Archive | May, 2012

MG’s Coupon Class Part 3&4

31 May

Now that you have your binder, and your coupons, it’s time to learn how to work a deal!

There’s going to be a lot of  defining in this section, so just bear with me! It’s very important to understand coupon lingo. I’ll Start with Matchups. Weekly Matchups are when a person takes the sales for a particular store and matches their coupons to that sale to maximize a deal.


First things first… Where can I find matchups?

Let me just say that my favorite place to find weekly matchups is Faithful Provisions. There’s also IheartPublixTotallyTargetSouthernSavers, MyCouponTeacher etc. etc. It really is limitless. All the matchups are the same, the sites you use really just depend on your preference.

Kroger and Target’s ads being each Sunday.

Publix ads being on Wednesday.

Every store varies. Matchups are usually posted on these websites a day or two before the actual ad starts. That way you can prepare ahead of time!

So, Tell me how to read matchups…

When you start looking at the weekly matchups you will see things that look something like this:

Cheerios Big Box- $4.99 on sale BOGO. use (2)  $1.50/1 SS (4/7). Final Price $0.99 each wyb 2

Okay, here is where a lot of the lingo comes in…

BOGO means buy on get one free. This is telling you to use two $1.50 off coupons that can be found in the Smart Source insert from 4/7. Your final price is $0.99 each when you buy 2.

Don’t get discouraged just yet!!  Remember…learning to coupon is a process!!

Terms you will frequently see are:

RP – RedPlum insert (Sunday paper); weekly

P&G – Proctor & Gamble insert (Sunday paper); monthly

GM – General Mills insert (Sunday paper); random

WYB (wyb)– When You Buy

PSA (psa)– Prices Start At

Blinkie – Red box that dispenses coupons; attached to a shelf

Catalina – Coupons that print at the register and are given with the receipt (These are mfg coupons and usually can be used at ANY store.)

IP – Internet printable coupons

Rolling – Roll your money over to the next transaction

Stacking – Using a manufacturer coupon with a store coupon

IVC – Instant Value Coupon (Walgreens store coupon found in monthly booklet)

RR –Register Rewards (Walgreens “cash” type of coupon) – use on future transaction within expiration period

ECB –Extra Care Bucks (CVS rebate tenders)

SCR – Single Check Rebates (RiteAid’s monthly rebate program)

In-Ad Coupons – Walgreens weekly ad coupons

OOP – Out of Pocket

YMMV – Your Mileage May Vary. It will depend on the store/cashier/manager to see if that particular deal/scenario will work.

Fillers – Items you add to your purchase to get your total up.  Usually to be able to use a $x off $xx coupon.

Overages – Potential profit after using a coupon with a sale item

BOGOF / B1G1F – Buy One Get One Free, usually stores allow you to purchase one at 50% off.

$1/1 or $1/2 – $1 off 1 item, or $1 off 2 items

Each week before I go to the store, I check matchups to see what I can get for a great price. Sometimes there are matchups I can make on my own from clearance items or unadvertised sales. That’s why I always take my coupon binder with me! You never know when you’ll need it!

Store Info

Every store has their own coupon policies… Here is the info I know off the top of my head.

1) If your Target store is just a regular Target (not a Super Target), then they will take 1 Target coupon and 1 manufacturer’s coupon per item. They WILL NOT accept competitors coupons. They will not accept expired coupons.

2) Publix allows 1 store coupon and 1 manufacturer’s coupon per item. They WILL accept competitors coupons. They won’t accept expired coupons. If the closest Target to the store is a Super Target, then they’ll accept Target coupons.

3) Kroger allows 1 Kroger coupon and 1 manufacturer’s coupon per item. They will not accept competitors coupons. For every $100 you spend at Kroger (using your rewards card) you will earn 10 cents off per gallon of fuel at either Kroger or Shell.

4) Whole Foods allows one Whole Foods coupon and one manufacturer’s coupon per item. They do not accept competitors  coupons. If you are buying multiple items, but only have one store coupon for that item, they will allow you to use that one coupon on each item. For example- If you are buying 5 cereal bars and you have 1 Whole Foods store coupon for 1 cereal bar. They will allow you to apply it to all 5 cereal bars if you ask. This is because WF allows unlimited prints on their coupons, and they want to save paper.

