Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Confusing coupon policy

So I got an email from corporate of the grocery store I had issues with* today and it included the coupon policy for my region. I am not not NOT going to reproduce it here (you can easily get it if you email them) but I found parts of it confusing. My comments are in brackets and again, do note that this is NOT the full policy, I've edited it heavily.

*I also am not going to say the name of the store in this post - I don't want this to be a Google-able resource, just a place where I can vent. But if you read my blog, you'll figure out where this is for.

General coupon policy:
Only two (2) internet coupons per manufacturer, per product, per visit, per day are accepted. [So can I make multiple visits in one day? Not that I'd bother but...] [This does explain the drama I had long, long ago where I tried to use four Internet coupons for four boxes of the same cereal and the register beeped after two. The cashier and manager told me it was the wording on the coupon though - it was NOT - it was the store policy. Ugh.]
The amount refunded cannot exceed the price of the item. [What does "refunded" mean? Does this mean no overage? That's fine - overage is just a nice bonus - but it's so annoying when a coupon is for $1 and the item is on sale for 99 cents and so OMG you can't use it.]

Customers may not use an online coupon and a paper coupon together for the same item.
The online coupon will always take priority over the paper coupon. Stacking is not allowed and will not work
[This seems to mean no stacking with Cellfire and the like - but it DOES work. They need to police this better or figure out a better system.]

We do not accept "free product" printable coupons that have no purchase requirement. [The manager was right about this then.]
Buy-one-get-one-free coupons and other values that have a purchase requirement are acceptable but will be MUCH less common than traditional value-off coupons. [So the store manager was WRONG when she told me they don't take BOGO printables. What are they talking about with "much less common" though? I see BOGOs often. Does this mean if I use a printable BOGO they'll cite this rule and not accept it?]
We do not accept coupons for more than about 75% of a product's value without advance notice. [Huh? Arbitrary rule is arbitrary.]
Legitimate PAH coupons will not be for a high value relative to the cost of the item. For example, a $2.00 off coupon will be acceptable for a product that normally sells for $5.00 or more, but a $2.00 off printable coupon for a product that sells for $2.25 is unlikely to be legitimate. [This is so untrue - I've seen printables ALL THE TIME that are LEGIT that give a huge percentage discount. Usually that's when combined with a sale but still. This is bizarre and confusing and makes me feel like I'll be questioned again and again. Not worth my time.]

PAH coupons can be checked for validity at: http://www.printcoupons.com. [GREAT to know. Although what cashier or manager is going to be able to do this on the fly?]

So there's some of the policy. I'm still confused, but I'm going to print out the full email and bring it with me in my coupon folder. The email said they would send it to the regional manager to "educate his staff" or something. So that's good...ish...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Freebies in the mail today

A coupon for a free bottle of Suave professional shampoo or conditioner (wouldn't it be fabulous if CVS had a sale with ECBs for this? But it expires 7/31 so probably not...)
A free box of DaVinci cheese tortellini (yum)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Free mayo at Publix, spending down the ECBs at CVS

First, I wrote an article for Examiner.com about how to get free Kraft Sandwich Shop mayo at Publix - I'd love it if you'd read it.

Today I went out and bought two Sunday papers for $1 each from the guy who sells them on the street. That's all well and good, but when I got home I found out that both were missing the RedPlum circular. ARGH.

So I drove to CVS and spent my soon-to-expire $5 ECB on a single paper (making sure it had the RP in it before I paid), a roll of paper towels, and a card for someone. I paid 65 cents and I got back $1 for my Green Bag Tag. I always feel kind of funny fully spending my ECBs, but I earned them in order to get more great deals and this year I'm trying to be more relaxed about them. I had an expiring $3 also that I used last week to get the free toothpaste and a $1 box of Wheat Thins (should've gotten a Powerbar instead I guess).

