How to write to companies!

People always ask me how I get my coupons and tell me that they can’t find it. I have the same problem, there aren’t that many coupons online, at least not if you live in the U.K. like I do. That’s why you’ve got to be proactive when it comes to couponing and use every strategy possible to get them on a fairly regular basis. One way is to write letters to your favourite, and not so favourite, companies. Which is what I’ll be covering in this blog post.

  1. Pick out your favourite brands that you use on a regular basis and have a look at the back of their pack – there should be an address there where you can send letters and queries. Write down these addresses along with the names of the companies, so you don’t get them mixed up. This is where you’ll be sending your letters.
  2. Make sure that each letter is personalized to each company and don’t clip in sentences from other letters to the current one (if you’re using the computer to write your letters), since this can backfire completely. If you manage to get a comment like “my dog loves it” in a letter to a chocolate company, then that shows that you either abuse your dog by giving it chocolate or that you’re reusing parts of the letter from a previous one to a dogfood manufacturer. This isn’t a problem, really when you write by hand, but make sure that you know who you’re writing to so you don’t write the wrong company name by mistake.
  3. Write your letter by hand, unless your handwriting is very hard to read. If you have severe problems with spelling, for example due to dyslexia, then I recommend that you either have someone help you write out the letter or use a computer with a spell check. Then you can write your letter, print it and then sign your name at the bottom. It should look proper and be easy to read to strangers. Also, if you use a pen – make sure that you don’t have too many crossed over words, rewrite the letter if you need to just to make it look nice and proper.
  4. In your letter, compliment the company in a nice and honest way. Don’t overdo it, lie or use grandeur – they can smell those sorts of things from a mile away and it’s very off putting to try and suck up to them. Be honest and natural in your praise.
  5. Tell them why you like their products and be sure to specify exactly what products it is that you often buy and use. This helps them to know why a certain product sells and can ensure that they keep making it.
  6. If you have any suggestions for improvements on a product you use, tell them in a nice way. Companies also likes it when their customers give them suggestions of new flavour combinations or fragrances that you’d like them to start making, so be sure to suggest it to them.
  7. If you’re writing to a pet food company then include a photo of your pet(s) to them and make sure that it’s a cute photo. Write the name(s) in your letter and on the backside of the photograph and tell them what products that they really like the most. If you can’t get a photo, then have the pet leave an inked paw print at the end of the letter.
  8. Your kids can be a part of writing to a company too, if you have them. Have them write a thank-you card and/or make a drawing to their favourite food or toy brands. Be creative!
  9. Don’t ask for coupons or vouchers, as it can be of putting to most companies. You’re not a beggar, so keep some class when you write the letter. I know that this may seem like a contradiction, but your whole letter might come across as a bit fake if at first you compliment them and in the end you ask for/demand coupons – see what I’m getting at?
  10. Don’t forget to put your home address in the letter, just to make sure that they know where to send their reply and always sign with your first and last name in a clear fashion – they should know who sent it and where they can send a reply.
  11. Remember that most companies will just send out a standard thank-you letter, don’t expect everyone to send you a lot of coupons or freebies. Some will, but certainly not every company does this. I’ve had more standardized thank-you letters without anything in them than I’ve had letters containing coupons.
  12. When it comes to complains – don’t complain unless you’ve got a genuine complain. If you have a complaint it’s usually easier to go on to their website and fill in a form. Again, remember to add your home address so that they can send a reimbursement to your home.
  13. Don’t write too often! They’ll start recognizing you and can become less prone to sending you coupons and freebies. But do send them cards for the holidays – Christmas, Channukka, Eid etc.
  14. Finally – always be polite and nice in your letters! This is the most important thing of them all.
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What are coupons & why should you use them?

Coupons have been around for decades now, but few of us actually know how to use them, think that they’re something for old people or poor people. BUT! While it may be true that old people and people with limited means use them, middle class people use them too to help them save money and spend it on other things. Or, they’ve been inspired by a certain TV-show on TLC.

Have you watched Extreme Couponing on TLC or on the internet and now you want to do that for yourself, but don’t know where to begin? Well, look no further – this is The Poor Man’s Guide to the Galaxy’s very own “Couponing 101” crash course, which will teach you the foundations of couponing. Not extreme couponing like you see on the telly, but everyday couponing that will reduce your grocery bill by at least 40% every week – reasonable and responsible couponing! If you want to use these skills like the ladies (and gentlemen) of the TV show, go for it – just remember to not clear the shelves while you’re at it.

