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Archive for July, 2007

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]