Don’t Miss This! Build Your 2013 Grocery Stockpile This Week and Next at ShopRite (No Coupons Necessary)

I don’t typically post all the deals going on in all the stores — there are other sites that do that especially well (Couponmom.com, CTCouponLady.com, LivingRichWithCoupons.com, among many others), but I do give a boost to our local stores that deserve it when their sales are just too good to pass up.

This week–and happily next week, too–ShopRite’s famous Can Can Sale is going on. I went to ShopRite this morning and spent about $30 on a bit over $100 worth of items (with only a few coupons, but they weren’t necessary to get most of the deals) that were on sale which included:

shampoo

My daughter ran off with some of the shampoo I bought on sale. Luckily she loves this brand and you can’t beat it for .77 cents!

  • Ajax laundry liquid and pod detergent (.99 cents, but weirdly enough, that particular sale ended today–sorry!).
  • Tuttorosso tomatoes (12 for $6.88 which means each one-pound can goes for less than .58 cents each–haven’t seen those prices in a while).
  • Cans of beans for .49 cents each (for soups, salads and of course for hummus,
  • …and for emergency purposes, .33 cent cans of corn and other vegetables (not a fan of canned vegetables, but always good in an emergency, like when the power goes out and you are stuck with a microwave running on a generator…),
  • …and you can’t forget the .59 cent boxes of Ronzoni pastas (if you don’t mind regular ol’ white pasta–my kids love the angel hair pasta).
  • Oh, forgot the General Mills cereals (must buy four to get each box at $1.67), and I also had a coupon on top of that.
  • Lastly, the Herbal Essence shampoos and conditioners — I grabbed a ton of blinkies when I saw them a couple of months ago (not sure where I saw them, but took eight), so I was able to get a bunch for .77 cents each. It pays to grab those blinkies when you see them!

Next week, the sale continues with many of the above (except for Herbal Essence and Ajax laundry detergent). Next week, you’ll find:

  • Chicken of the Sea Chunk Light Tuna at .59 cents a can (haven’t seen those prices in a looong time!)
  • For all those Nutella fans, ShopRite’s Hazelnut Spread is on sale for $1.99 a jar (very good, tastes just like Nutella and cheaper).
  • Angel Soft tp and Sparkle towels on sale and if you buy $20 worth of these items, you will receive a $5 Catalina coupon off your next shopping trip. Love this deal.

Love ShopRite!

~Marilyn, TFF

What Normal People Are Totally Confused About When It Comes to Couponing

I attended a couponing workshop last night in Trumbull, CT, given by Gina Juliano (of Gina’s Kokopelli website). It was a joy to sit in the audience for once so I could relax, concentrate and take notes on what others were asking Gina. It is amazing how much there is to learn about couponing! Here’s what the audience had to say, and here are some answers to the top 10 questions that I also typically get when I give a workshop. I have to say that Gina and I would agree on just about every answer! (By the way, Gina’s website is fun and informative to visit, and it’s sort of like the New England version of Couponmom.com.)

1. “I don’t have the money to stockpile.”

Answer: If you have a budget of $100 a week for groceries, find the best stockpiling deal and use $5 out of your budget for that. For example, if you have four coupons that will get you four boxes of pasta for .50 cents each, by all means, stock up on that item. Don’t just get one of a good deal, get at least four of an item that you know you’ll use. It takes a month or two to get a good stockpile going. It doesn’t happen overnight. And just remember, no hoarding, please ;–)

coupon exchange table at Fairfield Woods Branch library

It may not be pretty or exciting, but here’s our informal coupon exchange table at the Fairfield Woods Branch Library. Everyone is welcome to take what they need or want and they can drop off coupons for anyone else to use, too.

2. “How can I stockpile if I only have a couple of coupons?”

Answer: I am a big believer in easily accessible local coupon exchanges. We have one very informal one at the Fairfield Woods Branch Library for our community. I only buy one paper a week for coupons. I supply loads of free circulars to this exchange that are used by people I don’t know. I refuse to buy more papers and I refuse to buy coupons online, so there you go, that’s how I get my coupons: a coupon exchange.

3. “Is it worth it to drive all over the place to get a few cents off?”

Marilyn’s answer: Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no. I take advantage of shopping in Trumbull on Bridgeport Avenue where ShopRite and Stop & Shop are right across the street from one another. And couponing should net you more than just a few cents off one grocery bill! But that’s why you stockpile–and if the stockpiling deal is fantastic, yes, it’s okay to drive a couple of miles out of the way.

4. “Where do I get free coupons to print out online?”

Marilyn’s answer: The very, very short answer is this: for most grocery coupons, go to Coupons.com, and you can visit various manufacturers to print out coupons (like Earthbound Farms, for example). And of course visit Target.com, WholeFoods.com, etc. for their own set of coupons. If you rely only on printouts, you’ll spend a fortune in ink, so make sure to print out black and white and set your printer for draft print/low quality printing. You don’t need pretty color coupons to present at the store! Gina bought herself a $200 monochrome laser printer because in the long run, it’s cheaper to do b&w printouts.

5. “What’s an Extra Buck and where do you find them?”

