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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!

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

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!

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!

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

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]