Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cincinnati Kroger Coupon Matchups - Week of October 29, 2012

Here are some of the best Kroger sale and coupon matchups that I've found this week.  These deals are valid for the week of October 29-November 4, 2012.  I shop in the Greater Cincinnati regions - your store's deals may vary.  Be sure to read the Kroger Coupon Policy thoroughly (thanks to The Savings Lifestyle).  Some of the sale prices below are valid only if you purchase any ten participating items through the Mega Event (saving you $5.00 instantly at the register).

Coupon codes = PG (Procter & Gamble circular), RP (Red Plum), SS (Smart Source)

Crest Toothpast 4.2-4.6 oz
.50 PG 9/30 (expires 10/31)

Maruchan Yakisoba Noodle Meal 4 oz
.50 SS 8/26 (expires 10/31)

Carnation Evaporated Milk 12 oz
.50/2 RP 9/30
Buy Ten Mega Event Item
Final price $.19

Minute Rice 2-count
.50 RP 10/21
Final price $.28

Success Rice 14 oz
.50 RP 9/16
Buy Ten Mega Event Item
Final price $.44

Green Giant Canned Vegetables 14.75 oz
Buy Ten Mega Event Item
Final price $.49

Marie Callender's Mini Cream Dessert 7.5 oz
.75 SS 9/23
Buy Ten Mega Event Item
Final price $.49

Progresso Receipe Starters Cooking Sauce 18 oz
.50 SS 9/9
Buy Ten Mega Event Item
Final price $.49

Swanson Broth 14.5 oz
Buy Ten Mega Event Item
Final price $.49

Campbell's Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup 10.75 oz
.40/4 SS 9/16
Buy Ten Mega Event Item
Final price $.49 each

Suave Deodorant 1.4 oz
.25 RP 10/14
Final price $.50

Betty Crocker Boxed Potatoes 6.1 oz
.50/2 SS 9/9
Final price $.50 each

Oral B Cavity Defense Toothbrush
.50/2 PG 10/28
Final price $.50 each

Yoplait Greek Yogurt Cups 5.3 oz
.50/2 SS 9/9
Final price $.50 each

Kraft Mac & Cheese 5.5 oz
Buy Ten Mega Event Item
Final price $.61

Annie's Organic Mac & Cheese 8 oz
Buy Ten Mega Event Item
Final price $.69

Creamette Pasta 16 oz
Buy Ten Mega Event Item
Final price $.69

Ronzoni Pasta 12 oz
Buy Ten Mega Event Item
Final price $.69

Pringles Super Stack 5.7 oz
1.00/4 RP 9/30
Buy Ten Mega Event Item
Final price $.74 each

Uncle Ben's Ready to Serve Rice 8 oz
1.00/4 RP 9/9
Buy Ten Mega Event Item
Final price $.74 ea

Del Monte Canned Tomatoes 14.5 oz
Buy Ten Mega Event Item
Final price $.79

Brillo Pads 10 ct
.55 RP 9/30
Final price $.99

Marie Callender's Soup 15 oz
Buy Ten Mega Event Item
Final price $.99

Stayfree Pads 14-24 ct
.50 SS 10/28
Buy Ten Mega Event Item
Final price $.99

Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate 8-count
Buy Ten Mega Event Item
Final price $.99

Kahn's Franks or Bologna 16 oz
1.00/2 10/28
Final price $1.35 each

Blue Diamond Almond Milk 64 oz
.75/2 SS 10/21
Buy Ten Mega Event Item
Final price $1.49 each

Snuggle Dryer Sheets 70-count
.50 RP 10/14
Buy Ten Mega Event Item
Final price $1.99

Gilette Male Disposable Razors 10-count
3.00 RP 9/16
Buy Ten Mega Event Item
Final price $2.99 (usually $8.19!)

Do you have any other hot Kroger tips?  Let me know!

This Week's Grocery Trip - 10/29/12

To me grocery shopping is one of the easiest and most instant places to start saving in your personal budget.  One of the main tools that I've started to use to lower my bill is couponing, and I wanted to share the results of one of my more recent shopping trips.

My regional grocer, Kroger, has one of the more favorable coupon policies, doubling coupons up to $.50 or $1.00 depending on the face value.  You can also combine these coupons with sales through the store's loyalty card, so that's where I choose to shop.

I took advantage of Kroger's periodic Mega Event, giving you $5.00 off your total bill instantly for every ten items you purchase that are a part of the promotion.  When layering with coupons, a sale like this means you can score items for pennies on the dollar or even free!

