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Archive for the ‘coupons’ Category

March 11th, 2014 at 10:13 am

A Few Apps That Save You Some Bucks

piggy bank

Looking for ways to save when you shop? Here are a few apps that can help you do just that.

RetailMeNot  is a coupon site that houses hundreds of offers for discounts and freebies. Browse by store or category and get promo codes or printable coupons that save you real money. Visit the site before you head out or sign up for emails bringing the deals to you.

Are you a frequent shopper? How cool would it be to get rewarded for just visiting a store? Get the ShopKick app and head out to your favorite store. When you go in, the app lets you know about products and promotions going on in the store. Earn kicks (points) just for walking in and trade in the kicks for gift cards.

Need to shop for car repairs? How about an app that can help you find a good mechanic? Put your car’s make, model and year into RepairPal and the site will recommend local repair shops and provide estimates on common repair procedures. It’s pretty interesting to see the range of prices for standard services.

And don’t forget GasBuddy for getting the lowest price on gas in your neighborhood.

We all love to shop. On the other hand, we also love to have a healthy savings account. With the SavedPlus app,  the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Set up a plan so that when you spend, a predetermined percentage (5%-20%) is automatically sent to a savings account. It’s similar to banks that round up debit card purchases to the next dollar and put the difference into a separate account. Depending on the percentage you choose, this app will build up your savings a lot faster.

Go forth and save.

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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March 7th, 2014 at 7:41 am

25 Easy Ways to Save Money

Image-1We all love saving money, but sometimes it feels like it is so much harder than it really is. Here are 25 quick and easy ways to save money that will really show a difference over an extended amount of time!

  1. Set a budget
  2. Never be afraid to ask if you can get a better price
  3. Write a list before you go to the store
  4. Shop for presents all year long
  5. Cut back on convenience foods and plan ahead for meals
  6. Sign up for customer rewards programs, especially at places you frequent
  7. Shop for school supplies all year long
  8. Make your own cleaning supplies
  9. Buy holiday decorations a year early when they are discounted
  10. Make coffee at home instead of picking it up at the coffee shop
  11. Change the temperature on your thermostat a degree or two
  12. Have dinner at home instead of eating out by freezing meals ahead of time
  13. Prepare for travel by using deals online
  14. Visit the library instead of the book store
  15. Buy clothes at thrift stores or yard sales
  16. Make homemade gifts
  17. Instead of going to the movies wait till it is out on DVD and rent it
  18. Plan a weekly menu
  19. Get organized and cut clutter
  20. Swap items with friends – toys, movies, books
  21. Look over your insurance policies
  22. Price match at stores
  23. Shop Online
  24. Give yourself a manicure or pedicure
  25. Use Coupons

Have you read my Beginners Guide to Couponing Series?

Where to Find your Coupons

Organizing Your Coupons

Maximizing your Coupon Use

Surviving the Checkout Lane

Creating and Maintaining your Stockpile

And there you have it, some quick and easy ideas that you can save money!

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.

 

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October 8th, 2013 at 10:19 am

Never Pay Full Price Again With Smart Shopping Apps

I just did a Google search on the keywords “coupon shopping” and it returned 163 million results. That’s a lot of information. The couponing industry has come a long way from clipping money savers from the Sunday paper.

Now you can find an app that does the work for you. Have your eye on a particular jacket? You may love it, but not enough to pay full price. No problem, just download the Hukkster button to your browser and click it when you find something you like online. You’ll get notified when the item goes on sale. Wow – that’s easy.

Then there’s RedLaser. It’s a phone app with a variety of features that lets you save money and time on shopping. Looking for a favorite toy? Check out who is selling it locally and for how much. Then if you want you can order it through the app and have it waiting for you at the store. Or, if you are in the store and want to comparison shop, just scan the barcode and the app will quote competing retailer prices. You’ll never pay more than you should again.

A bonus feature of RedLaser lets you scan a food item barcode and discover if there are any allergens in the ingredients. Having nut allergies myself, this is really helpful.

