Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Coupon Queen Q&A

Readers Share Back-to-School Tips

I planned just one school-themed column, but my readers have sent so many great comments, ideas and thoughts on back-to-school that I wanted to share some of them:

“Dear Jill,

What are your thoughts on schools that ‘pool’ school supplies? Last year, my daughter’s class did this. She spent lots of time picking out folders with fuzzy cats on them, pink sparkly pencils and character notebooks. When the kids got to school, all of the supplies were mixed together in a cabinet. Needless to say, my daughter was devastated, and I was rather irked at spending more on the special supplies she wanted.

Irina P.”

I’ve heard similar sentiments from some of my blog readers, and this appears to be a somewhat common practice. The best advice I can give is to check with your child’s school to determine whether or not school supplies will be pooled in the classroom before you shop. I wouldn’t spend extra money on decorative folders and notebooks if those items ultimately go to a different child.

“Dear Jill,

Every year the list of supplies that my elementary school son needs to bring gets longer and longer. This year my son’s third grade class list requires 16 glue sticks. There are 26 kids in his class. That’s 416 glue sticks for one classroom. Is it even possible to use that many in nine months’ time? I brought this up at registration and I was told that not every kid could afford school supplies, so the list requires more supplies than the room needs. Yes, we can afford to buy some extra glue sticks, but his whole list is like that: 48 pencils, 12 dry erase markers, and 4 scissors. I don’t like feeling like I have to be responsible for the parents who won’t go buy these things for their children. And what happens to the extras? They never come home at the end of the year.

Morgan R.”

While no one wants to see children going without the supplies they need for school, it also doesn’t seem fair to “punish” the people who take the time to buy the required items on their children’s supply lists. The upside is that if you play the school supply game and shop the rock-bottom sales, you can cover the majority of your children’s supplies very cheaply. My children’s lists are almost complete, and I’ve spent less than $5 on each one so far. Many of their items were purchased in the 10-25-cent range by taking advantage of loss-leader sales at office supply stores.

You may consider addressing this issue at a school board meeting. Perhaps there are other resources in the community that struggling families could be pointed toward to help all children get ready for back-to-school. For example, the church I attend holds a backpack drive, filling hundreds of backpacks with donated supplies for each grade. I think this is a win-win, as children have an opportunity to get the supplies they need free of charge and other parents aren’t forced to over-purchase supplies. When penny-and-dime deals are abundant, it doesn’t cost much for many people to contribute to the cause, and it’s one to which I’m always happy to donate.

“Dear Jill,

Our public school got rid of textbooks last year and went to electronic tablets. Our children are also responsible for not breaking the tablets, or we will have to pay over $400 to replace each one if is dropped or something happens to it. Our kids are 5 and 8. Just a heads up as I’m sure we’re not alone, and now this is something else for which parents must budget.

Edward T.”

You’re not alone – my children’s school ditched textbooks for tablets two years ago. I’ve also noticed that as schools transition away from books, backpack and messenger bag manufacturers have kept up with the trend, offering models that feature padded, protected pockets to safely hold the tablets. Depending on your children’s ages, purchasing a bag specifically designed to protect electronics may be a worthwhile investment.

© CTW Features

Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, www.jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to jill@ctwfeatures.com.



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Coupon Queen

How to have success in the Grocery Store!

How to have success in the Grocery Store

1.)    Organize BEFORE you go!!

If you go to the grocery store without a list you might as well be throwing your money away.

2.)    Don’t go to the store hungry

I know this is a common tip but it is true.  If you are hungry when you shop you are more likely to buy more junk food.

3.)    Don’t take your kids shopping

Okay, I know not everyone has this flexibility but it will definitely help if you have the choice. It is really hard for me to concentrate on what coupons I am going to use when I have my kids asking me millions of questions.

4.)    Go to the store during Non-Peak Hours

My favorite time to shop is late at night. Avoid the 5pm rush, paydays and major holidays.

5.)    Give Couponers a good name

  1. Do NOT Hoard – Seriously do you need 100 tubes of toothpaste?
  2. Be nice to the cashiers
  3. Be considerate to those behind you
  4. Don’t commit coupon fraud
  5. NEVER photocopy of a coupon

This Sunday we will be getting 4 Coupon Inserts in The Blade! Make sure to check back on Sunday for coupon match-ups! 

