Monthly Archives: March 2009

Good coupon deals at Wal-Mart

I don’t generally shop at Wal-Mart, but a few days ago MoneySavingMom posted a list of free/cheap items that I couldn’t resist.  There were a lot of high value coupons matching up w/ current low prices.  My planned list consisted of 13 items that I planned to pay $3.33 plus tax OOP.  Unfortunately, my store did not carry several of the items on my list, mainly organic/green type items that are probably not too common in my neck of the woods.  Oh well.  Still got a great deal on the items I did find.  Here’s what I bought for $2.50 after using $8 in coupons…

img_4270I paid just $0.48 and $0.98 for the YoPlus, $0.67 for the YoKids, $0.22 for the Luden’s, and made $0.03 on each of the Buddies soaps.  Many of the couponing gals I know or whose blogs I read LOVE getting the Buddies soaps for free, so I thought it was about time I picked some of these up.  Wal-Mart regularly has these priced for $0.97 and there are often $1 coupons for Johnson’s Buddies, so that’s free soap for your kids whenever there’s a coupon.  I have yet to try them out, so I hope I like them!  If I do, you can bet I’ll be picking up free bars of soap until my kids no longer need them!

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CVS this week and last (3/27, 3/29)

Had some good CVS shopping recently.  I did spend a bit of money there, but it was worth it for what I got.  I did 2 transactions on 3/27 and one on 3/29.  I started out with $3 ECB’s in my pocket.  Here’s what I got…

Transaction #1 (3/27):

Crest Pro Health Enamel Care: $3.49 – $1.00MC = $2.49, earned $3.49 ECB’s ($1 money maker)

Paid with $2 ECB’s and $0.49+tax OOP, $4.49 ECB’s left

Transaction #2 (3/27):

Zyrtec twin pack (60ct.):  $37.99 – $4.00MC = $33.99, earned $8 ECB’s

Paid with $4.49 ECB’s and $29.50+tax OOP, earned $8 ECB’s

Transaction #1 (3/29):

Shout, Fantastik, Windex, Scrubbing Bubbles: 2/$5 on sale = $10 – $0.55MC, – $0.75MC – $0.75MC – $1.00MC = $6.95, earned $2 ECB’s

Glade Sense & Spray: $5.99 – $4.00MC – $1.00CVS = $0.99, earned $1 ECB

Paas Egg Coloring Kit: $1.99, earned $1.99 ECB

Paid with $8.00 ECB’s and $1.93+tax OOP, earned $4.99 ECB’s

I know $30 was a lot to spend at CVS, but Zyrtec is the only allergy medicine I’ve found that works for me without turning me into a total zombie.  Considering I knocked off over $8 w/ coupon and ECB’s and got another $8 back in ECB’s, this was a pretty good deal.  This week the quarterly ECB’s are printing so I should be getting a few more dollars.  I’ve also been earning points on MyPoints to save up for a CVS gift card.  I’m so close to getting a $10 card and should be able to redeem it in April.  Then I can get some deals for free!

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My Copps Deals this week, 3/18

Had a very successful shopping trip to Copps this week.  I spent $43.54 and saved $47.03.  That’s 52% savings!  I took advantage of double coupon day, and doubled 5 $1.00 MC’s.  I also had some great sale/coupon match ups which I will detail below:

1) Buy 6 GM cereals, get $10 off your order plus a free gallon milk coupon

2 Cinnamon Toast Crunch $3.29 ea. – $0.75 off 2 MC

1 Lucky Charms $3.65 – $0.60 MC

2 Chex $3.25 + $2.99 – $1.00 off 2 MC (doubled to $2)

1 Cookie Crisp $3.69 – $0.55 MC

Total for cereal: $6.26 for 6 boxes, and free milk!

2) Green Giant boxed frozen veggies $0.89 sale (reg. $1.85)

3 boxes = $2.67 – $1.00 off 3 MC (doubled) = $0.67 for 3

3) BC Supreme Brownie Mixes 2/$4 sale (reg. $2.49 ea.)

