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The best Black Friday deal isn't at a big-box store....

November 22nd, 2007 at 07:30 am

It's at the grocery store!!!

Just a friendly reminder that the day after Thanksgiving is the PRIME time to buy beef, pork, and chicken marked down. Get a bunch, and freeze it. Look for whole beef roasts, fancy cut items like stuffed pork roasts and herb-crusted beef roasts that were a fortune on today and didn't sell. Last year, I got an herb-crusted rib roast that was probably 7 pounds that normally retailed for about $90 for $15. I bought a couple of them and cut them into steaks and saved two whole ones, one for christmas and one for new years.

If you have a $$ off X coupon (like a $10 off $50 or something) that makes this even sweeter. The real money to be saved is in the grocery store!

Also look for holiday plates, napkins, cups, etc to be at least 1/2 off. They have to move the stuff from Thanksgiving quickly to make room for the Christmas stuff. Also keep an eye out for deals on things like foil roasting pans to be marked down a bit, because they will likely jump in cost right before christmas again, so if you need them, get them now. Orange and black frosting and sprinkles will be marked down as well.

So, if you don't want to fight the crowds and you still want a good deal, head to the grocery store instead!

Coupon Trains

October 31st, 2007 at 05:16 am

As one of the people in the story featured below, let me share a little more with you about coupon trains.

http://cbs4.com/consumer/local_story_298095413.html

A coupon train originates with a member of a grocery coupon forum like www.hotcouponworld.com or www.organicgrocerydeals.com has an idea to create a new train and spread coupons across the country by connecting riders (participants) at different stations (cities). Usually, the train has a theme. One I am partipating on right now has a theme about the Oregon Trail, and features a rider from every state of the Lewis & Clark expidition.

The conductor is responsible for organizing everyone's names and addresses, and then fills an envelope with coupons. There are different kinds of train requirements as set by the conductor. It could be that no pet or baby food coupons are allowed. It could also be that there is a certain amount of coupons needed to ride the train (say 100, or enough that no more than 1 stamp would cover postage).

But then there are more intense trains - super trains - with THOUSANDS of coupons that come in a full priority mail box, and can cost as much as $9 to ship.

No matter what size train you're on, the object is then to move the train forward as quickly as possible because coupons do expire.

When the train hits the station, the rider takes out what he or she might be able to use, pull out and recycle the expired coupons, and refill the train the rest of the way from their own stash of coupons.

A good conductor will also have riders take note of wishlists. A wishlist is the list of desired coupons that are going to the next person in line. It personalizes the train even more when a rider gets coupons she/he was looking for.

An unsuccessful train is one that derails somewhere along the way when a rider hasn't fulfilled their end of the bargain. It ruins it for everyone else who committed to be on the train. At Hotcouponworld, it's more rare than the norm because a board like ours operates with a high degree of trust and a feedback system similar to those at Ebay or other auction sites.

A successful train is when the train makes it all the way back to the conductor and has entirely new coupons in it. A repeater is where the group opts to go for another ride together (or add/drop a few new stations and riders) but has the same theme and takes off again from the same point of origin.

The purpose of a train is to obtain multiple coupons and pass on coupons you might not be able to use. If a rider ahead of you can use high value baby coupons and you have no children, passing them along helps the next person on the route save money. And really coupon trains are all about connecting people, having fun, and saving as much money at the store as humanely possible.

Saving at the Home Depot and big box hardware stores

October 20th, 2007 at 05:38 pm

Saving money on groceries is great. It's the most controllable part of your budget. But I also like to save money on other things as well. If I can get a deal on just about everything I buy, I'll take it.

Home projects can just eat my budget. Here's a couple ways you can save on home projects.

First off - the big box guys like Home Depot and Lowes take everyone else's coupons. That's a plus because while the coupons might seem tough to come by, you just have to know where to look.

For instance, you can get a $25 off $200 for registering for HD's upcoming "do it herself" clinic


LINK TO FREE REGISTRATION!!



Then, you can also get a $10/$50 coupon for registering for the "garden club" newsletter:

HERE'S THE LINK


If you're a military vet, a few times a year, you can get a 10% off coupon - Veteran's day, being the upcoming one, President's day weekend, 4th of July weekend, and Labor Day weekend. Some HDs will honor that discount year round.

In your Entertainment Book, there are coupons in many areas to local hardware stores like Ace or truevalue. We have some that are 20% off your purchase - the big box guys will take those.

(Right now - there's a $1 shipping and a $25 restaurants.com GC for getting an entertainment book, so worth it if yours has hardware coupons)

Link to Entertainment offer

Lastly, if you've moved recently, you can get a coupon for 10% off (some years it's HD, others it's Lowe's) just for submitting a change of address.

You can also trade for them at sites like ours, http://www.hotcouponworld.com/forums and people are willing to swap for them.

Avoid buying them on Ebay - they tend to be overpriced.

Good luck saving money at the hardware store, and Happy Shopping!

Saving On Organics

October 14th, 2007 at 04:36 am

Something that I've been long wondering about - can buying organics be had on the cheap?

That's what we've been wondering for awhile now, so to figure out if it could be done, we decided to open a new site dedicated to organic and natural grocery shopping. We're inviting folks to come share in the conversation about organic and natural foods and how to save money on them.

We'd love to hear your feedback!

http://www.organicgrocerydeals.com/forums

My Favorite Freebies

October 3rd, 2007 at 05:28 pm

Everyone loves free stuff. Who doesn't? It's of course even better when it's delivered right to your doorstep or computer.

