Monday, November 14, 2011

My Coupon'ing Evolved

I had posted several months ago about "How I Coupon"... reading that post... now... I realize how much more money I was spending then compared to now.


-I do not pay more than 25¢ for toothpaste or a toothbrush... usually only paying tax for either. I only buy Crest, Colgate or Oral-B.

-I do not pay more than 20¢ for a roll of toliet Paper... usually Cottonelle

-I do not pay more than $1.00 for mine (Herbal Essence) or Daniels (Head and Shoulders) or Elijah's (Suave 3-in-1) or Ana's (Johnson's Baby Head to Toe) shampoo.

-I do not pay more than 9¢ for a diaper... and I have only been buying Pampers or Huggies. Sometimes I buy the store brand... like when I bought a Jumbo Pack of CVS diapers for $1.25... GOOD DEAL!

-I do not pay more than 75¢ for Daniels Degree deodorant

-I do not pay anything for Daniels razors... he has a few years worth of Schick, Gillette and a few store brand name razors and cartridges.

It has been an interesting process moving our family to a "coupon lifestyle"... one week we seriously only ate sandwiches, soup and frozen fish poppers.

Now though, with a stock pile, I feel more relaxed... not like I am chasing down every deal... not HAVING to clip coupons Sunday morning to get the sales that started that day.

It takes discipline... you just have to make the time. Which is becoming harder and harder to do as Ana becomes more mobile! I heard someone say once (in regards to people saying they don't have time to coupon) "you just have never been broke enough"... It really made me realize that instead of complaining and being bummed out about too many bills at the end of the money, I could do something about it.

I spend anywhere from 3-15 hours a week reading blogs, Facebook posts and visiting coupon friendly websites. I feel like it is my way for contributing financially.

It also is important to be organized. I use a zip-up binder... the kind that I used to get made fun of for using in school. In that binder are probably 200 clear plastic baseball card holders. Each clear sheet has 9-12 pockets... that is where I put my clipped coupons! (see above picture)

One of the key elements to successfully coupon'ing was to stop being picky. Drop the favorite name brands and just go with what we can get for free. I stopped buying the $9 lotion and expensive make-up. We do have some things we are snobby about... sure... Daniel refuses to use anything other than Head and Shoulders... and I won't use anything other than Herbal Essence. With the use of coupons... we can be snobby about that!

I wish I would have couponed years ago... especially right after Daniel got laid-off when Eli was a newborn. I remember looking for change under couch cushions and the floor of my car so I could buy the cheap 77¢ White Rain shampoo... not finding much change and just having to use bar soap as shampoo.

It really is VERY EASY to coupon. You don't have to be a die-hard EXTREME couponer... saving any amount of money is GOOD... good for you... money you can use to pay a bill, buy a cute pair of shoes, or money to use for a vacation.

-Get 1 or more Sunday papers. You can also ask friends, neighbors or family to save their inserts for you. I have my Parents and my Poppie save the inserts for me. If the coupons are especially good I will venture out and asked around the neighborhood if I can have their inserts... Ok I usually just check the recycle bins the night before trash day... it is a dirty job and you will not believe the amount of people who toss their cigarettes in the recycle bin! I print over half of my coupons! I don't use I use the Swagbucks coupon databank (visit my Swagbucks info Blog here ... it is powered by BUT for every coupon I use I earn 10 Swagbucks! After using 45 coupons I have enough points for a $5 gift card! I have used Swagbucks for about a year now... earning over $300 in gift cards. NO JOKE! I only earn Swagbucks from the coupons I use and from doing online searches (instead of Google, I use their search engine (which is powered by Google... so it’s all the same)

-Organize your coupons. Whatever way is easiest for you! Some people carry around a white envelope with a few coupons. Some people just put a few coupons in their wallet. I started out with just putting coupons in my wallet. But then I would forget to use them... then I started putting them in a small accordion folder. It fit in my purse... but I quickly found that it was hard to find coupons spur-of-the-moment like while in the store. Some people get the coupon inserts, but do not clip them. They just keep them whole and check what sales are going on... then clip them according to what they need. I like to have my coupons with me when I go out... that way if I find clearance items I can see if I have coupons for them.

-I religiously check my Facebook for posts from fellow coupon'ing sites. I also visit several times a day. *favorite! *favorite!

