Top Ten Reasons to Coupon

It starts as a whisper… rising food prices. A mention here, a comment there. Then you go shopping and it screams, RISING FOOD PRICES, when you see the price of a dozen eggs.

For the frugal, this is bad news so I decided to research the reasons. Ethanol seems to be the culprit according to an article at Technology Review published by MIT. Now, MIT has credibility in my book so I not only read the article, but all the responses. And, guess what? I’m too intellectually challenged to figure out the macro-implications of Ethanol, corn prices, oil prices, etc. All I know is gas and food prices keep climbing. However, at least with gas we have options: carpool, make fewer trips, make more productive trips, walk, bike (all of which are good for the environment; some even benefit our waistlines.) But, we all have to eat.

Since there’s no apparent end in sight to escalating fuel prices, food costs will continue to rise as well. Add to that the fact that you get less bang for your buck thanks to inflation and, if you’ve never considered couponing before it seems now might be the time to start.

So, today I offer my top ten reasons to coupon:

1) Save money on familiar items.

You’re going to buy it anyway. We can’t always tie our coupon to a sale, but we can often put what we purchase on sale by using coupons.

2) Try new items.

Manufacturers are always trying to ‘one-up’ the competition. New product launches are everywhere. Us frugal types like that! Why? When items are introduced, the manufacturers need to introduce US to the item and that means coupons – usually really, really good ones! When I can try something for free, or next to it, I do. We may only use it that one time, but we always pick up the dollars dangling in front of us. If we don’t want or need it, we’ll know someone who does.

3) Trade up to the name brand at the same price or less. 

I like Miracle Whip. I’ve tried lots of store brands and none come close to the real thing.  By combining a coupon and sale, I seldom pay more than $0.50 or a $1 for it. Couldn’t touch a generic for that price!

4) Be generous.

I’m going shopping today and plan to buy 23 boxes of Rice-A-Roni or Pasta-Roni and I don’t even have a coupon. (Oh, and two boxes of Betty Crocker Supreme Brownie Mix @ 2 for $4 – here I have a coupon so it’s 2 for $3 to me)

Am I nuts? Nope. Here’s the deal. They’re selling for $1 each. If you buy 25 items, you get $20 back for your next sale. So, I spend $26 and get $20 back. Great item to go in my  box for the homeless/food banks (well, except for the brownies…)

5) Get FREE stuff

An ice cream cone, vitamins, a free dinner, a map, a pillow. All of the above have left the retailers establishment in my frugal little hands for zip, zilch, nada in the last couple months. We also use a lot of BIGIF dinner coupons. Free is the best frugal of all!

6) Do stuff

You already know about our free NFL Experience tickets. We’ve found coupons for free buckets of balls (that’s golf folks), received free movie passes (last year’s Pepsi promo), attended free seminars (granted, they want to sell you something. Watch for a future post on that). If you’re watching, you’ll be doing, no charge!

7) Build Inventory

In #4 we said coupons allow you to be generous. Maybe you’re not in that position. Maybe every coupon means a chance to buy something you need. For $6, you can make a lot of meals by adding tuna or hamburger. By the way, hamburger is NOT cheap anymore!

Here’s a frugal tip: Watch for round steak or roast on sale and have the butcher grind it. Today we’ll be paying $1.29 lb. Bought any 80/20, or even 73/27 that cheap lately? In spaghetti, chili, tacos, or casseroles it’s better than hamburger (less grease.)

8) Feeling Frugal Factor

It feels GOOD! Other people leave the store muttering, moaning, cursing as they look at their receipts. Me? I’m grinning, high-fiving hubby, feeling proud at what I kept from THEM. Make it a contest – you vs. Big Business. Who won this round? I did, I did!!

9) It’s Simple & Immediate

Many times a rebate will give you a bigger price reduction, but that’s six to eight weeks from  now, if  they receive the rebate, and you complied, and, and, and… I’ll tackle REBATING – NOT FOR WIMPS soon, but for now, let’s take an example. Walgreen’s offered Fructis Conditioner for $3.99. Send in the rebate and it’s zero. I found it on sale for $1.99, used my coupon and paid $0.99. I’d rather not chase the $3.

And, the #10 Reason to Coupon:

It often (not always, mind you) reduces your local sales tax. Some establishments tax the total sale, then take off the coupon. We don’t care for them. Others, the ones we like, take off the coupon, then total and tax.