In other deals (is anyone reading this?) I bought myself a GPS for over 60% off its retail price from Amazon (this one: Garmin nĂ¼vi 1350/1350T 4.3-Inch Widescreen Portable GPS Navigator with Traffic). And thanks to Half Off Depot, I now have half-price tickets to both the children's museum and the zoo. I love all the half-price sites that have popped up SO much. I also have a gift certificate for a local restaurant that I got for almost 60% off (if only we could find time to use it!) and another certificate for a shop that sells dried fruit, nuts, and candy - $25 for $10. Love it!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bad experience with printables at Kroger

I just feel the need to blog about this because it's annoying and embarrassing and I'm tired of it happening, but it's an industry problem that needs to be fixed on a larger scale.

Today I went to Kroger with three printable coupons that were, obviously, all legit. Two for Goldfish crackers and one for Almond Breeze. I bought exactly those three things and handed over the coupons. The cashier looked sideways at me and said in a very rude manner "You printed these yourself? We don't take these. We don't take these because you printed them."

I am not good at handling these sorts of situations, but I told her I'd used one the day before (she said "At THIS store?!") and that Kroger corporate policy is to take them (which I admit, I am not positive about - I have emailed Kroger for clarification). I then said "I don't want any of the items if I can't use the coupons" which she sighed heavily at. She finally consented to call a manager, rolling her eyes as she did so and as I said "I want to know for the future, so I know not to bring them again." And a manager strolled over, smiled, and said oh yes, we take them, we just don't take coupons for "free" stuff or buy-one-get-one-free coupons. (Mine were for 50 cents and 55 cents.) So the girl said oh, fine, wouldn't look at me, and scanned my coupons.

COMPANIES! You MUST figure something out so that legitimate users of printable coupons do not get treated like criminals. Ugh. I know it's easy to forge and/or copy a printable coupon, but someone with a color printer at home could rather easily do the same with a newspaper coupon if s/he wanted to.

But it's more about how I've been treated when using these legitimate coupons. There's a way to say "I'm sorry ma'am, I am not sure if we take these, let me ask a manager" instead of being nasty and rude to me. There's a way to say "We've changed our policy" and to apologize for any inconvenience.

I'll still use printables - the deals are just too valuable to me. But I'm not planning on going back to this particular Kroger store again.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Thanks for the free tea, Kroger!

I played the Kroger Summer of Savings game and won a free box of Tazo tea! So I went tonight and picked up a box of the "Calm" blend, as well as two bags of Goldfish crackers that were on sale 4/$5 (wish I'd gotten the recent printable to print, but it wouldn't work!). Woohoo! And they say there will be a second chance drawing/contest in a few weeks. You can log in and play once a day and the instant prizes are pretty good and will be loaded directly onto your Kroger card.

CVS - Summary for my other card

So as I've said numerous times, I don't like juggling two CVS cards (I have my own, but when I started the "experiment" two years ago, I started fresh with my husband's card and phased mine out over time). But I got $5 in ECBs for doing a survey, and that's totally free money.

So with that $5 plus less than $3 in cash (most of it covering sales tax) I got (over multiple transactions of course):
1 Cover Girl lip gloss (my preferred brand)
2 bottles of Old Spice body wash
1 Schick razor (my husband's preferred brand)
3 Powerbars (they'll come in handy on an upcoming road trip)
4 boxes of Nescafe single-serving coffee (7 packs per box) (I like these)
1 bag of 20 Cascade Action Pacs (our preferred brand)

I daresay that's not bad at all! And now I have zero on my other card again and can focus on ONE card.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Get Rich Slowly on the Internet - A Guide to My Favorite Sites

I find myself telling my friends the same thing over and over, so I'm going to make this into a post that I can email to them. If it helps you, please leave a comment!

My favorite sites to find out about deals/sales/coupons/savings:
http://www.couponmom.com - my most-checked site, she breaks down the sales for all major grocery stores plus Target, CVS, Walgreens, and more, and matches up coupons. She sticks to coupons in circulars and the occasional printable from coupons.com or smartsource.com, but this makes it MUCH easier to handle.
http://www.moneysavingmom.com - my second-most-checked site. If there's a freebie out there, she probably knows about it. If there's a sale, she'll tell you about it. There's a new feature of the site that breaks down coupon matchups/sales for individual stores around the country, and those DO go further than the circulars and easy printables.
http://www.iheartcvs.com - Want to shop CVS? This is the best site for info.
http://www.iheartpublix.com - a new discovery - she has matchups for Publix sales, makes separate posts for the best deals of the week, notes new coupons, lists recipes, and more!

