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Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Quest for a new Drugstore Game Padawan is on

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, Nicole has done amazingly well as Chief Family Officer's first Drugstore Game Padawan.* She's done so well that we both agree she's just about a master already.

So, I'm looking for a new Padawan. Since we focused on Walgreens and CVS with Nicole, I'd like our next Padawan to have access to Rite Aid, as well as one of the other two drugstores.

To qualify for consideration as my Padawan, you must:
  • Have weekly access to Rite Aid, as well as either CVS or Walgreens.
  • Commit to acquiring at least one copy of the coupon inserts from Sunday’s newspaper every week, whether it’s by purchasing a paper or getting them from a friend or some other means.
  • Be able to print coupons from major sites like Coupons.com, SmartSource, and RedPlum.
  • Have read The Drugstore Game Primer, as well as Common Sense with Money’s FAQ.
  • Be willing to have our email exchanges published here at CFO, to help other readers. (Your name will remain private, if you wish.)
Naturally, I make no promises regarding what you’ll learn, what you’ll be able to buy, what you’ll spend, or what you’ll save. But if my own experience is any indication, you’ll have fun saving money on things you and your family need. And my hope is that by following along with someone as they start out in the Drugstore Game, other readers will benefit too.

So . . . if you meet all of the requirements above and are interested in mastering The Drugstore Game, fill out this form by 6 p.m. on Saturday, February 6.

*Padawan = Jedi Apprentice (my boys are obsessed with Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate and/or referral links, and may refer to items that were sent to me for review. However, all opinions are my own. You can read Chief Family Officer's full disclaimer and disclosure policy here.

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My CVS plans this week

It looks like a pretty decent week at CVS, especially if you need Huggies. The Thrifty Mama has a list of this week's deals.

I'm planning to get cheap toilet paper:

1 Cottonelle 20-roll bonus pack $12.88
1 Colgate MaxFresh toothpaste $2.99
1 Dove Men+Care Body and Face Wash $5.49

- $4 off $20 purchase coupon that arrived in last week's mail
- $1/1 Colgate Total from the 1/17 SS insert or February All You Magazine
- $1.25/1 Dove Men+Care from today's RP
- $1/1 Cottonelle printable coupon
- $6 + $6 ECBs

Pay $2.21 + tax
Receive: $4 ECB for Cottonelle, $2 ECB for Colgate, $5.49 ECBs for Dove


Then I can roll those ECBs into this transaction:

1 Soyjoy 6-pack $6
1 Dove Men+Care $5.49
1 Bumble Bee tuna pouch $1 (I think it will still be this price)

- $1/1 Dove Men+Care printable coupon
- $4 + $2 + $5.49 ECBs

Pay tax only
Receive: $6 ECB for Soyjoy + $5.49 ECB for Dove


There's a limit of 2 on the Dove Men+Care, and a limit of 6 on the Soyjoy. I think many stores are out of the Soyjoy at this point, but I saw some at my store last week.

That $4/$20 coupon I plan to use in the first transaction was a pleasant surprise last week. It wasn't addressed to me, the Extra Care cardholder, but to my husband or current resident, so I think everyone in the neighborhood must have gotten one. The mailer actually had two $25 pharmacy coupons, and it just so happens that I need to pick up a prescription so I'll be able to use a gift card to pay for my transactions. In essence, I'll be able to get all of the above just for the cost of the prescription!

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The Drugstore Game This Week

Instead of Morning Coffee, I'll be publishing several Drugstore Game-related posts today. Here's a quick summary of what's going on this week:

Common Sense with Money has a list of this week's Walgreens deals, which include several free-after-Register Rewards items. Mercedes also has a list of the February deals, which will last through February 27. And there are two money-maker deals that are good today only because of expiring coupons.

I Heart Wags reports that you can use Register Rewards to make a donation for the earthquake victims in Haiti at Walgreens.

The Thrifty Mama has this week's CVS deals, which include free Colgate toothpaste and Dove for Men soap. It's a good week if you need Huggies, too. Plus, you can get a $50 iTunes gift card for just $40 - that's one of my favorite kinds of deals!

Coupon Cravings has a summary of this week's best Rite Aid deals. There are quite a free and cheap items, so it's looking like a great week at all of the drugstores.

I'll post my plans for CVS this week in a little bit.

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

One recall yesterday: Cadmium necklaces

A couple of weeks ago, I reported that cadmium has been found in children's jewelry. It looks like the Consumer Product Safety Commission has been working hard to get those products off the market despite the lack of laws regulating cadmium content.

If you think you have the following item(s), click through to the CPSC press release for more details:

FAF Inc. Recalls Children's Necklaces Sold Exclusively at Walmart Stores Due to High Levels of Cadmium


Even though this recall is limited to the necklaces sold at Walmart, remember the CPSC's recommendation to remove all metal jewelry marketed to children.

Stay on top of recalls by signing up for recall notifications by email at the CPSC web site.

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Afternoon coffee: Great camera deal at Amazon

Thanks to Swag Grabber for pointing out this incredible deal at Amazon: get a Canon PowerShot A480 10 MP Digital Camerafor just $79! List price is $209. The camera gets 4 out of 5 stars in 105 reviews. It would make an awesome Valentine's Day gift (hint, hint!). Disclosure: I'm an Amazon affiliate, so any purchase you make after entering Amazon through a link on Chief Family Officer supports this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

I can confirm that Kraft cheese and Philadelphia cream cheese are part of the Mega Sale at Ralphs. Use the printable coupon for $1/2 Kraft cheese to get two packages of shredded cheese for $1.99 each when you buy 2. Philadelphia cream cheese was, I believe $1.50, after Mega Sale savings (for the bricks) - use this $1/4 printable coupon to pay $1.25 each when you buy 4. One word of caution about the bricks of cream cheese, though: I could only find one block where the expiration date was legible. The expiration date on the other packages seemed to have been printed in a dark ink that had smudged off, so none of the dates were readable. I've contacted Philly through Twitter, and hopefully they'll change the ink back to something that doesn't rub off.

