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Question and Answer

Q. Can you estimate how much time you spend clipping and searching for coupons, planning your shopping trips and the actual shopping? It seems to be taking too much time away from other things for me to be worth it. But maybe I'm just an amateur and it will become faster with time.

A. This is a complicated question for many reasons, but first of all, let me clarify that I ENJOY hunting for the deals. I know that not everyone does and I understand that. Just like I have ZERO interest in scrapbooking and others love it. When you start it will take a little time to organize yourself and when you get comfortable with it, things go faster. Here we go…
clipping coupons- I spend about 1 hour a week doing this.
searching for deals – maybe 3 hours a week because I ENJOY it. If you don’t want to do the searching yourself there are several online helps that do the work for you. One of them is my blog where I outline the weekly grocery deals there are and what coupons I will use. Another is You can search by store and there is a TON of info on there.
Planning the trips – maybe 1-2 hours a week. Depends on how many stores/deals there are that week.
Actual shopping – this also depends on whether I have kids with me (that takes longer), what stores have deals, how many stores I go to, etc. I would guess that one trip (several stores – 3 to 6) takes about 3 hours. (I also live at least 15 minutes from the closest store, so 30 minutes at least is driving time just to get there)
Have I mentioned that I like shopping? I think it’s good that I have an outlet for a hobby of mine that doesn’t cost a lot of money. It’s kind of a challenge for me.
Another good tip is that you don’t have to do every deal. You are more than welcome to pick and choose your deals – I have one friend that checks my blog and only does the deals that don’t require any newspaper coupons since she doesn’t get the Sunday paper.

Q. I budget $300 a month for our family of 5 and so far I've done really well making that work and I've started adding in coupons because I want to slash that oop some more. What is the best thing to use coupons for to cut the budget? And also how do you store the coupons and take them shopping with you? (half the time I pull one out and its expired!) Thanks for all your ideas by the way - I just stumbled on your blog and I've really enjoyed checking it!

A. Go check THIS POST for how to start and organize your coupons. There are other methods, but this has worked really well for me. Where I started was not on food but on toiletry items (i.e. toothpaste, shampoo, diapers, etc.). The best stores for this are CVS and Walgreens (Rite-Aid)depending on where you are at, the stores differ a little bit. It blows my mind how easy it is to get things for free at these stores. This week (for example), shaving cream is free at CVS and toothpaste is free at Walgreens. Why wouldn’t you do that?? These stores can be complicated, so go HERE for detailed information about how to work these stores. Once I felt comfortable with these items, then I moved on to groceries, which are far less complicated, but takes a little more planning (I think).

Q. Good stash ! I am a little concerned that you are keeping what's pictured as far as food goods in your garage...excessive heat shortens the life of the foods as does cold.

A. Thanks for the concern, I do know about the heat and cold thing, but I don't' think there is that much food outside. Is there? Some juice, canned goods, and condiments. Most of it is water storage, diapers, toilet paper, and cleaning products. We go through it relatively fast and to be completely honest, I don’t have anywhere else to keep these things. No basement and all my closets are full (you should see my pantry, it’s sad). I just don’t really have any other solutions, so if you have ideas, I'd love to hear them!

Q. You often say that your coupons get doubled or even tripled at the store. Do the stores have this going on constantly or is it like a biweekly basis? Where I live, only one store has ever double coupons and it is not that often. Thanks!-

A. Since I live in a large and highly competitive market, the grocery stores have to do something to get customers in there. (I have Kroger, tom thumb, Albertsons, brookshires, market street, whole foods, minyards, walmart, super target, etc) Tom Thumb, Kroger, and Albertsons double coupons up to and including .50 every day all the time, and triple coupons up to and including .35 all the time. They are store promotions and ring up like this on the register…
Item sold – 1.00
Coupon (.35)
Triple coupon (.70)
Making the .35 coupon worth 1.05 instead. But any coupon over .50 is just at face value. A .55 coupon is worth .55 and no more, etc. Since different areas and stores have different policies, make sure you check with your local stores to see when and if they double or triple coupons.

Q. Oh, and how did you do on your last garage sale?

A. We made $742 at the last garage sale we had.

Q. I would love to have more details on your yard sale. I had my first with freebies I have scored and made $127. I was definitely pleased! (And I was sold out in 2 hours!)

A. I would love to give as many details as you want, ask exactly what you want to know, and I’ll answer as best I can. I usually answer right in the comment section.

Q. My Albertsons just posted a little yellow sign saying that you cannot use more than four coupons per transaction. Do you ever shop there and is this at all Albertsons (recently)? I'm so bummed and I was so embarrassed when I tried to use my hundreds of coupons and I had to cancel everything but 4 items!

