My Real Life

February 17, 2012

Frugal Friday – Couponing

Filed under: Frugal Friday — Amy @ 6:00 am
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Today’s installment of Frugal Friday is all about couponing!

I used to be a coupon phenom.

I had a binder and a system and had articles about couponing published and did really, really well when I shopped.

I still coupon, (yes, it’s a verb), but I don’t do as well as I used to, and it’s because I’ve stopped putting in the effort.

However, after today’s post, I am re-inspired and am going to put my coupon nose back to the grindstone.

For today’s post, I interviewed my friend, Lisa, about her couponing skills.

Lisa always posts on Facebook about how well she does at the store, and it’s impressive, so I figured she’d be an excellent choice to share her tips with us!

Read on and enjoy!

1. Approximately how much money do you save using coupons on your grocery bill each week?
It really just depends, but I save anywhere from 40% to 70% on my bill each week. I have had many good trips to the grocery store. Last night for example, my bill was $165.26 before coupons and $57.72 after coupons; that is a 65% savings.

2. Where do you get your coupons? Do you use multiple coupons? Where do you shop? How much time does couponing take you?
I get my coupons from the following sources:
• Sunday Paper
Smart Source
Coupon Network – lots for baby coupons
Money Saving Mom
Living Rich With Coupons

My mom also gives me her coupons that she does not want – I also share my coupons with her too.

I usually shop at ShopRite, CVS and sometimes Walmart. I do not go to multiple stores, unless it is something I use on a daily basis. For example, I went to Acme the morning because the Chobani Greek Yogurt was on sale for $1.00 each, but with my coupons I got 6 of them for $1.80.

I spend about 2 to 3 hours a week couponing and organizing myself for my grocery shopping. I do it mostly while I am watching television or in the car (while in the passenger seat, not driving – LOL!)

I sometimes us multiple coupons, but I don’t buy 125 bottles for mustard like on Extreme Couponing.

3. What is your method of shopping? (ie: making the list, coupon storage (do you clip all of them, or just the ones you use), matching coupons and sales, etc.
I have all my coupons in envelopes by the following categories:
Milk, Frozen, Cleaning, Healthcare, Snacks, Can/Sauces, Paper, Breakfast, Drinks and Baby
I also have an envelope labeled “Shop-Rite” – I put all the coupons in the envelope that I plan on using that week. I only use that envelope when I go shopping so I am not searching in every envelope.
I tried organizing the binder with the plastic sleeves, but that just did not work for me.
I cut mostly all the coupons but, something that I really won’t use like dog or cat food I will not cut. Sometimes if there are coupons I won’t use and I know someone that uses the product, I will give it to them.
I do match up the sales with the coupons, but for not all stores. I always match-up for ShopRite and CVS. I will not go to multiple stores for the weekly stores, unless it is something I use on a daily basis. For example, I went to Acme this morning specifically for the Chobani deal I mentioned earlier.   One time, at Stop and Shop, I got 10 Healthy Choice Meals for free!
The site Living Rich With Coupons matches up all the sales items for almost every store you can think of- Shop Rite, Acme, Stop and Shop, Wal-Mart, etc… IT DOES ALL THE WORK FOR YOU! It also tells you where to find the coupon- whether it’s the internet or the newspaper. It is a GREAT website. I use it every week to help me shop.
Sometimes if there is a product that I don’t use and I get it for free, I will give it to a friend or donate it to a church. Recently, I got about 100 jars of baby food for free. I gave some of them to a friend and my sister who is expecting a baby in April. I recently put together 7 baskets together that consisted of health, cleaning and food products for a tricky tray that is raising money for a cancer fund. The baskets only cost me a few dollars each to make, but worth about $35.00(each).
Also, this past Christmas I put basket together for my 98 year grandmother of all non-perishable, cleaning supplies and paper products for about $30.00 which was worth over a $100. She loved her gift, because really, what else does someone who is 98 need!!! LOL! I plan on doing the same things next year.

4. Have you ever had cashiers give you a hard time about your coupon usage?
Yes, I went to Foodtown with a bunch of internet coupons to buy items that were on sale.  When I got to the cashier, she told me they didn’t take internet coupons, which was not the case. I asked to speak with a manager and she let me use the coupons. I was not happy, because I HATE wasting my time.
Some of the cashiers at Shop Rite sometimes say “You always do so well with saving money!  I need to do this, when I shop!”

5. What is your best tip for people looking to save big with coupons?
• TIP 1# Use the site
• TIP 2# – Get organized! Separate your coupons in categories whether it is with envelopes or a binder.
• TIP #3- Try not to get overwhelmed- You can get that way at first! Take deep breaths!
• Tip #4 – Make a list of what you are buying and put a C next to it if you plan on using a coupon.
• Tip#5 – Reuse your plastic bags- you are being GREEN and saving money at the same time. I have to be a little better about reusing my bags.
• Tip#6 – Sometimes you can save a ton of money on meat if you can hit a time when they mark the meat down when it’s one or two days before it is still good; after you buy it, either cook it or freeze it.

It’s fun and you can save a ton of money!

