Wednesday Deals

1. There's a Woot off today over at . During a woot off, instead of just a single item posted each day, woot posts an item until it sells out then immediately posts another item. They also randomly will post a grab bag item called a 'Bag of Crap'. There are urban legends of these things being worth hundreds of dollars. I've never succeeded in snagging one, but I will keep trying! :P You can read more about woot-offs HERE.

2. JC Penney has Wednesday deals today. Not as many deals as I'm used to seeing, but still a few interesting ones, including a cute 'wedding' dress up set and some pajamas for those interested in jump starting their holiday shopping. Promo Code ENJOY10 is supposed to take off $10, but I couldn't get it to work on the wedding set, so it may not be valid on outlet items.

3. Today is the last day kohl's current 30% off sale is valid, as well as the last day to earn kohls cash. Put at least $71.43 worth of merchandise in your cart, then use codes SAVE30 (30% discount, expires tonight) and THISIS4FREE (free shipping, valid until 9/27). This will bring your total down to $50 + tax, and you'll get $10 in kohls cash via email within a few days (for more details on Kohls Cash, see the Kohls Primer). Be sure to check out for some hidden clearance items.

**For those who are patiently waiting for the next coupon class to be posted, I am so sorry for the delay. It seems I've caught the bug the boys have, so I'm not well enough to work on it. It's still in the works, though, so hang in there!


Register at and you can download a different free game every day. The game has ads (usually between rounds), but they're very unobtrusive, and as of yet I haven't seen one that I wouldn't want my four year old to see. I've gotten two games for him (one being Diego's Dinosaur rescue, which he LOVES), and several time management games for me. Hidden object games are also common.

Couponing 102: Types of Coupons

Types of Coupons

1. Manufacturer’s Coupon
A coupon provided by the product manufacturer. These coupons are available in many formats. The shopper redeems them at the store, and the store gets reimbursed by the manufacturer for the face value of the coupon plus a handling fee (usually around $0.08 per coupon). Manufacturer's coupons may be used at any store that accepts coupons.

2. Store Coupon
This is a coupon provided by a particular store, and good only at that store (though some stores accept the store coupons from other stores in an attempt to get your business). Sometimes, the store receives an incentive from the manufacturer for providing these coupons, but it is more like a store sale price than a traditional coupon. MOST stores allow consumers to use one manufacturer’s coupon and one store coupon per item, maximizing your savings. A store coupon will either state on it 'store coupon' OR will say under the terms and conditions 'coupon may only be redeemed at X store'.

3. Tear pads
Tear pads are little notepad like stacks of coupons, commonly found on displays, shelves, or cooler doors. (I have a lot of luck finding tear pads at convenience stores, especially for single bottled drinks). These are usually manufacturer’s coupons, and can be used anywhere that accepts coupons (not just at the store where they are found).

4. Blinkies
Blinkies are manufacturer’s coupons that are dispensed from little machines in store. The machines usually have a little blinking light (children seem to LOVE these machines, so your little ones may notice them before you do). These coupons usually have short expiration dates (expire within a few weeks of being made available), but are almost always manufacturer’s coupons that can be used anywhere (not just in the store where they are found).

5. Credit Card Company Coupons
This coupon is available through your credit card company, usually via an internet printable, but sometimes as either an online shopping code or as a credit on your statement. Usually, it is store specific (save 10% on your purchase at Payless, for example) and you almost always have to use your credit card for the purchase. Contact your card issuer for more info on finding this type of coupon.

6. $x off of $xx coupons
This type of coupon is becoming more popular, and is frequently an internet printable. The coupon states that you can save X amount if you SPEND X amount. ($5 off of $25 is very common). The total spent is after sales prices, but before tax and coupons. These coupons are almost always store specific. In general, if you are using this type of coupon you should give it to the cashier BEFORE any other coupons, as they sometimes do not work correctly if scanned last. These are especially helpful for items that rarely go on sale or have coupons and when combined with free item coupons (see Couponing 300: Leveraging Coupons to Maximize Savings for more info).

7. Free Item Coupons
These coupons are for free items. There is usually, but not always, a maximum amount printed on the coupon, and there are frequently restrictions on size and type of product. (For more information on how to obtain this type of coupon, see Couponing 200. For more information on how to leverage these coupons for the best savings, see Couponing 300).

8. Double/Triple Coupons
This is a store based program and rules vary from store to store. In general, the store doubles or triples any coupon you use up to a certain dollar amount (many grocery chains double coupons every day up to $0.50, making a $0.50 coupon worth $1).

