Cheap Bitches

Of course, I mean thrifty when I say cheap, not slutty or trifling.

As you all know, I am an occasional user of coupons.

Oh who am I kidding? You’ll never see me on that TLC show (only because greedy grocery stores around here refuse to double coupons) but my binder of coupons weighs more than my youngest child. After seeing some of my spectacular braggings savings, many have asked how I do it. I’ve been promising to share my methods for months but apparently, I’m a lying bitch sometimes. (I didn’t really lie – I’ve been busy/distracted/screaming at kids and the task just seemed too daunting.)

In an attempt to honor my promises, I’m starting this page on my blog. It will be ever-changing as I add deals when I find them, tell you exactly how I scored my latest hauls and list savings sites I find along the way for items other than just groceries. I don’t know how this is all going to come together, for now it will just be listed on here until I figure out how I want it to look. Basically, this is gonna be a hot mess for a little while so bear with me.

Let’s Get Started:

Most of us mommies know, when it comes to kids, patience is key. The same goes for couponing.

After you’re done groaning, please read on. At least with coupons your patience is going to pay off with results you can actually see (in your bank account and stockpiles) while patience with your daughter’s back talk is never going to pay off – until she has a daughter of her own just like her.

The Set-Up:

If you are serious about couponing and desire to save major money, you HAVE to have a binder. Being organized is essential. The little  coupon organizers you fit in your purse are just precious, but they aren’t going to cut it. Unless you just have exorbitant amounts of free time and the patience of a saint (which no one who reads THIS blog does or they wouldn’t read it,) you cannot spend that amount of time and energy going through every single coupon to find the one that’s going to save you fifty cents on those Boogie Wipes.

I bought a 3″ binder (I started with a 1.5″ and grew out of it in two months – save your money and start with the big one.) I use baseball card sheets to store my coupons. You can also use currency sheets if you prefer. My coupons are sorted with page dividers by category. I have a large amount of categories as I want my coupons broken down as much as possible so they’re easier to find but you should divide yours up however you’re comfortable sorting them.

Now. Some of my fellow cheap bitches file their coupons by date versus by category. They take the weekly inserts and file them by the date they came out in the paper. When they find a great sale to pair their coupons with for the most savings, they go to that week in their binders, pull the insert out (which have had all the pages separated and duplicate pages stapled together) and clip only the coupons they need. This works great for some and I can see how it would be a huge time saver on the front-end. However, this system does not work well for me. Deal sites will list coupons you can use on sale items like this: Reach Toothbrush (1/8 RP) save $1.00/1. That means in the January 8th Red Plum insert, there was a coupon for $1.00 off 1 toothbrush. Well guess what? My paper doesn’t have a Red Plum insert. But, I may have been able to print that coupon from Red Plum online which means the date info would not help me. Also, for whatever reason, different areas get more/less coupons than others and sometimes at different values. We tend to get less/lower value coupons in my neck of the woods. Spending time going through my binder looking for coupons I don’t have would only serve to piss me off. I just go to the product’s category and instantly see if I have it. I spend a lot of time on the front-end (Sunday nights) clipping all the coupons and filing them but when it’s time to shop, I’m good to go.

If you want to see the both binder systems in action, go here. This video is from The Krazy Coupon Lady site. I love their site for all the info they share and deals they find, but OMG! It’s hard for me to watch this woman. I just want to yell, “Spit it out already!” She stammers a lot and just doesn’t seem to feel comfortable on video explaining things. And she does most of the videos for some reason. Watch it. Maybe it won’t be like nails on chalkboard for you like it is for me.

Keep copies of your current store ads in your binder for reference when you go shopping. Shit happens and things don’t ring as they’re supposed to OR the item on sale is very specific in the ad but not very clear in the store. Nothing will frustrate you with couponing more than configuring several transactions to save a huge amount of money and then find that the 7.5 oz. Softsoap you’ve picked out as part of a sale should have been the 8 oz. size and your register rewards don’t print after the transaction. You’re then in a situation where you either cut your losses and just keep the items or ask for a refund (and your coupons back) and start all over again. People – customers and cashiers – can get pissy about this so KEEP YOUR ADS WITH YOU!