Links to my favorite freebies:
LINK TO MYCOKEREWARDS.COM (good for a free 20z coke coupon for new members)

30 free prints from Snapfish.com

Free 7-day trial to Napster.com


I'll continue to add these as I encounter them.

What's HOT this week - General Mills, Pillsbury and more

October 3rd, 2007 at 08:20 am

Boy, just when I thought my stockpile was full - it's going to get fuller.

At this point, it's more thrill of the hunt than anything. All the GM product lines are on serious sale starting today. I'll be digging through my coupons and printing them as fast as I can to get in on some of these deals. And it will make great stuffy-stuff for the food bank.

Here's the deal....

Start by grabbing the new printable coupons - hot off the presses this week.

I love the first of the month, all the printables get updated.

http://www.hotcouponworld.com/forums/view.php?pg=couponsdotcom

Print off everything you can for GM, Pillsbury, progresso, green giant, yoplait....it's all on sale.

This week at Albertsons, most of these items are going to be 10/$10, and then there's another good sized chunk including some cereals that are going to be 10/$15. If you didn't shop with coupons at all, $1.50 a box for cereal compared to retial isn't a bad price. But if you can print out coupons or look for the blinkie GM coupons or peelable $1/1 coupons, you're going to get an even better deal. And I don't know many people that won't eat at least some kind of cereal.

And know that it's not all junk. Cheerios are in the Alberstons sale if you're trying to limit your group on sugary cereals.

So, print some coupons, grab your ads to match up the best deals to the coupons. Remember, if you print coupons, you can print each one twice per printer.

Happy shopping!!!

A tip for new couponers - date night!!!

September 23rd, 2007 at 07:45 am

I've been doing this thing where we interview site members. Our members are pretty amazing people, with lots of great advice.

One of them though had a really good tip and I thought it was pretty good advice.

Her thought was even if you don't want to be a hard core stockpilers and couponer extraordinaire, you can do date night couponing.

Find one or two coupons a week for something you'll use from the sunday paper. Or, if you don't take the paper, get some printables here:

http://www.hotcouponworld.com/forums/view.php?pg=couponsdotcom

http://www.hotcouponworld.com/forums/view.php?pg=smartsource

Wherever you get them, clip or print at least $1's worth of face value of coupons, and then remember to redeem them. Put them in a little envelope in your purse, or tuck them in your wallet.

When you redeem them each week, tuck the dollar aside in an evelope and in one year, you'll have enough to cover a sitter for a date.

When you clip a coupon and it's only .50c, it doesn't seem very meaninful. In fact, it barely even buys a candy bar these days.

But a $1 a week savings suddenly is $50 in the year. And her comment was that a $50 bill is something real and tangible and it has meaning. You now a $50 bill is equal to a babysitter's tab, or if you don't have kids, it will buy you dinner and drinks, and at a really nice restaurant if you remember to use a buy one get one free coupon with it.

So, I challenge you if you aren't really a couponer to do a $1 a week redemption with your regular grocery trip and save the money. You'll see how easy it is to do, and hopefully we'll be able to convince you do click even more.

Happy Shopping!

What's hot this week? QUAKER!!!!

September 22nd, 2007 at 11:04 pm

Four trips to the store...four times pulling out the debit card. In the course of an two hours, I saved $801 over retail on snacks and breakfast items.

It's that time of year again...my favorite time actually. Quaker sales are fast and furious right now.

Look in your store ads. Many stores in the country have $3 off 5 items. And dozens of stores have some kind of deal on assorted quaker items. Quaker items include Aunt Jemima pancake mix and syrup, as well as Life Cereal and Cap'n Crunch.

Here was the deal that save me the bucks and netted me 200 items for $36.

Albertsons in my neck of the woods has the Quaker items 10 for $15 with a $5 off instant savings at the register, and it can be used multiple times.

Between the $3 off $5 and a ton of manufacturers coupons from the Sunday paper I'd accumulated, I have enough to bring down each item, normally retailing between $3.29 and $4.59, down to .18c each. That's .18c for syrup, pancake mix, granola bars. 200 items literally filled an entire shelf in my garage.

Crazy thing is, I have enough coupons to grab another 100 items, and because many of the ones I have are $1/1 coupons, I'll probably be out of pocket $10.

You're probably thinking there's no way they'd use all that stuff, so why bother?

Well, you're right - we won't use it all. But others will, and for the price, I'm happy to give some away.

I have a brother-in-law who has raised my two nephews on his own since my sister is a flake...I give to them regularly.

The school likes the kids to bring things for snack once a month. Some kids can't afford to bring, so the teacher winds up out of pocket. 10 boxes of granola bars will keep her in snacks for the entire class for 5 days. So, we have enough to do that for several months, and I don't mind donating $1.80 to the kids' classrooms that way. Five days of snacks might have run her $30 for 20 kids, so I'm glad to help her keep $300 in her pocket this year.

The foodbank down the road rarely gets "the good stuff". For me, the good stuff is stuff you know a kid will eat instead of some of the weird food items that get donated there. And while people's hearts are in the right place when they donate, it's a shame if the food won't get used because the kids won't eat it. Oatmeal, cereal, and pancake fixings go a long way with little kids, and they're a nice way to encourage sitting around the table for a meal together when someone actually cooks.

