Sunday, June 12, 2016

Stretch Your Budget Using Grocery Coupons

Grocery Couponing

I know a lot of folks don't like to grocery coupon, and sometimes I don't, and I don't. I still, however, feel that knowing something about grocery couponing is a plus. Someone that I casually know was introduced to grocery couponing by me some years ago. I would just teach her a few couponing tips whenever I saw her in the grocery store. A co-worker taught me how to grocery coupon on our breaks many years ago. So, I was in essence paying it forward.

By chance I ran into her at the beginning of this year, and she was so elated to see me. She told me that her husband been laid off, but working again and now doing great. We chatted about a lot of things, however one thing that was a surprise to me, was that she told me she probably would have lost her home if she didn't know how to grocery coupon. She said that her #1 priority was to put food on the table for a family of 7, and grocery couponing made it possible.

Buy One Get One, Known as BOGO
Buy one get one free usually requires no coupons and offers a 50% savings. Coupons can be found in Sunday papers all over the country.  There are so many ways to acquire coupons and discounts.

Don't Buy Into Every Buzzword
For example, you will see advertised hormone-free eggs. The use of hormones in poultry, as far as I know has been banned since the 1960's. Another example could be eggs labeled free range.

The free range sometimes, but will not necessarily always be what you may be thinking. The free range could be a concrete slab. For better assurance look for certified humane.

Chasing Loss Leaders Can Cost You Money
Loss leaders when gas was cheaper, was well worth chasing. Loss leaders are advertised items, sold at a loss, or next to no profit to the store. You see them first thing generally on the front page of your supermarket advertisement.  

They are used as a marketing tool to get you in the door, in hopes that you will purchase other items too.  It can be tempting to chase all of these great loss-leader bargains as they pop up, however with the cost of gas in today's world the money you save may  not make sense.

A better idea, in my opinion, is to simply stack pile the weekly sales ads in your vehicle, and if by chance you happen to be passing by, stop in and grab a loss leader or two.

e-Coupons - A New Kid On The Block
Electronic coupons are not paper coupons that you cut out or print. Instead, their value is added to your store loyalty card. Because manufacturers may limit  the total number of coupons that  can be downloaded, don't tarry. Some stores will not accept online printable coupons because of counterfeit concerns.

E-Coupons such as U-promise, and including some individual grocery store websites, have their own electronic coupons such as in my area e-Coupons as you may have guessed, are not paper coupons that you print. Instead, their value is added to your store loyalty card.

When you buy the item and swipe the card, the discount is automatically applied.  Once you register you can view a selection of fantastic coupon offers and simply click on the ones you like.  I also want to mention that these coupons do expire just like most coupons.

My Article Reprinted from EzineArticles:

How to Learn Couponing

I have many savings tools in my frugal tool box, and couponing happens to be one of them. Couponing can be a hard work working tool in your frugal tool box. Using grocery coupons can be a great budget stretcher. Would you like to adventure off into the world of grocery couponing where consumers like yourself save a lot of money?
Couponing can be a lot of fun too whether you are doing it with someone or you are going solo. What an experience it is when you are at the register listening to every beep bringing down your total as your coupons are applied reducing the retail price of your goods. All of your time, effort, and hard work is paying off as they play your favorite beep song in subtraction mode.
Equipped only with the fundamentals you too can realize a great deal of savings. Couponing in the beginning is a lot of work, because your couponing skill is new and has not yet become habit. Learning couponing can pay off big however if you stay the course. For example, think about when you were learning to walk. It wasn't easy but you stayed with it. How about when you learned how to cook, the amount of work it was in the beginning. But after you mastered the basics, you could almost cook in your sleep.
So you want to know how to get started grocery couponing? Couponing like any skill requires knowledge. Grocery couponing can be frustrating, and almost impossible if you don't equip yourself with the fundamentals first. Well the first step is to commit to the necessary work that will be required in learning how to grocery coupon.
No one whether they be extreme couponers or not, was born knowing. They paid a price to know what they know. Too many people think you shouldn't have to work at learning how to grocery coupon. They think perhaps that this is a skill that should come natural. Well if you clip out a grocery coupon now and then and that's the beginning and ending of you grocery couponing, then I guess that would come natural.
However, if you want to do some stretch your budget kind of couponing, you will need to acquire some knowledge to do that. You will need to know more than just how to operate a pair of scissors. After you have the basis under you belt, then is up to you how far you want to take this new skill. Just like with cooking or any other skill there is always something new with couponing. The more you learn the more you save. You decide how much you want to coupon. It's different for everyone.
In my book any savings is a plus. There is no one size fits all. You can also learn at you own pace as long as you continue the course. There is absolutely no need to jump in head first. You can enter the water gently. If you decide to venture off into grocery couponing you too might discover how useful this hard working frugal tool can be. Give it a try. You might discover a new budget stretching hard working tool that plays your favorite beep song. Just do what you can do. Enjoy the music. It's an awesome song.
To get the basic fundamentals needed to start grocery couponing visit:

Article Source: 

"Never stop learning because life never stops teaching."  
-- Unknown

I Want to Grocery Coupon What's My First Step?
Your first step in my opinion is to start with a little grocery couponing vocabulary. You can start out with these 13, and add on when you are ready. Just stick your toe in first. You don't have to get overwhelmed, frustrated, and then possibly losing interest. Just your toe in for right now will be fine. 

01. BOGO, BIGI - Basically it's Buy One Get One Free.
02. Catalina or Cat - These coupons come out of the Cat machine located by the register, and often left behind, or thrown out by the cashier. These can be some awesome coupons. Ask the cashier, or store manager where your Cat machine is located at time of checkout.
03. Store Coupons - A store coupon is a coupon only to be used at their store. Manufacturer coupon is a coupon created by the manufacturer, or creator of the product to be used wherever the product is stocked, and accept coupons unless otherwise indicated. Manufacturer coupons normally are not limited, and can be used at any store.
04. DND - Listed on a manufacturer's coupon to inform the store Do Not Double, even if store policy.
05. Printable Coupons - A coupon printed off the Internet.
06. Stock Coupons - Is stacking more than one coupon or coupon code to purchase a product, which can reduce the price, sometimes to zero. Normally you can stack a store coupon with a manufacturer's coupon.
07. $1/1, $1/2 - Take $1 off when purchased one, or take $1 with the purchase of two.
08. Product Matching - A retailer will match a competitor's price for a like item if you show some proof, for example a flyer etc.
09. Peellies - A coupon you peel of a product packaging that can be use on that particular buy. You peel them off yourself, and do not rely on the cashier.
10. Blinkies - A coupon dispensing machine with blinking light.
11. Tear Pod - A stack of coupons found on the shelf near a particular product that you tear off.
12. EXT - Excludes trial size.
13. Matchup - Matching sales ads with manufacturer or store coupons to maximize savings.

"When one teaches, two learns."  
-- Robert Heinlein

An Entire Month of Meal Planning and Preparing Rocks

Stockpiling meals for me translate into cooking when I want to cook, bottom line. The taste and nutrition greatly suffers when I'm just not up to cooking, but must. Take-out advantages without the take-out is a major benefit. Providing nutrient dense, wholesome, economically meals are difficult to do last minute. 

When I stockpile, I have my 30 day meal prep at the forefront of my meal planning. So in essence my food stockpiling evolves around my 30 day meal prep.

A lot of my friends extreme coupon, and I like to extreme coupon too, however, I have found it very difficult for me at least, to put a meal together with unrelated inventory.

When I stockpile my goal is meal prepping, and not just accumulating a bunch of unrelated food items. Of course, it's nothing wrong with that, I just think it is important to know what your goal is when you stockpile.

The taste and nutrition greatly suffers when I'm just not up to cooking, but must. Take-out advantages without the take-out is a major plus. Providing nutrient dense, wholesome, economical meals are difficult to do last minute. 

An entire month of meal planning and preparing are in my opinion awesome budget stretching frugal tools. I started out doubling recipes and freezing one for another meal. No pressure. Now I bulk cook for a month at a time. Pressure in the beginning, but lessens as the skill becomes more and more comfortable with use. 

I generally have more than 30 meals ready to heat up in the freezer at any given time. However, I am not committed to any freezer meal. I know what I have in my inventory, and if I want something else I prepare it. 

"The expert in anything was once a beginner."  
-- Helen Hayes

Freezer meals provide for me the take-out convenience without having  to do take-out. I control the ingredients which better my chances of putting a wholesome, economical meal on the table which is difficult to do last minute. Having to put a meal together without the proper planning can lack essential nutrients necessary for optimum health.  So my last minute meals are the exception, and not the rule. 