There are many ways to shop and lots of apps out there that let you to search, collect, compare, check in, scan, get alerts, share, review, and of course, buy. It makes clipping coupons the old fashioned way seem so quaint. On the other hand, sitting down with the circulars and a pair of scissors sounds absolutely relaxing.

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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July 18th, 2013 at 9:00 am

SnipSnap Coupon App

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I don’t know about you, but it’s always when I’m scanning my items at the grocery store or checking out at Bed Bath and Beyond that I realize that I left all my coupons at home.  It’s pretty frustrating to think about how much I could have saved at the store.  Luckily, I no longer have this concern because I recently downloaded the SnipSnap coupon app to my iPhone!

With the SnipSnap app (also available for Android), you can take a picture of any printed coupon with the camera feature, and the app scans it into a digital format.  Then you can redeem the digital coupon at the store!  You have the ability to share coupons with others and “snip” coupons that other users have shared.  I’ve even found myself looking for coupons to snip and redeem while I’m in that store.  Coupons also have success ratings to let you know if others have been able to redeem it.

Two other nifty features in this app are the expiration date alerts for coupons that are about to expire and in-store alerts that remind you to redeem your coupons when you walk into that store.  I know I often forget to use coupons even when I have them, and who can keep track of expiration dates?  Now I don’t have to worry anymore – and I save a lot!  This app is free, so there’s absolutely nothing to lose by downloading it.  You can learn more about the app here.

Do you use any other apps to help you save money?

Photo Credit: CouponsInTheNews.com

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December 4th, 2012 at 10:46 am

5 Shopping Apps to Save You Money and Time

Here we go folks. It’s time for making your lists and checking them a hundred times. If you haven’t already finished (or even started) your holiday shopping, you might just want to enlist these apps to help you get the best prices on the items you want and help you get it done in less time.

ShopAdvisor and Decide help you monitor pricing information of products you’re thinking of buying so you can make smarter decisions about when to buy them. These sites will also alert you when prices reach or come close to your desired price point. I wrote a post on Decide last year if you want to check it out.

RedLaser is a feature rich shopping assistant. You can scan a barcode and find all local and online stores and prices, reserve the item for pickup, and even use the loyalty card feature to ensure you get every customer benefit. My favorite feature is the Top Deals which gives you a list of all of the special offers, discounts, cash back and promotional gift cards available. Knowing I’ll get a gift card for spending $50 at a merchant is good incentive to get me in the store. I also like the list feature which allows me to create shopping lists for all of my needs.

And if you want to also support your local stores, or don’t want to pay shipping costs, Milo will find you the local stores that have what you’re looking for. So if a yellow Furby is on your list, Milo will tell you which stores have it in stock and which stores to skip.

And for coupon deals in your area, try the Coupons App. The first thing you see when you start the app is where the lowest gas prices are in your neighborhood. That alone makes it a keeper. But beyond that it shows you the deals at area stores and restaurants and allows you to scan items and find out where you can find them at the best price.

Just about every retailer is offering some sort of promotional discount. Knowing what they are just got a whole lot easier with these smartphone apps. Don’t leave home without them.

Happy shopping!

You can also find Paula on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter @techsmart319. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.

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April 30th, 2012 at 9:41 am

Mother’s Day Gifts

As a mom, my day feels like this a lot like this……

So, I really try to take advantage of Mother’s Day as one of the days that is truly about me! In my family, I am usually the one who gets up with the kids. My husband leaves early in the morning during the week to commute to his job, so I tend to let him sleep in on the weekends.

Best Part of Mothers Day #1 -I always sleep in

When I do decide to wake up, I always have my favorite breakfast waiting, since breakfast is my favorite.

Best Part of Mothers Day #2 – A Warm Breakfast that I didn’t prepare.

If I get those two things, I’m a happy mom. Of course, Children that don’t cry, fight, or mess for the day would be awesome too, but lets be realistic!

So, I started thinking about what I wanted as a gift for Mothers Day, plus to give some ideas for you to share or even to make for your moms. So, I went to my favorite place - Pinterest.

