Why we live a frugal life

Special Note: This post has been in draft form for quite some time. Recently a dear friend of mine Maryann passed away and I want to dedicate this post to her, a woman who “loved extravagantly”. It is her impact in my life that has built in me a desire to give much for God’s glory. So these thoughts are in loving memory of Maryann, who loved deeply because she understood God’s deep love for her

I can think of lots of good reasons to live life frugally.

Help pay down or stay out of debt, Live within not over your means, Save for college or a vacation, Teaching kids the value of money, Being content with what we have and not always wanting more,  To spend less time working or at work and more time at home (less $ needed)

While these are very good reasons to try and spend less and live life frugally they are  not the main reason I do so.  John Welsey has a wonderful sermon on money where he admonishes his listeners to earn all they can, save all they can, and give all they can.

It is important for me to remember in my quest for a frugal life that I do so first and foremost to bring glory to God through wise use of His resources, and by giving generously. My husband and I have chosen to live frugally in order to give generously. We find ourselves often praying that God will show us ways to use our money wisely, the temptation is so that we can then have more money, belongings or stuff, but by God’s grace he transforms our hearts to long to live frugally so we can give more abundantly to others.

Someone asked me the other day if I was looking forward to the day when I would have enough money that I wouldn’t need to shop for bargains or make my own laundry soap, I told them I hoped not. The desire of my heart is to use any surplus money we are able to save to bless others as I believe we have been called to do.

One of the scriptures we pray through when working through our finances is found in Luke:

Luke 12:15-33

With that being said one of our favorite things to do is to donate any extra goodies we accumulate on our bargain hunts to our favorite local charities or families in need. Sometimes we leave packages on people’s doorstep, sometimes we drop off bags at the local shelter. My eldest is always asking questions about why we give and it is such a joy to tell her that we give because we have been given so much.

One of our bi-weekly donation care packets

One of our bi-weekly donation care packets

So why do I write this? It is my desire that we do not become frugal gluttons hoarding more then we can need or use, but instead using the great deals, and freebies to bless others in need as we have been blessed. Your turn, what some ideas for blessing others with your frugal surplus?

January Coupon savings

“Is couponing really worth it?” This is probably the question I get asked the most frequently. To answer this question I kept track for the month of January of my savings for all my household purchases. This included diapers, food, dog food, toiletries, medication, and household goods.

This does not keep track of sales so these numbers are the amount I saved with coupons only.

I did not buy any “junk” or pre-packaged food with the exception of goldfish crackers, frozen vegetables, and granola bars. I made all my own yogurt, bread and laundry household cleaners. Here are what coupons did for my grocery budget for the month of Januray.

I saved: 55% in coupons a savings of $397 in coupons alone (no rebates)

If I include store rebates (Walgreens and Rite Aid) (this does not include manufacturers rebates) I saved: 60% a savings of $480

If I add to the number my manufactures rebates I saved: 61% a savings of $515

Highlights of the month included a 2 month diaper supply (yeah!)

January was a particiularly good month for coupons and rebates. I am keeping track of February so you can see how consistent my savings are 🙂

A beginners guide to Rite Aid

Shopping at Rite Aid

For the pacific northwest Rite Aid is another great store for getting amazing bargains by taking advantage of some of their programs.

Note: Rite Aid is generally more expensive then your local grocery store unless you shop sales. In addition to their sale prices Rite Aid’s has thier SCR (single check rebate) program which can be used for some great deals. Occasionally they also run promotions for money back at Rite Aid.

