Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tips for Saving Money

by Sariah S. Wilson

This is the blog I intended to do last week.

Since I got serious about saving money, I've saved thousands of dollars on stuff I normally buy. I saw a blog once called "Shoplifting With Permission" and I've become that person. Yesterday I got $48.90 worth of dishwasher soap (Finish/Electrasol power tabs - the good kind) for nothing out of pocket. Zero dollars, and now I have ten boxes of dishwasher detergent. That's the sort of thing that happens to me all the time now. (How did I do it? Well, a local store (Meijer) has store coupons that I printed out from their website that had $1.00/2 of the detergents. This past week a coupon for $2.50 off of any Finish detergent came out, and I ordered ten coupons from one of my favorite coupon clipping sites. Plus, Meijer marked the soap down to $3.00 a box, thus making it free.)

So I thought that even though I live in a different area than most of you, that I could offer some tips for ways to save money like I do that you might not know about.

Internet Coupons - This was probably my biggest discovery when I waded into the money saving business. You can print completely awesome coupons off of your computer! The first time I did it I thought for sure that the store would laugh at me or say they didn't accept them. The cashier didn't bat an eye, and huge savings for me!

You can only print out two coupons per computer. (In my house we have four that regularly run, and could possibly use a laptop if necessary.) Each coupon has an individual bar code on it, so if you get any ideas about Xeroxing your coupon, you're in for a big surprise. Some printable coupons embed your IP address so that if you did manage to use a bunch of fradulent ones they could find out and could permanently ban you.

So the sites that are the best to visit are Coupons.com, SmartSource.com and redplum.com.

These typically reset at the beginning of each month. Once you print a coupon, use your back button to print it out again. I tend to check them once a week just to see if a coupon I've already printed has reset (sometimes it does) or to see if any new coupons are listed.

Enter in your ZIP code for those sites, as they may have coupons that are geared specifically for your area. Recently there were coupons for $.75 off any milk, $1.00 off any cheese and $1.00 off any yogurt that could only be used in Utah and Idaho.

Also, if you have a brand or item you really enjoy and don't see a coupon for it, the best place to visit is AFullCup.com. They have a coupon database that lists all the current available coupons, and you can search by brand name. (You will have to register for this site.)

E-Coupons - This is a newer technology and the e-coupon companies are still ironing out some kinks, but it's worth trying.

These are used at stores that have a shopper's card, like Smith's, Ralphs, Kroger, Vons, etc.

They're pretty easy to use - you go to the site, fill in your information (including your shopper's card number) and load coupons on to your card.

E-coupons do not double. There is some controversy over whether people should use paper coupons combined with e-coupons. My opinion on it is along the same lines as this post, but your mileage may vary.

So the sites are:

ShortCuts.com

Cellfire.com (this one requires a cell phone, but the coupons will go on to your shopper's card. However, you can download cell coupons for places like Hollywood Video or Sears that you carry around on your phone and show to the cashier when you check out. I haven't done that yet because I'm technologically impaired).

P&G eSAVER.com

Upromise.com is a site where you can input your shopper's card and get back money on things you buy, but recently they've included a coupon feature where you can load those coupons onto your shopper's card and then if you buy the item, Upromise will apply the coupon amount to the money you've earned with them. I've earned $17.00 this way in the last couple of months on things I typically buy anyways.

I would recommend going to the website of the grocery stores near you to see what kind of coupons/e-coupons they have linked to their site. (Like here is the one for Smith's.)

Coupon Clipping Sites - You may be asking yourself how I got ten $2.50 off coupons. I ordered them online. I have two sites that I use most often, and can vouch for both of them.

The Coupon Clippers

Coupons & Things by Dede - I actually prefer this site because I feel like she gets my coupons to me faster, and has this neat feature where if she's out of stock of a particular coupon (which happens frequently) you can sign up to be notified when it comes back in stock (and it typically does). Good coupons go fast from these sites (even with limits) so this is a nice way to be able to get at least some. (If you use this site, your first time could you list me as your referrer? My referral info is Sariah Wilson and sariahwilson@hotmail.com.)

You can also usually buy coupons from eBay.com, but I only use this if it's something I really want that I can't get at the other sites (it seems like it costs more).

Where to Shop - Before getting into all this saving, I usually only shopped at Wal-Mart. They do have low prices, but they don't double coupons.

I have found that you're better off buying brand name items at regular stores that do double coupons because you will pay cents on the dollar when those items go on sale. A Kraft barbecue sauce that costs me $.65 at Wal-Mart after my coupon would just be free at Kroger.

