Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Publix new coupon policy & I only spent $16.37 on $43.00 worth

As you can tell I'm getting really excited about the world of couponing! In large part because it saves my family money that we can place elsewhere, but also because I love unraveling the puzzle of it all! It's like learning how to coupon is like working a nice crossword puzzle or jigsaw puzzle or even a suduko puzzle! I love the thrill of it! Although, as I said in my last post that it takes time to learn the rules of the game, even learning the rules can be a fun puzzle.

Today, I just want to share with you the updates that I've learned about Publix Grocery store this week. Publix is a major grocery chain located in Tennessee -31 stores, Alabama 46 stores, South Carolina - 44 stores, Georgia - 187 stores and Florida with 745 stores

Of all the grocery store experiences I've had Publix is by far the best in customer service! Sorry Wal~Mart! It is always an experience when you shop there. That's a whole other blog for another day!

I've learned this week that publix will now only accept one manufacturers coupon and one store coupon per item! You used to be able to present several coupons for the same items and get credit for it. It's not all bad because if you shop on the sale items (which I'm learning that's how the master couponers do it) you still come out really good on this deal. So good that they can still end up owing you money! With the help of Julie, one of the awesome customer service leads at my Publix, I learned a lot about how to put this new rule into practice.

Last night I wanted to try it for myself so I went right when the store was closing so I could get the individualized help if I needed it. I'm happy to report I saved quite a bit on the items I purchased. Here are two examples of my savings.

I purchased 6 Yoplait yogurts at $.75 each which totaled $4.50. I had a store coupon for $1.00 and a manufactures coupon for $.50 which was doubled to $1.00. That was a total savings of $2.00 so I only spent $2.50 on yogurt which turned out to be $.41 since on each yogurt. Not bad!

I also tried out the multiple coupons for each item concept. I brought Welch's Grape Juice on sale at 2 for $4.00 (say that 3 times fast! lol). I brought 4 of them so that was an $8.00 value. I gave them 4 $1.00 off coupons! They accepted all of them since I had 4 items. That made my price $4.00 for $8.00 worth of Welch's. That equaled $1.00 per 64oz bottle! This was a great steal because without the sale this juice is $3.61 per bottle. When you take this item at it's original price you'll see that for 4 regularly prices bottles of Welch's Grape Juice at $3.61 each that total would have been $14.44. With the sale price bringing them down to $8.00 and my coupons bringing them down to 4.00. I saved $10.44 on Welch's Grape Juice this week!!!!

There are other rules that I'll speak on later after I try them.

Now this new rule has thrown a monkey wrench in my learning curve on couponing but once again it's just another piece of the puzzle and I love it!!!! I'll let you know how I make out at the end of this week!

Becoming a Coupon Diva at heart!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Coupons are my friends! I saved $105.00 Today!

This page of the Cafe Connections blog is designed to share my journey as I learn to be an extreme coupon mom and to learn from you all along the way.

I started couponing seriously in November 2010. I was encouraged by one of my friends Ysenia Elliott. She got me back on the horse to realize that I'd unsaddled the coupon horse way too soon 4 years ago. I'd dabbled in couponing a few years ago but when my charming husband no longer wanted the Sunday paper delivered I stopped getting coupons. In November 2011 Ysenia schooled me on the basics as we drove by to TN from the ATL Zoo. The following week I got my binder, some album picture holders and news papers and I began.

The first couple of weeks I saved about $17.00 which wasn't bad but I had heard there was way more out there than that. As time progressed I started learning some tricks of the trade and which stores to go to in order to get the best savings. I initially was a WAL~Mart Superstore shopper exclusively except for the occasional run to Kroger for weekly basics that ran out before my next shopping trip. My rational was that WAL~Mart's "Always low prices" were the best value. While there are some good values there, I've learned more about how to maximize savings at other national chains. WAL~Mart is not the last store I hit in order to buy my fish and chicken and any remaining items on the list. This is mainly because I've not yet mastered how to get a big savings at Wal~Mart but I'm not giving up on that just yet.

So here's what I've learned so far:
Publix Grocery Store may have higher prices but they offer great values like their 2 for 1 deals. They also take competitor and manufacturer coupons! As long as you have the item listed on a coupon they will take more than one coupon for the same item. They will also double coupons that are up to $.50. This means you can get a $1.00 off of a particular item when you use a $.50 coupon.

