Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Good Stewards Class Notes: Couponing and Frugality

A friend and I spoke at a women's breakfast at my church on good stewardship of our money. While that is a huge topic, we mostly touched on how to save money by staying out of debt and couponing. Couponing is much more than just clipping coupons, it is a state of mind where wait to get what you need until you can get it at a good price. Once I saved over $700 on our family vacation by keeping my eyes opened and making 1 phone call. Below is more of a list of jumping off points, than a how to. It is the resources to get you started. Here is the hand out with a few added links and notes:

First of all, you may want to read this post I wrote comparing frugality with good stewardship. This part can be easily overlooked, but it is very important to have the right perspective.

There is also this post on couponing myths like, "There is nothing I would use coupons for."

Coupon lingo can be confusion to new be couponers, here is a site that translates for you.

Basic Principle
It is very simple, you use a coupon on a product that is already on sale. But you just don't buy one, you buy enough to last you to the next sale, usually about 3 months. See, the old way of couponing was buying a box of zip locks because I ran out. As an after thought I use 1 coupon as well. The new way is waiting until zip locks go on sale, then using the coupons I have to get several boxes. The old way I would get 1 paper, the new way I would get at least 4!

Four papers may sound like a lot, but you must have several to make your effort pay big. You can ask family and friends for their unwanted coupon inserts. If you cannot find any free paper inserts, even if you buy a paper, it would more than pay for itself.  If you are single or are just maintaining a stockpile, you may be able to get by with 2-3 papers.  As you keep reading, it will make more sense.  It also really depends how good the coupons are that week, I do not get 4 every week.  We will talk more about that too.  

Below there are more notes and links about coupon inserts and printable coupons. I also wrote 2 other posts on couponing here and here.
Here is a no coupon way to save money:

Homemade Laundry-detergent
This laundry detergent saves a huge amount of money. We buy its three ingredients for less than five dollars, and the resulting concentrate lasts our large family(the Duggars, not us) 3 months! It's a watery gel that produces low suds inside the washer. The ingredients are usually available in the laundry-products aisle of the supermarket — or order online. (Check recipes on the Internet; there's also a dry version of this laundry soap that's good for top-loading machines.) ~From 19 and Counting (Duggars) TLC on their recipe page. Added some comments myself. I have post here and here about this before. I have tried the dry recipe, it is not as good.

1 Fels Naptha soap bar, grated
 1 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax
(All these ingredients can be found in the laundry isle at Shoprite.) 

Equipment: pot, grader, 5 gallon bucket, an old laundry-detergent bottle

1)Grate the soap bar into a small saucepan. Cover soap with hot water. 2)Cook over medium-low heat, stirring continually, until the soap completely dissolves.
3)Put washing soda and borax in a 5-gallon bucket. Pour in the hot, melted soap mixture. Stir well, until all the powder is dissolved. Fill the bucket to the top with more hot tap water. Stir, cover securely, and let set overnight. 
4)The next morning, stir the mixture. Mix equal amounts of soap concentrate and water in a smaller laundry-detergent dispenser or container. Shake before using.
For top-loading machines: Use 1 cup of the soap mixture per load.
For front-loading machines: Use 1/2 cup per load.

Coupon Inserts:
There are a few different publishers of coupons. They are:
Red Plum
Smart Source
P&G Brand Saver (Protector and Gamble products) 
GM Everyday Saver (General Mills)

You will find the title up at the top of the coupon insert. Occasionally, there may be 2 Red Plums and/or 2 Smart SourceS. The date is printed on the spine.

Philadelphia Inquirer: Best coupons most of the time, has more coupons per Smart Source insert, but no Red Plum. This paper is best bought on Saturday, if you don't have it delivered and costs about $1.75. However, the some Shoprites sell it for $1 (Medford, NJ).

Burlington Country Times: has less coupons per Smart Source insert, but does have a Red Plum. This paper is best bought on Sunday from the Dollar Tree for $1 of course.

All You: A magazine sold only by Wal-mart, full of a lot of coupons. You can get a subscription from Amazon or from their website www.allyou.com Also, you can print coupons from their website.

Individual Coupons Printed from the Internet: Here are some safe sights to print coupons from:
There are more available, many companies offer coupons (see “Is this printable coupon legitimate?” ). Remember, you can print 2 coupons per computer. So, the more computers you have access to, the more you can print. You will have to download a program, but it is perfectly safe. It just makes sure you cannot print out more than allowed.  

Weekly Preview: Find out what some of the good coupons, how many inserts, what inserts are in the paper, and how many papers to buy of this weekend. She posts it on Saturday.

To buy weekly inserts:
Ebay – search for inserts by date - “coupon inserts 1/9." You can also buy single coupons. I saved $60 once by buying Almond Milk coupons on Ebay. FYI you are paying for the service to cut and ship, not the coupons - that is illegal.  Yes, there is such a thing as coupon fraud, and it is serious.  

www.hip2save.com -watch videos on shopping at a specific stores
www.livingrichwithcoupons.com (local shopping deals, and videos on putting together coupon binder)
www.thekrazycouponlady.com (videos, couponing 101, store policies) – authors of Pick Another Check Out Lane Honey
www.totallytarget.com (Great for all your Target deals!)