2 boxes = $4 – $1.00 off 2 MC (doubled) = $2 for 2

4) Quilted Northern $5.99 sale (reg. $8.29) – $1.00 MC (doubled) = $3.99

5) Lysol toilet bowl cleaner BOGO (reg. $2.19 ea.)

2 cleaners $2.19 – $0.75 MC = 2 for $1.44

6) Lysol bathroom cleaner BOGO (reg. $3.65 ea.)

2 cleaners $3.65 – $0.50 MC = 2 for $3.15

7) Toaster Strudel $1.79 sale (reg. $2.19)

2 boxes = $3.58 – (2) $0.35 MC = $2.88 ($1.44 ea.)

I also made a trip to Festival on Monday to grab some sale/coupon items and other things we needed as well.  I spent about $39 and saved 39%, which brings my total grocery spending this week to about $83.  A little high, but my pantry is overflowing and that also included tp and bathroom cleaners.  My best deal at Festival was this:  Buy 10 Lipton/Knorr side for $8, get a FREE 3lb. bag of frozen chicken breasts.  I had 2 MC’s and printed 2 more from the in-store coupon machine and dropped that $8 down to under $6!

Overall, a great shopping week.  I need to avoid shopping for the pantry for a while.  Hopefully there will be some good meat and produce deals coming up.  The freezer stock of meat is starting to get low!

Hope this helps those of you who are just getting started.  Happy saving to you all!!

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I’ll stick with CVS, thank you!

Now I know why I’ve been avoiding Walgreens thus far in my deal-making adventures.  Their rules are a little more complex than I’d like.  I got the aforementioned Register Rewards last week and decided to use them to buy vitamins, which we’re nearly out of.  Just so happens that this week Wags has Centrum buy one get one 1/2 off, plus I had $3 MC’s I could use.  I also decided to pick up some Easter candy (mama bunny has baskets to fill!) and made sure that the number of coupons I was using (including RR’s) matched the number of items purchased.  I thought I had put together one sweet deal and was really excited about it.  But, when I checked out, the register wouldn’t accept all of my coupons.  The guy told me the computer decided that the profitability of my purchase was not high enough.  What?  Not sure how that makes any sense since the store gets the money back from the manufacturer coupons, and the RR’s come from the store, to be used to purchase more items from the store.  In order to make my transaction go through, I had to give up one of my $3 MC’s in exchange for my $10 RR, and I couldn’t use my $1 RR.  All in all, I still got a great price for my purchase, but it could have been better.  I left there feeling pretty annoyed.  Here’s what I got though…

Centrum $9.99

Centrum  $4.99 (1/2 off)

Centrum Kids $9.99

Reese’s Eggs $2.99

Hershey Eggs 2/$5.00 (sale)

-(2) $3.00 MC’s for Centrum

-(1) $1.50 MC for candy

-$10.00 RR’s

___________________

$14.97 plus tax

Now, I guess I shouldn’t complain too loudly.  I did save more than I spent, which is always a plus.  But it would’ve been even nicer to get another $4 off my total.  Oh well.  Guess I’ll never fully understand the inner-workings of Walgreens.  😉

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The End…

After almost 9 yrs. working for the same company, I had to say goodbye last Friday.  So, I think I’ll take a moment to reflect.

I started working for a tiny little biotech company in June 2000, fresh out of college.  It had a funny name and no one understood what I did for a living when I tried to explain it.  I was hired as a Quality Control Technician.  It was my job to test the company’s DNA based HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen) typing tests.  At the time, these tests were used solely for research purposes as doctors and researchers studied the link between HLA typing and the success/failure of organ and bone marrow transplantation.  After only a few months on the job I was promoted to Quality Control Technologist and was given a 15% raise.  Pretty much unheard-of, but my starting salary was pretty low, so even that 15% didn’t move me up much.  Still, I was happy with my job and was learning a lot, which meant more to me than a fat paycheck.  After one year on the job, I was sent on my first business trip to learn more about HLA.  I got to go to Philadelphia just a month before my wedding.  My coworkers threw a big shower upon my return.  I really loved working there.  The company gradually grew, becoming more successful in it’s little scientific niche, and eventually our products became approved for laboratory use.  Over time my job became more challenging, more interesting, and more structured.  As changes were made and new products were developed, I never got bored.