Search & WinI don't normally encourage you to do the special offers at Swag Bucks because they cost money, require a download, etc., but er1ca found one that looks easy and safe: just watch the video that's under "Wall 3" of the Special Offers page. Since it's the first time I've ever completed a special offer, I'm not entirely sure how it works, but it looks like Swag Bucks will just credit your account automatically.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate and/or referral links, and may refer to items that were sent to me for review. However, all opinions are my own. You can read Chief Family Officer's full disclaimer and disclosure policy here.

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Morning Coffee: Did you get your newsletter Swag Code?

Search & WinA Swag Bucks email newsletter went out yesterday, and there's a Swag Code at the bottom so make sure you remember to enter it into Swag Bucks. Learn why Swag Bucks is my favorite way to earn free money. Disclosure: If you join Swag Bucks using my referral link, I'll get bonus Swag Bucks, so thank you if you do!

Get printable coupons for $1/1 Reynolds Wrap Aluminum foil, $1/1 Parchment Paper, and 50 cents /1 100% Recycled Aluminum foil.

Get a printable coupon for $1/2 Kraft cheese (reset). Even though Kraft cheese and Philly cream cheese weren't in this week's Ralphs ad, they should be included in the Mega Sale. Disclosure: CFO is a Coupons.com affiliate, so printing coupons through links on this site will benefit CFO at no cost to you - thank you!

Get a free Scholastic book (pdf) when you send in one Pampers Easy Ups or Kandoo UPC code. There are 2,500 books and it's first come, first served, so send in your code sooner rather than later. I've got half a package of Easy Ups left, so I can sneak in one last diaper deal.

Speaking of Pampers, did you get the sample of Dry Max that I mentioned yesterday? Baby Cheapskate explains what the new diaper is, and why you may not love it.

Here's a preview of tomorrow's Target ad.

Get a printable coupon (IE or FF) for $1/1 Keebler Fudge Shoppe Cheesecake Middles. (Via Common Sense with Money.)

Facebook fans of Heluva Good get a coupon for a free product via snail mail. (Via Money Saving Mom.)

Growing Up Gabel explains what white whole wheat flour is. I often substitute one-third of all purpose flour with white whole wheat flour, and as long as it's not bread, it's always worked well.

Northern Cheapskate has an excellent post on why personal finance bloggers write more about how to save money than how to make more.


Banner via Escalate Media Affiliate Network

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate and/or referral links, and may refer to items that were sent to me for review. However, all opinions are my own. You can read Chief Family Officer's full disclaimer and disclosure policy here.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Afternoon Coffee: Get ready for the weekend!

NateHines.net is giving away two Flip Ultra HD Video Cameras. Ends 3/1.

Life as Mom recommends a gadget I'd never heard of before: a freezer alarm,which goes off if the temperature in your freezer starts to rise.

Moneywise Moms has excellent suggestions for calling customer service to save money.

For an easy way to figure out how to get the most from your Swag Bucks, check out this chart at Carrie Actually.

The free Lego Magazine subscription offer is still around if you haven't taken advantage of it yet. My boys love looking at the pictures, though lately they fixate only on the Star Wars figures depicted.

Free Snatcher has links to $/$$ Petco coupons.

Get a printable coupon for $3/3 Glucerna products (registration required). (Via A Full Cup. Note: I haven't printed this coupon myself so I can't verify the value.)

Bargain Briana has this week's Publix deals.

Get a printable coupon for 15% off your purchase at Staples (excluding computers). Expires 1/30.

Nicole's Nickels explains how you can get a free love letter kit.

Get a printable coupon for Buy 1 Get 1 Sobe.

Common Sense with Money has this week's Piggly Wiggly deals. (I love that there's really a market with that name!)

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Drugstore Game Padawan Update: Revlon scenario

If you're just tuning in, I'm mentoring Nicole in The Drugstore Game. If you've always wanted to play but weren't sure how to get started, follow along with Nicole as she becomes a Drugstore Game Master. You can read all of the posts in this series here, in reverse chronological order. Please read my Drugstore Game Primer and Common Sense with Money's FAQ to get an overview of the Drugstore Game and definitions.

Nicole found some Oust, so she was able to do the scenario I suggested on Tuesday. She used the $1/1 Almay coupon that Kim was kind enough to let me know about, paid $1.98 plus tax out of pocket and received $12 in ECBs.

Kim was also nice enough to let me know that there's a $1/1 Revlon eye color coupon at the Target web site, and suggested the following scenario:

3 Revlon eye compacts $6.99 each

Use 3 $1/1 coupons
Use the $12 in ECBs

Pay $5.97 + tax
Receive $7 ECBs (the deal is buy $15 of Revlon, receive $7 ECBs)

Looking ahead, there are a bunch of free-after-Register Rewards items at Walgreens next week. One of them is Blink eye drops, and there should be a $2 coupon in Sunday's paper to turn the deal into a moneymaker.


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Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate and/or referral links, and may refer to items that were sent to me for review. However, all opinions are my own. You can read Chief Family Officer's full disclaimer and disclosure policy here.

