Watch me spend $520 at Albertsons in less than five days…

by Angela Davis on June 20, 2011

Guess what my husband & I did on our way out of town Friday? We purchased some gift cards at Albertsons to take advantage of the $20 Catalina that printed through Saturday.

Okay, we purchase a lot of gift cards. $3000 worth to be exact.

Before you go all crazy on me, let me explain. My husband flips starter homes for a living and does a lot of Home Depot, Lowe’s and Best Buy shopping, so those cards will be used in a matter of weeks. We are also planning a Southwest Airlines trip this summer, so those are accounted for as well. And I love McDonald’s Iced Mochas and Starbucks’ Cinnamon Dulce Lattes. It’s my indulgence, and since I’m buying them anyway, I may as well get some free groceries out of the deal.

Three of our Catalinas did not print and are coming in the mail soon (with no expiration dates!) and we used one cat to feed the four starving children lunch (you should have seen the thrashing to and fro), so we have only have $520 to spend at Albertsons before this Friday. I realized this morning as I left the dentist that I need to come up with a plan and quick. Totally milking the free babysitting from my 15-year-old nephew, I stopped by my local Albertsons to start a spendin’.

To keep myself from buying $520 worth of Starbucks Frappucinos, I had to come up with some purchasing goals. Here’s what I’m going to focus on:

  • Sale and clearanced meat that I know how to cook and enjoy eating that will freeze well
  • Dairy that keeps for a long time — yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, butter, etc.
  • Produce for the next two weeks
  • Toiletries and medications that I am running low on or rarely go on sale
  • Items that make my husband happy

I started walking the outside loop of the store where the “real food” is housed. Since I usually purchase my produce from Safeway (it’s much closer to my home), I never go through Albertsons’ produce section. I was pleasantly surprised to find great prices on a number of items (broccoli, cantaloupe, lettuce).

The sweet feeling in my soul vanished as I entered the dairy section — the prices were very high. Higher than I want to pay even if it’s technically free. We did need some sour cream and cottage cheese, so I just closed my eyes and put the tubs in my cart.

I found some clearanced meat — both $1 and $3 off stickers on seasoned dark meat chicken (for the kids and Will when I am going out for dinner — I truly do not enjoy the taste of it) and Laura’s natural ground beef.

I was planning on hitting Costco this morning for more allergy medication, but I figured that I could save a trip and just overpay for Albertsons generic. And overpay I did. Again, I just closed my eyes and placed the generic Allegra in the cart. I can’t breathe without the stuff (stinkin’ grass).

Yes, some Starbucks Frapps ended up in the transaction. Not sure how that happened…

My total for the entire lot (including two large packages of baby wipes that didn’t make it into the picture) was $124.51. I did not use a single coupon, but my cashier did run over to the customer service desk to grab the Tillamook cheese store coupon out of the weekly ad.

As I busted out six $20 Catalinas, the cashier told me that he thought there was a “one per transaction” limit. I almost threw up. He was right. I should really start reading the actual coupon before using it. Without me asking, he motioned the manager to come over to see what she could do for me. Luckily she did allow me to use all six cats. She was polite, but clearly not pleased (I can’t blame her).

My cashier then proclaimed, “Best customer service in the 503!”

Awesome.

Now, my husband and I have an additional challenge: Figuring out what to buy along with how to manage all the transactions we will have to do. At this point, we have twenty $20 transactions to spread out over the next four days. It’s going to take a good amount of concentrated effort. We must block out all distractions and focus on the task at hand.

So, here’s the question: Do you want to see the rest of our shopping trips over the next four days? Is this remotely interesting to anyone but me?

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{ 121 comments… read them below or add one }

Carol June 23, 2011 at 5:04 pm

What are the dates for the gift card catalina?

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Kate June 23, 2011 at 9:24 pm

It ended yesterday.

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Michele June 22, 2011 at 11:46 am

And you can register your Starbucks card for even more savings!

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Elizabeth June 21, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Hi, I am completely confused are you just trying to spend a certain about of money to get? What is the deal that you are doing? I am really confused. Thank you.