Here’s another Frugal tip: If you live in a metro area with lots of suburbs, tax rates often vary from city to city. Now, the loyal side of me is all for leaving my tax dollars where I live, but the frugal side says, if it’s a large purchase, I’m going to buy where the government increases the price of my purchase the least. 

And, remember, a Frugal Fiction book? $3.99. Reading with your child 15 minutes a day? Priceless!

The Newspaper – Week????

Ok, I’m behind. It’s like the eighth week of the year and this is only my fourth update. But, I realized two things:

1) I shop sporadically, and

2) If you’re as bored reading a weekly update as I am writing it…

So, here’s where we stand. After my massive expenditures when the Super Bowl brought Super ads, I’ve been, well being frugal.  At last recap I’d recovered $175.21 of that $220 newspaper expense. Since then, I’ve spent $180.20 and saved $96.92  – that’s 35% –  which brings my total recovered to $272.13. Woohoo! I’m in the black – paper paid for!!

Best deals? Viva 8 pack of papertowels for $3.03 and $20 back for spending $26. I love the newspaper. I’m thinking by year’s end, I’ll have pocketed a grand or better that I wouldn’t have known about if I hadn’t cut the coupons, read the ads, and matched ’em up.

By the way, that paper? It’s actually only going to cost $130 this year. Why?

Well, I thought hubby paid the bill because part of being frugal is paying your bills on time so you have great credit and receive the best interest rates and prices (car dealers are so much more amenable when they see Tier 1 credit). But, somehow it slipped by and the paper kindly slipped us a note: Pay up or you won’t have any more coupons, lady!

Which resulted in a phone call to correct this oversight. Which resulted in hubby negotiating. Which resulted in a lower price than we would have paid if not for the oversight!

It’s a shame, but it’s also the way of business. Often, loyal, pay-on-time customers do not receive the same discounts a company will offer new clients. So, if you’ have something coming up for an annual renewal, be frugal. CALL!! See if you can get a better deal. You don’t appreciate being taken for granted at home or work. Don’t let it happen with your purchases either.

Amended Update: We’ve now recovered twice the newspaper cost – $142.13 in the black!

Remember: A Frugal Fiction Book? $3.99. Reading with your child 15 minutes a day? Priceless!

Auntie Lynn Brings THE MAGICAL SCARECROWS BOOK TWO to Frugal Fiction!

mstwo200x200.jpg  THE MAGICAL SCARECROWS BOOK TWO opens in a burst of excitement as friends of Croowz tell him of the existence of Race C Rows, another Magical Scarecrow at the opposite end of the earth. His furry and feathered pals even have a plan to get these two Magical Scarecrows together, but before the plan can be activated Croowz discovers a group of boys from the nearby town are planning something diabolical.
  
Meanwhile C Rows has some challenges of his own.  With Christmas nearing he has a special duty to perform if Santa Claus is to be able to deliver presents to all the boys and girls in his village. Just as he begins to prepare, Race C learns that he is to be taken into the Town Hall and used as a prop in the Christmas pantomime. Once he is shut away there will be no getting out to perform his special duty for Santa, and Christmas could be ruined. Only with the help of animal friends can Race C stand a chance of succeeding, however the mean magpies hear about Race C’s plight and set in motion a plan of their own. (G)
  
This delightful sequel to THE MAGICAL SCARECROWS BOOK ONE continues to entertain and educate as our English and Australian Magical Scarecrows finally meet. Together they overcome  challenges and learn the true meaning of teamwork, forgiveness, and following your heart.  Available now for only $3.99 at Frugal Fiction.
  
Auntie Lynn sent her first story, The Magic Scarecrow, to a publisher when she was nine years old and won her first award for animal welfare when she was just eleven. Since then she has gone on to write a string of thrillers and non-fiction biographies, including the controversial best-sellers, Land of the Free, and Professor Midnight, and the real life stories of Saddam Hussein’s former personal pilot, Farewell Brave Babylon, and original Australian wildman and wildlife warrior, enigmatic adventurer and conservationist, Alby Mangels: The Alby Mangels Story – Beyond World Safari. For full details of Auntie Lynn’s background you should visit her official website: www.lynnsanter.com.

  

A Frugal Fiction book? $3.99.  Reading to your child 15 minutes a day?  Priceless!