Most ads end on Tuesday of this coming week, so RUN, don't walk, if your store has these deals. If you don't get in on them this time around, don't worry. Quaker sales are hot twice a year...once in Sept/Oct and again in January. So watch for quaker coupons with long expiration dates and hang on to them, because they are surely almost as good as cash when you can land that much food that has that many uses.

Happy Shopping!!!

What would you do with $50,000?

September 22nd, 2007 at 10:51 pm

It's a lot of money. $50K is actually a huge amount of money. It's a hefty down payment on a house, a brand new BMW, it's your college tuition, or tuition for your one of your kids. It might be 10 family vacations, a home remodel, or a very generous donation to your favorite cause.

This morning, I gathered all my September grocery receipts to enter into the spreadsheet I use to track grocery savings. I've tracked grocery savings since January 2003, so nearly 5 years.

There were some very good sales this week on Quaker food items, and I'd cleaned house so I wanted to get the receipts in there. (As an aside, I'd spent $36 and saved $801 over retail, but that's a whole other entry.)

After I got caught up on receipts, I decided to see where I was doing. Every now and then, I'll got through and do some tallies.

Today when I added it up, I could see that this month's savings pushed me well over the $50,000 mark in savings since 2003!!! You might ask what I spent to have saved so much, and you'd be surprised to know that we spent very little compared to the average family of five...$15,196, which means that I'm running at an average of 70% savings over retail annually on groceries.

Mind you, in the beginning, my spending was a bit higher. The $15K represents one year of baby forumla, three butts in diapers (the last one got out of them last year), food for between upwards of three pets (we're down to one dog), assorted parties for all occasions (including all the beer and wine). It also has some aritrary things thrown in for good measure because they were bought at the grocery store...cds, postage stamps, flower arrangements, and emergency birthday gifts.

But by and large, it's food and household items. Our average spending for nearly 5 years for 5 people was $266 per month. That's only $1.77 per day per person to be clean and fed. That's less than a latte at starbucks.

So, what have we done with $50,000?

Paid off bills, taken great vacations, paid tuition for college, gotten through tough times when one of us was off work, funded a 401K....the list sort of goes on and on.

The reason I share this with you is not to brag....I can do that at Hotcouponworld....we have a whole section there dedicated to sharing brag stories. The real reason is to help people understand that the .25c coupon you might think isn't worth your time to clip is more than worth it. It adds up. It's real money and you can do real things with it.

Cutting down your spending and shopping with coupons can make a huge difference in your life. It has in ours and it will continue to do so. I see where my kids are interested in coupons now, particularly my 8-year old. Above and beyond being able to stretch our lifestyle and give them things we might not be able to otherwise, we're giving them the greatest gift of all. Teaching them to be conservative with their money by having them watch us do it will give them a huge leg up in life....better than my husband and I ever had.

If it's true that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, you might not be able to get a better job, but you can find better ways to save. And remember, your savings is NET after tax dollars. You can use your savings to build your personal net worth and get onto the positive side of the balance sheet. It will help you and your family in the long run.

So, what would you do with $50,000?

East Coast - West Coast....printable coupon values differ

September 15th, 2007 at 03:41 am

I love printable coupons! The convenience of being able to snag a coupon with values that tend to be higher than the printed counterparts in the Sunday paper makes planning my shopping trip even that much more fun. I know that I am going to save even more money because I zipped through Hotcouponworld's printable links in the Coupon Resources right before running to Albertsons.

In planning a trip for today, I went to go see if there were new coupons (and there are) but I learned something interesting. I entered my zipcode in the zipcode box, and the coupons available screen changed. The zipcode entry box is at the top of the right side of the page here:

http://www.hotcouponworld.com/forums/view.php?pg=couponsdotcom

Suddenly, there was a .50c/1 coupon for any Tree Top product. Tree Top items are 10/$10 in my area, so coupons that are good off any ONE is a great deal. Curious, I typed in my hubby's grandmother's zip code on the East Coast.
Up pops new coupons for Hood cottage cheese and Perdue chicken.

It's kind of similar to the notion that there are different values and products in the printed inserts across the country, and we see those when we trade coupons. And yet there are coupons and values that come out on the East Coast that I love getting here on the West Coast.

I think too that the values are based on a region's ability to double/triple coupons. We don't have that ability here much, but I know people back east like west coast values because they fall into the range that their stores will double and triple, so we wind up doing lots of trading for them on the board.

Now I am seeing people trading printables more as well because of the value and product differences.

So I thought I would pass it along cause it was pretty interesting.

What you should watch for to be on sale in Sept/Oct.

September 11th, 2007 at 07:47 am

Just as you know that leaves will fall off trees in October and kids will be crawling up the walls in May to be out of school in June, everything has its season and its cycle. Sales and deals are no different.

In tracking what comes on sale when for several years, you begin to see patterns develop, and you can almost predict to the week that fruit snack and peanut butter will be a hit in September, that Target will go 75% off after Christmas by right after the New Year (be there when it opens that day for the best stuff), and you should stock up on Jello in May (for all those patriotic jello recipes).

If you know the cycles and watch for them to roll in like the tide, you can literally save thousands at the store every year. From clothes, to gifts, to groceries, having a handle on the cycles will ensure you never pay full price, and never miss a deal.

For your planning pleasure, I am posting Sept/October deals. Watch for coupons that might go with the food items for an even better savings. You can refer to my blog from yesterday to find this month's printable coupons that match the sales happening right now. I'll drop in these in two-month increments so you don't get overwhelmed by the list. It will allow you to plan in managable increments.