9. Rebates (also called TMF or Try Me Free)
A rebate is a refund for a purchase you have already made. You must do something to redeem this rebate, usually fill out a form and send in a receipt and UPC from the product, though some manufacturers and stores are making rebates easier (Rite Aid and some office supply stores have incredibly simple, online rebate programs). Many products are beginning to offer TMF rebates for new products. There are usually coupons available for the same products, so you can often make money trying something new!! (See Couponing 300 for more details).

10. Buy X get Y coupons
These coupons can be a bit tricky. Rather than a set amount off of an item or items, the coupon gives you a discount only if you purchase another item. The usage of these coupons can vary depending on the wording of the coupon, a particular store's policies, or even the cashier or manager’s interpretation of the wording. (See future classes for more detailed information and examples).

11. Store Loyalty Cards
Store Loyalty Cards often work like a coupon—you won’t get the discount unless you have a card and the cashier scans it or otherwise enters the information. There are some concerns about privacy with these cards. I personally suggest only sharing as much information as you are comfortable with. Most stores do not require any form of identification to get a store loyalty card, so you may choose how much information to share. Keep in mind, though, that some stores send additional coupons through the mail to customers who have store loyalty cards. If you are interested in these, then you should make sure your correct address is on file. Store loyalty cards sometimes have the added benefit of allowing you to add digital coupons to your card. These discounts are in addition to any other coupons or discounts you may receive in store, so they can add up to HUGE savings. Be sure to check your store’s website for all the details and benefits to using a store loyalty card.

12. Catalinas
Catalinas are coupons that are triggered by some aspect of your purchase and print on register tape, usually from a separate machine than the one your receipt comes from. In my area, these coupons are unreliable (it is rare that the machine even have tape in them, and the cashiers are not trained on any aspect of utilizing this type of coupon). In some areas, though, catalinas are an excellent way to reduce your shopping totals.

13. Wine tags
Wine tags are coupons found hanging around the necks of wine bottles. They sometimes require you to purchase wine to use them, and sometimes do not (you will see this abbreviated as NWPN—no wine purchase necessary—on some couponing boards and forums). Sometimes these are instant coupons (give them to the cashier at the register) and sometimes they are mail in rebates. Read the wine tag carefully for details.

Couponing 101: The Basics

This is still a work in progress, so feedback would be greatly appreciated!!

Couponing 101: The Basics

What is a coupon?
Coupons are a discount on a particular item offered by either a manufacturer or a store. Coupons are different than a standard sale or price reduction because the consumer must actively do SOMETHING (whether it is trade a physical coupon, add a virtual coupon to a store loyalty card, or enter an online discount code) to get the discount.

Coupon Formats

1. Paper coupons
Paper coupons, or traditional coupons, are simply pieces of paper that you give to a seller for a discount. The most common are found in the inserts in the Sunday paper, but they can also be seen on products (either as a peel-off sticker or as a part of the packaging that must be cut out), on tear pads in the store, and in many cases will be sent directly from the manufacturer or advertising company.

2. Internet printable coupons
Internet printable coupons have revolutionized couponing, but also created new barriers and problems. Internet printable coupons are coupons that you print yourself from a computer. Due to an incredible amount of abuse and fraud, some stores do not accept internet printables at all, though most are beginning to. Most internet printable coupon sites require you to download a small program onto your computer. This program is designed to limit your printing to the number of coupons allowed by the manufacturer. As long as the site you are utilizing is reputable, these programs are safe.

3. Store Loyalty Cards
Store loyalty cards are offered everywhere, it seems. You give the store your name and address, and in return you get a card that gives you discounts on your purchases, coupons or discounts printed at the register to be used on a future purchase, an even occassionally receive coupons mailed directly to your home. With some stores, you also have the option of loading Digital or store loyalty coupons onto your card.

4. Digital or store loyalty coupons
Digital or store loyalty coupons generally require you to visit a particular website, enter your store loyalty card number, and choose which coupons to add to your card. These discounts just sit there until either you use them or they expire. There is NO obligation to use these once they are loaded, though some stores limit the number of coupons you can load onto your loyalty card at one time. As they are loaded directly onto the store loyalty card, they can not be used anywhere else, though in most cases they work like a sales price and you CAN use a paper coupon along with them.

5. Online coupon codes
If you've shopped online, you've probably seen a box somewhere during the checkout process that asks if you have any discount codes. This is simply a short code, almost like a password, that gives you some sort of discount or benefit. There are several sites online that post known discount codes in a searchable format ( and are two).

