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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Building a stockpile

I can't stress enough how important a stockpile is. Our family has gone through times of famine and we didn't have enough food for all of us so my hubby and I wouldn't have proper food to provide for our children. This is not good, but it's the truth. Once we began building our stockpile, this changed. While we are continually building it, we are doing great with it.

Start slow. I suggest you find 10 recipes that your family loves and that you cook on a regular basis and write a list of each ingredient that you need for those recipes. As the items go on sale rock bottom, that's when you will stock up on that item. For example, we use a lot of tomato sauce, diced tomato, and rice in our family, so every time either of those items are on sale, I will grab them. I currently have just a few cans of tomatoes because we use them so often, but I have a good stock of rice right now. It just makes sense to me.

Buy for the future. None of us know what the future will bring. Be prepared in case of an emergency. Here in Florida we face the possiblity of Hurricanes every year, so that is my example. We are building our stock to be prepared should a hurricane arise. This will make our lives much more managable in an event that one should hit our area.

Know how much you use. Keep track of what you use and come up with an average so you will know how much you need to keep in the stockpile.

DONATE. this can't be said enough. you are being blessed with the information on how to get started, so please take the time to bless others. there are many food banks in need and your over abundance would be a perfect way to bless others!

Shop Smart

10 for $10-- Just because something is on sale for 10/10 does not mean you have to buy 10 to get that price. Buy just what you need.

Rock bottom prices-- buy your items when they are at a rock bottom price and buy enough to get through the cycle (typically 12-18 weeks worth).

One per purcase-- sometimes you will only be able to have one deal per purchase. When this happens, I will split it up into several orders to get what I need.

Leave the kids at home-- this way you won't be suckered into buying things not on your list! Same goes for the hubby!

Make a price book-- I have not done this, but will be starting one soon. Why do you need one? The answer is simply, so you can know if you are getting the best possible price.

Limits-- sometimes there are a limit of what you can buy. Do us all a favor and abide by those limits. The sales are for everyone, so have the courtesy to share the sale.

Shop Early-- I don't do this. I have found that if I wait til Monday I can get more bargains. My ad begins on Thursday, and I have the boost of the Sunday Newspaper by waiting til Monday. It just makes more sense for me and if by chance they are out of what I need, I can always get that raincheck.

Watch the cashier-- to make sure you are getting all of your discounts

Check your receipt before you leave the store to make sure it is correct and that all of your savings are accounted for.

Planning a trip to the store

Next I would like to fill you in on how to plan your shopping trip.

First, I will grab the weekly ad from the paper or junk mail from my mailbox. I then scan through it and see what is on sale. Right now I am really focusing on the BOGO's. I will jot down what is on sale BOGO and then go to my coupon stash. I then match up the best coupon deal with each product. To do this, I always have my calculator handy so that I can get the lowest possible price.

I will then make a list and paperclip my coupons to that list. When I go to the store, I know what I am going to get and I know what I am spending. I tend to spend about 100 a week for our family, but this is because I am still building our stockpile.

Now, if you should get to the store and they are out of an item, ask the manager for a raincheck for the number of that item you were planning on buying. They are more than happy to do this for you.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Do you know your store's Couponing Policy?

If you answer that question with a big YES then I applaud you!!! If not, I would suggest that you get in touch with the store manager and have a sit down with them to learn what your policy is. There are so many grocery stores out there now that none of them will have the EXACT same policy. Here is some useful information that might help you out:

Keychain/Wallet Cards-- these are referred to as loyalty cards. Does your store offer one for getting the sale prices? If so, get one and use it every time you go to the store. If not, you will get the sale price no matter what. For example, the three stores I shop at are Sweetbay, Winn Dixie and Publix. Of the three, Publix does not require the card. There is a card for Winn Dixie and I believe that Sweetbay is bringing one back. I do most of my shopping at Publix because I can get the better price there due to all of the BOGO's they offer.

Double/Triple Coupons- this is illegal in the state of Florida so I will not cover this however if you are interested in this, please let me know and I will try to get some answers for you.

Stacking your coupons-- what is this? Well, it isn't as hard as you might imagine. Let me show you what I mean. See the scenario below:

This week, Crystal Light is on sale at Publix BOGO. The price for two is $2.99. My Publix does accept Target store coupons. (not all Publix's will accept Target coupons) I have a $1 off 4 Target coupon and 4 MC's for $1/1. I buy 4 packs of the bogo Crystal Light and use all 5 of my coupons making my final price for the 4 packs of Crystal Light 98 cents. This breaks them down to being only 25 cents!!! This is a rock bottom price!!!

So in other words you can put one store coupon with one manufacturer coupon to achieve the lowest possible price. This works best for you if you top this on top of a buy one get one sale and use 2 store coupons and 2 manufacturer coupon.

Online Coupons are great! I have recently been able to start using these. These I use for when I don't have a coupon in my stash for a product I need. It is another way to go ahead and lower your bill even more. Where can I find them? I normally use or but there are tons of sites. Find one you like and there you have it.

Competitor Coupons-- not all stores will accept coupons from a competitor, however this is something you can ask your store manager. I am fortunate that my Publix accepts Target as well as other grocery chains in the area.