*I have one small request to make of all my fledgling coupon queens: Be courteous to other customers. If you’ve worked out a plan to maximize your savings that involves more than TWO transactions, keep an eye on the line forming behind you. If a queue is forming, do a couple of transactions and take your pile of unpurchased items to the back of the line. Let the savings-ignorant people who just want to buy their prescriptions and cigarettes make their purchases and get on with their day. You can use the time to make sure you have your next batch of coupons ready with the corresponding items. I know from experience, if you are distracted or flustered trying to pull off multiple transactions because of pressure from waiting patrons, you WILL screw up and you will wind up saving nothing.

Also, store coupon policies should be kept in your binder as well. You never know which surly cashier you’re gonna wind up with from trip-to-trip and if she/he’s feeling bitchy, they may refuse coupons, refute store policies or just be plain ignorant as to how to handle certain situations. If you have it in black and white from the store site, they can’t give you shit. If they still give you shit anyway, take your coupons AND money somewhere else.

The Stuffing:

You need to stockpile coupons for a little while before you really start hauling in savings. It took about a month for my binder to fill up with a wide range of coupons. Coupons run in cycles. One week you’ll get an abundance of grocery coupons, the next week it’ll be mostly medicine or skincare items. Just keep clipping them and soon you’ll have what you need when you need it. I buy 3-4 newspapers every Sunday and I subscribe to All You magazine. The coupons alone pay for the subscription. I also print coupons online from several coupon sites and Facebook. If there are products you are loyal to and want to find coupons for, like them on Facebook if they have a page and they will post when fan-only coupons are available. You can even go to manufacturer’s websites and sign up through email for special offers. *I highly recommend starting another email and Facebook account specifically for coupons, etc. Otherwise, you may be inundated with tons of email and posts to weed through in your regular accounts – just sayin’.

Paper Coupons:

As I said, I buy several papers every weekend. If you can’t rationalize buying that many papers just for coupons, start asking friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers, etc. if they will save the coupons from their papers if they aren’t going to make use of them. This will save you some money and prevent you from filling the landfills with papers you didn’t read (for those like me who have no recycling programs in your area – ugh.) The only problem is that you have to wait on other people as to when you can collect the coupons. And what if Uncle JimBob is out-of-town watching the NASCAR races? No coupons for you! With most of the great deals starting on Sunday, if you have to wait until Wednesday to even get the coupons, you’re probably already SOL. I know my stores run out of the good stuff early in the week, if not on Sunday. Everybody around here thinks they’re EXTREME, I guess. If you are committed to being a true Cheap Bitch, you need to buy your own papers. If someone else will save their coupons for you to add to the ones you’ve paid for, well, that’s what we call lagniappe around here. Google it, I can’t be helping you with everything. 🙂 You can go here to see if you can get a discounted newspaper subscription in your area.

Is there a high-value coupon out now for a product that is constantly used in your home? Or is there one out that will get you something for FREE or even make you money (applies only at certain stores)? Or is there a coupon out that was not available in your area (re: remember what I mentioned in the binder section)? You can use clipping services to get coupons for specific items if you wish. There’s a huge debate over whether or not you should use clipping services. I’m not going to delve into that skillet of shit. You can research it if you like. They are out there to use for the time being so if you choose to, you can. It’s not my business to say if you should or not. Coupons and Things by Dede and The Coupon Clippers are the big ones and have a good reputation. The charge is minimal and delivery is fast. There ya go.

Printable Coupons:

Here’s where you get more control over your coupon selection. Using various sites, you pick the coupons you NEED and print only those. Most sites roll out the new coupons on the first of the month, so make sure you always check on that day for new printables. There is a limit to how many are available so once they’re gone, you’re once again SOL. Also, there is a limit to how many YOU can print from one computer. Most coupons can only be printed twice from the same IP address. You print your coupon, hit the back button and then print your coupon again. If you have access to another computer, you can print the coupon two more times using that machine. Again, there is a debate over how scrupulous this practice is so it’s up to you if you want to go down that road. I’m just giving you information here.

Rookie mistake: Newbies tend to go crazy printing coupons. Don’t do it. Print the ones you know you’d use regardless if there is a crazy sale or not. If you know your family is going to go through 4 bags of chicken nuggets in a week, then chances are you’re going to buy them regardless if they’re on sale or not. But don’t print a coupon for a product you wouldn’t usually buy just on the off-chance it’ll go on sale somewhere, no matter how high-value it is. Chances are it won’t – until your high-value coupon has expired and you’ve run your printer out of paper and ink, that is. If I find a great deal for something not on my regular shopping list, I will then go looking for printables. If they’re still available, great. If not, too bad.

There are four sites I use regularly when looking for coupons to print: www.coupons.com, www.smartsource.com, www.couponnetwork.com and www.redplum.com.