Wouldn’t this Hand Flower be precious for either yourself or Grandma. Imagine a field of different  colored flowers if you have several children. Frame it and have a treasure for years to come.

Are your children older? Print out this great newspaper and have them fill in all the things that make you the World’s Best Mom!

Don’t miss the fabulous Mother’s Day Craft page at garanimals.com. There are greeting cards, coloring pages, and easy-to-make picture frame and magnets. My favorite items are the Mother’s Day Coupons. Who wouldn’t want a coupon for a giant kiss, a personal helper or a special day together? These are great gifts for both you and your child. And you thought they just made great clothes!

This is a completely doable craft for a dad. It’s a notepad that has 30 reasons you are loved with money slipped inside. This would be cute even with a simple binder clip to make it super easy for dad!

For a purchased item, I love these rings. How fun to have several rings that are engraved with your children’s names. I think these would even be adorable as a necklace. Another place I love to look is Etsy.

For really young children a simple fingerprint creation, homemade stepping stone, or a bush or tree you can plant is a great idea!

These are just a few of the great things I have found – Check out my other items on Pinterest for Mothers Day! Make your own Pinterest Board and send the link out. Great way to share a hint, but get something you want!

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.

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June 13th, 2011 at 5:00 am

Beginners Guide to Couponing – Creating and Maintaining your Stockpile

Creating your Stockpile

If you have watched Extreme Couponing a stockpile seems so overwhelming and ridiculous. This show demonstrates the extreme part of stockpiling. Realistically, having a stockpile means you have extra on hand of stuff. This helps you not have to run to the store every time you run out, plus, if you get that item for a terrific price its cheaper on your pocketbook.

It will take a while to create your stockpile because you always want to buy things when you get a good price. Sales typically cycle about every 12 weeks (some less, some more) and as you get a feel for couponing you will get a feel for the length of a typical items cycle. To maximize the benefit you want to shop for the items at the sale time and then buy enough to last you through to the next sale.

This doesn’t just work for frozen and canned items, but also perishable items. When red and yellow peppers are on sale at my local grocery store I buy tons of them. I then chop them up and freeze them to use in a variety of recipes.  I also have stockpiles of cheese, bread, buns, and yogurt in my freezer. I also stock up on holiday candy and freeze it. For instance, at Christmas I buy M&M’s© and separate out the red and green. I then use the red ones in Valentine’s cookies and the green in St. Patrick Day cookies.

Maintaining and Controlling your Stockpile

A key part of having a stockpile is maintaining and controlling it. Otherwise you will be throwing out a lot of expired products. Find an area in your home to store your items. This may be in several spots. I use my basement for my chest freezer and shelves for extra food and my bathroom closet houses my extra bathroom and toiletry items.

As you are creating your stockpile, always ask yourself how many of that item your family will use within 6 months and don’t buy anymore of that item after what you need. I often pick up some extras though to donate at various times through the year. Also be sure to put the newer items in the back and older up front so you don’t have any items expire on you. I have collected some general time frames for items I use. The amount of time it can be kept might surprise you!

Check out this list:

Brown sugar
Indefinite shelf life, stored in a moistureproof container in a cool, dry place.

Coffee, canned ground
Unopened: 2 years
Opened: 1 month refrigerated

Coffee, gourmet
Beans: 3 weeks in paper bag, longer in vacuum-seal bag (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)
Ground: 1 week in sealed container

Coffee, instant
Unopened: Up to 2 years
Opened: Up to 1 month

Diet soda (and soft drinks in plastic bottles)
Unopened: 3 months from “best by” date.
Opened: Doesn’t spoil, but taste is affected.

