Ask Me Your Coupon Questions!

Are you new to using coupons? Have questions about stacking coupons, the Lingo or anything else? If you have a question, chances are that someone else has the same one.

Simply head to my Coupon Questions page, submit your question and it will be answered in a future post on Moms Need To Know!

Looking for more Extreme Couponing tips? Make sure that you check out all the posts in my Coupon 101 and Coupon Ethics sections!

What Is On Sale In April

What's On Sale The Month of April

April may bring spring showers, but it’s also a month for some great deals. If you are ready to get out of the house and get your spring on, now is the time to do it. Consider some of the great April deals presented below and finalize your shopping list accordingly. Here is what is on sale in April!

:: Drugstore and Grocery Deals in April

Produce that is in season: artichoke, asparagus, beans, beets, berries, broccoli, cabbage, chicory, chives, horseradish, leeks, lettuce, limes, morel mushrooms, oranges, rhubarb, Rocket arugula, shallots, strawberries, sweet onions, watercress

Mother’s Day Sales: Chocolate, jewelry, beauty products, perfumes, essential oils, flowers, plants

Earth Awareness, Autism Awareness, and Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Green cleaning products, eco-containers, self-defense tools, prophylactics, sensory items

Easter: baskets, Easter baskets (pre-made), eggs, egg dyes, flowers, food coloring, gardening tools, ham, jewelry, makeup, perfumes, seeds, soil

Gardening: seeds, soil, rakes, shovels, gloves, fencing, cages, trowels, outdoor deco, lights

Spring Cleaning: floor polisher, window cleaner, mops, brooms, vacuums, carpet cleaners, cleaning chemicals, dusters, light bulbs, any kind of green cleaner

:: Other April Sales

Extreme Winter Clearance: The winter items that didn’t sell in March may still be hanging around. Looks for incredible deals on all winter items: hats, gloves, coats, scarves, shovels, and snow blowers.

Electronics: Since most electronics come from Japan, and March is the end of their fiscal year, look for some great closeout sales on all electronics. At the same time, keep your eyes open for deals on new items in the way of new electronics for this fiscal year.

Houses: After basically being on hold through the winter, homeowners are eager to sell. Now is a great time to start making offers on houses, especially since property taxes are announced and homeowners are reminded that they are paying taxes on property they no longer want.

Kitchen Accessories: Since people are doing spring cleaning as well as preparing students for graduation, look for sales on items that are used in the kitchen: pots, pans, dishes, utensils, cookware and appliances

Vacation Packages: People tend to stay home and focus on cleaning up from a long winter in April. Vacation packages often go on sale because this is a slow time for them. Consider a cruise or other vacation package during this time.

Used Items: As people do their spring cleaning, they get rid of a lot of things. This means you should be looking for listing on websites, in newspapers, and perhaps even some yard sales.

What is the Difference Between Store and Manufacturer Coupons

questions from readers

Welcome to Readers Want to Know! These are your questions answered from the emails that I receive and responses to surveys that I periodically post. For more answers, make sure you check out my Coupon 101 posts which will also include other “Readers Want To Know” posts!

Still have questions? Use this form to ask them!

The following question comes from Lisa :

What is the difference between manufacturer coupons, store coupons and getting a coupon from the product website? Are they all different and where do you find each??

HI Lisa! I’m glad you asked this because it can be confusing!

As a general rule:

Store coupons

  • Issued by each individual store and typically can only be used at the store. They may be available on the store website, from store mailings, in-store coupon books and even occasionally in the Sunday inserts.
  • Rite Aid offers store coupons through their Video Values program. Walgreens offers coupons through their monthly in-store Instant Value Coupons book. Check your Sunday inserts for Target store coupons!
  • Some stores even offer store coupons through their own smartphone app (such as the Target Cartwheel app)
  • Store coupons can be usually be stacked with manufacturers coupons for even greater savings (although some grocery stores will not allow coupons to be stacked – check with your local store for their policy!)

Manufacturers coupons:

  • These can come from many places: Sunday coupon inserts, printable coupon sites like Coupons.com, Smartsource.com, Redplum.com (all available for printing right here on Moms Need To Know).
  • You can also check the websites and Facebook Fan pages of your favorite brands.
  • Manufacturers coupons can often be found right in the aisles of your grocery stores. Look for coupon tearpads, bottle tags and peel-off coupons in your local store.

I hope this helps you understand the different between store coupons and manufacturers coupons Lisa!

You might want to check out these recently-asked questions:

Have a question about using coupons? Head to my Coupon Questions page to ask them!

Stockpiling is a Waste of Money and a Sign of Greed?