February 3, 2012

Frugal Friday

Filed under: Frugal Friday — Amy @ 6:00 am
Tags: , , ,
My apologies in advance for the clumpy format.  WordPress is testing my patience today, and, much like Charlie Sheen, is winning.
In the month of February, I thought I’d try something new with our Friday time together.  And so, Frugal Friday is born!
On Frugal Fridays, I’ll talk about ways that I save money around here, but also ways to make some extra money.
I decided to start, today, with making some money, so that we’d have some money to save in the weeks ahead.
One of the ways that I make a little extra cash is by selling things on eBay.  Old electronics, old clothes, books, movies.
I’m not making enough to send anyone to college, but I do have the money put directly in our PayPal account, which then is used to order birthday and Christmas gifts online.
It works out nicely.
For a long time, however, I wasn’t very good at eBay.  My stuff didn’t sell, and I was annoyed.
So, I went to the one person I know who is an eBay expert.
My friend, Jen.
Among her many talents (one of which is writing a very funny blog called Who Died and Made You Boss? ) is being a bit of an eBay guru.
With Jen’s help, I started making some real money with eBay, so I decided to ask Jen to be the first person to write for me on Frugal Friday.
Read on to see our Q&A session to get some of Jen’s best advice for becoming a successful eBayer!
1.  How did you get started with eBay?
   I started in 1999 just buying things.  I eventually worked the nerve up to try to sell something. I honestly can’t remember the first thing I sold, but I know I was pretty much hooked from there. I remember one of the first few things I sold was a VHS tape that was still in the plastic. I was selling it because it was never watched and it was given to my husband at the time by an ex girlfriend.  That was an easy choice. I figured I would get a few bucks for it. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong! That stupid video tape sold for $75!!!! No kidding. If I wasn’t hooked already, I was now!!!
2.  What types of items do you find sell the best?
   Anything and everything. You would be surprised at the things people would buy. If you own it, 99% chance someone else is looking for it.
3.  Where do you get your items to sell?
   Hmmmmmm, I don’t know if I should give away all my secrets, but I will tell you some of the most common places. Obviously I start in my own house. I make piles of things I will sell, donate or throw away. It only makes the sell pile if I feel it will make it worth my while. If not, it’s getting donated so someone else who really needs it can get it cheap.
   I hit garage sales every weekend. I am picky about garage sales. But when I find a good one, I clean house. For instance, last summer I had to waste time before my daughter’s softball game. So I went driving around and that day I made a killing. I found Coach purses for $8, resold them for $40 or more. I found brand new, still with the tags, Vera Bradley bags for $10.  I resold those for $45 or more. I stopped at a rummage sale and bought designer clothes for $1 a piece. I resold these starting at $20.
   Whenever I am driving, I always look at the curbs when people have piles. I won’t stop unless I see something I know is collectible or expensive. I found a Lionel train set still in the box from the 1970’s. The man was cleaning out his basement, getting rid of all his grown kids toys. I can’t remember what I resold that for, but even if it sold for $10, it was pure profit!
   I also sell on consignment. People give me their items to sell on eBay and I agree to sell it for a percentage of the selling price. That way the person makes money on their item and I make money for doing all the work.
   Finally, I hit sales at department stores. You can make a fortune off a clearance rack. Remember that! If you want to at least double your money, shop the clearance racks at department stores.  Love their change of season sales! They sell off the summer stuff when it’s still summer!! It’s all profit for you!
4.  About how much do you make per month selling items on eBay?
   This is a tricky one. It all depends on what I sell and how much I sell. I can have a great month and make $800 (in profit) or a crappy month and only make $200.  No matter what, though, I never make less than $200 a month. This is after I subtract the eBay and PayPal fees and the cost of the item if I bought it to resell. If you make eBay into a full time job, you could make anything you want. There are people who live off their eBay profits. I’m not one of them, but there are a lot more out there than you think.
5.  What would be your top 3 tips for selling on eBay?
My top 3 tips…….I hope I can narrow it down!
Tip #1: Take great pictures! Not good pictures, GREAT pictures. The better the picture, the better the profit. You have to make sure you have good lighting. Who wants to buy a purse from you when it’s hard to see the purse in the dark picture? Not me! Also, take a picture of every angle of your item. Let them see you aren’t trying to hide anything. If there is a hole, take a picture of it. If there is a stain, take a picture. If there are special embellishments, take close ups. Think like a buyer.  And please, no blurry shots. Really…who wants to get sick from trying to look at a blurry picture? That’s annoying and I won’t buy from you. I want to know you aren’t trying to pass off junk as new in a blurry shot!
Tip #2: Write detailed descriptions. You write the heck out of that shirt.  You talk that thing up like its the best shirt that was ever made. BUT, you also be honest. Again, always let the buyer know about flaws, holes, tears, stains, etc.  Because  if you don’t, when they get it, they will file a complaint with eBay. You can either choose to refund them on your own or eBay will refund them for you whether you want to or not. So always be honest and very detailed.
Tip #3: Ship right away! If you sold it on Monday night, have it at the post office Tuesday. Buyers do not want to wait for their purchase. Don’t be lazy. Just package it up, print your shipping label using eBay and drop it in a mailbox.  How easy is that?!?!
Here’s an extra tip, I won’t charge you for it either……..
Use USPS Priority Mail boxes. They are FREE! You order them online and your freakin’ mailman delivers them right to your door. This way you aren’t spending all your profits on shipping materials. If you are selling just a few items, and do not need 10 or more boxes, go to the post office and grab some there. Also flat rate shipping is great. If it fits, it ships. I ship all my jeans in flat rate envelopes. This way buyers are paying for fast shipping at a cheap rate. Buyers hate over inflated shipping charges. So be fair, don’t try to make a profit off of shipping. It will only bite you in the ass and screw with your feedback rating.
So, there you have it!  Jen’s best advice.
Give it a try, make some cash!  Then, next week we’ll talk about how to make the most of that money!
Jen is a stay at home mom of 4 kids ranging in age from 13 to 2.   She has to stay sane somehow by having a hobby, and her hobby of choice is eBay. Her kids are scared to leave things out, because they think she will sell it!  She tells them all the time, “take care of your crap or it’s going on eBay.”   Nothing scares a kid into cleaning up their toys more than threatening to sell them. And the great thing is, they know she’s not full of empty threats; she’ll do it!  😉

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