What I have learned about couponing, pt. 3

Previous posts in this series:

Part 1
Part 2

I hope some of the revelations I’ve had about making coupons more effective have been helpful to you! I may not be very active in couponing these days, but I can still pass on what I’ve learned.

  1. You don’t have to buy the number specified on a “# for $X” deal. My grocery store frequently frequently advertises its “10 for $10” deal. I know that I used to think you had to buy that number of items to get the price. Not too long ago, I was shopping with my BF and he too thought that you had to buy 10 to get the $1/item price. The good news is that in most cases, you don’t have to buy that many. Seriously. If I wanted to buy one, I’d get it for a dollar. If I had a $1/off coupon for that item…yes, that’s right, I’d get it for FREE! (my favorite!!) This also applies for 2 for $5, 3 for $4, or whatever the deal may be. Now, for the disclaimer: Sometimes the fine print does say that you have to buy the number specified to get the price, but that will vary from store to store. Just ask if you’re not sure! As I said, at my grocery store, you’re free to buy whatever number you want and can still get the deal.
  2. You can use 2 coupons on BOGO free deals. Say what? Let’s say a pharmacy (like CVS or Walgreens) is having a buy-one-get-one-free sale on toilet paper. The tp is $5.99 a pack, and this week, it’s BOGO free. Obviously, you can get two packs of the tp for $5.99 total. Furthermore, let’s say you have two coupons for this brand and type of tp. The coupon is for $2 off one pack. Now, this is the part that blew my mind when I initially learned of its magical existence: you can use both of your $2-off-one coupons, even though one item is priced “free”. You would then get two packs for $1.99 (after taking $2 off two packs). It really gets exciting when you have two coupons that, when added together, equal the cost of the item. That is, if you bought the aforementioned tp and used two $3-off-one coupons, you could get two packs for FREE!
  3. Rebates can work! Let me background this one: When I was growing up, I would read all the signs in the stores as my mom shopped. Sometimes, at office supply stores, I’d see a sign saying you could get an item for FREE. When I pointed it out to my mom, though, she said that it wasn’t free; you had to pay for it and then send in a form to get your money back, which didn’t always work. This lead me to believe that rebate offers were untrustworthy and should be ignored. Once I began couponing and researching about it, I noticed everyone talking about rebates. Apparently, they can work! Now, my personal experience with them is too detailed to outline here, but I can say that the Walgreens EasySaver program is reliable and can be worth a look. Overall, my experience with rebates in general has been excellent–so far. I know that occasionally you can get burned, but if you’re buying something you need anyways, it’s not as much of a risk. How do coupons factor in here? Well, at Walgreens, if you use a manufacturer’s coupon, you still get the full amount of the rebate. That is, if Walgreens is offering a $5 rebate on $5 aspirin and you have a $2-off coupon for that aspirin, you can still get $5 back from Walgreens, thus actually making money from the rebate.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my series on couponing. If you don’t use coupons now, the good news is that you don’t have to throw yourself into it to make these tips work. If you’re already getting the Sunday paper and you want to try these tips, pull out the grocery/drugstore ads and the coupon inserts, and see if anything you already buy is on sale. Or, do as I do, and save time: check out the many blogs run by those hardcore couponers who share weekly deals and exactly how to make them work. Without them, I’d still have the same misconceptions about the usefulness of coupons.

What I have learned about couponing, pt. 2

As I mentioned before, couponing may at first seem impractical, but do some research and you will soon find that it can save you money and doesn’t have to be complicated.

However, my main point here during this post series is to share with you some simple realizations I had about coupons as I learned more about how to maximize their effectiveness.

  1. You can combine coupons with store sales. I’m sure this is obvious even to non-couponers, but it’s an important point to remember when trying to get the most for your money.
  2. You can use coupons on clearance items. The tricky part about this one is finding something that is on clearance that still has a non-expired coupon. This is because many items on clearance are not the newest products in-store (e.g. holiday candy), and coupons tend to be for either new items (Save $1 when you try our new, improved breath mint!) or “old reliables” (Cheerios). (Speaking of holiday candy, although it almost always goes on clearance after the holiday is over, the coupons are almost sure to expire on the day of the holiday.)
  3. Catalinas (the coupons that print out of the machine by the receipt machine) with a store’s logo on them do not have to be used at that store. However, the Catalina (or other coupon featuring a store logo) must say “Manufacturer’s Coupon” at the top. To contrast, Target coupons are often found in the Sunday inserts, and they feature the Target logo. Since these say “Store Coupon” at the top, they are not eligible anywhere but at Target. But they can be used for #4:
  4. Store coupons can be combined with manufacturer’s coupons. Some stores such as Walgreens and Target issue store coupons which can be collected from various sources. (Walgreens’ coupons are found in the weekly ad and in the EasySaver booklets; Target coupons can be printed online and found in the Sunday inserts.) This means that if Walgreens includes a coupon for $0.99 lip balm in their weekly ad and you have a $1 off coupon for that same lip balm, you can get it for free!

I’m sure this information is obvious to many people, whether serious couponers or not. Not all of it was obvious to me, though, so I thought sharing it with readers just might help someone out there. I didn’t know about #3 until recently. And #4 and #1 can be combined (store sale + store coupon + manufacturer’s coupon) to get things for very cheap or free.

Stay tuned for the rest of my list in an upcoming post!

Changes – school, couponing, time & money

As I’ve moved back to my home city, my living arrangements have changed. Before, I had to shop for my own groceries and other household goods. Now, I have the luxury of not having to buy these things for myself and the household. This is a great blessing, as my income is also in a state of change; lowering expenses is a must.

