Check out my Black Friday cheat sheet and expert tips on the new Frugalista

I posted a lot of great stuff over on Chicago Shopping on the new Frugalista blog to help you save the most money possible on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Check it:

If nothing else, you should come over to Chicago Shopping to check out my cute new photo. Thanks to those of you who have followed me over, and to the rest of you, we miss you guys!

Frugalista's new home (Please read this post to avoid being confused and lost in the future!)

Guess what? I have news.

No, I'm not pregnant. (And as an aside to all women of childbearing age out there -- don't you get tired of qualifying every announcement of news by assuring the public that you're not expecting again?)

The news is, Frugalista is moving. This blog is leaving ChicagoNow and settling at ChicagoShopping, a new Tribune Web site that's all about, well, shopping. You'll find me at If you don't remember the URL, at this point you can also find Frugalista by selecting "Tips and Advice" from the tabs at the top of the page. There you should see a section called "Frugalista deals" and a list of my latest posts.

What does this mean for you? 
First of all, it means you can still get all the posts you expect from me: your Wednesday grocery sale write-ups with coupon match-ups, your Sunday ad summaries, heads-up on good Chicago daily deals, freebies and any other screaming deals that cross my path. I'll probably even be adding new features. 

So don't worry about that. Frugalista is not ending. Just moving. And in fact, the old Frugalista posts will still be searchable right here on ChicagoNow. You'll just have to go to ChicagoShopping to read the new stuff.

You will have to adjust your browser bookmarks or whatever you usually use to find me. If you're a subscriber, you can subscribe on the new site by clicking the RSS button near the top of the page or just clicking here. And if you want to get the full benefits of the ChicagoShopping site (see below), it is one more thing you have to register for. But they do let you use your Twitter or Facebook account to sign in, so it's pretty painless. And you do not have to register to read Frugalista.

Oh -- one drawback. You won't be able to comment on most post on the new site -- at first. They'll be adding that functionality within a month or so. But don't worry; I'm setting up a Facebook page and you can do your interacting there. 

What does this mean for me, the Frugalista?
This is a good thing for me. After a year and a half of trying to make some income as a blogger, I am now a Chicago Tribune employee with a regular part-time salary. I even get a cubicle at the Tower where I can periodically escape from my children for hours and hours of uninterrupted productivity!

Which, by the way, is also a good thing for you. There will be more writing coming from the Frugalista from now on; stay tuned at the new site for more news on that.
Oh, it also means I have a new email address: ckirby AT tribune dot com. I'd love to hear what you think about the new site and share any concerns you might have.

What is ChicagoShopping, again?
Besides content from me and such Tribune luminaries as Ellen Warren (love her!), ChicagoShopping has a whole bunch of deals on it. Did that get your attention?

It will have a daily deal under the heading Overwhelming Offers, although that feature is still in beta. It has coupon codes, like this one for $15 off a $75 order at Foot Locker.

ChicagoShopping also sells gift certificates to restaurants, and yesterday the Trib emailed out a coupon code to take 40% off the face value of any of these gift certificates. The code, good through the end of today, is TRIBUNE40.

It doesn't matter to me whether you sign up for ChicagoShopping and use the offers there, or whether you go straight to Frugalista. The new Frugalista blog won't be talking up the deals on ChicagoShopping at the expense of other deals out there. Promoting ChicagoShopping isn't part of my new job; my new job is just to write about deals that I find everywhere. Like I do now. Just in a cubicle instead of at Dunkin' Donuts. (OK, I will still be doing a lot of my posts from Dunkin' Donuts.)

So ... see you soon! I'll be posting this week's grocery deals at Jewel-Osco and Dominick's on the new site later this afternoon.

My $100 grocery budget: Stayed just barely under

Here's how I fed my family of five on less than $100 in the Chicago area this week:
I spent $94 on groceries, leaving $6 for me to add to my "buy a cow" fund. That fund now stands at $123.

Continue to see what I blew that $94 on.
Continue reading...

Do you use your smart phone to grocery shop?

When I got a smart phone this summer, one of the reasons I wanted it was in order to scan bar codes at the grocery store and hopefully use one of the apps out there to save money. I didn't fantasize that I would save enough to pay the data plan fee, but, well, I thoght it would be neat. 