Here’s a tip: Use different zip codes to find additional or higher value coupons. Again, even with printables, some coupons are available only in certain areas. I use my zip code plus: 90210 (yes, you know where that is LOL,) 30087, 19606 and 77477. I just click the ones I want in each zip code and then print them all out at the same time.

Here’s a few sites you can sign up at to receive coupons by email: Betty Crocker, Box Tops for Education and SC Johnson.

Another tip: Go to your favorite manufacturer’s website and sign up for coupons and free samples. If you’re going to remain loyal, you may as well save money doing so.

If you’re lazy, busy, frantic or just being a typical crazed mommy, here’s a few cheats to find printable coupons out there so you don’t have to go to all the above mentioned sites individually. I will say, not ALL printables will be on these. I have found coupons missing from these databases that I know are out there. If you are looking for a very specific coupon that you’ve heard is out there and it’s not on one of these cheats, start digging into the individual sites. Go here or here.

Facebook:

Liking certain companies on Facebook gives you access to fan-only coupons to print as they become available. If you use this tactic, you will definitely want to have a separate account due to the constant status updates that will eat up your newsfeed. Digiorno and Tide are two that offer a lot of coupons on FB.

Random:

Look around. Coupons are EVERYWHERE. When you go inside the gas station, look on the cooler doors. Most times there are tear-off pads of coupons available for soft drinks and snacks. Go ahead and take a few – NOT ALL. These are manufacturer coupons, not store coupons. You can use them anywhere you like. Some of the best cola coupons I have found have been from gas stations. I’ve also found tear-off pads in Walmart and my local grocery stores. Just keep your eyes open.

Look inside that empty cereal box before you throw it away, or any other product’s packaging for that matter. You’d be surprised how many coupons you’ve been throwing out. It doesn’t hurt to check.

Peelies are sometimes attached to products in the store. If you don’t have a coupon for your favorite brand of taco shells and the competitor brand has a coupon attached to it, it may save you a good bit to switch this time. Just do the math to ensure you are in fact saving money. If it’s a “$0.50 off 2” coupon, it may not be worth switching, especially if the product winds up sucking.

The Lowdown:

You’ve got your cheap bitch bible and it’s overflowing with coupons. Now what?

Again, if you have copious amounts of free time to ad match all of those coupons to ensure saving the most money possible, please be my guest. However, if you have that kind of time, I really think it would be better served furthering your education, volunteering or writing a manifesto, something OTHER than ad matching. There are too many helpful sites out there that do all the grunt work for you. The only time I ad match is for my local stores that are not part of the mainstream databases.

There are free sites you can use and sites that you can pay a small fee to use.

Free sites:

Krazy Coupon Lady – I’ve already mentioned this one before. It really provides a plethora of great information. They post individual deals as they are discovered and they match coupons with the weekly sales ads, offering deal scenarios to save the most amount of money. There are tutorials, best deals of the week, deals broken down by product type (baby, pet, grocery, etc.) and on and on. They are on Facebook as well so be sure to “Like” their page. The con to using this site is that it can bog down your computer and take a while to load if your machine is a POS (like mine) and a lot of their postings won’t pertain to your area. They are based in the west and I’ve never even heard of some of the stores they list deals for. Also, there will be price differences. Prices here are always higher than what they have listed for regular prices (sale prices should always match if posted in the ad.) There have been many occasions where I have gone to the store and the item was priced $1.00 or more higher than what was listed on the KCL site. At that point, it’s really not a deal anymore. Also, some of the chains differ by region. KCL will list awesome sales for Albertson’s that turn out not to be available here, really chapping my ass. You learn quick what you can use their site for and what you can’t.

Coupon Divas – Another great site that sniffs out the deals of the week. It’s not as polished but they have listed several deals not found on the KCL site. I really like their Facebook posts so be sure to “Like” them on there. I have had issues finding certain round ups they’ve posted (like their weekly diapers and wipes deal round ups) so they could definitely improve on mapping the site a bit better. Also, and this is just a personal preference, I want to see the best deal listed first. I don’t care what each store has on sale this week in that category. I give a shit that Kmart has this, that and the other on sale in the way of diapers. If their price still sucks after the sale and coupons, it’s not relative to my interests. I want to see Product A is the least expensive this week at Place B when you use coupons C, D and/or E.

