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  • Working on my home instead of shopping

    These last few weeks, I’ve been feeling reluctant about going shopping, even when the deals are good. I finally realized that I didn’t like the idea of bringing more stuff into the house, even when it’s stuff that I know we will use, when I feel like there’s too much stuff in the house already.

    So I’ve been concentrating on getting my house in order and I feel better for it. In the last week, I’ve filed three months and shredded three bags worth of papers. I’ve thrown out stuff we don’t use. I’ve scrubbed my foyer floor and gotten it cleaner than it’s been in years.

    I keep looking around for more stuff to get rid of, but a lot of what I see is stuff that needs to be used up. So that’s part of what’s keeping me from wanting to shop too – we already have so much, and even a rock bottom price isn’t enough to lure me into a store. Pretty much all the shopping that I’ve been doing has been for perishables, or to replace things that we’ve used up.

    I don’t know if this is a cyclical thing or if I’m going to feel this way long term now. Either way, though, I’m okay with it, even if it does end up costing us a little more money in the long run. I’ll always have some extra stuff around, and maybe once I’ve gotten rid of stuff, I’ll find that I have a greater storage capacity.

    The important thing, though, is that I want my home to be a peaceful haven. And if that means not stocking a lot of extra stuff, then I’ll keep my shopping to a minimum.

    The Benefits of Having A Stockpile

    Stockpile: a reserve supply of something essential accumulated within a country for use during a shortage – Merriam-Webster

    When couponers refer to stockpiling, they generally mean a big enough supply of something to last at least until the next sale, bought at a low price. There are significant benefits to building up a stockpile:

    Saving money – Because you buy stockpile items when prices are low (usually combining a sale and coupon), you have them on hand when you need them and don’t have to pay a higher price. Stockpile enough items this way and you can save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

    Less stress – Because you have items on hand when you need them, you don’t have to rush out when you’re short on time and cash.

    Emergency preparation – Living in earthquake country, we always have an emergency kit ready, but I also like knowing that I have lots of things on hand that would be handy in an emergency, like breakfast cereal, crackers and batteries.

    Real life example: A couple of years ago, my oldest son was hospitalized and I didn’t shop for a while. But I was able to draw on my stockpile for portable snacks to take to the hospital, and I didn’t have to worry about running out of basics like toilet paper and tissue when we got home. That meant I could focus all of my energy on taking care of my son and family.

    *Updated* It’s Not Illegal to Sell Expired Food

    Update: It turns out I was reading the date code on the Nestle Pure Life wrong, so I apologize to Rite Aid for stating they were selling expired water since it wasn’t expired. However, the point of this post stands – it’s not illegal to sell expired food in California, and there’s little incentive for businesses to remove expired food from shelves and write off the loss.

    I stopped by a Rite Aid store today to pick up two 24-packs of Nestle Pure Life water. They’re on sale for $3.50, and you get a $1 +UP reward when you buy 2. I’ve been looking for a good deal on bottles this size to add to our stash of emergency supplies, so I was excited about this deal.

    But when I got to Rite Aid and checked the expiration code on the package, it said July 31, 2011.

    I don’t like that particular store much and am not friendly with the staff, plus I was in a bit of a rush so I just left without buying anything. But when I got home, I decided to find out what agency such violations are reported to. And so I discovered that there’s no violation at all. Apparently there’s no law in California that prohibits the sale of expired food items.

    If you play The Drugstore Game, you might recall that CVS agreed to pay $2 for every expired product found on its shelves, but the legal theory was not that they had violated a law against selling expired food but that they had violated state law regarding false advertising and unfair business practices since consumers expect products on store shelves to be within the expiration date.

    I am considering a complaint to the state Attorney General’s Office to ask them investigate Rite Aid’s practices in the same way they investigated CVS’s practices. But the real bottom line is that consumers must watch out for themselves and check expiration dates. It’s a good habit to get into anyway.

    Staples Programs: Easy Rebates & Staples Rewards

    April 2013: Read about the updated Staples Rewards program here.

    In the coming weeks, Staples should have some amazing deals for back to school, but some of them will require you to pay upfront and then get your money back via Easy Rebate or Staples Rewards. Both programs are explained in detail below:

    STAPLES EASY REBATES

    Staples Easy Rebates are pretty much what they sound like. When you buy a qualifying item, the rebate information prints after your receipt, and you can submit your rebate online for processing. It takes 4 to 6 weeks for your rebate to arrive.

    Rebates are usually in form of checks or Paypal deposits. I’ve never gotten a Paypal deposit, but it looks like your Staples email address and your Paypal address do not need to match.

    Some rebates are in the form of a Staples gift card or Visa prepaid card. In some cases, you’ll be given the option to select a Staples gift card that has an increased reward amount that is greater than the Visa prepaid card or check.

    STAPLES REWARDS

    Unlike the Easy Rebates, Staples Rewards is a loyalty program that you must enroll in. Each quarter, you get back 10% of all ink, toner, case and ream paper, and copy and print purchases. Staples Rewards are issued in the form of a coupon that can only be redeemed at Staples.

    Staples also offers special Staples Rewards deals throughout the year – for example, the last two holiday shopping seasons, they offered 100% back on select Duracell battery purchases. Similar deals will probably be offered during the back to school shopping season – I seem to recall some kind of Staples Rewards deal on binders last year. As long as you spend your rewards coupon wisely, these special offers can be spectacular. (I recommend using rewards to buy ink or toner for your printer – you know you’ll need it for all of your coupons!)

    Note: If you’re a teacher, you may want to join Staples Rewards for Teachers, which also gives you 10% back in Staples Rewards on all teaching and art supplies purchases, and increases the limit per customer on hot deals (like the back to school penny deals) to 25.


    Banner via Escalate Media Network

    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 :)

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