Thursday, February 16, 2017

A Font Nerd's Favorite Fonts

I have long had an interest in fonts and typography. When I was a kid, Iwould examine the letterpress type blocks in my mom's printer's box displayed on the wall. My mom did keyline paste-up, and I enjoyed playing around with Print Shop on our Commodore 64. Working at the college newspaper, I began to develop an appreciation for the use of different typefaces, the use of good kerning, and design.

Nowadays you can easily access tens of thousands of fonts on sites such as These fonts are typically free for personal use, with myriad more available for purchase. Finding just the right font for a project can be challenging. I began a document showing my favorite fonts for doing chalkboards for kids' birthdays so I could easily recall their names. When I started doing projects on my Silhouette Cameo, the list began to grow. And grow... and grow. I re-sorted it to be grouped by font type so I could compare like fonts when envisioning a project layout. I also discovered the website, which allows you to visualize any phrase in all the fonts installed on your computer

Please feel free to download and print the list for your own reference! Just Google the font name to download it to your computer! I will continue to update it as I find new favorite fonts. 

last updated 2.16.17

Friday, January 27, 2017

Introduction to Couponing

So you want to be an Extreme Couponer?
Welp, I hate to break it to you, but the days of getting a shopping cart full of groceries for next to nothing have come and gone. The manufacturers and retailers have caught on and don’t offer nearly as many sales in conjunction with coupons as they used to. BUT that doesn’t mean you can’t save money at the register, cutting your grocery bill in half! There is a big learning curve with couponing, but before long you’ll get the hang of it! And believe it or not, you can save money not only on junk food, but on healthy food, produce, foods for dietary restrictions, etc.!

Couponing Basics
  • THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE! ***The best way to save money is to not spend it.***  A couponing deal is only a deal if you want the product you got a deal on. Free items, or items that you buy for the overage can be donated if it’s not something you’ll use (tax write-off!). But chasing a deal uses time, gas, printer ink, etc. So don't waste precious resources on junk.
  • Before you begin couponing, create a junk email address to use when signing up for things. I wish I had done this!!! You can also use an email masking browser extension like Blur, but then the emails will still come to your primary address – it just makes opting out easier in the event your email gets distributed beyond the initial site.
  • Each chain of stores has different policies for coupons. Get to know the stores’ coupon policies (bookmark them even!), and stand up for yourself at the register. Ultimately it’s the store’s discretion, but if you rattle off their policy to them, typically they’ll honor it “just this once.” Sign up for stores’ loyalty cards to get the advertised savings, and download their apps to your phone.
  • Rules and Etiquette
    • Photocopying coupons is illegal!
    • If someone is behind you with a few items, and you’re about to begin a huge coupon transaction, you might suggest they choose a different register, or offer they go ahead of you. Couponing can take a long time.
    • Clearing shelves is frowned upon -- leave some deals for others. You can also call ahead and have your store order you the bulk quantity of an item if you know in advance
    • If you aren’t going to use a coupon, you might want to leave it on the shelf near the product. People who do this are known as “coupon fairies” I’ve spotted one at the Kroger in Lawrenceburg!
  • Coupons have expiration dates! Most places will not accept expired coupons. You can, however, donate non-print-at-home coupons to military commissaries, where they can be used for 6 months past their expiration date.

