Is anyone used to writing 2012 yet? Being a stay at home Mom, I don’t normally write the date that much, at least not like when I worked outside the home at a paying job. However, I have been writing the date a lot this month! You ask why? I’ll tell you! My husband and I have been recording the stats for our strolls on the treadmill each day! Yes, we bought one in November, on Black Friday (awesome deal, with no coupon required, only very early rising from the bed), and have been hitting it hard, compared to b.t. (before treadmill). We have come to the realization that no one can help lose the weight for us, but that we have to do it ourselves, if we really want to lose it. We should know this, since we lost weight before Grant was born, including a 50lb combined effort.
This brings me to the topic of today. Over the past several months, I have heard numerous people make such remarks as, “I have no money,” “I live paycheck to paycheck,” “I can’t get out of this,” “I can’t get ahead,” among many other similar comments. While I’ve been called the queen of complaining in the past, and still do my fair share (although I’ve tried to cut down on that habit), I have pondered why all of these people, from various places and positions, are asking themselves the same question. My conclusion is that they haven’t taken drastic measures, or what may seem like drastic measures to them.
I become weary listening to people complain constantly that they have no money, can’t get ahead, and meanwhile, some of them just keep asking for handouts, from anyone that will hand out to them. I hear a lot of these comments made in regard to couponing. “I don’t have time,” is a remark made from many, when I ask them if they know how much money they could save a year. How many hours of TV do you watch? Can you cut coupons while you watch TV? What are your priorities, saving money on household goods and groceries, or stopping by the convenience store on a regular basis to get snacks and drinks? I’m not being ugly, I’m being honest. As a stay at home Mom, I believe it’s my job to help our household save money! Another comment that I hear, “I cut out coupons and then forget them at home.” I ask myself, how could you take the time to do something, and then not remember to bring them? Put them in your vehicle as soon as you cut them out, put the envelope in your purse with your debit card, where you can’t forget them. There are several solutions to this problem.
If you want to be drastic, write down your daily expenses. Do you have any idea how much money you spend per month, and what you spend it on? My husband and I did this several years ago. We took old business cards that we no longer needed, and each day we wrote on the back of a new business card, what money we spent and assigned it to a category. Throughout the month, we transferred this to an Excel spreadsheet and at the end of the month; we knew exactly where we stood on expenditures. This was somewhat of a drastic measure, considering that we had to take time to write things down every day for a month, but it provided us a great picture of where we stood, and showed us things that we could cut back on as needed. Food is a major expense in most households. If it is in yours, too, then quit eating out. Make a meal schedule and know what you’re going to be eating each night, and eat at home. Spending $17-$20 for fast food for the 3 of us is not my idea of a fabulous supper. It depresses me to think that I just spent that much money on junk and it rarely ever happens in our house for supper. One drastic measure I have taken this month is making out a meal plan for the month. It is in Excel, can be adjusted as needed, and I love the idea of knowing what I’m going to be having for supper each night. To me, there is nothing worse than waking up in the morning and having not a clue as to what I’m cooking that evening. I am loving my schedule and once I’ve made it through January, I’m going to be making out the additional months, and if it needs tweaking, it can easily be changed anytime.
In the Bible, it states in 1 Corinthians 9:7, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” I firmly believe that if we give back to God first, then we will be blessed beyond our own comprehension. We have witnessed this many times for ourselves, over the years. I urge those of you who are finding that times are hard, to give first, and with a cheerful heart, and as a result, you will reap the benefits of being a cheerful giver. Start small and you will see results. You will be helping yourself, as well as helping others! What drastic measures are you willing to take in 2012, to help yourself?
My mom and I are making one of our weekly-ish shopping trips. We’re feeling particularly happy because our favorite Price Chopper cashier–a young lanky guy with long earrings named Nick–is on duty and we have just bee-lined it for his register. We are just about cashed out when a lady gets in line behind us. Enthralled, she watches as Nick carefully scans each of the coupons. Her concentration increases as she notices that we are saving just as much as we are spending. “That’s amazing,” She says. ‘I wish I had time to do that!.”
What that lady–and many people who have had the unfortunate pleasure of getting in line behind us–do not understand is that it doesn’t have to be time consuming. I spend about two hours a week going through websites, clipping and organizing coupons. My shopping trips on a good day usually average about an hour a store. While that seems like quite a bit of time…I am saving at least 50% on almost every trip I do. A normal Price Chopper trip averages between $70-90 saved by shopping the sales and coupons. That’s huge for this family of five where that $70 would be better served going towards preschool tuition or Easter baskets! I’d say that’s time well spent!
