Every few months I go through all of my coupon inserts and pull out all of the expired coupons. It’s quite a stack. Rather than throwing them into the trash I do put them into the recycling bin which makes me feel a little bit better about the situation. I’ve heard for a while that I can donate my expired coupons and I just need to take the time to do this.
The Overseas Coupon Program serves military families by assisting you to forward manufacturer’s coupons to overseas military bases. The bundles of coupons are placed on tables, at the PX and Commissary, or handed out for use by military members and families on base. Military famlies can use them for up to six months after they expire.
To sign up to send coupons just visit the website, and click on Base Adoptions to browse the list of bases that you can mail your coupons to. After you choose a base, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to let them know you will be participating. You can find more details and information.
The coupon packages are sent to APO/AFO addresses so you don’t have to worry about the cost of overseas shipping.
Do you donate your expired coupons?
December 5, 2010
You see that a store is having a great deal on a particular food item. In your mind you think, ‘It’s stockpile time!’ But you get to the store and they’re out of the item. Rather than just counting it as a loss, get a raincheck.
A few tips:
*Consider a raincheck as an I.O.U. from the store which guarantees that item for the sale price. It is not necessary to use the raincheck during the current sale week. You can use it weeks and maybe months later.
*Check to see if the raincheck has an expiration date. Most of them do not have an expiration date which means that you can wait to use them when you need the particular item.
*Use rainchecks as a way build your stockpile. The general rule is to purchase as much as that item as you will need in the next few months. For example, if cream of mushroom soup is on sale for $.59/can I might purchase 10 cans. Cream of mushroom soup has a long shelf date and I know that I will use it when making casseroles.
*Store your rainchecks in a safe location. I store my rainchecks in my small coupon pouch. This way I know where they are when I’m doing my grocery shopping and I don’t have to dig through my purse for them.
*Check to see if there is a limit on the sale item. On really good deals, a store might set a limit on how many of that item you can purchase. Always have them write the maximum amount allowed on the raincheck even if you don’t plan on purchasing that many. This allows you to get them if you change your mind or you may have a friend that wants to purchase the deal with you.
*Look for coupons. Check your newspaper coupon inserts and look online for printable coupons to combine with the sale price for even better savings.
*Give your raincheck to the cashier first. Before your cashier rings up the items, she should know that you have a raincheck. This will save time and hassle. Group all of the raincheck items together so that they can be marked down at the same time. Also, check your receipt to make sure each item was properly discounted.
*Most rainchecks are not store specific. This means that if you get a raincheck from a Charlotte, NC store you should be able to use it at the Hickory, NC store. If you plan to shop in a different area, you may want to check on this first.
When you’re shopping the sales do you remember to get a raincheck?
image (c) Karen Weideman
October 17, 2010
One of many things I enjoy about using coupons and sales is that they enable me to help others. I may not have an abundance of money to donate, but I can make a big impact with very little out of pocket expense.
You may look at my website from time to time and think something like, ‘Why would she need 20 boxes of pasta? Who could eat all of that?’ Many times it’s not for me.
Pasta seems to be the thing this month that I can get for free or cheap, so I am “buying” lots of it. I haven’t kept much of it for my family. I’ve been donating it. I have taken it to the school for the food drive, given some to a fundraiser dinner for someone with high medical bills, and saved some for an elderly family member who has a very limited income. Just this week alone, I was able to purchase over 20 boxes of free pasta from Food Lion.
This method also applies to toys, school supplies, and other items. Many times I have taken advantage of 75% and 90% off toy sales. It makes it easier on the budget to donate for Christmas toy drives when you can get the toys inexpensively and you’re able to help more children because your money goes further.
When you’re walking through Harris Teeter on triple coupon day, try to get those free items even though you won’t use them. It’s those items that can really make a difference to someone in need.
August 26, 2010
One of the most effective ways I have found to cut our budget is through saving money on our grocery budget. One of the techniques I use is building a stockpile, also known as the buy ahead principle. What this means is that when groceries or other regularly used items are significantly cheaper than normal, I buy enough to last me a few months. In my home, I try to never ever pay retail for anything!
For example, a few weeks ago Harris Teeter had their Colgate Total toothpaste on sale for $2.50 per tube. It was also super double coupon week and I had $1 coupons. After coupons and the sale, I paid only $.50 per tube for Colgate toothpaste. Also last week and this week, CVS had their Crest Pro Health toothpaste on sale for $2.99 and you got back a $2 Extra Care Buck (ECB). I also had $.50 and $.75 coupons for the toothpaste. After the sale, ECBs, and coupons, I paid $.25-$.50 per tube. Did I need five tubes of toothpaste right now? Of course I didn’t. But I know that over the next year my family will need the toothpaste. I also know that soon I will be filling shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse and our church is always collecting food and toiletries for the needy. This allows me to get toothpaste for my family and others for less than the price of one tube at regular price.
As you can see in the picture above, I have over 10 bottles of laundry detergent. I don’t plan on doing 300 loads of laundry this week, but I couldn’t resist stocking up because of the deal I found. Some of the bottles were buy 1 get 1 free and I had coupons. Many of the bottles cost me less than $1 per bottle.
I have heard others say before that they can’t afford to stockpile; that they only have money for the things that they need that week. What they don’t truly realize is that when you stockpile, you can make your grocery budget go further and have more supplies on hand.
If you still say you can’t afford to stockpile, then I suggest that you start small. A stockpile isn’t built overnight anyway. Allow yourself an extra $5 or $10 to try to purchase things while they’re at rock bottom prices so that you won’t have to purchase them later. For me, an example of this would be when I purchase canned tomatoes. I know that I’m going to need canned tomatoes. I know that Target has the cheapest prices on them. So, when I visit Super Target, I purchase 6-12 cans. The amount I purchase depends on my stockpile at home. And if you’re getting items for free or almost free (with sales and coupons) that will only allow your grocery budget to go that much further so that you can cut your grocery budget or purchase other things your family needs.