5) Costco only accepts Costco coupons

For a complete list of stores coupon policies, you can find them here. I suggest printing them out and having them with you at the store. That way if one of the cashiers is confused on what the policy is, you can have it right there with you.

Matchup Tips:

Prices may vary from store to store, so once I have reviewed my matchups and decided what I want to buy, here’s how I  make my  list:

1) I write down the name of the item.

2) Next to its name I write down the items’ price/sale price. This way if an item was supposed to be $2.50 but it’s priced at $4. I may not buy it if I can’t get the good deal.

3) I write down the coupons that match that deal. So my list may look like:  Advil- $3.99 (1) $.50 Target coupon (1) $1.00 manufacturer’s coupon.

4) Then I grab those coupons out of my binder, or print them if I need to.

5) I put my coupons in my reusable envelope so I can know they are together and ready to hand the cashier.

6) Next to the item on my list, I write down what my final price would be. So in this case it is $2.49

Then I repeat for the next item.


FREE Donuts tomorrow! 6/1

31 May

Tomorrow is National Donut Day, (How fat can we get?!) and you can get a FREE Donut!

Krispy Creme is offering one FREE donut per customer .No purchase necessary.

Dunkin Donuts is offering one FREE donut per customer with the purchase of a small drink.


MG’s coupon class Part 2- It’s a lot, so take a breath

30 May

(I just read this post back in its entirity, and I totally sound like I need a coupon intervention. Don’t Judge Me.)



In my own mind, I’ve sort of categorized couponers into 3 groups.

1) The fanatic couponer- This is the person who plans everything on their shopping list based on what’s on sale that week. They plan meals based on sales, have no brand loyalty, and stick to $35 to $40 a week grocery budgets (seriously it’s possible) They have a deep freezer in their garage that contains everything they “put up” for the winter. They clip every coupon they find, and have a stockpile to last them 6 months.

2) The moderate couponer- This is a person who keeps up with the sales and their personal coupon collection. They peruse the internet for deals, try to maximize their savings, stick to a budget, and try to cut out things that aren’t necessary. They’re willing to try to new brands, but do have their favorites. They stock up on items when they’re at rock bottom prices, but they  also don’t have cereal boxes and pasta sauce shoved in the master closet.

3) The  “couponer”- This is a person who clips coupons, and if they’re buying an item  and they have a coupon for then they’ll use it.

I definitely put myself in that middle category. It pains me to go to the store without a strategy. I hate overspending, and I love getting a deal. Over time savings really has become a game for me. It’s kind of a rush to leave a store when you’ve spent $30 and saved $100. However, my life doesn’t revolve around clipping coupons and saving money. I want to be present for my husband and children. Although my binder may look like it, I do not clip or print every coupon there is. I love donating items, so I will clip coupons on a few items that we don’t use if I know I can get them item for free or less than a dollar or two, but the way I look at it, there are items that I wouldn’t even want if they were free… so don’t clip those. It’s a waste of time and of your printer ink.


There are hundreds of ways to find coupons! Here are a few ways to find them and my thoughts…

#1 THE NEWSPAPER-  Each week, in the Sunday paper, there are “inserts”  that contain manufacturer’s and store coupons.  Some of those inserts are Redplum, Smart Source, Proctor and Gamble Brand Saver, Publix (which can also be found at the front of each store), and there are occasionally other inserts as well. A few of the blogs I’ll tell you about later will often post which inserts and which coupons will be available in the upcoming papers.

 What I do: I subscribe to the weekend Tennessean which gives us a paper on Saturday, Sunday, and the local “Williamson A.M” Section on Wednesdays. The inserts come in the Sunday paper and that Wednesday paper as well. Every week my grandmother gives me her coupons from her Sunday paper, and my mother-in-law will sometimes give me the coupons she isn’t using.  I also recommend asking a friend, a neighbor,  or a business for their inserts if they don’t use them.

This leaves me with at least 3  copies of each insert every week.


I’ve heard that Kroger and Publix will sell their remaining Sunday papers at a discount on Monday morning. You may want to look into that!

