My Frugal Life - Coupons, Contests, Freebies and Rebates

I've used coupons and have done rebates and sweepstakes for years, even before my husband and I got together 20 years ago, this next month. I got started by seeing a show on TV and thinking, I could do that, too. I did, even when I was single and still living with my parents. They weren't too thrilled when I started keeping UPC codes/qualifiers in my bedroom closet (out of sight). By the time, my husband and I got married, I had a good sized stack of free product coupons accumulated. This helped out tremendously, as we started up housekeeping, trying to get on our feet for the first couple of years.

Hubby got laid off shortly after we got married. Lean times, that coupons/rebates really helped out. We were too proud to ask for help from family members. I was working the grave yard shift. In the day time, we were able to go together and pick up aluminum soda pop and beer cans to redeem for cash. The exercise we got also helped. We didn't get rich, but it helped to stretch our money.

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I've been so frugal sometimes that my Mom says she can hear Lincoln squealing from my pennies that I'm pinching. Mom also says that she started it all by giving me coupons when I was a small girl to keep me busy when she had to do housework and cooking. Who knows, maybe so!

We stock up on groceries, when there's a good deal on the items we use. I've done lots of sweepstakes and won several. My biggest sweeps prize was when I won with Kool-Aid (just from putting my name and address on a coupon that I redeemed at the grocery.) The prize was a family reunion or $5000 cash. This was right after we moved to NV. So I took the cash and we paid off our land here in town. Another winning sweeps was a year's supply of dog food from Friskies. Other items I've won: a bicycle, stuffed animals, free product coupons, gift certificates, cookbooks, t-shirts, etc., all from sweepstakes and contests.

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I've gotten lots of stuff from surfin' the web: free full size products, free product samples, coupons, rebate forms, cookbooks, t-shirts, key rings, magnets, etc. I can't begin to tell you all the things I've gotten online for free either from surfin' the web, or thru rebates and other promotions from companies for buying their products or through sweepstakes. I keep all we can use for ourselves, or give as gifts, then I donate the rest to charity.

If I had to pass on one bit of info, for the person just starting to rebate. Never waste a chance to purchase an item for a TMF (try me free) offer if you have the required form for at home. If you have to stop by the store to get milk and bread, buy that specified brand and size of toothpaste (or what ever brand of product) you have the form for. Get it ready to mail off as soon as you get home, because you might lose the cash register tape, if you wait. I especially like the fact by doing the TMF offers, that a company is paying you to try their product, even if you know you don't like this product already, go ahead, it's something that you can give to someone else, maybe someone in need.

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We've grown our own veggies several years (canning and freezing). In the past, we've received venison from several family members, that didn't need the meat (all we had to pay for was the butcher's fee). This made for some really cheap meat, that couldn't have came at a more important time! I used to shop at yard sales (don't now so much, due to the price of gas), but I furnished most of my home with yard sale finds. When I sold the ones that I was tired of, I made back the money I spent for them, while having my own yard sales. I shop thrift shops, when I can. I always check out the discount racks and marked down items in shopping carts in the stores I frequent.

If you subscribe to some refund magazines, you can send in new finds for freebies, and new offers, to get credits. These have to be in the magazine or website owners hands in order for us to earn credits. So accumulate all you can, but also remember you have to be the first one to get the specified info in. If it's new to them, you'll receive credits. That you can redeem for cash, merchandise from their website, ads you'd like to place in their print magazine. One certain refunding site that does this is Refunding Cents. Use this link to go see for yourself: http://www.refundcents.com/

Always remember, nothing works as well as the power of prayer, in good times or in bad.

Terri from NV

Do you have a frugal story to share with the ThriftyFun community? Submit your essay here: http://www.thriftyfun.com/post_myfrugallife.ldml

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September 9, 20060 found this helpful

Wow!! Terri.....wish I could find rebates, etc. etc. but rarely do in my part of the country....N. W. Indiana.

When younger and raising a child w no help whatsoever or any family (all deceased) I was able to do a lot of rebates etc etc. Please could you help me out to learn how to now find these rebates etc etc so that I can help myself a bit? On SS Dis. so not much money to begin w. Thanks for a wonderful Frugal story.....You can contact me at Hummingbirdchick AT AOL.com

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September 9, 20060 found this helpful

It's great to meet a fellow couponer/refunder! Sometimes I feel like an endangered breed. There is so much money available out there in those offers! Right now, I'm collecting for a lifetime supply of HIP liquid makeup. I started couponing about 35 years ago. There are fewer rebate offers available to those of us on healthy diets, but that's okay. My grocery budget is down to $25 a week!

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September 9, 20060 found this helpful

Good story Terri, I just wanted to say that I honestly cannot remember the last time that I saw an actual rebate form anywhere other than Best Buy or places like that. They just dont seem to have them around here (we live near the shores of beautiful Lake Erie). I do use coupons when I can, but again, around here we dont get that many and when we do they are for name brand convenience foods- some of which I use but mostly don't. I need the names of GOOD websites from which to get coupons. Cool Savings just seems to be for book clubs and that kind of stuff unless I am doing something wrong. Anyway, good luck to you and thanks for sharing!

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September 9, 20060 found this helpful

I have been couponing since I moved out of my mom's, and my husband didn't understand it until he saw a grocery reciept where I saved us $30 (not including the free gourmet coffee!) Now I collect the Walgreens monthly rebate gift card to go towards my son's monthly meds (check the store for the book), and any other rebates. Fall is a good time for those in the Sunday Paper, with back to school specials. I also take advantage of the online sweepstakes from reputable companies like Pillsbury (they have one for a year of free groceries) and some of them will even send you reminders to enter! I bookmark and enter as often as I am allowed. God be with you (and all of us) for future winnings!

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