Monday, February 23, 2009

Mission Possible Challenge, Two, Met!

New guest post--Chelsea from Mama Makes Money was the winner of the Mission Possible CVS giftcard giveaway. Here are the results of her mission, in her own words:

Chelsea's Mission Possible Deals

Last night, I took my first step into what I like to call The Dark Side AKA CVS. You see, I worked at Walgreen's for over two and a half years and always viewed CVS as a competitor so I never shopped there. Since I won a $10 CVS gift card from Charlene's Mission Possible giveaway I figured I HAD to start my CVS adventure...and I think I did pretty good for a newbie.

Transaction #1:

(2) Neutrogena Fragrance-Free Facial Bars ($2.99 each)- I earned $10 in ECBs ($4.01 profit)

A Gillette Gamer Razor ($7.99)- used $4.00 off coupon, received $4.00 in ECBs ($0.01 profit)

(2) Colgate Total toothpastes ($2.99 each)- used $1.00 and $0.75 coupons, received $5.98 in ECBs ($1.75 profit)

TOTAL: $15.80, used $10.00 on giftcard and paid $5.80 on my debit card.
TOTAL ECBs received: $19.98

Transaction #2:

I bought a binder which I will be using to organize my coupons. The price was $18.99 and I was supposed to pay a penny but wound up paying nothing when the cashier saw I was about to charge a penny on my debit card. I pretty much NEVER carry cash or even change on me! So I got a FREE binder for all of my couponing needs!! YAY!!

Thank you, Charlene for such a great challenge. It was a ton of fun and I think I'll be posting my shopping trips on my blog from now on. Make sure to visit me at Mama Makes Money,
-Chelsea (Leland's Mama)


Chelsea is also starting a new series at Choyster Cash about being a former Walgreens "insider". Be sure to check out her first post in that series!

Thanks again to Chelsea for sharing her Mission Possible deal!

Until next time....

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mission Possible Challenge--Met!

This is my very first post from a guest blogger! Jaimee at The Cryptic Files was the winner of the Mission Possible Walgreens giftcard giveaway, and she is sharing her Mission Possible challenge quest with us. So here is Jaimee's mission, in her own words:

Walgreens Mission Possible Challenge

I was so excited when I learned I was the winner of the $10 Walgreens gift card that Charlene hosted here a couple weeks ago. Here's how I spent my $10 gift card:

Transaction #1

Gillette Fusion Gamer $8.99used $4 off coupon.

Paid $5.53 on gift card and received a $6 register reward

Transaction #2

4 Scrubbing Bubbles wipes $2.50 each

2 Progresso soups $3.00 each (not pictured because we already ate them!)

1 prunes $1.00

1 6-pack Ensure $8.99 (for Grandma- this was supposed to be on sale for $6.99)

Used: $6 register reward (earned above)

(2) $3/2 scrubbing bubbles coupons

4/$5 Walgreens 7 day ad Progresso soup (automatically adjusted to $1.25 each)

(2) $1.10 Progresso soup printable manufacturer coupons

$3 Ensure printable coupon

Paid $6.02 on gift card, but will earn $4 Walgreens rebate for the scrubbing bubbles (so they'll end up being free), and $8.99 MIR on the Ensure (which is why I'm not worried that it rang up $2 more than the sale price).

According to my two receipts, I saved over $39 between Walgreen sales and coupons and manufacturer coupons!

So, I spent $1.55 more than I received on the Walgreens gift card I won from A Virtuous Woman, but after my rebates I'll actually have all those items (which were needed) for FREE, plus come out $1.50 ahead (spent $11.50, earning back $13).

I'd like to thank Charlene again for hosting a great giveaway and challenge!__________________________________

Thank you so much, Jaimee, for sharing the results of your challenge with us! Please visit Jaimee and The Cryptic Files and see what else she's up to!

Until next time....

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Freebies in the Mail

It's been awhile since I posted about the freebies and samples I've gotten in the mail. This is what I've received within the last week or two:

Coupon book from Right At Home with coupons for SCJohnson products--Swiffer, Mr Clean, Cascade, and other household products.

Sunsilk sample--shampoo, conditioner, and styling product, along with two $1 coupons

$12.00 rebate check from Rite Aid--this is from their Single Check Rebate program from last month

One free Taste of Home magazine--I can cancel the subscription and keep this one, or subscribe for $10

Total Cranberry Crunch cereal sample--I know what I'm having for a bedtime snack!