Dried pasta
12 months

Frozen dinners
Unopened: 12 to 18 months

Frozen vegetables
Unopened: 18 to 24 months
Opened: 1 month

Honey
Indefinite shelf life

Juice, bottled (apple or cranberry)
Unopened: 8 months from production date
Opened: 7 to 10 days

Ketchup
Unopened: 1 year (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)
Opened or used: 4 to 6 months (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

Maple syrup, real or imitation
1 year

Maraschino cherries
Unopened: 3 to 4 years
Opened: 2 weeks at room temperature; 6 months refrigerated

Marshmallows
Unopened: 40 weeks
Opened: 3 months

Mayonnaise
Unopened: Indefinitely
Opened: 2 to 3 months from “purchase by” date (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

Mustard
2 years (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

Olives, jarred (green with pimento)
Unopened: 3 years
Opened: 3 months

Olive oil
2 years from manufacture date (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

Peanuts
Unopened: 1 to 2 years unless frozen or refrigerated
Opened: 1 to 2 weeks in airtight container

Peanut butter, natural
9 months

Peanut butter, processed (Jif)
Unopened: 2 years
Opened: 6 months; refrigerate after 3 months

Pickles
Unopened: 18 months
Opened: No conclusive data. Discard if slippery or excessively soft.

Protein bars (PowerBars)
Unopened: 10 to 12 months. Check “best by” date on the package.

Rice, white
2 years from date on box or date of purchase

Salad dressing, bottled
Unopened: 12 months after “best by” date
Opened: 9 months refrigerated

Soda, regular
Unopened: In cans or glass bottles, 9 months from “best by” date
Opened: Doesn’t spoil, but taste is affected

Steak sauce
33 months (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

Tabasco
5 years, stored in a cool, dry place

Tea bags (Lipton)
Use within 2 years of opening the package

Tuna, canned
Unopened: 1 year from purchase date
Opened: 3 to 4 days, not stored in can

Soy sauce, bottled
Unopened: 2 years
Opened: 3 months (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

Vinegar
42 months

Worcestershire sauce
Unopened: 5 to 10 years (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)
Opened: 2 years

So, start stockpiling a little at a time!  I hope you have had fun learning about Couponing! Feel free to post any coupons in the comments.

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.

 

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June 6th, 2011 at 5:00 am

Beginners Guide to Couponing – Surviving the Checkout Lane

The checkout lane is the most important part of the couponing process. This can make your trip worth all the time or a complete bust. Plus, it is perfectly normal to be all nervous when you are checking out. If you watch Extreme Couponing, even the most skilled couponers are a little nervous at the checkout lanes. These tips will make your checkout lane experience go a little smoother.

I think a key to couponing is having a list. Once I write the items I want, I make myself some notes on each item. Next to each item I write the number I would like to purchase. If I have to purchase a specific amount of items, then I write the number in a different color ink. Since sometimes my list has things that don’t have a coupon, I also star the items if the item has a coupon. I attach my coupons to the list and as I put them in my cart I cross the item off the list and gather any applicable coupons together. As I stand in line I double check to make sure I have all the coupons pulled that I need.

The nerve-wracking part of checking out is coupons not working out the way you have planned. I like to call this coupon rejection. How do I handle this? First, I remain calm. I ask the cashier to at least try to scan the coupon, if they haven’t done this. If they say I have to buy the item pictured on the coupon, I ask to see the actual wording. More often than not, the coupon will picture the most expensive item. Last, do not be afraid to ask to remove an item off of your receipt if they won’t accept your coupon.

Remember, the more prepared you are the smoother your checkout process. Come back next Monday to finish up my couponing series with information about stockpiling and making the most of sales cycles.

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.

 

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May 30th, 2011 at 5:00 am

Beginners Guide to Couponing – Maximizing your Coupon Use

So, you have spent the entire Memorial Day weekend collecting and organizing your coupons, right?  Just the task all of us had at the top of our list for the start of the summer season. I hope everyone had a relaxing weekend, but now we can put all the hard work of couponing to use. This is the fun part; where we start to see our money stay in our accounts instead of going to the store! In the end it is all about dollars and cents, right?

Did you know that the number one complaint is that items with coupons are more expensive than the items you would normally buy. This can be true when you are using a coupon with an item at regular price. The first rule is that you don’t just use a coupon because you have it or because it is about to expire!

Make a Plan!

