Archive for the 'Tips and Tricks' Category

Tips n’ Tricks: Seek out Manager’s Specials

I totally utilized this tip this past week to pick up some greatly reduced meat and bread.  So I wanted to pass along this saving-money-trick…

Seek out your store’s manager’s specials. When meat is close to expiration, bread a day old, or produce on its way out, many stores will rewrap or remark these items with lower prices for a quick sale.  Because product shipments come in on a regular schedule, products that don’t sell are marked down on a regular schedule.  You’re job is to figure out when the manager does this!

Just ask! If you ask the meat manager or at customer service, they’ll tell you when products come in and when they are usually marked down.  Remember, it may be on different days for different products.

For example, the Harris Teeter on Harding Road marks many items on manger’s special on Tuesday afternoons.  There are tons of meat markdowns, several bread specials, bags of produce marked for $1.00 each, and even discounted cupcakes and sweets.

One word of caution. Look very, very carefully at actual expiration dates on each marked-down item.  You definitely don’t want to buy past-expired meat, produce, or bread.  And for any marked-down purchase, use that day or freeze immediately.

My Favorite Real Simple Article!

I absolutely love this Real Simple article.  I read it in a recent Real Simple issue (my favorite magazine, by the way) – but now they’ve posted it online.

The Best of Real Simple’s Time-Saving Tips goes through 30 tips that will definitely save you time… everyday.  Some of these ideas are just so brilliantly simple and logical.  Isn’t it funny how we don’t realize these things on our own?

Here are my favorites, but you have to check out the whole thing!

  • Use a lemon zester to mince garlic.
  • Put a marshmallow in your brown sugar to keep it soft.
  • Park in the last parking spot to squeeze in some exercise.
  • Use a dryer sheet on your clothes to rub out static.
  • Use conditioner as shave gel.
  • Hang your Christmas lights vertically (umm… why hadn’t I thought of this!?)
  • Cover your snow shovel with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Store your set of linens in a single pillowcase.
  • Safety pin your socks together before you wash them.

This article is full of “duh” moments!

Tuesday Tip: Deciphering your Store Policy

Kroger and Publix double coupons $0.50 and under. Harris Teeter doubles $0.75 and under. Publix accepts competitor coupons – but not always. Harris Teeter doesn’t allow 2 coupons for a B1G1 item.

Wow! These policies can be so confusing. They are neither consistent across stores nor consistent within a chain of stores. So what to do? Ask!

Always ask the store manager, and more than likely they can clear things up for you. If some new issue comes up, ask on your way into the store to avoid squabbles at the register while others are waiting. Write down their answers and stick a “cheat sheet” with your coupons. That way, you’re never confused!

I’ve compiled a list of questions that you can ask to help you decipher the coupon policy:

  1. What days does your sales ad run?
  2. Do you double coupons? Up to what value?
  3. Is there a coupon or doubling limit per transaction?
  4. Can you use a store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon for the same item? (See “stacking” tips.)
  5. Can you use Internet coupons?
  6. Do you accept competitor coupons?
  7. Which stores do you consider competitors?
  8. Can you use two coupons for B1G1 sales?
  9. Can you use coupons on rebate items?
  10. Can you use coupons on clearance items?
  11. What should I do if an item is scanned incorrectly?
  12. What should I do if the cashier does not scan a coupon?

Ask away my friends!

Tuesday Tip: Using Coupon Databases

Every week, I post the weekly sale-coupon matchups up for Kroger, Publix, Harris Teeter, and CVS. These lists show all the items that are on sale, along with the coupons that are currently available. That’s all good and great… and we know that the best deals are on sale items for which we have a coupon.

But what about the items you need that just aren’t on sale? Often, to fulfill my meal plan, I just need an item or two that just isn’t on sale. Today’s Tuesday Tip helps you solve this problem by using a coupon database.

If there is an item I need (sans most produce and meat) that isn’t on sale, I still don’t want to pay full price if I don’t have to. I would love a coupon, but I don’t know if I have one in my massive pile of inserts, mailers, and blinkie coupons. Instead of spending the time flipping through my pile just to find one coupon, I go straight to the coupon database. Search for the item and see if there is a coupon available.

