Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving at CVS

CVS started their Black Friday deals on Thursday, meaning technically at midnight Wed. night for our 24-hour store. I was so tempted to gather my coupons and head over at midnight (or a little before) to grab all the great deals to be had, but I convinced myself that THAT would push me into the realm of Crazy-Obsessive Coupon Queen. And besides, I thought to myself, I'm sure no one else is going to grab all the freebies before I get there early Thursday morning!

I was so, so wrong.

It was quiet enough when I pulled into the CVS parking lot at around 7:10 am Thursday. I was pleased to see only a couple of cars. This should be a piece of cake! I got inside and grabbed a shopping cart. I started my rounds, knowing exactly which aisles to head for. And a lady with a cart stopped me. "You're here for the deals?" she asked. I smiled and nodded. "Well, just so you know, they're already out of the razors and iPod headphones. People bought them all last night."


I was fuming through the rest of my shopping. Why on earth didn't I come in last night? I could have gotten the items I REALLY wanted! Later, I ran into one of my favorite cashiers, who told me she had been at CVS at midnight and witnessed the frenzy of the coupon queens. They started crowding the aisles at 11 pm, grabbing items off the shelf before others could, and freaking out over coupons they dropped. Then they all flooded the check-out lines once the sale officially started. Maybe I DIDN'T want to be in the middle of all that.

Well, regardless, I still got some great products (most less than free) and walked out with more ECBs than I came in with. Not too bad! Here's how it went...

Transaction #1:
  • Johnson's Soft Lotion, $5.69, get $5.69 ECB, used $1 MQ
  • Colgate Total toothpaste, $2.99, get $2.99 ECB, used $1.50 MQ
  • Garnier 25-ct towelettes, $5.99, get $5.99 ECB, used $1 MQ
  • Covergirl Smoothers makeup, $7.99, get $7.99 ECB, used $1 MQ
  • Covergirl pressed powder, $5.99, get $5.99 ECB, used $1 MQ
  • Gatorade G2, $1.49, get $1.49 ECB
  • Used a CVS coupon for $5 off a $30 purchase (came in an email)

Total before coupons = $30.14, total after coupons = $19.64. Paid with $18.99 in ECBs, and the remaining $0.65 plus $0.55 tax went on my gift card. Got back a total of $30.14 in ECBs, meaning I made $9.95 from this transaction.

Transaction #2:

  • 2 Aussie conditioners, $2.99 each, get $2.99 ECB for each, used (2) $1 MQs
  • Playtex tampons, $3.99, get $3 ECB, used $1 MQ
  • Colgate Total, $2.99, get $2.99 ECB, used $1 MQ and $1 CVS Q (from scanner)
  • L'Oreal lip gloss, $6.99, get $6.99 ECB
  • Retro air popper machine, $19.99, get $10 ECB
  • Maybelline mineral makeup, $8.99, get $8.99 ECB (which didn't print)
  • 2 King sized Hershey bars, $1, get $1 ECB for first one (fillers)
  • Used a CVS coupon for $10 off a $50 purchase (from scanner)

Total before coupons = $50.93, total after coupons = $35.43. Paid with $35.45 in ECBs (adjusted down to $35.43 by the cashier), and the $0.42 in tax went on my gift card. Got back a total of $29.96 in ECBs, meaning I paid $5.89 for this transaction. I will contact customer service about the $8.99 ECB that didn't print, or else return the item. Then I will be making a profit of $3.10 on this transaction.

Transaction #3:

  • Crest Spinbrush, $5.99, get $2 ECB, used $2 MQ
  • L'Oreal lip gloss, $6.99, get $6.99 ECB
  • Sally Hansen nail polish, $3.79, get $3.79 ECB
  • Universal Remote, $6.99, get $6.99
  • 5-hour energy shots 2-pack, $3.99, get $3.99 ECB
  • Breeze II glucose monitor, $30, used $30 MQ
  • Used another CVS Q for $10 off a $50 purchase

Total before coupons = $57.75, total after coupons = $15.75. Paid with $15.69 in ECBs, and the remaining $0.06 plus $2.97 tax went on my gift card. Got back a total of $23.76 in ECBs, meaning I made $5.04 from this transaction.