A coupon is a piece of paper (or a piece of data on you mobile) that has a specific value of a certain product or a range of products from a manufacturer, all specified on the coupon itself. Let’s say that you have a coupon worth 1£ off Pixie washing up liquid Platinum and the bottle costs 2.50£. That means that you get a 1£ rebate if you have the coupon scanned by the cashier at the checkout. The bottle will, after the coupon is applied, cost you £1.50 instead. However: you can’t cash in the coupon all by itself without purchasing the product that it’s valid on, as it holds no value without the product. It’s like a gift card, you can use it in the shop, but not exchange it for hard cash. Every coupon has a different value and ranges anywhere from 20p and up to about 1£. Those are the regular coupons and anything beyond that is called “high value coupons” because of their higher value. The high value ones are rarer and don’t get distributed as often as the lower valued ones. Coupons are also often called vouchers in the U.K.

These days you can find coupons of off anything, basically, from milk to microwaves and the sky’s the limit on the types of coupons that are out there. But why should you be using them on your groceries? Most people I meet say that it just doesn’t pay to clip, look for, print and use the coupons – they don’t save anything, or a minimal amount! Well, then you’re using them wrong. It’s like with anything, you need to educate yourself on how to use this to your advantage, which the vast majority don’t do. But, with the easy steps that I’m going to show you in this educational series you can save at least 40-50% on your grocery bill, without even feeling like it’s a lot of work. Honestly, who wouldn’t like to spend less for more? This doesn’t even mean that you have to compromise on what you normally eat, it just means a bit more planning but other than that – nothing changes. You can even use vouchers to save on other things that groceries; travel, holiday, everyday things like coffee (or covfefe…), going to the cinema, fast food etc. You can live a full life, with more savings to spend on other things; paying of your mortgage at a higher rate, pay your debts faster, student loans can be memory much faster and you can start building a savings account for your retirement or unexpected costs.

 

According to my calculations I’ve saved about 1200£ since I started using coupons 3 years ago; that’s 400£/year! And you could do even better!

 

 

Couponing 101 – now available on Fiverr

I’ve just joined the site Fiverr. If you’re not familiar with the site, it provides a ton of different services for 5$ and up and it’s everything from having someone draw a birthday card for you to someone tucking you in at night and singing you to sleep with songs.

https://www.fiverr.com/poor_mans_guide (my profile)

 

I’ve just started offering a course in couponing for beginners and it has 3 different tiers: Bronze, Silver and Gold – each with its own exclusive material! You can even have me coming with you to the shops for a personalised experience (T&C applies)! So, if you’re interested in learning what exactly couponing is and the foundations of it: click the link and reserve a package for you or your friends today!

 

MORE PACKAGES WILL BE AVAILABLE IN THE NEAR FUTURE! Please send a message or write a comment if there’s something you’d like me to sell on Fiverr.

Tikka Masala

This might not be the original version of tikka masala, but it’s a good one – one that I make every time I make tikka masala. If carrots and chickpeas aren’t cheap when you want to make it, feel free to add other vegetables – for example peas, cabbage, bell peppers etc.

Ingredients:

500gr chicken fillets

1 onion

1 can of chickpeas

1 carrot

3 cloves of garlic

1 can of coconut milk

5dl cream (1 pint/2cups)

2 cubes of chicken stock

1-2 packs of Tikka Masala spice pouches

Paprika powder, salt and turmeric

Butter to fry in

½dcl tomato purée

2tbsp soy sauce

Instructions

  1. Grate the carrot, chop the onion finely and press the garlic cloves
  2. Chop the chicken fillets to cubes
  3. Empty the can of chickpeas in a strainer and rinse them with cold water to get rid of the salt water
  4. Heat up a large frying pan or a cast iron skillet and fry all the vegetables, except the chickpeas until they’re brown
  5. Add the chicken and let it get some color too, but it doesn’t have to ready in the center
  6. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix it well.
  7. Let it simmer for at least 10 minutes. Put in salt, paprika powder and turmeric to taste.

Final gingerbread count

I made gingerbread biscuits the other day and the final count for that was 128 biscuits at a cost of about 3€, since I had all of the ingredients at home already. The cost for every biscuit is about 2c, which is a VERY good price for a homemade biscuit. You can, of course, find the recipe a previous blog post – just search for it among the recipes. If you want to make biscuits a bit fancier you can mix 4dl of powdered sugar with 1dl water into a paste and then pipe it on the biscuits. There are food colors at the grocery shops if you want to make different colours too and it only makes them a couple of cents more expensive, depending on what brand of powdered sugar you use and if you colour the sugar paste.

