Couponing for the Rest of Us

*HOT* Coupons & Rebates in the Beer Aisle!

Coupons in the Beer Aisle?  You bet!

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How to Delete or Cancel A Print Job That’s Stuck! (Restart Your Spooler)

Have you ever been printing several things when suddenly one item you were printing gets stuck?  You go to investigate and there’s one print job that has an ERROR – and it won’t allow anything else to print.  ARRGGHH!!  I’ve been there too.  So of course – you click “Delete” to cancel the troublesome print job – and it proceeds to delete until eternity…  It says “Deleting….” but it never actually moves on from that point.

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Out of Ink? Coupon Printing Tips!

Today is the first day of the month – and that means TONS of new coupons will be added to Coupons.com, CouponNetwork, SmartSource and RedPlum – as well as many manufacturer sites.  This is awesome news – unless of course, you’re currently out of ink…. :(   But that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all these “first day of the month” coupons!

While some of you may already know this – I want to put this tip out there for those of you who may not:

  • Go ahead and click all the coupons you want and hit print, just as you would if you had ink in the printer.  Just make sure your printer is NOT connected to your computer.  Every time it gives you an alert message, just hit “Okay”.  You’ll be lining up a whole bunch of awesome coupons in your printer.

Now when you do refill on ink – plug your printer back into your computer and all those coupons waiting in line will print out for you – even if  they’ve become unavailable in the meantime!

For other ways to save on ink – here are just a few tips:

  • Choose black ink and print in greyscale only
  • In settings, switch to a low quality or dpi (less saturated with ink)
  • When printing a coupon which has a large ink-guzzling ad after it, just hit “cancel” after the coupon prints and before the ad starts
  • Take advantage of office supply store rewards to pay for ink (freebies in the form of store cash)
  • Shop online specials on re-manufactured ink cartridges at 4Inkjets

Do you have any tips to save on ink?  We’d love to hear them!

Halloween Costumes on a Budget (Homemade Costume Ideas, Cheap Deals and more)

These Homemade Star Wars costumes weren’t easy – but my kids loved them and they cost about $1 each to make!

As Halloween draws near – it’s time to start thinking about costumes.  I have 4 boys who always want to be a popular superhero or cartoon character – never something easy like…. a mummy.  (Hello?  Stockpile of Toilet Paper all ready to go!)

But store bought outfits can be over-the-top expensive, starting around $20 and some going upwards of $50-$100…   If you want to stay within your budget while still coming up with something your kids will love – it’s going to tkae lots of creativity and a little research.  Here are some of my favorite ways to do Halloween Costumes on the cheap:

Buy Used:

Check local consignment sales, Yard Sales, Craigs List, Ebay and more to find gently used costumes for sale.  In fact – I would definitely try Thred-Up, an online consignment store that is giving new users a $10 Credit right now!
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Buy AFTER Halloween:

I know – this may not solve your problem this year, but take your kids to the store with you after Halloween, when costumes are up to 75% OFF, and let them pick out what they’d like for next year.  It’s true – they may change their minds by next year – but at that point you can present them with the following choices a) Last years store-bought costume  or  b) a Toilet Paper Mummy.

There are actually deals going on all year on costumes and dress-up clothes, if you know where to look.  Luckily – we do!  And we’ll do all the looking for you – just sign up to get your Free Newsletter HERE.

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Shop Online Specials:

Check Amazon, Daily Deal Sites and more for big markdowns.  I’ve found great  deals on Totsy and Zulily, plus Totsy offers Free Shipping to new customers.

For instance – right now on Amazon, you can pick up this DC Comics Boys Costume Trunk with (3) Super-Hero Costumes  for only  $19.34!  *I have this at my house – and my boys play dress up with it all the time – it’s great!  NOTE: Amazon prices can go up at any time

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Be like Sandra-Dee and make it “Semi-Homemade”:

One of my favorite ways to save on Halloween Costumes is to head to the thrift store and check out their selection.  Or wander around and look for inspiration.  The costumes will likelly be a little tattered or outdated – but they’ll make a good Starting Point!  Let’s say you find a black graduation gown – thats’all you need for a cape for Batman, Vampires and all sorts of other characters.  Maybe they have an old brown jumpsuit that looks pretty non-descript and may have once been Scooby Doo.  You can easily turn this into a bear, a lion, a puppy dog,etc….  Just get out your hot glue gun and add things to it to bring it to life.  The point is – at least with this method,  you don’t have to start from scratch and you’ll only spend a few dollars!