Learn to Compare Unit Pricing
Always look at the quantity of something you’re getting for the price. Sometimes buying the store brand is less expensive, but sometimes the name brand is on sale for less. [CAVEAT – Sometimes you get what you pay for, and buying the name brand means a superior quality. Sometimes that matters, sometimes it doesn’t. LIFE IS TOO SHORT FOR SINGLE-PLY TOILET PAPER] Sometimes buying in bulk can save you money, sometimes, with sales and coupons, smaller volumes might be more valuable. Calculate the price per unit (ounces, piece, etc.) to find the best value. You calculate the unit cost by dividing the cost by the number of units (pounds, pieces, ounces, etc.).
Example: Let’s say you’re looking at diapers.
  • 162 count box is $36.99 – ($36.99/162 = 22.83 cents per diaper)
  • 32 count pack is on sale for $7.99 – ($7.99/32 = 25 cents per diaper)
Your better bet in this case is the bigger bulk package. But you have a $2 off coupon good for any size package!
  • 162 count box with coupon is $34.99 – ($34.99/162 = 21.6 cents per diaper)
  • 32 count pack with coupon is $5.99 – ($5.99/32 = 18.7 cents per diaper)
With your coupon, the smaller pack is a better deal! That is assuming you can stock up at that price and don’t run out of diapers in the middle of the night, having to run out to the local Quick-E-Mart where diapers are $99 for 3.
Manufacturer Coupons vs. Store Coupons vs. Rebate
On the coupon it will say “Manufacturer Coupon” or “Store Coupon.” Manufacturer Coupons may be used at any store that accepts coupons (even if a different store’s logo is shown on the coupon). The store will be reimbursed by the Manufacturer for the value of the coupon. You can only use one manufacturer coupon per item, but may use multiple coupons on multiple items. Store coupons are only valid at the store listed.  Rebates are applied for after the purchase has been made, either online, through the mail, or using phone apps. You will then be reimbursed after the rebate is verified. I try not to chase deals that rely heavily on rebates because I know I am unreliable about filing them. I look at them as a little perk, but some folks really successfully take advantage of them. All three, when available, can USUALLY be combined, or “stacked” for greater savings.

Stock Up!
Stockpiling when you see a bargain is wonderful. Part of the learning curve of couponing is knowing when something is a good deal.The rule of thumb is:
  • Retail Price
    • no discount
    • buy if you must.
  • Buy Price
    • 30%-50% off with sales and/or coupons
    • get it if you need it, but only what you need right then
  • Stock Up Price
    • 50% off or more using sales and coupons
    • get as much as you can get (or as much as you’ll use) at that price
Some retailers mark up the retail price of products more than others, so it’s important to have an idea of what constitutes a great deal at the bottom line, not just % off.  Carrying a stockpile price list with you is one way to avoid having to memorize the entire grocery store.  
You will also start to learn the sales cycles. Items like meat or cereal usually go on sale every 8-10 weeks, so knowing when something is at its lowest price, and when you might expect it to be at that price again, allows you to get just the right amount until the next deal comes along. You will also find seasonal sale cycles when you can get stock up prices, like canned veggies around thanksgiving, clearance candy after Halloween, seasonal fruit and veggies (freeze them to use later!), snack foods around Superbowl time, etc.

Stockpiling means you will always have on hand the item you need, which was purchased at a great discount, but only is effective if:
  • You’ll use the amount of product you acquire before it expires (Spoiled food is wasted money.)
  • You have space to store it.
  • You are paying cash (credit card fees negate your savings)
Where to find out about deals and coupon matchups
If you’re on the hunt for deals, it helps to have your finger on the pulse of the couponing world. Couponers love to share their “hauls” and tip others off to upcoming deals. They often release the sales flyers before the stores, so you can plan your trips and find the matching coupons. Regularly checking blogs, and following Coupon groups online, can help you land the best deals! Just bear in mind the first rule, and don’t get swept up in the thrill of the score, spending money on something you won’t use just because it was a deal.
Paper Coupon Sources
  • Newspapers – You may want to subscribe to the newspaper (The Tennessean or Columbia Daily Herald) to get Sunday coupon inserts, but there are many other ways to accumulate inserts. More info on where to find inserts.
  • Coupon Websites
    • There are many sites that allow you to print your coupons at home. You will likely need to install a little software the first time you print the coupons on your browser. Most allow you to print the coupon twice, just click back and select it again.
      • Coupons usually print three to a page (or sometimes just one or two if that’s all you selected). You can just cut the paper into thirds, no need to cut the exact outline of the coupon. A paper cutter is handy - just be careful not to cut off the bar code!
      • You will go through a lot of ink and paper.  A cheap laser printer will save you money in the long run
    • Some sites to get coupons are:
  • Coupon Databases – a great way to cross reference your shopping list and grocery circular with available coupons. Search for products to see if there are coupons available for it.
  • Brand Websites and Email Lists - Sign up for email lists for your favorite brands to get exclusive coupons emailed to you, or check their websites and facebook pages for coupons. Some good sources that always offer coupons include:
  • In Store
    • Peelies - the coupons found in stores that are affixed to items on the shelf
    • Blinkies – coupons in the little dispensers attached to the shelves
    • Tearpads - coupons on tearpads by the products or on freestanding displays, distributed at the sample tables, etc.
  • Catalinas – Coupons printed at the register based on what you buy
    • One kind is a $ amount off your next purchase depending on how many of a select item you buy (buy 3, get $1 off your next purchase, buy 4, get $2 off, buy 5 get $3 off, etc). These are sometimes hit-or-miss so YMMV (your mileage may vary). The $ off coupons are only good at the store at which you received them.
      • Kroger often shows them on the shelf price tag, and blogs will alert you to them.
      • You can also sometimes roll the catalinas, using one on the next purchase, which generates another catalina, and so on. This is advanced couponing! It will take many transactions and a patient cashier!
    • Another is a coupon printed when you check out, based on previous purchases
Rebate Apps
Download these apps to your phone and login before your shopping trip. Unlock the offers on the apps that require that (Ibotta/MobiSave). After you get home, you will scan in the UPCs of the items and photograph you’re receipt. The app will send you money back (via check or paypal, generally) either immediately or after you’ve accumulated a certain amount.
Organizing your Coupons
Keeping your coupons organized and easy to use can be a rather time-consuming activity. It will take a little while for you to accumulate a coupon stash, so as you do, think about how you want to organize everything. I personally use a combination of all three of these methods below. You’ll also want to always carry a small pair of scissors, a pen, and some scratch paper.

