A Lesson in Couponing

Today I had some extra time on my hands to do my couponing for the week. Alot of people ask me about couponing, so I thought I’d write a post about it. There are only a few basic principals about couponing:

1. Know your store’s coupon policy. You can usually find this information on the store website. Some stores double coupons, some don’t, some stores you have to buy 2 of the BOGO items to get the deal, others you don’t. Some stores stack manufacturer coupons, store coupons and even competitor coupons. Here is a great website that compares store coupon policies.

2. Combine weekly sales with coupons. You’ll never save enough money to make couponing worthwhile if you clip to save $.30 here and there. Combine store sales (especially BOGO) with coupons to save big and when you do STOCK UP! Most items go on sale about every 12 weeks or so, so when you find a great deal buy enough to last that long. If your store runs out of the sale item get a Rain Check!

3. Brand Loyalty cannot exist in successful couponing. Most people are convinced that the store brand is always the better deal. This is rarely true when using coupons. Compare the per ounce/per unit price and account for any coupons to find the lowest price, but you must be willing to try different brands.

4. Know where to find coupons. Yes, you can get coupons from the Sunday paper, but there are lots of other places to get them also. Magazines (like All You), off of products in the store (called peelies), from the cash register (called catalinas), and online. There are lots and lots of couponing websites that will do the work for you and tell you exactly what the weekly deals are and where to find the coupons.

5. Menu Planning. Don’t expect to be able to make meals off of your coupon haul from just one trip. Plan your weekly menu around sale items and around items from your stockpile then fill in the blanks with fresh produce, meats and whatever else you still need.

Check out my favorites:

Southern Savers
I Heart Publix
My Frugal Adventures
A Full Cup

Now on to my deals for today:

I first went to Rite Aid and used some Rain Checks I had for sale items. I got 3 packs of Simplify toilet paper and 2 Gillette Fusion ProGlide razors.

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The toilet paper was absolutely free. The razors were normally $12.99 each but with my rain check they were sale priced at $9.99 with a $5 UP reward. UP rewards are store coupons for that amount off your next purchase. I also had two $4 off coupons from the Sunday paper that I used.

Because I was getting this deal after the sale was over, they removed the $5 for the UP reward off of my total price. Making each razor $.99 after the coupons.

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Hint: This is a pretty common deal that is often available on razors. I never buy replacement blades (at $8.00-$10 a pack) because I can get a new razor with 2-4 blades for much cheaper than the blades themselves would cost.

My next stop was CVS.

I had a Extra Care Buck for $3.99 off my next purchase that expired today. They also had an offer on their Cadbury Eggs, buy 1 @ $.75 – get a $.75 ECB back (making it free), same thing with the jelly beans buy 1 at $.99 – get $.99 ECB back (free).

The Valentine’s Day stuff was on clearance for 75% off. I bought stuff to help fill my son’s Easter Basket (he’s 2, he’ll never know the difference). I also bought Valentine’s cards for his class for next year. Why not?!

With my ECB that I already had, I paid $.40 out of pocket for these items. I also got back $1.74 worth of additional ECB. So the store basically paid me to take these items.

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Last stop, Publix.

I won’t go through the details of every item I purchased, but I used the basic principals listed above to buy these items for almost 70% off the normal value.

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As you can see I definitely stocked up on dishwasher detergent. I got each box for $2.50, they are normally $6.99. So I bought 7 of them!

The frozen veggies were both free, as were the 2 containers of Greek yogurt. The store actually paid me to take all 4 of the Mozzarella cheese blocks (normally $4.50 each).

There was a great deal on Green Giant canned veggies, but I don’t really like vegetables from a can. The one thing I do love that uses canned veggies is Green Bean Casserole, so I got 4 cans of french style green beans. I can save them up for Thanksgiving or make a Thanksgiving meal another time of the year.

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Alot of people tell me that they tried couponing, but found it to be too much work and not worth their time. It definitely is alot of work, and its probably not worth the time in the big scheme of things. To me couponing is alot like running and cooking though. Its a hobby for me, its fun and I enjoy putting the time into it. The high I get from saving a bunch of money couponing is very similar to the high runner’s experience.

And that’s that.

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