book 281x300 Giveaway: Couponing For The Rest of UsAnd now for something completely different: a coupon expert who doesn’t like coupons.

Kasey Knight Trennum, who blogs at Time 2 $ave/Time 2 Give, says that she’s never sung the praises of coupons. Ask her about “the joys of saving a ton of money,” however, and she’ll get pretty vocal.

More than vocal: Trennum wrote a book, “Couponing For The Rest of Us: The Not-So-Extreme Guide to Saving More,” that’s designed to help readers save money “without it becoming an obsession.”

The author offers information on topics like deciphering “sales cycles,” how to locate coupons for items your family actually eats, smart stockpiling, making the Internet do most of the legwork, and turning saving into sharing.

And again, a sane approach: “I can’t stress enough (that) balance is the key to making couponing work for you. You have to figure out how to make it fit into your world; it cannot become your world.”

In addition to the book, this week’s winner will also get a cute little green accordion-style folder. After all, some coupons are still made of paper rather than pixels.

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th8 Good to the last drop: Getting full use of condiments.Our fridge door is full of jars and bottles, some of which look odd. For example, the contents of a spicy brown mustard bottle may seem pale and grainy, or there might be a jar of brine without any pickles. A small jar of homemade jam looks all but empty; so does a bottle of ranch dressing.

When these and other condiments run low, we turn them into something else. If a mayonnaise jar has shoulders that keep us from getting all of it – even with a spatula – we take that as a personal challenge. That last little bit of catsup that won’t come out, even if the bottle stands on its head all night? It will be ours.

Sure, it’s just a few cents’ worth of food, if that. But we see no reason to waste it. Besides, it encourages culinary creativity.

If you too are frustrated by the inaccessibility of those last drops, try these tactics.

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th4 Want to save 50% at the supermarket? Heres help.Recently I wrote about the “10,000 Reasons to Save” campaign and contest sponsored by Valpak and Coupon users are invited to share their short- or long-term goals and explain how smart coupon use supports those goals.

There’s still time to enter, since the deadline isn’t until 11:59:59 p.m. Eastern on Sept. 15. All you have to do is detail your dream in 250 to 500 words and enter it at this website.

And if you’re still not sure how to use coupons? There’s a webinar for that.

10,000 Reasons to Coupon,” a free program is co-sponsored by and LearnVest, takes place on Thursday, Sept. 26. During the hour-long presentation Laura Harders of Beltway Bargain Mom and Lynette Rice of Cleverly Simple will walk you through the basics of “realistic” couponing:

  • Finding and organizing the Qs
  • Meal planning
  • Seeing through “marketing traps”
  • Tips to avoid overspending

In addition, certified financial planner Ellen Derrick will offer budgeting basics and information on LearnVest’s financial planning tools.

There’s no charge to sign up, and doing so will net you some money-saving techniques.

And enter that contest, will you? I sure would love to hear that a Surviving and Thriving reader won the $10,000 grand prize, or even one of the four $500 other prizes. If you make the finals let me know and I’ll do what I can to get readers over to look at (and vote on!) your entry.

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groceries 9 cheap (and non toxic!) “convenience” foods.Nobody ever went broke underestimating consumers’ willingness to pay a premium for convenience. Spending extra to get on the plane before everyone else.

Picking up milk and bread at the 7-Eleven to dodge the supermarket hordes. Ordering takeout because they’re too tired to cook. Buying a one-ounce “toddler pack” of Cheerios to carry in the diaper bag.

Really? That grab-and-go pack of cereal works out to as much as $27.50 a pound! Fill up your own container, already.

Convenience food does have its place, especially if a $5.99 rotisserie chicken keeps you from ordering $40 worth of Thai food. (Or if ordering a strategic pizza allows you to spend time with family and/or taking better care of yourself.)

But if you keep certain frugal convenience foods on hand, you won’t have to resort to takeout as often (if ever).

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I didn’t get to the supermarket for a few days after my arrival in Anchorage. Until then, I used the milk and oatmeal my hostess already had. When I mentioned that I’d be replacing what I used, she looked surprised.

“Uh, that’s really old milk. I meant to warn you off it,” she said.

It had tasted fine to me. That is to say, it tasted about as good as nonfat milk ever tastes – like the water they used to wash a cow. All that mattered to me is that it loosened up the oats in the bowl.

I nearly changed my tune when I checked the “sell by” date: April 5. It was then May 6. I was drinking milk a month past its prime.

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