Couponing for Extra Credit

Some places of worship still have coupon exchanges, and perhaps you need to start one if yours doesn’t. Any place shoppers gather could use one if there is someone willing to maintain it by removing expired coupons and add new ones.

At our Kroger, there are coupon pages available at the customer service desk just for seniors. Yes, there are a few advantages for those of us who creak when we walk. Not many, but a few. Too bad these discounts don’t quite make up for the increase in our medical bills! Check where you shop and see if they have such a program.

Lastly, don’t forget to check packaging while you’re using up product. Occasionally manufacturers will include coupons in or on their product packaging for future purchases or to encourage you to try another of their brands. While you’re looking at the package, see if there is a phone number for the manufacturer, or for questions or comments. Call and ask, I like your product; do you have any coupons you can send me? Most companies appreciate your loyalty and will be happy to send them to you. In fact, some reserve their best coupons for just such customers. Yes, I actually do this, and often. It works and these coupons are usually good ones.

If I can get my butt in gear and write it, refunding is another method of gathering up savings that deserves its own treatment. At one time when I was a young bride, I reserved two drawers in my kitchen for my “trash,” as a girlfriend and I called our UPCs and other proofs of purchase and receipts. They didn’t last long; now I am hard-pressed to find room for my gadgets.

There are many places to find grocery coupons, and even some that aren’t physical coupons! It’s enough to say that with a little legwork (well, fingerwork) and organization, you can save a lot of money on your next trip to the grocery store.


 

Thrifty Tip of the Day:

Next post will be starting a series of seasonal topics. Here’s a hint on one of them, an eBook that you should definitely have a look at if you are engaged or if you know someone who is: http://www.amazon.com/For-Richer-Poorer-Wedding-ebook/dp/B00C69HF0G/ref=pd_rhf_cr_p_img_1_MG8J . This easy-reading book is available for just 99 cents on Amazon’s Whispernet, so you can download their free Kindle software if you haven’t already. Then you can read it immediately on your PC or Mac if you don’t already have a Kindle.

Here’s the publisher’s official description:

In this practical and entertaining guide to a tasteful yet fun wedding for the budget-savvy couple, SKR Publishing presents a common sense approach to starting out richer, rather than poorer for the couple wishing to kick off their financial relationship on sound footing. The first in a series of clever budgeting books, ‘For richer or poorer: your wedding on a budget’ is a charming and engaging look at the process of wedding planning from the aspect of a thrifty purse.

At once offbeat and still honoring long-established customs, this guide offers tips and tricks to ensure your event remains grand and chic, yet sticks to your budget leaving no one the wiser.

Some of the ideas presented here are so innovative and fresh, you’ll wonder why no one has thought of them before. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding, your sage sensibility, and the forethought to purchase this book!

As for me, I have already reviewed in on Amazon, and since I’m thrifty in more ways than one, I’ll just copy my review here:

There are a lot of creative ideas in this book that you haven’t heard before, and there are some that have been freshened up. Not to provide any spoilers, but there is an idea for a date night that you just have to try! It’s a lot of fun, with a lot of new thoughts. I hope they hurry up with the rest of this series!

Couponing 202: Smartphones!

Now that smartphones are ubiquitous, the number of iPhone and Android apps to add coupons to your phone has exploded.  In many ways, this might be the easiest method of all to coupon, but the technology is still evolving and the number of coupons is still limited, even if the buzz is big.  The apps duplicate many of the big players already in the game, so you’ll find a lot of duplication.  The good news (typed with a grin):  most stores will let you use those duplicating coupons, too!  So, sign up for the free smartphone apps you fine at Googleplay, Android Market, Amazon, or iTunes, or wherever you get your smartphone apps.

Try some of these:

The Coupons App:  This little gem needs your location to do its best, but it will serve up coupons based on where you are.

SavingStar:  Grocery coupons that can duplicate paper, automatically applied when you purchase a product and scan your store’s loyalty card.  More stores are joining this program, but it’s still rather limited.  I have had some luck with this one.  I like the sweet little surprise I get when one of these coupons shows up on my cash register receipt!

GeoQpons:  For savings that users are raving about, try this app.  Another that will need your location, this highly-rated app will give you restaurant discounts based on your physical location.  It also silver-platters coupons for local businesses and shops.  It’s one of the higher-rated apps, so it’s worth a try.

These are just a few of the free couponing apps available.  Give them a try and see which are best for you and in your area.  While you are at the app stores, check out Key Ring, which will allow you to scan in all your loyalty cards.  Be aware that not all store laser scanners are good at scanning your phone, though, so it can’t do away with them all.  Optical scanners seem to have better luck.

Next time:  And you thought I was done!

THRIFTY TIP OF THE DAY:  With St Patrick’s Day forthcoming in just a few days, it’s time to pick up your corned beef (or if that’s too serious, try a bone-in ham shank) and cabbage.  While you are at it, try something new and Irish:  Colcannon.  Make sure you get a large head of cabbage.  This will usually serve 4-6 depending on the size of the roast you purchase.