After a few years, our company had made a name for itself and larger biotech companies took notice.  We were bought out by a company of roughly 500 employees, based in Norway, with locations around the globe.  Things got even more complicated, and stayed interesting as well.  We were always busy, never bored, and I was involved in new product teams as a representative of my department.  I had new responsibilities and was told I’d be my department supervisor some day.  In 2003 I got to attend the big annual conference where my company always has a booth and presentations.  Another great learning opportunity.  Then, in 2004, I had my daughter Emily.  As much as I loved my job, I couldn’t bring myself to return to work full-time while she spent 10 hr. days in daycare.  So, I approached my boss and asked if I could return to work part-time.  I was blessed to be able to keep doing the job I loved 3 days/week (24hrs.) and have 4 days at home with my little girl.  I was able to keep doing most of the same work as before, but unfortunately lost my ability to be on new product teams.  It was hard to lose that, but I knew I had the “best of both worlds” and just kept doing the best work I could.

Our company was bought out again.  This time, by a 5000 employee company based in California, the hub of biotech.  Once again, good news and bad.  Not everyone takes change well.  There were a lot of projects and new things to worry about.  I took it all in stride.  I had another small promotion and my title changed to QC Analyst II to fit into the new framework of positions/levels.

Shortly after my supervisor nagged me to return to work full-time and I said no, I became pregnant with our second child.  Well, make that second and third children.  The news of twins, while exciting, did not go over well at the office.  It was obvious I wouldn’t be able to keep working.  My boss asked me to research the cost of child care to see if we could “work something out”.  When I told her I’d need a 40% pay increase just to break even, she was pretty bummed.  I continued to work until I reached 33 weeks and was put on bedrest.  My coworkers were very supportive.  A couple of them even stopped by with food and gifts and helped w/ a few things around the house.  I wished I could go back, but the cost was far too much.

One day I got a call from my manager.  She had gotten permission for me to work from home part-time, to help keep up with paperwork and any other tasks that could be done via the computer.  It seemed like a great idea.  Some of my coworkers were receptive and had great ideas for ways that I could help.  Others were not so happy with the arrangement and tried to make excuses for why I couldn’t help w/ things I was perfectly capable of doing from home.  It was a bumpy road, but I was able to squeeze in a few hours/week while the kids napped and after they went to bed at night.  Some weeks I didn’t have any work at all, but it balanced out okay.  I was salaried to work 10hrs./week, and got paid that amount whether I worked 2 hrs. or 16.  Couldn’t ask for a better deal.

After almost a year with this arrangement, the new parent company decided to get rid of all part-time positions in my department as well as several others.  Any part-time work needed was to be filled by contract employees.  So, 3 months after my position elimination, my manager was able to rehire me on a 1 yr. contract.  I was no longer salaried, I would only be paid for the hours I worked, and my title changed again to Associate Scientist II.  Some great projects came my way which netted up to 14 hrs./week.  Those weeks, my house definitely suffered, but I made up for it on the weeks that didn’t bring any work.  For a few months in the winter, I didn’t get anything.  But then just this month, a big project was dropped in my lap with another to follow.  My manager begged to extend my contract, but once again, the big-guys changed the rules.  Just recently the company merged with another large biotech firm and changed their name.  They also changed the rules for contract employees… no contracts over 10 months.  I’d already gone 2 months over that limit, so there was no stretching it further.  It felt good to know that my boss didn’t want to let me go and that she fought to keep me on.  There is still the possibility to be re-hired on shorter contracts for special projects, but only time will tell if that pans out.

