The Winners and Losers of 2009: a couponer’s perspective



Who were the winners and losers this year? 

I decided to do some reflecting on posts and deals I'd written about in the last year. Some stores and companies shined, while others failed to deliver or just plain annoyed. Of course these are based on my own personal experience and the stores in my region (Puget Sound, Washington). Your opinions may well differ. 

Let's get the bad news out of the way first.


Kmart. Kmart started cutting back on their "double coupon" promotions, and particularly in my area (State of Washington). I actually contacted them about this and they told me Washington shoppers didn't make enough of the sales – really?! Wanna give us another try? Areas that continued receiving the promotions noticed a reduction in how many items could be doubled and towards the end of 2009, most areas noticed less promotions altogether. And some occurred entirely unannounced. Boo.

KFC. KFC had one of the WORST promotions this year with their free grilled chicken coupons. Remember these? They were announced on Oprah's show and people began printing the puppies off and overloading local franchises where stores were overwhelmed and out of stock. Mobs of angry customers formed impromptu sit ins in protest.  What was intended as a positive, turned into a huge negative, and fast. 

Safeway. While Safeway had a couple notable promotions throughout the year, they top the list as one of my least favorite local grocery stores to shop at. At the start of 2009, their in-ad coupons required a minimum of $10 additional purchase, but this was upped recently to a $20 minimum purchase. What's worse, most of these coupons offer no substantial savings in the first place. You might recall I dedicated an entire post to venting my frustration over these so called "Super Coupons."  

Garlic Jims. I hate to do this because I love their pizza and we continue to order from them about once a month. Several months ago, they'd advertised that they'd accept competitor coupons so I called my local store. Not only did they claim to know nothing about it, they made no attempt to learn more or even head to their own website. What's worse, a rep contacted me apologizing and offering to send a free pizza for my hassle. But guess what? That never arrived either. Get your act together guys.

National Frozen Food Month. What a complete joke. Many of the prices splashed across store ads were really not that much better (if at all) from regular retail. But unaware consumers might well have taken the bait. Better frozen food prices were interestingly found in summer. Another instance where advertised price does not equate stock up price.  


Amazon. This is the first year I'd paid any attention to Amazon, and all I have to say is WOW. They do an amazing job of slashing prices on quality items, offer cheap & free shipping, and their shipping/return policy is excellent. They consistently outpriced their competition throughout the holiday shopping season.

Facebook. Companies realize the power of Facebook advertising, and are willing to reward folks for signing up as fans. Some of the best offers and coupons came on Facebook this year. I imagine this trend will persist throughout 2010 as the next generation of couponers is being targeted.

Kraft. Starting in May, Kraft rocked the coupon scene with many hot printable and insert coupons. Stores obliged with sales, and the kicker was when Kraft offered a $20 rebate late summer. I imagine most of my readers still have Kraft cheese, BBQ sauce or mayo hanging around as a result of Kraft's promotions.  

Fred Meyer. One of my very favorite places to shop, Fred Meyer offers wonderful in-store coupons and sales on basic pantry staples and nutritious selections. They also surprised me come holiday season by offering the best deals to pair with the Playskool printable coupons. 

Albertsons.Thanks to Albertsons, I was able to stock my pantry and let my Costco membership expire. They especially made me smile when they offered double coupons along with hot Catalina promotions. While we mourned the loss of the competitor coupons in April, Albertsons, we understand you were losing profits. We're just glad you kept your doors open and gave us incredible deals all year long.  

Rite Aid. I really thought Rite Aid was about to fizzle early on in 2009, but instead they made an awesome rally with rebates, coupons, and sales. They pepper their ads with illustrations how to use coupons with their sales and rebates. And who can forget the onslaught of $5-off-$25 printables? AdPerks brought high value coupons and Rite Aid ran not one, but two "gift of savings" programs this year. They have one of the best coupon policies and took the time to make their policy public (thanks to a lil' help from Deal Seeking Mom). Rite Aid, thumbs up. WAY up. 

