Archive for March, 2010

CVS – A Penny Pinchers Paradise

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

While searching online for frugal shopping tips, I kept coming across CVS.  I always thought drugstores jacked up their prices and never considered shopping there as a regular customer.  I was intrigued.

Here are the very basics from what I found:

1)  Extra Care Card  – Get one!  You will need the Extra Care Card to take advantage of the discounts and to earn Extra Bucks.  You can sign up for one online at CVS.com or better yet, go into a CVS and get your card instantly at the store.  Just tell the person at the register that you want to sign up for a card.

2)  Extra Bucks – This is like CVS monopoly money.  When you use your Extra Care Card your purchases are tracked and you earn Extra Bucks (dollars) that you can use towards your next purchase.  You can earn EBs several ways. 

            * Earn 2% back with every in-store and online purchase.

            * Earn 1 EB for every 2 prescriptions purchased.

            * Earn EBs on select brands as advertised in the weekly circular.

            * Earn 1 EB on every 4th visit using the green bag tag. (more info below)

The Extra Bucks are printed at the end of your store receipt and can be printed from your online account.  All Extra Bucks have an expiration date.  They also cannot be traded in for cash and you must use the entire buck – they will not give you change.

3)  $X off $XX coupons – Periodically, you will find an $X of $XX coupon printed at the end of your receipt.  This means X dollar amount will be taken off of XX dollar amount subtotal.  For example, $4 off of $20.  The coupon is only good if the subtotal, pre-tax is equal to or more than $20.  These have an expiration date.

3)  Online coupons – In addition to using manufacturer’s coupons, you can go online and print coupons from CVS for featured items.  You can also print CVS coupons for their product line.  These have an expiration date.

4)  Green bag tag – If you use your own reusable shopping bag/tote, you can purchase a Green Bag Tag at the register for 99cents.  Clip the tag to your bag and every visit have the green bag tag scanned.  On the 4th visit with the green bag tag, you will earn 1 EB and it will be printed on your receipt.

5)  Extra Care Account Online – If you haven’t figured it out yet, the CVS receipt is golden and must be tracked with the utmost care.  This is directed at those people who throw out their receipts and lose those precious Extra Bucks in the process. 

To assist with tracking all your mad money, you can create an account online and link your Extra Care card to the account.  Voila! All your coupons and Extra Bucks will be listed and can be printed before you go into the store.

Does all this sound complicated?  The only thing to do now is actually try it out tomorrow and report back how it went.

Frugal tip of the day:  Google money saving tips online and find scads of ideas to try.  I picked some of the most common ones hoping that they tried and true.

Sunday paper – $2.50; Powerball lotto – 10 bucks.

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

So I almost forgot to get the Sunday paper today.  Bad Frugal!  We put the baby in the stroller and headed to the closest gas station around 6pm.  We got the last paper of the day and then we saw it – Powerball $140,000,000.  We normally pay for our gas at the pump and rarely go inside any gas stations, thereby we avoid the lotto by default.  But here we were with a 20 dollar bill burning a hole in our pockets…

Two hours later, one newspaper, 10 lotto tickets, and $12.50 in the hole, I finally finish cutting all the coupons out of the Sunday paper with a pair of scissors.  There has got to be a more efficient way to cut coupons.  Sitting with 99 coupons piled in front of me I realize 3 things:

1 ) The majority of these coupons are for things that we NEVER use/purchase.

2 ) Trying to match the coupons up with the grocery store sale items to get the best deal is overwhelming.

3 ) How do you organize these things???

I give up and I’m going to bed.

Frugal tip of the day:  Consider getting the Sunday paper delivered to your house.  You will actually save a few pennies on the cost and you won’t buy any lotto tickets.

Clipping Coupons is easy – using coupons is hard.

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

When you search the internet for tips to save money, almost always you will find articles that scream – USE COUPONS.  These people are called coupon clippers, coupon moms, and couponistas among other things.  There are entire websites devoted to the latest coupons and deals.  There are entire businesses that will clip coupons for you and mail them to your house.  There are online services that will match up coupons to the store that will give you the best deal. 

I always thought you simply cut a coupon from a flyer and hand it over when you purchase your item.  Little did I know that there are over 10 different kinds of coupons and a gazillion different store policies on how to use a coupon depending on where you are shopping.

I don’t use coupons.  Digging through all the info online is a bit overwhelming.  I’m a wimp, I know. 

Frugal tip of the day:  Start small – buy the Sunday paper and clip those coupons first.  As you are more comfortable clipping, organizing, and using coupons, branch out to the different types (manufacturer, store coupons, rebates, etc..) and different deals (double coupon, triple coupon, etc…).

The “F” Word

Friday, March 12th, 2010

For my first blog post, I am going to tackle the dreaded “F” word. 

In our house, this word is not taboo.  In fact, the “F” word is always on the tip of my tongue just waiting to be used on a moments notice.  I hope to raise my son to embrace the “F” word and to use it often even though it raises eyebrows.  Most people cringe when they hear the “F” word.

FRUGAL

There, I said it.

Being frugal is a good thing.  It means taking charge of your life.  It means being in control of your finances.  It means stretching the value of a dollar to buy and do more than ever before.  It means making the most with what you have.  It means reusing, recycling, and refurbishing goods.  It can also mean defining your values and evaluating what you deem to be important.  If saving money helps you towards what you define as important, then being frugal is for you.

For us, we value raising our child at home, spending quality time together as a family, eating healthier meals, exercising regularly, and saving money for the future.  Those things are important to us.  My time turned out to be worth more money than I was earning at my job.  In other words, you couldn’t pay me enough to keep my baby in daycare, to eat fast food all the time, and to subtract what little time remained in the day after work to go to a gym rather than be with my family.  On top of that, there was little money going to savings because I was paying out for everything listed above that I didn’t want in the first place.

And that is how we became “Frugals”.  Live it and love it.

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