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Homemade Costume Ideas:

If you’re really going to go gung-ho and have decided to make your own Halloween Costume – then make sure you read my post chock-full of Homemade Halloween Costume Ideas!  Find a list of DIY Kids Costume, DIY Group Costumes, and DIY Last-Minute Costumes.

We’d love to hear your ideas too – how do you get costumes without breaking the bank?

 

 

How to use eCoupons – SavingStar, Cellfire, UPromise and more!

We all know about the paper coupons that we print or clip from the paper.  They’re pretty straightforward – you cut them out and hand them over – get a discount and move along.  But have you tried using eCoupons yet?

eCoupons are electronic coupons that you load onto a store loyalty card (For instance, your CVS card, Bi-Lo card or Kroger Plus card).  There are several different companies offering eCoupons, and some let you stack these electronic savings with paper coupons, but some don’t.  They do NOT double, and they only apply once (So if you load an eCoupon for toilet paper, it will only apply to one toilet paper package)  Here’s the lowdown:

SavingStar eCoupons:  Load to your card and the savings go into your SavingStar account.  When you reach $5, you can pick your payout to come either via PayPal ($5 Credit), or as a $5 Amazon Giftcard, or to your bank account. While in the past these were allowed in conjunction with paper coupons – they have recently adjusted the wording on their site to discourage this.  To be safe – don’t use these alongside a paper coupon.
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UPromise eCoupons: Load to your card and the savings go into your children’s college savings account or your own student loan repayment accounts – or you can simply request a check. You’ll even get a $5 Giftcard when you join UPromise to get you started!  These CAN be used alongside Manufacturer coupons.
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P&G eSaver Coupons: Load to your card and save on P&G products in store.   These can NOT be stacked with other Manufacturer Coupons.

Store-Specific eCoupons:

Kroger Family of Stores:  Load Cellfire and Shortcuts coupons to your Kroger Plus card (or other Kroger Family card).  These can NOT  be used in conjunction with other Manufacturer coupons.

Bi-Lo eCoupons: Bi-Lo eCoupons are really just store coupons you load onto your card.  You’ll need to register your card on their site to load them.  They come out with new ones every week and even advertise them in their weekly ad.  They CAN be used alongside paper coupons.

Food Lion eCoupons: Also known as “Clip to Card” coupons, they can be loaded onto your MVP card once you’ve registered it on the Food Lion site.  These coupons are a grey area and don’t have specific language stating whether or not you can use them alongside a paper coupon.

Target Mobile Coupons: These are a little different than the coupons you load to your card – these Target store coupons are loaded onto your mobile phone and the barcode is scanned at the register!  These CAN be combined with Manufacturer coupons.

Coupon Tip: 5 Ways to Save Money on Meat

Hey – You don’t have to worry about pink slime being added to your ground beef if you’ve just watched your butcher take a chuck roast and grind it in front of you!

People who attend our coupon workshops always ask how to save money on meat.  Ground Beef has risen in price quite a bit in the last couple years.  I remember when my “buy” price for lean ground beef was around $1.50/lb.  Lately – it’s hard to find it for less than $2.50/lb. One way to get cheap ground beef is to take whatever beef is on sale for the week (For instance, this week, Bi-Lo has London Broil on sale Buy One Get One Free) and ask your store butcher to grind it for you, or grind it yourself.

There are several benefits to doing this:

  1. You can get a sale price on ground beef nearly every week – whether “ground beef” is on sale or not
  2. You’ll be able to get leaner ground beef for the same price (or cheaper) than the more fatty, processed ground beef
  3. You’ll get FRESHER ground beef
  4. You won’t have to worry about the dreaded “pink slime” being added to lots of ground beef these days.

You’d be surprised at how willing your butcher is to not only grind your beef, but also cut it into cubes (for grilling kabobs or stew meat) or into steaks (from a roast).  Just be extra-friendly when you ask !

