Hello. My name is Ida and I am a frugal fraud. There. I said it.

When our family was going through its tightest financial times, I was a cost cutting, value adding, coupon clipping, laundry detergent making (ok so I still do this!) picture of frugality. I swore that our family would be that way through thick and thin. We were going to keep from falling into the trap of lifestyle inflation once our financial picture got rosier. I was wrong.

I slowed way down on couponing and deal shopping. We stopped giving every dollar a job and let it start to trickle out of our fingers, untracked and unaccounted for. We allowed ourselves to justify unplanned spending $10 here… $20 there. We started allowing excuses for unplanned dining out to creep back into our lives… too hot, too tired, too, busy.

Yesterday, I got the estimated bill for my oldest daughter’s first semester of college. After scholarship and student loan offerings, the gap between what is paid and what I have to cover is pretty huge.

The jolt that came from this made me immediately evaluate every dollar I’ve spent in the last several months and I didn’t like what I saw. So, our family is getting back to living on a budget. I’ll be listening to my CDs of Financial Peace University and going through the workbook again.

It’s time to stop Justifying away our money and start making it work as hard for us as we work for it.

Ready. Set. Take Two!

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I have to admit that I’ve been out of the loop with my couponing for a while. Life got busy… schedules were hectic… blah blah blah… I got lazy. I hadn’t realized that so many coupon policies are changing at major retailers!

Wal-Mart, for instance, has never been a store I’ve recommended for shopping with coupons. Their cashiers have always been so negative when it came to trying to redeem coupons, and they were always out of stock on the items I had coupons for. It’s been a while and I was feeling energetic, so yesterday I gave Wal-Mart’s coupon matching list a look on Coupon Mom to see if I could beat the sale prices at the other stores on a couple of things. There was a pretty decent list of Free After Coupon items, and definitely had better prices on the body wash I was looking for.

After printing up my list, gathering my coupons, and bracing myself for impact, I went to the website to print Wal-Mart’s coupon policy to take with me… a MUST for shopping there, because of the pushback that I’ve always gotten over my coupons. I have to say that I was startled to see the comprehensive (and might I say IMPRESSIVE) changes to their policies. Click here to see Wal-Mart’s old coupon policy. I was especially impressed with the fact that they WILLINGLY apply coupon overages to the rest of your purchase OR GIVE YOU CASH BACK!

Here is the current policy (as of 4/13/11):

Walmart Coupon Policy

We gladly accept the following types of coupons*

  • Print-at-home internet coupons
    • Must be legible
    • Must have “Manufacturer Coupon” printed on them
    • Must have a valid remit address for the manufacturer
    • Must have a valid expiration date
    • Must have a scannable bar code
    • Buy one, get one free (BOGO) coupons with a specified price
    • Are acceptable in black and white or color
    • May not be duplicated
  • Manufacturers’ coupons
    • For dollar/cents off
    • For free items (except those printed off the Internet)
    • Buy one, get one free (BOGO) coupons
    • Must have “Manufacturer Coupon” printed on them
    • Must have a valid remit address for the manufacturer
    • Must have a valid expiration date
    • Must have a scannable bar code
    • May not be duplicated
  • Competitors’ coupons
    • A specific item for a specified price, for example, $2.99
    • Buy one, get one free (BOGO) coupons for items with a specified price
    • Have a valid expiration date
    • Are acceptable in black and white
  • Soft drink container caps
  • Checkout coupons (“Catalinas”)
    • Printed at our competitors’ registers for dollar/cents off on a specific item
    • Must have “Manufacturer Coupon” with specific item requirements printed on them
    • Must have a valid remit address for the manufacturer
    • Must have a valid expiration date
    • Must have a scannable bar code
    • Are acceptable in black and white
    • May not be duplicated

We DO NOT accept the following coupons:

  • Checkout coupons
    • Dollars/cents off the entire basket purchase
    • Percentage off the entire basket purchase
  • Print-at-home Internet coupons that require no purchase
  • Competitors’ coupons
    • Dollars/cents off at a specific retailer
    • Percentage off
    • Buy one, get one free (BOGO) coupons without a specified price
    • Double- or triple-value coupons