A couple of billing cycles later, and the only times I've turned on my phone in the grocery store is to use the calculator (nothing like replacing a 99-cent tool with one that retails for $600, lol!) or to send a Tweet about a sale or a price.

It's time to roll up my sleeves and get into these grocery apps that I've heard about. So, which ones should I try?

Do you use any of the smart phone apps out there to keep track of prices, or to manage any other aspect of your grocery shopping? I'd love to hear if any of you have experience with any of them. What apps have you downloaded, and were they useful? 

Here's a list of all kinds of apps I've seen mentioned in the media. Do me a flavor and leave a comment if you've used any of these, or if you have a different one you've tried. I haven't sorted out which are for iPhone, Droid, Blackberry, etc.

Grocery Gadget 
Grocery iQ (
Our Groceries 
Grocery King 
Price Book Comparison Shopper 
Google Shopper 
CompareMe/Unit Price Compare

If nothing you tried was worthwhile, comment on this: What would be the ideal grocery shopping app?

Do you use your smart phone to grocery shop?


When I got a smart phone this summer, one of the reasons I wanted it was in order to scan bar codes at the grocery store and hopefully use one of the apps out there to save money. I didn't fantasize that I would save enough to pay the data plan fee, but, well, I thoght it would be neat. 

A couple of billing cycles later, and the only times I've turned on my phone in the grocery store is to use the calculator (nothing like replacing a 99-cent tool with one that retails for $600, lol!) or to send a Tweet about a sale or a price.

It's time to roll up my sleeves and get into these grocery apps that I've heard about. So, which ones should I try?

Do you use any of the smart phone apps out there to keep track of prices, or to manage any other aspect of your grocery shopping? I'd love to hear if any of you have experience with any of them. What apps have you downloaded, and were they useful? 

Here's a list of all kinds of apps I've seen mentioned in the media. Do me a flavor and leave a comment if you've used any of these, or if you have a different one you've tried. I haven't sorted out which are for iPhone, Droid, Blackberry, etc.

Grocery Gadget 
Grocery iQ (
Our Groceries 
Grocery King 
Price Book Comparison Shopper 
Google Shopper 
CompareMe/Unit Price Compare

If nothing you tried was worthwhile, comment on this: What would be the ideal grocery shopping app?

Photo by See-Ming Lee, used via Creative Commons license.

Jewel-Osco one-day sale and my shopping trip today (free fries!)



Jewel-Osco is having a one-day grocery sale in the Chicago area today, and here are the prices:

Golden Gate wine $2.50 (Take it from me, an expert -- you're not likely to find a drinkable bottle of wine for less than that. And I've had GG -- it's drinkable.)

73% lean Jewel ground beef 3 lb. chub $5.07 ($1.69/lb.) meh -- who wants such fatty beef? limit 4

Jewel sugar 5 lb. $1.88, limit 1

Mayer Brother's Apple Cider 128 oz. $2.99, limit 2

Betty Crocker Helpers 89 cents (weren't these just like, free in the last Catalina deal? yawn.)

No rain checks, today, Tuesday, Oct. 26 only.

After the break: More Jewel-Osco updates from my trip there today.

Continue reading...

Problems with using coupons at Target

Save even more? Sounds like folks who bring their coupons to Target lately are saving even less.

I have heard about problems using coupons at Target for the last several months. You readers have reported it to me, and there's been shatter out there in the dealosphere.
Today, Chicago coupon queen Jill Cataldo has a very clear explanation of some new problems with the way coupons scan at Target, which are costing shoppers money. If you are planning to do the Schick Hydro or Glade gift card deals at Target this week, definitely read Jill's post before venturing out.

This TV news story shows that customers have been complaining to Target about similar problems at least since August.

Personally, all this talk has made me reluctant to try coupon deals at Target. The same products are often offered for free or as moneymakers at Walgreens or CVS around the same time they are offered at Target, and I don't have to get in my car and drive to those stores.

Have you experienced these Target coupon problems? Did you complain to customer service? I thought it was interesting in the TV story I linked to that customer service reps always said it was the first they'd heard of the problem.