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Coupon Queen

What is a Catalina?

What is a Catalina?

A Catalina is a coupon that prints at the register when you purchase select participating items. They are called Catalina coupons because the machine is ran by Catalina Marketing. The Catalina can be used as a coupon or as store cash (a good example of this is Walgreens Register Rewards.)

There are two types of Catalinas that will print out.

On Your Next Order (OYNO) –

This type of catalina requires you to purchase a certain amount of items to get the coupon. In the example above, when you purchase 4 Totino’s pizzas you will get a coupon for $1 OYNO.  This $1 OYNO can be used as cash on most items in the store. 

Manufacturer Coupon Catalina –

These are regular coupons that print out when you check-out. Sometimes these will be really good coupons. For example, I received a coupon for a FREE Wonka Chocolate Bar at Target a few weeks ago. 

Do Catalina’s Expire?

All Catalina’s will expire. Make sure to look at the top of the coupon to find the expiration date. Typically they will expire about 2 weeks from when you receive.

Is a Catalina a Manufacturer Coupon or a Store Coupon?

Typically Catalina coupons are manufacturer coupons but occasionally you will see a store coupon.  If the Catalina is a manufacturer coupon it will be stated at the top of the Catlina. I received a Meijer store coupon last week that was good for $1.00 off any one deodorant. This is a great coupon because it can be combined with a manufacturer coupon.

Can I use a Catalina at another store?

If the Catalina is a manufacturer coupon then you should be able to use these at other stores. Unfortunately, some stores will not accept the Catalina coupons if they have another store logo on the coupon.  I always tell people to give it a whirl!

What if my catalina doesn’t print?

Sometimes this happens – it may be a broken machine, an error in the system or just the machine being out of paper.  You can always call the Catalina company at 1-888-322-3814. Make sure to have your receipt ready as they will ask you questions about your purchases.  Once you submit your request, they will mail you the missing catalina. I have called on several occasions and they ALWAYS send me the catalina.  You can also email coupon@catalinamarketing.com. They will require your name, address, store location, item purchased, date/time transaction and the catalina you were expecting to receive. 

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Coupon Queen

How to Determine a Grocery Budget

How to Determine a Grocery Budget

This is definitely a question that I get asked on a regular basis.  Determining a grocery budget in the beginning will save you a ton of money and frustration! Now let’s look at a few steps that I recommend you take when determining your grocery budget.  

Step 1: Evaluate how much you spend each week.  Take a look at what you have spent for the last 4 weeks.  This will be a real eye opening experience if you haven’t done it before. Once you know how much you have been spending, take an average.  Next you will want to figure out how much to save.  I would recommend starting out at about 15% per week. This way you don’t sacrifice too much quality in your weekly menus. Also don’t set your budget at half right from the beginning. You need to set realistic expectations. If you set unrealistic expectations you are likely to get discouraged and give up.  If you are new to couponing this is the easiest way to start to see a difference quickly.

Step 2: Pay attention to how much you throw away.  I know this sounds silly but really think about how much you throw away on a weekly basis. Are you throwing away more bananas than you are eating?  If you are throwing away items then you are really just throwing away money. Try cutting back on those items you are throwing away or maybe find a creative way to use them.

Step 3: Start Menu Planning.  This alone will save you a ton because you will be buying what you need rather than buying what looks good. This eliminates those last minute shopping trips which results in over spending.  In order to make meal planning successful, you need to plan each week’s menu based around what is on sale that week.

Step 4: Shop with Cash.  It is much easier to justify over spending when you are using a debit or credit card. Put your weekly grocery allowance in an envelope each week. Then only use what’s in that envelope. When it’s gone it’s gone.  You will see very quickly how easy it is to overspend.

Here is a good guideline to start your budget

1.)   Week 1: Determine what you currently spend. Know your weekly budget.

2.)   Week 2: Start to plan your meals – check what you have in your pantry and freezer then go to the sales ad to plan your meals.

3.)   Week 3 and on: Start building your stockpile. Once your stockpile is complete you should only be purchasing needs and great deals each week. 


Let me know how it goes! If you have questions or get frustrated – let me know! I am here to help you succeed. 

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Coupon Queen

Stockpiling 101: How to build a Stockpile to save money

Stockpiling 101: How to build a Stockpile to save money

A stockpile is simply buying more than what you need for immediate use when prices are extremely low, so you don’t have to pay full price in the future. Stockpiling is the KEY to successful couponing!