Payless Shoes. Probably one of my "top 10" coupons of 2009 was the Payless 50% off EVERYTHING coupon of a couple months ago. You might recall I nearly teared up at checkout. They launched a rather gutsy coupon, AND their stores were prepared and followed through. That is how it's done – KFC pay attention. 


Old Navy. Old Navy ran heavy online coupon promotions all year – and some of them were particularly great. However, I have a couple bones to pick. 1) There were only a small handful of the super high value coupons each time and they involved staying up at odd hours of the night, constantly refreshing your computer, and scouring chat rooms for assistance. 2) Some of the clothes I bought at Old Navy with these coupons literally fell apart. The quality was so cheap on some of the shirts, I wonder if they were worth the $2 I  paid for them plus the $2 in gas I used to retrieve them from the store. That being said, I did acquire a few pieces I still enjoy and use and undoubtedly Old Navy ran a smart marketing campaign that helped their business at a time when not many people were hitting the stores. (And incidentally, if you follow my blog at any length, you probably enjoyed snagging equally good if not better deals from online retailers – without having to hunt for coupons by clicking on a ridiculously fast bird that flies across your computer screen.)

Walgreens. I miss their Easy Saver Rebate program and prefer it to their overly complicated Register Reward system. While Register Rewards enable customers to acquire more "freebies," they also involve more transactions, more trips, more thought, and more fuss. And, they tend to go haywire easily. Walgreens partially redeemed themselves by reinstituting their monthly coupon book. As for me? While I'm still a regular Walgreens-goer, I find myself inclined to go there less since the death of the Easy Saver Rebate. RIP.   

Agree? Disagree? Care to throw some other companies/stores/promotions into the ring? Be my guest!

Photo credit Kostya Kisleyko 


HUGE Olay moneymaker today only at Albertsons!



I went last night and wanted to share a couple things:

Crest Toothpast $1.89
There are LOTS of qualifying brands and I realized that there's a $1/1 coupon in the 12/27 you could use if you paired it with the correct brand. I believe the Whitening with Scope might work.
IF NOT, there is also a $0.50/1 coupon from same insert. Both don't expire until end of January.
Remember that $10 when you spend $25 is like getting 40% off…
Bottom line: $0.13 each!!
(Note: this would be a GREAT filler idea to bring your total over $25)

Olay Regenerist
AH! Prices are even better than I hoped. Cheapest cleanser? $5.43!!
Buy 2
(2) $3/1 coupons from December P&G (they expire today!)
40% off equivalent with promo
$15 rebate
Bottom line: 
 whopping $14.84 profit!!

Remember, you'd need to do the Olay deal TODAY because your coupons expire. I hope that helps someone! 



Albertsons deals 12/30 – 1/5


If you read this post, you might recall I mentioned items related to New Year's resolutions will start to come on sale. And guess what we're seeing this week at Albertsons? On the first page there's bagged salads, yogurt, and Lean Cuisine. Get it? Stores really do run on seasonal trends.

Albertsons is having just about the best P&G promotion this week of any of the stores I've seen similar promotions at. You'll earn a $10 off-your-next-order coupon when you spend $25 or more in participating products. That's like getting a 40% discount right off the top. Stacked with coupons, I'm thinking I'm getting me some Tide and Pampers!

The other deals are a bit sleepy in my opinion. But the P&G promo just might make the drive worth your time. No word on doublers yet…I'll keep you posted.

Boneless, skinless chicken breast or tenders (fresh)

Fresh Express Salads
Buy one @ $2.69, get one free
Some tearpad coupons may be available
Bottom line: $1.34 or less each

Lean Cuisine Frozen Entrees $1.67
$1/3 coupon from 9/13 Red Plum (expires on the 31st!!)
Bottom line: $1.34 each

Dannon Light & Fit Yogurt $0.33
$1/10 coupon from 12/06 SmartSource
Bottom line: $0.23 each

2-Liter Coke Products
$0.87 each when you buy in multiples of 3

Wonderful Pistachios, 10 oz, $3.49
$1/1 coupon from 11/15 SmartSource
Bottom line: $2.49

Bell Pepper/Cucumber
$0.50 each

Del Monte Fruit Naturals $1
$1/3 printable coupon
Bottom line: $0.67 each
(Note: I am pretty sure these are found in the produce section)

$0.20 each

Post Cereals, selected
$1.50 each when you buy in multiples of 4
$1/2 coupon from 12/06 SmartSource
Bottom line: $1 each
(Note: these would be only $0.50 a box if we get doubler coupons! Score!)