Drug Store Updates: Money-Making Alka-Seltzer, Possible Free Tuna, Cheap Diapers

I wrote up the highlights of the CVS and Walgreens deals as part of the Sunday Chicago Tribune ads post, but here are a couple of updates:

  • Make $2 buying Alka-Seltzer at Walgreens. Mashup Mom explains how.
  • Four-day sale coming Wednesday will get you a free Fullbar and a free Balance Bar after Register Rewards, according to I Heart Wags.
  • Cheap Huggies diapers at Walgreens. They're on sale for $7.99, paying $1 ECB, and there is a coupon for $3/1 the Pure & Natural variety in the 9/26 SmartSource, or a $2/1 printable for Little Snugglers. (I think the diaper deals on Amazon lately are even better than this, but if you can't wait, go to Wag's.)
  • Possible free tuna. Money Saving Mom points out that there was a coupon for $1/2 cans Bumble Bee tuna in the 9/12 SmartSource, and it's on sale for 49 cents a can at CVS this week.

Caveat: I do not know if the specific varieties of some of these products listed on the coupons are included in the sales, but in my experience it often doesn't matter. The coupon might show one flavor of Huggies, but it will probably work on any old kind.

Image source: Walgreens.

Trade in your ramen noodles for a half-price lunch


Here's an amusing promo: On Tuesday and Wednesday this week, bring in a pack of dehydrated ramen noodles to Pei Wei Asian Diner in Chicago's Logan Square, and they'll give you half off one of their new ramen bowls. 
You should be able to get a pack of ramen from the grocery store for around 20 cents, and these Pei Wei bowls normally cost $8.95, so you're spending a quarter or less to save about $4.50.
They'll donate your dried ramen to a food bank, and you get to enjoy something more upscale for a change.*
Pei Wei is at 2709 N. Elston Ave., and their phone number is 773-687-0290.

* By coincidence, I had the last pack of ramen in the house for lunch alongside a squash half. So, no trade-in for me.

If you love Target: Store credit card will now give you 5% off every day

I got a little mailer that using Target's store credit card or debit card will now get you a 5% discount on everything, every day, in store or online. That's better than most rewards cards, I think, because:

1) It's a discount, not a reward. So you won't have to wait for your payoff and you won't have to remember to cash it in like a miles rewards card.
2) Since it lowers your purchase price, you'll pay less tax, too.
3) 5% is better than most of the rewards you see. Like, an airline mile is worth about 2 cents, so if you get one mile per dollar, you're only getting a 2% reward.

I haven't examined every little detail of their credit card terms or interest rate. If you really want to do a good job comparing rewards cards, compare them on BillShrink. But personally, my abiding love for Tar-zhay is currently compelling me to go check if that RedCard we opened to get a discount on the Xbox is still open. At least for buying Target's daily deals, why wouldn't I use it?

Body Shop Groupon deal

Update: It's The Body Shop. I bought one; love their body butters, and that has got to be good for a Christmas gift.

Groupon sent this email out to its affiliates this weekend:

Okay, I can't tell you who or what...but there is going to be a really good Groupon featured this coming Monday. It's $20 for $40 at a popular brick and mortar store...offline redemption only. It's NOT the Gap.  I can't say anything else, but I'll be buying and gifting a few myself, that's for sure. 

So, check your Groupon first thing in the morning, or even in 90 minutes if you're staying up late. One of my Tweeps bets it's a home goods store. Pottery Barn?

Two great Gregory Karp pieces in the Sunday Trib

How big of a saving-money nerd am I? I have become a major fan of Gregory Karp, who writes a column called Spending Smart for the Tribune.* Recently two of his books became available for free download on Kindle, I grabbed them, and halfway through The 1-2-3 Money Plan I can say it's an extremely helpful book that cuts down on the feeling of overwhelmed panic I get when confronted with all the personal finance loose ends I should have tied up but haven't.

Today, he's got two helpful pieces in the Sunday Trib:

Big price clips: Retailers expected to offer good discounts this holiday season -- and here's how to find them -- covers all the Web sites you'll wanna hit to get coupons before you shop, plus some lesser known tips like using smart phone price comparison apps and looking for coupons on the mall Web site before you go.