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Morning Coffee

Search & WinToday is Mega Swag Bucks Day, which means you have an increased chance of winning 10, 20, 50, and 100 Swag Bucks - although I'm sad to say the most I've ever won is 5, and that was only once. Also, be sure you're signed up for their email newsletter, because it always includes a Swag Code at the end, and there's supposed to be a new one coming out soon. Learn why Swag Bucks is my favorite way to earn free money. Disclosure: If you join Swag Bucks using my referral link, I'll get bonus Swag Bucks, so thank you if you do!

Today's Amazon Friday Saleis small, but there's quite a few good kitchen items:
  • KitchenAid Flat Floating Rack Roaster-just $26.99 (list price is $50). It gets an average of 4 stars out of 5 in six reviews. I'd love to have a deep roasting pan, but as I've mentioned before, I rarely use my big oven, and I think this pan is going to be too long for my small upper oven.

  • Circulon Rectangular Nonstick Roaster- Alternatively, there's this roaster at $40.99 (list price $100). It gets 5 out of 5 stars in 22 reviews, and it might fit in my small oven. But, I have a limited budget, and I'm more tempted to spend my money on . . .

  • Lodge Logic Enamel Cast Iron Dutch Oven, 6-Quart- $54.99 in blue only (list price is $77.50). I'm very tempted to get this. Camille of Growing Up Gabel has mentioned that uses a pot like this to bake her bread, so I can easily justify the purchase. Not to mention the fact that I've always wanted a cast iron enamel dutch oven. . .

  • Rachael Ray Bubble & Brown Stoneware- $29.99 (list price $39.99). I'm not a huge Rachael Ray fan, but I do think these oven-safe serving dishes look great. The blue and orange sets are included in today's sale.
  • Disclosure: I'm an Amazon affiliate, so any purchase you make after entering Amazon through a link on Chief Family Officer supports this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

    Tomorrow is the last day to send in for your 2009 Caregivers Marketplace rebates - they have to be postmarked by January 31, but that’s Sunday. I’d been saving all of my Huggies receipts, and just sent my own rebate in last week. The form says that including UPC codes will expedite processing, but they’re not required. I didn’t have the UPCs for all of the items on my receipts, so I left them out. It’s the first Caregivers Marketplace rebate that I’ve sent in, so hopefully I’ll get my check without a problem.

    Speaking of Caregivers Marketplace, Huggies have been removed from the program for 2010, but Cottonelle flushable wipes are included. I’ve started keeping my eye out for sales on adult flushable wipes because it recently occurred to me that they’re the same thing as the kids’ flushable wipes, so I should just buy whatever’s cheapest.

    Today's Ebates Daily Double store is DSW, which is giving 12% cash back (instead of the usual 6%). They are offering free shipping to Rewards members on purchases of $35 or more with code NEWYR10 (membership is free). To learn more about Ebates, read my original review. If you sign up through my referral link, we'll both get a bonus when you make your first purchase within 30 days!

    Get a printable coupon for $4/2 RiceSelect products.

    Enter the Victoria's Secret Wild Card instant win sweepstakes for a chance to win a VS gift card. If you don't win, they will email you a coupon for a free lacie with bra purchase. (Via Freebies 4 Mom.)

    Baby Cheapskate reports that you can get Up & Up diapers online at up to 15% off with free shipping.

    If you're a Michael Jackson fan wanting the This Is It DVD, it's on sale at Target this week for $15.99 and there's a $2 off printable coupon ($24.99 for the Blu-ray combo and $3 coupon at the same link). You'll get a $5 Target gift card if you buy the DVD/Blu-ray and the CD.

    Common Sense with Money has details on how you can get a free sample of Pampers Dry Max and possibly win a year's supply of diapers today only.

    Get a printable coupon for B1G1 Kellogg's Special K. The coupon has reset, so once you've logged in, you should be able to print it again, even if you've printed it before. (Via Freebies 4 Mom.)


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    Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate and/or referral links, and may refer to items that were sent to me for review. However, all opinions are my own. You can read Chief Family Officer's full disclaimer and disclosure policy here.

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    Thursday, January 28, 2010

    Afternoon Coffee: Freeze fresh tomatoes

    I asked, Camille answered: Growing Up Gabel explains how to freeze fresh tomatoes. I had no idea it was so easy. Thanks, Camille!

    There's still time to enter the huge giveaway over at Money Crashers. They're up to over $9,200 worth of prizes, and there are a ton of ways to enter.

    Just Bento has a recipe for "chicken ham," which turns out to be just a flavorful chicken breast that's handy to have on hand.

    Join the OJ Quench Club and get a buy-one-get-one free printable coupon for a 20 oz. Julius Fruit Drink or Premium Fruit Smoothie, as well as an email coupon on your birthday. (Via Coupon Cravings.)

    Freebies 4 Mom explains how you can get a free Del Taco taco.

    Common Sense with Money explains how you can get cheap Huggies wipes at Walgreens through Saturday, but you're going to need a lot of coupons.

    One recall yesterday: CYBEX strollers

    If you think you have the following item(s), click through to the CPSC press release for more details:

    Regal Lager Announces Recall to Repair CYBEX Strollers; Risk of Fingertip Amputation and Laceration Hazards


    Stay on top of recalls by signing up for recall notifications by email at the CPSC web site.

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    Morning Coffee: Awesome Star Wars deal

    The Bargain Jargon found an awesome Star Wars deal that's going to make my boys very happy - click through for details on how to get a Star Wars helmet and three action figures for just $17 plus tax after mail-in rebate. Alternatively, Common Sense with Money reports that the helmet was on clearance at Target, so you might want to check there too (and you'll need to check in store because it's $39.99 online as I'm writing this). If you do the Bargain Jargon deal, don't forget to go through a shopping portal like Mr. Rebates to get 3% cash back (learn more about Mr. Rebates). Disclosure: If you sign up for Mr. Rebates using my referral link, we'll both receive bonuses, so thank you!

