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Archive for April, 2006

Are you Paying for those Unpaid Surveys?

April 30th, 2006 at 10:19 pm

I was shopping with my husband today, carefully going down the list of sales teamed with coupons, when it happened. I saw a hair care product I just HAD to have!

My husband looked at me, and, being unfortunately well-trained by me at the bargain hunters’ game said:

“That’s not on the list.”

“I know” , I responded.

“Is it on sale? It’s not marked. I didn’t see a coupon.” Totally deadpan, serious.



Clearly he had no concept of the importance of full-thick-shiny-volume-without-frizzy tresses.

“It will make my hair look better”.

“Your hair looks fine.”

“No, it doesn’t. It lacks volume and shine. My hair is getting thinner. My color is dull. I’m getting old.”

He stares. 24 years of marriage; nothing on earth could get him to cross into that discussion.

“You don’t need it, and it costs too much.”

He obviously has no appreciation for my plight.

I threatened not to buy HIS favorite shampoo. Oops….

We left the store without any hair care products. Or words. Lots of feelings, though.

And then I just started laughing. Why?

I had fallen victim to the unpaid survey!

Many of us sign up for consumer panels and surveys believing that we will influence manufacturers’ product development. And influence we do, but not always in ways we anticipate. Unpaid surveys provide a unique opportunity for marketing professionals to evaluate consumer impressions. Surveys can persuade local retailers of the market for the product, and also predict sales rates, and resulting shipment and warehousing requirements.

Surveys provide an equal opportunity to make an impression on consumers. The 20 minute survey introduces potential customers to new products and promotions. The same product advertisement, photo, description, and price are viewed and revisited repeatedly, while the consumer is quizzed on the product:

• How well does the ad convey that this product has ingredients xxxx?
• Why is xxx good for you?
• Are people who use this product a) confident, b) successful, or c) joyful?
• Does this product make you feel like a better spouse, parent, team player?
• Does the price outweigh the potential benefits to your baby/family/pet’s health?

The products themselves may not be captivating, but the survey process may hold you captive. If you cancel out of the survey, you won’t receive rewards, points, or possible prizes. If you fail to respond appropriately to the questions, you will be unceremoniously booted out of the survey, and lose any possible rewards. You may also be denied opportunities to take future paid surveys. And, there is always the chance that at the end of a survey, if you have answered all the questions just right, you’ll have won the lottery: a follow-up survey or panel position with significant rewards. It’s a bit like kissing many frogs before you find a prince.

These surveys go beyond even a 20 minute commercial, with a focus designed to help you realize how desperately you need this product. It can’t make it to the store soon enough! The price is incredibly reasonable for such an innovative product.

Sound like brain washing? If you sign up for it yourself, it’s just good marketing!

Rebates and my $20 Challenge!

April 29th, 2006 at 09:08 pm

DH has been handling the mail while I've been online this last we dropped by the bank to make a deposit, and we had received $119.23 in rebates.

Even one DH submitted for more PAINT!

Groceries were $100 saved in two weeks ($50 spent).

So, the new totals:

2006 $20 challenge: $4002
2006 grocery savings: $5781

Savings of the Day -- dumping eRewards!

April 29th, 2006 at 09:02 pm

I really thought eRewards might work out, lots of surveys and rewards. Cashing in that FTD reward was a challenge...but I thought if I started earlier I could use my remaining rewards to send flowers for Mothers Day.

No such luck. ONE reward of each category PER YEAR!!!

They don't have many rewards.

Most of their rewards require you to SPEND MONEY, i.e., they are discounts on purchases.

So, I took $50 of eRewards and got the free Omaha Steaks package (with $35 purchase), bought $39 in steaks on sale, and I'M DONE WITH eRewards. I've never tried Omaha steaks, they sound outrageously expensive. But, again, only one redemption PER YEAR.

If THEY are going to take 30 minutes of my time AND my business information (no cute product surveys here), for a $2 "eReward", over and over that I can receive a coupon which requires me to SPEND more money? I don't think so.

But, once I have "rewards" in an account, I dont' want them to go wasted, unused, or I removed the temptation. CANCELED.

That's my savings of the day!

What I love (and hate) about coupon trains!

April 29th, 2006 at 08:49 pm

Okay, so I complain a bit when I'm trying to keep track multiple trains. The coupon trains are still one of the most enjoyable things I do!