Kroger Grocery Store is amazing! It's like hitting the jackpot if you know what you're doing. Right now I saving half on my grocery bill at Kroger. I plan to get up to the 100% mark when I become the Coupon Diva! Kroger also doubles coupons up to $.50. They do not however take manufacturer coupons. They will take more than one of the same coupon but they may only allow you to use so many before the computer scanner stops you. They also have on-line coupons.

Target - Great values but I've yet to take them up on them, except that I used Some Target coupons at Publix and really benefited from it.

Walgreens - JACKPOT!!!!! If you know how to use their coupons mixed with manufacturer coupons you can really save here. I've actually gotten a lot of free things here, including allergy medicine and more. So far I've learned they will also allow you to use more than one coupon for the same item as long as you have the right number of items that the coupon says you must have. They have a customer loyalty program too but I haven't figured out if it is with a card or not.

CVS and RIGHT AID - Great places to get in store rewards for future stuff! They also honor manufacturer coupons. They also give away free items. I received a free 20 oz drink and a large anti-bacterial lotion a few weeks ago from CVS. It pays to have the CVS Customer Wellness card. I'm still trying to figure out Right AID's system but I got some dish detergent free with a coupon. Watch Videos of CVS on-line win coupons!

How I shop to save: It Can take up to 2 days to get ready and a total of about 10 hours to get organized when I have a big coupon week. This is not for the faint at heart but it is for those who want to save big! I believing I will be able to cut my grocery bill down to $30.00 or less per week while buying atleast $200.00 worth of groceries!

My pantry
I'm not an extreme couponer yet so I don't have a large pantry stored up. I do have a basic 3 shelf pantry filled with extra items that I can pull from when I need them. Can you say Cereal anyone. My husband hates when I bring in new boxes but I'm storing them for the next couple of months since we eat so much of it!

My meal planning:
I look through my previous months meal plans for the week and decide what we will have for each meal during the upcoming week. I then decide what I already have and what I need to make a complete meal.

Coupon Clipping:
I buy 4 papers each Sunday. Walgreens, CVS, and Publix Have them for $1.00 each in my area. Publix sometimes has left over papers on Monday! Kroger and Walmart Sell them for $1.75 on Sunday. Kroger will sell them for $.75 on Monday. The only catch is you take a chance on if there will be any available on Monday! A few weeks ago every store in my area was sold out of papers by the time I got there that evening because there were 4 sets of coupons in each paper. That's huge. I finally found 2 papers on my last store run to Walgreens.

I clip everything! If I don't need it I put it in a stack and I have started giving them away. I'm working on starting a coupon exchange with a few ladies from my church. When I clip what I need I put them in stacks and categories (i.e. Fruits, Veggies, Snacks, Dairy, Meat, Cleaners, Paper goods, Frozen, personal etc). After I clip them I put them in my binder under the right sections.

Store Circulars:
I look through all the store ads to see what's on sell for the week. I circle those things that I need to complete my meals or items that are really good deals. Then I look to see if I have coupons for the items I've circled. I take out the coupons and place them in the front under my "Todays" Coupon pocket.

On-Line Coupons and sites: There are tons! I Like, Plum, Southern Savers, Iheartpublix, thecheapestmom, Shop for and others.
Grocery List:
I section my list into categories from Meats, Veggies, Fruits, etc. Then I decide what I need and what's on sell. I put a star next to the ones that have coupons and I put the amount of each coupon. I also list which store the coupon is best suited for.

Grocery Shopping:
I plan my route on the stores I'll shop at by looking at where I'll get the greatest savings first down to the least. I usually shop at 4-5 stores including Publix, Kroger, Walgreens, Dollar General, CVS, Right Aid and Walmart. It usually takes me about 2 1/2 - 3 hours to complete my rounds. Sometimes I have to do it in multiple days if there interruptions with my business schedule or my children's school schedules.

This weeks Cash Savings:

Kroger - I purchased food and cleaning supplies that valued at $133.00 but I saved $46.50 my total at Kroger was $86.00. I had some trouble redeeming some coupons so I paid $30.00 more than I wanted to today. I was experimenting on which coupons are I can present multiples on. I learned the hard way bu using expensive retailed price items. Not good! Note to time choose the $1 or $2 items. So I still don't completely understand the process at Kroger so I'll hold my findings until I learn from one of my coupon diva friends.