Binder Method
The binder method is the most popular but most time intensive way to organize coupons. I like it because it makes it easy to see my coupons on the fly as I shop. I tend to sort and file my coupons while watching TV in the evening, so the time is not wasted, in my mind.To set up your binder:
  • Get a nice fabric zipper binder (look for them on clearance after school starts in the fall!), clear plastic baseball card protector sheets (30-50 sheets), and tabbed file dividers (you’ll need maybe 3 sets of 10). Alternate a tabbed divider and a plastic sheet until they are all in your binder.
  • Label your sections or create an index at the front of the binder, for the different categories of coupons. Think about how your favorite grocery store is laid out, and try to put your coupons in matching order. I have my food coupons in one section and non-food in another
    • Food Categories: Produce, Dairy (or break out into sub categories: cheese; yogurt/dips; eggs/milk/Butter), Meat, Bread, Snacks (chips, crackers, nuts, popcorn), Candy & Cookies, Granola Bars, Canned Goods (or break out to canned beans, meat, soup, chili; and canned fruit and veggies), Sauces and Dressings, Pasta and Dry Goods, Baking, Breakfast, Beverages (water, juice, soda), Coffee and Tea, Frozen (or break out to Frozen fruits, breads, breakfasts and desserts, Frozen meals and snacks, Frozen meats and veggies)
    • Non-food Categories: Baby, Diapers/Wipes, Laundry, Dishes, Cleaning Supplies, TP/Paper Towels, Other Paper products, Dental, Hair Care, Soaps, Pets, Misc, Medicines, Vitamins, Misc Pharmacy
  • Fill the pockets of the plastic sheets with your coupons. Printed coupons folded in half and then half again fit perfectly. I usually jot the expiration date on the front so i can see it without having to remove the coupon. Coupons for the same item can all go in the same pocket
  • About once a month go through the binder and toss (or donate) the expired coupons.

Accordion File Method
  • Get a small envelope-style accordion coupon organizer
  • You can use this to organize all your coupons, but then you must flip through them all to locate the ones you want to use.
  • The file can also be used to pull out just the coupons you plan to use in your trip.
  • I use one with sections labeled for different stores I frequently shop at to sort coupons I plan to use at each store, or store-specific coupons. I also use a section in the front as a place to store coupons I am pulling throughout a big grocery haul, so they don’t get lost as I shop.

