And More Coupons, Groupons, and Savings

Hey everyone! The daughter is back with tips on how to save money when eating out. Be sure and read her other savings tips HERE and HERE.


Advertisements & Restaurant Offers

While we don’t pay attention to very many advertisements or sales in the weekly that comes in the mail, I do flip through to watch for coupons to restaurants that we frequent. I love Genghis Grill and eat there at least once a month if possible. Luckily, they occasionally include mail-outs in the weekly that include the same three coupons every time, two of which fit our eating habits and save us a few bucks every time we go in. We rarely eat there without a coupon now and let the expiration dates of the coupons determine when we do and don’t eat there. Subway and McDonalds also have coupons in our weekly that add up to huge savings: McDonalds will have a free drink with the order of a quarter-pounder and Subway—I love this—sends out a page of six coupons, all of which are buy one 6-inch and get one 6-inch for free. How amazing is that?! That means that, if we drink pop from our fridge and eat chips in our pantry instead of buying them with the meals, my roommate and I can get two 6-inch subs for around $4-5 for our entire meal. While we have to be careful and only use them occasionally, like once a week, so that we don’t end up spending more money than we would have without the coupons, we have adjusted our fast food habits to follow coupons.

While we’re on the topic of eating out, watch your receipts for opportunities to complete an online survey of your experience to receive a discount on your next purchase. McDonalds often offers these at the bottom of their receipts where you fill in a code given to you at the end of the survey. Take the receipt and code with you on your next visit and you can get a free breakfast sandwich or even a free quarter-pounder. Fancier restaurants, such as Olive Garden, offer you a chance to win $1000 instead, which isn’t quite as instantaneously gratifying; however, we found that, after completing a survey due to a very isolated bad experience at their restaurant, we had been enrolled in their email system. A week later we received a coupon for 15% off a to-go order. Discounted Olive Garden at home while surfing Netflix? Yes, please.

If you are on social media, like the pages for your favorite restaurants. Recently my roommate was excited to see that it was Australia Day (celebrating her favorite continent), and, when she got on Facebook, she saw where Outback had posted a Facebook-only, one-day coupon celebrating the holiday. We took it in and got our choice of a free appetizer or dessert. After eating our free appetizer, we ordered smaller steaks because we had already eaten so much along with their free bread and left the restaurant with leftovers and a great meal that had totaled around $25. Don’t forget to ask for a little extra of the freebies at restaurants when you take home your leftovers. Outback occasionally will give you bread to take home, and Olive Garden has always let us take extra breadsticks and salad home with our doggie bags.

If you get desperate to really save, feel free to steal our eating motto: Leftovers, leftovers, leftovers! You should wave your fork in the air while shouting it to get the full effect.


My favorite restaurant coupon is Chick-fil-a. On several occasions, I have received a receipt that asks the customer to take a quick online survey. In return, you can get a free Chick-fil-a sandwich! Yum!

Y’all have a great day! Later gators!

More Coupons, Groupons, and Savings

Last time my daughter was here, she shared when and how she decided to take control of her money. (you can read her first post of this series HERE) Today she is giving her tips on using coupons.



I used to hate using coupons because it felt like a long process of finding the ones I needed, calculating the best buy, and waiting through the dreaded issue of a cashier having issues scanning them. However, I decided to give them a go again last month, and we will have saved almost $50 by the end of this month with coupons alone. The easiest way to find relevant coupons is through the mail. Some larger companies will send coupons directly to you, not as part of a newspaper advertisement. Our local Ford dealership, for example, sends me a coupon every few months for a discounted oil change that is the same price as most other places nearby, but their offer includes a multi-point inspection for my car and a few other services that I would otherwise need to pay for. I might pay the same price for the oil change, but I am saving on car maintenance.

My main destination for coupons is They have a random assortment of coupons ranging on topics from food to beauty products to household items. I can usually find at least 10-15 when I look at the website every week or two, and the coupons are set to have an expiration date of one month after you print them. So you have a while to use them. They also bring over coupons from other sites, such as P&G coupons, which cover brands such as Bounty and Charmin. The savings is not always massive. Sometimes it’s only $0.25 off of a pack of Bounty napkins or $1.00 off a 12-count of toilet paper, but it adds up if you do it regularly. One major downside is that the program it uses to print the coupons requires you to install the Coupon Printer program on your computer, and—this is just awful—it only seems to work on Internet Explorer. The time spent waiting on IE to load is worth the savings to me, though. P&G has their own coupon website as well for major brands of household items that we use, but, as I said, they are often imported to I usually double-check it anyway just to be certain that I haven’t missed anything.