So right now, while missing the $8.99 ECB for the Maybelline, I've still made a PROFIT of $9.10 by buying all this stuff. I should have ended up with a profit of $18.09. Believe me, I'll get it taken care of. : )

I gave away almost half of these items at Thanksgiving, which was fun. I felt like Santa Claus! As for the rest, I'm happy to have an air popper, which is something I've always wanted, and the Aussie conditioner is one of my favorites. Yes, I have another glucose monitor, but Uncle Steve says that the Cuba missionaries could use them, so I'll hopefully be able to ship those out very soon.

The shopping trip took maybe an hour, so I was home in plenty of time to start making up some waffle batter, real whipped cream, butter-pecan syrup, biscuits, sausage, bacon, and gravy for a family Thanksgiving breakfast. Mom brought some ham and fruit salad, and Claire brought eggs to scramble. We had quite a feast! I ate so much that I wasn't even hungry until we got to Huntsville for the big family dinner gathering at 5 pm.

All in all, the day went very well, from start to finish. A great Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Where there's a will...

It seems that I am slowly becoming one of those crazed coupon queens.

Yes, I made a Sunday afternoon CVS run. I had to! The Complete contact solution was a $2 money-maker, and I KNEW they wouldn't stock the shelf with enough bottles to last until tomorrow morning!

When I arrived, I immediately headed for the eye care aisle. And was disappointed to see that the Complete section was already COMPLETELY EMPTY. There went that $8.99 towards my $50 total.

I briefly considered turning on my heels in a huff and leaving without making a purchase at all. But then I remembered that my sweet husband made the effort to drive me to CVS. (I have a near-migraine, which may otherwise incapacitate me, but it ain't keeping me from some sweet deals.) I knew he wouldn't be happy if we just left with nothing.

So I decided to try to work a new scenario to get my total up to $50 without going too much in the hole. (As in, having to pay money. Ha!) I got some other things I planned on, picked up a pet bed for Baxter (which I DIDN'T plan on, since they have been out of stock for weeks), and was trying to think of something else to get as "filler". It was then that I had an idea, and headed back to the eye care aisle.

I knew that the spot for Complete was empty, but on a hunch I reached my hand back behind some neighboring products. I smiled, and pulled out a lone box of Complete. Lance looked surprised, but I wasn't. Someone had apparently hidden the last box with the intent to return for it later. Won't they be shocked to see that I outsmarted them?

So here's the transaction I ended up with:
  • 3 3-packs of Dial bar soaps, on sale for $1.99 each, get back $1 ECB each
  • 2 CVS tissues, on sale for $0.99 each
  • 1 12 oz. bottle of Complete, on sale for $8.99, get $8.99 ECB
  • 2 4-packs of rechargeable Energizer batteries, on sale for $10 each; buy $20 worth, get $10 ECB
  • 1 Maybelline Mineral liquid makeup, on sale for $8.99, get $8.99 ECB
  • Pet bed, on sale for $5.99

Total before coupons = $51.92

Coupons used:

  • CVS coupon for $10 off $50 purchase
  • 3 Mfr. coupons for $0.30 off Dial soap
  • CVS coupon for $1 off 2 boxes of CVS brand tissues
  • Printable Mfr. coupon for $2 off Complete
  • 2 Mfr. coupons for $1 off any Energizer batteries

Total after coupons = $36.02

Paid with $35.97 ECBs (My entire stash! I was glad to be able to use that large $15.99 one from last week...), and that left only 5 CENTS plus tax! Lance scrounged up the $0.51 cents, and we walked out with $30.98 in ECBs, plus an extra $5 ECB printed on the receipt, because I took a survey earlier this month. That means I spent only $0.50 on this transaction!

I'm having more fun shopping lately, because I have a specific plan for the extra freebies I'm able to pick up. In fact, it's making me try even harder to get more! I can't wait to hand over the big box of stuff I've collected...I dare say that it will mean more to me on that day than to the recipient. : )

And just in case this post wasn't long enough...Here's Baxter already enjoying his new bed under Daddy's desk (one of his favorite places to be):

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Behold, a great wonder!

See this?
This is what we CVSers would call a miracle. It's a free-after-ECB item...which was still available MID-WEEK!