No-Clip Method
  • The no clip method saves time clipping coupons from newspaper coupon inserts
  • When you receive the inserts, write the date they were released on the front. Then, store them in an accordion file or in sheet protectors in a binder.
  • Print out an alphabetical list of coupons in each insert from a website that provides that service, and store the lists with the corresponding inserts.
  • Then when shopping, you can identify which coupons you will use from the coupon-matchup blogs or the coupon databases and clip only those coupons. No wasted time clipping coupons you will never use.
  • You may need to keep the inserts for up to four months before all the coupons have expired

Planning your Shopping Trip
Planning ahead is the best way to save money. Stick to your list and avoid impulse buys to also stick to your budget. However, having well organized coupons will help you scoop up unadvertised deals like Managers Specials, Overstock discounts, Clearance items, etc.
  • Some deals are quick. In and out with just a few coupons. I’ve found that since I’ve become a mom, my desire to run all over town with kids in and out of car seats is nil. If you follow couponing blogs and facebook pages, you'll be alerted to these deals and can jump on them.
  • Keep a running grocery list so you don't forget anything. There are apps for this, or magnetic paper pads to stick on your fridge. I have a chalk board in my kitchen with a list that my husband and I both add things to.whatever is functional for your family.
  • When it's time to shop, depending on your level of OCD, make a master  shopping list or better yet,  a spreadsheet
    • Organize it to correspond with the layout of your store.
    • On the list, you may want to put the expected price, how many you intend to buy, the value of the coupons you're using, and if there is a rebate. This is where a spreadsheet comes in handy.  
  • When planning a big shopping trip:
    • Peruse the blogs for the store you're planning to visit to see if there are any items at stock up prices or other coupon matchups you're interested in. Print the corresponding coupons and add the items to your list.
    • Look at the weekly circular and identify what sale items you might also be interested in. Add them to your list
    • Search a coupon database to find coupons for other items on your list that may not be in the sale flyer. Print those coupons
  • You can either pull the coupons you intend to use and keep them separate from your filed coupons (or never file them at all), or keep them filed and pull as you go once you're in the store.

After you Shop
  • If the store doesn’t have what you were looking for, ask for a rain check. This means you can go back after the sale and get the good price. Just make sure to go back before your coupon expires. I usually get my rain checks before I go through the freezer aisle, so my ice cream isn’t melting while the person at the customer service desk takes their sweet time writing up the rain checks.
  • As you are checking out, keep an eye on the register. Know what your total should be so that you can spot any inconsistencies.
  • If something didn’t ring up like it was supposed to, don’t be shy about returning the items in question or asking for a price adjustment.
  • If you go to use a product and it isn’t right - foreign matter in your frozen peas, not enough frosting in your toaster strudels, a bag of frozen french fries that wasn’t sealed properly, fruit that was already moldy [all of which have happened to me], call the manufacturer or bring it back to the store. Manufacturers will usually send you coupons for free product to compensate you for their error.
  • Don’t forget to file for your rebates!
Store Couponing Policies and Tips
Each store has their own couponing and price matching policies, as well as apps and store coupons that you can use. Learning these nuances is one of the main learning curves as you begin to coupon.  You may want to bookmark the policy, or memorize it, and recite it back to a cranky manager unwilling to your coupons. Ultimately it is the manager’s decision which coupons to accept, but being armed with the policy is helpful.

