I was listening to the radio when I heard Bill Engvall doing his “Here’s your sign” routine. If you’re not familiar with the act, he tells stories about conversations he has with people who sometimes don’t use common sense.
I have been writing this column, been featured on WKYT-TV, and been teaching classes on saving money and couponing for more than five years. I have heard lots of stories to which I want to say, “Here’s your sign.”
Let’s start with a question I get asked often: How do you know how to save money? I tell people that it is basic common sense. I didn’t learn it in college, and I don’t have a financial degree. I learned a lot from my mother and grandmother, but most of what I know is from being observant and organized.
Let me share some of the “Here’s your sign” situations I’ve confronted, and how I’ve handled them.
I don’t have any extra money at the end of the week
“Here’s your sign” — Review your expenses to see if there are ways you can reduce spending. It can easily start with where you get your coffee in the morning — making it at home is far cheaper than buying it at a coffee shop or fast-food restaurant. What do you have for lunch each day? If you eat out, it’s costing you more than if you make a sandwich at home. How much does it cost to go out to lunch every day? It depends. Buying lunch can run from $4 for, say, a cup of soup and a roll, to $15 or more for a restaurant lunch or some take-out sushi. Let’s average it at $10 a day. That adds up to about $2,400 a year.
I stopped by the grocery store for a gallon of milk, which cost $2.79
“Here’s your sign” — Kroger often puts items on sale, 10 for $10. That doesn’t mean you have to buy 10 of the same item, it just means that the item is $1. Half gallons of milk are often put in this sale, making each half gallon $1, so buying two half gallons for $2 will save 79 cents. If you can, plan ahead to make purchases like this so you don’t run out of milk and aren’t stuck in this situation.
I just purchased 20 Sunday papers so I can get 20 coupons for bottles of mustard
“Here’s your sign” — First, no one needs 20 bottles of mustard. Remember, products do expire. If you’re trying to save money using coupons, it’s best to use them when items are on sale. And it’s best to use them for backups of essential items — soap, shampoo, toilet paper, etc. This practice will stop you from driving to the store when you run out and then having to pay the full retail price.
I don’t know how to cook so I have to go out to dinner
“Here’s your sign” — Most grocery stores cater to busy people. Most sell rotisserie chickens along with bagged salad and frozen vegetables, giving you dinner for your family plus maybe leftovers. Purchasing items like this at the grocery is generally cheaper than going to a restaurant. Plus, you get to sit down as a family for dinner, which can be priceless.
Don’t know how to cook? Many places teach cooking classes. Williams Sonoma in Fayette Mall offers cooking technique classes throughout the month. Call your local store at 859-272-5856 for information.
I only use Crest toothpaste because I like the taste
“Here’s your sign” — This week at Rite Aid, Colgate toothpaste is $3.50. In Sunday’s newspaper was an in-ad store coupon for $3. Use it, and print out a 75-cents-off coupon at the Colgate website, and you can get the Colgate item for free. What is smarter financially: to buy Crest toothpaste for $3.50 for the taste, or to buy the Colgate toothpaste for free?
I don’t have the time to print out or clip coupons
“Here’s your sign” — Fine. Then load the apps for Kroger, CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Kmart and Target on your phone to give yourself the capability to download coupons on your loyalty card or to scan your phone coupon at checkout.
There is no such thing as a freebie
“Here’s your sign” — ValueMags.com gives away new magazine subscriptions every month. You don’t have to give a credit card, and there are no strings attached.
▪ Every Friday, Kroger offers a free product — a free Friday download — that requires you to load a coupon to your loyalty card on Friday, but the free item is available for a week.
▪ Plan on seeing the “Power Rangers” movie? Then go to AtomTickets.com and get buy-one, get-one-free tickets when you enter promo code RANGERSBOGO at checkout. You can download the Atom app and have the theater attendant scan the ticket directly from your phone, so there is no need to stand in line.
▪ Toys “R” Us is hosting a free Disney Beauty and the Beast launch party from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday. Partygoers can build a free Lego Disney Lumière character and take him home.
▪ Unilever men’s grooming products are the official Men’s Personal Care Products of the NCAA. Through April 1, in Target stores and online, when you purchase four select Unilever products you get a free $5 Target gift card. And Target didn’t forget about the women basketball fans. You can earn a free $5 Target gift card on Unilever personal-care items for women, too.
▪ Play the bingo game online at Starbucks and enter code KEEPBINGOIN to get 10 free Starbucks rewards stars.
▪ Learn how to take care of your landscape with the horticulture educational series at Woodford County Extension Service, from 9 to 10 a.m. on the third Tuesday of every month until Dec. 19, at 184 Beasley Drive, Versailles. It’s free. Classes include:
April 18: emerald ash borer update
May 16: tree identification walk
June 20: common garden insect pests and beneficial insects
July 18: managing perennials through pruning
Aug. 15: common yard-tree problems
Sept. 19: home lawns
Oct. 17: nuisance wildlife
Nov. 21: winterizing your garden
Dec. 19: wreath-making with fresh greenery.
▪ Learn how to install wall tile at 10 a.m. Saturday at Home Depot. Register at Homedepot.com/workshops.
▪ Enter the Cheetos “Easter Spin to Win” Instant Win Game through April 16 for a chance to win one of 1,970 great prizes, including outdoor fun sets, Easter baskets and gift cards. To enter, decorate an Easter egg and call 1-888-438-5665 for a code to play.
Deborah Morris’ every-other-week column, The Fru-Gal, can help you get more for less. Go to her website, Fru-gal-friends.com.