Who Owns that Brand? Easy to Read Graphic

Parent Brands

I cannot tell you how often I hear someone that is ‘boycotting’ a brand for some reason or another.  Usually it’s due to a viral rumor, but that’s another story… (remember the fake Oprah/Tommy Hilfiger scandal? )

I’ve also had couponers tell me that they organize their coupons by ‘parent company’.  WOW!  I cannot believe that they can find anything when it’s lumped into eight random groups. 

The graphic above is a very easy to read diagram of parent companies and their subsidiaries.  I wish I  could take or give credit for this graphic, but I received it in an email and there was no name attached. 

As a couponer, rebater, or just plain ‘ol shopper, it’s important to know the parent companies for several reasons.  In one of my stores this week is a promotion: Buy any 5 Kraft products, save $5 instantly.  No coupon required, the register will take care of everything.  Now you can easily find qualifying items without searching the store high and low. 

Save this photo to your computer for reference.  It will come in very handy, I promise!

My Shopping Trip: Beautiful Flowers and Empty Wallets

CIMG0160 (3)

After hearing how gorgeous the hanging baskets were at the Strafford greenhouse, mom and I decided to make a trip.  They were absolutely gorgeous- and just $20!

Because we were in the area, we swung by Harter House to get groceries.  They have such great prices, and this week is 29¢ Mars candy bars.  With boys that will only eat Three Musketeers and Snickers, this is a great sale.

We’ve been trying to eat solely out of the stockpile, and quite honestly, I’m getting burnt out.  Do you ever get ‘chef’s block’?  That’s where the only things I can think of to fix are tacos and pasta.  Needless to say, everyone’s getting a little tired of it.

I don’t like to spend money on groceries at all, and over the course of four stops today, I spent $90.  That will feed us for a month, but it seems like a lot of money for just one trip.  I guess I’m a little cheap, because when asking around I noticed that a lot of my friends would be thrilled with $90 a week, much less a $90 month. 

How do I do it?  As we discuss in my Ultimate Couponing workshops, I buy ahead.    Instead of buying one of everything, regardless of price, I pick up several of an item that is at a rock bottom price. I count each week’s expenses as my grocery budget, it’s just allocated differently by meal.

What did I buy today?

Harter House

  • 20 Candy Bars
  • Crisco Oil
  • 1 lb Zucchini
  • 1 lb Fresh Green Beans
  • Grape Tomatoes
  • 8 Boxes of Cereal
  • 1 lb. Genoa Salami
  • 1 lb. Pepperoni
  • 9 lbs. Boston Burger
  • 2 cartons (16 ounce) Sour Cream
  • 1 carton (16 ounce) French Onion Dip
  • 8 Handi Snacks (4-pack)
  • Pita Bread

Penny Pinchers

  • 4 lbs French Fries
  • 2 lbs Potato Wedges
  • 5 lbs Biscuit Mix (like Hardees, not Bisquik)
  • 2 packages of Honey Buns
  • 48 Yoplait Yogurt
  • 1 Loaf Sara Lee Bread
  • 1 Package Sourdough Buns


This is because they are the ONLY store in the area that carries frozen, chopped spinach in a bag and Sargento cheese.

  • 3 packages of spinach
  • 3 boxes of elbow noodles
  • 1 box Shell pasta
  • 20 candy bars (because Harter House had a limit of 20)
  • Sargento Cheese
  • 2 Kings’ Hawaiian Rolls

I’m sure there were other items that I’m forgetting to list.  These items are almost all that we’ll need to get through the month.  I do need to stop by our local store for deli meat, milk, and produce throughout the next couple of weeks.

What do you think?  What’s your weekly grocery budget?  Do you shop per meal or in ‘chunks’ like I do?

Alicia’s Coupon Corner: How Do I Use Electronic Coupons?



What is an electronic coupon?

An electronic coupon (commonly called E-Coupon) is a coupon that is loaded directly to shoppers (or loyalty) cards at selected stores.  You will manually load the coupons YOU want at various websites.  The discount will automatically be taken at the register when you buy each product.

Where do I find electronic coupons?

There are now several sites that offer e-coupons.  You’ll want to sign up with each one, as they all carry different coupons!  You will need the number on the back of your shoppers card to sign up.

Which stores accept electronic coupons?

Many of the larger chains are compatible with electronic coupons.  When you register for each site mentioned above, it will state which stores in your area accept e-coupons.

How many of each electronic coupon may I use at one time?

Unfortunately, you will only be allowed to use each coupon one time.  Sometimes the coupons are ‘reset’, which will allow you to reload and reuse them.

Will these coupons double?

Electronic coupons are maintained by a 3rd party, not the store, so they will not double or triple as a paper coupon would.

May I stack these with a paper coupon?

The majority of electronic coupons are manufacturer coupons and cannot be used with any other manufacturer coupon.  (Remember, it’s fraud to use two manufacturer coupons on the same item.)

How do I know what’s on my card?

When you load the coupons, you will be asked if you would like to print a shopping list.  This list details every coupon loaded to your card.  This will help you remember what coupons you have along with restrictions.  The store will not be able to access this information.

How do you feel about electronic coupons?  I think they are a great, effortless way to save extra money at the store.  The single coupon limits don’t appeal very well to the more dedicated couponers.

Q&A: What Do I Do if My Email Has Been Hacked?


Every morning, my email inbox is filled with spam from some of you lovely readers.  It’s been a lot worse than normal this week.  I try to reply to each one individually or will even answer random Facebook posts with the solution.  I decided to write this blog post so that you already have this information tucked away in case it happens to you!

What is hacking? The most common form of email hacking is when someone obtains your password and sends junk email to your contacts. 