Publix - Publix was the greatest success today for two reasons. First, every coupon I presented they took. Even a couple of Target coupons. They even let me use more than one coupon on an item. As long as I had the right number of items that the coupon called for I could use several of the same coupons for that one items. I reallllllly like that!!!!!

The second reason Publix rocked for me was because when I went back hours later to the customer service desk to inquire about a discount I forgot to cash in on. The coupon said if you spend $30.00 they will give you $5.00 off. Lindsay at the Customer service desk honored the request! She not only gave me the $5.00 she add the tax. I walked out of there with $5.41 in cash. AWESOME!!!! Lindsay is always pleasant when I shop at Publix! It's like the commercial says, It's more than just shopping it's an experience to be shop at Publix!

Although I love my friends and even the management at my local Wal~Mart, I have to say that Publix beats them in customer service hands down! They are always right there to make sure you can find what you need. They inquire before you get a chance to ask. Even the dairy manager took my request to add Chocolate Almond Milk to the line up!!!! Earlier this week I purchased an item and then noticed they had more Sunday papers left. I bought 3 and they let me go back and get the discount for the coupons I had in the papers for that item and I left with 3 extra dollars back. Publix Rocks!!!!! I love shopping there multiple times a week just for the experience.

I spent $105.69 but saved $55.36 with coupons. When you add the $5.41 they gave me back I saved $60.77.

Wal-Mart - As usual, for now, Wal~Mart was not the win fall I'd hoped. I spent $35.00 but saved $5.89 in coupons. My total bill there was $29.27. I'm determined to master Wal~Mart

Actions Steps from here: Call my friends who coupon for more advice, find more coupon sites, and Join a Coupon Class

Friday, May 6, 2011

I'm Gonna Rock My Fro

This page of the blog is dedicated to sharing my natural hair journey as well as natural hair updates I learn from other Natural Divas!

I began my journey 1 year ago on May 2, 2010 after my flight was cancelled in Washington DC due to the floods in Nashville on May 1, 2010. After returning home on May 2 I was tired and frustrated so I decided to wash my hair. It was a warm muggy day and I was taking the day off so I decided not to straighten my hair or put back on the lace front. When my husband saw me, he loved my hair and suggested I rock my fro!

OF course I was hesitant because I hadn't even contemplated that notion before. I was a strong "no afro for me" kind of girl growing can reference my father the retired barber on that one. Now, up to this point, I had already made the decision not to relax my hair anymore a year before when I got my last relaxer June 25, 2009. That decision came as a result of the voice of my oldest daughter who had taken the same stand 1 year prior to that. I also experienced some serious over processing because I was coloring and sowing in weave at the same time. My hair was hollering for a break!

Fast forward to May 2, 2010, I listened to my supportive adorable husband and started rocking my fro. It wasn't an immediate embracing for me as I had to gain the confidence to show my natural beauty and not be bogged down with rather or not people would accept the change in my brand. As a motivational speaker, career coach and music production specialist I was secretly hoping that the world would embrace me. Schools, colleges, churches, companies and the like would begin to see me differently. Surprisingly most people accepted my change just fine. The biggest transformation came when I accepted my own beauty for myself.

It is a different type of beauty. I was used to wearing braids or weave and have longer straight tresses. Now I had opted for a short bushy auburn fro that had multiple textures and drank moisturizer like it thought there was a shortage! It took me 2 months to really come to the conclusion like India Irie says " I am not my hair" and "I am not your expectation" That was especially true when facing people closest to me.

To really start the process I waited until August 2010 to do the big chop! Back to the drawing board of growing my hair! Now, after one year I'm loving my hair. It still hasn't grown to where I want it to be but it has grown out a lot. I'm learning how to take care of it and how to wear it in different styles. I have a great mentor in Amber Akins with who also blogs under (Legalgrindingwifey). I've learned a lot from youtube videos and even made my own conditioner once. So as I continue on the self-love journey with my hair I'll be sharing even more of what I've learned. Hopefully it will inspire someone to ROCK their FRO!

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

So how many employers are looking at my social media sites? The numbers go up again!

I just read the latest Proofpoint survey on outbound content and security issues. It's the seventh annual report
on outbound messaging and content security issues, fielded by Osterman Research during June & July 2010. It says that Employers are using social media and email accounts even more to find out about potential hires and employees.

So Here's the meat and potatoes of it all:

37% of all survey employers said that they actually hired someone whose sole job is analyzing company email and outbound content.

Additionally 48% of the employers said they perform audits of what goes out regularly.