My thing is that we have many technological advancements in the food arena, case in point, the refrigerator and freezer, so why not put them to use to save some money? My grandmother had what was called an icebox, where they delivered ice to her home daily. She would have loved to be able to prep her lunch for a week, and then grab and go. 

The truth is in our modern day society, we take a lot for granted. I love stockpiling meals because for me it is a labor of love. Is it for you? If you think it could be, begin with knowledge.

Has a lot of good information, if interested in learning more. This resource has guidance that should provide assistance in getting started. We can sometimes piggy-back off the learning of others who have done what we are desiring to do. Frugal friends the time has come to re-heat and eat.

"Every Accomplishment Starts With The Decision To Try."  -- Gail Devers

My Article Reprinted from HubPages:

Not always cheaper to bake your own bread

Updated on June 29, 2017

Not always cheaper to bake your own bread.

Frugal friends, it is not always cheaper to bake your own bread. When you factor in your time, your own ingredients, and creativity it's anything but cheaper in my opinion. So it just depends. My number one reason for baking bread at home is that I can control the ingredients. Bread is a staple in my household, and it is important to me to make sure I provide it at a good price without sacrificing taste, nutrition, and texture in that order.
One of the health issues in my household is high blood pressure. Sodium, better known as salt, can be a common restrictive dietary item in the management of this disease. Commercial bread can contain a huge amount of sodium. So, baking your own bread can be helpful in the management of sodium.
A lot of people are gluten free, and can start baking their own gluten free breads at home. People on a weight loss journey can custom make their breads. I know that I for one, tend to eat less bread when I make my own. This translates into me being able to keep a little more bread in my life when I am losing, or maintaining my weight.
The question is which is cheaper, baking your own bread at home, or purchasing bread at the store? A lot of individuals say that you can save money by baking your bread at home. I have been baking bread for a long time and have not been able to beat , or even meet the cost of commercial bread. So, my hat is off to these individuals.
Sometimes baking homemade bread cheaper than store bought can and does happen, but is not a given in my opinion. The cost of bread baking will depend on several factors, such as quality ingredients, quality being very relative. Frugal friends, you know first hand that quality does not come cheap.
Quality grains and seeds are expensive, in my book. Also, when I have time I grind my own grains for freshness which, in my opinion, is worthwhile and super easy to do. Cost is a major factor in stretching those bread making budget dollars. However, not everything is about dollars and cents.
Buying yeast in bulk does however help, but unlike commercial bakeries, I cannot buy wholesale my major ingredients for better pricing. Without this edge I am at a disadvantage to commercial bread bakers based on my cost. However, disadvantages sometimes can, with a little creativity, be worked around.
A lot of times when something is mass produced the attention to detail will not be on the same level as when the focus is more specific. This, in my opinion, is where the home bread baker can shine. Let's also factor in my time and electricity cost.
My skill in baking bread that is tasty and appealing to the senses takes time, not to mention lots of hard work, and sometimes with little payoff. If baking bread is a skill you would like to have, just stay with it. Trial and error will, in lots of cases, get you there. This is just a small part of learning an awesome new skill, that will pay for itself in many, many ways.
Frugal friends, tasty nutrient dense bread doesn't just happen. There is a learning curve, so if you would like to venture into making homemade bread, understand up front that no matter how easy the recipe, baking bread is a tool that will require skill. The skill of the baker and the quality of the ingredients, in my opinion, is not unlike a tailor made suit costing you more than buying a suit off the rack.
I think it is a pity that many people view commercial bread as being inferior to homemade bread. The truth is you can make very crappy nutritionally inferior bread at home too, and buy awesome wholesome bread at the store. I know first hand because I have done both. When I first start baking my own bread, I thought I was providing a good service for me, and my family by not saying no to recipes with cheap ingredients.
When I'm baking my own bread I am seeking something special compared to just buying run-of-the-mill bread. I have come across some awesome deals on store bought wholesome bread that I stockpile in the freezer. I thaw out one loaf at a time, and never refreeze.
So as you can see, I bake and buy bread. This is what works for me. A friend of mine never buys store bought bread because lots of store breads are loaded with preservatives. I have a little more tolerance in this area. The truth is I have only purchased what I concluded, after reading the label, to be good quality store bought bread, for 25 cents a loaf in many cases. I can't make bread for that price unless I use cheap ingredients and perhaps not even then.
In a modern society we are exposed to many toxins on a daily basis. I read labels, and decide for myself what is consumed by me and my family. Also, I rely on the intelligence of the body. If I consume a food that makes me feel sick, or perhaps drained, I will stop consuming it whether it is considered a health food or not.
If I can stockpile quality commercial bread at a good price that perhaps does not eliminate, but does however, lower my toxic load, I consider this purchase a win for me, but not my friend who has her own truth. It's been my experience, that when the quality goes up the cost also goes up, regardless of where the bread was baked.
By baking your bread at home you can produce, in my opinion, a better product that can be tailored to your specific needs, and requirements. It is your personalized creativity that will knock commercial competition right out of the park, with the many advantages that can far outweigh the price.