Benefiber sample

Zip-lock assortment--this was nice, it had about 5 different kinds of bags, including one that keeps produce fresher in the fridge, one to use to steam veggies in the microwave, as well as one of the small Zip-lock refrigerator container bowls.

Note: These last two came from the Walmart free sample page--these change regularly, it pays to check this site out at least monthly, if not more. Right now they're offering samples of Viva paper towels, Huggies wipes, Always pads, Metamucil, Maybelline foundation, and Nicoderm CQ.

Other new freebies to request:

Coupon for a FREE 20 oz or 2 liter Diet Dr Pepper

Starbucks VIA Ready Brew instant coffee

I love getting goodies in the mail, how about you?

Until next time...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mission Possible CVS, 2/15-2/21

CVS paid me $2.98 to bring these home

It's time again for Mission Possible!

Your Mission, should you choose to accept it, is to take the resources you have (coupons, sales, ECBs, Register Rewards, and Rebates) and buy as much as you can of the things your family needs and can use, while maintaining the smallest OOP (out of pocket) possible.

This week CVS paid me to shop! Only my first transaction is pictured, but this is what I got:

Transaction 1:

2 Colgate Advanced toothpastes, $2.99 each, less 2 $1 manufacturer's coupons (Q's), or $3.98; these two generated a $5.98 ECB (Extra Care Buck), or $2 profit

2 Neutrogena facial bars, $2.99 each, buying two of these generated a $10 ECB! (This is one of those "hidden" deals that CVS does every so often--the ad states $10 ECB for buying two of certain Neutrogena products--the products pictured are higher priced items, but the deal works for these facial bars, too!) This is a $4 moneymaker!

3 Suave body wash, on sale for $2 each, less $1.50/3 manufacturer's Q, plus, buy three Suave products, get a $2 ECB, making these $.83 each

I had $3.50 in Qs, and a $9 ECB from a couple of weeks ago, paid $6 OOP (including tax), and received $17.98 in ECBs. Any way you add this up, it's a moneymaking deal!

For transaction 2, I decided to stop by another CVS on the way home/not that far just a little out of the way, for some Cokes that were on sale.

Transaction 2: (not pictured)

4 2-liter Cokes, $.99

1 20-oz Diet Coke $.99

1 bag of Valentine's chocolate (1/2 price) $2.75

I used the $5.98 ECB from transaction 1, and paid $1.76 OOP (out of pocket)

My final Mission Possible totals:

Total pre-sale prices $36.57, less $10.91 in sale discounts, less $3.50 in Qs, used $9 in original ECBs, rolled one $5.98 ECB, total cash OOP $7.76, and I still have $12.00 in ECBs to use for next time. (Net cost: 9 + 7.76 -12.00= $4.76)

How did you do on your Mission Possible this week?

Check out some other CVS deals a the CVS $5 Challenge at Keeping the Kingdom First.

Until next time....

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Mission Possible Walgreens, Part Two

$3.30 Net OOP

I made another quick Walgreens trip today. I was looking for the Revlon products that are free-after-rebate this month--my regular Walgreens seemed to be out of them earlier in the week, so I hit a different store this time. I not only got the Revlon, I also found some other goodies that were on clearance. This is what I got:

Revlon Age Defying makeup, on sale for $9.99, less $2 manufacturer's Q (coupons) this will be free plus overage after the Easy Saver Rebate

Revlon Creme Lip Gloss, $9.99, less $2 Q, free plus overage after the ESR

2 pkgs Goody hair elastics, $.75 each

St Ives Elements facial cleanser, clearanced to $3.79, less $2 internet printable Q, or $1.79

St Ives Elements facial scrub, clearanced to $3.79, less $2 internet printable Q, or $1.79

Nivea Firming body lotion, clearanced to $3.79, less $2 manufacturer's Q, less $1 ESR Q (coupon from the monthly Easy Saver catalog), or $.79

The pre-sale price of everything was $52.43, less $19.58 in sale discounts, less $10 in manufacturer's Qs, less $1 Walgreens Q--my total was $25.28 after tax (it should have been $2 less, I realized later that the cashier missed one of my coupons). I paid $20.17 on my gift card, $5.11 OOP (out of pocket), and will get $21.98 back on my gift card. So my Net OOP after the rebate will be--$3.30!

I hope you do well with your Mission Possible tasks this week.

Until next time....