It’s always good to have 2 copies of each insert. I will talk about this later, but the main reason is for buy one get one free deals. Most stores, allow you to use one manufacturer and one store coupon on each item!

For example- If Publix has  $4 toothbrushes on sale for buy one get one free (BOGO), you can buy 2 toothbrushes for $4. If you have 2 manufacturer coupons from the newspaper for $1 off toothbrushes, and you have 2 store coupons from a Publix flyer for $1 off toothbrushes, that gives you $4 in coupons that you can use on those two toothbrushes. That makes these items FREE. Most Publix will allow you to buy just one of these items at a dicounted rate. So in this case you could buy 1 toothbrush for $2 and still get it free. BUT if you have multiples, you get more free. These are the types of items I stock up on.

(Don’t get too concerned with how to find these deals, right now I just wanted to show you the importance of having the coupons)

#2 PRINTABLES-  There are many many places online where you can print coupons directly from the source. Most coupon sites allow your to printer to print 2 of each coupon.

Sites to visit:– A lot of times these sites have some of the same coupons that are in the newspaper.


Proctor and– Login to Receive coupons and free samples of products!

Coupon Network

We usually eat Organic or All Natural products in our house. This can make couponing hard, but here are sources that you can print from:

Mambosprouts– organic coupons

Whole Foods– organic coupons, and you can print these as many times as you want!! Plus Whole Foods gives you a 10% case discount on their items, AND Publix accepts these coupons as well!!

Healthy Life Deals Organic printable database– This is a blog that I follow out of Saint Louis. The link is to a page that shows organic printable coupons that are available online (either on facebook or manufacturer’s websites)

Recyclebank– click on {this Mama Goose blog post} to read more about Recyclebank!

Stoneyfield Organic- Become a member. Login and print coupons!!


A lot of stores now have coupons available on their facebook fan pages. You can feel free to look at your favorite companies and see if they have any available. When we get to the “blogs” couponing lesson you will also learn that these printables are often posted on these blogs (which takes the guesswork out for you!)

A lot of stores also have coupons available on their websites or in their newsletters. I suggest you create a separate email account for couponing. You can sign up to receive coupons from companies without flooding your main inbox.


Publix offers several “clubs” that you can sign up for, and they’ll send you high value store coupons in the mail. Most of these coupons are only available if you sign up through their website. Here’s the link for the clubs. We are members of all of them except the wine club (Boo! TN should really allow the sale of wine in grocery stores!!) The baby club, preschool club, pet club and Greenwise magazine have all been beneficial! I would recommend the baby and preschool club  even for people who don’t have babies! I receive tons of high value baby coupons BUT I also get  store coupons for dairy, produce, paper towels etc!! (You could always sign up and send the coupons you don’t need my way 🙂 )

ALSO another BIGGIE for Publix is the Stockingspree website. Sign up to receive coupons, and once a quarter a booklet will be mailed to you for Publix store coupons! These make for great matchups! I signed myself and Jarrod up to receive them, so I get two a quarter! My favorite coupon is one for $5 off Pampers!

In addition to what I’ve already mentioned, Publix puts out several flyers that are located in the front of the store with the  weekly ads. These usually contain coupons and sales that run for several weeks, and are in addition to the weekly sales.

Target not only has printable coupons, but they also have mobile coupons!! Sign up to have coupons texted to your smart phone twice a month! All you have to do is hand your phone to the cashier at checkout! Also, you can sign up for their pharmacy rewards program, and for every 5 prescriptions you have filled, you will receive a coupon card in the mail for 5% off of a day’s worth of shopping. On a normal day that’s not a ton of money, but buy a tv, camera, iphone (think Christmas) and this could really help out!

Kroger  has coupons that you can download right to your rewards card. Although I’m not a huge Kroger shopper, (they don’t take competitor’s coupons) it is very beneficial to go to their website and register your shoppers card.

Many stores have these types of perks! Now, I’m not going to do ALL the work for you, so visit their websites, get to know your stores, and you could save big! Hint: Rite Aid and other drug stores have online coupons too!