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Kate June 21, 2011 at 10:14 pm
Courtney Holcomb June 21, 2011 at 8:27 pm

Can you use cats to buy more gift cards? Amazon!

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viktoria June 21, 2011 at 7:58 pm

Am I the only one who would use those cats to stock up on beer and wine? Perfect for BBQs and holiday gift giving….just sayin’.

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ruthann June 21, 2011 at 4:12 pm

so that’s why we aren’t seeing you at soccer camp… you have to spend all your time figuring out how to spend your albertson’s money!!! we miss you!

that’s an awesome amount of gift cards!!

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Ginni June 21, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Hi! Thanks so much for sharing this. My husband is a contractor so I’d LOVE to take advantage of it since I still can. I’m a little confused.
I’ve been looking at this & pondering. I’m sorry I’m new to all of this but really enjoy your blog.
1st… the $3000 in gift cards did you do them all in ONE transaction? For some reason I thought only 1 catalina would print per transaction.
2nd…For some reason I also thought it was only for the 5 gift cards that were showing & starbucks wasn’t included in that. Am I wrong in thinking that?
Thanks so much for the help!

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Twin Mom June 21, 2011 at 3:12 pm

1) Up to 5 catalinas will print per transaction. To spend $3000, you’d need to do 6 transactions (and find a store that had enough gift cards)

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Minton June 21, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Suggestion: I would suggest buying up Kelloggs Selected cereal so you can get (5) $10.00 Debit Cards
(Total of $50.00 max per household)

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joan June 21, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Yes, yes, yes!!!

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Heather Gonzales June 21, 2011 at 1:44 pm

I would LOVE to see the rest of your transactions! I did the gift card deal by getting $100 worth of Ticketmaster cards to pay for tickets for my husband and I to see Les Miserables (an event that was already planned). Then, I took my $20 catalina and bought just under 20 pounds worth of split chicken breasts that were on sale for $0.99/pound. That makes about 20 pounds of meat for free!

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Nancy E. June 21, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Would love to see what you do with them. Thanks for the great blog! Love it!

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Amanda June 21, 2011 at 1:32 pm

yes!!!! share!!!

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Rachel June 21, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Would love to see what you come up with. Do you have any friends or family getting married that you could put together a “cleaning supply” gift basket, or other baskets of baby stuff for a new mom, or sparkling cider and fun stuff for a bridal shower……..Supplies for a bday party? Albertsons is so overpriced!!

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kimmy June 21, 2011 at 11:08 am

can you use $20 cat from the gift card and use it towards another gift card and get another cat?

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Jennifer June 21, 2011 at 11:40 am

Gift cards are excluded from the cat purchase.

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Maegen June 21, 2011 at 10:10 am

I haven’t done this deal, because I just didn’t want to put out any more cash this month.

I love seeing your trips, though. It reminds me of that show, Supermarket Sweep. Did anyone but me watch that?

My husband and I were fantasizing about how we’d spend a grocery card if we won one (we were doing that Monopoly game from Top Foods-we haven’t won anything but one lousy cup of yogurt)! Anyway, we decided we’d probably focus on meats as well, and maybe produce that freezes well, like berries-or maybe even frozen berries! I’d probably also do cheese and bread, and maybe get some peanut butter and tuna for the food bank.

Anyway, I do hope you post your future trips. I get a kick out of your writing as much as your deals!

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Brenda June 21, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Yes, I loved that show, Supermarket Sweep! In fact, a few weeks ago my sister and I were talking about it and wishing they would show re-runs of it.

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Sara June 22, 2011 at 1:04 pm

My husband and I watched Supermarket Sweep all the time when we first got married! Loved that show!

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Jen June 21, 2011 at 9:47 am

Did this the other day and used my cat along with coupons to purchase some of the pizza and wings combo’s. Had one of them last night and they are pretty good and made for a quick and easy meal.