I used to stay away from the higher-priced stores thinking that I was saving more money not shopping there. Or that I saved more money buying store brand items. This has turned out to be very, very false.

If I follow the sales and put them together with coupons, I always save at least 50% off of my order, and have saved as much as 85% shopping at stores like that. I can't tell you what a rush I get from having an order that was $130 go down to $30.

I'm sure there are blogs that specialize in your area and the stores that you shop. I follow two blogs of women who live here in my little township (one of them even shops at the same Kroger as me!), and they will list the sale items and what coupons are available and what your final cost will be. It makes shopping lists very easy to make.

And I've been doing it so long now that I know what a good sale is and what coupons I have - I've even found deals on my own that weren't listed on anyone's blog!

Another thing I do is go wherever they have triple coupons (Kmart did that here recently, and I got $60 worth of toiletries and paid $1.27 out of pocket. At the same time they had a promotion for 50% off of their clearance toys, and I got a Little Tikes kitchen set, $129.95 value, for $16.00, among other things.) You can get so many things for free at regular prices when you can triple coupons.

Also, look into the programs for shopping at Walgreens and CVS or Rite-Aid (follow the links to see where expert shoppers explain how each program works). I've personally come to prefer CVS over Walgreens for a number of reasons. And I get very expensive toiletries and make-up for "free" all the time by using their programs.

Swagbucks.com - This is a search engine powered by Google. If you do searches with their site, you can win a swagbuck - and then you can use those swagbucks for merchandise (45 points will get you one $5 Amazon gift card). I've been doing it for a while now and I currently have 127 points. I'm planning on going until November or so, and then cashing out my points to get gift cards for my family. But it isn't just gift cards - they have music downloads and electronics and books and even cash via PayPal.

Since I search the Internet on a daily basis anyways, this is a nice way to add a little something extra to it. I typically only try for one swagbuck a day (and they do randomize them, so sometimes I get as much as $4 in one day). They give you $3 in swagbucks when you sign up.

This has a referral program, so if you use my referral code, I can get up to 100 additional swagbucks from your searches. I don't actually have any of those yet, but I bet they could add up quickly if you got a lot of people to do it.

Ebates.com - This is another "I'm doing this anyway" way to make money. This won't get you rich, but if you can make cash back doing something you already do, why not?

Ebates gives you cash back for online shopping, including eBay, which I think is sweet. They give you a $5.00 bonus for signing up (and I would get a $5.00 bonus as well if you use my referral to sign up, just as you would get the $5.00 bonus for signing up friends and family). You get the bonus the first time you use it to go shopping. I used the site recently to buy my husband a plane ticket through Expedia.com. I was going to buy the ticket anyways, but this way I got money back. It will also tell you about special deals or coupons that online vendors might be offering.

There's a lot more I could share, but I think this is a good starting point for anyone trying to save some money. If you have any questions about anything, post them in the comments, or if you have tips for how you save money while shopping, please put that in the comments!


18 Comments:

At 7/18/2009 11:19 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

P.S. - All this money saving will free up funds for you to buy MORE BOOKS. Right? ;)

 
At 7/19/2009 12:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last Sunday we went to visit a family in our ward. The husband and wife run one of those coupon companies. They have an online site and also a monthly magazine they published.

In our conversation about their business, they informed me that the reason they have all these bar codes and limits on how many coupons you can use is because some people are mis-using them, in essence going around the printed rules that apparently state only one couple per house hold or whatever.

Given what this couple told me and the rules, which I don't know, is this really ethical? Just wondering. I think saving money is great. I'm the biggest saver there is. I love a couple and a bargain. I'm just asking, because if this is actually not abiding with the manufacturers wishes, or rules, or ethics, I'd like to NOT DO IT.

Do you know for sure or is this one of those ask forgiveness not permission sort of deals?

Just wondering.

 
At 7/19/2009 1:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We'll be sending our son off to Utah Valley University at the end of the year, so your money saving tips are going to be a gold mind for me, Sariah. Thank you for putting in the "leg work" and finding the coupon sites. I'm hoping some of them will work down here to Arizona.

Deb

 
At 7/19/2009 1:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with anonymous commenter number one. How ethical is this? I'm all for saving money but just getting stuff for free by using every computer in my house to buck the system feels a little off to me?

 
At 7/19/2009 7:52 AM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

If it feels "off" or "unethical" to you, then don't do it. You have to do what you feel comfortable with.

Nowhere on any of those printable coupons does it say "one per household." If that were truly the manufacturer's wishes, that would be VERY easy to enforce. You could simply restrict it to one coupon per IP address, which I have had happen before. Read the fine print on any of the coupons if it makes you uncomfortable. Manufacturers expect you to do at least two on your computer (because they can also restrict this and only allow you one per computer, which has also happened to me).