© 2017 JM McKnight

"Food is ever-changing and ever moving forward and getting more and more complex."  
-- Alexander Guarnaschelli

Decoding Organic Food Labels Is An Awesome Budget Stretcher.
Information is critical in knowing as much as possible about what you are buying. When buying fruits and vegetables you may encounter a sticker that will provide you with some information about what you are buying. These stickers a lot of times will drive price. If you are comparing a product on sale it is critical that you are comparing a product that not only looks alike but is an exact match. 

Some basic codes based on my understanding are as follows:

1. 5 digits starting with 9 was organically grown.

2. 5 digits starting with 8 is genetically modified.

3. 4 digits starting with 3 or 4 was grown conventionally.

Organic food labels can be confusing, and based on the percentage of organic ingredients in the product.

4. 100% Organic foods, are foods that use the USDA seal, or are made with 100% ingredients.

5. Organic foods, may use the USDA seal and will contain at least 95% organic ingredients.

6. Made with organic ingredients food, cannot use the USDA seal, but may list specific organic ingredients on the front of the package, contain at least 70% organic ingredients.

7. Contains organic ingredients,  cannot use the USDA seal, but may list specific organic ingredients usually on the back of the package on the information panel, contain less than 70% organic ingredients.

Stay On Track With Stockpiling

Take it from me when I say that you can get off track and defeat the benefits of stockpiling, and invite waste versus savings.   When things are on sale stay on top of your coupons, it's time to stock up. You don't however, have to coupon to benefit from stockpiling. Stockpiling is a fantastic way to save when you have a system in place.

Stockpiling is very individualized. Stockpiling is frugality at it's best when it is tailored to your specific needs. Stockpiling is not hoarding! Stockpiling is also not a stack it and forget it proposition. 

Your stockpiling has to be rotated, just like the grocery stores. You too have to be pulling from your older acquisitions,  paying close attention to your expiration dates and whatever else that is a good idea to do depending upon your individualized stockpiling. 

Buying 50 rolls of toilet paper will not cause the same issues as purchasing 50 boxes of cereal which are perishable items. If you and your family cannot use up 50 boxes of cereal without wasting you will lose money.  So when grocery stockpiling, I think it's important to choose a track that will take you to your specific goals.

A Buffet Table of My Favorite Money Saving Apps and Products in My Frugal Tool Box
An app is a type of software designed to perform a specific task, and definitely has room in my Frugal Tool Box. Here are apps and programs that I think are awesome. Check them out below!

03. FREE Trial for Amazon Prime Student is a Great Discount.

Hard Working Frugal Household Budget Stretchers
My Grand-Mom's Favorite...

Mirror and window cleaner in a spray bottle made with 1/4 cup of white vinegar placed in one quart of water.  It's a good idea to  never spray directly on a mirror. 

If the moisture seeks to the edges and get behind the mirror's back side it could ruin the silvering which could result in dark spots.  I usually spray on a clean cleaning cloth then wipe and buff.

A Toothbrush Can Be A Gigantic Budget Stretcher

I am of the opinion that you can save yourself a lot of money just by being proactive with your teeth.  You probably already know that a toothache demands attention.

A toothache will not wait, and neither should good dental care.  Daily cleansing as well as good nutrition will go a long ways in providing you and your family with good dental checkups.

I make my own special tooth paste that has saved me a lot of money, and has served me well over many years.  Basically my recipe consists of my Toothbrush, and Baking Soda. I buy in bulk when I can; it saves money. I like aluminum-free. I brush twice a day.  I try to remember to brush at night, especially when I have had a sweet treat.

