23 May, 2012


Okay, here is the cheat sheet for my Florida friends. I can't promise you that this works in other states, but it works here. So here ya go....

I get asked lots of times how I do it. I don't really know, I just do. It started out of necessity and hey, anytime I can SAVE money, I'm all about it. Now I'm kind of addicted. NOW I can shop at Publix, I get MORE than enough, I get NAMEBRAND, and I pay LESS than if I bought generic, or didn't buy the stuff at all (so it seems).  I have been able to give my niece some stuff since she just moved out on her own, helped my 20 year old niece who has a baby due NEXT WEEK ((YAY!!!)), given my mom stuff, donated to our church. It's a really nice feeling. And if everyone is down on their luck, we can say "Ya'll come eat at our place" and not have to worry if we can afford it, or wonder if there will be enough to last the rest of the week. 

We used to shop Aldi's, get what we could at Dollar General, or Dollar Tree, and then do our meat at Winn Dixie. Those days are done! We still get some stuff at those places - but it's just because we like their brand, not because we HAVE to. :)

Before you ask, I started this last August. WHY? Because all the peeps at Dispatch were posting their receipts - and I swear, there's ONE dispatcher there that Publix pays to shop EVERY time she goes to the store! Why the hell was I paying for groceries when I could learn to coupon??

Tonight I was able to SAVE $191.36, and paid $16.33. I know lots of people who say "Yeah, but you gotta buy all that stuff you never use". True, sometimes it DOES work out that way, but I REALLY try not to. Sometimes though if money is tight, you can bet I'll take home 15 bottles of Vitamin A or Gas X if it means a $2.00 overage - that's $30.00 in FREE groceries. 

What DID I get?

30 - broiler pans - $.99 had $1.00 coupon - that gave me $.01 overage for each pan.
20 - cans Alpo dog food - $.65 each - Had 4 $1.00/5 and combined that with 2 $1.50 manufacters coupons found on top of cans. 20 cans were $6.00. .33/each can.
14 - bags Pedigree Dentastix - Buy one get one at $3.59 - used $2.00/1 Publix coupon for each bag I bought, combined with 7 $1.00/2. All that came to -$9.87, that's right, $9.87 in FREE groceries. 
Gracie Toy - $2.99, no coupons. 
4 - Aunt Jamima French Sticks and 2 - Aunt Jamima Pancakes - Buy one get one at $2.79, had 3 $1.00/2, total of 5.37 for all.
6 - Doritos Chips - Buy One Get One at $4.29, 3 $1.00/1 when you buy one manufacturers coupon, combined with a buy 2 Doritos get Free Pepsi Max 2L Publix coupon. ($9.87 total)
3 - Pepsi Max 2L FREE - See above Doritos Deal. (SAVED $5.67)
2 - International Delights Pints of Coffee Creamer - had $1.00/2 manufacturer coupon. ($2.00 total)
5- Sun Drop (winds up being $.50 each)
5- Sunkist (FREE)
5- A&W Rootbeer (FREE)
Soda deal was a little tricky.... Had 5 $1.00/1 Sundrop Manufacturer coupons, Had 5 Buy one Sundrop, get 1 Sunkist Free Coupon from a Publix booklet, Had 5 Buy 2 of A&W, Sundrop, Sunkist, and some others, and get one free. They probably SHOULDN'T have taken that last coupon, but they did. 

I did this in two trips at two different stores. My stores are HEAVILY couponed up here, so I was lucky to do this well on the last day of the ad. 

So, all stuff we will use, and all that would have come to over $200.00 when you combine my savings and out of pocket. 


Sunday paper. Online. 

*My personal tips - I buy the Tampa Tribune. I now buy 10 papers (lots of people buy more), but you should always buy at least TWO papers for every person in your household. You must buy them in TWO'S. WHY? Because at Publix you can use ONE coupon for EACH item - EVEN if it's the FREE one. 

EXAMPLE: Item is Buy One Get One Free and costs $2.00. You will use ONE $2.00 coupon for the one you are paying for, and ONE $2.00 coupon for the free one. So, you are MAKING $2.00 for every PAIR of the item you buy, and you can use that $2.00 for meat or something else that doesn't regularly have coupons. 

* I buy the Tampa Tribune because it is cheaper than the St. Pete Times.

* Don't throw your extra papers away. Recycle them. I have used them in my snake cages, the bird cage, rat cages, packing... it's uses are endless. 


I use a cheat website. Well, it's not really a cheat website, I just call it MY personal cheat website. 


Let me say it again..........


They list the ENTIRE Publix Ad for that week and most every coupon that is out there for each item in the sale. They also tell you the good deals, the freebies, etc. I plan my shopping trip out by these lists.

You can also use: www.iheartpublix.com They aren't as simplified as My Coupon Expert, but they list everything also.  


* It will take you a little while to build up your stock pile of coupon inserts. If you need some that you don't have, you can buy them from websites, or from ebay, ebay also sells single coupons.

* Online coupons usually let you print one or two prints of a coupon. Remember that copying them is FRAUD. You CAN be prosecuted. I have't seen any coupons for criminal lawyers - reproduce them at your own risk.

