Did you catch my savings story today on BeCentsible? Click here to read the story- if you are a new reader thank you so much for stopping by! Be sure to subscribe by choosing an option on the right so you don’t miss any great deals!
There is a great guest post on Deal Seeking Mom today from Claire at ChoysterCash.com. The article is here and states that the most important item to focus on every week is the one item you probably shouldn’t have bought. By tallying the random items every week you spent money on but probably shouldn’t have, you can learn to plan better (for example the lunch you bought because you forgot to pack) and learn to really think about every purchase- large or small.
I thought this was a great article as it also applies to couponing. It is easy to get frustrated when you make a mistake couponing, but rather than focusing on the mistake, you can choose to learn from it. I am still irritated about my trip to Walgreen’s last week where I had a $1 Colgate coupon that would have resulted in all my items being free. I didn’t double check the coupon and it had expired. I wound up spending more than I wanted and I actually paid for something I did not need. These experiences are so valuable as they are great ways to learn. Rather than getting frustrated, it makes me more efficient and organized for my next trip. You better bet I will double check my coupons before hitting the checkout line!
Before becoming a Stay at Home Mom, I spent 9 years in the wine industry. I have had the pleasure of tasting some of the world’s greatest wines and have also had the pleasure of discovering hidden gems that were surprisingly affordable. Hopefully some of these tips will help you to navigate the world of wine and find the best value for your dollar.
1 Explore the world. To truly find the most amazing deals, you have to break out of your comfort zone. Napa Valley Cabernet and French Champagne is always going to be fairly expensive. To really find an incredible value why not try something new from a lesser known region- like Vinho Verde from Portugal. This white is perfect for spring and summer and is slightly spritzy and refreshing and can easily be found for $5 or less. I love Champagne- really love Champagne- but I can’t always justify $25-35 for one bottle. I can however find great deals on sparkling wines made outside of Champagne, like Alsatian Cremant, Italian Prosecco, or Spanish Cava. You can find a huge variety of bubbles for less than $10 that are very well made.
A few more tips to keep the bottles tasting great after all that bother picking them out:
Basically a catalina can be either a coupon or it can be treated like cash on your next order (OYNO). Walgreens frequently offers register rewards which means you will get a catalina for a certain amount that you can use on your next transaction. Walgreens tends to be different than most stores in that you can’t “roll” catalinas from the same promotion.
For example, this week there is a catalina for Bertolli pasta sauce at Safeway. I can buy two of the pasta sauce pouches for $2.00 each and I will get a catalina for $2.00 off my next purchase. I can use that catalina as payment for my next purchase of two more sauces and so on and so on. This is exemplified in my post here where I did 5 transactions- rolling the catalina each time to net 20 boxes of cereal for .73.
At Walgreens however, if I purchase Skintimates shave gel this week and get a catalina I can use it to buy another shave gel but I will not get another catalina. The register reward program has a lot of quirks and this is one of them. If I buy a Chapstick this week and get a catalina and use it to pay for the shave gel I will get a Skintimates catalina. I can then use that to buy a Chapstick and go back and forth between the promotions. Confused yet?
When I was a new couponer I frequently did not get the catalina I should have gotten- especially at Walgreens. They are famous for saying “If you use coupons a catalina (or register reward) will not print.” This is not true. The catalina did not print because of a mistake in their system, a mistake you made (like paying with a catalina from the same promotion as I mentioned above), or the machine is not working. After several weeks of back and forth at Walgreens, a cashier finally told me the catalina machine at the HBA counter has never worked! That was why my register rewards were not printing. Simple.
If this happens to you I have typically found it fruitless to argue- especially if you are already dealing with a manager. You can politely ask them to ring you up again at another register (in case the machine is broken) or you can request a refund. They will return your coupons or pay you cash for the value of the coupons you used.
Another option is to call Catalina directly. I have not done this in the past but have heard it is a simple process. After not receiving my catalinas for the transaction here, I had a reader remind me of this service. I called catalina this morning and was put on hold for about 6 minutes. I gave the customer service person my information and the missing catalinas will be sent to me in the mail. In total it took about 10 minutes and as I was busy doing other things it was time well spent.