How will I know I’ve been hacked? Your sent box will be full of messages you didn’t send.  Sometimes they will make their way back into your inbox as ‘undeliverable’.

How did they get MY password?  Hackers set up a software that will generate passwords in an attempt to access an account.  It’s not a personal attempt.

How do I fix it?  Luckily, the fix is simple.  Just log in and change your password.  Use something a little more complicated than your kid’s name or your birthday.  A collection of random letters, numbers, and symbols is the best.  The longer, the better!

Should I set up a new email account?  Unless this happens to you on a very regular basis (which I doubt), it’s not worth the hassle to set up a new account.  Even if you start a new one, your old one will continue to send out spam messages.

DO NOT TAKE YOUR COMPUTER INTO A SHOP TO HAVE THE ‘VIRUS’ REMOVED  I couldn’t tell you how many times someone has sent me an email apologizing for the hacking and that they have dropped it off at Office Depot to have a virus removed.  Two weeks later, I’ll get another one that tells me that they must have contracted another virus, because it’s happening again. 

If you’re using an online email client, such as hotmail, gmail, etc., there is no way a technician can remove this.  It’s a password issue with the email client.  However, it seems that many are more than happy to take your money for a virus removal!

Alicia’s Coupon Corner | When is the Best Time to Visit the Store?

Q:  When is the best time to do my shopping? 

A:  Most large stores do their stocking in the overnight hours, so early morning is your best bet.  If you have a smaller grocer that restocks during business hours, you are probably better off to go in the evening.

On the hunt for markdowns?  Ask at the meat and produce departments when markdowns are made so that you can plan your shopping accordingly.

If you are using an unconventional means of payment, such as coupons or WIC, please make all attempts avoid shopping during rush times, such as after school, 5:00-6:00 p.m., noon on Sundays, just before a blizzard.. hopefully you get the drift.  We’ve all been on both sides- the side where you don’t think you should have to shop at certain times just because you’re going to require more time at checkout, and the side I found myself on last week.  You know- the side where you stop in to grab a gallon of milk and wait for over 30 minutes in a non-moving line.  There were three checkouts open, in one was a wanna-be extreme couponer, who had absolutely NO idea what she was doing, in the lane with the cashier slower than my dead turtle was a family using WIC vouchers, and in the other lane was a man trying to buy a deer tag. 

Now there’s  nothing wrong with any of that, but a little bit of hustle on the cashier’s part and courtesy on the customer’s would have made the 40+ people in line that were just trying to grab basics and get home much happier. 

I’m sure that my readers and Ultimate Couponing alumni already knew this information, but there’s nothing like getting home with spoiled milk to make me reiterate something!

Alicia’s Coupon Corner |How NOT to Use a Coupon

Since the Extreme Couponing craze began, my inbox has been bombarded with questions on how to redeem coupons.  Sadly, many of them start with “I know you told me not to do this, but my friend said that it works…”

This should be common sense, but here goes nothing:

IF YOU INCORRECTLY USE A COUPON, THE STORE WILL NOT GET REIMBURSED.  Do you know what this is?  STEALING! Plain and simple, no questions asked.  Because the store isn’t getting paid for that item, you might as well just stick it in your purse and walk out the door.  (Which is wrong, too- in case you are still morally and ethically confused.)

What?  How are coupons used incorrectly, you ask?  I’ll be glad to tell you (and remember, coupon fraud is a felony crime punishable by law).

1.  You must buy the product STATED on the coupon and nothing else.  If the manufacturer intended for you to use that toothpaste coupon to purchase diapers, don’t you think they would have said ‘valid on the purchase of toothpaste or diapers’?  If the store didn’t sell you the product, they cannot get reimbursed for your coupon. 

For those of you honest readers that are staring at your screen in disbelief, yes, this happens.  There are sometimes glitches in their computer system that will allow it, or some devious deal seekers prey on naïve cashiers that are a little too over-ride happy.

Common reasoning behind this:

“My best friend does it, and it works for her”

“That’s how they do it on Extreme Couponing”

“I took a class offered by a mom at my  church and this is what they told me to do”

“But it scanned and they took it!”

And for those most deceitful: “That store has overcharged me for years, I’m just recouping my losses.”

2.  You cannot purchase a size that is excluded or not stated on the coupon.  If a coupon says ‘Excluding Travel Sizes’, you CANNOT buy a travel sized item, even if you decide to call it a trial sized item.  If it says you must buy 12 ounces or larger, it has to be 12 ounces or larger.  Not 11, not 11.5, but 12.

Still confused?  Refer to #1.

3. You cannot photocopy coupons.  Photocopying coupons is illegal and PLAINLY stated on each coupon.  And when I say that you can’t photocopy, guess what?  You can’t scan it to your computer and reprint it either.

What if your printer hiccups and only allows you to print one of a coupons.com or like coupon, when you know the limit is two?  You still cannot photocopy the first one, as each one will print with a unique number that allows tracking of duplicates.

4.  Snipping off the expiration date voids the coupon.  If you’ve got an expired coupon laying around and you really want to use it, ‘accidentally’ snipping off the expiration date won’t get you anywhere.  Even if you fool a cashier, I’m pretty sure the company that issued the coupon knows when they did it and will not reimburse the store for stragglers.  Coupons without a date are deemed VOID.

Now, for those of you who are thinking to yourselves, “I know I coupon correctly, it’s none of my business what everyone else does because it doesn’t affect me in any way.” might want to reevaluate that.  Stores don’t take these losses lightly.  They have to recoup their costs, and they do so by raising prices.  This affects you.  They also have begun to tighten coupon policies to help combat the extremists.  Guess what?  This affects you, too.

Do you have any questions you’d like to see answered in Alicia’s Coupon Corner?  Send an email to alicia@thesensiblefamily.com