For some reason there seems to be this misconception that using coupons is somehow illegal or is ripping off the manufacturer. I think I even had a bit of that feeling myself until I read how couponing actually works.

Read this:

http://www.southernsavers.com/2009/01/extreme-couponer-101-coupon-redemption/

And then this one was a follow-up to a question I had asked -

http://www.southernsavers.com/2009/01/percentage-of-coupon-use/

Manufacturers are making $350 billion available in coupons, but only $2.6 billion is being used. It's not as if you are taking coupons away from someone else if you print from more than one computer in your home.

I would guess the misuse comes more from people Xeroxing their printable coupons than it does from printing from more than one computer in your house. The coupons do have very stringent security features that allow the manufacturer to control their usage any way they wish.

Here are some other entries on legalities and usage of coupons:

http://www.southernsavers.com/2009/04/keeping-it-legal-part-1/

http://www.southernsavers.com/2009/04/legality-part-1-answers/

I do my best to always stay within the rules, particularly the rules of individual stores (because stores vary - like at some if you use a B1G1 free you can use two $ off coupons on the items, at others you're only allowed $ off on the item you're not getting for free).

Again, you have to do what you feel comfortable with, but I would do some research first before I limited myself from something that could save my family hundreds of dollars a month.

I get such joy out of my recently built food storage downstairs, and love the security it gives me in knowing that if something happened, we would be fine for a very long time. I love shopping from my own "Sariah store." I love being able to help others with our excess, particularly my parents who are moving in with one of my sisters because of their financial situation.

But do what feels right for you and yours.

And Deb - the online printable sites should work perfectly fine in Arizona - they work all over the U.S. I don't know what stores you have out there, but there's probably some that are affiliated with the e-coupon sites. You can check out their store availability at the individual sites.

 
At 7/19/2009 8:52 AM, Blogger Josi said...

wow, Sariah! This is an amazing list. I do thegrocerygame.com. They match sales with coupons and show you the percentage off--I rarely buy anything that is less than 50% off. I have LOVED it. I also use PG & e saver but I'd never heard of most of these sites. I love never running out of anything and am getting really good about building my menus. I've never considered that there is anything unethical about using coupons--the store gets your business and the manufacturer sells the product. That's what everyone wants, right? The companies are getting people to use their products, which is their goal. I know there are brands I had never tried before that since clipping coupons I can't imagine using anything else. The hardest thing for me is 1) not buying something I don't need because it's so well priced 2) it does take time and consistent vigilance to keep on top of it. but I figure I make about $70/hour by taking the time to save some $$.

This is a great post, Sariah, thank you for sharing your wisdom!

 
At 7/19/2009 9:09 AM, Blogger Karlene said...

Wow! Thanks for the info. Going to try it.

 
At 7/19/2009 9:24 AM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

Josi, I have a lot of online friends who swear by thegrocerygame.com. I tried to use it once with the free trial, but never really got into it (I like going out and finding the deals myself). I know it can be super helpful for those who are short on time.

I love when a new product comes out and there are great coupons and sales to entice you to try the product. One that I would never have used are the Glade soy candles - the "earthly awakening" scent is amazing. Love them - and only tried them because Walgreens was basically selling them for free with a combination store and manufacturer's coupon.

It does take time and vigilance, but it does get easier. It would take me hours in the beginning trying to get everything together right, but now it is so second nature to me that I zip through it pretty quickly.

There are also manufacturer coupons that are available through the manufacturer websites, so be sure to check out the websites of your favorite brands just in case. Like some that I used recently:

Keebler Cookies:

http://bricks.coupons.com/Start.asp?tqnm=qgiobwj653948&bt=vi&o=57045~57046&c=KB&p=9OJkQEIc

Healthy Choice:

http://www.healthychoice.com/news-special-offers/?WT.mc_id=SD_03_09&WT.mc_ev=click

Pull-Ups:

http://www.pull-ups.com/na/pullups_coupons.aspx

These you can also print twice per computer.

There are so many printables like this out there - which is another reason I follow blogs because they routinely mention when there's a new printable coupon up, and my favorite bloggers match those printable coupons with the local sales.

 
At 7/19/2009 10:03 AM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

P.S. - Always be sure your printer is on and working. If you try to print and there's an issue with your printer, you've just lost out on those coupons. I usually do a test print first to make sure everything's working.

 
At 7/19/2009 10:44 AM, Blogger Sandra said...

Here is another site to use:

http://www.pinchingyourpennies.com/

My sisters, who are more vigilant than I, use it all the time and save hundreds of dollars every time they shop. I am more hit and miss, but love watching the total decrease at the checkout.