I learned early on that if I want a coupon for something and can’t find it, I might as well ask. For instance, there is an organic brand called Dr. Bronners. They make wonderful soaps, shampoos etc. If you email them, and ask for coupons, they’ll send you a ton of coupons AND samples! All I did was shoot their customer service and email saying, ” Hey I love your products and would like to try more, could you send me some coupons?!”

I’ve received coupons from EOS, Quorn, Nature’s Path, Say Yes to Carrots, Every Man Jack etc. all from just sending an email.

Whew! That should be enough to get you started.

Start clipping, printing, and organizing your binder!!  Get those things in order so you’ll be ready to shop after my next post! Also, start investigating ways to sign up for newsletters and coupons for your favorite stores and products!

I will teach you even MORE ways of finding coupons in part 5 (Blogs and Facebook Lesson). The next section is going to be a combination lesson (part 3 &4 matchups and store policies) because after thinking about it, its hard to teach one without the other.

Happy Clipping.

MG’s coupon class Part 1

29 May

Especially lately, I’ve had several people ask me if I would teach them how to coupon. My initial reaction  is always as follows:

#1- Oh my gosh someone thinks I can teach them something!!

#2- Oh my gosh I would love nothing more than to help people save money!

#3-Oh my gosh I have two small babies and a husband who travels all the time… how am I going to find the time to teach people?!

I’ve decided to do a 6 part series on how to coupon like Mama Goose. I hope y’all enjoy, and for goodness sake I HOPE people actually read it 🙂

To me, saving money isn’t just about couponing, it’s a total overhaul of the way we live. I know that can sound cheesy, but I’ve found it to be so true. I’ve really come to discern between our wants and our needs. Also, after I learned to coupon, I really saw where our money was going. In this post here and this post here I tell about two areas where we were spending a lot of money each month. It became so frustrating to me and instead of just giving in, I learned how to make these items from scratch (gasp). It is so gratifying to be able to serve my family in that way. I’ve become a better cook this year than I have ever been.

About a year ago I stumbled back into couponing (after a bad experience trying out The Grocery Game) and this time I decided to take it into my own hands. I had taught Sunday School with a woman from church named Kelly Hancock. She owns a  super successful blog called Faithful Provisions, and  at the time was coming out with her book. After browsing her website, I started to notice at the bottom of her posts she would sometimes thank other savings blogs for their contribution to her posts.

It was like a lightbulb went off… It was at that moment I realized there is so much free information available and I was just letting it pass me by. I know myself well enough to know that I had to ease into it. If I tried too much too fast I would eventually give up. When people ask me to teach them how to start, I always tell them that it takes A LOT of effort in the beginning, but over time it becomes a routine, a lifestyle, and a source of wealth.

Since I’m a stay at home mom I view this as a contribution to my family. After going to a store I like to look at how much I saved vs. the time I put into it. If I spent 2 hours working on it that week but I saved $100, I look at it as making $50 an hour for the time I put into it. Not too shabby.

Here is a rough list of the topics I am going to touch on during this series:

1) Organize– How to get yourself prepared, how to keep up with your coupons

2) Coupons– Where, how and when to find them. different sources from the newspaper to blogs

3) Matchups and Deals– How to know where to find the deals.

4) Store Info- How to shop the stores. Store policies- who takes what coupons (Stores to cover are Target, Publix, Whole Foods, Harris Teeter,       Kroger, K Mart, Dollar General, Costco)

5) BLOGS & Facebook- Who to follow and why.

6) Tips and anything else I left out!

SO here it is… everything I know…about savings.


First, you must have a system. There’s nothing more frustrating that having 10,000 coupons shoved in an envelope and wasting 10 minutes in the aisle at the store looking to see if you have a coupon. BE ORGANIZED. The large binder above is with me everywhere I go. Literally. I even take it on beach trips so I can save at the Destin Publix. You may call me crazy, but I think it’s crazy that people spend more money than me on the exact same items.

Every couponer will tell you a different way they organize, but this is what works for me.

Here’s my  organization system:

Buy a large binder. 

Then,  buy dividers with a category page.

My binder has 31 categories

You can come up with any categories you like. This will depend on the stores you frequent and the life phase you are in. My categories are in alphabetical order which helps me remember where they’re located in the book, it makes filing easy, and  it helps retrieving coupons quick and easy.