Well, for one, the people are GREAT. Some of us know each other through our blogs, some are new but so warm, friendly, and excited to participate. And when they tell me how much they are saving on their groceries each month, it is completely worthwhile.

I love knowing that all those coupons I receive and can't use are going to others who can. The range of "hot coupons" varies so much by individuals. Organic, quick meals, baby products and teenager appetites. Some people love one laundry brand, while others are allergic to it.

Keeping track of all those wish lists in my head while I'm sorting through coupons, well, okay, so I need to set up a database. But it's not bad. The hardest part seems to be remembering who uses Pampers and who uses Huggies, who prefers Beechnut to Gerber. But, that only takes an email to sort out.

One benefit I didn't expect when I started on a coupon train was how much it would influence ME in terms of savings. I'm more selective now, having a greater range of coupons to team up with my purchases. I stop and think a bit more frequently about whether or not that's a great deal. Another coupon may be on it's way!

Those "great" coupons that used to call out to me, "please buy me it's a great deal!" don't any more. If it's not a product I would normally use, I send them out the door immediately to someone who has them on their wish list, or just into the pile. They just might be a great find for someone else!

And...I get those offers that other's don't want. I don't think I've had to purchase puppy food since Max arrived, and he's six months! FREE offers from all the non-dog owners. And enough to share with other dog owners. Dog chews, now, those coupons more than make up for the cost of postage. Did I mention that the Corgi EATS EVERYTHING?

I find I'm much more aware of the offers that are out there. I think someone else posted that the coupons just start jumping out at you. They do! Even my DH is noticing those blinking lights on the coupon boxes, and pulled a few off of a tear pad today that were above my eye level!

I would love to hear more on how much others are saving using coupons and what they get out of the trains.

The postage, well, I've learned to stop and ask the postal clerk how much it costs to ship first class versus Priority. Almost equivalent time frame, but first class is usually only $1-2. For a really big train, if it goes over the $4.05 priority Flat Rate, (yes, I just mailed one that would have been $6 first class and was $4 priority, but that's not the norm) I will choose the Flat Rate.

The postal service also provides a flat rate BAG envelope, not just the cardboard one designed for letters. It can hold a very large dictionary, at the flat rate of $4.05. I've never shipped that many coupons, but if I did, it would be at Priority Flat Rate!

The only thing I hate about the train...sometimes I get so involved in putting coupons IN for everyone else that I forget to take coupons OUT for myself!

Coupons in Stores today (4/29)

April 29th, 2006 at 08:25 pm

I haven't done "end of month coupon" shopping in 15 years, but two trains arrived here yesterday, and I wanted to catch a few coupons before they expired. Especially the pup items. Who knew a Corgi would gut every single toy he had in less than a day. Even Bamboo brand, and they are guaranteed to hold up! (DH is LOL and can't wait to contact them!)

So of course, end of month means out with the old coupons and in with the new! Here's what I found today (one store only)

$1 Any Huggies littler swimmers - exp. 7/31
$1 Any Huggies diaper package - exp. 5/28
55 cent any Lysol - exp. 6/19
$1 Cottonelle YP (total of 12 roll, any combo) - exp. 8/13
50 cent Scot TP - exp. 8/13
$1/3 Healthy Choice meals - exp. 5/27
$1 Neutra-Air - exp. 6/19
75 cents any Freschetta pizza - exp. 8/14
50 cents/3 Bumble Bee salmon pouch - exp 9/30
$1/3 ANY General Mills cereals (about time!) - exp. 6/19
50 cents New York Texas toast etc., - exp. 8/15
50 cents one Heinz ketchup (this was in the frozen aisle) - exp 5/28

Also, loose in the store...

$4.50 rebate Bayer products
$1 off one any Morning Star Farms product -- exp. 7/31
$1 off Two packages any Eggo product - exp. 7/31
$1 off one Stoned Wheat Thins and One Athenos Feta Cheese (okay to double) - exp. 5/31

There are "journals" of coupons from free with any milk purchase...the coupons are only $10 off $40 H2Oplus products, and one free week at curves. No grocery coupons.

For those of you who have signed up for freebies, don't forget to check those included brochures. The "free Greenie" for dogs comes with a $25 coupon booklet on pet products...they are doublable (? meaning NOT marked DND), and range from $1 on greenies to manufacturer coupons for free products.