My favorite sites to make a bit of money (NOT A LOT) or to earn gift certificates or free stuff:
http://www.youdata.com - pays you to click on ads that are targeted to your interests. No minimum payout, pays to PayPal each week. Note that lately I haven't gotten any ads at all, but in the past I've gotten about 50 cents a week. Not bad for just a few seconds of time, and I've really enjoyed the websites I've found through the site.
http://www.swagbucks.com - a search engine that awards "bucks" randomly as you search and also awards them for viewing offers or other things. You can earn between 10 and 30 bucks a day with minor effort, and 450 bucks is a $5 Amazon gift card. I've earned about $400 in gift cards over time, so yes, it's worth it. Just use it for your regular searching!
https://www.mysurvey.com/ - points for taking surveys, cash rewards.
http://www.bzzagent.com - they'll send you full-sized products to try out and then "Bzz" about (talk about with others on and offline). Usually you get high-value coupons too.
http://www.vocalpoint.com - they'll randomly send you samples or even full-sized products to try, plus coupons.
http://www.mypoints.com - emails with click-throughs that are worth a few points, plus a site through which you can click to get to sites on which you shop. I've earned hundreds of dollars in Amazon gift cards here too. I suggest setting up a folder in your email box and filtering all their emails to it so you can click through at your leisure. If you want to sign up, I'd love it if you'd use me as a referral - just comment with your email address and I'll send you an email through the site. (They don't do referral links.)

I'll add to and update this post periodically. I know I've made posts like this in the past, but I've finally set it up so I can find this one easily and refer back to it!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Publix - Free Baileys coffee creamer and Muir Glen tomato sauce, and free isn't always worth it

Yes, I have been going to the grocery store a lot lately. That should slow down enormously soon.

At Publix tonight I spent $33 (before tax) and saved $25.50. Nice.

I got the free Baileys coffee creamer - it was BOGO at $2.09, I used two $1 coupons and one Publix store coupon for 55 cents off. (I'm still not 100% sure about using more than one Publix store coupon at a time, but I only had one with me anyway and figured it was still free+overage - and I don't like to be greedy!)
I also got more free Muir Glen tomato sauce - 89 cents for the can, use the $1 printable. It still stings that I got yelled at for doing this once at a different Publix, but whatever, it's a legitimate purchase and I don't go to that Publix anymore so there.
Plus I got Laughing Cow cheese for $1.50 each (on sale 3/$6, I got 4, used two $1/2 coupons from a tearpad on the display woohoo - this stuff lasts forever and ever so it's worth stocking up), I found the "Eat This" type of tortillas (I got a copy of Eat This Not That for about 15 cents at a yard sale last year), and I decided that since I was getting some nice overage, I'd try Vitalicious Vitatops. They're not terribly priced - I was expecting them to cost more but they're $4.49 for four. If I like them, I'll probably only buy them if I either have a coupon (which apparently is a rare thing) or overage (which I can often get at least a little of with the Muir Glen deal that happens periodically).

Meanwhile, Kraft sent me six try-me-free coupons via their First Taste program - I mentioned this in an earlier post. I gave away the shaved meat coupon, as I'm vegetarian. And then I went tonight to get the rest - well, the Kool Aid fizzies have aspartame (which I refuse to ingest) (I also try to avoid other artificial sweeteners as best as I can) and the Crackerfuls have HFCS (I try very hard to avoid this), so I skipped them both. I forgot to look for the DiGiorno pizza (I hope it doesn't have trans fat or HFCS) and the 100-calorie cheese bites (which are processed cheese but which I will consider getting since, well, I eat tons of Laughing Cow...). I did get the Homestyle mac and cheese - the ingredient list is really long and probably contains some of the above, but it's also mac and cheese - and since it's shelf-stable/nonperishable, I could donate it. Remember, I *try* to avoid these things... ;) I think I will try to trade these high-value coupons though, because I know not everyone cares about food additives in the way I do. But just because it's free doesn't mean I'll automatically grab it.