I floss too, once a day. Cleaning between teeth matters too. Every surface area of a tooth demands attention. Proper cleaning is a big part of maintaining healthy teeth, and proper nutrition is also a big part of it. I have allergies to some foods that have a high content of vitamin C. I discovered in my research that Vitamin C is critical in maintaining gum health. My dentist recommended I supplement vitamin C.

My baking soda over time has kept my teeth nice and white.  Baking soda tends to whiten somewhat slow, but in my opinion, is a good economical tool to whiten stained teeth.  I have been using baking soda for years with excellent results. 

Today, I usually ace my dental checkups.  But it hasn't always been that way.  I use to have some serious dental problems where my teeth were moving around in the sockets. Someone recommended to me to start gargling with sea salt which helped tremendously. I have had some extractions and loss a precious tooth in the front.  

I have had some expensive dental care that I will always respect.  I preserve that dental work that took me 18 months to pay off.  I decided to spend some time on my teeth, and clean them properly.

Teeth work very hard for us, and deserve our utmost attention in keeping them healthy, and intact. It's been my experience that dental insurance very seldom pay  the entire bill.

I had a great deal to pay for out of pocket over and above what the insurance covered.  Dental work is just so expensive, in my opinion.  So it makes cents for me to exercise my frugality working my toothbrush, and flossing daily. 

A Dental Savings Plan Can Be A Perfect Fit For Some.
When going in for dental services a dental plan can save you a lot of money.  With dental insurance there is usually a waiting period and an annual cap sometimes $1,000 to $1,500 which can be used up pretty quick.

Suze Orman, a personal finance guru have a lot of good things to say about dental savings plans in helping to stretch those budget dollars. They work similar to coupons. You get a discount, and pay at time of service. Having a discount plan in my opinion is so much better, in a lot of cases, than having regular dental insurance and surely better than having nothing., Inc.
How To Save on Toilet Paper - Frugal Tool Box
You might be surprised by how much some places pay for toilet paper. A new neighbor of mine use to work for a college up north told me that they paid somewhere in the neighborhood of $30K per year for toilet paper. I don't know if the $30K included the dorms or not, but in my opinion this amount is nothing to sneeze at.

Still in disbelief, I came upon a site called sixfiguresunder, and again was very surprised to see that they had a post that gave 5 ways to save on toilet paper. If interested check it out. I enjoyed it immensely. 

Some months ago I decided cut my annual toilet paper expense. I came up with a figure that wasn't bad, and nowhere near 30K. But still I felt that it was a figure that needed some work to help it come down some. 

Well I came up with one awesome thing that has managed to bring down this expense by 50%. That one thing I do is buy commercial paper. I do still stockpile grocery store toilet paper when on sale, and with a coupon. I take my grocery store paper with me when I travel. I don't have to be concerned about whether or not I will have access to toilet paper. I have my own with me as backup. For the most part though, I use my commercial paper for home use.

I went through a few commercial brands and discovered one that I buy most often. It's tough and you don't need a bunch for the job. It's also nice for a change to get it to roll without a struggle. 

For the most part cheap toilet paper does not work for me. Surely, cheap is better than nothing, but for me not very cost effective. Sometimes instead of coming off in a continuous sheet, it comes off in bits and pieces, and paper ends up wasted.

There are time too that I can't find the end because I guess the paper is too thin, and therefore waste more paper trying to locate the end. Before you know it the better part of a roll has been destroyed. 

This toilet paper issue may not seem like a big deal to many, but the waste does add up over time. As I said earlier I don't mind spending, I just like spending smart. So I appreciate buying a good quality commercial paper I get from a local janitorial store.

Also I have learned through observations to be very careful about using toilet paper that's not on a roll.  A lot of public restrooms skip this step. So don't assume that toilet paper hanging on a roll is clean, because it just may not be. If the toilet paper is damp or stained, you may want to reconsider. I have seen first-hand toilet paper hung back up by the cleaning staff after rolling on the floor in urine. I think it's a good idea to be observant and aware. 

Don’t Over Stuff Your Frugal Tool Box
Animated train emoticonDon't get frugal fatigue. Exercising frugality is too important to your budget, your community, and the world. Being frugal in my opinion is a personal experience.

One who donates to a thrift store is exercising frugality as one who is the recipient of those goods.  Frugal fatigue can sneak up on you when you buy into every frugal idea that comes along.

Some frugal tools will be a good fit, and some not.  Just be on the lookout for those tools that work great for you. If this is information you would like to share, Share Buttons are provided below, and please share me on your Facebook page.

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