  • You can Price Match at the register. Their policy states you don’t need a circular as proof. They will also match certain online prices. See above notes regarding how YMMV.
  • Download the Walmart app to your phone to use their Savings Catcher feature, which automatically compares your receipt to local grocery circulars. It will credit you back the difference in an e-giftcard for use on future transactions.
  • Overages (if the coupon amount exceeds the price of the item) will be given as cash back or applied to the total bill.
  • Print coupons off their website (, but offers some unique coupons)
  • Use the pickup in store option to save money on shipping.
  • Southern Middle Tennessee and Northern Alabama (Nashville/Huntsville) Krogers double coupons of 50 cents or less. This is a great way to maximize savings!
  • Download the Kroger app to load digital coupons to your loyalty card. The can also be loaded to your card on the Kroger website. These are manufacturer coupons, so cannot be used with paper coupons on the same item.
  • I’ve started receiving two monthly coupon packs mailed to my house with coupons based on my previous purchases – often free cereal or carrots, and money off favorites like hummus, frozen veggies, and coffee.
  • Every Friday Kroger posts a “Free Friday Download” digital coupon to load to your card. Usually an item valued at about $1-$2 like a pack of gum, protein bar, single serve beverage, etc.
  • Kroger offers Fuel Rewards – for every $100 you spend you get 10 cents off gas at Shell and Kroger gas stations. Just enter your phone number in as the “Alternate ID” when beginning your gas transaction.
  • Some Krogers will limit the number of like coupons you can use in one transaction (2 printable, 4 total, etc.) You can either give the coupons and some cash to your toddler, leave and come back another time, beg and cry, or just accept your fate if you are met with a stickler cashier.
  • Kroger sales are often “Buy X, Save $Y”. As you shop, keep a running tally of how many of these mix-and-match items you’ve gathered. To get the additional discount on all the items, you must have a multiple of the “Buy X” amounts.
  • You can price match to other stores’ advertised prices at the customer service counter. They generally have access to all local circulars to verify.
  • Download the Cartwheel app to unlock digital coupons to use at the register
  • Print store coupons off their Website
  • Get their Red Card, which links to your checking account and saves you 5% on all purchases (and has other benefits like free shipping on web orders.
  • All of these can be combined with manufacturers’ coupons.
  • Scan your loyalty card at the red kiosk to get a printout of several store coupons.
  • Get coupons back on future purchases (“ExtraBucks”) when you buy select items as advertised, every time you fill 5 prescriptions, and quarterly based on how much you spend.  
  • Load coupons to your account by signing up for their email list - 15-30% off discounts are regularly available for non-sale items.
  • Store coupons, ExtraBucks, and percent off coupons can be combined with manufacturers’ coupons.
  • Download the app to access digital coupons.
  • Has a system of Balance Rewards - points that are loaded to your card based on how much you spend (10 points/dollar), with bonus points added when you make qualifying purchases. For every 5,000 points accumulated, you get a $5 store coupon.
  • There is a booklet of store coupons available in the front of the store that changes monthly. They can also be loaded to your card as paperless coupons. These coupons can be combined with sales and manufacturers’ coupons.
  • Coupons are often found in the weekly circular
Dollar General
  • Receipts often come with a $5 off $25 coupon printed at the bottom, redeemable the following Saturday
  • Download their app to load digital coupons to your account, which is accessed by entering your phone number at checkout
  • Sign up to receive coupons via text message
  • Watch for their clearance days – when it is 50 percent of the clearance price, you can score amazing deals, especially when combined with manufacturer’s coupons
Family Dollar
  • Download their app to load digital coupons to your account or load them on their website.
Aldi – does not accept coupons
Save-A-Lot – accepts coupons
Whole Foods
  • Has store coupons available to print on their website, which may be combined with manufacturer coupons.  
  • Digital coupons can be loaded on their app
  • If you buy a case of something you will get 10% off, which can also be stacked with coupons.
  • Their bulk bins are a great way to save money
Trader Joe’s – Let’s be honest, you’re there for the Two Buck Chuck
Sam’s Club/Costco - IN MY OPINION the bulk warehouse stores are NOT a great way to save money. You can USUALLY find a better price on things by couponing. It is a quick way to get things at a reasonably good price, but I don’t recommend joining unless you’re going to make some big purchases there in a year (I hear Costco’s return policy is very forgiving on something pricey that could easily break, like a robot vacuum)
Online shopping/Chrome browser extensions
  • Ebates - visit this site before buying anything online and you’ll get cash back! Use referral code KJEFFR22
  • Amazon Prime – Pay the fee to join and get benefits like free 2-day shipping, streaming tv shows & movies, music, photo storage, etc. Use Subscribe and Save to get 15% off select items, which combined with their digital coupons can be cheaper and more convenient than driving all over town. Join under Amazon Mom and get 20% off diapers & wipes, and other benefits. Register through the link as a referral!
  • CamelCamelCamel – track the price history on Amazon items to see if you are buying at a good deal (as their prices fluctuate wildly). You can also set up alerts when an item reaches a certain desired price
  • Honey – compares Amazon prices to other websites and applies coupon codes at checkout from other online retailers. Use referral code 7ix94y.
  • Wikibuy – compares online prices before you checkout and syncs with Ebates. Use referral code 60060.
  • Retail Me Not – find coupon codes for online retailers.