Procter & Gamble Promotion

First, I'll give you the matchups. Then, I'll let you in on what trips I'm planning on doing myself! Remember, your order has to top $25 in order to receive the $10 off-your-next-order coupon (OYNO) at checkout. If your total comes up to $24.99, you're out of luck.

Please note the the majority of the coupons below come from either the 12/27 P&G insert or the P&G Year of Savings booklet (if you got it!). All the booklet coupons expire TOMORROW, the 31st. Your insert coupons are good through January. To save space coupon = P&G insert and P&G = booklet coupon.

Tide, 100 oz. $9.99 ($1/1 coupon; $1/1 P&G)
Charmin, 9-12 rolls $5.99 ($0.25/1 coupon; $1/1 P&G)
Bounty, 8 rolls $9.99 ($0.25/1 coupon)
Downy or Bounce $5.99 ($0.25/1 Downy coupon; $1/1 P&G Downy)
Dawn $2.29 ($0.25/1 coupon)
Iams Dog Food $17.99 ($2/1 P&G)
Puffs Family Pack $4.99
Bounce Dryer Bar $3.99 ($0.50/1 coupon
Mr. Clean Cleaner or 2-Erasers $2.49
Prilosec $24.99 ($3/1 coupon; $2/1 P&G)
Vics $5.99 ($1.50/1 coupon
Pantene Shampoo, Conditioner, Stylers $3.33 ($3/2 & $1/1 coupons; $2/1 Vocalpoint coupon expires 12/31)
Covergirl Cosmetics 25% off
Cascade Detergent $4.99 ($0.50/1 coupon)
Cascade Rinse Aid $2.99 ($0.50/1 coupon )
Swiffer Kits, Refills $6.99
Iams Cat Food $7.99 ($2/1 P&G)
Febreze Air Effects $2.49 ($1/1 coupon 11/29 insert – expires 12/31)
Febreze Noticeables Refills $7.99
Pringles $1.50 ($1/4 coupon from 11/15 Red Plum)
Bounty Napkins $2.99 ($0.25/1 coupon)
Pampers $19.99 ($2/1 coupon)
Crest Toothpaste, Oral B Indicator Toothbrush or Floss $1.89 ($1/1 P&G; some 12/27 inserts may have had other related coupons)
Olay Bar Soap $5.49 ($1/1 coupon; $1/1 P&G)
Olay Regenerist or Definity 20% off ($1/1 coupon; submit for $15 rebatewhen you buy 2 Regenerist products)

Phew! What a list huh? It appears that I will be headed out to Albertsons tonight in order to make use of nearly about to expire coupons!

Here is my plan of attack:

Transaction 1:
2 Tide
1 Crest
1 Pantene
Subtotal: $25.20

(2) $1/1 Tide
(1) $1/1 Crest
(1) $2/1 Pantene
Out of pocket: $20.02

Transaction 2:
1 Pampers
1 Pantene
1 Febreze Air Effects
Subtotal: $25.81

(1) $2/1 Pampers
(1) $2/1 Pantene
(1) $1/1 Febreze
$10 off-your-next-order coupon from Transaction #1
Out of pocket: $10.81

Transaction 3:
2 Olay Regenerist Products (no clue on the cost…shall I guess around $18?)
1 Tide
Subtotal: $27.99 (or thereabouts)

(2) $1/1 Olay
(1) $1/1 Tide
$10 off-your-next-order coupon from Transaction #2
Out of pocket: $14.99

Receive $10 off-your-next-order coupon and get $15 back from Olay

Bottom line if all goes as planned: $20.82!!!!!!

