Excuses, Excuses, Excuses…

When people find out that I use coupons and codes so much, they often say whhhy? Or ask if it’s really worth the time. In my opinion it’s totally worth it! Once you know what you’re looking for and where to get it, it takes very little time actually. And all that money I save can be used for more fun things.

I mean think about it! If you could take one hour out of your life each week to clip coupons and do some planning and end up saving $50, that equals $50/hour. Is that worth it? Of course it is. Who wouldn’t want to get paid $50 for 1 hour of sitting on your butt and cutting things out!

But again and again I hear the same excuses on why people don’t use coupons. Here are the top 2 reasons I hear along with my justifications/solutions:

  • Coupons are a waste of paper – Yes most coupons are printed on paper, but there are also ecoupons, mobile coupons, and ones that you can load to a card. Whenever I cut paper coupons I always throw the scraps of paper in my recycling bin and I always recycle my newpaper.
  • They take too much of my time – I believe time is money. So I may take a couple more minutes looking for and cutting coupons before heading out or going shopping, but to me the money I save makes up for the time I spent and then some. Plus it feels awesome to see how much you could of spent, but didn’t have to :D!

How to Have Fun on Vacation While Still Being Frugal!!

So it’s summer and you know what that means… vacation time.

Unfortunately for me, I have been in summer school alllll summer long, but yippee it’s almost over!

This weekend I am planning to go to San Francisco with some friends and family, and have a great time. I also plan to save a bunch of money with my groupons, hotel discount codes, passes, and discount coupons.

Spring 2012 I will graduate with my Bachelors and my brother will be graduating from high school. My parents want to celebrate by taking us to Orlando and Miami as a gift and I already have tons of great resources to help us save on our trip!

One thing I always do before going on vacation is research what kinds of deals/discounts I can get on entertainment, food, and attractions. I subscribe to that city’s Groupon, LivingSocial, DealSwarm, etc… and just unsubscribe when I get back. That way I know where the locals go to have fun and dine, and save tons of money at the same time. Here’s a couple more tips on how you can save money before and on your vacation:

  • Book well in-advance
  • Research your fares
  • Fly during the week.. if you can
  • Use frequent flyer miles
  • Pack your own airplane food
  • Take all carry-on luggage.. if you can
  • Drive instead… if you can
  • Take public transportation
  • Find discount hotel rates
  • Ask the concierge for the inside scoop
  • Bring your own breakfast foods
  • Pack your own snacks
  • Bring your own water bottles
  • Mix your own alcoholic drinks
  • Use credit card rewards points
  • Rent a car only if needed
  • Never buy anything from the gift shop.. its over priced
  • Don’t get room service
  • Never go on excursions or tours through an agency.. do your research
  • Use the local supermarkets where possible

What is Extreme Couponing?

Have you seen TLC’s new show Extreme Couponing? I love this show.. imagine paying only $8 for $800 worth of groceries! WOOHOO! I love to save money with coupons, but I am not an “extreme couponer” in any way.

This post will just be a little taste of what it is and how to get started. If you really are interested you can do some research and you will find tons of sites and communities dedicated to extreme couponing. I may actually try to do this one day in the future, for the challenge of it. But I have to warn you.. you may not spend much in money, but you will have to spent a lot of time to become a great extreme couponer.

There are many levels of couponing. There is the lower “clip and save” level, who only use coupons on things they use, (me :P). However, the extreme couponer uses coupons on things they will use now, but also on what they may need in the future, like months ahead.

Extreme Couponing is a way to save huge amounts of money buying items shoppers purchase every day. It also allows shoppers to store a pantry full of household items and groceries with very little money and in case of a job loss or some sort of catastrophe, there is a stockpile of food to survive on.

So how can you get started? Well clipping coupons of course! There are many different kinds of coupons and ways to get them: The Sunday newspaper, manufacturers’ coupons, store coupons, weekly circulars, your mailbox, your local newspaper, online, blogs, company/brand websites, previous purchases, etc. The goal is to get as much high-value coupons as you can get.

Once the coupons are collected, the organization begins! You should sort out the coupons, categorize, and look at what will be on sale that day/week at the store you will be shopping at. You should look for stores that double or triple coupons in your area and talk to the store manager often, to make sure coupon policies haven’t changed.

After that, you’re set to go! Of course you will need a lot of free time, patience, and commitment, but who knows? It may be worth it!

Packaging and Placement: The Top Ways Grocery Stores Rip You Off!

So this week I went to the grocery store to just pick up one thing and ended up with a basket full of stuff.  Have you ever done that? Spent way more at a store then you intended to and felt mad at yourself? Well stop feeling like a fool.. there may be a reason for this madness!