Why Stockpiling is Not a Waste of  Money or Being Greedy

I saw this comment on one of my friends Google+ posts the other day (make sure to add me to your Google circles!):

Stock piling is just a waste of money and a sign of greed. best way to live simply is to buy when needed and not before

I have to say, I can’t disagree with this statement more, but I can see why someone unfamiliar with responsible couponing would think that.  The media is full of “Extreme Couponing” images of people with stockpiles of 500 bottles of laundry detergent, overflowing shelves of toothpaste, etc. But that isn’t really “stockpiling” – that is hoarding!

Saying that stockpiling is just a waste of money is just ridiculous. And saying “best way to live simply is to buy when needed and not before” is simply financially irresponsible!

What is stockpiling?

Stockpiling is stocking up on those items that you will need and use when they are at their lowest possible price. This could be with or without coupons.

Responsible stockpiling is only buying enough of those items to get you through until the next time you will be able to get it at the lowest possible price. Groceries, personal care items and household items typically have “sales cycles” of 6-12 weeks….meaning that they will be at their lowest price every 6-12 weeks. In addition, certain products are cheaper certain months of the year due to national promotions such as “Frozen Food Month”, January sales on diet foods, etc.

For instance, before I started doing the bulk of my shopping at Wegmans (where boneless skinless chicken breasts are ALWAYS $1.99/lb) and Aldi, I would buy up to 20 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts whenever they were on sale at $1.99/lb at my local grocery store. I would bring them home and separate the chicken in to 1 – 1.5 lb portions, place each in a freezer bag and throw them in the freezer. This would give me 12-14 meals where I only paid $1.99/lb for the main protein in our meals.

Let’s say that I agreed with this woman and thought that I should buy what I need when I need it?

That means one week, I spend $1.99/lb for chicken for our meals for the week. For the next 10 weeks, I would be at the mercy of the grocery store prices, paying anywhere from $1.99/lb to $5.79/lb (the “regular price” for chicken breasts at many of the local stores).  I would only be really saving money on meat a few weeks a year.  Shopping that way may keep my freezer less full, but my wallet will certainly be less full as well!

The same goes for cereal, pastas, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.  I can “live simply” and only buy what I need when I need it, or I can use coupons at the grocery and drug stores and always keep a 6-week supply of the things that we use and save a ton of money!

The ONLY way that I can see this woman’s point is if I were stockpiling things that my family does NOT want or need…simply because it gives me a thrill to get great deals.  Fortunately, that is not how I shop/stockpile and certainly not what I teach on this site.

So what do you think?  Do you agree that stockpiling is sign of greed or a waste of money?

What is On Sale in March

march-calendar

March Deals

Are you getting ready for spring? As we look forward to warmer days and the flowers starting to peek through in the garden, don’t forget that that there are a ton of great deals to be found in March at the stores!

:: Grocery & Drug Store Deals in March

In-season produce: artichoke, asparagus, avocado, beets, berries, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, grapefruit, grapes, lemon, lime, mushrooms, onions, peas, radishes, rhubarb, spinach, strawberries

Easter sales: ham, candy, eggs and egg dyeing kits, Easter decorations, baskets

National Frozen Food Month: frozen meals/entrees, frozen vegetables, ice cream, frozen pasta, desserts, juice concentrate and just about anything in the freezer aisles.

St. Patrick’s Day: corned beef, cabbage

March Madness: chips, dips, soda, snack crackers, frozen appetizers, “take & bake” pizzas and stromboli as well as deals on pizza delivery

Spring Cleaning: window cleaner, furniture polish, toilet, tub & tile cleaner, floor cleaners and deals on carpet cleaning rentals

:: Other March Sales

Winter clearance: snow shovels, winter coats, gloves & hats, winter sporting (skis, sleds, etc)

TV’s & digital cameras: stores are still trying to clear out old models on the heels of the Consumer Electronics show in January. Look for the best deals right before the start of the March Madness basketball tournament. March is one of the slowest months of the year for camera sales, so look for sales trying to inspire you to buy!

Luggage: as it is the time between holiday and summer travel, not many people are thinking about buying luggage…making this a time that we usually see some nice deals. Look for the best deals on patterned and “novelty color” luggage (you won’t find many deals on your basic black or navy luggage)

Spa Treatments: Nearly a thousand spas, yoga studios and fitness centers participate in Wellness Week every March. As a result, these businesses offer a number of half-off deals and $50 specials.

Are Coupons a Discount or a Form of Payment?

cashier

This question tends to cause much confusion, especially among cashiers and newer couponers.  I’ve always made my feelings clear:  as far as the store is concerned, manufacturers coupons should ALWAYS be a form of payment, not a discount.