SEPTEMBER - back to school; time to fill up on snacks! Pudding cups, Capri suns, fruit snacks, cereal sales start up hard again, peanut butter/jelly. Also, like clockwork, there will be Prego coupons in August, and plan on getting lots and using them in a hurry before they expire in September when the spaghetti sauce goes on sale. Sauce wars between Ragu and Prego this month. Campbell’s soups will go on as well and there will be coupons in the end of August for these as well. Lunchables are on sale this time of year, too.
• Back to School Supplies and Apparel
• Gardening Supplies
• Housewares
• Bicycles
• Canned Goods

OCTOBER - Stock up on holiday foods – Stove Top, turkey, instant mashed potatoes, broth, cranberries, marshmallow, ice cream, pie shells, whipped cream, pudding. Look for great Kraft deals again this time of year. Piggyback those Kraft coupons when you can. Crackers are a biggie - going on for $1 or less a box. Lots of extra deals like $ off cheese WYB crackers. The real kicker is the after Christmas food deals! Save your coupons because pie fixings, fried onion, broth and canned green beans will be on deep discount. I got those onions for .50 a can, normally almost $4. These generally continue through December.
• Cars
• Houses
• Fishing Equipment
• Crystal, Silver, and Glassware
• Candy
ท Baking/candy-making items (choc chips, sprinkles, vanilla, corn syrup, nuts, etc)


So save lots, and Happy Shopping!

Ok, here's a smattering of hot deals this week

September 10th, 2007 at 08:12 am

I'm going to try and do these generically because I realize that not everyone has the same deals as I do in other parts of the country.

But in general this week, we're still in back to school mode for groceries. This is the time of year that General Mills, (and by extension, Pillsbury and all other GM brands) and Campbells run some of their best sales of the year.

First off, get some paper in the printer cause you're going to be printing some coupons (if your stores accept printable coupons).

http://www.hotcouponworld.com/forums/view.php?pg=couponsdotcom

and

http://www.hotcouponworld.com/forums/view.php?pg=smartsource

Ok. Have you looked those two pages over? Here's what you need to print.

Any of the GM coupons from the first site....those are just plain HOT!!! $1.10 off a box of cereal? This week at many stores across the country, Curves cereal can be had for about $1.50 a box. So with the $1.10 coupon, you're looking at .40c. Even better, is if your store doubles, you might save more on this.

Then there's the $1.00 coupon for pillsbury canned dough. The italian doughs like Pizza crust are on sale for $1.50 or less. Mine were actually $10/10 so I got them for free.

Warm bowls, progresso soups, fruit rolls, yoplait....the list goes on and on and it's all on sale. I went and spent $33 the other day (needed some high value items on this trip, so I spent more than if I had just bought the GM items) and I saved $115.

Switching gears, the Campbell's company has all their goodies on sale. Goldfish crackers, prego spaghetti sauce, soup....it's all on sale everywhere. In today's paper, there were all the coupons you could possibly need to use for match ups. So if you can snag some from other people who are foolish enough not to use them, then grab them and buy multiples of this stuff.

My favorite deal is going to be spaghetti sauce. The Prego is on sale everywhere. It's $1.25 a jar here....it's .67c a jar with no coupons at a store called Smith's in WY if you bought 15 jars. We got coupons valued at .40c/1, and I can use a double coupon with it, so for me, I am going to pay .45c per jar after coupons for spaghetti sauce that's normally $2.69-$2.99 a jar. One jar will cover my family for about 2 meals (not all my boys do spaghetti sauce.

It's sales like these that are so imporant to hold all your coupons, because when they strike, they strike hard and you're chasing deals all over the place, but saving big bucks in the process.

Watch for a whole blog on Sales Cycles. I've tracked what comes on sale when for the last several years, and have a comprehensive list to share so you can plan ahead for your deals.

Happy Shopping!!!

Oh Wait!!! Are you done with that paper???

August 28th, 2007 at 08:01 am

I think sometimes people must think I'm crazy. I have shaken off any sense of notions about being shy or timid when it comes to asking people for their newspaper.

It's not that I can't buy a newspaper of my own - quite the contrary, we get one delivered daily to the house.

It's not that I can't get a copy from a co-worker, family member, or a neighbor. In fact, they are all quite pre-disposed to handing over the paper (albeit, minus the funny pages, jumbles, and crossword puzzles)!!!

But the strangers in the Starbucks, McDonald's Playplace, a hotel lobby or airport when we travel, or pretty much anywhere, is always a little taken aback with my request. And if there are two people together reading their own papers (like at a cafe on a Sunday morning) then they are even more shocked.

But there's glossy gold in those papers in the form of valuable coupons and offers.

Last week, my paper had free canned dog food coupons. My pooch, who normally gets dry dogfood, loves the paperboy for bringing him this delightful treat.

My favorite deals this week are going to combine coupons from the beginning of August ($1 off 1 Ball Park hotdogs) with an instore ad from this week (2 for $3 - (2) $1/1 coupons = 2pks for $1 + $2free on your next purchase of ANYTHING!!!). And with our little clippable double coupons, the hotdogs are free - the catalina register coupon for $2 on my next purchase is bonus money.

How many papers did I scrounge up for those coupons? Enough that if I can do the deal multiple times this week, I wind up making $40 in the on my next purchase coupon (cash) from the register.

I'll use that money for milk, protein items, and produce that I either don't have a coupon for, or that I can combine with coupons for an even better deal.

