Sunday, February 2, 2014

Couponing queen

In January, one of the ladies in my neighborhood hosted a couponing class in her home. I decided to do to see what it was all about. One of the local girls is forever posting pictures of her shopping trips and showing how much she saved. I was a wee bit jealous. Now granted, I have no desire to become one of those crazy women who stockpiles 75 tubes of toothpaste and 400 cans of pinto beans...but it might be nice to know that if we could go for 6 months without having to buy shampoo or something because we got it for a really great deal, well hey, I'm ok with that. So I paid my money and went to the class.

I kind of dug it. I came home with an 8" stack of previous coupon inserts. I spent several hours clipping each one, because most of the coupons were still good. The ones that were already expired I clipped anyway, because there is an organization that collects expired coupons and ships them to troops stationed overseas because the overseas commissaries will allow them to use coupons up to 6 months past their expiration date. It felt so wrong to recycle all those coupons when I could help a family out with them.  Anyway, the next thing to do was head to the store to buy a binder to sort and organize the coupons in. I admit, my little OCD self was enjoying this.

Then I planned my first shopping trips. The main focus of couponing is not to use a coupon just because you have it - it's to utilize that coupon when a store is also offering that item on sale in order to maximize your savings. You have to watch the circulars and pay attention to sales cycles. The great thing about the internet is that there are already a ton of websites that have done this work for you, so basically you just look online at the sales you should be hitting this week, get your coupons ready, make your list and shop. You also have to pay attention to which stores have apps that will often have coupons. For example, Target has their Cartwheel app which often has items at a discount. So at Target, one could, in theory, use a manufacturer;s coupon plus a store coupon plus a Cartwheel discount plus your Red Card discount on one item! If you utilize the system just right, you can save a ton!

I have no plans of buying anything that we won't actually use. That wouldn't be saving money now would it? UNLESS - and this does happen - a coupon renders an item free. For example, sometimes a store will run a buy 1 get 1 free sale....and there will also be a buy 1 get 1 coupon active...which means you get both free! Anyway, on the rare occasion that it happens, I might pick up a few freebies that I can donate to a food pantry or shelter somewhere.

So here's a couple of pictures from my first shopping trips.
Below was my best trip to date - I paid $4.19 out of pocket for $37 worth of items but also earned $5 extra care basically I walked out of CVS with 81 cents credit in my hand. That's pretty cool. How was it done? I'll break this one down: Earlier in the week I had received a $4 of $20 coupon from CVS. I also had $10 in extra care bucks from a previous trip. The Pantene shampoo and conditioner was on sale 2/$7. I also had a couple for buy 1 get 1, so I saved $3.50 per set on those. The Listerine was $5.49 each, and I had a $1 coupon for each. But with Listerine, when you spend $10 on products you earned $5 extra care bucks. The Purex was on sale for $2.99 and I had a $1 my total after all my coupons was $14.19, I applied my $10 extra care bucks, and paid $4.19 out of pocket. Isn't that fun?
I started a spreadsheet, because they're also my new favorite thing. In January, and mind you I've only been doing this since the 23rd, I have paid $154.52 for $297.66 worth of products. That's a 48.31% savings so far. I have lots of stuff that I don't have to buy for a long time, unless of course I come across a fabulous deal! Now I just need to clip the 5 newspapers worth of coupons Nick brought home today for me.

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