Right now, you might be thinking:  “How can you say they aren’t a discount?”

The answer is simple:  the store gets reimbursed the full amount of the coupon (as well as a small handling fee).  Handing a cashier a $.50 coupon is no different than handing them 2 quarters.

It gets tricky when you factor in store coupons and special promotions.  Many stores will issue a coupon, for example, giving you $5 off your $30 purchase and then in the fine print have something like “$30 must be spent after all discounts have been applied” (which is actually the wording on most Giant coupons).  Does this mean that the value of your coupons don’t count towards meeting that $50 threshold?

The answer is simple:  it depends.

At Walgreens: their policy is clearly stated on their coupons….the threshold must be met AFTER all coupons have been applied.

At CVS: in the absence of any wording to the contrary, the threshold should be met before any coupons have been applied.

At Rite Aid:  They tried to word their coupons so that you needed to have met the threshold after coupons, but seemed to have quickly changed their minds on that and most coupons no longer carry that wording.

What about your grocery stores?

I can only speak for the stores in the Philadelphia area, but for the most part, the following rules apply:

1.  Threshold must be met before the face value of the coupon is applied.

2.  The “doubled amount” of the coupon generally will reduce the “credit” that you get towards meeting your threshold, as that is considered a store discount.  Let’s look at 2 scenarios:

Scenario A.  you have a $5 off $30 coupon and you have 10 $.75 coupons (and your store participates in “full doubles”).  The store might be justified in requiring you to have $37.50 in product before allowing you to use the $5 off $30 coupon.  The reasoning behind this is that the STORE is giving you an extra $7.50 in discounts for your coupons due to their doubling.  When that additional $7.50 from the doubling is applied, your $30 purchase is actually only a $22.50 one!

Scenario B.  you have $30 in items, 10 $1 coupons and a $5 off $30.  You would only need to purchase the $30 in items (because most stores don’t double $1 coupons, so there are no additional discounts).

You can often avoid any problems with Scenario A simply by handing the store the $5 off $30 coupon first.  However, don’t be upset if a cashier having a bad day tells you that you need to purchase that $37.50 for Scenario A.  You would be justified in arguing with them if you are trying to do Scenario B, but the bottom line is:  the doubled value of a manufacturers coupon is a store discount.  If they want to exclude that value, it’s up to them.

3.  In most cases, the registers at the Philly-area grocery stores aren’t programmed to reject a store coupon due to the value of the doubles given….but some coupon-unfriendly cashiers are.

4.  The Store Manager/Director (not the Asst. Manager, Lead Cashier or Customer Service Rep) is often your best friend when it comes to using manufacturers coupons.  I have had transactions where the Store Manager may not have been able to figure out how to adjust the value of a coupon down on the register, but they sure did understand the philosophy of coupons (that they are considered “cash”).

Is this post meant to be a warning or meant to scare you off stacking store coupons with manufacturers coupons?  Absolutely not.  What is is meant to do is to arm you with the information you need to stack those coupons with as few problems as possible.

Do you still think of coupons as a discount?  Or are you finally willing to look at them the way that I do:  as tiny little Gift Certificates from the manufacturer?

How Can I Find A List of the Sunday Coupon Inserts?

questions from readers

Welcome to Readers Want to Know! These are your questions answered from the emails that I receive and responses to surveys that I periodically post. For more answers, make sure you check out my Coupon 101 posts which will also include other “Readers Want To Know” posts! Still have questions? Use this form to ask them!

The following question comes from Alice:

Where can I find a list of all the coupons that are inside the Redplum, Smart Source, & the P&G insert. I like to know before they come out so I know how many to buy. My local paper does not have the good coupons here in NC where I am so I get my daughter in Jacksonville, Fl to get them and mail them to me. She gets just the inserts for $1.50 each so I pay that and the postage which still is a good deal for me. I usually get from 4-8 sets of inserts!

Thanks Alice

Hi Alice!

The easiest way to find out what coupons will be in the newspaper each week is to check out my Coupon Insert Preview page.  Each week, usually on Tuesday, I update the lists for the upcoming Sunday. I also have a weekly Coupon Insert Preview (every Saturday morning) where I go through the sunday coupon inserts and list what I think are the best coupons of the week (and how many copies of the paper that I will be buying this week).

So Alice, the best answer to your question is that you can find all of that information right here on Moms Need To Know!

To make sure that you never miss a recipe, deal or coupon matchup, you can always subscribe to my FREE daily emails.  You can also simply bookmark my coupon insert preview page and make sure to check it each week (like I said, it is usually updated for the upcoming Sunday by Tuesday.)

