1 in 7 Americans are now on food stamps. It is a great program that helps keep our people from facing starvation, and it also keeps our political system more stable. I wish things were different, but they aren’t.
Sometimes, you NEED things that are non-edible, and face it, if you are qualified for food stamps, it’s because you don’t have a lot of expendable cash. I’m going to be blunt. Babies need diapers, toilet paper certainly helps wipe butts, people NEED to wash their bodies, men need razors, and females that menstruate need tampons and pads.
There is a way to manipulate ‘the system’ in order to get the basic items that you might need. It won’t ever be a ‘cash cow’ for anyone, but these techniques can help meet basic human needs. First, you really need to use coupons to buy groceries with, even if you DO get food stamps. This will help you stretch your allotment to go all month and leave you some extra to work with. If you’re really diligent about it, you can even be able to afford to STOCKPILE and/or donate to others while you are at it.
Of course, food stamps are ONLY for edible items that are marked as grocery. Here’s how you get the other things you might need, after all, it certainly helps someone find a job if they can afford gas, and can shave and wear antiperspirant to the interview!
Locate the stores close to you that give back rewards for your next in-store purchases. For instance, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, and CVS all do this and are probably the easiest stores to work with. Target sometimes offers giftcards if you buy a certain thing in a certain amount. They DO take food stamps for food items. If you aren’t sure, check the store’s corporate website. Kroger and grocery stores that provide Catalina printouts can also be used to help you convert food stamp purchases into rewards that can be used for non-food items.
Next, collect all the rebates you can find on food items. Rebates are often found on items in stores, hanging from the neck of a bottle, or in the newspaper. Also keep your eyes open for little tear pads of rebates in the stores. If you buy the butter, you get a rebate.
For instance, there might be a rebate of a new type of butter. Buy the butter using your food stamps AND a coupon if you can, and make sure you FILE the rebate. In a few weeks you will get a check for 3.59 or whatever the amount of the rebate was. It will cost you a stamp. It doesn’t seem like much, but if you do rebates very often, you will have a bit of money coming in every day – and you do not have to claim rebates on your taxes. They are considered sales promotions, not income. Usually you can file one rebate per address, but read them, sometimes you can file 2!
Another way to convert the food stamps into non-food items is to shop the drug stores and the grocery stores that offer reward points or money back on your next purchase. I’ll use, for my example, CVS.
Last week CVS had a special on Cheeze-its and candy items and a few other things. If you bought 30.00 worth, you got a 10.00 gift card for gas. As long as you are buying grocery items, you CAN use food stamps. I bought 15 boxes of Cheeze-its. The Cheeze-its were $2.00 a box. I had coupons for $1.00 a box, which they let me use. I paid 15.00 cash(which could have been paid in food stamps if I got them) and I got back a $10.00 BP gas card. Now I didn’t NEED 15 boxes of Cheese-its. All the teen kids hanging out around here appreciate them though.
Effectively, the crackers cost me .33 a box. (Plus sales tax, but that can vary widely from place to place, so I’m leaving it off my example amounts.) That’s enough to last as long as they are good for, and plenty to SHARE with friends or neighbors, or to donate. AND, if I had used food stamps to pay for my crackers, I would have just converted it to gas money. CVS does these gas card deals nearly every week lately. Just check the sales papers. You can get BP or SHELL gas cards. (Sometimes they will limit you to 4 coupons a transaction, but you can do multiple transactions because these deals ROLL, meaning, you don’t have to buy everything at once, the store computer will keep track of what you buy for the entire week.)
Every week, the drug stores put out sales ads with special deals where if you buy something, you get a store printed paper that is good for a certain amount off your next purchase. YOU CANNOT USE THESE for tobacco or beer, but about anything else is fine. LOOK for the deals that is grocery that offer the reward certificates.
IE, Rite Aid recently offered Welch’s Juice. Buy 15.00 worth, get $5.00 back in UP rewards. (UP Rewards is the name of their program.) The juice was 2/$5.00 and there were $1.00 coupons out on it. SO you’d buy 6 bottles. You would use your food stamps to pay 9.00 which would be the cost after coupons. You would receive 5.00 in UP rewards and possibly a survey worth $3/15 on your receipt. That is $5.00-$8.00 that you can use to buy anything you need with that is NOT grocery.
If you get FREE coupons from offers or deals that you find online, then you can put THOSE together to make up a purchase that is 12.00 and then you can use your $3/15 coupon to go towards something else you might need. That’s just one strategy for using free coupons to get more with. When you can combine the free coupons with the reward offerings, you can really make some money. For instance, I recently got a $10.00 reward when I used a free coupon for some hair color.
Now all of this takes time and it is work. You’ve got to be willing to find and organize the coupons, and search for the deals and generally you will need to shop every week or every two weeks, since the reward certificates have expiration dates.
Here are two sites that will help you tremendously.
I heart CVS
I Heart Rite Aid
If you have questions, please ask. I’ll do my best to answer them.