(20%) terminated an employee for violating email policies in the past 12 months

50% disciplined an employee for violating email policies in the past 12 months.

24% (up from 17%) disciplined an employee for violating blog or message board policies in the past 12 months.

11% (up from 9%) reported terminating an employee for such a violation.

54% (up from 46%) are highly concerned about the risk of information leakage via blogs and message board postings.

20% (up from 17% in 2009) of US companies investigated the exposure of confidential, sensitive or private information via a posting to a social networking site (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn).

18% of US companies investigated the exposure of confidential, info via sites like YouTube

21% (up from 15% in 2009) have disciplined an employee for violating media sharing/posting policies in the past 12 months.

9% (up from 8% in 2009) reported terminating an employee for such a violation.

17% (up from 13%) of US companies investigated the exposure of confidential,information via an SMS text or Web-based short message service like Twitter.

51% (up from 41%) are highly concerned about the risk of information leakage via Web-based short messaging (e.g., Twitter).

So what does this all mean for you? It means that you need to be aware of what you should do to avoid making Email and Social Media missteps which could cause you to lose your job. Here are a few tips to ponder:

1. Remember that you are on your employers equipment and time when you are in the workplace

2. Remember that anything that you place on the web is fair game and open to the public

3. If there is anything on the web that would make your mother blush take it down

4. If you want to make a good impression post a good impression!

5. Keep in mind your entire social media audience

6. Don't under estimate the roaming eye of your employer.

Check out more of what I mean on this youtube link:

Until next time, I wish you happy trails on your career search journey!

Sited source:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Promotion is Outside the Lines

Now that you've landed the job or career of your dreams you're probably trying to figure out how do you earn the promotion. Or maybe you're a budding entrepreneur who enjoys your line of business but you're looking to make connections to move to the next dimension of your success. There are several strategies that you can employ to realize that golden carrot called a promotion. Many of the strategies are very useful and will render great results. Some strategies include looking professional at all times, being on time, doing more than is expected and even creating your own opportunities.

For today, let's talk about one strategy that may be overlooked. It's found outside the lines of the office. It is participating on office sports teams or in business sponsored community activities. Often times this strategy requires you to give more of your time than your posted work hours or if in business, your posted hours of operation. You may ask, how does this equate to a promotion or contract? It is not just the fact that you have participated in the activity that gets you noticed, but rather there are more advantages that you can get out of it. Consider the following benefits of participating outside the lines of the office.

1. You have the opportunity to show your colleagues, superiors or business partners that you are a team player. When you organize or become committed to participating in an after hours sports activity or event you show that you are willing to go the extra mile. You also project that you are committed to the success and mission of the business.

2. Being seen as self motivated and a problem solver are also benefits of participating outside the lines of the office. When the opportunity arises in business meetings to contribute ideas that will foster community support or boost team morale, being the first to suggest an idea is not a bad move. There were many occasions while working in corporate or higher educational settings where I took the initiative to suggest and head up office opportunities. I can say with surety that those opportunities marked me as a team playing, social problem solver. It became positively evident in each of my annual reviews. It also plays well in my life today as an entrepreneur because clients and colleagues know that by having me on their teams they WILL get the answers to their challenges.

3. Having the chance for your supervisors to get to know more about your character is another added benefit. If you are an entrepreneur, allowing your partners or prospective clients to get a glimpse of your character, before the deal is sealed, in a social setting is also a plus. I can attest that having great character as an employee and entrepreneur while being involved on sports teams and community activities has garnered me many promotions and contracts. Having great moral character on top of great skill is like adding icing on top of a cake. Yum!

When you get involved in company sports teams or community efforts you allow yourself to be remembered when the time comes for the decision makers to decide who gets the contract or promotion. Of course, it's going to be you because you've not only used all the other strategies to stand out and be promoted but you have also made an impact outside the lines of the office.

As it's said in the arena of sports, "Leave it ALL on the court or ALL out on the field!" In other words, pay it forward for those who come behind you so they will know what it takes to get promoted. You know, the old adage "each one teach one?" Leaving it ALL on the field also means,that you strategically play your business hand with no regrets. Do everything that you know to do to set yourself up for the promotion or contract. There are many people looking for the next promotion or contract and many may know some strategies to get there. However, not everyone knows or is willing to do what it takes to get the promotion outside the lines of the office. The good news is that you do, so make your mark on the team and take home the prize.