Q and A

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freezer1Question:

I wanted to know if you could do a post on things that can be frozen.  I just got a chest freezer this week, and I was unsure as to what “non freezer food” I could freeze.  I know that I can freeze lunchmeat, right?  I mostly wonder about things like cream cheese, refrigerated cookie dough, biscuits, etc – things that say “do not freeze” on them – but I figure you actually can.  I heard that cheese freezes really well too.  I figured that since you have been doing this awhile you would have a better list of things that do and do not freeze well.
Answer:
I think this a great question. From my experience I have had great luck freezing lunch meat, cookie dough, shredded cheese, cooked squash, bananas for baking or milkshakes.  Bread, bagels, muffins, and  pancakes as long as you do not keep then in longer than a few weeks. I have to say I do not have all the answers on this one, I so am looking for all my readers to give your  2 cents on this topic! What have you had good luck with in the freezer?  Or better yet tell me your freezer  nightmares.  You can also check out this guest post Every Thing You Need To Know About Freezing Food From a-z. 

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When I teach my coupon classes I talk about how much of your budget to set aside  for couponing and how to stock up.  When a new couponer watches a shows like Extreme Couponing they are lead to believe that you are suppose to build a massive stockpile in 1 day, using 100′s of coupons and walk away paying nothing.  This “can” be done but is NOT realistic and is more for tv ratings than  to teach you a skill to save you money.

When you first start couponing you will need  to still buy the “normal” things on your weekly shopping list because you do not have a stockpile at home.  What I suggest is to take 10-20% of your budget and set that aside just for couponing.  Then shop like normal with the other 80-90% of your money.  Becuase if you where to put ALL you money towards the lowest stock up deals that week… sure you would get a good deal but you would not have the items needed to create a menu plan for your family.  Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to creating a well balanced  stockpile.

Now what are you going to buy with your 10-20% set aside, you are going to focus on stocking up on the items that are at there LOWEST price point and try to buy multiples.   For example if mayonnaise  is a regular item on your shopping list you are going to pay $3-$5 per bottle depending where and when you shop.  Recently an ad  at Albertsons showed you could get mayo for low as $.49  a bottle after sale and coupons.

Best Foods Mayo $2.99 when you buy 10 $2.49

These bottles do not expire for 8 months.  So stock up when the price is low, and get 8-10 bottles for the same price you would pay for one bottle that is not on sale.  This now gives you the power to mark that item off your list for the next 8 months and you DO NOT have to buy it until it is a price point you are willing to pay. You also get to use that money towards other items like fresh produce or milk… or apply it towards more coupon deals.  The longer you shop this way you will build up a stockpile and you will get to “shop your stockpile” instead of shopping the stores for your  pantry staples.

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Question from my inbox this week,

First I want to thank you for your thriftymom website.  I’ve been
couponing for a year now and I still have questions.  I learn
something new everyday about coupons….I do have a question after
watching TLC’s Extreme Couponing, in the show the couponers bought a
large number of items and used coupons for every item…… I’ve read
the fine print on the coupon and most of these coupons have written on
them “one per purchase” or “one per purchase of like item”……..I’ve
tried to use multiple coupons, for instance, Act Popcorn at Winco and
the cashier refused my coupons because they read, one per
purchase……on the show there were items the couponers purchased and
i have the same coupons and mine read “one per purchase”.  So does
this depend on the store and cashier to take these multiple coupons?
does it also depend on the store and cashier to double a coupon that
reads “do not double”.  I hope you can explain this to me.

Answer: This is a great question and asked at every coupon class I teach, so I thought it would be a good topic to cover.  First let me say the fine print on a coupon should be read and honored.   A store has the right to refuse a coupon  ( which is silly they get reimbursed the full amount plus 8 cents).  That being said this is what the fine print means…

If your coupon says ” One coupon per purchase”

That means you are only able to use one coupon per item purchased.  ( NOT buy 5 items and scan the same coupon 5 times).  If you are buying or purchasing 5 items you can then use 5 coupons.  Ask yourself or the cashier how many items did I purchase….5, so that means you can use 5 coupons  (One per purchase). You can have multiple ”purchases” within one transaction.

