Thursday, April 1, 2010

Thought Provoking Thursday

I've decided to get a little bit "Crazy Coupon Lady" in order to save just a little bit more on my grocery spending!

WOW!!! My spending habits sure have evolved since I learned how to maximize my spending power with itty bitty scraplets of paper! In my former days, I spent what I felt like I needed to spend, which was about $125-$150/week for just my husband and I (yikes!!!).

After my initial 'learning curve/romance period' with coupon spending, I happily settled on spending $85/week for a family of three (including diapers). Tracking my spending throughout 2009 really helped me to realize that I shopped too much, and that I needed to reel in my spending/time spent in the stores.

$85/week seemed to give me much too much leeway, so in twenty-ten I tightened my wallet snap yet again, and dropped my weekly spending to $50/week! I also decided to push myself into ONLY spending $50 in each 7 day period... that way I'd be far less likely to spend more (time and money) than is really necessary to care for the needs of my family!

So far this year, I have done really well at spending within my self inflicted boundaries (cheerleader jump and a fist pump for me!!!), only once out of the 13 weeks have I over spent!

But I've come to realize something, enforcing a limited budget can make it hard to shop at bulk food stores efficiently. Normally, I can control myself well enough to be able to shop at Costco or Gordon Food Service without needing to sport a grocery cart. I run in (seriously, I get funny looks for not grabbing a cart) and run out- feeling like the worlds cheapest cheapskate, but happy about my wise purchases.

Recently, I did a quick inventory of my bulk food purchased item, and found that I am running low on quite a few of my favorite items (truth: I'm down to my last few crumbles of Feta cheese).

Normally, I would pick one to two "bulk" items to purchase per week, to keep within my $50/week spending, but I started thinking of ways to spend my next crisp $50 bill and not spend it at the same time... all in the name of replenishing "staples" (yep, Feta is a staple in this house!) and still managing to purchase needs, wants and stockpilable deals next week as well!

So I began looking into what money-making deals that I could purchase this week (at Kroger, Meijer and Walgreens) and spend those store rewards NEXT week instead of my budgeted spending allowance, so that I could purchase the items that we regularly use from Gordon Food Service!

Hanging on my fridge are $30.50 worth of catalina's for me to spend on groceries next week, freeing up my $50!

Its creative thinking that's the Mother of Invention, right?

What have YOU done, in the name of creative spending, that other coupon spenders could benefit from hearing?



I read your blog! :)

Actually if I come across a good tip or blog, I usually tell friends about it. I have to say your tip about using RR at certain stores have opened up whole new scenarios for us. Thank you.

Here's something I've tried a few times (only if the math is right!):
Let's say there's a sale on several items and I have coupons for those items so that I get them free. I match it with a catalina so that I'm basically making $ & then use the catalina for something I really need.
Let's say there's a 10 for 10 sale & get the 11th free (yes, you know the store)...If I have 10 coupons for the 1st ten items which will make those 10 items free (but don't necessarily need those items or use them per say), I'll buy them to get my 11th item free. Okay, that's only if I have TIME!

Can't wait to hear other people's input.
BTW - come see my post - I linked you.

Staying Lean

Maximizing on the prescription transfers. I was a little scared of it at first. I have a flexible spending account so I don't see my prescriptions out of my budget until the second half of the year (when I run out!). Last year I only transferred on prescription because my husband wanted a 24 hr pharmacy and CVS is the only one by our house. In the past four weeks I have transferred 4 prescriptions 2 at Meijer 2 at Rite Aid and spending free money is quite fun and does wonders on your budget!


Good point. I've started to do this with prescriptions too (thankfully we don't have too many), but I still find our mail order prescriptions are cheaper.