St Patty’s Slow Cooked Dinner:

Place a rinsed corned beef (with or without the seasoning packet, depending on your tastes) in a 5-6 qt. slow cooker.  Top with 6 wedges of a large head of cabbage you’ve cut into 8 wedges(shred and refrigerate the remaining cabbage). I like to use a slow-cooker bag.  If you have a smaller cooker, you can use oven bags successfully, but you’ll have to cut your meat in half and use less cabbage.  Pour about a cup of hot water over the top and start ‘er up.  Slow cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 4-5 hours (older cookers might take a little longer).

About a half hour before serving, make the Colcannon.  Boil 3 lbs potatoes and make mashed potatoes with a little milk and butter; they need not be completely smooth.  Meanwhile, saute the remaining cabbage in 2 tablespoons of butter.  Combine the mashed potatoes and cabbage and mix well.  Top with a few dots of butter and one nice pat and serve with the corned beef (sliced across the grain) and maybe a salad if you prefer to act like this is a healthy meal.  Crusty rolls are nice to sop up the juices!

Coupons 102: Store Loyalty Cards and Programs

 

Sign up for a savings card if your store offers one.  It will be a source of big discounts and clipless coupons when you scan it at the checkout.  Some stores actually send you “Best Customer” style coupons in the mail as well, which are targeted in conjunction with the items you have purchased with your card as recorded during your shopping trips.  Be aware that the store computers are keeping track of your purchases in this fashion; if you are worried about your privacy, you may not want to take advantage of these savings.  Cough, cough.  These large savings.  I like to scan my own Kroger loyalty card at the end of my transaction just to see the ticker add up – it’s fun!  Drives the cashiers nuts waiting…

There are also online coupon sites that add coupons to your store cards, which I will discuss in another post.

Don’t forget about your pharmacy or discount store cards, either.  Just because they aren’t a grocery store doesn’t mean they aren’t a worthy source of savings.  The key is, don’t buy anything you weren’t going to buy anyway just because it has a coupon.  Keep repeating that mantra or your home will fill with stuff you don’t need and won’t use.

Next time:  POS (point-of-sale) and online coupons.

 

Thrifty Tip of the Day: January is traditionally White Sale month, so if your bed linens are threadbare, now is the time to look at replacing them. 

Save some time and commune with your chair

Ever have one of those days when you just don’t want to do anything at all?  You just want to crash into your comfy chair and command the remote?  Yet, you have to walk the dog, cook meals, do the laundry, clean the kitchen, whatever it is that is required of you.  Sometimes, being thrifty isn’t only about being a tightwad, much as I am one of those.  Often (well, usually!) I try to save time and energy on the things I need to do (so that I can waste it some other way).  I like to challenge myself to see if I can do things faster or more efficiently.  Mostly, I love my chair and I want to commune with it some more.

While I am thrifty with my skimpy cash, I also look for ways to save the time I have.  I want more time to bead, or even watch my recordings on the DVR.  Or Skype with my girlfriends.  Even just hug the hubby and pet the dogs.  Sometimes it’s using the slow cooker that works, sometimes I even use convenience foods (yes, even though they might cost more – but much more on that on another day).  Suffice it to say, there are many ways to be frugal, and not all of them are with your money.  Here is one idea to save you some time:

Quick Chicken and Noodles with Mashed Potatoes*

2 cans condensed reduced fat, reduced sodium cream of chicken soup

1 soup can lowfat milk

2 10.5-ounce cans chicken with broth

1/2 tsp dill weed (optional)

1 12-ounce bag noodles

1 container precooked mashed potatoes, such as Bob Evans

In a large saucepan, combine the soup and milk, stir to combine well.  Add chicken and stir gently; add dill weed and warm over low heat (do not boil).

Meanwhile, cook noodles and mashed potatoes according to package directions.  Drain noodles and add to chicken mixture; heat through over low heat.

Serve over hot mashed potatoes.  Serves 4-6.

*yes, two starches is a tradition in our area – combining noodles and potatoes with chicken and gravy

Brrrr, it’s chilly out there! Icicles and snow ice cream, anyone?

Ahh, winter.  Crisp, cold air, pristine white snow, icicles reflecting the morning sun.  I remember our snow when I was growing up in Michigan being so high that we could actually reach up and pull off icicles from our roofline and eat them as popcicles.  Unsanitary?  Toxic?  Perhaps that’s my problem…lol  Hopefully those icicles are hanging from trees and not your eaves.

Icicles forming from your soffits (without the presence of the fast melts and refreezes with rapid temperature changes) are a sure sign of insulation problems in your attic.  Lovely as they are, they are a dangerous sign that your insulation has pulled from the roofline or that it is insufficient altogether.  They are dangerous in that when they become unstable as they thaw, they can fall and injure someone.   If maiming or killing someone doesn’t bother you, perhaps your insurance deductible (and rising rates) after a claim will, when someone is struck by a falling icicle.  Add enough insulation to prevent heat loss through your attic or roof space and icicles will stop forming there.