    Today's Ebates Daily Double store is the Disney Store, which is giving 6% cash back (instead of the usual 3%). The increased cash back also applies to their outlet store, so you might be able to find some really great deals. To learn more about Ebates, read my original review. If you sign up through my referral link, we'll both get a bonus when you make your first purchase within 30 days!

    Sam's Club members can get a free sample of Glad ForceFlex trash bags.

    Christian Clippers has this week's Vons/Pavilions deals, which include cheap Ragu, Buddig and Anthony's pasta.

    Christian Clippers also has this week's Stater Brothers deals.

    If you shop at Homeland, here are some coupon matchups for this week.

    Get a free sample of Playtex Gentle Glide tampons. (Via Free Stuff 4 Free.)

    Swag Grabber explains how to get Luvs diapers for $3.70 per pack.

    Mommy Snacks has a list of restaurant coupons, including one of our family favorites, Fuddruckers.

    Register here to get $5 in coupon savings for MultiGrain Cheerios.

    Enter the Kotex Panty Challenge for a free sample and printable coupon.

    Fabulessly Frugal has a moneymaker scenario for Ziploc sandwich bags (after mail-in rebate).

    Get a free sample of Avery Label Pads from Box Tops 4 Education.


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    Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate and/or referral links, and may refer to items that were sent to me for review. However, all opinions are my own. You can read Chief Family Officer's full disclaimer and disclosure policy here.

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    Wednesday, January 27, 2010

    Three recalls yesterday: Santa sets, horse figures, and helos

    If you think you have the following item(s), click through to the CPSC press release for more details:

    Boy's Three-Piece Santa Sets Recalled by Macy’s Due to Choking Hazard


    Horse Toy Figures Recalled by Blip Toys Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard


    RadioShack Recalls Knight Hawk Toy Helicopters Due to Fire Hazard


    Stay on top of recalls by signing up for recall notifications by email at the CPSC web site.

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    Drugstore Game Padawan Update: The Important of a Price Book

    If you're just tuning in, I'm mentoring Nicole in The Drugstore Game. If you've always wanted to play but weren't sure how to get started, follow along with Nicole as she becomes a Drugstore Game Master. You can read all of the posts in this series here, in reverse chronological order. Please read my Drugstore Game Primer and Common Sense with Money's FAQ to get an overview of the Drugstore Game and definitions.

    A price book is simply a list of the price per unit of items you use regularly. For instance, my price book has an entry for trash bags, and shows that last May, I bought a box of 45 bags at Pavilions for $5.99, using a $1 off coupon during a "get a $10 catalina coupon for a future purchase when you buy $30 of qualifying products" promotion. So after the $10 catalina, which was basically a 33% off discount, the box of trash bags was $4.01. After the $1 coupon, I paid $3.01 for 45 bags, or 6.7 cents per bag.

    That price is now my target price for trash bags, and since I bought approximately twelve boxes last May, I’ve only bought trash bags since then if they cost less than 6.7 cents per bag. (Which has only happened twice.)

    I’ve previously written a more detailed explanation about price books, and reiterated their importance. But I’m not sure that I can emphasize the value of a price book enough.

    This week’s Drugstore Game Padawan planning is a good example. Nicole has expressed interest in the Fiber One and Revlon deals. The Fiber One deal is for a double pack of bars: buy a bonus pack for $6.99 and get $3 ECBs. The Revlon deal is buy $15 worth of cosmetics and get $7 ECBs.
    Both deals will cost money, because there’s no $/$$ coupon, like the $5 off $20 purchase coupon that was available for a short time last week. So then the question becomes, are the items worth the money?

    The only way to know for sure if something is a great deal is by keeping a price book.

    I know, based on past experience, that it’s possible to get Fiber One bars for $1 or less per box of 5 at the grocery store, by combining sales and coupons. The picture of the bars in the ad is fuzzy, but it looks like two boxes of 5 bars for a total "cost" of $3.99. There was a 40 cents/1 coupon in the 1/3 GM, which would bring the cost down to $3.59, or $1.80 per box.

    If Nicole wants those bars right away, and there isn’t a better sale going on right now, then she may want to spend $1.80 per box. But, knowing that a better deal may be right around the corner, she may decide to wait.

    Unfortunately, I can’t help her with the Revlon deal because I don’t know much about makeup. I have no idea if the deal is a good one or not, or if there are often better sales.

    And that’s something everyone has to deal with when they first start playing The Drugstore Game or pursuing any kind of deal regularly. It’s impossible to know if a price is low without comparing it to another price. And the only way to know more than one price is to look around.

    I created my first price book in 2001, and after I had my target prices memorized, I abandoned it. Two years ago, when prices on many items were rising, I went back to basics and started a new price book (click through to see how I minimized the work).

    It may take some time to create a price book, but you’ll save a lot of money by having one.

    Note: An anonymous commenter kindly pointed out that the Target web site has a manufacturer's coupon for $1/1 Almay, to go with the scenario I posted yesterday. And Adrienne, who works at CVS, kindly reported that the Bonus ECB UPC code only has to be scanned once during the promo period - but get it scanned as soon as possible, because the bonus will not be applied retroactively.

