Free Arm & Hammer Cat Litter

Check out this deal I randomly discovered at Petsmart!

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This offer expires 6/30/12, and there’s a rebate limit of one per household. You’ll receive a refund of up to a purchase price of $8.99. This 20-pound box was on sale at Petsmart for $7.00.

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Common Cents: Reaping the Rewards

It’s been a little while since my last post… There haven’t been too many spectacular deals to share and honestly, I haven’t been shopping much since the beginning of the year. The holidays took a bit out of my wallet and I became determined to save up again. So I’ve been “living off of” the toiletries I’ve tucked away over the past six months. I haven’t bought a thing, and I was able to increase my monthly savings by $100. Crazy, huh?

I’ve been saving with a few specific goals in mind – saving to have an emergency fund, for a down payment on a house, and to have that all important travel fund or for whatever happens to come up…

Oh, something came up alright! I’m dipping into my savings for a food photography workshop on the west coast! I’m becoming more passionate about food photography, and really admire the work of the photographers who are teaching the workshop. I cannot wait to meet them in person, learn more about lighting and composition, and “play” in their studio! Normally, I would never be able to afford such a thing. I would be sitting here thinking, “I wish I could go…”. It’s costing me just under two months of savings for the workshop. I have enough credit card rewards points to pay for a rental car. And while I’ll have to borrow from savings to pay for the flight and hotel, I have plenty of time to repay myself before the trip.

So exciting. 🙂

Common Cents: Keeping Money in Your Savings Account

I came across a really interesting post on The Krazy Coupon Lady blog about how an Extraordinary Couponer (love the term!) ended up spending all the money she saved through couponing. All her savings went towards products she really didn’t need – cat treats for the cat she doesn’t own, five hair dryers, etc – all because she was able to get a good deal. She got a rush out of saving money on products, but turned around and spent the money she saved.

It’s really easy to get carried away and purchase too much with coupons. It’s so tempting to purchase something that only costs pennies. But we wind up becoming wasteful, both with material things and with our hard-earned cash.

When I began using coupons, my mom put me in the right mindset. She was a stay-at-home mom when I was a kid, and used coupons all the time for the things our family needed. Every time she saved money on something, she would tuck that amount away in an envelope. That became her paycheck, and she used the money to treat herself to nice lipstick.

So I gave it a try. But instead of tucking money away in an envelope, I began transferring money into a savings account. Saved $2 on something at CVS? $2 went into my savings account. Saved $15 at Target? $15 went into savings. I do this each and every time I return home from shopping. The amount of money you saved usually appears at the bottom of a receipt.

Little by little, the amount in my savings account went up. I noticed I had a little more financial flexibility in each paycheck, so I was able to increase the amount I automatically transfer into savings. When my cat needed to go to the vet last month, the unexpected $85 bill got paid out of money I saved through couponing – it wasn’t put on my credit card, and the money did not come out of my paycheck. The car excise tax bill I got in the mail this week? It’s also going to get paid out of money I saved through couponing.

I could have easily spent that money on other things – things that I wouldn’t need for awhile, or things I wouldn’t need at all.  Stay focused and avoid being wasteful. Collecting “stuff” that will clutter your home is not the goal here. Setting positive goals – saving for a home, a nice vacation, or simply being able to easily pay unexpected bills – will end up becoming your big reward.

Guys, you can save money with coupons too!

Guys, we know it’s easier to walk into the nearest store and pick up whatever it is you need. But seriously, it’s worth it to take some time to shop around for things like shaving cream and deodorant. On a recent shopping trip, my boyfriend discovered that CVS charges $2.00 more for his shaving cream than other stores! ($2.00 is a medium coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts!)

And there are further savings to be found. When you flip through coupon inserts, photos can be deceiving. Obvious men’s products like Gillette razor blades and certain kinds of deodorants and shaving creams leap off the page. Other times, it’s not so obvious and if you pay close attention, you can save big bucks. For instance, take Neutrogena:

With something called a “facial moisturizing treatment”, it’s easy to connect this coupon with a product for women, especially when the photos feature women’s products. Neutrogena does have a line of men’s facial moisturizing treatments, but nowhere does it say that the coupon excludes men’s products! USE IT. This is like finding $2.00 on the sidewalk! (You will find some coupons that do exclude men’s products. I have a coupon for Dove Body Wash that excludes Dove Men+Care. So read the fine print carefully.)