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Mary B June 21, 2011 at 9:24 am

We are going on trip in August flying Southwest. Bought $500 in SW air. Spent over my $100 in cats last night (with hubby in tow). I am in Portland area. We bought cottage cheese (doesn’t expire until 7/11) and a ton of Bryers ice cream-no beepage! We also bought Coke (separate transactions to get free one), frozen pizzas, Sobe, bread, tomato juice. We used some coupons, (like the Bryers) and almost everything was on sale. Spent $100 cat and $19.22 in oop. It was very hard not shopping for a deal. But, it is more fun with free $$$

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Jennifer June 21, 2011 at 11:41 am

Your date is within the fare sale time frame…should check out their website today or tomorrow….

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nikki June 21, 2011 at 9:09 am

yes please, i am interested.

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tilla ham June 21, 2011 at 8:43 am

I was so upset by the high prices at Albertsons right now. The meat is ridiculous, my daughter wanted a package of cheese oscar meyer hot dogs and they were 6.99. Even with the cats, I couldn’t do that. Sausage was also 6.99 and these exact same items are regular 4.49 at safeway so I do not understand. I had 120 in cats, i was hoping to make them go far, half went to 2 small bags..super sad. The other half today, I honestly may end up spending on junk like ice cream, and some produce. the meat is just disturbingly high.

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Rachel R. June 21, 2011 at 8:41 am

LOVE it, please show us the rest of your trips!

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Jennifer June 21, 2011 at 8:38 am

There is a fare sale currently going on at Southwest (web only). Cheapest flights from Portland to Los Angeles (area) that I have seen in a long time…just $80 each way!! With your gift cards, you might be able to score some cheap flights!!

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Becky June 21, 2011 at 8:22 am

Awesome. I totally agree with the prices being high. I had 80.00 to burn and was thinking how much farther my money would have gone had this been a real catalina that could be used at other stores (Fred Meyer is my choice). I had a hard time spending the money on high priced items, even knowing they were “free”. I was told by my store (I did not do this though) that you could use more than one in a transaction, even though the coupon said one per trans. Anyway, another way to maximize is to use the five off twenty five that you get for signing up for Albertson’s emails and then referring friends. I was able to turn my $80.00 into $100 this way.

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Jennifer June 21, 2011 at 7:04 am

I must say that I loved the Albertsons cat deal. I saw our Safeway had a similar deal but at half the amounts ($50 in gift cards and a $10 cat). The 1 week expiration and limit of one per transaction is the real bummer. I have been buying 2 amazon gift cards a week (I can just put the card on my amazon account to use whenever we need diapers or wipes or birthday presents). I have used the $40 each week to first get produce for the week and then stock up on meat. I must say that it has been pretty sweet!

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Cara Kaiser June 21, 2011 at 1:00 am

This sounds like something we did. My husband is a contractor and needed home depot cards as well. I have been spending them a little at a time. My Albertsons let me use multiples in the same transaction. They were also going to let me use them if they were separated into smaller transactions. I used mine to buy meat to stock the freezer!

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Laura June 20, 2011 at 11:39 pm

yes I am interested!!!!!!

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Sheila June 20, 2011 at 11:16 pm

My vote: Yes, please share! It is inspiring!

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Kimberly June 20, 2011 at 11:15 pm

I bought $400 worth of gift cards for graduations, father’s day, birthdays and Christmas, as well as for stuff I was already planning on purchasing. I have spent three of the catalinas so far on things like ice cream, meat, etc. Cat ran with no problems with the ice cream. For my last cat, I am going to wait until I see the ad tomorrow to see if next week’s sales look better. I would love to see what kind of purchases you end up with.

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heather June 20, 2011 at 11:00 pm

I’d love to see them…do you have any idea…if I were to purchase tomorrow would it be 7 days til it expires?

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Melissa June 20, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Somebody might have already posted this but you can also use the Albertsons cats at Fred Meyer. They let me do 2 transactions in a row and I used 2 of my catalinas:o)

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Becky June 21, 2011 at 8:46 am

My thought was since they did not say manufacture coupon on them like most Catalinas do and instead said store coupon that FM would not take them. I would have much rather spent my money there, it would have gone much further.

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