*** helpful tip- write your categories in pencil, because as you fine tune your shopping patterns, you will change these up! For instance, I don’t really buy air fresheners all that often, so I could have stuck that in with something else.***

Here are my categories:  

1) Air fresheners

2) Baby/toddler

3) Baking

4) Batteries/ Misc. household items

5) Beauty/ skin health/ cosmetics

6) Body Wash

7) Cereal

8) Cleaning/ household

9) Condiments (dressing, jelly, marinades)

10) Deodorant

11) Desserts

12) Dishwashing Detergent/ Soaps

13) Drinks

14-17 Foods

14) Dry Goods

15) Frozen

16) Refrigerated

17) Snacks (chips, breakfast bars)

18) Kroger (store coupons)

19) Laundry detergent

20) Lotions

21) Medicines

22) Oral Care

23) Pets

24) Publix (store coupons)

25) Razors

26) Shampoo (conditioner, and hair product)

27) Tampons (and feminine products)

28) Target (store coupons)

29) Toilet paper (paper towels, napkins etc.)

30) Trash bags (Ziplock bags, tinfoil, food storage)

31) Whole Foods (store coupons)

NEXT buy baseball card protector pages (Walmart. Target. wherever.)

The baseball card pages allow me to see each coupon and I can quickly decide which ones I want to use. Also this helps me see what has expired. If I have to fold a coupon in a way that I can’t see when it expires, I just take a pencil and jot down the date on front of the coupon.

  • This may seem overwhelming at first but it is quick and easy. When I teach you all the millions of places to acquire coupons, you’ll be happy you did this!!
  • Each week I file coupons as I clip them. On Sundays I clip from the newspaper, set  the coupons in piles with coupons of the same category, and then file them away. When I print coupons, or receive them in the mail, I file them in the same way. As long as you don’t let them pile up, it won’t become overwhelming.
  • At the end of each month I simply spend about 20-30 mins going through each section and I remove any expired coupons. Not only does this allow me to purge old coupons, but it also reminds me of the coupons I have that haven’t expired.

My reasons this system works best:

  1.  You know where everything is at all times.
  2. If you clear out your binder once a month you should have very few expired coupons in your possession at any given time.
  3.  If you see a sale at a store  for an item that you weren’t planning on buying (think clearance at Target or Publix or an unadvertised sale) then you can easily match a coupon with that sale price to get a great deal. (I recently got Riccola cough drops for $0.18 on clearance at Target and Listerine for less than $1 just by doing this)
  4.  There’s no fumbling around with coupons and dropping them in the  store aisles with this system.
  5. Before I go to the store, but after I have made my list and matched my coupons (lesson coming later)  I take a reusable envelope and toss all the coupons I intend to use at the store, right in the envelope. Because of my binder, it is so easy to pull exactly which coupons you’ll need before you even show up at the store. And if you make lists the way I do, (again in another lesson) you’ll know how much you’re going to spend at the store too!

Got it?

Now, you go get started on your binder, and I’ll start working on Step 2: Coupons…

Sometimes the simplest changes can make the biggest difference!

27 May

My parents moved to a new house about 6 weeks ago, and  after an estate sale, an estimated 50 Craiglists sales, and a few sales on facebook, my mom finally let me pick 2 or 3 things that she would let me have if I helped them move. I know, right?!

This wrought iron table and chairs has been in my family for years and years. My grandparents used it as their first breakfast room table after they got married. Now, thanks to my parents, it lives at my house!

About a year ago Jarrod and I did a total over-haul on our patio and turned it into a screened porch with beaded board ceilings, two fans, a bar area with a mini fridge, and a flatscreen tv. There’s an area off to the side where the grill is that isn’t screened in, and has always been one of those places that I can’t quite figure out what to do with.

Problem solved. The table and the 4 chairs now reside in that very spot.

The set needed a fresh coat of paint, and the seat bottoms definitely needed to be recovered. Jarrod did the painting and I did the recovering. It took 2 cans of spray paint at about $3.49 a can. The fabric was $20/yard, and I bought a yard and a half. However, the fabric was 50% off for Memorial Day weekend. So The fabric ended costing only $14.99!  This whole project cost me only $21.97 + tax. I think it’s a great makeover for that price!