My City Mommy – Click on the “Cities” tab to find the city closest to you in this network of money-saving mommy sites. These sites are great because they scour the stores in your backyard – national chains AND the smaller chains you won’t find listed elsewhere. They let you know when there are clearance items at stores near you that you can combine coupons with, saving you the most money. Also, since they’re smaller scale, you have a better chance of getting those deals since a lot of EXTREME shoppers only use the bigger, mainstream sites like the ones I mentioned above. They also have great info such as local restaurant listings that have “Kids Eat Free” nights, free local events and giveaways and who has the best crawfish prices in town (okay, that last one is probably only pertinent to my city, but HELL YEAH!) They should all be available to “Like” on Facebook so you don’t miss new deals as they’re announced. My local city site does bog down my machine a bit. Again, if you have a POS like mine, it may take a while for the pages to load.

Store Specific Sites – These are great if you have a specific store you prefer to shop at  (or it’s the only option for deal shopping in your area) or have rewards that need to be used before they expire. These folks dig up awesome deals and coupons that no one else has listed. The con is that if you use these sites individually for all of your deals, it will eat up time. There is something to be said for one stop shopping where deals are concerned.

WalgreensWild for Wags and I ❤ Wags

CVSI ❤ CVS

Rite AidI ❤ Rite Aid

TargetTotally Target

Summary:

All of these sites are awesome. They do the dirty work, pouring over the ads, finding the coupons, deals, steals, and saving many a couponing mom from ripping their hair out. Most of us would have bowed out of this savings game a long time ago if left to our own devices in finding the best deals possible. If I can’t find the time to shower, how the hell am I going to go through eight weekly ads and compare each one with my book of 1,000+ coupons? Screw that noise. So, a big THANK YOU to all of the ladies (and men) out there working their asses off to save this bitchin’ mommy loads of money.

So, if these sites are so great and free, why would anyone PAY to use other sites? I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ll tell you why I do.

Membership Sites:

The thought of paying to use a site in the name of SAVING money, was absurd to me at first. How can I save any money if I’m spending it to save? I could go round and round with that argument in my head all day. It didn’t make sense to me until I stumbled across an article one day.

It was written by a journalist who was also a couponing dad. He had tried several savings sites, both free and paid membership, and posted his real-life results from each. One that stuck out was SavingsAngel.com (SA.)

SA allows you to select all the stores you want to see deals for at once, weeding out stores that are not in your area and removes the need to view each store’s deals individually. This allows me to save TIME. (*Tip – If you decide to use this site, go ahead and bookmark the page once you’ve selected your preferred stores. Going forward, when you open the page, current deals for your stores will automatically pop up instead of having to select the stores every time.)

Once your stores are selected, SA creates a table showing all the deals in chronological order by AMOUNT SAVED. This means, when I pull up my pre-set store list, the best deal of the week is going to be listed first, no matter which store it’s available at. Example:

Walmart 
Oral B Essential Floss 50 yds

$1 (P&G 1/1 Limit 4)
Retail:
$0.97
Sale:
$0.97
Comment:
Final:
FREE +$0.03
$1.00
103%

This means Walmart has floss available for $.97. There is currently a coupon available from the Proctor & Gamble insert from January 1st worth $1 off 1 (and you can only use up to 4 coupons per transaction.) When you use that coupon on that specific item, you will MAKE $.03. And yes, Walmart is one of the few stores that will actually hand you $.03 out of the register for this “purchase.” I usually just apply my overage towards the rest of my purchase. (I apologize for the table being all wonky but you get the gist.) Having the best deals listed first removes the need to look at each store’s sale on that item and determining myself where I’m going to get the best deal (and they all usually run sales on the same things each week,) again saving TIME. This also saves and makes me MONEY since I didn’t go buy that floss at Walgreens where they don’t pay overrages.

*Note: The final price is always listed with the best coupon available taken into consideration. If there are several out there of differing values for one item, SA uses the one with the highest value. They still list all of the others so you know what you can use if you don’t have the high value one.

You can sort your table by store, product or price if you wish. It will have all the coupons they have found for those products. The coupons are color-coded so you can tell right away if it was a paper insert, printable coupon, manufacturer website or store reward. I didn’t paste it on my example table but on the right, there’s an option to select which deals you want and add them to your personal shopping list. That’s right. I said your personal shopping list. It compiles all the deals you’ve selected (that you can sort by store and move items up and down helping you plan your transactions) and provides a printable version. You can also click on an option that will list verbatim every single coupon they have found for the deals you have selected. This doesn’t mean you need ALL of the coupons listed to get the deals, it just tells you where you can find them. I don’t have to scribble my deals I filtered myself from all the free sites on the back of an envelope. I also don’t have to go back through the deals I selected on SA searching for the coupons I need to pull from my binder. All of these features save me TIME. Are you sensing a theme here?