Here are my tips for building your stockpile.

1.)    Buy only what you like and will use


It is important that you only stockpile items that you know your family will actually use. Don’t buy 20 bottles of salad dressing that your family has never tried before. My husband only uses Degree Deodorant so I will not stockpile other brands of deodorant, even if it’s free. By purchasing that deodorant I am just preventing someone who could actually use it from buying it. Unless you plan on donating those 100 tubes of free toothpaste there is no point in purchasing them.


2.)    Buy Multiples of Items


To start a stockpile you will need multiple coupons. In order to get multiple coupons, you will need to purchase multiple Sunday papers. I recommend purchasing 4 Toledo Blade Sunday papers each week. We have an awesome Coupon Queen special right now where you can purchase additional Sunday papers for $1.00 each. 


3.)    Sales Cycles


Know the stores sales cycles. Most products typically go on sale every 8-10 weeks. If you 8-10 weeks of items when they go on sale, you will have enough to last you until the next sale. If your family goes through 1 box of cereal per week then you would need to purchase 10 boxes of cereal to last your family until the next sale.


4.)    Watch expiration dates


Make sure to keep an eye on the expiration dates of items in your pantry. Make sure rotate the older items to the front when you purchase more. Keep in mind that everything has an expiration date – even toothpaste!


In closing, I really want to encourage you not to go overboard when you start stockpiling. It is very tempting to purchase tons of items when they are free. Just remember the product will go on sale again! 

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Coupon Queen

How to read Coupon Match-Ups

Welcome back!! I hope you are enjoying your couponing journey with me! This week we are going to learn how to read my coupon match-ups. 

So what does coupon match-up mean? A coupon match-up is when you take the sales circulars from The Blade and match up the best prices with coupons that are available.  That is how you are going to find the best deals on items – not by using the coupons as soon as they come out but by holding onto them until you find a great sale to go along with it.

I only match-up items that I think are a good deal. If I see toothpaste on sale for $2.99 that week, I probably won’t be listing it in my match-ups as this is not a good price in my book.

Here is what a typical coupon match-up will look like:

               Nestle Nesquik Pouches – $1.09
               $0.50/1 Nestle Product – 6/5 RP
               Final Price: $0.09

So the example above lists the product – in this case Nesquik – and the sales price at the store. The next line will show the coupon available for that particular product.  The coupon match-up will list out the value of the coupon and will tell you what insert the coupon came from. In this case, the Nesquik coupon was for $0.50 and came from the 6/5 Red Plum Insert.  The last line will tell you the final price of the item at that particular store. In this case, Kroger doubles coupons up to $0.50 so this coupon is actually worth $1.00 making the item $0.09 after coupon.

So the next question is – What is a Red Plum Insert?  Each week The Blade will have coupon inserts from different companies.  Typically The Blade will have a Smart Source and Red Plum Insert each week. Once a month you will receive a Proctor & Gamble and occasionally you will receive a General Mills Insert.  Here are the abbreviations that I will use for these inserts.

                SS  - Smart Source

                RP – Red Plum

                P&G – Proctor & Gamble

                GM – General Mills

I hope this helps you understand how to read my coupon match-ups. Please feel free to email me if you have questions.  Make sure to check back on Sunday. This is when the coupon matchups are posted!

You can find my blog at www.savingmoneyintoledo.com where I post many money saving deals each day. 

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Coupon Queen

Coupon Organization

Hello fellow Couponers!! I hope you were able to score some great deals this week. This weekend we will see 4 Coupon Inserts. This means TONS of great deals!! Make sure to check back on Sunday for a few of my favorite deals!

Moving on to lesson #2 – Coupon Organization

Being organized with your coupons is probably the most difficult and time consuming part of couponing.   However, proper coupon organization is the key to your success.  There are many different methods of organizing your coupons.  There isn’t a right method of organizing your coupons, do what works best for you. I personally use the binder method because I am a very visual person. I like to see what coupons I have available and have them with me every time I shop.