I have to admit, I almost thought I was a little nuts about asking people for their papers when I started doing it a few years back. I got my Mother-in-law to take up a coupon collection from her entire neighborhood on my behalf. I think her neighbors think we're poor as church mice....little do they know that their Friday recycle is my next trip to Hawaii. And the let the money slip right through their fingers and into mine.

August has been a good month for savings. Between reading the ads for all the back-to-school loss leaders (.25c color pencils at office depot is the next deal to chase!) and the scorching hot deals that have been rolling through the catalina machines, it's been a month to pocket money. Even better are the super high profit rebates like Kelloggs cereal - buy 10 items, get $10 back - but buy the items for free or little cost with coupons. I should net $20 from those rebates alone this month. The rebate forms were of course, in the paper.

Then the office supply deal where the items were Free After Rebate - like 3M's post-it flags highlighter pens. $5.99 - .90 for buying a backpack and getting an extra 15% off - $2 off any post-it product (a printable coupon I believe was posted on our website) = $3.09 for a 2pk of highlighter pens with post-it flags. Net profit to me - $2.90 + free pens.

This month was also a good month for donations. Our local foodbank struggles in the summer time, so with all my extra free coupons and coupons that yielded me free items because the sales were aligned the right way, our foodbank scored on hygiene items, food items and snacks for kids - about $500 in all if you added up the retail value.

The point is, there is so much you can do with coupons and shopping smartly. But it starts with having a stock of coupons and to do that, you need to get a little more social with strangers and simply ask, "Are you done with that paper?" Inevitably, they do hand over the parts I'd like out of the ad section, and I am on my way to saving more at the store.

It never hurts to ask if it will gain you more coupon inventory - the worst they can say is no!

Happy Shopping!!!

How much can you save with a click of a mouse?

August 10th, 2007 at 06:24 am

Internet printed coupons, which once seemed such a strange concept, are now fairly commonplace amongst shoppers, and even retailers.

While some retailers have been burned by fraudulent printables that were being rampantly copied and printed a few years ago, and have since adjusted their policies, many stores still are willing to take them in some form or another.

What's the big deal about printing a coupon from home? Big dollars saved for one thing! Internet coupons tend to have higher values than their Sunday paper counterparts. Most always, they can be doubled for additional savings. And unlike having to pay full price to get the Sunday paper, for the cost of a print, you can pick and choose from the coupons that are available and only snag the ones you're interested in using. Additionally, you can print two of the same coupon by simply going through the steps of highlighting the coupon a second time, and hitting print a second time.

Internet coupons can be printed in either black or white, or color. For the cheapest way to print, pick black and white and use scrap paper.

Copying internet coupons on a copier is a HUGE no-no. Printable grocery coupons have unique IDs which can trace back to the printer from which they were generated. So even when you print two of the same coupon, they are each going to have a separate ID number.

You can find multiple coupons of a coupon that is available by printing them from additional sites which they are available on, and that's ok. For example, you might find a printable coupon at Pillsbury.com, and then find the same coupon at BoxTopsForEducation.com. You can then print two coupons from each site - 4 in total. They will each have a unique ID, but you'll be good to go. The Coupon Database at Hotcouponworld will have links to multiples of the same coupons available at different coupon sites so you don't have to hunt around for them and can one-stop-shop on the printing.

The other great thing about printable grocery coupons is that there are usually more of them available to print than there are ones available to cut in Sunday's paper.

Haven't tried printables yet? Here's a link to 70+ HOT coupons that match up to the fall back-to-school grocery sales that are already in progress.

http://ad.coupons.com/click,AAAAAAhoAwBEVQYAzqoBAAAAAAAAAAAA...

Sorry, it's a long one, but since it generates to a rolling list of coupons, there's no real way to shorten it.

If you click on the link, or C&P it into your browser, you'll notice a TON of General Mills coupons. These coupons can be doubled, and they have higher values than what you'll find in the paper. The great thing is, this month and into September is the start of all the General Mills sales.

For example, my local Albertsons last week had GM products 10 for $20 - $5 when you buy 10, so really, 10 for $15. If you had a printable coupon for $1 off 5 of the items, and .55c of the other 5, you'd wind up with $7.65 in savings, and $7.35 cash for 10 items, or .73c each. But it does get better. My local Albertsons will accept the clippable double coupons (your local store might just double on their own). I can use 8 of these per visit, for an additional $4 off total, bringing my cost down to $3.35.

But, it gets one step better than that. There are rebate forms for $10 off GM products right now. So after the cost of the stamp to send the rebate it, I am looking at a profit of $6.24 to buy 10 of these items.

Another great thing about printable coupons is that they roll, meaning, if I print only one today, and then go back in 3 days, the expiration date is going to be different, giving me a date further out on the 2nd print than the first, which means more time to use the coupon. But, you have to check back ofter with the sites because when the manufacturer's printing budget is drawn down, the coupons disappear. They might come back on when the manufacturer throws more budget at the campaign, but they come and go almost daily.

The upside of that of course is lots of variety of printable coupons are available, and almost always match the store sales perfectly.

So, if you're looking for a way to save even more money on groceries and haven't tried printing coupons from home yet, give it a shot - you'll be glad you did.

For more information about printables, check out the site. We have a whole section on internet printed coupons, which stores take them, what values are available right now, etc.

Happy Shopping!!!