And that is for 300 oz of Tide, a big box of Pampers, two Olay products, and a few other goodies! I'm SO going to Albertsons now! I am low on detergent and was so hoping for a Tide deal like this. Score, score, score!

For more Albertsons deals, ideas, and matchups, be sure to check out Krazy Coupon Lady and The Grocery Gathering.

Carters PJs: as low as $4!


Select children's PJ sets are on deep discount at Kohl's online sale right now. The cute snowman PJs were $24, but are now yours for just $4.80!  

You might also want to check out these cute frog fleece PJs (for girls and in size 2T only) for $6 (was $20). You can see all the discounted sets here. (If they don't come up, search for "Carter Pajamas." 

Dealnews reports you can score free shipping with code NOCHARGE

And, initiate your transaction like I did today through Ebates and score an additional 4% back on your purchase! 

Given the fact that there are only select sizes left, I'd hurry on this sale for best selection and stock.  

A year of couponing: what went on sale and when


I want to take the time to share my review of 2009 and what I noticed went on sale and when.

Why on earth would this matter? Simple. If you’re a couponer and if you’re hoping to stockpile, you need to gage store trends. It’s important that you buy the items you need when they are at or near their “rock bottom low” prices.

This was my first year of couponing and here are my observations. Will 2010 repeat this list? Some of the items – most definitely. Others? We’ll have to wait and see.

Look for items related to New Year’s Resolutions. Weight loss pills, vitamins, smoking cessation helps, cleaning supplies, organizers. This is also a great time of year to find healthy items like bagged salads on killer deals. January is also National Oatmeal Month which is something I take note of because my kids love oatmeal. Watch for coupons and sales to hit soon. Also watch for great stockup prices on cold remedies, and canned soup.

I recall finding lots of “Superbowl Party” related items on sale including frozen pizza, chips, and Mexican food fixings. Canned soup and chili also continued at low prices, as did cleaning supplies. I found a few sales on pasta and pasta sauce.

National Frozen Food month…however, I didn’t see any killer deals on frozen food (although it was well advertised by the stores). An uptick in cereal deals this month – particularly Kellogg’s and Post. This is about the month you’ll stop seeing deals on items such as cough drops, too.

Earth Day meant lots of free reusable bags, rebates, and other goodies. Watch for them again. Safeway also kicked off a “Living Well” promotion that featured numerous healthy, organic, and green items at killer prices. A great stockup sale for the health conscious. I sure hope they do this one again.

We started seeing Kraft and Kellogg’s products being pushed – this would last through late summer. Watermelon could be found for around $0.29/lb, and we also started seeing a dip in dairy prices including milk, cheese, and eggs that would last well into fall. While razor deals could often be found throughout 2009, in May we saw a few deals on shaving cream/gel – a product that does not often go on sale – so take note! The ice cream and hot dog deals started appearing in store ads.

Full-fledged summer deals! Hot dogs, condiments, ice cream, and summer produce could be found at the stores. There was also a promotion on ConAgra products at Albertsons during the month (think Hunt ketchup and canned tomatoes). Grapes were at a good price. I also noted deals on Mexican food items such as canned refried beans and tortillas. Price on cheese very good. There were also a few deals on cleaning supplies and paper products around this time. Throughout the summer, deals on Band-Aids and Neosporin could be found.

HEAVY on Kraft and Kellogg’s deals – both offered rebates and there was an abundance of coupons including printables. Items such as mayonnaise, BBQ sauce, and tuna fish on rockin’ prices. Summer produce – such as cherries, tomatoes, and plums were cheap. Hot dog and ice cream deals continued. There were also a couple notable deals on bottled water and Gatorade. The best deals on school supplies were also found in July.

Kraft products continued to be good buys including cheese, Capri Sun, Macaroni and Cheese, and Crystal Light. Kellogg’s products also featured in many ads thanks to their  “Fuel for School” rebate. Back to school items such as granola bars and fruit snacks also began to come on sale. Safeway ran another cereal promotion. A few deals on Skippy Peanut Butter and Ragu could also be found. School supplies continued to be a recurring theme on the drugstore ads.