Don’t forget to also check out my searchable Coupon Database for a listing of practically every coupon that is available at any given time.

Hope this helps!

Have a question about using coupons? Head to my Coupon Questions page to ask them!

How To Save On Makeup and Cosmetics

save-money-on-cosmetics

How to Save Money on Makeup Purchases

Everyone knows that keeping up with the latest trends in makeup can take a lot of time and money. There are beauty products everywhere that seem to shout out our name. They are in magazines, on the television, in print media, the drugstore, and even online.

It is a habit to want more, but really, when you look at the whole picture, do you really need that much makeup in the first place?

These few tips will help you to satisfy your makeup craving and still help you to feel beautiful, and look stunning at the same time.

  1. Take an Inventory Check- Take a look at what makeup you have on hand, before you decide to buy any new stock. Discard any old makeup that has caked or dried up. Decide on which is applicable for business, pleasure, and party time. Choose the colors that suit your personality.
  2. Find great deals at the drug stores – people don’t think of CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid as places to find good deals on cosmetics, but with coupons and rewards programs, you can get cosmetics for rock-bottom prices or even some free makeup!
  3. Check out Amazon.com – I have several high-end brands that I prefer, and I can get them for much cheaper on Amazon than I can at my local salon or even Sephora!
  4. Choose Neutral Colors- Neutral colors are here to stay and regardless of the current trend, they are the basics for any makeup diva. These colors go well with either work or play, and is money that is well spent. Make sure that you make an investment on quality makeup in neutral colors as the basis for your makeup stash.
  5. Date Nights- Start off with the neutral makeup, foundation, and powder. Then add a little color, but do not over do it. You want to appear natural, therefore, choose makeup that suits your characteristics and your face shape. Remember that you want to appear natural and highlight what qualities you possess.

Keeping up with the current trends will cost you a pretty penny, and trends come and go. Use your natural beauty and a little makeup to show yourself to the world. And remember, less is more. By using these tips, you will look stunning and save yourself some money on beauty product purchases as well.

What are your best tips for saving on cosmetics?

Can I Use a Coupon With a Barcode that Starts With 00 on Anything?

questions from readers

Welcome to Readers Want to Know! These are your questions answered from the emails that I receive and responses to surveys that I periodically post. For more answers, make sure you check out my Coupon 101 posts which will also include other “Readers Want To Know” posts!

Still have questions? Use this form to ask them!

The following question comes from Sharon:

When a barcode starts with 00 does that mean you can use on any product they make? I was behind a lady that did that. I think that is great. Is it legal?

Sharon – I am so glad that you asked me this question before you went out and copied that persons’ actions….because what you were witnessing was called decoding coupon barcodes. It is illegal and considered fraud.

There are certain people who use coupons that have spent WAY too much time trying to decode coupons, and then they use them on any product that the barcode will allow. The most famous case of this was when Crest Whitestrips put out a $10 coupon (for a $30 item) that would also work on a $9 bottle of Tide laundry detergent or even $4 bottles of shampoo.

While the person using coupons in this way may “get away with it”, it eventually hurts all people who use coupons. Stores become less trusting of us, manufacturers put out fewer “good” coupons and store prices can even rise to make up for the fraud that is happening at the stores

It all falls back to what we were taught when we were young. If the deal seems too good to be true, it likely is!

Have a question about using coupons? Head to my Coupon Questions page to ask them!

How To Save Money on Produce

How to Save on Produce:

One of the most common misconceptions is that you can only save money on processed foods because those are the only products for which they see coupons. When you look through your Sunday paper you will mostly find coupons for processed foods and cleaning products or toiletries and rarely for fresh produce. However, there are still several ways you can save on your produce!

Buy in Season Produce:

Buying produce that is in season will drastically the cost. Buying produce that is not in season means, you pay more money.  Take some time to plan your menu around the produce that is currently in season.

Stock up:

When you find a good produce sale, make sure to stock up. You can freeze, can or dehydrate almost all produce. Stocking up at rock bottom will save you money for months to come.

Start a Garden:

This may not be an option for everyone, but if you can start your own garden you can end up saving a lot of money. Having fresh produce is a great way to have fresh produce at a fraction of the cost.

Farmer’s Markets:

If you have a local Farmer’s Market in your area, this provides the perfect opportunity to save on produce. The produce is normally coming from the farm to the market, which in turn allows the farmer to price the produce lower than store prices. You save money by not paying the overhead costs and you get to support your local farmers!

Health Food Stores:

Stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s often have great prices on produce. You can also sign up for their newsletter, sometimes they send out coupons.