1) Rite Aid’s SCR rebates
SCR is Rite Aid’s rebate program. It stands for Single Check Rebate. It is named such becuase you can only request a rebate once during the month. Smart shoppers wait until the end of the month to request their check so they don’t miss you on any great deals.  SCR deals can be found in your local Rite Aid ad (often they are highlighted) as well as in a paper flier at the front of your local store. I will highlight what I think are the best SCR’s here on this blog for you as well. Often the rebate is only good for one item, and it is only good during  specific time frame (ie only one or two weeks out of the month rebate period). This is different then Walgreen’s which run all month long. So if you see a deal you want be sure and pick it up that week!.
To participate in these deals you must go into Rite Aid, purchase the item listed and then turn in or input your receipt for your rebate. You can only request one rebate check per month so you want to wait until the end of the month to request this. The easiest way to request the rebates is to go here and sign up for their program online. Then you enter the recipt information into their website and at the end of the month just “request” your check (it will calculate your rebates from your recipt). It takes me almost three weeks to get the check from the date of request but I always get it!
Special Promotions-Rite Aid often runs special promotions where if you spend a certain amount by a certain date then you can get a Rite Aid gift card. Other promotions are that if you spend a certain amount on any breand (for example Proctor and Gambil) then you get a gift card for a certain amount of money. You don’t have to enroll in a seperate program for any of these. Rite Aid keeps track when you enter your recipts for the rebates. If you qualify your gift card will come in the mail as well as your check (I LOVE LOVE THIS ABOUT THIS COMPANY!).
A few Rite Aid “rules”

1-Sometimes at Rite Aid the order of your coupons is important. If this is true I’ll be sure to tell you!

2-There is no corporate policy on internet printable coupons. Each store is allowed to set its own policy. I have never had any problems (and Rite Aid gives you internet coupons when you sign up for their rebat program) but each store does have a right to decide so if your store won’t accept them there is nothing you can do (again I have been to 5 different stores in 3 different states and never had a problem)

A beginners guide to Walgreens

Shopping at Walgreens

For the pacific northwest Walgreens can give you some of the best deals for grocery’s and toiletries when you take advantage of their programs. It may seem a bit daunting at first but is quite simple one you get inot the swing of things.

Note: Walgreens is generally more expensive then your local grocery store unless you shop sales. In addition to their sale prices Walgreen’s has three other programs you can combine the sales with for some great deals.

1) Walgreen’s rebate booklet Easy Saver Catalog
This catalog is found in your local Walgreens. It is usually next to the weekly store ads. There is one for each month. I recommend grabbing several at the beginning of the month and keeping them at home.  There are two ways to save money with this catalog, rebates and coupons:
Rebates-In the back of the catalog it lists “free after rebate” offers for the month in addition to other rebates they are offerng for the month (for example $2 off of shampoo).  To participate in these deals you must go into Walgreens, purchase the item listed and then turn in or input your recipt for your rebate. You can only request one rebate check per month so you want to wait until the end of the month to request this. The easiest way to request the rebates is to go here and sign up for their program online. Then you enter the recipt information into your thier website and at the end of the month just “request” your check (it will calculate your rebates from your recipt).
You can choose to have the rebate sent to you in the form of a check or gift card. I recommend putting it on a gift card, you can reload your gift card each month (making the rebate arrive swifter and Walgreens gives you 10% additional money for putting it on your gift card. That ads up fast!)
Coupons-The easy Saver Catalog also includes a number of coupons that are good in the store all month long (for most of them). You can use these coupons with manufactuers coupons (from your newspaper or online) to get a great deal.   You can often times wait for an item to go on sale, use an easy saver coupon and manufactuers coupon and get the item for a really great deal.
2) Weekly Coupons- In the Walgreens weekly ad they often have a number of coupons that you can use to get great deals on your purcahses. These can be combined with manufactuers coupons for an even better deal.
3) Register Rewards (or Catalina Coupons)-These are coupons that print out of a machine after your purchase is complete. They are good for use on your next Walgreens purchase and function similar to cash. They have an experation date (usually 1-2 weeks after purchase) and have some exclusions (no pharmacy or alcohol purchases).
There are some things you can and cannot do with these coupons. You cannot use these coupons to purchase the same deal again. For example if I buy 3 shampoos and get $5 in register rewards I cannot use those $5 in register rewards to buy more shampoo and get another $5 in register rewards. I can use them to buy more shampoo but I will not be rewarded with more register rewards for donig so.
A few Walgreen “rules”

1-Sometimes at Walgreens the order of your coupons is important. If this is true I’ll be sure to tell you!

2-If you are shopping at walgreens you must have as many items as you have coupons. The register rewards count as a coupon, the weekly ad coupons, and manufactuers coupons all count. What does not count is any Easy Saver Coupons. If I have more coupons then items I will often through in a .25 cent item so the computer will let me use my coupons.

Is it unethical to get items for free?