What, you don’t find insulation fun and interesting?  Then how’s this:  instead of playing with icicles, how about sending the kids out for a big bowl of clean, fluffy, fresh-fallen snow to make ice cream.  No kids?  Set a bowl out to collect the falling snow – wait until the snow has been falling for at least a half hour or so to ensure it’s free of contamination.  Resist the temptation to dump a shovelful of snow into the bowl.  Those dirty specks (or worse) will not fool anyone into thinking it’s anything other than plain vanilla flavor or anything besides dirt.  Use your noodle and get clean snow with clean utensils.   If you are using a metal bowl, it will chill faster.   Once filled, move smartly back to combine ingredients, then chill in the freezer for a short time until ice cream is firmed throughout.   Yummy!

Snow Ice Cream
1 c. Half & Half
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp real (pure) vanilla extract
dash of salt
5 c. of fresh, clean snow

Combine all ingredients, firm up in the freezer, enjoy (yes, you can skip the second step)!

This is an inexpensive frozen treat for the “chillrens,” and only takes up minimal freezer space for approximately 10 minutes .  They will be chilled when they come in from collecting the snow for you, so come back again for more recipes to help keep them busy on snow days!

Thrifty Tip for Today:  Check your vanilla extract label for corn syrup or high-fructose corn syrup.  Odd that it would be included in even Pure Vanilla Extract, sometimes it is.  Usually, the “pure” varieties are rather more expensive and contain exotic additional ingredients that to me have no place in a a jar of pure vanilla extract.  Still, they are there.  Choose your vanilla from those with vanilla as the first ingredient and get your money’s worth.  Additionally, compare apples to apples, oranges to oranges.  Prices between types vary, so be sure you are buying the least expensive among pure vanillas without the icky stuff.

Hi! Welcome to my new blog, a fun home for frugal friendlies of a crafty nature!

Yeps. It's me.

Hello, and thanks for visiting my first post of Thrifty Soul!  In it, I am hoping to not only share some pearls of a hard-gained thriftster (some might call it cheapskate-in-residence), but occasionally combine it with fun things to actually do.  Once in a while, I might even toss out an idea or two for making a few extra bucks to feed the fees (be they craft costs, the envelope in the mattress, or god forbid, bank fees).  Sometimes, you might end up hearing stories of Marbles and His Marvelous Tail, if my dog has done something so extraordinarily interesting.

I hope you will take the time to comment, especially if it’s ideas for future entries or projects to try.  REAL ways to make a little spare cash, such as postings of craft shows within reason, are welcome, spammers are NOT.  Spammers are NOT welcome and will be offered lodgings over an open pit of pit vipers.  My mouse hovers over the block button.  Trolls will be fed to my pet dragon, Sparky.  He loves trolls.  I can’t afford to feed him high-speed dragon food from PetsWag.

Other bloggers, please make yourself at home.  The coffee is usually on.  It might be instant.  For coffee purists, until recently, I was a snob about instant and would never let it cross my lips.  However, I love Starbucks Via…mocha is my favorite!.  Your Thrifty Tip for today:  for one 12-ounce mug, i have found that if I fill a 1/8 measuring cup halfway with the Via powder and top it off with the “International” Suisse Mocha Cafe mix, I can reduce the cost of the beverage significantly and actually add a bit of the cocoa flavor I crave, as well.  Still with only about 60 calories per 8-oz cup (I am also trying to control my calories – you’ll likely hear a little of that, too, sadly, but I’ll save it for later).

I’m a stay-at-home for the most part, although I do pick up independent jobs now and then.  I am a regular beader and jewelry maker with a site on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/JustLovelyJewelry).  I also have one on Etsy (http://www.etsy.com/shop/pawscharming) that is open and designed to generate donations to pet charities in my area, but it is under construction at the moment with just one necklace available.  I have a miracle stroke survivor for a husband and two dogs, a Maltese named “Marbles” and a black lab named…wait for it….”Buddy” at home.  Up and out are:  4 kids, 8 grandkids, and a burgeoning assortment of extremely entertaining great-grandkids (currently, the count is at 9).  After many years spent in the Army, wonderful Hubby and I moved around a bit until our antsy feet were able to slow down and we now live in his hometown in northern Indiana.  It’s a change for me, as I grew up in a very large General Motors city (known as Buicktown), and this is rather rural.

I also have a smattering of spinal disorders, undoubtedly either stemming from or aggravated by my time in service, and crafting helps pass the time when I can’t do much else.  Wondering why my floors aren’t vacuumed?  I have a good excuse!  I do, I really do!  LOL!

All this said, I’ve bored you enough with me, so that’s enough for today, and you can move on to your nap now.   Thanks for stopping by!  See?  You just spent a couple of minutes and paid nothing, leaving with your first Thrifty Tip!  Thrrrrrifty! 🙂