 

 

Halima, The Experience of a Typical African Girl-Child Now Available at Frugal Fiction!

Halima  Frugal Fiction proudly diversifies its offerings with  Halima, which explores the experiences of a typical African girl-child who is often discriminated against because of her gender. In most African countries, the male child is given preference to the girl and, more often than not, receives more privileges and opportunities than the girl. The purpose of the book is to speak for the girl-child to be given equal opportunity with the boy-child for the simple reason that the gender of a child does not say anything about anybody’s destiny, talent[s] or intelligence. (G)
  
Nigerian author Margaret Eze takes us to a foreign place, a place where culture and tradition dictate a young girl’s future. Perfect for the pre-teen, this story shares a powerful tale that addresses self-worth and self-actualization, and makes us grateful for the opportunties our daughters and grandaughters enjoy.
  
Share Halima with someone you love for only $3.99 at Frugal Fiction

 

Auntie Lynn Offers THE MAGICAL SCARECROWS BOOK ONE at Frugal Fiction!

ms-200x200.jpg  Each believing they are the only one of their kind on earth, The English and Australian Magical Scarecrows embark on adventures with the animals who share their lands discovering they are only bound by imagination and imagination is boundless. (G)
  
This Children’s book is both entertaining and enlightening, offering a chance to engage your child’s imagination and share some key concepts about teamwork, friendship and self-worth. Look for THE MAGICAL SCARECROWS BOOK TWO coming to Frugal Fiction soon!
  
Auntie Lynn sent her first story, The Magic Scarecrow, to a publisher when she was nine years old and won her first award for animal welfare when she was just eleven. Since then she has gone on to write a string of thrillers and non-fiction biographies, including the controversial best-sellers, Land of the Free, and Professor Midnight, and the real life stories of Saddam Hussein’s former personal pilot, Farewell Brave Babylon, and original Australian wildman and wildlife warrior, enigmatic adventurer and conservationist, Alby Mangels: The Alby Mangels Story – Beyond World Safari. For full details of Auntie Lynn’s background you should visit her official website: www.lynnsanter.com.
  
Enjoy the e-book THE MAGICAL SCARECROWS BOOK ONE  with your child right now for only $3.99 at Frugal Fiction!

Ten (frugal) Valentine Ideas for Him and Her

It’s almost that day – you know the one that comes well before you’ve paid off the Christmas card debt. What’s a strapped budgeteer to do? Jewelry? Out of the question. Romantic dinner at a 5 star restaurant? In your dreams! Maybe Burger King with a buy one/get one free coupon… Nah. I want to live!

If you can’t impress your sweetie with monetary things, why not overwhelm them with love – you know, the real thing, the stuff that says “I’m thinking of you, I appreciate you, I respect you.”

Here are Frugal Fiction’s top ten ideas for making that perfect partner feel special, and truly, isn’t that what Valentine’s Day is supposed to do?

1) Send an E-card.   You say boring, cheap, unimaginative. No, because the WORDS are yours, personal, not some paid marketeers idea of love. Besides, remember, we’re working on overwhelming here folks. You don’t get to do just ONE thing on this list! And, as for creative, why not send 2 E-cards. The first is obvious. The second, maybe not so. How about a thank you card? Love and appreciation expressed. Big winner. Cost savings – $3 – $6.

2) Make a card. Whether you use colored paper, marking pens and glue, or, for the more advanced, the trusty ol’ computer where you insert a favorite picture with hearts and flowers, it’s again, personal. You know how you save all the kids’ art projects? The “aahh” warm-fuzzy feeling you get when you look at them again? Bet your honey will feel the same about your effort. The key word? EFFORT. Again, $3 – $6 savings.

3) Be THAT guy in the commercial.  I can’t tell you who the ad’s for, but he’s telling her he thinks her toenails need another coat as she’s lounging on the sofa. Pedicures are sensual, relaxing for the recipient (ok, for most). They make a seriously ignored and abused part of the body feel good. It’s an indulgence. Girls – don’t think you’re scott free on this one. Give him one, too. Once he sees how great it feels, maybe he’ll harp less about the money you spend when you do fork over $30 – $50. Loving, creative and big cost savings.