Friday, February 13, 2009

FREE from Amazon for Valentine's Day

Today and tomorrow only, February 13th and 14th, is offering a free MP3 download of the quintessential lover's song, "Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gaye. Click the link or the banner above to get your free download--you can play this on your computer or on an MP3 player. offers regular deals on music downloads. You can download individual songs or entire albums. Check out these deals:

Amazon's most popular MP3 downloads, only $.79

100 Most Romantic Albums of All Time

100 Greatest Debut Albums of All Time

Another idea if you need a last minute gift, is a gift card from that you can email or print yourself.

I got my freebie---go get your free download, and while you're at it, check out the gift card options and some of their other music deals!

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mission Possible Walgreens

  • She is like the merchant's ships; she bringeth her food (and other things) from afar
  • She looketh well to the ways of her household

Last week I skipped the drugstores completely, so there was no "Mission Possible", except for the giveaway. Part of "looking well to the ways of my household" include making decisions sometimes not to take the deal. When I first started, I tired to do every deal for everything I thought we could possibly use. I would get frustrated if the store was out of what I wanted, or if I didn't get to use all of my "good" coupons. With few exceptions, though, I've learned that deals and even coupons do come around again eventually. So if I skip one this go around, I'll be ready for it the next time! Since last week was a good sale week at the grocery store, that's where I did my stockpiling. But now, on to the fray!

This week's Mission, should you choose to accept it, is to take the resources you have (coupons, sales, ECBs, Register Rewards, and Rebates) and buy as much as you can of the things your family needs and can use, while maintaining the smallest OOP (out of pocket) possible.

This week I had two $4 Qs burning a hole in my organizer, for the Gillette Fusion Gamer razor, and two stores running specials to choose from. CVS had the razors $7.99, less the $4 Q, leaving $3.99, generating a $4 ECB, making it essentially free plus the tax. Walgreens, though, had a better deal--the sale price was higher--$8.99, less the $4 Q, leaving $4.99, but they generated a $6 Register Reward, making this a small moneymaker, even with the tax.

So this is what I did at Walgreens:

Transaction 1:

1 Gillette Fusion Gamer razor, $9.99, on sale for $8.99, less $4 Q, total with tax of $5.53, got a $6 Register Reward

Transaction 2:

1 Gillette Fusion Gamer razor, repeat of transaction above

Transaction 3:

Bounty basic, $1.59, $.89 with in-ad coupon, less $.25 Q, or $.64

Joy dishwashing liquid, $1.79, $.99 with in-ad coupon, less $.30 Q, or $.69

2 cans Geisha crabmeat, $2/$5.50, $2/$3 with in-ad coupon, or $1.50 each

2 tins Altoid mints, $1.99 each, B1G1 with in-ad coupon, or $.99 each

Shout spray, $2.50, less $1 Q, will have a $1 rebate, making this $.50

Windex wipes, $2.50, less $1.50 Q, will have a $1 rebate, making this free

2 Scrubbing Bubbles toilet gel, $3 each, less $3/2 Q, will have $2 rebate, making this $.50 each

Total $29.62, less $4.76 sales discount, less $5.99 in-ad coupons, less $6.05 manufacturers Qs, used the two $6 Register Rewards from transactions 1 & 2, total with tax of $2.76--I noticed when I was goint over the register tape that a $1 Q did not get subtracted, so my total of $2.76 OOP should have been only $1.76. Not bad, even with the mistake, and I'm still due $4 in rebates.

Grand Total: $49.60, less $6.76 sale discounts, $5.99 in-add Qs, $14.05 manufacturer's Qs, total OOP (out of pocket) $13.82, less $4 in rebates due, for a net OOP of $9.82

Results: What I got free were the two razors and Windex wipes. what I got almost free was the Shout and Scrubbing Bubbles, and everything else was just cheap frugal!

Tools Used: On this trip, I had either a manufacturer's coupon or an in-ad coupon, or both, for everything I bought; I used Register Rewards, and

So, how did you do on your Mission Possible?

Until next time....

Monday, February 9, 2009

New Every Morning

  • The Lord's lovingkindesses indeed shall never cease, for His compassions never fail.

  • They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23 (NAS)

I've been thinking for a while about some changes I need to make--in myself, in my routine, in my habits. My intentions are good, but sometimes I tend to procrastinate. You know how it is.

  • I'll start that exercise routine--after the holidays.
  • I'll go on a diet--starting Monday.
  • I'll quit using credit cards--as soon as I get back from vacation.
  • I'll go back to school to get my degree--as soon as the kids are older.