Please remember that with questions of ethics if you are uncomfortable or feel that something is not ethical by all means don’t betray your conscience and don’t do it. That being said I try and only post here deals that are legitimate and legal and do not abuse the store and manufacturers coupon policy. Here is why I feel it is just fine to “purchase” items for free.

The store purchases the item for a set price from the manufacturer. They pay the manufactuere for the item then mark the item up to make money. At times they put these items on sale, or offer coupons good only at their store for these items. This is the stores choice to try and get more people into their store and then make more money. These are store offers, or store coupons. They can always be combined with other coupons (unless otherwise stated).

The manufacturer wants to offer you incentive to buy their product. This helps give their product reputation, and encourages word of mouth. They offer coupons to purchase their product with. When a store receives these coupons they send them back to the manufacturer for cash. (the store does not lose any money on these coupons…the manufacturer actually gives them an incentive for accepting them).  For the store these coupons are essentially money.

When I combine store coupons or manufacturers coupons (and abide by the rules outlined by each) to get a great deal I am just utilizing both incentives to buy in order to buy the product they want me to buy. The store kicks in a little, and the manufactuere a little and I walk away very happy to be purchasing at the store and buying the product. A win win all around! Feel free to chime in your thoughts on this issue 🙂

Does going to multiple stores really save you money?

Angela asked some great questions that I thought would be worth answering in their own separate post:

Amie, do you really go to multiple stores every week? Those are great deals, but I just find it hard to venture out to too many stores.

Only you can be judge of what is “worth it”. One way I make running to a few different stores  (I rarely go to more then three) a week is by taking one evening a week and doing it in one hour when I  have no kiddos. Some weeks I decide the sale is just not worth it. For example, the free juice at target is  not worth it this week because I am not going to be near a store and I can’t justify a 30 minute drive for free juice, but sometimes it is worth it.

Case in point. I just ran up to QFC and by combining e-coupons and sales walked out of the store paying $5.47 for:

4 boxes frozen veggies

Ketchup

4 goldfish bags

A reusable tote bag

A box of popcorn

That to me was worth the 45 minute run (with kids). But it might not be worth it to you, and that’s ok. You want to save with the time you have and don’t stress out that at times your time is more valuable then the bargain 🙂

Also, have you checked to see if QFC or Fred Meyer’s run the same ad’s or specials as Krogers? They are both owned by Krogers.

In answer to the second part of your question Angela, QFC and Fred Meyer sometimes run the same bargains as Kroger but not always. They were bought by Kroger’s but don’t always have to run the exact same ads.

Fred Meyers  does not offer e-coupons. Hope this helps!

What are e-coupons? How do I use them?

E-coupons are coupons that you load directly onto your frequent shopping card.

The advantages of E-coupons are:

1. They can be combined with other coupons and are automatic.

2. They are totally free, you don’t have to buy a paper or pay any sign up fees

3. You don’t have to worry about “finding a paper coupon” the deduction is automatically taken

4. You can “lazy coupon” this way. Load up your card and just see if you you end up with a discount as you make your purchases. (not recommended for maximum savings but it still saves money!)

5. With upromise you can pay down school loans just by buying what you normally buy, groceries! (if you don’t have a  student loan, sign up to pay off a friend or family members … or mine 🙂

Where can I use E-coupons:

Currently all e-coupons (in the Northwest) can be used for QFC and Safeway (for P&G site only)

The exception to this is Upromise. See there website for a complete list of details.

Log into each website to see what stores accept them.

How do I get E-coupons:

1. Get your preferred shopping savings card handy (your Albertsons or QFC card for example)

2. Log into the e-coupon website and register for an account.

a. upromise

b. cellfire

c. shortcuts

d. P & G

3. Add or load the coupons to your card you want (I usually load them all).  You can even print out a shopping list so you remember what you have coupons for.

4. Re-load coupons approx. every month.

Troubleshooting:

If you didn’t get your coupon it could be for several reasons:

1. You bought the wrong product. Go home and double check

2. You didn’t load your e-coupon at least 24hours in advance so it didn’t have time to upload to your card.

3. There was an error. Each site offers product support, save your receipts and you can submit them if it didn’t work for a refund worth your coupon site.