I put this knowledge into use today at Target. I had two $1.50 coupons for Neutrogena face products. My boyfriend uses Neutrogena shaving cream and face scrub, so I figured they’d come in handy for him. These items are on sale at Target this week, so I saved a lot of money for him! His face scrub is usually $4.94 at Target and was on sale for $4.28. His shaving cream was on sale for $3.41.

Men's Neutrogena Sale at Target

$4.28 sale price – $1.50 manufacturer’s coupon = $2.78

$3.41 sale price – $1.50 manufacturer’s coupon = $1.91

He usually pays a regular price of $6 or $7 dollars at CVS for this stuff…

So guys, you no longer have any excuses. Use some common cents. 😉

Neutrogena also has a $10 mail-in rebate right now when you purchase $30 worth of products between 1/8/12 and 2/8/12. Follow this link to their website for more details.

Did You Say Ice Cream????

A little over a year ago, I became a Big Sister mentor to an awesome teenager named Maliha. Maliha happens to be a big fan of Friendly’s, which I usually try to avoid like the plague. (The ice cream is awesome, but the menu is filled with greasy overpriced “food”.) I rather expose her to healthier options, but I cave in and take her there every once in a while.

Eating out can cost a lot of money. But look what I found in the paper:

 

 

Buy one, get one free ice cream?? Yes, please!

Mentoring is so much fun, but finding inexpensive activities to do together can sometimes be challenging. In future posts, I’ll share some tips and ideas on what you can do with your Little Brother or Little Sister!

What $40.50 Looks Like

You’d like to keep $40.50 in your pocket, right? That’s the price of one nice entrée, a dessert, and maybe a drink at a fancy restaurant for Valentine’s Day! (Oh, let’s be honest. V-Day is overrated. I rather spend $40.50 at a place like Sel de le Terre any day of the year!) I found $40.50 worth of coupons I will use for soap, makeup, pet treats, and household items in this week’s Sunday paper alone! And that’s not counting the coupons I clipped for my mom, the ones I clipped for my boyfriend, or the diaper coupon I gave to a friend. See? The Sunday paper is worth subscribing to!

 

This is what $40.50 looks like!

To Subscribe to the Sunday Paper for Coupons or Not… That is the Question…

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t look forward to the Sunday paper. I established a routine as a kid – comics first, then store circulars, art and ideas sections, followed by local and national news. As an adult, not much has changed. Just replace reading the comics section with flipping through coupon inserts!

So if you don’t already have a subscription, is it worth getting one? Absolutely! My Boston Sunday Globe subscription costs $14 a month. I can easily make up that cost through the money I save through couponing in one shopping trip!

Every Sunday morning, I sit down with a cup of coffee, my newspaper, and my coupon binder. I clip the coupons I want, put them in the binder, then pull out whatever coupons have expired. This takes less than a half and hour. (Seriously.) Next I pull out store ads and go through them to see what is on sale that I may need. If I find something, I search through my binder for a coupon.

I will only buy something on sale if I have a coupon. It’s the only way to maximize your savings. And it works the other way too – I will not waste a coupon on something that isn’t on sale. Keep your hard earned cash in your pocket!

Having multiple sources for coupons helps when things go on sale. By sources, I mean other people who also subscribe to the Sunday paper. I remember my grandmother always showing up at my house with a fat envelope filled with coupons for my mom. Now that I subscribe to the paper, my mom and I started mailing coupons to each other.

We emailed each other lists of products we like and could use coupons for. So while I’m clipping them for myself, I also make a pile for Mom. Sometimes we get different coupon inserts in our papers because we live in different states, and that comes in very handy from time to time! (The last envelope she sent me had at least $50 worth of coupons I didn’t get in my own paper!)

So start an exchange with friends and family. A friend of mine who recently had a baby doesn’t get the paper, so I clip whatever coupons I can for diapers. I don’t have kids, so that $1 off Pampers diapers is better off in her wallet than the recycling bin. Help share the “wealth”!

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