If the coupon was to say  “One coupon per transaction” then yes you are only to use one coupon for one item on that shopping trip.

If the coupon was to say ” One coupon per House Hold” then you are only use one coupon , not even on a new transaction or next shopping trip.

Many of you may have noticed P&G changed the wording on there coupons.  They now reads ” Limit one coupon per purchase, Limit of 4 like coupon in the same shopping trip” The top line means the same as above, one coupon per item or purchase ( you can buy 3 of the same items and use 3 coupons)…. but then the next line gives you even further instruction.  Only 4 like items in the same shopping trip.  So you can buy as many P&G products as you want in one transaction….but limited to 4 of each product. So 4 toothpaste, 4 shampoo, 4 bodywash…you get the idea.

The main thing is to remember a transaction is different than a purchase.  A transaction is the sum of all the items or all the purchases you made.

 

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Dear A Thrifty Mom,
I am a new couponer (since October) and need a little help. I love your site. I found you soon after starting the coupon adventure and I am afraid that couponing has become a bit more of a bad dream than a joy. I read about the people who spend $400 and save $1500 and am at a loss. I have been pretty hard core couponing for 3 solid months and have yet to see a dip in my spending. I am working on stocking up on items that are on sale, buying meat only on sale, and shopping multiple stores only to feel like I am wasting my time and energy on something that is pie in the sky. I had hopped to save some serious money to help with our one income budget. My husband works hard and I was hopping my couponing could support him and help our family to make ends meet as I stay home with our 3 boys.
I just feel like I am missing some key ingredients. I get 5 papers weekly. I clip them all. The major portion of my time is spent clipping, organizing, looking online for additional coupons, using your site to find match ups. Then I shop at Albertsons, Fred Meyer, Winco, and Walgreens with occasional stops at Pauls and Walmart. I have 2 young children with me most days so shopping and price comparisons are time consuming and often less than pleasant for 2 busy boys. I live in Kuna so a trip to the store is a 20 min drive one way and I don’t want to tote my kids to the store daily.

Do you have any ideas any ways I can make the major savings happen for our family. I am so thankful for the matchups you do. Without it couponing would be even more labor intensive and I am sure I would have given up long ago. I don’t want to give up on couponing, but I am close to deciding it is more stress than benefit.
Any thoughts????

Sincerely,
Jenny

********************************

Dear Jenny,

Well it sounds like you have your hands full, I wish I had the magic answer but I hope a few of these tips will help.

  • First there will never be a guide to couponing  that will fit everyone’s life.  Everyone’s needs, lifestyle, location, stores and habits are so different that you have to just find what works best for your family.
  • Couponing is a huge blessing but does take work… so  try and stick it out so you can see the rewards!
  • Couponing is a learned skill and you will get better with time, and find what works best for you.  You will get into a groove that fits your family and their needs.  You are just starting out… so do not be to hard on yourself.
  • This one might surprise you but, I would suggest cutting back…. I know saving your family money is important, but if you get burnt out you will give up and it will be like a fad diet that was not successful .  Instead you need to make couponing  part of your life,.. but not take over your life.  I suggest to start small, get really good at shopping one  or two stores (notice I stick to pretty much 2 stores a week) , and as time and income permit you can try and add another store.
  • It is ok to miss a sale…. it is hard to select which deals are the best and which ones to pass up.  But if you try and hit them all, you will find your whole life revolves around sales and coupons.
  •  Take your budget and take 80-90% and shop like you normally would (before you knew about coupons)…. but then take the other 10-20% and have that be your “stock up or coupon money”.  Focus on the top deals, and just try and stock up on those items.  NO NEED to run to 4-6 stores each week, you will burn yourself out.  Each week you will be able to stock up on those hot items, slowly but surely your stockpile will grow and you still have a life.  The longer you coupon will be learn how much to dedicate just to stocking up and your normal “must have list”.
  • I always say Mom First… Thrifty Mom Second.  Dragging your sweet little ones along is never fun, I know you need to take them with you so that is another reason limiting the stores you shop at may be a good idea.  You will find a good deal is nice, but quality time with your little ones is better.
  • Last but not least… never compare yourself to others…celebrate any amount of savings.  You are doing a great job, now go hug those 2 busy boys of yours :) !