Some of my goals are noble

  • Read my Bible more
  • Spend more time in prayer--for myself, my family, my world
  • Pick up my studying again--for ministry, and for myself
  • Pursue ministry opportunities

Some are mundane

  • Make my bed every day
  • Floss more
  • Cook and eat more vegetables
  • Keep the clutter more at bay

I'm often well-intentioned; not-so-often successful at my goals of transformation. And periodically I wake up and think, "Here I go--again" Starting over at this or that--again.

New Years is one of those times we think we should start everything---the diet, the exercise program, even the Through the Bible in a Year reading program!

Well, as usual, I didn't do any of those things. I even got a exercise thingy AND a One-Year-Bible for Christmas--both gifts I had requested, at that. And have yet to take a crack at either of them.

But this morning, as I was deriding myself again about lost opportunities again--I was reminded of the scripture that I quoted at the top of this post.

  • The Lord's loving kindnesses shall never cease.
  • His compassions shall never fail.
  • They are new EVERY morning.
  • Great is His faithfulness

Even when I'm not faithful, He is faithful. His loving kindnessess and compassion are new EVERY morning.

I hate cliches, like "This is the first day of the rest of your life". So I won't say that. What I will say is this:

This is the first day of the next year of your life.

Happy New Year.

Until next time...

Friday, February 6, 2009

CVS "Mission Possible" Winner

The second Mission Possible Giveaway is officially over, with a total of 95 entries. It's my happy task again to announce the winner, chosen by random integer generator

The winning number is:

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers: 36

Timestamp: 2009-02-07 01:37:36 UTC

#36 on the spreadsheet, and the winner, is:

Chelsea, from Mama Makes Money

comment: Please enter me.

Chelsea will be notified by email, and I'll be mailing her $10 CVS giftcard next week!

Thank you to everyone who entered, and again to those who subscribed, followed, and linked back to both giveaways! I've really enjoyed reading the comments and looking at some new blogs. I wish I could share the comments and blog links with everyone, while keeping the emails private, but that's one technical feat I haven't mastered yet!

Come back next week for the regular "Mission Possible" post, where I'll be sharing with you the results of my "wheeling and dealing" at the drugstores and beyond!

Until next time....

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Get the 4-1-1 on free 411 calls

Do you remember when calling "Information Please" was free? I do. I can even remember when you talked to a real person, too!

When I'm at home, I seldom call information; if there's a number I can't find in the phone book, I get online and go to the company website, if it's a business, or to or if I'm looking for a person, or a business if I can't find a website.

My worst moments of weakness are when I'm in the car with my cell phone and need a number. I tried keeping an extra local phone book in my car, but it usually ends up shoved up under the seat where I can't find it. So I admit, I've been guilty of calling 4-1-1 from my car. It may not seem like much, but those extra charges can really add up, and these days I measure money by how many coupons I've clipped to save that amount!

I recently came across two different numbers you can call to get FREE "Information" calls.

One of them is from Google, the computer services giant. For that one, just call:

1-800-GOOG-411 (1-800-466-4411)

The other number you can call for free "Information" is:

1-800-FREE-411 (1-800-373-3411)

I'm planning to program at least one of these into my cell phone, so I'll have NO excuse for unnecessary 4-1-1 charges taking a bite out of my budget!

Until next time....

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Know Your Store--Winn Dixie

  • She is like the merchant's ships; she bringeth her food from afar

  • She looketh well to the ways of her household

I feel very blessed to be living (for now, anyway) in an area where I have several grocery stores to choose from, as well as specialty stores and discount outlets, not to mention all three of the major chain drugstores.

Does it really make a difference where I shop? Aren't they all about the same? As I've learned over the last few months, it can mean the difference between saving a little or a lot, or between finding a few good deals and finding a lot of great deals. Being an informed consumer is what makes all of the difference.

Today I'm starting a series to share with you what I've learned about the different stores I shop at--what their coupon policies seem to be, how their sales are, what works for me there and what doesn't.

Today's store is the first grocery store I went to when I moved to Columbus--Winn Dixie. I chose Winn Dixie for one reason--I knew where it was, it was easy to get to, and I didn't get lost trying to find my way there and back!

The most important thing you have to know about Winn Dixie is that you MUST have a Winn Dixie card in order to get the advertised specials. (This is similar to Safeway, a chain I frequented when I lived in another city). So the first thing I did was get a Winn Dixie card.