Get a clear picture of savings: Antenna users can save money and get terrific high-definition reception -- Funny I read this today because Epu was watching football all day on his computer with a USB tuner/antenna and the picture was amazingly great. On the downside, when I bumped the antenna from the one perfect spot, the picture completely disappeared. I wrote about ways to live without cable TV myself on Wise Bread once, and by the way that post was included in Wise Bread's book, 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget.

(Guess I'm a little jealous of Mr. Karp's publications and had to tout that I helped write a book too. Heh.)

* Even though this blog is sort of part of the Tribune media empire, they don't tell me to link to Tribune stories all the time. It's just that, well ... I'm intellectually incurious and scarcely have to to read anything else. There. Said it.

Stocked Up for Halloween at CVS

Does that look like enough candy for Halloween? Well, I'll probably get at least two more bags next time I come in, to use up a coupon that printed out at the end of my receipt today.


You can't see the Snickers, but this is 11 bags of "fun size" M&Ms and Snickers, each about 9-10 oz., at $1 a bag after combined store and manufacturer's coupons. They're priced $2 a bag through Tuesday, and I used a $1/2 store coupon and two $.50/1 peelie manufacturer's copuons on each pair of bags.

Is that actually a good deal, about 10 cents an ounce or slightly more? I sure hope so. Even the Frugalista sometimes does not have time to do extensive price research, so if I find out that I could have bought 60-oz. bags for $5 each I'll be annoyed. Oh well, I also got to burn ExtraBucks by buying them at CVS, so that's always a plus.'

Last year I got all my candy for free or close to it through Kmart Super Doubles. But still, $10-$15 for all of it ain't bad. 

How much did you spend -- or do you plan to spend -- on Halloween candy?

Sunday Ads and Coupons Oct. 24

On the front of my Tribune there's a coupon sticker for free fried mushrooms at Brown's, the chicken place.


Parade has a copuon for a free Doublicious sandwich with the purchase of a 30-ounce drink. Does that seem wierd to you? I think it's weird that they even SELL a 30-ounce tub of pop, much less that they're going to try to make me buy it in order to get my free sandwich. I pass.There's also a coupon for $2/1 Cover Girl & Olay Simply Ageless product.

SmartSource has a coupon for a free Birds Eye Steamfresh Lightly Sauced or Whole Grain blends when you buy one Birds Eye Steamfresh (which is frozen vegetables with rice); $1.50/1 Tully's coffee.

RedPlum has $2/1 Millstone coffee,$10/1 Nicorette, $1/1 Neutrogena hand & body lotion.


For CVS, see my post about getting Halloween candy for $1 a bag. Bumble Bee tuna is 49 cents a can. Milk is paying $1 Extra Buck again, with the same $2.79 price. Limit 2. that's the best stuff I see -- not much going on there.

Walgreens has FREE after Register Rewards items: Colgate Sensitive toothpaste @ $3.49, Contac Cold & Flu 28-ct. @ $6, Children's Mucinex @ $6.99, Chestal Adult Cough syrup @ $6, Pill Glide Swallowing Spray @ $5.99. (Um, what? Gross!)

Wag's also has an in-ad coupon for a 24-pack water bottles for $1.99. Quaker Quick Oats are $1.50 for the 18 oz. cannister, so if you still have a $1/1 coupon get it out. Dole mixed fruit cups are $1.50 for a 4-pack. Scotch tape is 49 cents with in-ad coupon.

Wag's Coke deal: There's a Register Rewards offer for $5 RR when you spend $20 on products including, among other stuff, 12-packs of Coke @ $3 apiece. If you want to stock up on Coke, buy 7 12-packs for $21. After the $5 RR, that's $2.29 each, a sale price that you practically never see.

Kleenex is 89 cents for a 78 or 110 pack. Use the $.50/3 coupon from the 10/3 SmartSource to get them for 39 cents apiece.


Dominick's is advertising a Catalina deal on Sobe: buy 10 20-oz. bottles, get a $5 off coupon for your next order. There's a "buy 3 save $3" offer that gets you Marie's 12 oz. dressings for $1.49 and 10-oz. bags of Monterey mushrooms, also $1.49. See the whole weeks' Dominick's deals from the Wednesday flyer.