Buy Frozen

Often the produce has been frozen within hours of being picked/harvested, allowing the fruits and vegetables to retain most of their nutrients. Bonus: there are often coupons for frozen foods!

Save with Social Media:

If you have a favorite brand of produce make sure to follow them on social media and sign up for their newsletter. Produce companies like Dole, Foxy and several others send out coupons from time to time.

Looking for more Extreme Couponing tips? Make sure that you check out all the posts in my Coupon 101 and Coupon Ethics sections!

How to Save Money on Meat

Raw-Meat-1

Meat is something a lot of people incorporate into their daily diet. Meat is also a big expense in our grocery budget. It is very rare that you find a coupon for meat. In fact the only meat coupons that are normally circulated are for hot dogs and processed lunch meats. Seeing that meat is one of our biggest expenses it is important to know how to save on meat products.

5 Ways to Save on Meat

Buy Meat on Clearance 

Normally grocery stores will significantly mark down the price of meat on the sale by date. Some grocery stores have a specific date each week that they mark down their meat.  Some stores will also mark down meats at a certain time of the day. At my stores, they tend to mark down meats as the ru Ask your butcher if the store has a specific date they mark meat down on.

It is perfectly fine to buy meat on the sale when it is close to or at the expiration date! In fact, this is a great way to stock up on meat for a fraction of the cost. Just make sure to get in the freezer right away.

Buy in Bulk

Buying in bulk can result in a significant savings! You will have to come home and separate the meat into freezer bags, but it is well worth the time. I have been known to buy 20 – 30 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken or lean ground beef when it is on sale at the rock-bottom price, then separate it in to bags containing exactly the right amount for a family meal.  Not only have I saved money, but when I am looking at my freezer, I just count the bags and know exactly how many meals I have enough meat to prepare, and if it is time to go shopping again!

Go Meatless

I’m not suggesting that you completely cut meat out of your diet, unless you are a vegetarian. However, pick one or two nights a week that you will not incorporate meat as part of your dinner. Skipping meat a couple of nights every week can significantly lower your grocery bill.

Buy Less Expensive Cuts

When you’re looking for meat look for less expensive cuts. If your family wants steak one night a week, choice a London Broil over a New York steak. Choosing a less expensive cut can sometimes save you up to 60%! Less expensive cuts of meat can often require more creativity in order to make them to make them tasty, so make sure that you check out your favorite recipe sites or Pinterest for some great ideas.  Simply search by the cut of meat to get some great ideas

Grind Your Own Meat

You can purchase a Chuck Roast  on sale and ask the butcher to grind it into ground beef. You can also grind your meat at home if you have the right equipment. If you own a KitchenAid Mixer you can buy a mind grinder attachment and quickly have fresh ground beef.

Looking for more Extreme Couponing tips? Make sure that you check out all the posts in my Coupon 101 and Coupon Ethics sections!

How Many Coupons Can I Use On 1 Item?

questions from readers

Welcome to Readers Want to Know! These are your questions answered from the emails that I receive and responses to surveys that I periodically post. For more answers, make sure you check out my Coupon 101 posts which will also include other “Readers Want To Know” posts! Still have questions? Use this form to ask them!

The following question comes from Karen :

Can i use more than one coupon for an item?

Example : I have one coupon from computer and then one from paper..can I use both for the same item? they have different bar code numbers on them if that helps

thanks so much

karen

Hi Karen!

As long as both coupons are both manufacturers coupons, you can only use 1 of the coupons on each product. It doesn’t matter that one came from an insert or magazine and the other is a coupon from the Sunday inserts.  If they are both manufacturers coupons, you are limited to 1 coupon per item.

The only exception would be if it is a store coupon and your store allows you to stack a manufacturers coupon with a store coupon (most stores that release store coupons WILL allow you to stack the coupons).

Walgreens has a monthly coupon book of store coupons that can be stacked; Target and CVS frequently have store coupons on their website and apps that can be stacked as well. Store coupons typically have a very different “look” to them than manufacturers coupons.  They usually have shorter barcodes and do not have the 15 lines of “legal lingo” that a manufacturers coupon has.

Don’t worry – if you have a problem figuring out the difference between a store coupon and a manufacturers coupon, almost every store has systems in place that will prevent their registers from accepting more than 1 manufacturers coupon per item.

Of course, the best way to keep track of the best coupon deals (and opportunities for stacking coupons) is to follow my weekly grocery coupon matchups posts.  You can also find the deals for almost every grocery and drug store nationwide simply by using the Favado app on your smartphone. You can even see all the available coupons for each deal, make your list and email your list to yourself!

Hope this helps Karen!

Have a question about using coupons? Head to my Coupon Questions page to ask them!