Have you ever noticed that generic or store brand products are usually in plain or boring colors and are never as bright and vibrant as famous, well known brands? This also goes along with the consumers preconceived notions that if a product is brand named, then it must work and vice versa. And as a result if it costs more, that’s because it works, looks, tastes, or is more effective. This isn’t always the case and you should always be a conscious and critical shopper. Don’t always believe the fancy packaging and bright lights, there is usually little to no difference in quality or performance.

Next time you go to a grocery store take a look around the aisle. The most expensive and brand named products are always located at eye level on supermarket shelves because these items make companies the most money. Value, generic, and store brands are usually located on the lower levels or on the top shelf where they literally take more effort to get to!  The average person will rarely look all the way up or down and scan all the items.

Lastly, the next time you go shopping, notice that everyday things like milk, eggs, and bread are usually located at the back of the store, which forces you to scroll down the aisles of carefully and enticingly displayed products before you get what you came for ;).

Yay Coupon Codes!!

I loooooove coupon codes. I have previously mentioned coupon codes here before, but many of you might be wondering what in the world I’m taking about. Well coupon or promotional codes are like instant coupons you use when you shop online. They can be given out by companies for previous purchases or for signing up on their website. 

There are also websites where you can search for coupon codes by brand/company name. Some of my favorites are www.retailmenot.com, www.shopathome.com, www.couponcabin.com, and www.couponmountain.com. Now that you know what they are and where you can get them, let me show you what you can use them on:

  • Vacations – Finding a code can lead to saving money or earning free nights! Some offers include a free night after you book another. This makes it more affordable to extend a trip an extra day or two. Bundle packages are great too and may include options for the flight, hotel or car rentals.
  • College – Students are always looking to save money on books. Promotional codes can be used to lower textbook cost for students. This is a great way for students to save as much as possible on books.
  • Clothes – A code can be redeemed to save a percentage or amount off totals. When combined with sales the savings can be huge for consumers. Another way to save money is to use a value added coupon, like a discount on other goods with a purchase. Some offers may also include a buy one, get one free.
  • Cosmetics – Shopping online is a great way to save on cosmetics. Instead of paying department store prices, many turn to the internet because prices are often lower than stores. Some deals include free trial sizes, samples or bonus items on orders.

Top 5 Places to Find Coupons

So now you’re probably asking me, OK Tanya, I would really like to learn how to save more money, but I have no clue where to find these deals/coupons you love so dearly. Well lucky you! Here’s my list of the top five places to find coupons:

  1. Sunday Paper – This is usually where most people find coupons, and for good reason. The Sunday paper is full of inserts with manufacturer coupons from various sources.
  2. In-Store Coupons – Most of the weekly ads put out by grocery stores only advertise what’s on sale that week, but you can also find additional coupons in the circular. It’s also a good idea to hit up customer service to ask for store coupons, and lastly, keep your eyes peeled for those peel off coupons and blinking dispensers that provide even more savings!
  3. eCoupons – You should definitely check out printable coupon sites like Coupons.com that let you to print coupons directly from your computer. There are also some great couponing sites that allow users to upload coupons directly to their loyalty cards like Cellfire.com or Shortcuts.com
  4. Mobile Coupons – If you like saving the earth and money at the same time you should take advantage of your smartphone with stuff like mobile coupon apps and texts. Here’s a heads up: Text “OFFERS” to Target (827438) to receive mobile coupons to use on your next visit or check out Shoptext.com to receive mobile coupons via text message ;).
  5. Social Media – Finally, the best for the last. Never underestimate the power of social media when it comes to couponing! You should follow your favorite brands and stores on Twitter and fan them on Facebook. It’s a great way to score savings that most people don’t know about.

Hope it helps. Happy Couponing!

3 Ways to Save Money on Pet Expenses

According to The American Pet Products Association estimates we spent nearly $48 billion on our pets last year! I love pets, who doesn’t?! But we all know how expensive they can be.  Whether it’s buying food or replacing your favorite heels that your dog mistakened for a chew toy! 😦 Anyhooow…  here are some ways to save money on the care and feeding of our fluffy family members:

  1. Buy Less Food – Pet owners spent $18 billion on pet food in 2010! If that sounds excessive, that’s because it is! More than 50% of cats and dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. I’m not talking about starving your pets in anyway, but feeding them the prescribed amount at correct time indicated on the product or by your vet. The problem is we feed out pets too much, too often.
  2. Invest in Pet Insurance – Trips to the vet cost a lot, even more if it’s an emergency or surgery is required. However, a pet insurance policy can run from only $15 to $30 a month. This can greatly help reduce your pet’s medical expenses throughout its life.
  3. Purchase Pet Supplies Carefully – Buying our pets toys can get out of hand, there are plenty of ways to reduce costs without taking away any of the fun. Don’t choose toys that your pets can easily destroy and have to be replaced again and again. Buy toys that are reusable, refillable (with treats/food), durable, and built to last.

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