Value packs of 93% lean ground beef are buy one, get one free.

Jewel-Osco -- I didn't notice anything great that's new. See the whole week's deals from the Wednesday flyer.


Target has Halloween-colored plastic storage tubs for $4.30. Maybe it's just cause that's all I need, but that's the only exciting deal I'm seeing this week.

There's an Ulta Beauty flyer with a coupon for $3.50 off a $10 purchase.

Menards has free after mail-in rebate items: free reusable shopping bag after 98 cent MIR, free U-snap vinyl gutter after $3 MIR. Finch food bird seed is $3.98 for a 7-8 lb. bag after $3 MIR. And, hey: knit hats are on sale for 79 cents.

Carson Pirie Scott has a coupon for an extra 25% off regular or sale price apparel or fine jewelry, and lesser discounts on other stuff.

World Market will give you a free tote bag with purchase of $10 or more.

Buy your Halloween candy at CVS by Tuesday

Listen up, people. CVS has a very good deal on Halloween candy through Tuesday. Bags of "fun size" Hershey's, Mars, Nestle or Wrigley's brand candies 9.34-12.5 oz., or Twizzlers 22 oz., are on sale for $2 each, limit 6.

Scan your CVS card at the in-store coupon printer, and you may get a coupon for $1 off two of these bags. Or, you might get $1 off ONE. If you've been scanning your card recently, you may have already gotten one or more of these coupons. I have several of each sitting in my coupon file.

I also have a $1/2 M&Ms coupon from some other store, probably Jewel. But there were actually sticky coupons right on the M&Ms at my store for 50 cents off apiece. (My store had already started the sale price tonight so I bought two bags, but once I get my coupons in order I'll be back for more tomorrow.) There's also a coupon in the 10/10 RedPlum.

Assuming you buy two bags for $4, use one store coupon for $1/2 and two peelies for 50 cents off each, you'll be paying $2 for two bags.  A buck apiece is probably as good as you'll see for a 9-oz. bag of Halloween candies, no?

If you got a $/$$ coupon from CVS in your email this week, hurry out and use it tomorrow since those Thursday coupons expire on Sunday.

Free Shipping on Snapfish and Vistaprint = Get Almost Free Stuff Shipped Free

Snapfish is offering free shipping on all orders through Sunday with the coupon code EXTRAFS10. If you have an account, you might want to just check to see if you have any credits for free items. I had 20 free prints and a "customer service credit" for a free flip book. I don't remember how or why I got those, but there they are.

Or, Money Saving Mom has a link you can go through to get 50 free prints on a new account. Order this weekend with that code, and you'll get the free prints shipped free.

At VistaPrint, you should get 33% off sitewide and free (21-day) shipping through TODAY 10/23 ONLY if you go through this link. That makes this the perfect time to order some of their free products, like business cards, rubber stamps, checks or postcards.

To get free shipping, your purchase has to be at least $1, so throw in something small and get a whole buncha stuff for that buck!

80% Off Local Attractions With Explore Chicagoland Book

Starting Nov. 1, you can buy an Explore Chicagoland book for $79 that contains entry tickets to 28 local attractions. I like this bit of the Web site text, which makes it clear that these are regular entry tickets and not coupons:

"When we say FREE, we mean FREE - not coupons, buy one get ones, or discounted offers; FREE means FREE!"

You can reserve a copy now, which might be a good idea since only 5,000 will be sold. The attractions include the Brookfield Zoo, the Kohl Children's Museum, Navy Pier IMAX, Raging Waves water park, Sesame Street Live and a bunch of other stuff.

I was considering buying each member of our family a season pass to Great America for $59 for 2011, but ... maybe this would be more enjoyable. Keep in mind that you can get free passes to some of these museums and events from your local library.

Still, this is a steal. If you were able to do all 28 attractions, the $79 price of this book would make for an 80% discount. Not bad at all!

30% Off at Crocs Stores Friday Through the Weekend


Starting at 11:01 p.m. Central Time tonight, get a coupon for 30% off your purchase at a Crocs retail store or online, through Sunday.