Thrift Store shopping

I LOVE shopping at thrift stores. For me, it's like a treasure hunt. Plus, it's a low-cost way to have some retail therapy, if you are so inclined. But many people complain that they can never find what they're looking for at thrift stores. Still others seem to find too much, and end up spending just as much or more than they would have at a retail store, with the added headache of buying more than they need or have space for. Here are some guidelines to make your thrift store shopping more cost effective--and more fun.

1. Know what you want.
I'm not saying you should go in with a detailed list. But you should have a general idea of what sort of things you are shopping for, just like you would if you were shopping at yard sales. Do you need baby things, household items, coffee mugs, small appliances? Even a small thrift store can have thousands or even tens of thousands of items, and sometimes their organization is lacking. Knowing what types of things you want can make your shopping much more enjoyable.

2. Know how many, what brands, or what sizes.
If you want curtains for your living room, then you should know how many windows and what sizes, as well as what colors. This may seem obvious, but I can't count the number of times I've been standing in a thrift store looking at something, and found myself wondering if it was the right size or color to fit the need I had. Brands are especially important if you're looking for replacement items or to add to a set--if your coffee pot has a broken carafe, then you might be able to find a replacement for super cheap at a thrift store, but only if you know what brand or size you are looking for. Most thrift stores do not allow returns, so it's good to know before buying if you have an actual use for the item.

3. Have a thrift store tool kit.
This does not need to be elaborate. Personally, I like to have a notebook in my purse (with sizes and colors of things I know I'm looking for, and the general price of that item in a retail store or online) as well as a cheap measuring tape (the type a seamstress uses is more versatile, and allows you to measure clothing if the size tags are missing). I also use my cell phone a LOT when thrift shopping, most often for calling family and friends when I find a deal on something that I don't want or need but I think they might.

4. Know how much things cost.
I just spoke to a fellow thrift store shopper this morning who scored insulated curtains at Goodwill last week for all but one window in her house. Her husband nearly hit the ceiling when she told him she had spent almost $40 on 'used curtains'. He calmed down quickly when she pointed out that buying similar curtains for the one remaining window would cost them $80 new. He is now encouraging her to continue looking for a matching set at thrift stores :D. Of course, on the other side of that coin is the multitude of people who buy something at a thrift store assuming the price is good, only to find out later that they could have bought the item new for a similar price. Before buying, know how much the item is worth, and calculate how much it is worth to you--an $80 pair of jeans that don't fit for $20 are not nearly as good of a deal as a pair that do fit for $30. You should also know how much that item sells for second hand, if possible. There is no reason to pay $1 each for coffee mugs if three other stores in the same town sell them for $0.25.

5. Know what your needs are.
It is not a bargain to spend $50 on $500 worth of items you will never use--you still spent $50. Before buying an item, consider how you will use it, how you will store it, and what you will do with it when you are done with it. If the answer to any of those questions is "I don't know", then you should probably not buy.

6. Inspect items before buying.
If it has a zipper, zip and unzip a few times. Check pockets--both for random 'extras' and for holes or tears. If it has a door or drawer, open and close it a few times. Check buttons to be sure they are securely attached. If the item has multiple pieces, make sure they are all there. If there are pieces missing or the item is damaged, ask yourself if it's an easy fix. If so, and you're willing to fix it, then use the damage to negotiate an even further discount. I frequently buy board games for my boys second hand. If the game has a few pieces missing and we already own it, I will sometimes buy it anyway for a quarter, maybe fifty cents, and use the pieces as 'extras', assuming that with three boys in the house, we'll lose pieces eventually. However, I will not buy clothing with damaged zippers--it's just too much effort to repair them. Be sure to mentally calculate the time, effort, and materials it will take to repair the item and make sure it's worth it before buying.

Blog on temporary hiatus

Sorry, but I'll be taking a short break from the blog while we deal with the death of my husband's grandfather. He was a great man, and will be sorely missed. You may read a bit about him HERE. Thank you for your understanding. I hope to be back online by the middle of next week.

Little Tikes Buildin' to Learn Motor Workshop Less than half price!!

Kids Woot, which I mentioned in a post yesterday, has another steal today. Little Tikes 2-in-1 Buildin’ To Learn Motor/Workshop is $49.99 + $5 Shipping. This same toy is $130 at Toys R Us!

Deal of the Day sites

This is a list of deal of the day sites. I will update this list as I come across more. Most post a single close out deal per day (My husband and I recently purchased THIS Thomas set for our oldest's upcoming birthday for $55 shipped from kids woot. Yesterday, it was on clearance for $115 at Toys-R-Us brick & mortar.) Keep in mind, each deal is posted for a single day or until it sells out,whichever comes first, so if you want it, you need to order it.