A. My Albertsons posted this as well and I read it several times just to be clear on what it says. It actually says (if you live in DFW) that you cannot use more than 4 of the same coupons on the same item per transaction per customer per day. Example being if I bought 38 boxes of Quaker oatmeal I could not use 38 coupons because it would be unfair to the other customers since I am taking so many products. I could only use 4 of my Quaker coupons. BUT if I bought 100 different items and used 100 different coupons(one for each item) then that would be okay because I wasn’t clearing the store out and making it unfair for the other shoppers. Got it? I was just there(on Saturday) and used (in 2 different transactions) at least 15 coupons but no more than 4 of the same one, and it was fine. Double check the wording just to be clear.

Q. How did you get the home mailer coupons from Target? Do you have a Target credit card?

A. I do not have a Target credit card at all. I do have a baby registry at target (since I’m pregnant) because they will send out baby coupons, and maybe that’s why I got all those grocery coupons. Other than that, I have NO IDEA why I got them all, but I’m not complaining!

Q. You have multiple CVS cards? Isn't it one per household?

A. When I first started CVSing (a year and a half ago) the wording stated one card per person. I asked specifically and they told me that you could have one for each person in your family -including your dog. I have one for me, one for hubby, and one for each kid. They changed the wording a little while ago on the ads stating that the limit is 2 or 5 per household(but it’s really still per card). It gives the managers the right to turn people away if they think a specific person is taking too many items of a promo or something. At my main store, they have watched me (including the manager) pull out and use all 4 cards in back to back transactions and have never had an issue with it.

Q. where do you get all of your high dollar coupons? Like $5 and $4 coupons? The biggest coupons I've seen were for $2

A. This questions is a little confusing for me because I’m curious as to exactly which coupons you are talking about. I got the $5 enfamil coupons from a catalina machine and you can get them in the mail if you sign up for their promotion stuff. There have been several times where I’ve gotten $4 coupons for Gillette razors in the paper. The $10 Leapster coupon was on as were the Huggies $5 and $3 coupons about a month ago.

Q. Thanks for the pic of your storage. Living in Texas, I am struggling with ways to store all my stuff and I thought the garage was off limits for food storage. What have you found stores well in the garage and for how long?

A. The best things I keep in the garage are…water storage!!! I have a lot of bottles (including empty juice plastic containers that I fill with water and bleach as per these instructions) and a 55 gallon drum filled with water all in the garage. I feel it’s important when you keep hearing about all these places that get storms and then their water supply is contaminated for a period of time.
Cleaning Products! Dish soap, laundry detergent, paper towels, toilet paper, body wash, shampoo, magic erasers, razors, hand soap.
Canned goods – tomatoes, broth, soups, fruit, etc.
Dry goods – wheat, oats, rice (if it’s all stored properly) Here are some guidelines.
Diapers – when you have 84 packs of diapers in storage, you need somewhere to put them. I probably have about 40 packs just on those shelves in the earlier post.
Pads and tampons – most of these are actually in the attic in my house in Tupperware containers so no animals get into them. I have not needed them for the last 8 ½ months or so, but it’s not like the pads will go bad, right?
Condiments – I keep BBQ sauce, syrup, Lawry’s marinades, etc. outside as long as they are in good containers. We go through these items pretty quick and I rotate through them, so I’m not worried about them going bad.


Neely said…
I found your blog by accident and have enjoyed it so much that I check it several times a week. I live on the East coast so most of what I pay attention to is your CVS and Walgreens since these are the only stores we have in common.

I wanted to see if you ever have any problems, particulary at Walgreens with your RR's not printing for an item you purchased from an ad. I went there yesterday and bought the Colgate Max Fresh toothbrush ($3.29 with $3.29 in RR's given). The RR's for this was the only one to not print. The cashier and even the manager verified via the ad that I had the correct item. But I left with no RR's for it as I was told they couldn't do anything. Have you ever run into this problem and what did you do about it? I will most likely return it if I can't get the RR'd for it.
Ashby Family said…
I have had this happen before, and I either return the said item and get my $ back right away. You can send in a form to the catalina company (store managers should have these available) and they will mail you the catalina, or the manager will put the $$ amount on a GC for me. (especially if the size and item has been comfirmed in the ad) I've even had the manager hand me cash if the dollar amount was weird and couldn't put it on a GC, but it is up to the individual manager.
Give LDS Gifts said…
I'd like to know more about your yard sales. It sounds like you sell the items you get for free? How often do you do this? How much do you charge? How do you display it and how do you advertise? Do people hesitate to buy such things like toiletries (food?) at a yard sale?

Thanks for the awesome blog!
Ashby Family said…
garage sale - yes, i sell the items I get for free or close to free. I also give quite a bit away to friends and family. I mean, do you really need 300 tubes of toothpaste??
I do a garage sale whenever I realize I have too much stuff, about 2-3 times a year or so.
I advertise on craigslist and just with signs around the neighborhood. prices vary depending on what the item is, but toothpate is $1, razors are $3.50, shampoo is 1.50, etc.
I put a sign up letting people know that all items were purchased in the last 6 months and are not expired and there really isn't hesitation at all. especially when they see that the items have not been opened, seals have not been broken, that kind of thing.
Hope that helps!
Give LDS Gifts said…
That's awesome. Thanks for the information!

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