You might think it is too much trouble to bother with all this but catalinas can be an incredible tool for saving money. In the example of Walgreens, you can frequently get a lot of items for free or you can actually make a profit by using coupons. In the post I referenced above I got 20 boxes of Post cereal for .73 by rolling the catalinas. Many times you can utilize the profit you made on the catalina to buy other things you need.
For example, I want to buy feta cheese this week which is difficult to get a great price on. I used coupons and a sale to get the Bertolli for $1.00 for two and got a catalina for $2.00 back. So a $1 profit plus free pasta sauce for every 2 I purchased. I can then use that $1 profit to offset the cost of the cheese. In the transaction I called catalina about this morning, I paid $6.63 total for a 2L of Pepsi, 2lbs of carrots, a can of green beans, 6 Bertolli pouches and a tub of Huggies wipes. Once I receive my catalinas- I will have paid .63 total for all those items. Don’t need the Bertolli? Someone out there does! This is exactly the reason I got into couponing in the first place, to be generous and help my community on a very limited budget.
One other note- catalinas are not always a value toward your next purchase. They can also be valuable coupons. Frequently when you purchase Huggies diapers you will get a Pampers catalina coupon. The catalinas are typically store specific so a Pampers catalina from Walgreens can not be used to get a great deal at Target. Many people don’t bother with catalinas. I use the UScan at my grocery store as frequently as possible as there is almost always a few catalinas people have just left behind. You never know what you will find so it is always worth the few seconds to look at them!
Does anyone else have tips on maximizing catalinas or questions? Please leave a post below!
To contact catalina you will need your store details- name and store #- the date of the transaction, and your rewards card/ club card or receipt to verify the purchase. The phone # is
888-322-3814 and you will need to ask for customer service.
I got an email from Fast Fixin this morning congratulating me on my 1 year anniversary of being in the club. They attached $1/1 coupons with the email.
While that may not be terribly exciting- what is exciting is remembering the great Dino-bites heist at Walmart which was the first coupon deal I every did! If you missed out on this deal I won’t rub it in- if you scored this deal have you eaten all your nuggets yet?
I have been a couponer for a little over a year now and I can’t even begin to imagine how much our family has saved. I stopped keeping track awhile ago but I can tell you before our baby we used to spend about $100-$120/ week plus another $60 or so at Costco every month. Conservatively our budget for 2 people was $500/month. That did not include HBA as I was shopping department stores back then. This month I have challenged myself with $30/week for everything (including the baby and dog). That is roughly $120 in March- or about 25% of what we used to spend. I don’t have the department store products anymore but I do have an entire basket of makeup I got free that I can play with anytime. I never have to rush out to the store when I run out of something and pay an outrageous amount. I am very pleased to be able to really stretch our dollars and stay home with our little girl. Learning to coupon has been a fun and profitable hobby for me and I hope for you as well!
After reading this great article on Getting Rich Slowly, I was inspired to write about using multiple savings accounts. This is a wonderful tip that my husband and I started years ago. We set up a savings account, checking account and a second savings account that had money automatically deducted each month for our vacation fund. These days we still use multiple accounts for the different priorities in our life. We have the checking account and savings account for our emergency fund, we also have 3 other ING Accounts for other priorities in our life.
- One account is a college fund for our little girl
- One is set aside for property taxes- we transfer the monthly amount into this account and then transfer the money into savings twice a year when the bill is due
- The third account is for home repairs. We currently have a few repairs that we hope to accomplish this year and we set aside any money we receive from selling items on Craigslist to be put back into this account.
We have been using ING for years and enjoy the convenience and extra interest we get from using a virtual bank. The interest rate fluctuates all the time and is currently at 1.5% down a little from February when it was over 2% and last year when it was 4.5%!
If you aren’t familiar with ING I have written about it in more detail here and here. I would strongly encourage everyone to consider opening a few accounts that suit your needs. If you are saving for a new to you car- you might have a car fund, if you hope to pay cash for a big project or if you are living debt free and want to save for a luxury item than why not put a name on that money and designate a special account? You can take the next step and have everything automated through your checking account to really simplify your life.
If you have $250 to start an account ING offers an additional $25 sign up bonus. You can transfer the funds out of your account at any time or you can arrange to have a debit card (we do not) for your accounts. Email me at myfrugaladventures at yahoo dot com for the bonus code.