Print the 30% off coupon at The DealMap, show the coupon to the cashier on your mobile phone, or use the coupon code DEALMAP30 on

See Crocs' Chicago area stores here.

Thanks to The DealMap for sending me a heads-up about this. They're a local deal aggregator site -- they show you a map with the location of all kinds of Chicago daily and coupons all in one place.

10% Off at Chicago Liquidators Store and Daily Deals Site


I got this email from a nice reader named Monica about her employer, Chicago Liquidators and their deal of the day site, She's offering all of you a 10% discount in the store or on the site. I told you she was nice!
I would love to check this place out sometime. Have any of you been there?

The company I work for, Chicago Liquidators, is one of Chicago's BEST KEPT SECRETS!  We're located at 1830 N. Besly Court near Elston and Cortland, right between Bucktown and Lincoln Park in Chicago.  We have a huge showroom with lots of awesome home and gift items and it is the best deals around or we won't stock it.  I know this because I am the buyer and I don't buy anything unless we can sell it less than any other store.  We're open 6 days a week Monday through Saturday.
Although Besly Court is not on the main road, there is plenty of free parking.  If you ever drive down 90/94 and see that huge Lotto billboard, then you'll know where we are because that billboard is sitting right on top of our building.  
We also run a very popular DEAL of the DAY Website called which offers products as well as deeply discounted coupons for local services (like Groupon but not as big). I've attached both links below.
We're the only site where you can get daily deals on both products and local services. If you buy any products or services on in the next week, use the coupon: frugalista and save 10% through October 31, 2010. Or drop in the showroom and mention Frugalista at the register to receive 10% off as well!

Free 8x10 Collage Print at Walgreens


Through Saturday, Oct. 23, you can get a free 8x10 collage print at with the coupon code 8X10TREAT. These make nice little gifts for grandparents.

Select the "pick up in store" option to avoid paying shipping.

$5 Groupon Gift Card: Hurry, First 50,000 Only


If you haven't signed up for Groupon yet, go to All You magazine's sample site to sign up for a free $5 Groupon gift card. It's available today only, while supplies last -- there are 50,000 of them.

You'll have to agree to receive an email about Groupon's daily deal, which by the way today includes an hourlong massage in Oak Park for just $29.

Free Produce Outside the Tribune Tower -- ALL DONE

Looks like they are packing up the truck now. All done!

Target has a truck parked just outside the Tribune Tower, and they are giving away bags of free produce. Tomato, onion, peppers -- ingredients for salsa. The line was short. If you work downtown, check it out.

Jewel-Osco Catalina Deal: The Reckoning

Here's all the stuff I got in the General Mills Catalina deal at Jewel-Osco this week:


I THINK that's 14 brownie mixes, 18 boxes frozen vegetables, 13 boxes Simply Gogurt, 12 tubes Pillsbury rolls, four tubes Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, five boxes Cheerios, three boxes Reece's cereal (oh, one got eaten already so it's not in the picture), 5 boxes Golden Grahams, four boxes Totino's pizza rolls and 17 cans Progresso soup. I forgot to get all the soup out of the cupboard to put it in the picture.

Here's what it cost me: $70.37 minus the $50 in Catalina coupons I have left over = $10.37.

Twenty bucks for 95 grocery items. See why I go out of my way to shop these deals a few times a year? Some people may say this is excessive, but it's not as if we're going to eat it all in a couple of weeks. Every time we need a box of cereal or a treat or a quick lunch for the next several months, we hit the pantry or the freezer. And when I shop, I don't buy cereal or frozen vegetables.

Next week is the last week of our CSA box. And although I am a major CSA, organic produce, whole food believer, a big part of me can't wait until I don't have to wash and chop all those vegetables and I can just grab a box of frozen from my stockpile.

Don't tell Michael Pollan.

P.S. If this makes you want to learn how to shop the Catalina deals at Jewel and find out why they offer such incredibly cheap food, read my Catalina shopping guide.

Dominick's Deals and Coupon Matchups for the Week of Oct. 21

Dominick's grocery deals this week: I'd drop by for bananas and barbecued meat.


