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  • Morning Coffee: Massive Computer Trouble (Again)

    We seem to be cursed, as we’re now down to one computer with an internet connection at the moment. Hopefully we’ll be able to set up a new network with a wireless router this weekend, but in the meantime, things may be a bit slow around here. I apologize if I’m not responding to comments or emails!

    Get a free 8×10 collage print from Walgreens Photo with code 8x10TREAT.

    Common Sense with Money explains the latest coupon issues at Target, having to do with gift card deals.

    A Thrifty Mom says that you can find the date of a coupon insert right on the outside cover, at or near the center fold. That’s handy to know if you only clip coupons when you need them, and leave the inserts mostly intact (like I do) and forget to write down the date on the front (as I have).

    Get a free spaghetti with meat sauce or marinara when you buy any small or large entree at Buca di Beppo on Monday (10/25).

    Get a printable coupon for $1/1 Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners.

    Get a printable coupon for 75 cents/1 Clorox toilet product via Facebook.

    Try Pinkberry’s new flavor, pumpkin, for free today from 4 to 7 p.m. (Via For the Mommas.)

    Growing Up Gabel has a recipe for slow cooker marinara sauce and homemade meatballs.

    Banner via Escalate Media Network

    Coupons Allow Me To Be Generous

    I mentioned earlier today that my friend K. broke her ankle a couple of weeks ago, and of course, this being a time of transition – especially financial transition – for us means that I’m feeling a little anxious about making sure our money situation is working out the way we expect it will. So I’m especially grateful for coupons and The Drugstore Game, which have allowed me to be generous without much of a financial toll.

    I’ve bought a couple of lunches and made a couple of dinners for K. and her family, and that’s probably cost about $50 total. Everything else that I’ve taken over has been free or very cheap thanks to coupons and The Drugstore Game, including cans of soup (25 cents a piece after sale and coupon at Vons this past week), paper goods, and toiletries. I plan to drop off more similar items just so that her husband doesn’t have to stress about running out of the basics and making a mad dash to a drugstore or supermarket in the middle of the night.

    I think I’ve also mentioned before that my friend B.’s husband lost his job a few months back, and here, too, coupons have allowed me to be generous without taxing our friendship. B. knows I actively coupon and that I didn’t spend a lot on the bags of food, household items and toiletries that I’ve given to her, which I think makes it easier for her to accept the items. It’s not charity, it’s just a friend passing on extras. And that’s a wonderful thing to be able to do πŸ™‚

    What I Learned This Weekend: Patience Pays Off (With a Little Luck)

    We have a Brita faucet filter that’s at least five years old, so I decided last month that it’s time for a new one. (We have very hard water, and there’s quite a bit of discoloration where the water comes out.) I printed off my coupons – one was a Target coupon for $10 off with the purchase of a Brita system and multipack of filters, and a manufacturer’s coupon for $4 off any Brita system (neither coupon is available now).

    When I went to Target last month, the filters were on sale, but the systems weren’t. The Target coupon didn’t expire until 7/31, so I decided to wait. I checked the ad each week, and the shelf when I visited the store. But it wasn’t until the past Saturday that I spotted a good deal on its last day – if it was in the ad, I’d totally missed it.

    The cheapest faucet mount system was on sale for $14.84 (normally $16.49). And the multipack of filters was on sale for $25 with a $5 gift card offer. So with my coupons, I paid $25.84 plus tax. And I got back a $5 gift card to spend next time, so it was like paying $20.84. Considering the multipack of filters is usually around $29, I felt like I’d hit the lottery.

    What I realized afterward is that I’ve changed in the two years since I started playing The Drugstore Game. By nature, I’m not the most patient person, but I’ve learned that if I can wait, a good deal will come along. It makes me uncomfortable to see only a cup of mayo left in the jar and not have an unopened jar in the cupboard waiting, but I’ve learned to wait because maybe it’ll go on sale the next week – and it usually does.