I have used the following sites personally. The named items were always exactly as described, the mystery items were always worth at least what I paid for them (though sometimes they weren't worth it to ME because I didn't need the items. Still, though, they were easily resold on ebay or at a yard sale for as much or more than I paid.)

These are woot affiliate sites that I HAVEN'T used, but I see no reason they wouldn't be just as reliable as woot.

sellout woot
shirt woot
wine woot

The following sites I have not personally used, but they seem to have a good reputation on slickdeals.

1 Sale A Day
Wireless 1 Sale A Day (Wireless items--cell phones, accessories, etc)
Watch 1 Sale a Day (Watches)
Easy Street Deals

This site is interesting. On regular working days from 9am to 5 pm CST. They post a single item per hour. The price starts at regular price and drops every second or so until either the item is free (plus shipping) or it sells out, whichever comes first. These are always baby items.

Baby Earth Gaga Deals

Free Chocolate Friday!

Mars Real Chocolate Relief Act. Follow the link, fill in your birthdate, then your mailing address. In a week or so (they say longer, but in my experience it's just a week or two), you will receive a coupon in the mail for a free mars candy bar.

Alice is INCREDIBLE!!!

I just can not say enough good things about this site!! But rather than go on and on about it, I'll give a summary of the four orders I've placed over the past week.

Order #1
1 Huggies wipes (2.80 - 1.50 Q)
2 Lady's speed stick deodorants (1.58 - 1 Q each)
1 Dentek Dental Flossers (3.29, no Q--we LOVE these)

Total: $9.25 - $3.50 Q + $1.06 Tax = $6.81
(I should note that this order originally contained two packs of diapers. Alice cancelled that portion of the order due to being sold out and sent me a $5 gift card to use on a future order. However, it looks like they charged tax on the original total--I'll need to email them about that )

Order #2
2 Huggies Jumbo packs diapers (9.69 - 6.20 Q each)
2 lady's speed stick deodorants (1.58 - 1 Q each)
1 men's speed stick deodorant (1.86 - 1 Q)

Total: $24.40 -$15.40 Q + $0.53 Tax = $9.53

Order #3
2 Bounty Paper Towels single rolls (0.84-0.50 Q)
1 Mean envelopes 50 count (0.85 - 0.50 Q)
1 White Rain Body Wash (0.97 - 0.50 Q)
1 Kleenex Tissues (0.98 - 0.50 Q)
1 Softsoap Hand Soap (1.06 - 0.50 Q)
1 Jergens Hand Wash (1.16 - 0.50 Q)
1 Ajax antibacterial dish soap (1.10 - 0.50 Q)
1 Downy Wrinkle Releaser, full size bottle (1.59, no Q)

Total: $9.39 - $4 Q - $5 gift card (from order #1) + $0.33 Tax = $0.72

Order #4
1 Downy Wrinkle Releaser, travel size (1.59 - 1 Q)
2 Suave Shampoo (1.10 - 0.55 Q each)
5 Tide In Wash Laundry booster (3 different types, 3.36- 1.50 Q each)
2 Dawn ultra concentrated Dishwashing liquid (1.34 - 0.55 Q each)

Total $23.27 - $10.70 Q + $0.75 Tax = $13.32

GRAND TOTALS: $66.31 - $33.60 Q + $2.67 Tax = $35.38 - $5 Gift Card = $30.38!

And best of all, as far as I'm concerned, those prices include shipping. So I saved time, gas, money, AND the headaches of shopping with two toddlers and a preschooler. What could be better than that?

If you sign up via a referral link like this one, you will get a $10 gift card added to your account once you have spent $50. And the $50 total is PRE-coupon--I have already qualifed for my gift card, even though I have really only 'spent' $30.38 of my own money. Pretty sweet deal :D

If you haven't tried Alice yet, it really is simple. Go Here , create an account (it takes about a minute) and start shopping. I always go to 'other ways to shop' in the upper right corner, then choose '50 best deals' from the drop down menu. After I choose which of the best deals I want I use the room by room or the search function to find any other products I need. This new site is going to revolutionize the way we shop for household consumables, I'm sure of it!

*A word about Alice coupons (which I have notated with a Q in my order summaries). Alice coupons are applied automatically when you place an item with a coupon in your shopping cart. However, they are limited use--usually only once or twice per customer. You may purchase as many items as you wish (for example, you can buy 10 packs of diapers) but if the coupon is limit one, you will only get one discount, the other items will be regular price. This allows more buyers to get in on the deals. It's a little bit frustrating to only be able to order one or two of an item I really want, but if it were unlimited, the first few people to find the deal would buy the entire stock, so this way is a little more fair.