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    Ralphs: 1/27 - 2/2/10

    Note: This summary of deals is based on the ad I get in Los Angeles, where Ralphs stores double coupons up to $1 (one like coupon per transaction). I don't list all of the deals, only what I consider to be really good ones. If I missed any, please let us all know in the comments. In addition to the coupons listed, you can also add electronic coupons to your Ralphs Rewards card at these sites: Shortcuts.com, Cellfire.com, Softcoin and Upromise. If you give Ralphs your email address, they may also send you emails with e-coupons that are exclusive to your card.

    It may be a fantastic week at Ralphs this week, depending on what you need and what coupons you have. A new Mega Sale started today, so you'll get $5 off when you buy 10 qualifying products. I've listed what's in the ad, but there will be more items with tags in store. All prices are after Mega Sale Event prices.

    Mega Savings Event
    24 pack Arrowhead water $3.49 - use free 6-pack when you buy 2 24-packs printable coupon

    Post cereal $2.49 - use $2/1 Post Natural Advantage printable coupon if included in sale; pay 49 cents

    Capri Sun $1.49 - use $1/2 printable coupon; pay 99 cents each when you buy 2

    Birds Eye or Green Giant frozen steamer vegetables $1.99 - use Birds Eye printable coupons or 40 cents/1 Green Giant from 12/13 or 1/3 GM

    Velveeta $4.49 - use $1/1 printable coupon; pay $3.49

    Balance Bar 50 cents (good filler if you need one more item to reach your total of 10)

    Daisy Sour Cream $1.99 - use 50 cents/1 from 12/13 SS (expires 1/31); pay 99 cents

    2 liter Pepsi selected varieties 89 cents

    Quaker Quakes Rice Snacks selected varieties 99 cents - use 75 cents/1 from 1/10 RP

    Kraft Deluxe Mac & Cheese $1.79 - use $1/2 printable coupon; pay $1.29 each wyb 2

    Weight Watchers frozen novelty $3.99 - use 55 cents printable coupon

    Mamma Bella's garlic bread $2.99 - use 50 cents/1 from 12/13 SS

    Nabisco crackers $1.99 - use $1/2 from 12/13 SS (expires 1/31); pay $1.49 each wyb 2

    Quaker Chewy Bars $1.99 - use $1/2 from 1/3 RP; pay $1.49 wyb 2

    Mission Flour Tortillas $1.49 - use $1/1 printable coupon (registration required; note: I haven't printed this coupon so I can't verify that it prints or applies to the products on sale)

    Nestle bagged candy $2.49 - use $1/2 printable coupon

    Kraft Easy Mac or Velveeta Cups 49 cents

    Coupon Deals
    Banquet frozen dinners 88 cents - use $1/10 from 1/10 SS; pay 78 cents each wyb 10

    Jennie-O Seasoned Ground Turkey $2.99 - use $1/2 from 1/3 SS

    Michelina's frozen dinner 88 cents - there are printable coupons but I haven't printed them so I'm not exactly sure of the value or item

    Other Deals
    Pepsi 12 packs, selected varieties 4/$10, must buy 4

    10-lb bag potatoes 99 cents (limit 2)

    Ralphs frozen vegetables 88 cents

    Celeste, Jeno's or Ralphs microwave pizza 88 cents

    Private Selection or Deluxe ice cream 88 cents

    Tina's Burrito 4/88 cents

    Whole chicken 99 cents/lb

    Boneless pork sirloin chops $1.99/lb

    Lloyd's ribs Buy one, get one free


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    Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate and/or referral links, and may refer to items that were sent to me for review. However, all opinions are my own. You can read Chief Family Officer's full disclaimer and disclosure policy here.

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    Morning Coffee: More shoe sales

    Amazon has kids' shoes on salefor up to 65% off, including some popular brands like Pediped and Geox. Unfortunately, the selection of sizes is pretty limited. Disclosure: I'm an Amazon affiliate, so any purchase you make after entering Amazon through a link on Chief Family Officer supports this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

    Naturalizer is having a big clearance sale, with shoes up to 70% off. That means shoes that were regularly priced at over $70 are now in the low $20's. Don't forget to go through a shopping portal like Mr. Rebates to get 6% cash back (learn more about Mr. Rebates). Disclosure: If you sign up for Mr. Rebates using my referral link, we'll both receive bonuses, so thank you!

    Walgreens is offering 10% off contact lenses and free shipping with a contact lens purchase over $50 with code VIEW10.

    Stretching a Buck has some Kroger Mega Sale matchups. The prices will probably be higher at Ralphs, but the qualifying items should be the same if you want to see what qualifies for the promo.

    Fabulessly Frugal reports that there will twice the value coupons for Albertsons in the Sunday paper of some regions (I know they’re regional, because we never get them here in SoCal). Apparently the doublers will be good for a Quaker granola bar deal that’s so good, the FF ladies are planning on buying hundreds of boxes.

    Get a free download of Corinne Bailey Rae’s I’d Do It All Again. (Via My Good Cents.)

    Baby Cheapskate has collected readers' favorite kid books, and has suggestions on how to get them cheaply.

    If you have to deal with food allergies and you have access to Hy-Vee, you should know that you may be able to get a 10% discount on items in their "Health Market" section, which are often gluten-free, dairy-free, etc.

    There's a moneymaker deal at Meijer on Pillsbury Grands or Sweet Rolls.

    Bargain Briana has a list of this week's Kmart deals, which include free Post cereal.

    Get a free bar of Dove soap by tweeting them a photo of your regular soap - details here. (Via Coupon Cravings.)

    Money Saving Mom reports that there's a moneymaker deal on Old El Paso products at Kroger. The deal is probably working at Ralphs, but if the prices are higher there, it may not be a moneymaker.