Get the free Earth's Best baby food sample? Unfold the brochures to find 6 coupons on Earth's Best products.

I am going to do a post on how and where to find coupons, but for now, just start looking around!

Sunday's newspaper inserts!

April 29th, 2006 at 08:09 pm

If you have been looking for Method coupons, the SmartSource add has 4 $1 ones this Sunday. It's the same insert that has $13 in Purina coupons.

I rarely do this, but I actually spent an extra $1 to pick up a second paper.

Progress on the Challenge and other days news

April 26th, 2006 at 11:48 pm

It has been a busy day.

Pulled weeds, helped DH get started on the mulching. My thumb doesn't want to work right now!

Received 7 coupons from Barbara's Bakery! Only two days after I asked if they had any available. Very nice.

Received a $2 coupon on Post-a-notes, came with the free sample, and some others.

The big break came on survey payments, I received a total of $110 today from 3 different sources. YEAH.

That brings my totals to...

Current savings:
2006 $20 challenge: $3883
2006 grocery savings: $5681 (plus NOT spending?)

Other totally bizarre news...

I received an offer from Insider Pages to be a local rep, but they wanted 50 reviews written in 2 weeks. Who has that kind of time?

Another email from Club Mom to become a regular author for finance, but I just don't have the desire.

A request to become a shopping insider and scan grocery bar codes...not quite sure about that, wouldn't they throw you out of the store? How would I get all those coupons then?

Tracking down a few coupon trains. Hopefully the guidelines for trains will be up soon, so everyone understands WHY they need to be responsible and responsive when the trains come around. Enough said.

We've been eating split pea and ham soups, and a few frozen dinners lately. Still working the stockpile. Tonight, Hamburger Helper (not a favorite), with ground turkey, tomatoes, olives, mushrooms, garlic, some parmesan. Fresh broccoli, and some garlic bread.

I did throw out the remaining acorn squash/apple dish. So, two pounds tossed. Total of three so far. Not too bad...but summer is coming!

dreaming about coupons?

April 26th, 2006 at 03:24 pm

Went to bed last night thinking about that Mr. Mom movie, Michael Keaton playing poker with coupons for chips. DH came to bed around 3 am, the tv was still on...and Celebrity Poker Showdown (?) was on. I woke up just enough to hear the show and drowsily tell DH the celebrities were playing poker with coupons!

Good day to do some GARDENING, I think!

go organic for earth day!

April 25th, 2006 at 11:38 pm

It's earth day...and to celebrate,

is providing a free organic product coupon booklet.

For more information about the campaign, or to get your FREE copy of the Go Organic! for Earth Day Coupon Book, contact the organizatio at:
PHONE: 612-377-1142 or 1-866-I-GO-ORGANIC (1-866-446-6742)


For more info about the coupon booklet, go to their home page, click on about us, then click on the coupon booklet link at the left.

Happy Earth Day!

Spending on RX

April 25th, 2006 at 10:59 pm

Went to Costco today...we picked up peanuts for our squirrel population, and I'm sure a few other things...I have no idea what the final bill came to for groceries, because I was too busy staring at our annual to date Rx costs!

$840. Ack. Ick. Mortified. Kept going through the receipts, double checking...

then I realized it's the end of APRIL, and this is YTD costs.

Came home, ran the totals for these same meds last year. 2005 YTD would have been $5500. OUCH. No wonder the savings account seemed to be slipping away. It was!

If I add in the cost of insurance, which I did not have Rx on last year, it is only at extra $45 a month, or $180 for YTD. So basically I've gone from $5500 to $1000. STILL too high IMHO, but at least I feel a bit better about it.

I still plan to blog on the changes I've made; I just quite hadn't appreciated what a change it has been. A year ago, I thought that the only real way to reduce my out of pocket Rx expenses was to stop taking the meds.

Still working on Mom's issues with Medicare. She's doing better, enough to say her doctor was putting her through H*LL (and she never talks like that!).

another day, another coupon

April 25th, 2006 at 10:49 pm

Received my Mambo sprouts spring coupon book. Lots of yummy organic products.

I also heard back from Pure and Basic (soaps) that Whole Food stores have the coupon booklets available in the store. If only there was one nearby!!!

Added a few more organic sites to the list. Amy's and Barbara's are sending me coupons just for asking if they had coupons. Lovely people to deal with.