Here’s an example. I really need some bagels to make some pizza bagels. They are not on sale this week and my stock has ran out. I need it, but I might-as-well get it for cheaper. I go to the coupon database, type in bagels and find several coupons available:

-$1.00/1 Thomas Bagels in Maxwell House Breakfast booklet
-$0.75/1 Nature’s Own Thin Sliced Bagels printable
-$0.55/1 Sara Lee Soft & Smooth Bread, Buns, or Mini Bagels printable
-$0.55/1 Sara Lee Soft & Smooth Bread, Buns, or Mini Bagels RP 2/21
-$0.55/1 Little Lender’s or Lender’s 100 Calorie Bagels printable
-$0.55/1 Little Lender’s or Lender’s 100 Calorie Bagels March All You Mag
-$1.00/2 Lender’s Bagels blinkie
-$0.35/1 Healthy Life Bread, Buns, Bagels or English Muffins SS 2?7
-$1.00/1 Thomas’ Honey Wheat English Muffins or Bagels March All You Mag

Not bad! I could save up $1.00 off my bagel purchase. And I have multiple options depending on what coupons I have in my stash. I would probably bring as many options as I have to the store and see what the best deal is. Got my bagels, got them for cheaper. I like it!

Some coupon databases I use most often are:

If you’re not sure what some of the abbreviations you find mean, check out the Coupon Lingo page!

Tuesday Tip: Skeleton Meal Planning

I’ve talked a lot about meal planning here, but I think it’s one of the best ways to save money!  And it just makes life so much easier.

You’ve learned how to plan your meals using the sale ad, but here’s a way that takes the guess work out of it.  I find that “skeleton planning” helps structure my thinking about meals and encourages me to incorporate a variety of cooking styles and foods into my week.

Typically, my weeks look like this:

Monday – Sandwiches, Salads, or Soups
Tuesday – Crockpot
Wednesday – Dinner Out
Thursday – Chicken or Pork
Friday – Ethnic delight
Saturday – Fish
Sunday – Mexican

This is why:

I have class late on Mondays, so it’s just easier to throw together something that doesn’t require cooking time.  Wednesdays are babysitting days and I’m never at my apartment.  Thus, it’s Panera night!  I love cooking ethnic food, especially Indian or Thai, but it often takes some extra time.  Friday’s are perfect and Mr. Q’s favorite.  Mr. Q’s family does Mexican on Sundays and we’ve started the same tradition around here.

How you can do the same:

Think about your week.  What are your busy nights?  What nights do you have more time to cook?  Do you have any traditions of your own or are you trying to work a certain food group into your menu more often (i.e. fish)?  Use this to come up with a “skeleton plan” for your meal plans.  When you sit down each week to think through the meals, you’ll find they come a lot easier.  Use what you have in your pantry and the sale ad to come up with a more detailed plan for the week.

Tuesday Tip: Use a Calculator!

Another easy tip this week, but a great one for those just beginning to “coupon.”

ALWAYS USE A CALCULATOR

When you go into the store, get yourself all set up.  Pick up the weekly ad. Lay out your shopping list and the ad in the seat of the cart.  Have your coupons and a pen ready to go.  AND… pull out your calculator (or cell phone).

Every time you put an item in your cart, move your coupon to the “to-hand-over” pile, and put the final price of the item in your calculator.  Keep adding until you get to your budgeted amount.  (Don’t forget some tax leeway.)

For example, my weekly budget is $30. (I’m shopping for me and the Future-Mr. Q these days.) Once I get to about $25, I make sure I’m going to make it to $30 but not over with what I’ve got left to purchase.  If I can, I keep going until I hit about $28 – gives me some room for tax.  If I don’t think I can, this is the time to put back any “wants” and stick with the “needs.”

This is the perfect way to make sure there are no surprises when the cashier tells you how much you owe.  It also assures that you’ll come in at or under budget each week.

Tuesday Tip: Pick up the ad!

It’s just a quick tip this week, but well worth it!  ALWAYS pick up the weekly ad when you walk in the store. I cannot tell you how many times I have sent the future-Mr.Q back to the front of the store to pick up the ad.

Because I’ve made up my shopping plan before I get in the store, I know exactly how much each item should cost.  Often, however, the shelves are marked incorrectly or I don’t know which sizes/flavors are applicable for the sale.  Whip out my handy-dandy ad – and there you have it!  I can check it, make sure I pick up the correct product (even if it’s not marked on the shelf), and check out.

When the cashier is ringing up my items, I’m always sure to check that these items ring up as the correct price.  If they don’t, out comes the handy-dandy ad.  The cashier is almost always able to change it without chasing down the store manager.

The moral of the story is this:

ALWAYS pick up the weekly ad when you walk into any store!

It’ll save you time and money.


MISS Q…

Miss Q is here to save your money and your time! The site will offer you not only store match-ups, but recipes, tips, and freebies designed specifically for singles and couples. Click around, try it out, and begin your savings journey.

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Since May 2009...
Total Spent: $1007.09
Total Savings: $3,414.44
Percent Saved: 77%

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