Hotcouponmama

Rainchecking - Eating tomorrow at today's prices

July 30th, 2007 at 08:02 am

Rainchecking. It's not in the dictionary as a real word yet, but it should be.

Rainchecking is the art of collecting rainchecks. A proficent Rainchecker is one who knows the precise time that rainchecks can be had.

Ideally, a skilled Rainchecker can capture several rainchecks for items during the same week of the sale. Then the Rainchecker will also know how to follow up on rainchecks by collecting matching manufacturers coupons to be used in conjunction with the raincheck at a later date.

Why be an active Rainchecker? Simply stated, the goal is to eat tomorrow at today's prices.

The raincheck policy for most stores varies wildly across stores and store types. Some as little as 30 days, and others have no expiration date (my favorite).

A good example of why Rainchecking can help stretch dollars and maximize sales. Today I went to Safeway and they were out of corn. At 4 for $1, in my area, it doesn't get much cheaper than that anymore. So, I captured a raincheck. Their raincheck gives me 90 days to get it used. That puts me into October when I have to use the raincheck. Corn is still flavorful then, it's just a lot more expensive. So now when the rest of the customers are buying corn for .79c each, I'll still be paying summer's price of .25c each. I will get enough that I can freeze to have for the winter right at the end of the season, so I am freezing the freshest products from the fall harvest, instead of freezing from the summer harvest and adding a few months extra time in the freezer.

The other nice thing about Rainchecking is that if you get a good one, it gives you time to get additional coupons to go with the raincheck. That way, you can get additional items, more than if you had purchased during the sale.

Also, sometimes additional offers present themselves at the current higher price, but you've got a lower-priced raincheck handy.

A good example is when there is a register coupon deal (catalina) like a buy 5 of something, get free money for your next shopping purchase. Instead of buying the 5 at today's price, you get it at yesterday's sweetheart price, making the register deal even more lucrative.

So, how do you know when to score rainchecks and not waste time making multiple trips.

First day of the sale is a great time to go. People wipe out the shelves because the store wasn't prepared for the sale. Snag a raincheck, and come back later in the week. Ask when the store gets freight deliveries and be there the night before a freight delivery because the shelf will likely be empty.

The last day of a sale is hit or miss. It could all be gone again and you might score big, or depending on when their freight comes in, you might be out of luck to fund holes in the shelves with missing products.

A few tips on scoring rainchecks...

1. If only one flavor is out, ask for the raincheck in that flavor. Just because the shelf is full of eggo waffles, if they are out of the obscure pinstripe moonberry flavor, ask for that one - most times the raincheck will cover all flavors when you return to redeem.

2. Talk a walk up and down each aisle and look for holes on the shelves. Even if it isn't for something you use, if it's a hot enough deal, you can use it as a raincheck to trade with someone else.

3. Be sure to bring a pad and paper so when you walk through the store looking, you can write down the ones you need and the details so it speeds up the cashier and you don't miss a raincheck because you forgot about an item before you got to the cash register.

Rainchecking will give you sale prices when there is no sale for an item you're looking for. Don't forget that it's a sure fire way to save big bucks at the store.

What's a little bit of time worth?

July 25th, 2007 at 08:15 am

I am always amazed when people tell me they don't have time to coupon or chase deals.

My response tends to be, "Yeah, but what's your time worth?"

If you're making a middle of the road income and you make a quick trip in and out of a store and save $100, is your time worth that kind of money? A middle wage earner in the $10-$20 an hour range would love to take a pay raise to $100 an hour. Effectively, that's what couponing does for you. When you plan for and execute a shopping trip that yields $100 in savings, the value of what your time is worth just increased upwards of 10X your current rate of pay.

If you shop 4-5 times a month, try breaking your shopping into smaller trips. Separate out a couponing trip from a regular trip. Set out to save $50 or more on the coupon trip. If in a month you can do this twice with a $100 savings over retail each time on items you would normally buy anyway, you just put $2400 a year of buying power (or debt reduction power) back in your pocket.

What's $2400 buy you? It pays down bills, pays off the balance on your car, it gets invested in a retirement fund. It can be used for household splurges or a fun family vacation. And it only cost a little bit of time.

If you don't have an hour, you can also try incorporating targeted trips as part of your normal routine. Stopping by 3 stores a week for about 10 minutes per trip can save you $100 or more a week.

On a quick trip to Office depot, the loss leader school supplies cost me $1 (after the $3 toner coupon). My savings was nearly $30. The trip took about 8 minutes from start to finish in the store.

A 15 minute trip to Safeway yielded me $81 in merchandise - and the cashier paid ME $1.11 cash for the overage value of the coupons I had presented her.

10 minutes at Rite Aid got me 2 rainchecks for the free school items this week - a $5 value. But that was after I dropped off a prescription that would yield me a $20 giftcard - a $17 value after my co-pay. Value of the 10 minutes - $22. Not many people get paid $22 for 10 minutes of their day.

With kids, a contract consulting job, working on a MBA at full time graduate hours and running a busy grocery coupon site, (and in between all that, doing family support for the Army), I still manage to fit in little mini trips to the store all week and save big bucks in the process. 25 hours of time last month saved me $1600+ over retail, and I only spent about $200 cash.

Time turns into money very quickly when you're doing spot deals or incorporating a little more couponing into your regular grocery routine.

What's your time worth?

Giving back to the community with your Sunday paper

July 4th, 2007 at 07:20 am

It's amazing what you'll find in the Sunday paper. While there might be political articles, recipes, and Dear Abby, if you dig deep through the paper, you'll find an amazing way to give back to your community.