    The corollary to this lesson is that it isn’t necessary to hit every sale at every store, because the deals will repeat themselves πŸ™‚

    My Best Buys This Weekend

    I enjoyed having three days to shop this past weekend, and I picked up some really great deals. Here are a few of them:

    Pavilions/Vons (possibly all Safeway family of stores)
    As I tweeted on Saturday, I got a lot of stuff that was free or cheap after coupon at Pavilions. I was a bit nervous when I saw the $30+ subtotal, which was before coupons but after sale prices. But I needn’t have worried, because once the coupons were scanned, my total was only $17. (Pavilion and Vons will double coupons up to $1, one like coupon per transaction.) My purchases included the following:

    Best Foods mayo – It’s $1.99 with the in-ad coupon, and I used a 75 cents/1 printable coupon (no longer available) to make it just 99 cents.

    Wacky Mac pasta – It’s still on sale for $1, so it’s free after the 50 cents/1 coupon from the 5/16 SS.

    Mentos gum – It’s on sale for 99 cents, so it’s free after the 55 cents/1 coupon from the 4/25 SS.

    Ziploc containers – They are on sale for $1.99 each when you buy 4, and when you buy 4, you also get 2 $2 catalina coupons for your next purchase. I had an assortment of coupons, but the readily available ones are the 55 cents/1 or $1.50/2 from the 5/16 SS. Some of the packages I bought also had $1.50/2 coupons inside, so I’ll be able to keep rolling the deal, which I believe ends on 6/13.

    Zone Perfect bars – They are on sale for $1, so it’s free after the 55 cents/1 coupon from the 5/16 SS.

    Odwalla bars – These are still on sale for $1, so it’s free after the 50 cents/1 coupon from the current Optimum magazine that’s available at Ralphs (although I haven’t seen it in a couple of weeks now).

    Motrin PM – The 20-count bottle is on sale for $2.99, so it’s free after the $3/1 coupon from the 4/18 RP. Just be aware that the coupon will beep, and will need to be pushed through or adjusted down.

    Like Pavilions/Vons, Ralphs doubles one like coupon per transaction, up to $1. The best deals at Ralphs this week are continuations of last week’s sale:

    Yo Crunch 100 calorie 4-packs – These are still on sale for $2, so they were $1 after the 75 cents/1 coupon from the 3/28 or 5/23 SS.

    All & Surf detergent – These are still on sale for $2.99, including All Oxi. There were separate $2/1 coupons in the 5/16 RP, and a printable coupon for $1/1 All Oxi. If you don’t have the $2/1 coupons, $1.99 for a bottle of All Oxi is still a pretty good price for laundry detergent.

    Athenos Hummus – These are also still on sale for $1.50 each, so if you use the Buy One, Get One Free printable coupon, you’ll pay $1.50 for 2. I found some containers with an expiration date in October, so they last a long time too.

    I haven’t been shopping much at Rite Aid lately, but I’ve been doing multiple transactions each week at Walgreens. I did most of this week’s hot deals:

    Ecotrin – It’s on sale for $2, yields a $2 RR, and you can use the $2/1 coupon from the 5/16 RP, which makes it a $2 moneymaker. I’m seeing reports that there are $2/1 coupons inside the box, so you may be able to keep this deal going.

    Walgreens A-Z Select Vitamins – These are also on sale for $2, and yield a $2 RR. You want the ones that are for adults age 50+, in case you’re having trouble figuring out which one qualifies for the deal.

    Aquafresh Kids Bubblemint Toothpaste – There’s a coupon in the ad that makes these 99 cents, and a $1/1 printable coupon that makes them free. But you want to have the printable coupon scanned first, because if the in-ad coupon is scanned first, then the printable will beep because it’s a penny over the cost of the toothpaste.

    U by Kotex – These are on sale for $3.49, and giving a $2.50 RR. Use a $1/1 coupon and they’ll be free. There’s a $1/1 printable coupon, and a $1/1 coupon in the April All You. Even better, the U by Kotex products are producing free competitor’s product coupons – for instance, I bought a box of pads, and got a coupon for a free package of Always pads. I Heart Wags reports that buying liners will produce a coupon for free Always liners. So this is better than free!