Stay tuned for more tips on stockpiling. Do you stockpile groceries?
images (c) Karen Weideman
April 21, 2010
I received a question from one of our readers, Tanesha. I was going to answer her question in the comments, but realized that many others of you probably have the same questions.
At first, I too was overwhelmed and confused by the CVS Extra Care Buck sales. It does take some getting used to and some strategizing, so at first you may want to take it slowly.
How do the ECBs work at CVS?
CVS offers something called Extra Care Bucks, commonly known as ECBs. Basically, you purchase the ECB sale item and then at the end of your transaction you will receive your ECBs which you can use on another transaction. The Extra Care Bucks work like cash within the CVS store.
Example: Last week, Colgate was $2.99. The sale stated that you would receive $2 in ECBs. Technically, that makes your cost $.99 since you got back the $2 to use in the store, but to get the ECBs you have to pay for the item out of pocket.
Some items are free with your ECBs.
Example: Last week, CVS had Dove shampoo or conditioner for $4.50. When you purchased the Dove product, you received $4.50 in ECBs. You had to spend the initial $4.50 but you got it back at the end of your transaction to use on a future purchase.
Can you use coupons with ECBs purchases?
Ok, she didn’t really ask this question, but I thought I’d throw it in there because it’s important.
Yes, absolutely! You can combine coupons with ECB transactions.
Example: Dove shampoo is $4.50 and you’ll get back $4.50 in ECBs. On your transaction, you can hand the cashier your Dove hair care product coupon for $1 off. You’ll pay $3.50 (instead of $4.50) and you’ll still get back the $4.50 in ECBs. It’s like making money! Isn’t that exciting?!
Isn’t there a limit to bucks like so many per card?
Yes, there is a limit on ECB specials. Last week, the limit on the Dove shampoo was 1 per CVS card. Sometimes there is a limit of 2 or 4. The CVS ad will state the limits. And if you’re not sure how many you’ve purchased that week, you can check the bottom of your receipt and it will state if you have fulfilled the maximum on the offer.
Do you purchase all your ECB things first?
There are a few ways to handle the ECB transactions. I’ll tell you some options and then give you the one that I choose most often.
1. Ring up all of your merchandise in one transaction and save your ECBs for the following week to use on more sale items.
2. Ring up all of your merchandise in one transaction and use your ECBs on splurge items such as make-up, hair care products, cool office supplies.
3. Split up your merchandise into separate transactions to utilize your ECBs as quickly as possible. This avoids you losing your ECBs or them expiring for you use them. This is the method I choose but it does take some strategizing.
If you’ll notice my previous CVS posts, you’ll see that I sometimes have multiple transactions. That’s because I’m trying to leave the store with the littlest out of pocket expense (OOP) possible while utilizing my ECBs.
Example: Dove shampoo is $4.50 and you will get back a $4.50 ECB. Softsoap body wash is $5.50 and you will get back a $4.50 ECBs. Pampers Easy Ups are on sale for $7.99. I would do this:
Dove shampoo $4.50, plus receive $4.50 in ECBs
use $1 manufacturer coupon
OOP = $3.50 and received $4.50 in ECBs
Softsoap body wash $5.50, plus receive $4.50 in ECBs
use $.75 manufacturer coupon
use $4.50 ECB sale from transaction 1
OOP = $.25 and received $4.50 ECBs
Pamper Easy Ups $7.99 sale
use $2 manufacturer’s coupon
use $4.50 ECB from transaction 2
OOP = $1.49
As you can see, it does take some strategizing to use method #3 but the out of pocket expense is very limited.
How do I get the most ECBs?
1. You can get ECBs on specially marked items. You can find these items listed in the CVS flyer. Sometimes you might find some unadvertised ones in the store. If I have a few extra minutes, I’ll cruise the store looking for ECB sales and clearance items.
2. Scan your card at the coupon machine during each visit to CVS. You might receive special coupons or ECBs.
3. Get a CVS reusable bag and tag. For every 4th visit, you’ll receive $1 ECB.
If this doesn’t answer your questions, please let me know. Also, feel free to submit your questions in the comments or by using our contact button. Thanks for your questions, Tanesha!
March 27, 2010
When shopping, it’s important to compare price per unit. Many times it’s commonly thought that the larger the item, the better the price. That’s not necessarily true. Here are a few comparison shopping tips:
1. Pay attention to the shelf tags in the store. Some stores will break down the price per unit and put it beside the price of the item.
2. Try to take a calculator with you. Even though some stores will break down the price by units, sometimes they are not equal comparisons. What I mean is that sometimes you’ll find items compared by ounces and then a similar item compared by the piece. It can be really confusing, so taking a calculator is the best way to compare.
3. Keep a log of the best prices you find per unit. This doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. It can be a piece of paper that you keep folded up inside your coupon pouch. Simply write commonly used items on the list and a target price to look for. This way you’ll know when a good deal comes around.
4. Be sure to factor in the coupon amount when comparing price per unit. Just today I was at Wal-Mart shopping for catfood. Normally, it would be cheaper to purchase the 16 lb bag of cat food, but this time I had two $3 coupons. It ended up being cheaper to purchase two small 3.5 lb bags of cat food with the $3 coupons rather than to purchase the large 16 lb bag with a $3 coupon.
5. Determine the need for the product. Sometimes it is less expensive to purchase the larger item, but it’s not such a great deal if you’re not going to use the product before it goes out of date.
What tips do you have for comparing price per unit?