time to avoid clearing shelves and only using what you need, I also believe that one should stock up on supplies and buy in bulk when there is a great sale.

When my husband and I started dating, we began buying groceries together fairly early in our relationship. We would spend close to $100.00 every two weeks for groceries. After we adopted our two cats, that doubled to $120 every two weeks. We would have to go and buy cat food and litter almost every week, cleaning supplies would be bought at least once a month, and big items like toilet paper and paper towels we’d have to buy almost every other week.

Once I started couponing, that stress went away. I was able to start a small stockpile of paper products in our old apartment. By the time we moved into our new apartment, I was able to start a full-on stockpile. Our grocery bills have seen a drastic improvement. Instead of paying almost $300 a month in groceries, we now spend about $120 – $160, which is a huge improvement considering the cost of meat and produce has risen since we first started shopping together. We now buy cat litter, cat food, and dog food once every 3-6 months, and laundry supplies once a year.

When I find a sale, I do spend more up front, but the savings add up. For instance, in the next two weeks CVS will be having a great deal on laundry detergents, cleaning supplies, and toilet paper. I plan on spending a little over $60 total, but I will have enough toilet paper and laundry detergent to last at least six months, probably more. This equates out to $20-$30 in savings per month. Let’s say that I use this stock up in six months, that’s $120 – $180 I have saved in groceries (this is a low estimate). My overrall expenditures for laundry detergent and toilet paper may be $60 up front, but I am saving almost $120 over the long run. This is enough to put gas in my jeep for two weeks, take a small trip, or to put in our savings account.

Long story short: buying a lot of stock up front DOES save money in the long run. You may wince when you see that money leave your pocket, but think about the savings you will experience in the long run. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the savings!