Becky C

Hmmmm...that's a different way to look at catalinas. I am a "do separate transactions so I can use my catalinas RIGHT NOW" kind of girl. :-) I hate to leave the store with them in my purse for fear I will forget to use them before they expire.
Also, as a math geek, I am thinking through how saving this week vs. saving next week really changes my OOP spending...either way, it is the same amount saved, right?? It seems like I will spend more this week to spend less next week. Or maybe it only affects my OOP the first week I decide to hang on to my catalinas for next week.
Side note: My Meijer flat out refuses to accept Walgreens RR, so that puts a damper on saving them for grocery purchases. Rats!
Thanks for the post. You're making me look at things differently, as usual. :-)


Have you had any problems spending the Walgreen RR's at Meijer? I purposely did some deals at Walgreens in order to use them at Meijer and this week one cashier wouldn't let us do it. Nate went back yesterday and they let it go through. I hate not knowing what they will do each time!


i use the self scan and scan them first. That way if they need to come and help with any other coupons, they dont have an opportunity to reject them. they always go thru. i checked at customer service once and they agreed they were ok to spend. If they didnt want to accept them, they wouldnt scan.


Laura, I am still totally chicken about trying to spend RR at Meijer! I get tongue-tied when cashiers give me suspicious looks. Could you please post a pain-free guide to how to spend RR at Meijer? What do you tell the cashiers when they give you that "What're you trying to pull, lady?" eyeball? Could you give us a script?


After reading about using walgreen rewards at meijer, I tried it(I had 16 dollars worth) and was denied. Because of how rudely the cashier handled it with me I actually put all that in the survey on the bottom or the receipt and when a manager called me I met with her the next time I went in and she still had no clue about accepting them. She checked with another manager and told me no. I just don't understand it, I mean it does state manufaturer which is what the manager had originally told me they would allow. I don't think they really even know. Also, she informed me that they will no longer allow you to come back and use your coupons if you forgot to use them. So, that means I always have to double check that as well. I would love to know what to say to get my meijer to accept them.

Laura Webber

Dear Theresa & Danielle,
I'll work up a post of how I handle these types of experiences and I'll share my scoop after this (busy) weekend!

Sorry you've been denied!

Becky C

The Rite Aid video perks coupons also say "Manufacturers Coupon" across the top. I don't believe I can spend these anywhere other than Rite Aid. If these were truly being offered by the manufacturer (rather than the store), Rite Aid would not accept these along with a MFC for the same item, would they?
Perhaps the "Manufacturers Coupon" wording is not a guarantee of acceptance anywhere that manufacturers coupons are accepted.

Laura Webber

Interesting, I've never noticed. Although, Rite Aid store coupons ALWAYS say Manufacturer's Coupon with a Rite Aid logo when they are in the sales flyer!

The Pohl Family

If you are shopping the Brighton Meijer and a cashier rejects you, then ask for the manager, because those have been approved there. I typically go during the week and get one specific cashier. However, yesterday we had to pick up last minute items for our daughter's 2nd bday, and every registered looked to be people I know have given problems. So we did the self check (as suggested above), and had not problems (we had $20 worth). I do suggest though that when scanning you cover the bar code that does not have numbers. On some occasions at walgreens they do not scan properly and this it what they do, and I have noticed at other stores for other coupons the same thing. So to save me any hassle I do this. Also, after you put your coupon in slot, if your screen does not go back to scan mode either blow into or use something to push coupons all the way in (a trick a cashier showed me), if the coupon doesn't go in far enough you can not move on.

Now we used our $20 RR from Walgreens (Dove conditioner purchases) for 2 collapsible coolers for the party. We only have small lunch size coolers for Mike to use for work, so he had all the pops and waters in tubs of Ice, but it was starting to seep, so we ran to Meijer, and these coolers were $16.ish a pc. and flatten after use. Perfect for us, and our no space home (combination of shopping and small house). So in the end we only owed $16.02, so a bit more then one free.

I also took advantage of the Dove RR at Wagreen's for purchases toward the party this week. Which because of the savvy shopping tips I have learned I already had most of the food here.

Thanks Laura, as well as all the other blogs I have come to follow through you.


Right now none of my area stores will accept catalinas from each other. Maybe some day . . .

If I think I should be able to use a specific combination of coupons but would have a problem with a cashier, I go to Customer Service before I start shopping. Once they verify that I can do what I had planned, I can put the items in my cart. That way, any cashier who tries to deny my coupons can quickly get the okay from Customer Service.


I've found greater freedom in giving myself a monthly budget rather than a weekly one. That way I can take advantage of a bulk buy opportunity or an unexpected great deal and still not feel like I'm breaking the bank.

Laura Webber

You've got a great head on your shoulders! I should take a page from YOUR book!