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    Tuesday, January 26, 2010

    Drugstore Game Padawan Update: CVS deals this week

    If you're just tuning in, I'm mentoring Nicole in The Drugstore Game. If you've always wanted to play but weren't sure how to get started, follow along with Nicole as she becomes a Drugstore Game Master. You can read all of the posts in this series here, in reverse chronological order. Please read my Drugstore Game Primer and Common Sense with Money's FAQ to get an overview of the Drugstore Game and definitions.


    I haven't been in touch with Nicole yet, so I don't know if she's done any transactions this week yet. We haven't planned anything out, so she'd be coming up with the deals on her own - something I think she is actually quite capable of doing, at this point.

    A few things to know about CVS when you're getting started: most stores have a red scanner box that prints out coupons when you scan your card. (You can also scan UPC codes to check prices, but it won't tell you if the item is part of an ECB deal.) Most stores have the scanners pretty close to the front door. Some people get fabulous coupons all the time, like $3 off a $15 purchase. Others, like me, just get the last two coupons that everyone gets - and once you get these, you won't get anymore coupons for the rest of the day. Lately, the coupons have been for $1/2 Gold Emblem Nuts/Pretzels/Crackers and $1/1 CVS pain relief. You may also get the same type of coupons printed at the end of your receipt. These CVS coupons are often called "CRT"s, for "Cash Register Tape."

    Also, CVS has a promotion going on right now - Centsible Savings has details on how to get double ExtraCare Bucks. While I'm obviously a big fan of bonus ECBs, I'm not crazy about how this particular promotion works - largely because it seems designed to trick their most loyal customers. You have to sign up or make sure that the double ECB UPC is scanned in order for your card to be eligible for the bonus ECBs, and I can't even tell from the fine print if you have to have the UPC scanned every transaction or if once during the promotional period is enough. (The UPC code is in this week's ad on page 13.) Plus, I've only had one cashier scan the UPC sua sponte without my asking about it. Having said all that, of course you don't want to miss out on any extra ECBs so have that special UPC code scanned as soon as possible. The promotion ends 3/15.

    Now, onto this week's deals. . .

    Unfortunately, there wasn't a new $/$$ coupon this week, so unless Nicole gets one from the magic scanner, we're only working with the coupons she already has. One thing that makes planning her deals tricky is not knowing if her store will get more Oust in - being able to work in the Oust would be helpful, since it's $2.01 overage per transaction that can help pay for other items.

    Ideally, I think something like this would be great since Nicole said she wanted Dove deodorant and Almay makeup:

    2 Oust $3.99 each
    2 Dove Ultimate Deodorant 2/$7
    1 Almay $5.99

    - $3.99 B1G1 Oust from 1/3 SS
    - 2 x $2/1 Dove printable coupon
    - $6 + $6 ECBs

    Pay: 98 cents + tax
    Receive: $6 ECB for Oust, $2 ECB for Dove, and $4 ECB for Almay

    Nicole had also mentioned that she's interested in the Revlon and Fiber One deals, and those are deals we're going to have to discuss further. We can certainly get them this week, but I think we could probably find the Fiber One for less at a supermarket, if she's able to wait for a sale. And I don't know enough about makeup to know whether the Revlon deal is a good one, although I have the feeling that unless she has great coupons, it would be worth waiting for a better sale to come along. Again, these are just some things that we'll need to consider before deciding whether to pursue these deals this week.

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    Morning Coffee: Lots of good stuff

    Today only, Amazon has lowered the price on the digital version of the new Lady Antebellum album, Need You Nowto just $3.99. Disclosure: I'm an Amazon affiliate, so any purchase you make after entering Amazon through a link on Chief Family Officer supports this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

    If you shop at Ingles, check out this moneymaking scenario on Pillsbury refrigerated products.

    Once a Month Mom reports that there’s a Mega sale at Kroger this week, so I’m guessing that Ralphs will also have a Mega sale starting on Wednesday for a couple of weeks. (Mega sale = $5 off for every 10 participating items purchased.) There are usually good deals to be had, although there have been some lackluster sales in the past too. I can't wait to see the circular, which should be in this afternoon's mail.

    Today's Ebates Daily Double store is Avon, which is giving 10% cash back (instead of the usual 5%). It looks like they have quite a few specials going on right now. To learn more about Ebates, read my original review. If you sign up through my referral link, we'll both get a bonus when you make your first purchase within 30 days!

    Get a free sample of Depends from Sam's Club. It looks like you don't need to be a member to receive this sample.

    Life as Mom and Money Saving Mom have been busy! They spent January eating from their pantry, and now they are going to spend February cooking for their freezer. Click through to join in!

    That Went Well is giving away a $100 Old Navy gift card (subscription required). Ends 1/30.

    Metropolitan Mama is giving away a Britax Roundabout Convertible Car Seat. We’ve bought three of these over the years – one is in our car, one is in my in-laws’ car, and one ended up in the trash after we were rear-ended. While I prefer the Marathon because it’s roomier and has wider straps that are easier to tighten, the Roundabout is smaller, lighter, and harder for a child to loosen on his own. Ends 1/31.

    Cash Money Life is giving away a copy of You Need A Budget. Ends 1/31.

    Velveteen Mind makes a compelling plea for continued monetary donations to help the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. When someone who’s survived a natural disaster tells you that your donations make a difference, it’s hard not to be moved.

    Wise Bread discusses kitchen gadgets that make gluten-free cooking and eating easier.

    An Island Life is giving away a $50 Amex gift card, courtesy of Goby.com. Ends 1/31.

    Today’s Shopping Trip Pic of the Day is from Frugal Dr. Mom who saved 97% on her groceries.