Expired Coupons-- I currently don't have the info needed to send these to military families, however you can send them to a military family as they are honored for 6 months after expiration for military families. If you happen to come accross that address, please share it with me so I can update this.

Catalina's-- these are the receipt like coupons that are printed at check out at some grocery stores. Some of these are Manufacturer Coupons and others are Store Coupons. Use these before they expire!


Blinkie: these are found in your grocery store hanging on a shelf with a few coupons in them
BOGO: Buy One Get One Free
Cat: Catalina Coupon See above
ECB: Extra Care Buckx (at CVS)
IP: Internet Printable
MC: Manufacturer Coupon
MIR: Mail in Rebate
OOP: Out of Pocket
OYNO: On your next order
P & G: proctor and gamble coupon insert
PEELIE: coupon found on item in store. Peels off.
Q: coupon
SC: store coupon
RP: red plum coupon insert
RR: register rewards (walgreens)
SS: smart source coupon insert
TEARPAD: these are pads of coupons found in the store.

How do I organize my stash?

First, I want to say this:

There is contreversy about how many newspapers to buy each week. There are so many families using coupons, that I don't go by the buy 12 papers a week. I have 4 people in my family, therefore, I buy 4 papers not the 9 that has been suggested. The reason I feel this necessary to tell you is because if you choose to clip every coupon every sunday, this can get quite time consuming. It has been suggested that you buy 2 papers per person in your family plus one. I am not in this to become a hoarder, therefore I find that 4 papers per week for our family is more than enough.

Now, on to the organizing, I feel that you will find what works for you based on your likes/dislikes and your family needs, but see the following suggestions for ideas and feel free to tweak them as needed.

Using the Envelope System: here I would suggest you clip each coupon and either sort by expiration month or by category. I did use this at one time but found it ineffecient for me. I have since abandoned this style as I don't have the time for doing this way.

Filing by Insert: This is the style I am switching over to. I have a spare 2 drawer file cabinet, therefore, I am using hanging file folders that are labled with the name of the insert ie: SS 8/2011 would mean Smart Source from August 2011. Then I can go directly to the file that I need and clip only the coupons I need for that trip. It will make my Sunday's less stress and more family time. You can also use expanding file folders or file boxes for this.

Coupon Binder: I am using this style now, but have already gone through 2 binders in the last 6 months. I don't like that I have to lug a huge binder around with me just to have all of my coupons with me. For those of you who want to try this style, I am going to give you the breakdown of mine. I have a 4 inch binder. I have bought baseball card holders and then used cardstock to make the dividers. I tried using it by month but it was nearly impossible for me to function using that style, so I changed to category. In the front of my binder is Grocery Items and the back is Non-Grocery Items.

Side Dishes
Frozen Foods
Salty/Snacks-- this is all snacks and chips, crackers, popcorn, nuts, etc
Fish/Fish Fry
Peanut Butter/Jelly/Preserves
Pasta/Pasta Sauce
Ethnic Foods

Non-Grocery Items:
Hair Care
Face Care
Dental Care
Feminine Hygeine
Pet Care
Paper Products
Vitamins-- these are everythign that is a vitamin/nutrient supplement
Soap/Body Wash
First Aid
Air Freshner/Candles
Dish Care

I hope this will inspire you to get your stash organized :)

What is Couponing and where can I find Coupons?

With the economy going bad a few years ago, the term couponing became a very familiar term. Couponing is simply using the advantage of a paper that says "save xx cents on xx product" as a way to lower your grocery bill.

Coupons can be found for a number of items, most often though they are used for groceries.

Where can coupons be found?

~Newspaper-- on sunday's check your paper for coupons but keep in mind that the week of a holiday there will be no coupon inserts in the sunday paper.

~Friends and Relatives whom don't use their coupons from the sunday paper is a great way to build your coupon stash

~Online-- there are a number of sites that you can print your coupons from. I most often use but you can google and find a number of sites.

~By using a Coupon Clipping Service-- I do not take advantage of these, however you can pay a fee for the coupons to be pre clipped and sent to you.

~In Store-- in the store you will find blinkies, peelies, tearpads, and store coupons. Please see the post on terminology to find out more about each of these types of coupons.

In an effort to keep these entries short and sweet, I will end this now and my next entry will be a nice one for most of you. It will help with organization of your coupons.

Have a great day!!!

Cent Savers

What is Cent Savers?

Cent Savers is simply me and my family and our mission to save our money. We have decided to start this blog to share the info we find on couponing and what works for us so that it might help some of you to save your money as well.

What are my goals?

To create a database of sorts to help those who don't know as much as I know about coupons.

Will I ever have grocery store sales on this blog?

The simple answer is eventually. I want to start this blog as a way to build up the information you need for being effective in saving your family some money so it will take some time for me to build up to having stores included on my blog. Also, you will want to know that I will only be covering the stores that are local to me. If you are looking for stores local to you, I will assist you in finding what you are looking for but I cannot cover the whole United States.

In closing, please feel free to e mail me questions. I'll be adding an e mail address specifically for this blog and will post that in one of the sidebars.