Lloyds shredded pork or beef tub 18 oz. $2.99 (use $1/1 from many SmartSource inserts: 
1/27, 5/18, 6/29, 8/26) I've never tried it but for $1.99 I might. Never seen it this ceap.

Buy one, get one free pumpkins at $6.99

Snapple 12-pack $4

Doritos $1.79

Continue reading...

Jewel-Osco Deals Week of Oct. 21

The first thing I want to note in the Jewel-Osco flyer is that there are price changes in here on items included in the ConAgra Catalina deal. If your Jewel tends to get prices up ahead of time, like mine does, this could affect your deal, for better or for worse.
For instance, Betty Crocker fruit snacks, which were $2 card price, will now be $1.67. The store I visited this morning still had the old price, so I couldn't check to see what the new pre-card price was. If it's still $2.50, you can do a little better buying these now, since the card price is lower. But I would bet that once the card price changes, there will be a new pre-card price too, and if it's lower, it'll throw your scenarios all out of whack. So watch the register you ring these babies up today!

(Green Giant Steamers are also advertised for $2 this week; not sure what they were before.) 
Now, for all this week's sales and deals at Jewel-Osco.

Continue to see this week's sales, BOGO deals and other special offers.
Continue reading...

More Jewel Catalina Transactions and a New Moneymaker Idea

I think I'm done shopping the Jewel-Osco Catalina deal, which ends today. But today I did notice a tempting new item to buy: Pillsbury sweet rolls priced at $4.45 pre-card, $2.50 card price. These are the fancier sweet rolls, some co-branded Cinnabon, and look like so:


Transaction ideas and my transactions today beyond the break.
Continue reading...

Graco Stroller Recall

There's a new Graco stroller recall today affecting 2 million strollers. Affected are certain Quattro and MetroLite strollers, and hey -- the picture in the recall notice at the CPSC? That's my stroller. Or it was until the wheel fell off twice and Epu gave up on fixing it and we put it out with the trash.



The recall affects Quattros made before November 2006 and MetroLites made before January 2007. Apparently four kids have been strangled in these strollers by slipping down and getting their head stuck between the tray and seat.

It's not something I would panic about as a parent. I mean, my heart goes out to any family that loses a child tragically. But if you were assuming that it's safe to put your kid in the seat of a stroller, not strapped in, and walk away, you were wrong. Aside from this particular issue, the kid could get caught in some crevice of the stroller, crawl out and crack their head, get stuck in the canopy mechanism, etc.

But, if you are still using one of these older strollers, certainly check the model number against this page and see if it's part of the recall. You can get a free repair kit from Graco,

Free Paper at OfficeMax: You Can Get This Online



On Sunday I mentioned that the OfficeMax ad in the paper was offering a 10-ream case of paper free again -- you buy it for $39.99, they give you 100% back in the form of MaxPerks. Well, I just got an email from them that pointed out that this deal is also available online. And if you spend $50 or more, shipping is free.

(You can even get 4% cash back if you go through Shop at Home.)

In my opinion, getting restocked on paper for free without even having to haul it in the house is pretty sweet. Honestly, I could barely get a 10-ream case of paper from the bottom of my shopping cart into the back of my car.

If you don't need more than one case of paper, you can jack your purchase up to $50 with some of the other free-after-rebate offers. They are:

12-pack Prismacolor erasable red pencils $7.29

12-pack scented watercolor markers $8.79

12-pack Paper Mate pens $13.99

12-pack Bic Mechanical Pencils $6.99

The paper is limit 3, but the rest of the stuff is limit 6.

Unlike CVS or Walgreens, you don't get your rewards for OfficeMax until the end of the quarter. I did this deal in-store in September, and recently got an email that I had received my MaxPerks. Sure enough, I now have $49.56 MaxPerks. Of course, I couldn't remember exactly how much the various items I had bought cost. It took some clicking around the site before I found a detailed list of my purchases, and there I found out that everything I'd bought had paid MaxPerks as expected, except for a box of Sharpies.