    I plan on hitting Target and CVS sometime this week, because there are some good deals that have popped up there. (Details at Common Sense with Money here and here.) But I’m skipping Rite Aid this week because I just can’t do it all (Common Sense with Money has a great diaper scenario if you have young ones). And that’s okay – I’ve learned over the last two years of couponing that it’s no big deal to miss a deal or two or three. The deals will come around again, and if they don’t, my family still manages to get by just fine.

    Morning Coffee: It’s Mega Swag Bucks Friday

    Search & WinSwag Bucks is by far my favorite way to earn free money, so I love Fridays, when there’s an increased chance of winning big Swag Bucks. Plus, now you can win a daily Swag Buck by taking the new Daily Poll. Disclosure: If you join Swag Bucks using my referral link, I’ll get bonus Swag Bucks, so thank you if you do!

    Update on the Tylenol/Benadryl/etc. recall: A big thank you to Joella, Camille and Kristen, who reported that you can get a refund or replacement by calling 1-888-222-6036 or filling out this online form.

    Amazon’s Friday Saleagain includes a Toys & Baby sectionagain, and includes family games like Jenga Max,and the Fisher Price TRIO Siege Tower.Disclosure: I’m an Amazon affiliate, so any purchase you make after entering Amazon through a link on Chief Family Officer supports this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

    I Heart Wags reports that Walgreens will start testing a rewards card program on Sunday in Richmond VA, Kansas City MO, and Portland OR. Also, get a preview of next week’s Walgreens ad.

    Get a preview of next week’s Staples ad.

    Get a printable coupon for $1/1 Tropicana juice when you send your mom an e-card.

    Facebook users who “like” Nabisco 100 Calorie Packs can get a Buy One, Get One Free coupon.

    Money Saving Mom explains how she organizes her coupons. Her most important point is that you have to do what works for you, and that may take a while. I’ve been a “hardcore” couponer for a little over two years, and I’ve experimented to see what works best for me. I’m pretty happy with my current system, but I’m always willing to tweak my system if I think it will help.

    Banner via Escalate Media Affiliate Network

    More on Using Your Smart Phone to Streamline Couponing

    When I wrote about how my new Droid phone has changed the way I organize my coupons, SoCalKal asked for more details. So here’s what I do (sorry it took a while, Kal!):

    I have three wallet organizers (like this)in which I keep clipped coupons. Each week, I clip the coupons that I would definitely use from Sunday’s paper and put them in the wallet organizers – we’re talking coupons on things that I would buy if I saw a good deal, like my preferred brands of body wash or dental floss, wipes, etc. The wallets also hold all of my other coupons – that’s coupons from All You and other magazines, printable coupons, snail mail coupons, etc.

    I keep the wallets in a shoulder tote bag, and take the tote whenever I go shopping. So I always have the wallets with me in store.

    I leave the Sunday coupon inserts mostly intact, aside from the coupons that I clip right away. I write the date of the insert on the front cover, and slip the inserts into an expandable file folder (like this).Each week, as I prepare for my shopping trips, I review the store circulars and applicable deal posts online and clip whatever coupons I need for that week.

    When I go shopping, I leave the expandable file in the car. If I’m in the store and see a good sale price on something I think I might have a coupon for in the inserts, I pull out my Droid and access Coupon Mom’s regional database. There are quite a few coupon databases out there, but I like Coupon Mom when I’m out shopping because it’s regional and limited to the inserts and a few printables. The fact that it’s regional means I don’t waste time looking for a coupon that people on the east coast got but wasn’t put out here on the west coast.

    If I find a coupon listed on Coupon Mom that I hadn’t clipped, I can go out to the car to get it. Sure, it’s a hassle, but it’s something that happens very rarely since I clip the coupons that I know I would want to use if I happened across a great sale. The time I save by not clipping and filing every coupon is more than worth that hassle.