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Question for the inbox ~ I have a question regarding coupons. I never seem to find coupons for the brands that I actually use. For example my son likes Lucky Charms cereal but I can’t ever find a coupon for this. What is the point of useless coupons? I can get tons of coupons but it’s for products I don’t use. Where am I not looking?

Answer ~ You will find that many of the coupons you get are not for products your family uses.  Just because you have a coupon for something does not mean you should use it.  Our goal in couponing is to get useful products to provide for our families at a price point that we are willing to pay.

First if you are looking for a specific coupon  to help you save on grocery’s, for example Lucky Charms, all you have to do it click on our Coupon Database  type in the key word or brand and if there is a coupon for that product this list will pull it up.  The list will show both printed coupons (from magazines, news papers) and printable coupon with the links right to the coupon that you can print now.  This is an easy way to match coupons with your specific needs.  Another place to look is the companies facebook or website, as many times they will have coupons there.

Here is the list of coupons that come up with I typed in Lucky Charms

Second be open to new brands when couponing and trying to save on grocery’s.  This does not mean to change your dietary guidelines or buy products you will not use.  But when you are open to new products you will normally be able to stock up at the lowest price point.  For example this month you might not find a sale to match with the Lucky Charms Coupon, but you may find that Chex cereal is less than $1.00 a box.   Maybe your kids will not eat it as plan cereal with milk.  But you can make lots of tasty treats with it  such as Trail mix, Chewy Chex Mix or Candy Cane Chex Mix here.

 

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Extreme Couponing Real or FakeIs the TV show Extreme Couponing real or is it fake? In the few seasons of the show on TLC Extreme Couponing there has been a lot of hoopla over the show. Both for the betterment of couponing its self and for the bad reputation it is giving to couponers trying to get by on a tight budget trying to save money. So what is it? Real or Fake?

Well in my view Extreme Couponing – the TV show – is just that a TV show, made for entertainment. There are so many different parts of that show that we could talk about for hours and hours. From coupons that wont scan right, to unknown coupons that are not given out to the general public, to hoarding, to obsessiveness, to kicking your husband out of his office down to the dark basement - you name it.

One of the many things that it has done is that it has increased peoples desire to try and save money and become debt free. With that it has increased our emails asking for help, guidance, and more. Just yesterday the A Thrifty Mom team received an email from a guy in Canada. Like the other emails we get, he describes his dire financial postion. Quite often some one has lost a job, or are facing a foreclosure. With the email we received last night, he goes even further with an idea of his:

I have come across your blog and your mindset is exactly what I am looking for.
You see, I am the father of 2 daughters (3 yo and 6 weeks old) and I have been recently laid off.
My wife and I are in great need of saving somewhere and that somewhere could be in groceries.
We are looking to extreme couponing but unfortunately, it is impossible up here in Canada to do so since the restrictions are majors.
I have been watching the show on TLC, Extreme Couponing and I would like to partner up with an expert from the USA to extreme coupon together, I would come down to the States and shop and bring it back to Canada. It would help us out tremendously! Can you point me in the right direction of someone you know that could help us?

 

Unfortunately that is just it – a reality show, and now a days the reality shows are just for entertainment. Real extreme couponing is not about 300 bottles of aspirin or 200 toothbrushes or “stockpiles” that push your family out of normal living spaces. A healthy couponer starts small. Builds a “healthy stockpile” that can sustain a family with out going to waste. If you are at a coupon friendly store that brought out thousands of boxes of cereal for a sale and you know that over the life of the cereal your family can and will eat 50 boxes – then buy fifty boxes. And if you have more coupons to use and your store still has hundreds or thousands of boxes still left – then use your coupons to help the local food bank. But remember that others who use coupons and even others who don’t use coupons still need to buy their portion too. Need some help figuring all of this out? Our Couponing 101 will help everyone from the new couponer – to extreme couponing? Another helpful tip is to review our Weekly Budget Review.

What are some of the episodes that stand out to you? Good – Bad – or just what you remember?

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