ETA: I've found a good home for the other free coupons. The breadcrumbs in the Homestyle mac and cheese have partially hydrogenated soybean oil, so we're going to just make it without them. Remember, just because a package says 0% trans fat does NOT mean it doesn't have trans fat. My chewable Rolaids that I got for free at CVS a few weeks ago have hydrogenated oil in them!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

More free e-coupon money!

Despite a few glitches/slowness/weirdness on the website, I scored today's Cellfire Cinderella coupon - $5 off my next purchase of $5.01 or more at Kroger! I love e-coupons - no need to bring a thing with me if I don't want to, but I also can combine them with paper coupons if I do want to!

Now...what to get? It expires in 3 days. Hmmmm.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Free stuff in the mail - June 16, 2010

Six coupons for free products from Kraft: shaved meat (which I'm giving away since I'm a vegetarian), pizza, Kool Aid fizzies, Homestyle mac&cheese (second freebie of this one), Crackerfuls, and 100 calorie "cheese" (I shouldn't turn my nose up at it though - I'm the Laughing Cow fan after all!).
One big lovely reusable bag from Earthbound Farms, plus coupons.

I tried the Laughing Cow mozzarella and tomato flavor today. I just ate it by itself - I think it really needs something else to complement it, whether a cracker or melted over pasta/shirataki noodles. The tomato was stronger than I expected, but overall it was good. I'm excited to try the queso one next, and I'm really glad I found those $1/2 coupons on the display...

Kroger - Cheap stuff, plus Shortcuts has great customer service!

I walked over to the small Kroger near my house because I had a coupon and a Shortcuts coupon for both Blue Diamond Almond Breeze and Fiber One. The Almond Breeze is on sale this week for $1.99, so in my head that meant I would get it for 44 cents ($1 paper coupon, 55 cent Shortcuts coupon). I didn't know how much the Fiber One was but I figured I could get a decent deal since the paper coupon was expiring.

I didn't realize that the Annie's mac and cheese was part of the 10/$10 sale too, so I grabbed 4 boxes of that. The Fiber One turned out to be $4.29 - so $2.74 after coupons. I decided that was a reasonable deal - I want to try using it ground up as a coating for onion rings and soy-chicken tenders ala Hungry Girl - but next time around I'm waiting for a good sale.

So. All was well, but the 55 cent Shortcuts coupon for the Almond Breeze didn't come off (though the Fiber One did). I went on Shortcuts.com, filled out the dispute form, and within about 60 seconds I had a reply that my account had been credited 60 cents! So now I have 60 cents off of...anything. I'm amused that I'm that excited about 60 cents.

So my plan is to go back and get one more box of Annies for 40 cents! Hooray! (A dollar for the Almond Breeze is still an amazing deal - wish I could find my other coupon but it seems I either used it or lost it, boo.)

Also today I signed up on Facebook for a free box of DaVinci pasta - I'm pretty sure the offer has now ended, but I'm really excited to get it! Free pasta yay!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

CVS and Publix - Free stuff and savings!

I went to CVS with $4.99 on "my" card. First, I got another Covergirl Wet Slicks lipgloss and a Powerbar and used $4 and a $2 coupon. The cashier adjusted down my ECB without problems, and I paid about 40 cents OOP. Got back $3 and 99 cents. Then used those plus the other 99 cents and a BOGO coupon to get two bottles of Old Spice bodywash and another Powerbar. Paid about 60 cents OOP, got back $8.99. Not bad at all.

Then Publix. I found two out of the three new Laughing Cow flavors - hooray! They were $2.99 each, the "regular" flavors were $2 each. The display had $1/2 coupons on it, and I got four (two new, two regular). I also got Skinny Cow bars for $1.50 and then a bunch of other deals I won't bore you with. We spent less than $50 and saved around $30.

Does anyone know a) if I can use more than one of one type of Publix coupon in a transaction? I actually have done this once but I'm not sure how legit that was... and b) how long the Laughing Cow is on sale 3/$6? (I forgot to check, it's not listed in the Advantage or regular sale flyers.)