Bolognese sauce recipe

Ingredients

400 gr minced meat (half and half)

2 onions

Flour to thicken the sauce

Tomato paste

1 cube of meat stock

1-2 cans of tomato sauce (or baked beans in tomato sauce)

A few splashes of soy sauce (can be omitted if you’re allergic to soy)

2 dl water

3 cloves of garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

Pasta of your choice

 

Instructions

  1. Chop the onions finely, it helps if you have a Nicer Dicer or an Alligator (I have an Alligator and I love it!)
  2. Heat up a pan with high edges until it’s very hot
  3. Melt the butter and fry the onion in it until it’s got a nice brown colour and the liquid is gone.
  4. Put in the minced meat (I use one that is 60 % beef and 40% pork since it’s cheaper, but you can of course use only pork or beef if you don’t eat either pork or beef.) and fry it until it too has got a nice brown colour and there are no raw bits. Let the liquid evaporate!
  5. Put in some thickening. This is individual: if you want a thick sauce then you use a bit more and if you want a thin sauce you put in only a bit. I prefer a thin sauce since I can make it last longer.
  6. Press in the garlic cloves (or garlic powder) along with the rest of the ingredients (except the pasta of course) and stir until well mixed.
  7. Season it to taste.
  8. Turn down the heat to low and let it simmer while you cook the pasta to perfection.
  9. The sauce only gets better if you allow it to simmer for a while.

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If you’re allergic to any of the ingredients, then substitute them:

  1. Tomatoes – ajvar relish
  2. Soy sauce – omit, it’s only in for the colour anyway
  3. Onions – carrots

 

The recipe can be made vegetarian by using soy minced meat and vegetable stock instead of the beef one.

You can make the recipe even cheaper by lessen the amount of meat, which is the most expensive part of the recipe, and substitute it with 2 large, grated carrots instead and not even taste the difference.

Kellogg’s Urlegender Crunchy Müsli (review)

So, a while ago I bought three packs (I think) of a new Kellogg’s product that I haven’t seen before and thought I might try. img_2020

It’s the Kellogg’s new Urlegender crunchy müsli and it was on sale for 2.50€ since it was about to expire. Its main ingredients are: rye, chiaseeds, Sultanas and pumpin seeds – so it’s not gluten, but it is vegan since it doesn’t contain any milk or egg products. One portion consists of 45 gr (192 kcals), but it’s easy to eat double that with yoghurt.

I tried it on its own, one bowl with yoghurt and one bowl with milk, just to get the differences and most common variations.

 

To start with eating the müsli (or granola if you’re American), I found it very difficult to eat with your hands. This due to it falling apart and not really being clumpy enough to eat it without spilling it everywhere. Some honey, or something else that makes it bind together, to bind it together to rocks would have been nice and made it easier to eat. I would not recommend you to eat it on its own, unless it’s in a bowl on your chest close to your face.

As for eating it with milk it’s almost the same thing as with the first option: since it’s not really clumps it sticks in your thorat when you swallow it and I had to drink a lot of extra fluids to get it down properly.

My favourite option was to eat the crunchy müsli with yoghurt, simply because it was the easiest way to swallow it and not make a complete mess. It goes well with all types of yoghurt really, vegan or regular.

 

To state the positive sides of it:

  1. It tastes nice and is not too sweet – if your eat it with yoghurt that is. I found that the sugars in it was released into the milk and made it really overpowering , almost to the point of being too sweet to eat.
  2. It has a ziplock to prevent it from going bad, your pets from getting in to it etc. It’s easy to use for being a ziplock.
  3. Pretty high in protein and fibre, which is nice.

The negative sides:

  1. It’s difficult to chew, especially the Sultanas, and it doesn’t really get any better when you have it in liquids (milk or yoghurt). My jaw started to hurt after a while and it made it hard to eat everything.
  2. The calorie count is REALLY high: 100 gr = 427 cals, 45 gr (1 port) = 192 cals. The amount of carbohydrates is quite high too.
  3. It’s difficult to eat on its own and with milk. See higher up for a better explanation

 

To sum it up I think I pretty much like it, but I will NOT buy it after I’ve finished the packs that I have at home. The negative stuff outweighs the good to much for me to take a liking to the müsli.