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Archive for the ‘couponing’ tag

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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May 16th, 2011 at 8:30 am

Beginners Guide to Couponing – Where to Find your Coupons

Couponing is all the rage, but many people feel very overwhelmed and have no idea where to begin. For several Mondays I am going to help you to be a skilled couponer. Today I am going to show you how to find coupons. Feel free to leave questions in the comments and I will be sure to answer them!

Where should you look for coupons?

  • The Newspaper is a great place to find coupons. You may want to buy more than one paper. I live in a smaller town that has a local paper and another paper from a major metro area. Papers with large circulations have the best coupons so I usually buy a local paper and the major metro one. I also have family members and friends that do not use coupons (gasp) save there circulars for me.
  • The Internet is an endless source of coupons. I have a great list of internet coupon links on my personal blog. Also, companies are increasingly posting coupons on their Facebook pages.
  • Check your stores. Stores offer coupons via tearpads, peelies, and in store brochures.
  • Look inside and outside your packages before throwing them in the garbage or recycling bin. Sometimes some of a products best coupons can be found this way.
  • Magazines are a hidden coupon treasure. All You is a great source. It is only available on newstands at Walmart, but every month you can find over $50 worth of coupons inside. Other magazines also will contain coupons.
  • Use a clipping service. There are clipping services like The Coupon Clippers that you can order coupons from. This is especially nice to use when you need multiples of a great coupon.
  • Contact the Manufacturer Directly. Don’t hesitate to contact your favorite companies to tell them you really enjoy their product and ask to be put on a coupon mailing list. Companies love to thank their most loyal customers.

This list is a list of the easiest ways to find coupons. Another great way to share coupons is with friends. Find a group of friends that coupon, and trade coupons that you may not use.

Next week I am going to talk about different ways to organize your coupons, so be sure to stop back next Monday!

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

 

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