Good Couponing Gone Bad

Not every couponing trip is a good one.  Last week, I had a few major bummers that I am hoping to make up for this week.  First, I was so excited about a deal that Walgreens had.  A new product, Starbucks Refreshers energy drinks were on sale for 99c and produced a 99c Register Reward, making them totally free! But here’s the best part: there were coupons out for a free Starbucks Refreshers, making this deal a money maker.

Free Starbucks Refreshers DealHere’s how.  You purchase a Starbucks Refreshers from Walgreens and use the free coupon to pay for it, costing you nothing out of pocket.  You are then given a 99c Register Reward with your purchase.  You walk out of the store with the drink AND an extra dollar store credit for your time!

As you might imagine, I was quite excited about this deal.  So, I needed to get my hands on as many free coupons as I could.  I turned to eBay, and purchased 20 coupons for a total of $9, including shipping.  Yes, that is expensive, but, all it would take was finding 20 drinks and I would end up with a $11 profit, paying for my gas getting around to the stores.

I have employed this strategy in the past, successfully, more times than I can count. This time, however, it didn’t go so well.  Unbeknown to me, Pepsi (the vendor for the Starbucks Refreshers) had a major shortage and did not give ANY Starbucks Refreshers to ANY Walgreens in a hundred mile radius!

I kid you not, I went to over 15 stores looking for them.  I found one store that had 3. By Friday, I had completely given up on finding them at Walgreens in order to make this deal a money maker, and decided to find the energy drinks anywhere I could because the free coupons expired on Saturday.  I went to grocery stores, CVS, Walmart.  Nada.  I ended up with 17 unused free coupons, and 3 bad-tasting orange flavored energy drinks.  I lost $6 on the cost of the coupons.  That sucks.

Coupon Deals this WeekWhile I was at all the Walgreens, however, I did end up with 12 boxes of NatuRelief herbal pain medications, which I had never seen before, and really like! I used a few this week and am happy I have a small stockpile; they will replace Tylenol and Advil in my home for a while.  They were on sale at Walgreens for $5.99 with a $5 RR.  There was a $1 coupon out, so they were totally free.

The 28 Gain dish soaps you see cost me 50c each.  I rarely find freebies on dish soap, so stock up when I get a decent price.  We were literally completely out of dishsoap, so it was a timely deal.  They were on sale for $1 each at CVS and I had a coupon for $1 off 2.  The only bad part was that I bought all the green ones at one CVS, then found larger purple ones at another CVS.  Figures with the week I was having.

The scalp shampoos you see were at one of the grocery stores we went into while looking for the energy drinks.  There was a sample lady there and I think she wanted to close up so she gave each of us two nice-sized samples.  We walked out with 8 shampoos perfect for travel kits.

All in all, though it wasn’t the absolute best couponing week, it didn’t end too bad and we did get some great deals.  This week I’m going after tampons.  Tell you all about it Monday.

In the meantime, here are some new printable grocery store coupons:


$0.50 off FRENCH’S Dijon Mustard

$1.00 off (4) LEAN CUISINE Varieties, 5-16 oz

$1.00 off one STP product

$2.00 off on any (1) New Schick Xtreme3 Eco 4ct

$1.50 off 3 12 oz. SPAM products

$0.70 off ONE Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Cereal

$2.00 off Nabisco & Coca Cola products at Publix

$1.50 off one PULL-UPS Training Pants

$2.00 off Alka-Seltzer Plus Allergy Product

$1.00 off Any Three Good ‘n Natural Bars

$1.00 off two Smucker’s Ice Cream Toppings

$2.00 off 20oz RevitaLens OcuTec Solution

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The Plan – How to Control Spending in a Year

Last week I came clean with the fact that I’ve been overspending – quite a bit.  It started with more money coming in.  Somehow, our busy lives took precedence over our savings account, and our lack of attention to our spending became justified.  It ended at the start of May 2012.  No more waste.

Using the following methods, I will be reducing that $1,850 a month to less than $400 a month over the following year.  Each month, I have $100 less than the total spent the prior month.  These are the methods I will be implementing over the following year to reduce our spending.piggy bank

Pay Attention
It’s amazing how much money you can save simply by keeping track of your expenses! Already this month, because I am actually paying attention to our spending, it is less. Much less.  Hold yourself accountable and pay attention to the money slipping through your fingers.

Get a Plan
Planning out meals in advance is a huge way to save some real money, and I’ll take you through my weekly planning process as we go along.  And it’s not just food. Planning out entertainment, gifts, and other expenses goes a long way as well.

Cook Smarter
Implementing freezer cooking days and budget friendly meals can really save some money.  I’ll be showing you how to stretch a chicken into multiple meals, how to cook with inexpensive seasonal produce, and how to plan your meals around store specials.

Use Coupons
Coupons can be an excellent way to get free toiletries and food.  Plus, you can usually handle most of your gift giving needs using coupons (or coupon concepts) as well! Many couponers even sell part of their stash for extra cash.  Since we started traveling, it has been harder for me to coupon.  Well, I’m back!

This is my absolute favorite step in reducing spending.  I love to barter, that is, to trade items and services with others.  I will take you through my negotiations as I make them, and show you how you can find locals to barter with on your own.

Think Outside the Box
This will be particularly useful for our entertainment, dining out, clothing, and gifts.  One of the biggest things I will be doing is utilizing online resources such as Groupon and Listia.  Not only can you get things at a huge discount, but you can also earn credits for referring others.  More on this as we go along.

This first month, May, I’m only going to be working consistently on step 1: Pay Attention.  The other steps will follow as the challenge progresses.  I’m taking this journey slow so you can not only follow along with me, but so that you can participate as well.  If I can do it, you can too.

Things that don’t count towards our goal:

Business Expenses
We run a business.  Sometimes we travel to conventions or have a local meeting with colleagues.  Our business pays for our travel, hotel accommodations, and food.  Since it is the business that pays, I will not be including those expenses in this journey.  This amounts to a trip or two a year, and a business meeting every month or two.

Surrogacy Related Expenses
Also, I travel for medical procedures for surrogacy.  I’ve been a surrogate mother three times and am about to do it a fourth time.  The intended parents pay for my travel to their clinic, as well as my hotel and food expenses.  Those expenses (since  I do not pay them) will not be counted here either.

What Does Saving Money Mean?

What does reducing $1850 a month to $400 a month really mean?  Well, that’s $1,450 a month in savings, or $17,400 a year.  Over 10 years’ time, that’s $174,000! Literally a house.  Think about that.  By practicing frugal money saving tips.  No, by living frugal, over a decade you can save enough money to buy a house with cash.  It sort of makes me sick looking at it.

So that’s the plan.  I’d love you to join me!

What would you do with an extra $15k+ a year?

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