Another great feature is product search. The freebie probiotics and candy bars are fabulous, but what if Fluffy needs litter? On your pre-set store page, there’s a field at the bottom you can enter what product you want, hit ‘search’ and voila! New table filled with specific products. There will be filtering you have to do, such as sorting the table by product name so you can find the exact item you want. Then you just scan through what’s listed until you find the best price. This feature could stand some tweaking. I’ve searched for ‘eggs’ before and it brought up a shit ton of Easter candy (which shouldn’t be in there this time of year O.o) You will have to play around with what you enter – bath tissue versus toilet paper, etc. But you’ll get the hang of it. Their database will also sort for the products you want NOT on sale per se. You can de-select the ‘Show sale products only’ feature and it will bring up regular priced items for some stores. All-in-all, a very handy tool to have when you want something specific and not a tool readily available on the freebie sites. It saves me TIME and MONEY again.

My SA membership has more than paid for itself 100-fold since I started using it. I have saved $1000’s and that’s not an exaggeration. Last night alone, I purchased $122.51 worth of product for $28.43, a savings of $94.08 or 77%. That’s one trip folks. Also, if you refer people to SA and they sign up, you get a bonus! SA pays you if anyone you refer signs up for a membership and they continue to pay you every month those people renew. You can use the money you get from referrals to pay for your membership (or to put towards that really expensive but oh so necessary pair of boots you’ve been pining for.) If you want to check them out, please use this link to see if they are right for you. They do have trial memberships and you can cancel at any time if it doesn’t work out. This may help put the savings you get from SA’s site into perspective. Here’s last night’s loot:

Got SavingsAngel?

Contents: (9) Boxes of cereal, (12) boxes of 100 ct. Kleenex, (2) cartons of eggs, (1) Listerine Total Care 500ml, (2) canisters of Stax chips, (1) box of Cheez-its, (2) boxes o.b. 18 ct. tampons, (1) Reach floss, (1) Reach Valu-pac 2 ct. toothbrushes, (1) Finish Quantum 10-ct tablets, (2) Colgate Total Advance toothpastes, (1) Tom’s of Maine mouthwash, (1) 100 ct Vitamin D suppliments, (1) Suave deodorant and (2) candy bars.   For my mathletes out there, that’s 39 items at an average of $.73 per item. And I still have $5 in unused Register Rewards from Walgreens so if you factor that in, my total would be $23.43, 81% savings and an average of $.60 per item. Go me.

NOW. There is a site similar to SA out there that is FREE. It’s called CouponMom. It’s the same premise: Deals sorted by biggest savings regardless of store, coupons listed and linked for printables, ability to sort the list by store and to select and print the deals you want. However, there’s a bunch of stuff to wade through on this site. There are tons of ads, some very sneaky in the sense you click on them thinking it’s a link CouponMom has put up for coupons and you’re redirected to some crap site. Certain listings on the site only show deals that have a savings of 50% or more which can omit deals you may have better coupons for or are for items you just plain need despite the savings average. None of your settings are saved upon exit. On SA, I can add deals to my shopping list and then come back later to do my coupon pull or add more deals to my saved list. Once you exit CouponMom, your selections are gone. If you use this site, you must have a block of time you can sit at the computer and do everything you need to do at one time. You now know why this site doesn’t work for me. Ha!

That’s it for now. I wrote all this up a LONG time ago before I started working at the big, fancy law firm. Back when I had time to be the Coupon Queen. Alas, I have not been couponing with any regularity and therefore, have been spending a lot more money than I should. I will say, my stockpile is still going strong with all the cheap and free stuff I filled it with before I slacked off. I can’t tell you the last time I bought shampoo, toothpaste or tampons. I still watch sales and buy items in mass quantity when I find a great deal, but the clipping has pretty much stopped. I need to rectify this…soon. If any of this has helped you find deals and save money, comment on the blog and rub my face in it. Maybe that will give me the kick in the ass to start clipping again. If you use other savings sites that save you time and money or have tips to help noob coupon clippers out, PLEASE, list them in a comment here. Let’s share the wealth that couponing can create. 🙂 So go forth, cheap bitches! Make BitchinMommy proud.

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