    Last week, The LA Times wrote about crazy cakes, which don’t contain any butter or eggs. Their Daily Dish blog wrote about their test-kitchen experiments with different kinds of flour – it’s fascinating to see the photo of the different results side by side, where you can really see the height difference that resulted from the varying amounts of protein in the flours.


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    Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate and/or referral links, and may refer to items that were sent to me for review. However, all opinions are my own. You can read Chief Family Officer's full disclaimer and disclosure policy here.

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    Monday, January 25, 2010

    Evening Coffee: Computer issues

    My apologies for the screwy Morning Coffee post earlier today. Just as I was ready to hit the "publish" button, something in the html got all messed up, and I had to fix everything by hand. Obviously, I missed a few things! I’ve gone back and I think all the links and info should be good to go now, but let me know if you spot something that’s awry.

    Tia’s Saving Cents has some $5 Walgreens scenarios for this week’s deals.

    My Frugal Adventures has a scenario for free or cheap lightbulbs at Target. (Via Coupon Cravings.)

    This deal may end tomorrow, but you should be able to get Purevia sweetener on sale for $1.99 at Safeway stores, so free after the $2/1 coupon from the 1/3 SS. This deal has been confirmed at Vons and Pavilions in Southern California, and hopefully is nationwide since the coupon isn't beeping despite the 1-cent overage.

    If you're on the west coast and like USA's show Psych as much as I do, you may want to tune in to tonight's edition of Monday Night Raw - Shawn and Gus, er, I mean James Roday and Dulé Hill are the "guest hosts."

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    The Drugstore Game: When the deals aren't so hot

    If you need Huggies diapers, this is a good week to shop at Walgreens. Common Sense with Money has details and a scenario to get three jumbo packs for less than $5 each. Lucky me, for the first time in nearly five years, I don't have to worry about diapers! So I am letting this Huggies deal pass me by. It feels kind of weird, actually.

    However . . . I had $9.50 in Register Rewards that expired today. And in going through the ad and looking at the various scenarios and deals that other bloggers have come up with, nothing appealed to me. There weren't any money-making scenarios that I could take advantage of, so I decided to "burn" my RRs on things I will use.

    So here's what I got:

    3 Ziploc bags $2.50 each with in-ad coupon
    3 store brand gallons of water $2/3
    1 Nursery Water 99 cents with in-ad coupon
    2 store brand nasal saline spray $2.99, on sale B1G1

    Used: $1.50/2 Ziploc printable coupon, 40 cents/1 Ziploc from 1/10 SS, 55 cents/1 Nursery Water (from some magazine, I think), $2 + $2.50 + $5 RRs

    Paid: $1.43 + tax &

    Since I purchased three Ziploc products, I'm submitting my receipt for the $5 SC Johnson rebate. That makes the transaction profitable.

    Walgreens RRs generally expire two weeks after they're printed. Some shoppers seem to have no problem with continuously rolling them, but I always seem to find myself in my current position every couple of months. I don't mind burning up my RRs on occasion - not having RRs means I don't have to go Walgreens. Until a new store opened up at the end of last year, I used to go to a store that's over six miles away, so it wasn't always convenient. Sometimes having RRs that were about to expire actually stressed me out because I'd have to plan a special trip to make sure I didn't waste them. The new store is only two miles away, so it's much easier to pop in - hopefully that means RRs won't be a source of stress for me anymore.

    And that's definitely one thing to consider when it comes to The Drugstore Game. After a few months of playing, burnout becomes a concern. (We've talked about it before.) Now that I've burned all of my RRs, I may take a break from Walgreens unless there's an outstanding deal that I just don't want to miss.

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    Ways to Make & Save Money #4: Cook More & Eat In

    You can read the rest of the Ways to Make & Save Money series here.

    Unless you already eat in every meal, the easiest and biggest savings in your monthly budget will probably come from food. When you eat out, you pay a huge markup for the convenience of having someone else buy, prep and cook the food for you.

    Sometimes, that's okay. When the boys were younger and the before-dinner hour was a nightmare, we made a conscious decision to spend more on food to save our sanity. We also spent a lot of money on takeout and fast food during last year's hospital crisis.

    But most of the time, it's best for your wallet and your health to eat in. It's just not that easy to do – and especially, to maintain.

    The two keys to eating in consistently are menu planning and cooking ahead.

    Even if you never shopped a sale and didn't use coupons, your bank account would be better off if you planned your meals and had a few extra meals in the freezer. Add in sales and coupons, and you can save a ton of money. I've discussed saving money and other benefits of menu planning here.

    I wrote a beginner's guide to menu planning that's a few years old but still applies. I've been planning my menus weekly, because my attempt at planning monthly menus hasn't gone well.

    I do have some things I keep in mind as I plan my menu:

    Variety. We get sick of eating the same foods pretty quickly, so variety is key. I'm very lucky that my husband is quite tolerant of experiments, and very understanding when they don't come out great. I have a huge stack of recipes to try, and that helps keep the meals fresh and interesting.

    Time requirements. I am very careful to plan meals that don't take a lot of time or that can be done mostly ahead of time. I try to get dinner on the table within an hour of walking in the door after I get home from work, and that hour includes changing my clothes, checking my personal email, and so on.

    Use what I have. I'm trying to make the switch to buying only sale items, plus perishables, each week, and basing my meals on what I've already got on hand. Some bloggers who do this extremely well are A Thrifty Mom and Money Saving Mom.

    Make extra. Even as I use up what's on hand, I try to fill up the space in my freezer with ready-to-go meals, like baked pasta and meatloaf. Being able to pull a couple of meals out of the freezer each week makes my meal planning that much easier.