I can honestly say I really enjoyed my job, even with all the ups and downs, office politics, and the occasional bizarre coworker.  In my time there I’ve had 4 different managers and 2 supervisors, and the company has been changed over 4 times.  I owe a great deal to my last manager.  She recognized me for my work and fought for me when I didn’t even know it.  I will truly miss her and a few others I’ve grown close to over the years.  I’m lucky to have left on a high-note with relationships in-tact.  No hard feelings, no reason to have let me go other than that my time was up.  Someday I’ll get back to that career, but for now, I get to spend some time focusing on my home and family, and I will enjoy it while it lasts.

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My First Register Rewards

I’ve been avoiding adding Walgreens to my deal-seeking because, honestly, CVS and two grocery stores keep me busy enough.  But, this week’s KC deal made me go in.  I used those fabulous Huggies internet printables and bought 3 packages of diapers; two for my boys using the $3 coupons and one for a future shower gift using a $5 coupon.  I also picked up some Skintimate shave gel, which I needed, and earned RR’s off that too.  So, I spent about $22 after my coupons, and got $11 back in RR’s.  I guess that means I have to keep rolling things forward at Walgreens now too!  On the plus side, there is a Walgreens right across the street from the Y where I work, so it’ll be easy to pop in there when there’s a good deal.

My sis-in-law called this morning as she also snagged a great deal at Wags.  Garnier Fructis is FREE after Easy Saver coupon plus $1 MC.  I used up my Garnier coupons at CVS this week, so I didn’t get this deal.

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A Tale of Two Grocery Stores

I’ve recently gotten into a pretty steady routine with my grocery shopping.  Now that I know Copps does double coupons on Weds., it is officially my grocery shopping day.  I’ve done pretty well with the double coupons the last few weeks and I’m quite happy with the amount of money I’ve been saving.  Each week when we get the paper, I carefully look over the ads for Copps and Festival and pick out the specials that I’m most likely to use and also try to find sale items that will match up with my coupons.  I write out a list for each store, making notes next to which items have coupons.  I plan everything out as much as I can to make my two stops as short as possible.  I always have my 2 yr. old twins along, so if I spend too much time in the store, it gets pretty crazy.  I visit Copps first since it is the farthest from home, then hit Festival on the way back.  I usually get done shopping with just enough time to run home and put everything away before going to pick up my daughter from preschool.  Unfortunately this system won’t work so well when the warm weather returns.  I’ll have to keep shopping at Copps on Weds. though, and go to Festival another day.  I never thought I would take the time to shop at two separate grocery stores, but it really is worth it.  They rarely seem to run the same specials at the same time, so there’s something great to pick up at each store.  It’s also nice shopping this way because I don’t end up having an overflowing cart.  I’m only buying about half of my groceries at each store.  I shop fast, I check out fast, and I move on.  I love it.

I’m still getting used to planning meals based on what I have on hand, rather than planning a menu before shopping.  I regularly forget to take meat out of the freezer to thaw, and sometimes I get a little lost as far as what meals I’ll be preparing for the week.  I always manage to throw something yummy together, I just wish I felt a little more prepared.  I feel like I’m working backwards from what I’m used to doing, so it just doesn’t come as naturally to me.  I’ll keep working on it though, because I’m definitely spending a lot less money this way.

My grocery budget has been bouncing up and down from week to week, but overall I’m spending a lot less than I used to.  In the past month, I had a couple weeks where I spent $80-$90, one week where I spent $43, and this week I spent $68.  It all depends on what’s on sale, what I decide to stock up on, and whether I decide to get some extra items that might not have been on the list.  On the weeks where I spent around $80, I picked up things like a 2lb. bag of shrimp, on sale for $10 (reg. $16).  Yes, it’s an expensive item, but it was a good sale and my family LOVES shrimp.  This week my $68 total included 7 12-packs of soda, which normally I wouldn’t consider part of my regular grocery budget.  I’ve come to realize that it really does pay to stock up when the deal is good.  I’ve completely changed the way I shop for groceries and I can see the difference it is making for us.  I will never go back to the way I used to shop.  I spent a lot more money, yet never had much extra on hand.  To go from that, to having a full pantry and freezer while spending far less still amazes me and it probably will for quite a while.

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