Don’t forget to check your actual products for coupons as well. Chili’s restaurant came out with frozen meals a while back (yes, they are delicious), and, to encourage people to continue to buy their products, they printed inside the meals’ boxes a coupon for $1.00 off the purchase of two of their frozen meals. Again, it’s not a large savings, but I liked the meals and was going to buy them anyway. That’s the important thing to keep in mind—if you are going to buy the products anyway, especially if you can save by buying items like household goods in bulk, you might as well take the time to save some money in the process. I have found coupons for products in frozen meal boxes, dry goods boxes, cat litter tubs, cat food sacks, and tons of other places. Companies realize that you have choices, and they want to give you another reason to use their brands. I don’t know about you, but letting me save a few bucks on something I already buy makes me like a company all the more.

If you are lucky enough to live in an area with stores that offer discounts, rewards, or specific coupons, by all means use them for all they are worth! We frequent two stores when it comes to groceries and household goods: Target and HEB. Target is nation-wide, and we use them primarily for their pharmacy. We have always had luck with friendly and knowledgeable pharmacists at Target, to the point that they know us by name when we walk up and we know more about our their personal lives than we probably should. So we do our prescriptions exclusively at Target, which comes with a great rewards program. After filling so many prescriptions, we receive a 5% off coupon for an entire purchase. As far as I know, there are no restrictions on what the coupon can be used for. So we occasionally use those for larger purchases if it will save us money in the long run, or we use it for a few small items, like vitamin waters that are practically the same price there as anywhere else, and save that extra 5%. For everything else, we shop at HEB, which has a fantastic coupon program. I’m sure they have a system to it, but it looks random—there are yellow coupons for savings or deals, i.e. buy a pack of hotdogs and get a pack of buns for free, hanging all over the store for particular products. Sometimes you can save several dollars just with the in-store offers. However, if you are using conflicting coupons that you have printed from a website or manufacturer, do the math and see which coupon actually saves you more money. Watch the fine print as well. I’m not sure where the people on those coupon-crazed shows shop, but all of my coupons have small print that say they cannot be combined with other offers and the total savings cannot exceed the value of the product. In other words, don’t plan on being one of those people who use multiple coupons and end up having the store pay them at the end of the transaction.

You might be like I was a few years ago and wonder if all of this coupon…let’s call it hoarding because I feel like that’s how I am right now…if all of this coupon hoarding really saves that much in the end. Take our last shopping trip as an example. We were sick last weekend and so missed our regular two-week shopping trip as well as ran out of nearly everything before we made it to the store this week. By everything I mean we had a box of tissues, a twelve-pack of toilet paper, and half a twelve-pack of Dr. Pepper left. That was it. We walked into the store with 18 coupons, 15 of which we used, and we added three coupons along the way thanks to in-store coupon savings. We stocked up on enough meats, meals, dry goods, lunch items, and snacks to last us at least two more weeks, maybe three if we are thrifty. We bought more household goods than normal, but I had several big savings coupons, and household items won’t go bad. As long as you have the storage and available funds, buying them in bulk and saving is a good scheme—and I don’t mean buying them in bulk at Sam’s where you pay a membership fee, which can sometimes be more expensive than it’s worth. When we checked out, I looked at the receipt to see that we had saved a penny on brand savings (a penny here, a penny there), $1.55 on in-store savings, and $23 on manufacturer coupons. In total we saved $24.50, which was more than 10% of our total bill, and we walked out with a free comb—I needed one for my cat, but the in-store coupon saved more than the value of the comb; so I bought a two pack for $1 more that included a new one for me, which I actually needed, and with the coupon came out at the cost of a single comb so it was like getting the second for free—and a free air freshner plug-in. That coupon clearly stated that buying a refill pack came with a free Glade air freshner plug-in. We already use them in the apartment around the cats’ litter boxes and needed refills, so why not use a coupon and get a free plug-in to keep another room smelling fresh? With the $11 we saved on our last visit, that took us to $35 in total savings on groceries and household items. After taking my car to the Ford dealership next week and receiving a little free maintenance, we will be at about $50 a month in savings or free services. Add that up over a year, and we’re looking at almost $600 in savings in 2015!

And just in case you need one more incentive to start couponing: I haven’t stepped foot in a Wal-Mart in almost a year. I am spending the same amount or less than when I shopped there, and the food quality is also better. I don’t know about you, but that is a lifelong dream come true for me.


Kudos to my daughter for saving when and where she can! She’ll be back next week talking about advertisement & restaurant offers.