In you are lining your litter box with the glossy inserts from the "junk section" as my mother-in-law so fondly refers to it, passing up the junk might mean that you're passing up a way to give back to your community in a very simple, non-evasive way that costs you nothing more than a little time and ingenuity, and will even yield you a receipt for your tax deductable donation.

Simply put, there is money in them there papers, and you just need a way to dig through it.

We have people on our site that will ferret the information for you, but even simpler than searching through Hotcouponworld is just taking 5 minutes to scan the ads and see what you can come up with that has a donatable value.

Some recent examples that you could have done from the past few weeks....

If you had the paper 3 Sundays ago, you would have had a coupon for a free can of dog food. Gather up the newspapers from friends and neighbors, redeem on your next store visit, and drop of the food at a local shelter. Sometimes, national stores like Petsmart or Petco will accept the donation and save it for their adopt-a-thons. There have also been coupons all year long for free cat food and treats, canisters of dog food, and a $1/1 Tidy Cat coupon could mean free litter if you just held onto them in your purse or wallet and watched for the right sale.

I donated an 8# bag of cat food I got with a free coupon to the local cat shelter in our little downtown area. They were thrilled. I took my boys and they got to pet the cats and visit (mind you, I am not a cat lover but my boys like cats, so this was a treat for them).

There are also senior agencies that place animals with seniors and free pet food and supplies goes a long way towards helping someone on a fixed income.

A few weeks further back, there was a coupon in the paper for a free razor! Absolutely free! It had a $6.99 value. Again, a simple gathering of some papers from friends or co-workers would have yielded you a handful of these freebies. 10 coupons gathered that would have otherwise gone into someone's recycle bin is now a $70 donation to a women's shelter. Again, nominal time for the clipping of the coupons, and an easy item to throw in your cart on your most recent shopping visit.

Other recent newspaper freebie have included chocolate bars, coffee samples, dishwasher tabs, sports nutrition bars, and more. In march, there was a coupon for a free blood glucose monitoring kid - a $74.99 value which could have easily gone to a senior center for an elderly person with geriatric diabetes or an agency that deals with low-income pregnant women who might be stricken with gestational diabetes.

Coupons aside, on a trip to Rite Aid this week, you could have gotten the follwoing items free after rebate:

Crest toothpaste
Secret clinical strength deoderant
Herbal Essences Shampoo
Ocean Potion Sunblock

Each of those items would have had an initial cash outlay, but without even having to lick an envelope, you could go immediately online to redeem the rebate.

Health and Beauty items are so desperately needed by foodbanks, shelters, and assorted low-income family agencies. People think about giving food, but fail to remember hygiene items. A donation like this that took just a few minutes on a trip to the local drug store goes a long way in someone's life who has need.

Taking it one step further....if you have a regular prescription and a low co-pay for the drugs, many chain pharmacies offer coupons to either fill a new or transferred prescription. We have low to no copays on our insurance plan. Getting a prescription for my husband costs 0 dollars, but I can nab a $10-$30 gift card for doing business with a particular pharmacy which has a prescription coupon. So for something I need everyday, I can take the gift card and either:

A. Donate it in whole to an agency to do with as they see fit.
B. Buy items to donate.
C. Buy the free after rebate items and double the value of the gift card.

Such a simple thing that takes a little know how, a little time, and a little willingness to stop and look through the paper to see what's free this week that you could obtain for no money can enrich someone else's life.

Happy shopping to you - and I'll see you in the check out line!

[i] Post created by Hotcouponmama[i]

Quick catching up to do

June 5th, 2007 at 06:13 am

Well, I started off strong, and really wanted to get in here and do some good writing, but life got in the way.

Right after I started writing here, I got a call from my brother that he needed me to take in his four kids while he went back to Afghanistan. So, with my 3 plus a hubby, there's now NINE people living in the house to shop and coupon for.

You know what? It's no different with a larger group than it is for a smaller one. And in fact, in some ways, it's easier.

I'm finding that 7 kids go through lots of juice, peanut butter, cereal, cheese, and snack items. And with this many people, the grocery budget could easily get out of control.

My challenge this year to myself before we got these extra kids was $100 or less a month and live off the existing stockpile. With the extra kids, I kicked that up to $200. I've learned that since milk has gone up, $200 is going to be a bit more challenging since we are going through a gallon of milk nearly every day.

The first month, I spent $301 and saved $1055. Not bad for trying to get my feet wet in this bigger family shopping mode, but I thought I could do better.

Trading for coupons and searching for access to multiples really helped me out this month, because at least once in a month, while all sales really do have some good things hidden in the ad pages, there's usually one week out of the month (3rd week) that is better than the rest. And I hit the motherload with juice, hygiene items, hamburger meat, and more.

9 ppl and a dog last month - spent $165 after rebates, and saved.....$2700!!!

This month, we're off to an ok start. And we'll have the kids for several more months, so I'll be interested to see if my budget per day per person when there was just 5 of us can stay on par now that there's 9 of us.

And I want to get back into blogging so I can share what's up in the world of building personal wealth and financial health through shopping smartly!

[i]Entry by Hotcouponmama[i]

Cash Flow and your personal finances

February 27th, 2007 at 04:58 am

The expression "cash flow" is typically used in relation to businesses.

However, cash flow is as important to you as an individual, and possibly even more so than a business.