What can I buy with coupon and for how much?
Toothpaste and Toothbrushes
Saline Solution
Over the Counter Drugs
Shaving Cream
Feminine Hygiene Products
Cake Mix, Pancake Mix, Brownies, Cookie Mix
Soap and Body Wash
Shampoo and Conditioner
Pasta and Sauce
Cleaning Products and Dish Soap
Toilet Paper
Paper Towels
Candy and Gum
Paper Towels
Toilet Paper
Tea and Coffee
Diapers and Wipes
Canned Foods

Buy Prices:
What are the items you should put in your stockpile? The list is long, but here are some:
Condiments (BBQ Sauce, steak sauce, mustard, ketchup, mayo)
Rice and Pasta
Snacks (crackers, nachos, salsa, popcorn)
Canned Goods (tomatoes, sauce, soups, vegetables)
Cleaning Supplies (cleaners, garbage bags, laundry)
Drinks (water, soda, iced tea, coffee, tea, juice)
Dairy (butter, creamers)
Meats and Fish (keep frozen)
Health and Beauty Products (band aids, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, soap, etc.)
Start your stockpile slowly, only looking for those items that are cheap or free. Within 4 weeks of starting your stockpile you can start to see approximately $50 knocked off your grocery bill. Within 8 weeks you can get to as much as $100 or even more off your weekly bill.
You will NEVER pay full price again!
  • Ground Beef 80-85% Lean $1.69- $1.99/lb
  • Boneless Chicken Breasts $ 1.69- $1.99/lb
  • Bone in Chicken Breast $ 0.79/lb
  • Whole Chickens $ 0.97/lb
  • Chicken Thighs or Drumsticks $ 0.79/lb
  • Boneless Pork Chops $ 1.49/lb
  • Boneless Pork Loin $0.99/lb
  • London Broil $ 1.69/lb
  • Top Sirloin Steak $ 3.99/lb
  • Flank Steak $ 4.99/lb
Also be sure to check at Acme for “Manager Specials” they're will be a white coupon for an even lower price!!

Here is a sample buy price list, make your own according to the things you buy:
Cheese $1 or less for a bag of shredded cheese
Ground Beef $1.75/lb
Chicken $1.67/lb
Milk $2.50/gallon (whole)- I freeze my milk if it's lower than this and I want to really stock up
Cleaning Supplies (lysol wipes, bathroom & kitchen cleaners) $.50 or less
Toothpaste/brushes FREE
Cereal $.75 per box or less
Brownie and Cookie Mixes Less than $.50 or FREE
Dish Soap $.25 or FREE
Scott TP less then $.25 a roll
Kotex Pads FREE
Saline Solution FREE
Granola Bars $.50
Chinet Paper Plates $.50
Bisquick $.90 or FREE
Fruit Snacks $ .50 or less
Deodorant FREE
Body Wash FREE
Plan your meals, save money. Plan your meals around what you brought cheap or for free, save A LOT OF MONEY!
www.allrecipes.com (ingredient searches)
www.savingdinner.com (season dinner planning, easy, whole foods and healthy)

Only keep what you can use before it expires or 3 months to a year's worth at most. I might be able to get 20 tubes of free toothpaste, but I cannot possibly use them before they expire. While you are shopping for your household, pick up some items you can get FREE to donate!

Food shelters, missionary housing, charities that work with the needy ( i.e. homeless, women's shelter, aid to single mothers, pregnancy centers etc.) are just a few ideas. Keep your ears open, and you will hear how you can make a big difference just by spending your time. If your neighbor loses their job, you can just go to your stockpile to grab some things to help them. I have asked some people evolved with different ministries in our church, specifically what they need and how many people they plan to reach. This gives me an idea of what to look out for in "free" products, while making sure all my efforts and perfectly good supplies are not wasted.

Links to Helpful Handouts:
Final word
All this free and cheap items can make a newbie couponer go a little crazy.  Just please be sure not to clear the shelf, other shoppers are buying too.  A practical rule I use is no more than 4 items per store, unless it is a deal where you have to spend a certain about.  For example, buy $10 of Hunts products and get a $5 catalina off your next order).  It doesn't matter if you are going to donate them all.  There are families who seriously depend on these deals to make it, I am speaking of basic needs here, like heat, food and shelter.  If it is the last day of the sale and the store still has tons, then it is FINE to go crazy.  God wants us to be good stewards of our money, no matter what your income!  Other than that, please remember the biblical practice of gleaning in the wheat fields!

Books and Resources
  • America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money: Your Guide to Living Better, Spending Less, and Cashing in on Your Dreams by Steve and Annette Economides www.americascheapestfamily.com
-Lots of U Tube videos (link from their website)
-Great chapters on budgeting, saving and getting out of debt – very practical and realistic

-Great debt free living book

-Great testimony of debt free living and good money saving tips
-This is where I got my recipe for Homemade Laundry-detergent

  • Green This! Volume I: Greening Your Cleaning by Deirdre Imus
-Easy to implement with good information, excluding her conspiracy theories:-)
-She has other volumes available on green living

-She has a few other cookbooks as well.
-Weekly dinner menu plans based on season available foods, on a healthy, whole foods diet. She includes side suggestions.
-Simple, cheap and easy dinners that taste good too!
-Her books are great, but I think her eBooks and subscriptions are outrageously priced 

-Excellent book on how to coupon, and fun to read!
*Use your local library to read these books for FREE. Even if your library does not have the book, you can ask for it through inter-library loan.

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