Y’all have a great day! Later gators!

Coupons, Groupons, and Savings

My daughter is back with a new post series: “Coupons, Groupons, and Savings”.


I’ve always hated budgeting and dealing with money. The stress of knowing that one car issue or an unexpected veterinarian bill could throw my entire bank account into the negative stresses me out, and it’s all the more difficult to become comfortable with a limited income when I’m young and just starting out. I am not a homeowner (which, as I’ve recently learned through research, comes with a plethora of additional expenses, so hats off to you people who take that on); I thankfully do not have children yet. I count myself doubly lucky that my car is paid off.  And, while these missing expenses make my budget stretch further, there are many reasons why it can be very difficult to budget when you are twenty-something. For instance, despite being over that dreaded 25-year mark when it comes to car ownership, the fact that I am under 30, do not have a spouse’s car for a multiple car discount, and no longer receive a student discount has my auto insurance at an all-time high. I’m not married, so my taxes tend to be a bit higher because I don’t qualify for certain tax breaks. Rent in Houston is sometimes flat-out ridiculous, continues to rise, and has me paying the equivalent of a small house payment for a comfortable apartment in a slowly declining neighborhood. When I try to save a little on the side for a rainy day fund, these obstacles often leave me frowning at my budget.

The other day, however, I experienced a turn-around in my attitude about surviving at my age. I read an article that said one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to assume that you are supposed to have your life figured out and settled in your 20s. It’s immensely difficult to do nowadays. Let’s be honest with each otherbeing an adult is hard. Just plain difficult. And sometimes not a lot of fun. Starting with my move to graduate school after finishing my undergrad, I have moved six times in seven years, and I still live in an apartment because I am uncertain where I want to settle just yet. I don’t have kids, but I dropped more than $300 on my cats this month because of medical issues with both felinesand you can’t say no to those kinds of expenses. I have a Ph.D., but my field is academia, which traditionally pays poorly in return for an employee’s education (ironically enough), has a slow rate of promotion, and tends to show bias towards recognizing women with a well-documented gender gap. I still love my job in many ways, but sometimes I want to write the government and ask if they really need to take that much out of my paycheck because social security will probably be gone by the time I need it and I could use that money to replace the flat tire in my work loafers. Hate it or love it, budgeting is a fact of life.

So a few months ago I decided to take control of my money and figure out how to live in a way that lets me enjoy the parts of life that I really love while managing to save and prepare for life expenses, and I’m happy to say that it seems to be working rather well. In fact, I often find myself searching Pinterest looking for new ways to budget or save, and I’m actually enjoying it! The tips in this post series are geared toward younger readers who might be experiencing the same life phase that I am in at the moment, but they are most definitely applicable to anyone wanting to cut back on expenses and try to save a little. The important thing to remember is that you have to make adjustments that work for your life. For example, I am a picky eater. I like the brands of food that I like, and that was not a part of my spending that I was willing to change; so, rather than buying cheaper brands, my roommate and I ventured into the realm of smarter cooking, ensuring we made our food stretch further which stretched our budget as well. I am sure Dave Ramsey knows what he is talking about. I am even considering reading one of his books soon, but his Latte Factor doesn’t apply to everyone. His idea is that cutting out expensive and unnecessary spending habits is one of the quickest ways to save money, and, while that’s true, I don’t agree that you should cut our all unnecessary expenditures. You should still enjoy life; you just have to learn how to do it on a budget. Yes, buying a tall mocha from Starbucks every morning on your way to work will cost you roughly $20 a week, which means you could cut out $80 in expenses a month if you made your coffee at homebut, you know what, if you don’t like drip coffee and can’t afford a $250 expresso machine for your kitchen, that might not be the best expense to cut. You go ahead and get your mocha, girl, and look for another way to save.

In the end, this series will give tips on how to save on every day living by using coupons and the like and how to change your habits to shop and live smarter. In tandem you can start to see results in your bank account by the end of the month. Even at the end of last month, I was able to pay those unexpected vet bills without dipping into savings because we’ve been watching our spending, tracking our money, and being smarter about how we use it. And I promise that, even if you hate it now, you will learn to at least accept it if not come to love it.


She hit it right on the head when she stated “budgeting is a fact of life”.

Mr. and I budget for big expenses like vacations and house updates by saving our five dollar bills. You can read about that HERE and HERE. And if you haven’t checked out Dave Ramsey and his financial/debt advice, you really should. I have been using his “Debt Snowball Method” of bill paying for approximately two years now and it works!

Be sure and check back next week for her tips on using coupons.

Y’all have a great day! Later gators!