The last of the summer ice cream deals! Now we started to trend into fall cooking/baking items. Campbells began their onslaught of insert coupons, pasta and pasta sauce started to come on sale. More deals on granola bars and fruit snacks (Betty Crocker in particular) continued. There were a few last deals on hot dogs and cheese. I also noticed a slight uptick in frozen food choices – pizza, Mexican, appetizer items. A few last deals on Band-Aids. About this time, Kashi started really pushing their cereals and these deals would last through the end of the year. Glade also seemed to issue more coupons than usual for their new Fragrance Collection.

Soup was the big item to watch this month. Most of Campbell’s coupons were very low in value which made it a little trickier to stock. Halloween candy deals appeared every week on ads, and we saw a few great printable coupons trickle in to “sweeten” those deals. Apples, oatmeal, Quaker items, and pancake mix were found on good deals. Nabisco launched a rebate, put out a great coupon, and the stores did a good job on the sales. This month we started to see more cold/cough medicines go on stockup prices.

This is probably MY FAVORITE month to stockpile because there are lots of coupons/sales on those pantry essentials. Flour, sugar, chocolate chips, oil, spices, yeast, canned vegetables, canned fruit, soup – all abounded. It was a good time to keep an eye for a turkey or ham deal. Ragu and Skippy went on stockpile prices again. Due to shortages, canned pumpkin rarely dipped below $0.99 for a 15 oz can and there was nary a coupon in site. Cocoa and tea coupons appeared in weekly inserts and stores obliged with sales. Batteries began going on sale in anticipation of holiday presents that would soon need them. Photo deals started cropping up. Black Friday? Amazon outperformed everybody in my book. Next year? I’m just going to stay home and watch Amazon outdo their competitors’ prices in real time.

Many of the November deals continued for the holidays – in particular canned and baking items. There were a few great deals on Satsuma oranges. Cold/cough remedies continued and the best deals were generally found at Walgreens. While cereal deals could easily be found all year ’round, Chex in particular was found at its lowest price in December. I suspect this has something to do with folks making Chex Mix for the holidays. More deals that you’d expect for the holidays were found – batteries, gift wrap (best deals at the drugstores!), and candy. The photo deals continued and Amazon continued to slash prices – particularly on toys – right up until Christmas Day.

There were some deals that repeated themselves throughout the months and seasons. Why am I pointing these out? Because some you may not need to worry about stockpiling as much – knowing another sale is likely to come.

Air Fresheners (Glade, Airwick)
Diapers (although some deals were certainly better than others!!)

I hope that was helpful to you as you plan for the year ahead. Happy Stockpiling!

Photo credit Bartek Ambrozik

New Home Made Simple booklet available



There is a new Home Made Simple booklet available. Fill out the registration form here and you'll receive a booklet in the mail full of coupons good for P&G brand products such as Swiffer, Dawn, and Febreze. (Thanks, Centsible in Seattle!)

Incidentally, you might also want to sign up for their e-newsletter. Just go here to sign up – it's free to do so. The newsletter gives you advice on caring for your home, recipes, crafts, and more. Plus, you'll be in the know when additional Home Made Simple coupon booklets, samples, and other offers come available. 

Oneida Clearance sale: up to 80% off



Are you in need of some new flatware? Right now, Oneida is having a huge sale with many of their sets as much as 80% off. I found this cute set – "Dylan" (pictured above). It was regularly $80, but it's yours right now for $15.99! This 20-piece set provides service for 4.

Go here to see the year-end clearance sale.  

Use coupon code DTSH for $1.99 shipping, or get free shipping if your order is $99 or more.  

Go through
Ebates to earn 5% cash back on your order – plus you'll get $5 in your account if you're a new Ebates customer. All it takes is an email address and password you create to get started. Your cash back is deposited quarterly into your PayPal account. Once in, just search for "Oneida" and follow the link and shop as usual!