1.)   Binder Method:  This is simply a binder that you purchase at the office supply store – either zippered or non-zippered.  Stick some baseball card holders inside to hold the coupons.  Use tab dividers to separate your binder into categories like Frozen Foods, Refrigerated Foods, Breakfast, Baby and more. Each Sunday clip all the coupons from The Blade Coupon Inserts. Once filed, you will be able to easily view what coupons you have and they will be neatly organized by category. Most people who use this method cut out every coupon in the Sunday paper.  I only clip the coupons that I know I will use. For example, we don’t have cats so I don’t clip cat food coupons. 


PROS: Your coupons will always be with you and readily available.  This allows you to snag last minute clearance items, price drops or unadvertised sale items.


CONS: There is an initial cost associated with purchasing the supplies. It takes a lot of time to cut and organize hundreds of coupons each week. It is also an ongoing project staying on top of expired coupons.


2.)   Filing Inserts by Date: The filing method is definitely the easiest method of coupon organization. Just be prepared that you may miss out on a deal now and then by not cutting out all of the coupons.  Each Sunday when you get The Blade coupon inserts, take a sharpie and write the date on the front.  Then file them in a large folder by date. Each week when you make your shopping list you will only clip the coupons you need. You can easily go back and find the coupons you want by using the Saving Money Network Coupon Database or from my weekly coupon match-ups.  


PROS:  This method saves A LOT of time!  No more spending hours each week cutting out coupons that you won’t use. You are only clipping the coupons you need when you actually need them.

CONS:  Your coupons will not be available to you at all times so you may miss out on clearance items or price drops.


Make sure to check out my blog Saving Money in Toledo for more great deals!!

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Coupon Queen

Hello from The Blade's Coupon Queen!

Hello and welcome to my first post as The Blade’s Coupon Queen!   I am here to help you save MONEY! I personally look at using coupons as an easy way to put extra money into my bank account.

Many people are inspired to use coupons, determined to try it out but then get stuck on where to begin.  I will start from the beginning and guide you through the basics of how to use coupons and how to save money on just about everything!  Each week I will be discussing a new topic and helping you learn how to coupon like a pro. Then on Sunday mornings, you will find a few of my favorite coupon matchups for the week.  

To save money with coupons, you need coupons.  The easiest way to get coupons is through a home subscription to The Blade. I personally pick up at least 4 copies of The Blade each Sunday. It may seem strange at first, but to save a lot of money with coupons you will probably want to get multiple copies of the paper.  Quite often I will give you deals that require you to have 2 of the same coupon. Hint Hint…. This Sunday will be one of those times.

So, are you ready to begin this couponing adventure?

Lesson #1: What is a Manufacturer Coupon?

If you want to become successful in couponing, you must first understand what a coupon is and how it works. Manufacturer coupons are the coupons that come in the Sunday paper.  These coupons are made by the manufacturer of the product and will say “manufacturer coupon” on the coupon.  Only one manufacturer coupon is allowed per item.  Now let’s look at the anatomy of the coupon.


A manufacturer coupon will always have a barcode that is scannable. The barcode will either start with a 5 or a 9. If your coupon does not start with a 5 or a 9, chances are it is not a manufacturer coupon.

The barcode tells the register what item is required to purchase in order to redeem the coupon. At some point you will run into the register beeping when the coupon is scanned. Don’t worry, this does not mean you are doing something wrong! Barcodes can sometimes be miscoded or a product can be miscoded in the Grocery Store computer.  

Expiration Date

The expiration date is the final day you can use the manufacturer coupon. If the coupon expiration date is 8/1/2011, the coupon can be used until 11:59 pm on August 1st.

Redemption Value and Terms

The Values and Terms will tell you the number of items and the size that you must purchase in order for the coupon to be valid.  This area may also include exclusions such as types, sizes or colors. 

Other Terms

Here are just a few of the most common Consumer Terms:

One coupon per transaction – this means you may use one like coupon per transaction. If you want to purchase 2 of these items, you will need to complete 2 different transactions.

One coupon per purchase – this means one coupon per item purchased not per transaction. If you want to purchase 10 items you can use 10 manufacturer coupons.

Congratulations! You made it through the first lesson!  Next week we will discuss Coupon Organization.

Make sure to check back on Sunday for the coupon Match-Ups. Here are just a few of the deals that you will find.

              FREE Irish Spring Deodorant
              Toothbrushes as low as $0.20
              FREE Toothpaste

Make sure to check out www.savingmoneyintoledo.com for additional money saving tips!!

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