*The following are guidelines and limitations:

  • We only accepts coupons for merchandise that we sell.
  • Coupons must be presented at the time of purchase.
  • Only one coupon per item.
  • Item purchased must be identical to the coupon (size, quantity, brand, flavor, color, etc).
  • There is no limit on the number of coupons per transaction.
  • Coupons must have an expiration date and be redeemed prior to expiration.
  • If coupon value exceeds the price of the item, the excess may be given to the customer as cash or applied toward the basket purchase.
  • WIC or SNAP items purchased in a WIC or SNAP transaction are ineligible for cash back or application to the basket purchase.
  • Great Value, Marketside, Equate, Parents Choice, and World Table coupons have no cash value and are ineligible for cash back or application to the basket purchase.
  • The system will prompt for supervisor verification for:
    • 40 coupons per transaction.
    • A coupon of $20 or greater on one item
    • $50 or more in coupons in one transaction

Not only has the coupon policy been made more shopper friendly, the entire experience was positive! EVERY item I was looking for was well stocked. The cashier was friendly and engaging. The coupons were accepted with a smile and zero issues. I was thoroughly impressed… and that’s hard to do.

Good Job Wal-Mart! I’ll be back.

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I’ve written a lot about my love affair with Publix. Their stores and sales matched with my coupons make me feel like a conqueror every time I hit the checkout line. Since we’re there at least once a week anyway, when it came to prescriptions we’ve just always gone to Publix.

I mean… I’ve been telling people for years to go to Costco for their prescriptions and reminding them that they don’t have to be a member to use the pharmacy. But actually go there myself? Why would I? I have insurance and the copay is the copay no matter where you go… right? NOPE!

A couple of months ago, I had to figure out how to squeeze another expensive, ongoing prescription copay into the budget (above the $100 in copays we already shell out per month). So, I gathered up everything and did a side-by-side comparison of our current copays to the Costco pharmacy price list. I was stunned at how much less our prescriptions would cost if we just picked them up at Costco when we do our normal monthly milk/eggs/cheese/dog food run. Not only would our out of pocket amount go down for Mark’s prescriptions, but we would now pay $35 LESS for all of the prescriptions (including the new expensive one that we were trying to budget around).

To share with you the prescription price comparisons, I pulled the list of America’s Most Popular Drugs from Forbes and compared the United Healthcare standard copay list with the Costco list price.

Medication – 1 Month

(Standard Dosage)

Prescribed For

UHC Copay

Costco Regular Price

Hydrocodone Apap

Pain Reliever

$ 10.00

$ 13.87

Simvastatin

High Cholesterol

$ 10.00

$ 5.90

Lisinopril

High Blood Pressure

$ 10.00

$ 7.41

Levothyroxine sodium

Thyroid Issues

$ 10.00

$ 9.33

Azithromycin

Antibiotics

$ 10.00

$ 9.63

Metformin

Diabetes

$ 10.00

$ 6.30

Lipitor

High Cholesterol

$ 35.00

$ 110.18

Amlodipine

High Blood Pressure

$ 10.00

$ 50.52

Amoxicillin

Antibiotics

$ 10.00

$ 5.90

Hydrochlorothiazide

High Blood Pressure

$ 10.00

$ 5.90

Omeprazole

Heart Burn

Not Covered

$ 166.59

Alprazolam

Anxiety

$ 10.00

$ 9.43

Furosemide

High Blood Pressure

$ 10.00

$ 8.52

Metoprolol tartrate

High Blood Pressure

$ 10.00

$ 5.90

Atenolol

High Blood Pressure

$ 10.00

$ 6.50

 

As you can see, in the chart above, the list price from Costco is almost always less. If you don’t have insurance, you’re going to save a ridiculous amount of money on necessary prescriptions. If you have insurance, you’ll pay whatever the cheapest price is between the standard list price and your copay. At standard pharmacies and grocery store pharmacies, the prices are almost always higher and fluctuate wildly between locations.

Basically, whether you have insurance or not, moving your prescriptions to your local warehouse club is probably going to save you money on prescriptions. In some cases… a LOT of money.

 

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