One thing my sister showed me that has worked well for me is this:

I got a three ring binder and some plastic trading card holders. I then cut some card stock to fit into each pocket- that basically divides the pocket into 2 sections. When you clip your coupons, they fit into the pockets. I have them organized by product type- make up, cleansers, meat, dairy, cereal etc. and then each page is in order the way I shop so that they are easy for me to find as I shop.

Sometimes your local newspaper will have a super saver program. Ours does- I get 6 Sunday papers which = 6 coupon inserts in addition to those that I print out from my computer.

The PYP site I linked to above also does the footwork for you, tells you what items are on sale that week, what coupon to use, where to get it at the best price, and sometimes has online coupons and deals as well. And it is tailored to your state.

 
At 7/19/2009 10:50 AM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

Sandra, I've been thinking about doing the binder thing. Right now I have two expandable coupon folders that I use, but I think I need something more organized. Thanks for the suggestion!

 
At 7/19/2009 11:47 AM, Blogger Jeff9 said...

I know a way to save more on toilet paper than any coupon or special. This covers all the bases = saves you money, helps the environment, helps your health, makes you feel better, it's so easy to do and it costs less than $50.00; Save money and the Earth and be clean at the same time! Add Bathroom Bidet Sprayers to all your bathrooms. I think Dr. Oz on Oprah said it best: "if you had pee or poop on your hand, you wouldn't wipe it off with paper, would you? You'd wash it off” Available at www.bathroomsprayers.com with these you won't even need toilet paper any more, just a towel to dry off! Don’t worry, you can still leave some out for guests and can even make it the soft stuff without feeling guilty. It's cheap and can be installed without a plumber; and runs off the same water line to your toilet. You'll probably pay for it in a few months of toilet paper savings. As for water use a drought is always a concern and must be dealt with prudently but remember the water use of industrial users far exceeds the water use of household users and in the case of toilet paper manufacture it is huge. The pollution and significant power use from that manufacturing process also contributes to global warming so switching to a hand bidet sprayer and lowering your toilet paper use is very green in multiple ways.

 
At 7/20/2009 3:23 AM, Anonymous liza said...

You can save lots on your shopping by using printable coupons from www.clickmycoupon.com and big discount offers on branded products.

 
At 7/20/2009 12:56 PM, Blogger Stella Louise said...

Great tips! I'm also a fan of the "Shoplifting with Permission" blog. Another way to save money is to use coupons or promo codes for online purchases. There are a bunch of online coupon sites out there, but the one I like is Savings.com.

 
At 7/21/2009 12:05 AM, Blogger Michele Holmes said...

Great post, Sariah! I started doing something similar a few months ago, after attending a "savvy shopper" class. Though it sounds like you're doing better than I am---and with two babies in tow.
In response to those wondering if it's ethical---yes, it is. Coupons are the same as cash to the stores; they will be redeemed for the same amount you would have paid. The companies that provide the coupons are hoping you'll like their product and be a repeat customer (whether you have a coupon or not).
And definitely try the binder thing. I can't leave home without mine now. It's a major pain to set up, but once you've got it, it's so helpful to use and saves you even more.

 
At 7/22/2009 10:59 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

Michele, you're right. The coupons are not only redeemed for their full value - the manufacturer also reimburses the store an additional $.08 per coupon to cover the store's shipping costs!

And this summer I'm doing it with four little ones in tow. It's hard work, but I just can't pay full retail anymore. I've been ruined.

Stella - I don't leave the house these days without checking for coupons to wherever we're going, or to plan our trips around whatever restaurant is having the best deal. I also don't buy anything online without checking for promo codes first. Recently I had to buy my kids some church pants (as they insist on shooting up like weeds). I went to Kohls.com, got items already hugely discounted, was able to use TWO promo codes so I got 15% off and free shipping, I did it all through ebates.com and got 4% of my purchase price back...made out like a bandit.

Good times. :)

 
At 7/28/2009 2:55 PM, Blogger Darlinda said...

Hi Sariah,
I am somewhat computer illiterate and don't know much about blogs. I found this one by a click on a Meridian article. Could you please tell me how to go about finding a blog in my area like what you mentioned? I copied all the websites addresses from you ant from those that added comments to a word document so I can go back and try them all without having to hunt this up again. I'm looking forward to trying it. Thanks.

 
At 2/04/2011 8:35 PM, Anonymous Rose Caruthers said...

When it comes to saving money, I used coupon codes. I like to use RetailMeNot but I also use a new coupon site called KindCoupons.org.

 

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