July 4, 2012
We’ve been answering questions for Ask I Heart Publix for over two years now, and we’ve definitely found that some questions keep popping up as new couponers write in. So every month we’re going to feature a “Best Of” Ask I Heart Publix, where we post some of our favorite questions and answers from past weeks, months, and years.
Don’t worry….we’ll still be answering the new questions you guys send in, too, so keep sending in those questions! Just remember if we didn’t get to your question this week…we will do our best to cover it another week!!
Don’t forget that there is a tab at the top of the site called “Q & A” where you can find the questions and answers from past weeks!
Here are this week’s “Best of” questions:
- Is it ethical to put in a zip code other than your own in order to get coupons from RedPlum or Coupons.com?
- I have four older children – how do I cut my spending further?
- I’m confused by the word “Rolling” in your coupon matchups. What does that mean?
- When you list a hangtag or a peelie in your matchups, does that mean that I should expect to find it when I go to my store?
- Does it make sense to use really good coupons before they expire even if the item in question doesn’t go on sale?
And here are the answers!
1.Beca wants to know: Is it ethical to put in a zip code other than your own in order to get coupons from RedPlum or Coupons.com? I feel like if the company didn’t post the coupon for all zip codes, then they don’t want all zip codes to be able to print, but I don’t know the rules for those sites. What do you think?
Christy: This is a call you have to make for yourself depending on what you feel to be right. Personally, I don’t think that there is anything wrong with trying a number of zip codes in order to find coupons on any of those sites. We live in world that relies heavily on information sharing, and the information about coupons in other zip codes is just part of it. I look at it this way: if companies really didn’t want just anyone to be able to print a specific coupon, they wouldn’t let us input our own zip codes or they wouldn’t put it online in the first place!
Michelle: Yep, you will need to decide if this is something you are comfortable doing. I have heard the same argument for ordering inserts from different regions (ordering a high value coupon from a clipping site or ebay that was only released in California, etc…) This is definitely a personal choice!
2. Stephanie wants to know: I have been couponing almost 7 months. There are six in our family – kids aging from 11-16 (so they eat). I have gone from spending over $1000 a month to $700, which is great. It has kept me from having to go get a part-time job since I also home school. But I want to see half of what I started with — $500. I believe it can be done, but I can’t figure out where to cut back anywhere. I only buy meat on sale or clearance. I rarely buy anything that is not BOGO or BOGO with a coupon. I do several stores every week trying to get the best deals at all the stores. (We live just a few miles from all the major stores) I get the free items. I am not brand particular with most things. I just would love to see a drop again, if possible. Is this just life with four older children or do you have any other hints?
Christy: My ‘answer’ is actually more questions – what items are you just not able to keep in the stockpile? You may need to purchase more of these items when they’re at their lowest price to see the best savings. On a related note, how many months worth of stockpile do you have? If the kids are eating the majority of your stockpile before the sales cycle is over (or within 3 months), you may not be getting the best prices because you’re restocking too quickly. Another idea – and this may sound extreme – is it possible to hide a reserve stockpile (especially of snack-type foods) somewhere, and just rotate out a reasonable amount each week? My experience with teenagers in particular is that they are never actually in danger of going hungry because they literally eat all the time – so maybe removing some stuff from their ‘grazing grounds’ could help a little.
That said, I defer to the experts: Michelle and the commenters. What do you guys think?
Michelle: You could challenge yourself to reduce your spending by 10% every two weeks. Often just a little creativity can do wonders for the budget!! Try modifying your menu to include a leftover buffet or opting for one meatless dinner per week. Many times I think the easiest things to do is just think outside of the box and change habits. Think about what you could do with a pound of ground beef. Would your family notice if you made a big pot of chili with only half a pound of beef and then used the other half for a big pot of vegetable soup later in the week?? My guess is that they probably would not even notice!! But…try to feed a family of 6 a meal of hamburgers with just a pound of beef and it would likely be impossible!! That little bit of creativity could save you $10 in one week!!
“Rolling” just means that the expiration date on the coupon will change based on when you actually print the coupon. Many times printables will expire 30 – 90 days from print date.
Christy: I’ve often added items to my list based on the fact that peelies or hangtags have been reported – and a number of times the coupons have been there and I’ve been able to score a great deal that I otherwise wouldn’t have had coupons for! So while you won’t find the peelies or hangtags every time, it definitely doesn’t hurt to look!
Michelle: I list all the coupons that have been reported for an item. Coupons will vary from store to store and so there is no guarantee that you will find them. BUT–I list all the coupons so you will know to be on the lookout and to check your binder!! Often I purchase items with coupons attached and don’t use them immediately. For example, my store had B2G1 peelies on each package of the Martha White muffins. I came into the store with printable coupons that I had planned on using on the pouches. Since I can’t use both coupons, I left the peelies on the package . When I got home I pulled my peelies off the ones I purchased and stuck them in my binder to use later. In a couple of months there may be a deal where I need to use those coupons…the matchup will remind me to use them!!
Also, many of us trade coupons so knowing what coupons exist can help us track down a trade!! I would not count on finding the peelies, hangtags and tearpads but I would be more likely to check packages if I knew they existed
5. Melissa wants to know: I may be wrong, but I’m of the opinion that coupons will save you money whether an item is on sale or not, as long as it is an item you would normally buy. Many times I will find I have both a store (or competitor) coupon and a manufacturer coupon at the same time. I keep an eye on when these paired coupons expire and watch the I Heart Publix list (and others) for notice the item has gone on sale. When an item doesn’t go on sale before the coupons expire, I feel like it is a lost opportunity. I’ve decided that if I have a pair about to expire, I will go ahead and use them, making my own sale in the process. Even if the item wasn’t on sale, the coupons are worth the same amount of $ off for those items, except in the case of BOGOs. The percentage of savings increases when you buy an item on sale with a coupon, but the actual money saved does’t increase, again with the exception of BOGOs. Am I missing something, or is this a sound strategy?
Christy: In the last few months I’ve lost out on a couple GREAT coupons because I only pull coupons I need specifically for a sale, so I’ve started a special envelope in my binder for ‘must use’ coupons. Since I’ve done this, I’ve ‘made’ myself a couple great sales on items we use all the time – I think yours is a great strategy, Melissa!
Michelle: Absolutely!! Couponing is all about timing. We hold our coupons and use them when the item is at the lowest possible price. Sometimes things may not go on sale when we want them to, so coupons are definitely a way to make your own sale!!
You guys know that we have to have Ovaltine at my house…so I will use it as an example. Ovaltine coupons don’t come around too often. When I find a coupon to reduce the cost of each can I use it so I can maintain our supply at a discount (with the coupon)rather than having to pay full price!! Of course I might hold that coupon until the last day in hopes of a sale…but some discount is better than none at all!!
I hope our answers to these questions were helpful! Make sure you ‘tune in’ next week for even more Q&A with I Heart Publix. If you have a question you’d like to see answered, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.