  • Weekly Ads: Read the Store Ads to compare what items are on sale and what stores may have the best prices on items. If you don’t have access to the actual store ads, most of the time you can find them on the store’s website.
  • Coupon Matches: Match your coupons to any sale items to get an even better deal. One of my favorite sites to do this is Money Saving Mom. There you can subscribe to your local stores and the match-ups will be mailed to you. Coupons Trackers also do this automatically for you for a fee. One of my favorites of these is The Grocery Game. If you can’t find your stores match-ups, just Google it!
  • Price Matching: Some stores will price match items that are on sale at other stores. You just need to take the ad to the store and tell the cashier that you would like to price match the item. Walmart is a well known store that price matches.
  • Have a list made: You can bring anything from a hand-written list to a spreadsheet. Lists are a must because they keep you on task and keep you from buying anything extra. This could effect whether your overall total is GREAT or just good.
  • Rainchecks: Did you know that if your store is out of a item that is on sale you can get a raincheck. Customer Service or the cashier can get you one so that you can come back when the item is back in stock you can buy the item at the sale price.

Here are some tips to help you while making your plan:

  • If your store has a double coupon day you want to make sure you shop on that day.
  • Know your stores coupon policy and check often. Sometimes stores change the coupon policies.
  • Try to use as many coupons by stacking them. This means using manufacturer and store coupons together with any rebates while the items are on sale to maximize your savings.
  • Some stores place limits on items, so watch what items have these.
  • If there is a 10 for $10 promotion you do not have to buy 10 items to get the $1 price per item. Always double check this though, because there may be a restriction that makes you buy 10 items to get the $1 price.
  • Read the words on the coupon and ignore the pictures. You do not need to buy the item that is in the picture. Typically, the item in the picture is usually the most costly item covered by the coupon.
  • Shop with as few distractions as possible.
  • Bigger does not always mean better. More often than not, a trial size item will bring in the best deal.

Once you have your plan in place you are all ready to go to the store! Although, you might want to wait until next week when I talk about how to survive the checkout lane!

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.

 

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May 23rd, 2011 at 5:00 am

Beginners Guide to Couponing – Organizing your Coupon

Now that you have your coupons collected you need to decide how you want to organize them. I’m going to explain a couple of different methods, but remember that you need to find what fit is right for you. It may be one of the methods I am going to explain, or a mixture of several of the methods. 

  • Envelopes or store bought Coupon Divider. You can start by clipping coupons individually and filing them in a box filled with envelopes or a coupon binder you can pick up at the store.  Each envelope should be labeled with a category.
  • Insert Method. With this method you just file your inserts by date in a file folder or box . This doesn’t require much work on the front end but you might miss out on unadvertised deals by not having your coupons with you all the time.
  • Coupon Binder. With this method you can clip all of your coupons and file them in a 3-ring binder with baseball card, photo organizer or business card holders. This way you can carry all your coupons to the store. You may want to go with a zippered binder that will offer you a “coupon center.” The binder can be setup to hold not just coupons, but also anything you may need when shopping or just when clipping the coupons.

I use a combined method of the Insert method and Coupon Binder method. I usually get more than one insert. My first set of inserts I go through and cut out all the coupons that may be my favorites. Any remaining set of inserts go into my insert file box. I write the date on the front page with a marker. If you forget to write the date you can find it printed along the spine of the insert.

Once you figure out what method works for you then you can organize all your coupons. You can organize by expiration date, alphabetically, or by product category. The main categories I use are:

  • Baby
  • Baking
  • Beverages
  • Bread
  • Breakfast
  • Canned Goods
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Condiments
  • Dairy/Refrigerated
  • Fresh Foods
  • Frozen Foods
  • Health and Beauty
  • Laundry
  • Medicine/First Aid
  • Misc. Groceries
  • Paper Products
  • Pets
  • Snacks

Once you decide WHICH method benefits your money saving, style, and time management style best the rest of Couponing is Easy!

Kim Ross also writes at  A Little Bit of This and That ~ The Adventures of a Stay at Home Mom.

 

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