Friday, November 20, 2009

Thanksgiving on a Budget

Thanksgiving for a crowd can be expensive. That being said, I'm spending much less this year because of the Grocery Smarts coupon savings techniques I've been using the last six months. I was able to save 62% on this order at Smiths. By the way, some of the items are 'stock up' items, not even planning on using them for Thanksgiving dinner!

So what did I get for $43.52? A 17-pound Butterball turkey (my second turkey for stock up), 15 cans Swanson chicken broth (stock up!), 6 Heinz turkey gravy, 4 pkgs Turkey cooking bags (2 in each - stock up), 4 boxes Mrs. Cubbinson's stuffing, 3 can Princella yams, 4 Anderson heavy whipping cream, 2 cans Dole pineapple, 1 can french fried onions, 4 bunches celery, 2 boxes Triscuits, and 2 boxes Wheat Thins.

(Also, check out Walgreen's sale this week for olives, pumpkin, chicken broth, gravy and other items.) Maximize your savings by shopping the sales AND using a coupon!

To recap:
Spent $43.52 on groceries valued at $114.61,
& Saved $71.09 (62%)
Guess what? You can do it to. Call to schedule a class!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Albertson's Rocks

In reference to my previous posts concerning the recent Albertsons promotion and the problems with the catalina coupons: I received an email from Albertsons customer service department apologizing for my not receiving the $15 bonus when I had clearly followed the guidelines of the promo. They are sending me a $25 Albertsons gift card for the inconvenience and thanked me for bringing the matter to their attention.

Moral of this story: Most corporations want their customers to be happy. (At this point I want to emphasize that I was VERY cordial when relaying the details of the problem to both Albertsons and Catalina. I never disparaged their employees or threatened any action that would be detrimental to their business.) When a situation such as this is brought to their attention, they want to do all they can to: #1 resolve the issue and guarantee that it doesn't happen again, and #2 satisfy the customer.

Please do not be intimidated by big business. In most cases, they appreciate your contacting them if you are dissatisfied. How can they be expected to solve problems that will keep people from shopping their stores if they aren't aware of those problems? Please take the time to make your voice heard. In most cases, you have everything to gain!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Shop Smart, Save More (Free)!

Okay, here's your chance to get a free copy of "Shop Smart, Save More" (a $9.95 value) just for booking a Grocery Smarts class! The author of this book is the founder of which is very similar to Grocery Smarts. She addresses grocery store sales cycles, stockpiling, and the need for multiple coupons. It's an informative and easy read that I think you'll enjoy. I know I did. Did I mention this is in addition to the $20 in free groceries for inviting 8 of your friends who have never attended a class? So what are you waiting for? This offer is limited to the first four who book classes.

Now is the perfect time -- the holidays are here and everyone wants to save money at the grocery store because that leaves more money for those Christmas gifts, right? You may want to team up with a friend (especially if you've already attended a Couponing 101 class) to become eligible for the Advanced Couponing Class. Your first couponing class is just the tip of the iceberg. Become eligible for the advanced class by hosting 12 people who have never attended a class. Then I'll schedule a time to sit down with you and another person (see the benefit in teaming up with someone else to host a class?) and share ways to increase your savings even more!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Catalina Print Failure

After speaking to Albertsons corporate office concerning their current promo which promises a $15 bonus when purchasing $30 in participating items, I was given the number for the Catalina Coupon office. (See previous post) When I called the number (1-888-826-8766) an automated system informed that if you believe you did not receive a coupon print to which you where entitled, you could send the information via email. I sent the information this morning and am anticipating a response within 48 hours and will keep you posted as info is received.

I know that there are many others who should have received the bonus and did not. If you have your receipt, email Include the store information, the purchase information (how much in participating items you purchased, amount of coupons deducted from the transaction, and your personal information - name, address, phone) and any other details you believe will help resolve the issue.

The purpose in being proactive in this matter is to help ensure these types of glitches do not occur in the future. Many I've spoken to, especially new couponers, believed they had miscalculated the amounts on the participating items they purchased. Please take the few minutes required and follow through. Whatever the response from Catalina, you will know you have done all you can to resolve the issue.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

$30 Before or After Coupons?