(Here it comes…) Since I no longer will be making frequent trips to buy things like milk and toilet paper, I have decided to stop “couponing” until I am once again financially responsible for my household.

Another motivation for this decision is my schedule is no longer permitting me time to search out, print, buy, clip, organize, etc. my coupon stash. When I have months-old inserts lying untouched, the coupons are not benefiting me. Now, the ones I have will not go to waste. I will either use them or send them to the military base I was already sending to.

Yet another good reason for doing this is because my attention must now turn to my changing financial situation. A new living situation, a new job (God willing!), a new class and an (unfortunately) old thesis, I’ve got my plate full as far as time and money are concerned.

Finally, my hometown has NO CVS! Alas, my CVS days appear to be over, just when I was starting to get good!

Since I will still be financially responsible for other areas of my life, such as clothing, schooling, and transportation, I will be welcoming all coupons and deals I can find in those areas!

And who knows, I just may have to do a really good Walgreens deal every now and then. 😉

Sharing my savings: Walgreens & CVS

I’m a little late this week, but I did so well that I simply had to blog. Not only did I get to check off one of my PF goals despite losing all my sanity to end-of-semester madness, I took some time after school ended (finally!) to do some therapeutic shopping. I’d been planning to do the Walgreens P&G RR deal but I knew I had a gift card waiting for me at home (my other home). So, I made myself wait until the semester officially ended.

Without further ado, here’s my CVS stuff. As you can see, I maxed out quite a few of the monthly deals! (the OneTouch is actually from WalMart, but it was free w/a coupon!) I probably spent a maximum of $6 for all this stuff.

And a few nights ago at Walgreens, I did the P&G deal (which I learned about here at Centsible Shopper), plus a few other goodies:

P&G RR deal at Walgreens

I got all of the cleaning supplies, the Febreze, and the Charmin wipes for free using $10 RR, coupons, and part of a Walgreens gift card.

I picked up the Herbal Essences so that I could get a free manicure/pedicure. (I heard about this promotion here at Money Saving Mom!) I bought the greeting card (plus another one), the Herbal Essences, and two Sunday papers with one of my P&G $10 RRs.

My family was amazed at how much you can get for free. They all wanted to know how it was possible, and when thinking about how to explain it briefly, I felt a bit like a magician does when asked how she does her tricks. 😉

SSS Walgreens trip – deodorant and more

It’s Super Savings Saturday at Money Saving Mom! It’s that time of the week when we show off all our deals from the past week.

Earlier this week, I had to make a trip to Walgreens. Well, I remembered reading over at Centsible Shopper about the Lady Speed Stick deal, and it seems like all the free deodorant I’ve been getting recently has been men’s deodorant. I needed some for myself, so I got three of them for free using the Walgreens weekly coupon ($0.99) and then $1/1 coupons.

I also heard from Centsible Savings that Zantac was free with the $5/1 manufacturer’s printable coupon from Walgreens and possibly printing Register Rewards. I didn’t get the RR, but I never say no to free Zantac since it’s so expensive and I actually use the stuff.

The Visine tears is something I’ve needed to buy for a while, but with a $2 off coupon and the WG weekly deal of $3.49 each, I couldn’t pass it up.

Finally, I had to get the WG Ibuprofen since it’s FAR this week only.

My total before tax was $3.45, which is $1.45 after the EasySaver rebate.

This week only: Freebate at Walgreens

Besides the usual free-after-rebate items at Walgreens this month, there is one *additional* item that is FAR, this week only.

EasySaver Rebate #15 is a $2 rebate on Walgreens Ibuprofen 200 Softgels or PM Pain Reliever Quick Gels, 20 Pack, limit one.

Last night I was browsing the weekly sales flyer when I noticed that those very products were on sale for $2, making them FAR. Then, today I was reminded by

Walgreens freebies and moneymakers!

Walgreens deals

Wow! I didn’t plan this out completely, but after rebates, all the stuff in the picture made me $4.95!

Inspired by Bethany at Centsible Shopper, I got Wrigley’s gum at Walgreens, and ended up with quite a bit of overage from the gum alone!

Let me break it down:
I bought six at $1.19 each, which is
=$7.14
minus the price of three, $3.57 by using 3 BOGO coupons
=$3.57
minus $3.14 from the 3 for $2 Walgreens 7-day coupon
=$0.43
…You can see where I’m going with this
minus $1.98 from using the EasySaver “$0.99 off 3 packs” coupon!
That leaves $1.55 overage!!

I gave my coupons in the order recommended on Bethany’s post: BOGOs, Walgreens 7-day, EasySaver

What’s more, I got a Glade Scented Oil candle for FAR. It’s not a monthly FAR deal, but since it’s on sale for $5 and I used a $3/1 coupon, it will be FAR when I get my $2 EasySaver rebate!

I also found one scent of Oust candles on clearance for $3.59. With my $3/1 coupon, that makes the Oust candle $0.59!

I bought Aquafresh for $2 and used a $2/1 coupon, making it $0, plus I can send in for the $3.99 $2 EasySaver rebate. I also needed some Wal-itin (6.99); lucky me, it’s FAR this month!

Finally, I got a box of Glucerna cereal for free using the RR coupon from the previous box I bought.

Overall, I paid $8.03 plus tax, and will be getting $12.98 ($3.99 + $2 + $6.99) back in EasySaver rebates, thus making me an eventual $4.95 on the entire purchase.

Edit: See Bethany’s post at Centsible Shopper–I was a little off on my rebate amounts. You can use coupons to make a profit on rebates, but not store sales. Thanks for the question, st8homom