* Some cashiers, and some of the people behind you can be real assholes when they see you hop in line with a stack of coupons. They can get over it. They are hatin' because they have to pay for all the stuff in their cart. :p BUT, try to warn people that you have a lot of coupons. Couponers are like smokers, give people a chance to move away from you rather than making them suffer through your saving spree. Cashiers will argue with you. If you are right, stand your ground and don't be afraid to ask for a manager. Don't be a jerk either. 

* I don't clip all my inserts. I leave them whole, group them together, and put them in plastic sleeves. When I do my shopping list I pull the whole insert, go through and pull out the page I need in all that particular insert, clip the coupon, put those pages in the front page of the first insert and put the stack back in it's sleeve.

* Couponing is TIME CONSUMING. I was probably in my office for 1.5 hours last night getting my stuff together - it was only that short of time because I was only getting a few things. Yes, that's right 1.5 isn't a long time. There are people that work couponing like they work a part time job - and yes, those are those people walking out with $600.00 worth of groceries that the store paid them to take home. 

* If you have enough overages and you are due cash BACK (yes, this happens too), some Publix will give you the cash, some don't. You can always ask to put it on a store giftcard - it's not like you won't be spending it there again next week!

* Sales go in 8 week cycles. BUY ENOUGH TO LAST YOU 6-8 WEEKS. That means you may think it's ridiculous to buy 8 jars of spaghetti sauce, but it won't be on sale again for 8 weeks. I use two jars when I make sauce, so I have 4 nights worth of spaghetti sauce to use within the next almost 60 days of dinners. Needless to say, I buy as much as I can.

* Familiarize yourself with YOUR stores coupon policy. Publix accepts competitor coupons - but each Publix will take a different competitor. So, I know at this one I have to use my Target coupons, and at that one I have to use my Save A Lot.

* Pick up all the booklets at Publix. Get them all in 2's. (I walk out with like 20, yes, my husband shakes his head when he goes with me.)

* Pull the blinkie coupons. Get them all in 2's. 

* READ YOUR COUPONS. You have to make sure your size in the item is right. Don't try to save a dollar on the .5 oz if the coupon is for the .9 oz, etc. The coupon won't work and then you've got to dig the item out and take it off your total, or even worse, pay full price for it. 

* READ YOUR COUPONS. Some of them say "4 like coupons" or "1 deal per customer". Cashiers are not stupid. Stores are cracking down on the couponing - and the cashiers. If it says 4, don't try to use 6, you'll have to take them off, or pay full price for them. And ONE DEAL means ONE DEAL. Yes, occasionally you will get a cashier that will let you slide, but usually they don't. Deal with it. Do more than one transaction if you have to. It's about saving money.  Saving money pays the rent and electric, saving time, well, that's great too, but it won't pay the rest of your bills... I'm just sayin'....

* Sign up for products online - USE A JUNK GENERIC EMAIL. maryellencoupons or something really simple. Believe me, you will get a BUNCH of email from these companies, but at least all your coupons will be in one place there, and your regular email won't be so cluttered.  

* You will come up with your own system for shopping, maintaining your coupons, clipping, etc.... It all takes time to find out what works best for you!




When the inserts are expired and you can't use them, take what is left of the inserts and mail them to overseas military families. They can use manufacturer coupons for six months after expiration.

These people make shit money while we "live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post."

Okay, okay, sorry, that's my favorite quote from "A Few Good Men", and I've always wanted to use it somewhere. HOWEVER, it's very true. These people are bustin' their ass for us, for our kids, and for this great country known as the United States Of America. 

Go to this website and get matched with a family who is far from home and could use some extra money. Besides, what better place for them to go that to the home of a hero who is willing to run the risk of losing his own life so HIS children can eat while protecting OURS here in the civilian world. 



MQ or MfgQ - Manufacturers Coupon
Pub Q or PQ - Publix Coupon


I hope this helps you and gives you some insight into the coupon madness. Start slow, work your way up. You'll be saving a lot of money before you know it. There are couponing groups on facebook if you need help. 

Creative Couponing is one. This is run by some fellow Manatee High School Alumni, and one of the moderators teaches a class for pennies. I THINK it's $20.00 or something. You'll save that a couple of times over on your first REAL shopping trip. Fork it over, learn the short cuts, and you will be ahead of the game!  You can also post questions, or post coupons you need/want to trade, etc.... Here is the link:


It's a real blast. Grace gets involved and pulls coupons in the stores, helps me check out, etc, etc, etc....

If you have questions or comments, please feel free to post away. Likewise, if my fellow couponers take a look at this, please feel free to comment and make suggestions, or correct me, or add to this if needed!



  1. Few questions:
    Do you just send the entire insert to the families overseas?

    How do you get Save-a-lot q's?

    The Bradenton Herald q's stink! Im guess we can't get the Tampa Tribune here, huh? :P

    Great blog, MaryEllen! :)

    1. Chana -

      Try Walmart or 7-11. I can't imagine they don't have St. Pete Times or Tampa Trib down there anywhere.

      My Save A Lot's come online - go to their website and register. Also, they have a page on Facebook, like the page!

      And yes, send the entire insert overseas. You never know what they will be able to use.

      I will send you a message on FB of someone you could contact to get info on where she gets her papers and how to do the overseas thing. She does it all the time and knows the ins and outs! :)

      Thank you! It was my first stab at it!