Next week, Publix has Baileys creamers on BOGO so they're $1.05 each. I have $1 printables! And a 55 cent Publix coupon! (Thus the question - could I get two Baileys and use two $1s and two 55 cents Publix coupons for mega overage?) I could go crazy with creamers because I also have a BOGO for International Delight and then a 55 cent Publix coupon for those...I do love flavored coffee!

Monday, June 14, 2010

CVS - More free stuff

I really hate juggling two cards, and I've more or less retired "my" card at this point, though my husband keeps it on his keyring and occasionally gets ECBs (mostly quarterly) that we...forget to use. BLASPHEMY I know.

Anyway, as I think I mentioned already, I did a survey (long ago I signed that card up for surveys) and got $5 in ECBs. Totally free money, so...tonight I got another Schick razor and a Powerbar. I used the $5 Schick coupon and the $5 in ECBs and nothing seemed to beep, my pre-tax total was negative 4 cents, and I got back a $4 and a 99 cent ECB. My plan is to next take the $4 and get another Covergirl lipgloss and another Powerbar. I'll get back $3 and 99 cents from that. And for my grand finale, use both of those to do the BOGO Old Spice/Gillette deal. So I'll wind up with $8.99 from my original $5. Not bad. And then...probably just spend the $8.99 on stuff we need.

Meanwhile, I gave my husband $4.99 from my usual card and he got some children's ibuprofen for $4.99. Only paid sales tax. I still have plenty of ECBs on that card and not enough time to juggle everything so this was a great deal for me.

I'm hoping to also hit Publix for free shaving gel and to look (yes, I have a one-track mind) for those Laughing Cow flavors. And to see how much tofu shiratake is there as well - that stuff is pretty good, low calorie, filling, but also $1.79 at the two places I've found it so far, and that's a bit steep for a little snack....

Sunday, June 13, 2010

CVS - Free Schick Hydro razor, free Covergirl Wetslicks lipgloss, free Powerbar, free Old Spice bodywash

Today was like the old days at CVS! I didn't take a picture but...

First I got the double paper. It's $3. I used the $2 that the scanner spat out at me (so, that one was free money) and the $1 I got from the Green Bag Tag (more free money). The manager was at the register so he zeroed out the tax. Free.

I fished out the $5 Schick coupon from one of the papers.

Then I used that, my $2 Covergirl coupon that I got from being a BzzAgent, and $8 in ECBs (expiring soon, no great deals next week...) and got a Schick razor for my husband (his preferred brand! He also tried the new free-ish Gillette and declared Schick the winner), my favorite shade of Covergirl Wetslicks mint (Un-Wined), and a Powerbar. The Covergirl coupon was PISSY and beeped and said no no no and I argued back and finally the manager/cashier just pushed it through for $1.95. I have no idea why this beeped, but I had asked to put the ECBs first and the coupons second to avoid beeps and I guess that was my mistake. Anyway I paid $1 for all that. Got back $4 for the Schick, $3 for the Covergirl, 99 cents for the Powerbar.

Then I got two Old Spice bodywashes. I used the BOGO coupon from a few weeks ago and a $4 ECB. It was supposed to be pay $4, get $4, limit one. But HAPPY DAY it was limit two, so I got $8 back! I paid 56 cents OOP.

So in the end I came out a dollar ahead ECB-wise and spent $1.56 in cash for the double paper, a Powerbar, two bottles of bodywash, my husband's preferred razor, and my favorite shade of lipgloss. Nice.

I still have my second card kicking around, by the way, and I recently did a survey that scored me $5 ECBs tied to that card. While I hate juggling two cards, I will take advantage of this by using that $5 plus the other $5 Schick coupon I have to get my husband yet another Schick razor (that would be our fourth free one) and another Powerbar. Then I'll have $4.99 on that card to buy...stuff.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Free outfit at Carters!

Carters and OshKosh B'Gosh sent me two coupons - $10 off a $10 purchase at each store. OshKosh is a bit harder to get to, but we went to Carters today and I got my daughter a onesie and matching shorts for ZERO. ZIP. NOTHING. Awesome!