Marilyn’s answer: Extra Bucks are the “free” money that CVS gives you when you use their loyalty card on purchases, or, buy stuff that gets you Extra Bucks. Extra Bucks is like money and you can find them at the bottom of your CVS receipts. Most people throw them away. Or, they throw them on the ground in the parking lot (I have seen MANY crumpled up Extra Bucks in parking lots. So sad!). For great tutorials on CVS, take a look at I Heart CVS.com. (There’s also a similar website for Walgreen’s and Rite Aid.)

6. “How do I get free stuff?”

Marilyn’s answer: The extremely short answer is this: we work CVS Extra Bucks, we work the online surveys to get Amazon gift cards here and there. It’s an art in itself! There are also loads of other ways to do it (freebie sites) but I don’t use them because it takes too much time to fill out the forms–others love those sites (like Freefly’s.com)

coupons to take to store

Here’s a new envelope–I fill it with the coupons I clip for that particular store and plop it into my purse. Typically my envelopes are not this pristine! But, it was taken for a PowerPoint slide!

7. “I lose my coupons, I never bring them to the store.”

Marilyn’s answer: If you don’t find a way to organize your coupons, couponing won’t work for you. (And by the way, I lost a valuable coupon in ShopRite in Trumbull just today!!! So upset! So even the pros lose coupons every so often!)

8. “What do you put your coupons in when you bring them to the store–a big book?”

Marilyn’s answer: Gina does the same thing I do: we edit our lists and coupons and bring them to the store in an envelope or small coupon folder. No big, bulky binders for us!

9. “Where do you keep your coupons at home?”

Marilyn’s Answer: Again, Gina and I do pretty much the same thing. I have circulars sitting in my garage organized by date on a shelf. She keeps dated circulars in folders that she  also places in hanging files. (I also have a small lunch bag that has some cut coupons organized in small envelopes. I keep that in the car most of the time in case I dip into a store at the spur of the moment.)

10. “Why is “Extreme Couponers”a bad show?”

Marilyn’s Answer: As Gina said, “It’s a bad, bad, bad, bad, bad show!” Yup! Totally agree. I’m stunned it’s still even on the air (but I don’t know if it is cause we reduced cable and no longer get TLC). It’s a scam, unrealistic, makes normal couponers look like leeches. Blech.

Now, no excuses–go get your coupons :–)

~Marilyn, TFF

Overcoming CVS ExtraBucks Fatigue: When It Pays to Do the Mental Gymnastics for Coupons and EBs

Though I look over Couponmom.com religiously, last spring I ended up getting what I call CVS ExtraBucks Fatigue. My mind was just not willing to do the mathematical gymnastics and equations required to shop at CVS. But “need” overcame CVS avoidance. I needed Head & Shoulders shampoo and any decent conditioner on sale. Off to CVS I went with some coupons in hand. Though I’m not about showing groups of groceries I buy each day, I am doing this as a reminder for myself that there are still good deals out there if I use a little ingenuity.

Here’s what happened (as one CVS associate said, “Today’s your lucky day!”). Hoping my math is correct!:

shampoo and candyFirst CVS transaction:

  • 3 large Head & Shoulders shampoo (retails for $7.79 each and on sale for $5.99 each)
  • 4 bags of candy for Halloween (get ‘em now!) (retails $3.99 each and on sale $2.50 each)
  • 3 coupons for $1 off of 1 Head & Shoulders
  • 1 coupon for $1.50 off of 3 bags of candy
  • paid out $24.96 for items that retail a total of $39.33
  • plus received $8 in ExtraBucks

shampoo and EBSecond CVS transaction (cross-town on the way home–realized I still needed conditioner!):

  • 2 huge bottles of Herbal Essence Conditioners (retails for $7.79 each, on sale for $5.99 each)
  • 1 coupon for $3.00 off of two Herbal Essence products
  • gave cashier my $8.00 in ExtraBucks
  • paid out $1.04 in cash for items that retail $15.58
  • but the kicker is that I got a $5.00 ExtraBuck coupon!!!! Hmmmm, wasn’t expecting that one.

I paid out $26.00 for items retailing $54.91. But some coupon experts would say that I ended up paying $21.00 for my items (if I calculated in my $5.00 EB). I’m just happy I saved $28.91 on things I really NEEDED + received $5.00 in EB! Some other couponing experts would also have walked out paying zero for their goods. But I didn’t have any EBs or gift cards going in. I really am hoping the mass hysteria of extreme couponing is over, and we can all just get back to the business of getting decent deals!

So, have I overcome my CVS EB Fatigue? Not sure. Only when I NEED something will it spur me on to do the mental math gymnastics!

~Marilyn, TFF

Stop Stereotyping Couponers: The Majority Frugally Shop the Outer Perimeters of the Grocery Store

There was yet another article about couponing, this time in “The New York Times Magazine,” (May 3, 2012) featuring the folks at Fabulously Frugal, and yet again, I’m astounded at how a topic like couponing can get people so riled up (read the comments, they are more entertaining than the actual article). Many of the misinformed comments that come after the article prejudge people who use coupons as unhealthy hoarders who are a burden to those who don’t use coupons.