Using my own family as an example, I wanted to share with all of you wonderful clip ‘n crazy readers exactly what benefits those 2 hours a week have been:
Healthier eating (We can now afford more fresh produce and meat since couponing)
A more abundant Christmas (toy coupons, Walgreen’s buy one get one toy sale, candy sales, and wrapping supply sales & coupons were a major part of this)
More family time (teaching my mom how to coupon and our weekly shopping trips have brought us closer together)
Learning experiences for my children (my oldest loves to help me pick out coupons and is starting to learn the value of a dollar-this goes to my loving husband, as well!)
Expanding my network (I’ve met many friends through my couponing endeavors, and became closer to some current friends through teaching them the basics)
Considering everything, I don’t think the proper sentiment is “I wish I had time to do that.” In my opinion, its more like “Why wouldn’t you not want to make time for this?”
Some of you may noticed that some of the coupons are only printing with 1 long barcode instead of the traditional shorter UPC bar codes. This is nothing to worry about, this is the start of the new DataBar Coupon Barcodes.
The long Databar Coupon Barcodes have been on coupons for a while long along with the old, shorter UPC Codes. They have done this to transition over to the new longer Databar Coupon Barcode. Here are some things you should know about the new DataBar Coupon Barcodes:
Why the new DataBar Coupon Codes?
Below are some of the reasons for the new code:
The DataBar Coupon is capable of encoding an extremely large amount of information. Some of the additional information included will be expiration dates, product specifics such as size, weight and quantity required. Buy including this information it will reduce the misuse of coupons.
Also, companies have the flexibility to make the coupon value any dollar amount.
How it will effect your Checkout
Once all point of sale systems are updated to accept the new DataBar Code, checkout should be faster and more accurate for the retailer since the coupon can only be used for the product it is intended to be used for. There should be less cashier intervention necessary.
Companies have the option of leaving both of the barcodes on the coupons so you may continue to see some coupons with both barcodes as well as some with only the long new DataBar Code.
Retailers have had about 6 months to update their registers to accept the new barcode. Most of the major retailers have already updated their systems however some of the regional stores may not have done so yet. So, if the barcode does not scan, in most cases, the stores registers are not updated yet. To use the coupon, they simply have to enter in the numbers above the barcode. Hopefully, most retailers will have made the changes or are, at the very least, aware of the changes, and will know to input the code.
Like our previous Anatomy of a Coupon Barcode article, I will update the site with more information on the new DataBar code format as I learn more.
Have you ever wondered which coupon inserts will be in each week’s Sunday paper? Wonder no more – here is your list for the whole year of coupon inserts. Now remember that coupon inserts & the coupons the inserts can vary by regions (occasionally we may get an extra insert for General Mills coupons, Hasbro toys, etc).
Look closely at the barcode on the coupon. That is what tells the computer (cash register) how much credit to give you. The barcode does not always agree with the printed words.
The Double Digit determines if the coupon can be doubled or not. If this digit is a 5 then it can be doubled. If it’s a 9 or 99 then the register will not automatically double the coupon. Make sure to check with your store’s coupon policy on coupon doubling.
The Mfg Number is a unique ID that represents the manufacturer of the product this coupon is good for. This number will match the Mfg Number on the products barcode.
The next three digits after the mfg. # are the Family Code. The manufacturer assigns family codes to each of their products. This three digit number is completely different from the product number used on an item, since many coupons are redeemable on more than one size, color, or form of particular branded product. The family code is the key to validating that a consumer has purchased the correct product.
A zero digit in the family code is used like a wildcard. So, if you know that Product Z is in the 146 family, then you could use any of these family-coded coupons on Product Z: 146, 140, 100, 000. If the family code is 000 then the coupon is good on ANY product from that mfr.
Family code 992 is for “no product verification”. Technically, the 992 is a message to the cash register to not verify whether you bought the item. Its intended use is for things that don’t fall into a ‘regular’ family – like ‘$1 off any Heinz X or Campbell’s Y or BallPark Z’. Wine tags are often 992’s because if you get to save off *any* seafood, there’s no way to know which seafood you will choose, and no other way to encode it.
*WARNING: It is considered coupon fraud to use coupons any in manner other than described in print on the coupon, even if the cash register accepts such coupons.
The 2 digit Value Code tells the cash register how much credit you get for the coupon. The one value code that always raises a flag is 00, which is specifically for checker intervention. No matter what, this coupon will beep – even if it’s a 992. Many stores will also flag frees (01) so that the actual price may be written in. Please look for a Value Code Table at the bottom of this post.
The Check Digit is used by the cash register to help it verify that it scanned the barcode correctly.