    Leftovers. On weeknights, I try to plan for leftovers so that we can brown bag our lunches. If you figure lunch costs at least $5 per meal, the savings really add up!

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    Morning Coffee: Colts vs. Saints in the Super Bowl!

    As I mentioned yesterday, one advantage of not having an NFL team in LA is that I don't have a favorite team - so I'm genuinely excited for the Super Bowl, because it should be a great game! Actually, I can't remember the last time I looked forward to the game this much. But there's two weeks to go until the game, so in the meantime, here are some deals and news to keep you busy:

    Herbal Essences has a new instant win game, where you can win one of over 300 gift cards. (Via My Good Cents.)

    Get a printable coupon for $2 off Post Natural Advantage cereal (registration required).

    Get a printable coupon for $1 off Popchips.

    Become an Oreo fan on Facebook and get free Oreos today at 3 p.m. EST.

    Use code MYVAL20 to get free shipping on orders of $20 or more from Snapfish, excluding photo skins, photo frames, or ScanCafe services or items. Expires 2/6.

    Speaking of Snapfish, you can get 100 free 4x6 prints with code PRINTSNEW - but hurry, since this code expires tomorrow. Keep in mind that you'll have to pay shipping, but your order will likely come out to less than 8 cents per print, which is an awesome price.

    The Bargain Jargon has a list of this week's Fred Meyer deals.

    Bargain Briana has a list of this week's Meijer deals.

    Fabulessly Frugal and Stretching a Buck have listed this week's Target deals.

    If you have an old iPod, you may want to consider trading it in for a Target gift card through Nextworth. At first glance, our iPod classic, which is kind of useless because the battery life is now so short, might be worth close to $50 - so we're definitely going to take a closer look at this program. (Via Tia's Saving Cents.)

    The Shopping Trip Pic of the Day is from A Full Cup user MommaOf2Many, who got a ton of stuff for less than $7.

    PP Gazette
    Banner via MySavings.com

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    Sunday, January 24, 2010

    Meet my Blogroll: Baby Toolkit

    I've been reading Baby Toolkit for a few years now, and I love the sense of humor that Adrienne and Jim bring to their blog. Check out their recent post mocking the CPSC's holiday safety warning. I also admire and envy Adrienne's sewing and crafting ability, as demonstrated by these cloth crowns she gives out as birthday gifts. Don't you wish she knew your kids so they could have one of these beauties? (This is slightly off-topic, but a while back, we saw a boy – about 6 years old, I'd guess – in medieval costume at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. Apparently it was the boy's favorite outfit and he insisted on wearing it wherever he went. Somehow it was more unexpected than the 4-year-old muscled Spiderman we saw at the dentist's office. Talk about a child who'd love to receive one of Adrienne's crowns!)

    Adrienne and Jim also share their passion for family game nights (read their reviews), which is useful if you want to know if a game is appropriate for your child. They also share random useful tips, like how to involve your pre-writing child in sending thank you notes and using vinegar to combat hard water issues in the dishwasher.

    And back in 2008, Adrienne had an article published in Parents magazine. It was very cool to open up the issue that arrived in the mail and tell everyone that I "knew" the author!

    Previously: Meet other blogs on my blogroll

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    Morning Coffee: Make candy in your slow cooker

    I recently got around to making a recipe that's been on my "to try" list for a year and a half: A Year of Slow Cooking's CrockPot Chocolate Frito Candy Recipe. When I first asked Stephanie to suggest some highlights from her site, this was one of the recipes she selected. I would have made them sooner, but I didn't have Fritos on hand when I thought of it. It all came together the other week, but I think I had too many Fritos in proportion to the chocolate (I didn't have any pretzels so I used extra Fritos). The sweet and salty combination is awesome, and I think peanut butter would really enhance the contrast - but we have a no peanut/nut policy in the house due to allergies, so I had to leave that out. If you have some Fritos on hand, definitely give this a try and let me know what you think. Fritos have a surprisingly short shelf life, so this is a good way to use them up before they expire. (I was surprised to discover that Fritos have a refreshingly short ingredient list: just corn, corn oil and salt.) Image via A Year of Slow Cooking.

    Today's Amazon Deal of the Dayis vintage NFL t-shirtsfor $22.99. They look pretty cool - if I had a favorite team, I'd consider getting one. (That's the good and bad thing about living in a major city that doesn't have its own team. I'm not attached to anyone, but I don't feel strongly about anyone either.) Disclosure: I'm an Amazon affiliate, so any purchase you make after entering Amazon through a link on Chief Family Officer supports this site at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

    Today's Ebates Daily Double store is Half.com, which is giving 8% cash back (instead of the usual 4%). To learn more about Ebates, read my original review. If you sign up through my referral link, we'll both get a bonus when you make your first purchase within 30 days!

    Get a free sample of Splenda Coffee Sweeteners from Start Sampling.

    For a limited time, get a free Love Rocks tattoo at Victoria's Secret stores, while supplies last. Details here. (Via Free Stuff 4 Free.)

    Through February 5, Pampers Gifts to Grow is offering 50 bonus points when you enter three diaper codes.

    General Mills is giving away free cereal for a year (registration required).

    Boutique Cafe is giving away a BabyHawk infant carrier. I loved my BabyHawk (read my review), and if you have any plans to wear your baby, I'd encourage you to look into mei tais like the BabyHawk. Ends 1/28.

    512 Kidz is giving away a $50 American Express Gift Card. Ends 1/28.


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    Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate and/or referral links, and may refer to items that were sent to me for review. However, all opinions are my own. You can read Chief Family Officer's full disclaimer and disclosure policy here.

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