The next thing I did was start looking at their weekly sale ads. Like most grocery stores in my experience, their sales run from Wednesday through Tuesday. Winn Dixie tends to run some good specials regularly on meat; have a list of items that are 10 for $10; and run B1G1 free specials. They also have items that they mark down for a season--it's a lower price that's good for longer than the weekly sales cycle.

And this is where it can start to get tricky.

For their 10/$10 items, you DO NOT have to buy 10 items. The price for each item (with your card--important!) is $1 each, whether you get 3 or 10 or 12 or however many. So if Hamburger Helper is 10/$10, and you have a coupon for $.50/3, you can buy just three and get the sale price, plus your coupons up to $.50 get doubled, making it $2/3 or $.66 each.

B1G1 (buy one, get one free) works completely different. In order to get a deal on the B1G1 specials, you MUST get 2 items. Their register rings up the first one at full price, so if you buy only one, you're not getting a deal. The second one also rings up at full price, then the computer minuses one off. This can tricky with some coupons. If you but two items that are B1G1, most of the time you can only use 1 coupon. Why? Because of the way it adds then subtracts the 2nd item, the computer "thinks" you bought only one, and beeps if you try to use two coupons. Coupons for $x off of 2 also don't work, unless you buy 4. Example: Chex mix was B1G1 last week. I bought 4 bags, had 4 coupons, the register would only accept 2. I also had Crystal Light, 2 canisters, and a coupon for $1/2 which it also wouldn't take because the computer registers 2 minus 1, leaving only 1 purchased. (And I didn't realize until later that the cashier gave me back my extra coupons for the Chex mix, but not the one for the Crystal Light).

I like the Winn Dixie website--you can browse their weekly ad circular make your shopping list online and print it out. I like to print mine, fold it in half, and slip my coupons inside my list so that they're handy in case I need to look at sizes, etc, as I shop. Oh, and they now have coupons on their site you can print--not many, but it's a start!

The good news about Winn Dixie:

  • they automatically double coupons up to $.50
  • they take internet printed coupons
  • they track your spending and you will periodically get $x/$xx catalinas, and catalina coupons. (A catalina is what prints after the cash register tape spits out--yesterday I got a $10 off a $75 purchase catalina)
  • their cash register tapes are informative--it not only lists your total savings, it breaks it down to advertised savings, manufacturers coupons, and multiplied coupons.
  • they have good meat, and you can often find really good deals on it
  • you don't have to buy 10 of the $10/10 to get the sale price
  • they have regular B1G1 sales which can yield a good per item value
  • good website and list-making tools

The bad news about Winn Dixie

  • you have to buy 2 of the B1G1 items to get the deal
  • you can only use 1 coupon on B1G1 items
  • their prices tend to be high on non-sale items

Over all, I've been please with some of the deals I've gotten there. My most recent trip there, I bought 24 items, paid $29.99, and saved $32.68. Everything I bought was either B1G1, or $10/10.

I hope this helps you when you're planning your next shopping trip, deciding where to shop and what to get where.

What is your experience with Winn Dixie? Leave a comment and tell me how you've done!

Until next time...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

New "Mission Possible" Giveaway

"Mission Possible" is the name I came up with a couple of weeks ago for my drugstore wheeling and dealing.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to take the resources you have (coupons, sales, ECBs, Register Rewards, and Rebates) and buy as much as you can of the things your family needs and can use, while maintaining the smallest OOP (out of pocket) possible.

In order to help everyone get into the Mission Possible mode, I decided to do a giveaway for a couple of weeks.

This week's giveaway is a $10 CVS gift card.

In an effort to avoid webcrawler bots from harvesting email addresses from the comments, I now have a form for you to fill out to enter. This information will be sent to a spreadsheet not accessible to anyone but me, and will not be used for any purpose but this giveaway. The giveaway will run from now (Sunday night, February 1st) till Friday, February 6th. The winner will be chosen by a random number generator, and announced on Saturday, February 7th. (I'll announce it here, but will also email the winner in order to get your mailing information.)

So how do you enter? There are three ways:

1. Leave you name, email, and comment (on the form) asking to be entered

2. Subscribe or follow, and leave a comment (on the form) telling me you have (if you're already a subscriber or follower, leave a comment telling me so)

3. Mention the giveaway on your blog and link back to it, then leave another comment (on the form) telling me you've done so.

All entries and comments must be left on the giveaway form to be counted.

So good luck, and get ready for your Mission Possible!


So good luck, and get ready for your Mission Possible!

Until next time...


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