So unlike CVS where you can examine your Extra Bucks and receipt right after you pay, and return anything that didn't produce the expected rewards, with MaxPerks you are probably going to end up stuck with something that didn't work out. I mean, I don't know why my Sharpies didn't pay MaxPerks. I probably got a non-qualifying size or variety. But we have now been using them for a month so it's not like I'm going to return them. I could of course email to complain about it. If I get around to that.

Two More Jewel Catalina Transactions: Spent 75 Cents

Stopped at Jewel today after preschool pickup for more Catalina fun. Looked through my coupons and realized I had a lot of Grands coupons left from the Dominick's "Save $70" booklet (I grabbed a couple of booklets every time I visited the store and now have more than 10). Since the Grands are a moneymaker with coupon, I knew I couldn't let these go to waste.

I bought:

10 Grands $2.50 pre-card, $1.25 card price
2 loaves Brownberry bread (BOGO @ $3.99)
BEFORE coupons: $16.50 + tax
Used 5 $1/2 Grands Qs
AFTER coupons $11.50
paid with two $5 Catalina coupons and change, got two more $5 coupons back
MY COST: $2.50 OVERAGE FOR THE CATALINA STUFF (was absorbed by the bread)

While shopping the Grands (which were completely restocked at the Madison Street Jewel in Oak Park), I noticed a blinkie box with coupons for $1/2 any Pillsbury cookie dough. I also noticed that the Simply dough is tagged for this deal. 

So I grabbed some blinkies and did this:

5 Pillsbury Simply chocolate chip cookie dough @ $3.75 pre-card, $2.50 card price
1 Pillsbury regular sugar cookie dough (they only had 5 Simply) same price
1 box 14 oz. Cheerios $2.75 pre-card, $2 card price
BEFORE coupons $17
Used three $1/2 cookie dough coupons and $.75/1 Cheerios
I paid $13.25 + tax with Cats and a little cash, got two more $5 Catalinas back. 
MY COST $3.25, or 46 cents per item.

Another way of looking at this: I paid 75 cents plus tax for 10 tubes of rolls, one box cereal and six packages of cookie dough.

Wondering how on earth this works? Read up on my guide to Jewel-Osco Catalinas.

Grocery Shopping This Week: Lotsa Free Stuff

This was a Catalina week, which means my grocery shopping looks, well, weird. In fact, my husband  sort of mentioned that we hardly have food in the house. Except for that huge pile of stuff on the table there, most of which is headed for the basement pantry.
Well, when I get done scooping up free and almost-free food in this Catalina deal, THEN I'll have time to buy some regular groceries.

Here's what I bought with my $100 grocery budget this week:

$39 on eight rounds of the ConAgra Catalina deal at Jewel. Why so much, when most of the transactions I did cost less than $3 after Catalina and coupons, or actually made money? Well, there were a few transactions I was nervous about, and did not want to risk losing my Catalina coupon, so I paid cash. I've got $25 in Catalina coupons sitting in my coupon file for future shopping.

(I'll post a summary of everything I bought in this deal when I'm done shopping it tomorrow.)

$3.60 on other groceries at Jewel (pack of hot dog buns, 1 banana, some other little thing)

$3 at CVS on two gallons of milk, 2 cannisters Quaker Quick Oats, and various freebies. (total would have been higher but I both used and earned Extra Bucks there. For my budget, I count the cash I spend only.)

$32, as usual, for our CSA box of produce.

So I spent $78 of my available $100 budget. $22 goes to the "2010 buy a cow" fund, bringing that total up to $117.

What our family of 5 ate on our $100 budget this week:

Wednesday - got Popeyes with my parents
Thursday - lunch - leftover Popeyes, dinner = liver and onions, squash
Friday - ordered pizza
Saturday - dinner = homemade split pea soup with ham hocks, daikon, carrots and leeks; homemade bread
Sunday - breakfast = french toast and fruit, lunch = leftover soup and bread, dinner = homemade beet soup with ham hocks and carrots, homemade squash bread
Monday - breakfast = oatmeal with fruit, cheese, lunch = grapes, leftover soup, granola with yogurt, dinner = frozen wild salmon, whipped organic potatoes, organic broccoli with cheese sauce
Tuesday - breakfast = cereal and pears, lunch = leftover soup, inner = hot dogs with whole wheat buns, whipped organic potatoes, organic squash

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