This week's Albertsons General Mills promo has stirred some controversy with local couponers. On Wednesday morning (as posted earlier) I was able to generate three $15 bonuses at the Albertsons on E. Charleston and Sloan. Each of my multiple transactions totaled just over $30 BEFORE coupons were deducted. Each transaction generated the $15.00 catalina coupon. I've received calls and have been following the posts on the Pinching Your Pennies forum concerning shoppers who were not receiving the $15 when their orders were under $30 once coupons were deducted from their totals. I can't explain the difference in policy from my early transactions and those of other shoppers later in the week.

The ad states "Minimum purchase requirement excludes manufacturer and store coupons". I think I was fortunate early in the sale (Wednesday morning) to receive the deal I received. It's possible Albertsons corrected the glitch and is now following the policy stated on the coupon.

I understand the frustration in fine tuning your grocery list to hit the $30 mark before coupons and then not getting the bonus. Lesson learned. SO, for the remainder of this promotion (and in the future with similar coupon restrictions) we need to closely follow the store's requirements to receive bonuses. There is no benefit in our arguing with store personnel who are only doing their job; showing courtesy is always the best policy.
Saturday afternoon I spoke with the store manager at my Albertsons. I had tested the current bonus promo by purchasing enough promo items to total over $30 after coupons had been deducted. The catalina did not print. The manager (who was so apologetic) said by using any coupon in your transaction, that triggers the catalina machine to not print the bonus. So it didn't matter that $30 in promo items had been purchased above the minimum purchase requirement. If buying promo items, she said, I should not use my coupons and receive the catalina bonus -- then go to the customer service counter and show my coupons and receive the coupon amount in cash. What a hassle!
When I returned home, I called the Albertsons corporate office because I am concerned this may be the new coupon policy at Albertsons. Corporate office said under their store policy, there was no reason the bonus should not have been given. They referred me to the catalina offices, which were closed on Saturday evening. I will be calling the catalina office on Monday morning. More later.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sweet Savings

When I saw the weekly grocery ads Tuesday, I was so excited! I checked through the Grocery Smarts listings, decided what I needed, gathered my coupons and I was ready to shop. Fortunately, there were no glitches in my morning so I was able to get out early and accomplish quite a bit in a short period of time. Gathering everything together will help you be prepared for when you can find the time to shop.

At Albertsons, I spent $50.59, saved $106.55 on groceries valued at $157.14!

And I still have $15.00 in register rewards to use on my next trip. I was able to trip the General Mills promo three times! When you spend $30 on specific items, you receive three $5.00 register coupons to use on your next shopping trip.

On my CVS trip, I spent $29.87, saved $65.77 on an order totaling $95.64

That Ice Age DVD only cost me $2.99 after making qualifying purchases (Dasani water and M&M's) for a $15.00 discount. There is also an additional $2/1 coupon available here.
(this coupon no longer available)

And finally, My Vons trip: I spent $38.00, saved $42.58 on an order totaling $80.58

So altogether I spent $118.46, saved $214.90 on items totaling $333.36. If I were paying myself for my savings, I saved over $70 an hour on these three trips. Well worth the effort, I think!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Organizing Your Coupons

I'm often asked how I organize my coupons -- so here's a little peek into my coupon world. When I first began received multiple Sunday newspapers (I get 4 papers each Sunday but have recently added another subscription for 5 total) I kept them in sheet protectors in a three-ring binder. All the Smart Source inserts for one date were kept in one sleeve, all the Red Plum inserts were kept together in another and so on. The most recent inserts were placed at the front of the notebook.

As you might imagine, it wasn't too long before my notebook was bursting at the seams. The sheet protectors were sliding all over the place and it just wasn't working for me anymore. So I bought a plastic file box. All the Smart Source inserts for a particular date are clipped together and each packet is filed in a folder. I keep all the Smart Source inserts in one file, all the Red Plums in another. There is no need to label the files -- the Smart Sources are in the front, the Red Plums behind them and any miscellaneous inserts (P&G, Kelloggs, etc.) are kept behind those. These inserts are also filed by date so they're easy to pull when I'm ready to clip coupons.

Just for my convenience, I bought a filing box with a separate lift top with several small compartments. Everything I need is in one place. There are micro binder clips so I can keep my inserts together; these binder clips are also used for clipping my coupons to the back of my grocery shopping list. The scissors for clipping and the Sharpie for marking my inserts are also close at hand. This filebox sits under my computer desk for maximum convenience.

Keeping my coupons organized and having the tools at hand have saved an enormous amount of time! We need to remember - while trying to save money (which is important), time is also a valuable commodity. Hope this helps!