More ways to save money on meat:

  • Look for meat markdowns.
    Snatch up meat that has been marked down for quick sale – just make sure you use, cook or freeze it right away!  Watch our video - Meat Markdowns at Bi-Lo
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  • Find Rebates & Coupons for Meat.
    Many times around grilling season especially, you can find tearpads for rebates that include meat purchases – Read our post “The Beer Aisle: A Hot Spot for Coupons”.  Sometimes you can also find coupons for meat – a good place to look is Coupons.com – just search the “food” category.
  • Buy a Side of Beef.
    Find a local supplier and go in on it with another family.  This is a great way to know the quality of your beef is good – most local ranchers are proud to offer hormone-free, grain fed beef.

Couponing with Kids in Tow: Tips, tricks & humor to help you cope!

Couponing at the grocery or drug store takes patience and focus – and let’s face it, with kids in tow (especially the little ones) those qualities tend to fly out the window faster than you can say “Sit back down in the buggy and stop smacking your brother!”  If you’ve forgotten what it’s like – CHECK THIS OUT!

So how is a couponer to manage?  In a perfect world, our husbands would walk into the room and say “Sweetie, why don’t you take some time to get your list together and then go out for a couple hours.  I’ve got the kids – take your time!”  But even those of us who are blessed with wonderful husbands would probably fall out of our chairs if we ever heard those words.

So here’s what I do ….  I don’t take my kids. 

Unless I can’t help it, I will wrangle my schedule around so that I can go out once a week at nighttime, and I’ll hit every store I need to hit all in one fell swoop.  I’ll stop at CVS on my way to Bi-Lo, make a pass at Walgreens on my way back – and call it a week!  On an awesome Publix week, I have to plan a little harder because that’s a  20 minute drive for me – but for enough great deals I can make it happen.

These late night trips are pretty exhausting, but I spend the couple days ahead of time getting my list together, printing and clipping my coupons during a naptime or after the kids are in bed, and double checking on the shopping day for any last-minute finds.  Being prepared it the best way to get in and out quickly and with everything you planned to get.

Phone a Friend:

Those times when I haven’t been able to get my husband to watch the kids – I’ve swapped “shopping times” with a friend.  My friend Tessie used to come over and hang out with our kids while I ran out to the store – and then I’d come back and do the same for her.

In a pinch – I’ve even sent my coupons and list (prepared extra carefully to be considerate) with her while she went on a trip for the both of us.

There are usually ways to make it work – and it just makes it all so much easier when you can run in and out by yourself!

But what if leaving the kids at home is not an option?

Here are some tips to keep the kids happy and maintain your sanity while shopping with kids and coupons:

  • Prepare – Prepare – Prepare!  If everything is printed, clipped, sorted and listed – you will be better able to stay on track.  I even mark on my lists how many coupons I have for each item I’m buying – that way I don’t ever have to pull out the coupons to count them.  (Less chance for them to get knocked to the floor)
  • Bring a snack, that way when the inevitable asking begins – you don’t have to splurge.
  • Think of a grocery game you can play with the kids – I like to have mine play “Spot the blinkie machines and tearpads” and I award them imaginary points for each one they find.  That helps me not miss any – and keeps them occupied.
  • Ask them to help you load things into the cart – just keep them busy doing little things to help mommy – idle hands and all that….
  • Find out if your store offers balloons, stickers, lollipops, etc…  For me, the time waiting at the register is the most stressful part – so a well-timed lollipop from our friendly Bi-Lo bagger is always a welcome distraction!

What tips do you have for couponing with kids?    Please share them in the comment section below!

New Video: Bi-Lo Shopping with Kasey (FREE Bounty Napkins!)

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Watch the video above to see Kasey’s “Happy Dance”.  Oh yeah, and also how to shop at Bi-Lo for free things…. ;)

Currently, Bi-Lo has Bounty Napkins (the small pack) on Price Lock for $1. Using the $.50/1 Bounty Napkins coupon from the 4/1 P&G Insert, we were able to get FREE napkins this week!

“Good Things Come in Small Packages”:
One tip to keep in mind when couponing is that sometimes the smallest-sized products are the best deal (I know, counter-intuitive when you’re used to buying in bulk to save money, right?). Because some coupons don’t have size restrictions on them, you can use a high-value coupon on a low-priced item to get it FREE!