I am on a quest to find the three new Laughing Cow cheese wedge flavors. Target didn't have them. If you see them somewhere, leave a comment and tell me where. Bonus points if you saw them in Georgia.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Free Skinny Cow single-serving cups at CVS, free ECBs too!

Today I used one of my $1-off-any-Skinny-Cow coupons (I have three - two for liking Skinny Cow on Facebook and one from their site - should've been able to print two from the site but couldn't) at CVS and voila, scored a single-serving cup of chocolate brownie for 2 cents. However, the cashier was all concerned about the coupon, gave me the third degree, and called over a manager. They both indicated there had been memos about "Internet coupons" but this one wasn't on the memo (because, you know, it's LEGIT) so they let it go. I only used one because I was at the CVS that I walk to and it's 90 degrees out (I ate the cup when I got home, it was only slightly melty) but I'm glad I didn't use more anyway. I'll try to get to a CVS before Saturday to get two more - if not, no big, these are a nice treat but I don't NEED them. The store also didn't have the Gillette pack that includes a razor AND extra stuff, and my husband says he's a "Schick guy" so I skipped doing that deal a second time. Oh and I got my Green Bag Tag dollar.

Also I scored the much-discussed-elsewhere free $2 ECB from the scanner. Mine's good until Sunday, so I'm going to use that plus the GBT dollar plus my $3 coupon from BzzAgent to get free CoverGirl lip gloss on Sunday. Hooray! (It's on sale for $5.99, get back $3, next week.)

I'm also currently obsessed with Hungry Girl - granted, a lot of her recipes call for name-brand food (and non-food, sorry HG but it's true), and she LOVES Splenda and I will not touch the stuff, but she also has some very cool and cute ideas. I just got one of her cookbooks from the library (her first book). Best tip I've learned so far? That Laughing Cow wedges MELT. They MELT! I've been eating Laughing Cow cheese for years ("the little cheeses in the red knit bag") and I got addicted to the French Onion wedges a while back (they remind me of onion dip). But I never thought to melt one - so I threw some leftover whole wheat pasta and blanched broccoli in the microwave with a Swiss LC wedge and voila - cheesey, low cal snack. YAY. AND they are launching three new flavors and I am dyyyying to try them. Yum.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

CVS - Free Rolaids, free Gillette razor, free Dawn dishwashing liquid plus other freebies!

Today I got the following for free:
Goat cheese (basil and roasted garlic) using coupon from Chevrie
Kraft Mac and Cheese "cheesy explosion" using coupon from Kraft
Kraft Homestyle Mac and Cheese (which appears to be regular m&c with breadcrumbs, in a fancier bag) using coupon from Kraft

At CVS, I spent less than $2 out of pocket and got 2 bags of Rolaids, a Gillette Fusion razor, and a bottle of Dawn Hand Renewal dishwashing liquid. I handed over $4 in ECBs as well, plus a $5-off-$15 coupon (only available through the register - my new favorite cashier hooked me up with it without my needing to make an initial purchase), $4-off-two Rolaids coupon, $4 off Gillette coupon, and $1 off Dawn coupon (which got adjusted down to 97 cents), and I got back $9 in ECBs. Apparently the Gillette deal is more than one, despite what it says in the flyer (my receipt says I haven't completed it yet), so I'll go do that again - ECBs + coupon = razor for $1, but I will get $1 extra back from my Green Bag Tag so it will come out even.

Also I got Shout stain treater for 42 cents and two t-shirts for $10 ($5 each) at Target.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Freebies galore!

Recent freebies:

Coupon for free goat cheese!
Coupon for free Butterfinger candy bar
Coupon for free half-gallon of Hood Simply Smart milk
Coupon for free bottle of non-alcoholic Baileys coffee creamer
Free Nozema bikini razors plus 50 cents overage from Publix (I may try to do this deal a few more times before it ends on June 11 as I have a few more coupons)

Still can't find the Kraft products for which I have free coupons. Same with the yogurt I was supposed to be a BzzAgent for. Maybe in a few months (the coupons have a while to go).