A shopping cart filled with bagged groceries l...

NOT what I buy! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not sure people were so fired up about couponing before that dang TLC show about extreme couponing came along. But every naysayer thinks that people who use coupons buy loads of junk food one step up from the fast food chains. (Oh, how I wish I could find out how many people who write negative comments about coupons frequent McDonald’s or other fast food establishments I wouldn’t be caught dead in… I’m sure more than a few…). Here’s the reality of most couponers (not those on television): we save money on non-grocery and grocery items using coupons, and so we can buy good meat and fresh produce. If I can get razors and toothpaste for free-ish using coupons, that money goes towards fruits and veggies. Most of us are not like the woman in Erie, Pennsylvania, featured on “Extreme Coouponing” who has a locked door to a special room in her basement filled with cookies and snacks, called “Mom’s Cookie Room.”

One Canadian blogger tried to explain her healthy couponing in this informative, helpful article–and then she was lambasted by a reader in the comments section–you may want to read her gracious reply to this reader. Another healthy couponing article by Shape Magazine listed Lean Pockets as a healthy food to buy with coupons. I would never be caught dead with a package of highly processed Lean Pockets in my house. The article also lists Yoplait yogurt, which I know is high in sugar. My take away from these articles: we all have different definitions of what eating healthy means for us–some of us prescribe to healthy-enough while others are more strict. We don’t have to agree with each other, but let’s have a healthy level of respect for one another.

Most of us have heard health advocates, such as the Mayo Clinic, say to avoid any inner aisles of grocery stores food. So, besides buying cereals, pasta, crackers and decent cookies (when I don’t make from scratch) inside the store perimeter, ingredients for tomato sauces, and always flour, sugars, oils and other baking and condiment needs, my own cart is filled with perimeter groceries. It is most definitely not filled with fruit roll-ups (tons of coupons for those) and the like!

Speaking of perimeter groceries, there ARE coupons and sales for those! You have to find the store in your area that holds the best perimeter sales. Thankfully, ShopRite has produce Super Coupons, and besides that, I’ve been able to use manufacturer’s coupons to buy almonds, raisins, protein bars, orange juice, cheeses, yogurts (favorite is Activa), organic eggs, organic milks…with coupons matched with sales! Maybe there are not coupons  and sales for all the items all the time, but most of the time, I’m able to frugally shop the perimeter of the grocery store.

Here’s a small sampling of recent purchases using coupons/sales at ShopRite for fresh/healthy foods:

  • Sale: $1.29 a pound for organic apples
  • Super Coupon ShopRite: whole pineapple $1.49
  • Super Coupon ShopRite: broccoli or cauliflower .99 cents a lb.
  • Coupon + Sale: Blue Diamond Almonds (not in perimeter but healthy) for $1.50 a can.
  • There’s always BOGO sales on potatoes, carrots, and onions–which reminds me of the bags of baby organic carrots for $1.66 each on sale, no coupons needed.

Here is a short list of alternative coupons I used to get healthy items:

  • Groupon to Whole Foods ($10 for $20 worth of items and I bought meat and poultry)
  • Fairfield Coupon to Fountain of Youth ($9 for $20 worth of items in this organic store in Westport, and I plan to buy produce and/or meats)
  • I use the coupon booklets from Whole Foods, as well. Sometimes you get amazing deals, as you can read about in one of our posts.

    Buying frugal chicken at Whole Foods

    I bought nine packages of antibiotic-free chicken drumsticks at Whole Foods because they were affordable at .99 cents a pound thanks to a 70% off sale. Good to know that even Whole Foods has super sales! Photo: TFF

It’s always possible to buy frugally around the perimeter using coupons and sales, or just sales. To all of the coupon critics: Buy frugally around the perimeter by simply reading the store’s sales flyers!

~Marilyn, TFF

Coupon Class at Fairfield Woods Branch Library–Sign Up Now!

Couponing 101 Class

Coupon exchanging and giveaways!

Registration Required at the Fairfield Woods Branch Library

Marilyn Zelinsky-Syarto, consumer expert and founder of Two Frugal Fairfielderslocal blog, will facilitate this group and will bring boxes of coupons for giveaways!

Jaime Lee McIntyre, RD CD-N, Grade A ShopRite Dietitian,brings giveaways and talks about healthy couponing during the first session.

What you will learn:

  • Why coupon?
  • How to successfully coupon.
  • Myths about couponing.
  • Savings potential.
  • Where to find coupons.
  • Affording organics and couponing.

Registration required

Supplies needed to create your own coupon stash:

  • Pen
  • Small scissors
  • Any size sticky notes
  • Any coupons you already have
  • For a bin, bring in a small empty photo box plus a box of white 3×6 (approx.) envelopes that fit upright into the box.
  • For a binder, a 2” or 3” binder plus a handful of baseball card holder sleeves (found at Walmart, Toys RUs,), and binder dividers.

All programs are free and open to the public. Limited seating. Register online at http://www2.fairfieldpubliclibrary.org, or call 203-255-7308.

Fairfield Woods Branch

1147 Fairfield Woods Road

Fairfield, CT 06825