I amuse myself sometimes with images of crazed coupon queens flooding the stores at 12:01 am Sunday morning, elbowing each other out of the way to grab the freebies off the shelf. But whatever the case may be, the reality is that if you wait until Monday to visit CVS, that freebie shelf will be empty. You snooze, you lose.

But not this week.

I ambled into my store after church on Wednesday night, husband in tow (I had to bribe him with promises of pistachios, which I knew to be on sale), prepared with my list and coupons, and just thought I'd swing by the L'Oreal area to see if they had any Age Perfect left. Imagine my shock when I saw TWO (!!!) packages sitting on the shelf. My jaw went slack, and I stood there for several seconds, just staring. How is this possible?

As elated as I was when placing the item in my basket, I knew that this would totally throw off my planned transaction. And it did. I could have worked a MUCH better deal than I did, and I could have actually used one of the eight $10/$50 CVS coupons I have amassed! Oh, well. Can't win 'em every time.

It still worked out to be a fantastic money-maker. It cost $15.99. I used a $1 Manufacturer coupon, a $2 off any L'Oreal product CVS coupon, and a $3 off any $15 face care CVS coupon. (Did I luck out at the coupon scanner or WHAT?) I got an ExtraCare Buck for $15.99 towards my next purchase. That, my friends, is a gain of $6!

Now my only problem is figuring out how to spend that $15.99 ECB. Good grief!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Kroger and Publix deals

Hi, all!

I finally went grocery shopping to get real food. As in, things other than evaporated milk and ice cream. We can't really subsist on those, sadly enough.

Believe it or not, at Kroger I used absolutely no paper coupons. *gasp* The only thing I used was a Shortcuts coupon for $0.45 off of Kroger cheese. The bag of shredded pizza cheese I got was on sale for $1.67, so I got it for $1.22. Not bad.

Where I REALLY racked up the savings was on the Manager's Specials in the meat department. I got some nice looking pork chops and an expensive cut of angus steak, both for about $3.40/lb. For less than $10, I have at least four meals-worth of good meat (meals for two). That's about $1.25 per individual meal, so I consider that a good deal. I plan on splitting up the cuts into dinner portions (for two), adding some marinade to the baggies, and popping them into the freezer. That way, when I pull out a dinner portion to thaw in the fridge, the meat will soak up the marinade as it thaws. Saves some time and effort.

I made a run to Publix while I was out (I'm thankful that they are within a few hundred feet of each other), and caught some great deals. Celery for $0.89, Jimmy Dean sausage rolls for $1.50 (sale price $2.50 minus $1 Mfr. coupon from Publix flyer), Uncle Ben's wild rice for $0.46 a box (sale price $0.80 minus $1/3 coupon from insert), and the best deal of all...Green Giant low-salt canned vegetables for -$.15 each (sale price $0.45 minus doubled $0.30 coupon = less than free)!

Since I got a $5/$35 Publix coupon in the mail this week, I tacked on some other things, like Dr. Peppers (on sale for $3 each) and got my total up to just over $35. Why is it that I can easily drop $60 at Publix on any other day, but when I have a $5/$35 coupon I struggle to spend enough?

God bless Publix and their $/$$ coupons! Whoever says Publix is too expensive just isn't paying enough attention. I've found that Publix produce is of much better quality than Kroger, and they always price their lettuce heads at least 20 cents lower than Kroger (today I got Green Leaf lettuce at Publix for $1.99, instead of $2.29 at Kroger). And you can't beat their BOGO deals, coupled with coupons. You can always find something to get for free or almost-free. Why, Publix is where I got Muir Glen organic canned tomatoes for less than free a few months ago!

Anyway, it was a good grocery run. I spent about $58 between both places, but considering that included about 3 or 4 months-worth of sodas and enough meat to last a month, I'm happy.

Now I'm off to portion up the meat! (It's odd that this stuff makes me so happy...)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I love our backyard this time of year...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Warm puppy

Baxter crawled under the heated blanket I keep on my feet:

Friday, November 7, 2008

Kroger Mega Event

And what a Mega Event it was!

Have you ever seen a register tape this long with coupons? Yes, that whole section is ONLY coupons! The cashier wasn't thrilled.