Cash flow is about how money moves in and out of your bankbook over the course of a set period. For home, it's either monthly, or between pay periods.

If you are struggling to keep money in your checkbook and tend to rely on credit cards, it's likely that while you might be a spender, you might also have a cash flow problem.

Think about the beginning of the month. For most of us, our big debts tend to be at the first of the month. For most, mortgage or rent is due at the first, and depending on your net income to mortgage payment ratio, you might have very little to none left to cover other bills for the first two weeks of the month.

And at your next pay check, you spend your cash to cover the bills that were due at the beginning of the month. In the mean time, you might have used your credit cards to get you though, but you might not be making as much headway on them as you think.

Being in the wrong cash flow cycle is a viscious circle and it's a trick to get cash flowing positively in your household, but trust me, from experience, I know it can be done.

First, assess all the bills you have, including utilities and childcare or any recurring expense, even prescriptions.

Now, what can be moved to the middle of the month? Most creditors, including your mortgage company, will allow you to change the due date on your account.

Figuring out the in-between paycheck variable costs is the next step. How much does it cost you to eat, be entertained, and otherwise flex "expendable" income during the two weeks between pay periods?

Look at the net income to the sum of all your bills combined - are you positive, negative, or break-even?

For many, until they learn to control their personal cash flow, they tend to slip further and further behind.

So, the strategy to making cash flow positive in your house.

1. Rethink how you pay your bills. If you can't move your mortgage payment, move other bills and utilities till the mid-month. Having a bit of cash left after the mortage and other beginning of the month bills is essential so you don't tap into credit cards to get through to the next pay period.

2. Pay the bills quickly and on time. Don't let bills sit to long - even if you have the time before they are due, some loans and debts are better being paid in an ahead-cycle. Paying ahead, and even rounding up to the nearest 10 dollar increment will help improve cash flow in the long run because the debts get paid off faster and accrue less interest.

3. Separate the needs from the wants. If you struggle with cash, getting paid at the mid-month and having some money left over isn't a license to splurge and be completely run out of money before your next pay period. Break down the needs from the wants, and only buy the needs, and when you do get into positive cash flow, splurge a little on the wants, because complete financial restraint will make you and the people around you miserable.

4. Find ways to get the needs cheaper. Shop with coupons and try to buy everything on sale.

5. Attempt to consolidate debt. Amazingly, you get a lot further faster paying one or two debts vs. minimum payments on lots of litte debts. Look for the low interest CC offer, or if you can safely do so, tap the home equity, but only if you know you won't be tempted to run up cards again.

6. Build a bridge account. This is money that isn't an emergency fund, and it isn't an investment. It's a bridge fund that can cover you between pay periods in the event life happens on your way to trying create positive cash flow. Bridge accounts are for things like snow chains that you didn't know you needed because it's March and should be done snowing. It could be for an unplanned for gift or event. The bridge account shouldn't be something you tap into every time between pay periods. Over time, it can really add up.

Besides paying into the bridge account, let money find it's way there. Deposit rebates into this account. Move double entries from your checkbook here too. For example, if I paid a bill for $50 and entered it twice by mistake in my checkbook, instead of having a $50 windfall to spend, pretend it wasn't a mistake and let it ride. In five years, my bridge account has become over $5K.

7. The last step to getting into positive personal cash flow is to be in touch with your money - DAILY!!! You might not think daily is necessary, but get a software program to do your checkbook with, and upload from the bank daily, and enter receipts daily. I can't stress the word DAILY enough. This helps you understand how cash moves through your account, where you can prevent bleeding, and when you are in touch with your money, it tends to curb spending. And also,you don't miss entries. Most people bounce checks not because they are bad people, they are just bad bookkeepers. A missed entry for a grocery trip, fill-up at the gas station, or a latte might be what causes you to bounce your account, putting your even further into negative cash flow for having to pay the associated bank fees.

The benefits of positive personal cash flow....

- you don't have to tap credit cards to get through the in-between weeks.
- you actually have extra cash to put towards bills.
- you can save cash for major purchases.
- you can take the money you're saving, and learn to utilize pre-tax accounts.
- save on bank charges, credit card interest and late fees for having the cash to pay the bills ahead of time.

And lastly, there is just a sense of peace when you are in control of your finances.

Entry by Hotcouponmama

Glad to be here

February 26th, 2007 at 10:29 pm

In a cooperative effort to bring you the best savings, deals, and finance information on the web, SavingAdvice.com offered us the opportunity to set up a blog to share information with the members here.

A little bit about us and our site. As a co-owner of hotcouponworld, I've had a great experience helping our members find a better financial future by learning how to shop and save wisely.

The site has a ton of great information on everything from how to use coupons to which store has free toilet paper this week!

I've personally been a hardcore couponer for about 5-6 years, but have couponed for about 13 in all. By hardcore, a hardcore couponer is one who stockpiles multiples of an item when they are free, trades online for coupons to maximize the sales, and otherwise lives for the thrill of the hunt of a great deal or freebie.

Ultimately, by shopping smarter, you have more money to invest in other things. I've read stories about members who are debt free as a result of couponing, or are well on their way to it.

For me, couponing is about utilizing the savings to achieve my family's financial dreams. And it's working! This is the year that we'll max out pre-tax accounts and put a down payment on a piece of property to build our dream home.

So we are glad to be here. It's one thing to get a great deal on a one-time purchase. It's quite another to get great deals on the everyday items we all need to live and live well!

This entry is courtesy of Hotcouponmama