4) Complete a “Honey-do” Item. This has a two-fold benefit – immediate gratitude for doing whatever the task was, and even better, there’ll be no futher harrassment on the issue. This is also gender-neutral. We all want our partners to “do” something for us. Girls – maybe it’s cleaning out the closet of all those sizes that haven’t fit in awhile so he has more than 3 feet of space in a 1000 square foot closet. Guys – maybe the running toilet really does wake her up. You know what IT is. Do it. 

5) Try some Kitchen Loving. No, this has nothing to do with countertops. We’re talking G-Rated ideas. Cook cutey pie their favorite meal. Bake some of those heart-shaped sugar cookies, do the grocery shopping, cleanup the mess. Everyone has their own kitchen standards. Do something outside your box to say “I love you.” Girls, if you cook and he cleans, hand him the remote and do both one night. Guys, if she cooks, send her to the tub for a quick soak while you grill up some steaks and open a can of peas. Right or wrong, food says love. Savings vary.

6) Send your message with a massage. I can hear you now. “Ya, Ya, I used to do that, you know, in the beginning…”  Look, everyone’s tired these days and it is work – a good one is anyhow. But, everyone’s more stressed. Make the effort. Cost savings, what $80 – $100+? And, a relaxed partner? Priceless!

7) Give ’em a break. What? A break? Valentine’s Day is all about cuddly, smoochy, huggie time. That’s marketing folks. How better to show respect for your best friend than to give them a little quiet time. Take the kids to the park so she can veg with a book, or he can work on his ’57 ragtop whatever in peace. Send her out to lunch with her friends while you take care of that week’s laundry, or send him out to the boat show with his buddies and you handle dog poop duty. Again, do something that deviates from your normal roles so the other gets a break.  PS: It’ll destress them so that massage will be easier.

8) Chocolate. Ok, ok, you’re supposed to give chocolate. It’s like required. Truly, how many of us need more chocolate on our waistlines? Let’s compromise. Pick up some of those 3 or 4 for $1 chocolate mini-hearts and leave them on the pillow (like they do in fancy hotels.) Chocolate requirment covered. Savings, what maybe $6 or more. I don’t buy boxes of chocolate.

9) Flowers & Stuffed Animals. This is another one of those “I must” Valentine rules. She gets poseys, he gets some stuffed singing bear. Or she gets both and he’s rewarded with those “I’m hot” boxers. Please, isn’t it time for this tradition to vanish, kinda like dinosaurs? Between you, we’re looking at spending probably $30 at least. If you have to do flowers, buy ’em at the grocery and hand deliver them. You’re gonna save a fortune. Besides, the florist doesn’t offer a deep, soul-piercing, longing look as he says, “These are for you.”  Ladies, pick up the $4 cute little whatever – I got the love bug. They can sit on his bathroom counter where he’ll see it daily, travel with him, hang out in his locker at work – all constantly saying, “I love you.” Stuffed bears that hug and smooch can’t. Savings each – let’s say $10 – $15.

10) And, of course, the Special Night. Best utilized when you can farm the kids out for an overnighter. Just the two of you… You figure out the rest. If that’s not possible, farm ’em out for a few hours. Who says the sitter has to come to your place?

The key isn’t about how much you spend, it’s about investing yourself in the relationship. Pick five or six of the above and I’ll bet your frugal expenditures will deliver a return on investment that would make corporate execs drool. Happy Valentine’s Day!

WARNING: This advice is not meant to provide happily-ever-after, nor is it intended in any way to give the reader remedies against said writer should things go awry, and… you know,  whatever other legal stuff I’m supposed to write here to cover myself.

Enjoy the Sailor Springs Trilogy at Frugal Fiction!

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With Dark Secrets, Mabel Leo’s Sailor Springs Trilogy is complete!

This thrilling saga introduces us to Norma, a woman whose romantic yearnings lead her to an old love with deadly intentions, and a new love whose secrets might destroy what little trust she has left. More than just her life is at stake; her judgement, her hopes, and her wits, essential elements of her being, must also survive.

These page-turners will keep you guessing, keep you rooting, and keep you captivated until the final pages. Enjoy them in Frugal Fiction’s amazing 3D     E-book technology for only $3.99 each.

Mabel Leo, a small town girl from the big city, began her writing career penning weekly columns for a Florida newspaper. When she moved to Arizona, hoping to do the same in Phoenix, she stumbled onto a fascinating story she had to tell, that of Jack Durant. She now has eight published books running the gamet from non-fiction to children’s and adult fiction, memoirs and short stories.