BTW. If you don’t have it already, download the free JoAnn’s app for iphone. You can “save coupons to your wallet” and the store clerk will accept the coupons from your phone. Had the fabric not been on sale I still could have gotten it for 50% off with my coupons.


Here are the before and afters…




As you can see in the photo above our exterior laundry room/office door was a cream color. This afternoon Jarrod painted it red in a high gloss finish. Here’s how it looks tonight…

Vegas Vacation

27 May

It feels like forever since I last spent time blogging!  I had an extremely painful (3rd) sinus surgery a few weeks ago, followed by preschool ending with a dried bean stuck up Henley’s nose, and then Jarrod and I immediately left for Vegas for five days! Ever since we got home I. cannot. catch. up.

One of Jarrod’s close friends, Charlie, lives in Vegas, and got married at the J.W. Marriott out there. The resort was so relaxing, and surrounded by gorgeous mountains. The attraction Jarrod wouldn’t stop yaking about is the TPC course at the resort. All I cared about was being at a pool sans babies.

Since the wedding was on Friday we  decided to start our trip Tuesday to celebrate our 5 year wedding anniversary! We went to Las Vegas for our honeymoon, so we thought it apropos to round out those five years where it all began. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night we stayed at the Cosmopolitan, and couldn’t have been happier. Last time, we stayed at the Wynn, which we loved, but this was a whole new experience.

The highlights of our trip were eating at the SW at the Wynn, going to the cirque show KA, going out with friends to The Foundation Room at Mandalay Bay,  the pools at the Cosmo and  J.W., taking the bus to old Vegas, eating at Sushi Samba (my fave when we go to Chicago), and the wedding (duh!). I love out of town weddings because we always make friends that we otherwise wouldn’t  know.

(SIDENOTE: #1: The bride, Nichole, has connections at the Foundation Room, so our entire party got to skip the $30 cover charge, in my world, that’s a HUGE savings!)

(SIDENOTE #2: I got to see Justin Timberlake’s locker at the foundation room, and although he probably never even goes there, I now like to think that we’re friends.)

We had incredible views from out room! I especially loved the view from our terrace on 58th floor…

by day…

by night…

Our room had the BEST view of the Bellagio fountains too…

at the Foundation Room

Justin Timberlake’s locker at the Foundation Room

The gorgeous Newlyweds, Charlie and Nichole

 Mama Goose’s savings in Vegas:

I’m sorry, but when you spend five days in Las Vegas, you’re going to spend a crazy amount of money. However, I did find a few ways to save here and there…

1) We bought breakfast at the airport Starbucks with a gift card I received for being a teacher at our church.

2) We bought another airport meal with a $15 Visa giftcard that AT&T sent us for being loyal customers.

3) After a heinous travel day (think mechanical problems, rerouting, technical errors losing our booking info, being on standby…) Delta gave us $30 in vouchers to eat at the airport, and 5 free alcoholic drinks for the plane ride.

4) Charlie picked us up at the airport instead of taking a cab (about a $40 savings).

5) Then he took us to the store where we bought a case of water for about $6 (one bottle of water was $10 in the hotel) a handle of stoli, and a bottle of cranberry juice to make our own cocktails. (Who knows how much that saved us?!)

6) WE bought $7 bus passes, good for 48 hours, that allowed us to go up and down the strip and to old Vegas. The cab ride to old Vegas would have cost about $20 each way.

7) FREE drinks, dinner, and entertainment at the wedding:) This was our last night, and we were in need of something FREE!

*NEW* Summer Beauty Bag from Target

22 May

I just got a spring beauty bag from Target, and now they are offering a summer beauty bag through facebook! These are small cosmetic bags (perfect for purses) filled with samples and cosmetic coupons. AND they’re free for you! Hurry and grab yours now!

Click HERE and then click on the part that says “Summer Beauty Bag.” Fill out your mailing info and voila! It will arrive in 4-6 weeks!

FREE 1 year subscription to Better Homes and Gardens magazine

22 May


Hurry this is a FREE 1 year subscription to Better Homes and Gardens magazine, BUT they are only going to the first 5,000 people! Sign up now!

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