The whole lot (at sale prices) came to $63.07 before coupons and taxes. After coupons, the total was $23.22, plus another $4.96 in tax. (Why, oh, why do I get taxed for the pre-coupon total?)

Sure, my bottom line wasn't as amazing as a lot of other folks', but I added in a few impulse buys, like marshmallows. : )

Here's what I got for free:
  • 3 huge bottles of spring water
  • 4 cans Carnation Evaporated milk (holiday baking!)
  • 4 small bottles of Tylenol PM
  • 3 10-packs disposable razors
  • 3 small lint brushes
  • 1 4-pack of Cottonelle

For cheap:

  • 2 cans of Progresso soup, $0.30 each
  • 2 boxes Betty Crocker potatoes, $0.28 each
  • 3 cans Beefaroni, $0.77 each (Yes, I still eat this stuff!)
  • big tub Breyers ice cream, $1.50

I got a lot of things (about $11 worth, to be exact) to make some white chicken chili tomorrow to take to Lance's boss's harvest party. $11 seems like a lot to me, but I guess a big crockpot of soup feeds at least ten, so $1 a meal isn't too bad. These days I think of everything in terms of cost-per-meal. It's a sickness.

*Just a side note: I LOVE! It's a wonderful way to get extra savings. I loaded a $0.50 Cottonelle Q, a $0.35 Betty Crocker potato Q, and a $0.50/2 Progresso soups Q, and THEN used manufacturer's coupons for each! The $0.25 Cottonelle Mfr. coupon (doubled) made the toilet paper free!

*Another side note: With all the free Cottonelle I keep getting at Kroger, it seems I'll never have to dip into that truck load I bought at CVS a few months ago...Ha ha!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Raised bed, Part Two

Hooray, the bed is finished! On Saturday morning, Lance secured the rest of the side braces and put boards across the middle for stability. Cedar is really light and flexible, so we didn't want the heaviness of the dirt to make the sides bow out. It's not going anywhere now!

As you can see, I put down pieces of cardboard along the inside. It's sitting on top of the expensive landscaping fabric. You can never be too careful when it comes to keeping Bermuda grass at bay. Once that stuff gets in, you might as well give up.

With the leftover cardboard (which all came from big boxes during renovation), I folded up pieces and laid them around the perimeter of the bed, even in between the bed and the fence. I then went around and laid a good 4 inch deep layer of mulch on top of that. I'm serious about my grass control!

You may notice a little red bush at the end of the bed on the right. That's my blueberry bush, which has been in a pot for a couple of years now. I'm hoping it will do better in the ground. I'll have to amend the pH of the soil some, but hopefully it'll be happier there.

Well, Dad is going to help us get good compost to fill the bed with in a few weeks, so stay tuned for more!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Diabetes monitor count = 4

Being a non-diabetic, I never thought I'd buy so many diabetes monitors. It's starting to get ridiculous.

Today's CVS Transaction:
  • Bayer Contour monitor, $30
  • Nova Max monitor, $9.99, get $9.99 ECBs
  • 10 Ice Cubes gum; Buy 10 specified items, get $5 ECBs
  • Crest Pro-Health toothpaste, $3.49, get $3.49 ECBs

Coupons used:

  • $30 Bayer Contour Mfr. Q from recent insert
  • 5 $1/2 Ice Cubes gum Mfr. Q from recent insert
  • $1 Crest Mfr. Q from mid-October P&G insert
  • $10/$50 CVS Q

Paid with $3.57 ECBs, put remaining $3.79 on gift card ($3.37 was tax, ugh!), got back a total of $14.99 in ECBs. That's a profit of $7.63 for the night! ($14.99 ECBs earned minus $3.57 ECBs used minus $3.79 on gift card.)

Know what bothers me? When people try to say they earned a lot more than they really did, because they don't "count" the ECBs they used to pay. Grrrr. Yeah, I COULD say that I earned $14.99 tonight, but that would be a little misleading, wouldn't it?

I bet those same people lied about being subscribers in order to get that last $3/$15 CVS coupon. I wasn't willing to stoop that low just to save a few bucks.

Climbing down from my soapbox now. : )

Oh, and PS: Don't worry...I will find a good home for these diabetes monitors!