Some of the great items that I scored at no cost to me include toothaste and two liters of Dr. Pepper soda.  I also picked up some Uncle Ben's Ready Rice packets for just $.27 each and some usually expense High Liners Sea Cuisine fish fillets for just $2.99 each (they normally retail for $7.49!).

I won't go down the list of each item, but above is my total haul.  The retail value of my purchase was $88.30, but I paid only $33.28.  Not bad!  I did have to pick up some more expensive staples that I wouldn't normally purchase on every shopping trip, so that was a little higher than I normally aim for.  But my percentage of savings encourages me to keep lowering that bill!

What are some of your couponing tricks?  What resources do you use to plan your shopping trip?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Saving Money on Groceries - Couponing

I'm sure you've seen or heard about TLC's "Extreme Couponing."  Families from across the U.S. spend  twenty or thirty hours a week pouring over coupon inserts and sales circulars to score hundreds of dollars worth of groceries for pennies on the dollar.  Mothers give tours of their impressive stockpiles which could supply a small community for months on end.

Kudos to those who have amassed hoardes of thousands of dollars worth of products.  But what about us single, young professionals who don't have a small army to feed?

In studying my monthly budget, I decided that the first area to save was my grocery and dining budget. I spent an incredibly high portion of my income on food and restaurant meals simply out of inconvenience (and cooking for one can be a challenge).  I never seemed to be able to purchase the right amount of fruits and vegetables that I could use before everything spoiled.  I never used coupons and tended to buy things last minutes as I needed them, especially personal care and beauty products.

After being thorough amazed by an episode of "Extreme Couponing" I hit the Internet to learn more about the growing trend.  I stumbled upon a site called The Grocery Game - a site that takes the hours of manpower out of matching coupons with store sales.  Every week (usually Monday afternoon), sales lists are posted which compare the valid coupons out there with sales from your preferred store.  You can pull lists for Kroger, Meier, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens and a host of other stores.  The list tell you the sale price of the item and which coupon to use to get an even lower deal.

The Grocery Game is a paid service ($10.00 for eight weeks) but over the last few months, I've saved hundreds and have even scored some free items!  Only you can decide if it's a worthwhile investment, but I've found that the savings far outweigh my membership fee.  Plus it allows me to plan a weekly menu around some of the items that are on sale.

If you follow coupons long enough, you'll start to spot trends in sales and promotions.  Most items tend to go through a sale cycle of about sixteen weeks.  There are some things that I'm finding I'll never have to purchase again, like toothpaste and bar soap, simply because every two months or so, the items go on sale and can be matched with a coupon to make it free.

The site has also allowed me to pick and choose my deals without having to religiously slave over sale circulars or commit half my house to an enourmous stockpile.

How do you coupon?  Do you have any tips for single shoppers?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What is the Frugal Girl Challenge?

Five years ago, I began my college career with high hopes that graduation would bring financial freedom, a fancy apartment, a Fashion Week-worthy wardrobe and stability.  Well, most of those things came to fruition on some level, but not quite in the grandiose, stereotypical way I had envisioned.

Through an internship, I fell in love with a job at a non-profits arts organization.  A job that played on my strengths and kept me involved in a discipline that I love dearly.  A job that demanded 60-hour work weeks at times and paid a fraction of what some of my former fellow students earn in the corporate world.  When I graduated and was hired on full-time, I was thrilled.  My bank account and credit cards, not so much.

The truth is that my life is not lavish.  I'm not a big spender, I don't often throw money away on impulsive and indulgent purchases - and yet, I still feel that I struggle monthly to get ahead financially.  Since graduation, my major accomplishment has been that I've paid my bills.  I haven't built any substantial emergency fund, I haven't contributed to the charities that I support, and I haven't put a dime into any kind of investment or retirment account.

And I'm not alone.  I'm part of a generation of millenials that have graduated college to find a very different world waiting compared to the economic and social landscape of our parents' era.  The workforce is changing and morphing to provide opportunities that come in all shapes and sizes - it's not always enough to land a traditional corporate job.  I love the career path that I've chosen, but I've realized that no matter how much you love what you do, when you can't change the amount you earn, you have to change how much you spend.  

Since I can't control my income at this particular moment in time, over the next six months I'm embarking on a journey to change my mindset on spending, to live more frugally, to build better financial habits, and to embrace a lifestyle that somewhat rejects the consumerist culture of America.

Many experts have begun their own journeys in the same place and have paved the way in the field of frugality, money management and simple living.  This project is just my story, but I hope that I can encourage at least one person along the way as I learn to change my mindset on finances and consumption.

I hope you enjoy my path to living well simply while loving what I do.