Before I had posted that my favorite store is Target... I have sense changed my mind. I do most my shopping at Walmart, Walgreens and CVS. I haven't been to Winco in months! I do still visit Target... and I use coupons there of course! You can read all about shopping at Target in my other "How to Coupon" blog.


Walmart is AMAZING! I love how they will Ad Match ANYTHING! Every Wednsday I open up a Word document and at the top I type WALMART MATCH UPS (then the date). I then open my Swagbucks browser and type in Safeway (sometimes earning Swagbucks!)... click on the Safeway site... click on their sales ad and get to work. When I find a good deal I type the item name and the price Safeway has it priced at, then what coupon I have for it.

I do the same for Raleys and Food Maxx... our local Food Maxx doesn't put out an ad weekly so I use Krogers ad (Food Maxx is Kroger... like how Safeway is Vons/Randalls/Tom Thumb). I also price match CVS, Walgreens, SavMore, Big Lots and Rite Aide. You can price match ANY store that is a competitor to Walmart. I am going to be price matching Best Buy and JcPenny's on Black Friday!

Along with price matching ads, I use coupons on the items price matched. Many times making the item FREE or pretty darn close to free. Walmart allows overages... meaning if I have a coupon that exceeds the amount of the item I am purchasing, Walmart will take the excess amount and apply it to my order. I also use my Associate discount card... taking 10% off most the items I purchase... I am a cool kid like that.

It is VERY time consuming... and I will spend over half an hour at the register sometimes. Especially if the cashier clerk is new or doesn't know how to price match.

There have been many times when the clerk tells me that Walmart doesn't price match (despite the ads on tv, radio, online and the MANY signs in the store saying they do). I have also been told that I can not use coupons with price matching. For those occasions I pull out my copy of Walmarts coupon policy and show them. They will call over their CSM, who will (should) tell them follow the corporate coupon policy. I have been called a liar and thief at Walmart a few times by cashiers. To coupon you have to grow a thick skin... and it never pays to get mad. No item or sale is worth it.


I LOVE WALGREENS! It is one of my favorite places to shop with coupons. It can be a little intimidating at first, with their Register Reward system and all... but it is really quite simple. A Register Reward (RR) is a coupon that prints out from the Catalina machine at the time of purchase for a specified item. When looking at the Walgreens ad I focus on purchasing items that offer the RR. Once I get a RR, I use that RR to purchase other items that offer RR. It is called "Rolling RR".

The tricky thing with RR is that if you use a RR from a product to purchase another of the same product, you WILL NOT get another RR.

Example: Purchase one Dove/Degree deoderant for $2.99 get $2.00 RR.

I pay $2.99 for the deoderant, get the $2RR at the end of the transaction.

On the RR I will see "Thank you for your purchase Dove/Degree", the amount for the RR and an expiration date (which is always 2 weeks exactly). So if I use that RR on another Dove/Degree item, I will not get another RR.

HOWEVER... I can use a RR from a different transaction.

Example: Purcahse one Dove/Degree deoderant for $2.99 get $2.00 RR.

I use a $1 off Dove deodorant coupon AND a $2 RR from a previous purchase (Say Blistex).

SO I am using 2 paper items (a coupon and a RR), but only purchasing 1 item... I call it having more paper then items... I need to find a "filler" item. A filler can be ANYTHING... a soda, a piece of candy, a pair of socks, pictures from the photo lab, a newspaper, a 10 cent pencil, a gift card... ANYTHING! So just remember make sure you don't have more coupons/ RR then items to purchase.

So my transactions would look like this:

Purcahse one Dove/Degree deoderant for $2.99

Purcahse one filler item

Use $1 off Dove

Use $2 RR from previous Blistex purchase

Pay tax and filler item amount

get $2.00 RR

When shopping at Walgreens I almost always check out at the Beauty counter... sometimes the photo counter... that way I don't hold the line up in the front. I always type out my transaction so I stay focused. I need to focus especially if I have Eli with me. Every Sunday the same girl is working the Beauty Counter... she knows my system and I will bring like a $10bill with me and just keep it, some change, my coupons I am using, and my previous RR on the counter... so when I have to chase Eli down she just keeps the transactions going without me... taking change from the counter to complete the transactions... it is kind of hilarious!


I wish I wish I wish I would have started couponing at CVS sooner! I didn't for a LONG time... until I got a free body wash coupon from them... That same week I got a $4 of $20 purchase, a free CVS band-aide coupon and a free Hershey Candy Bar coupon and a $3 off any diaper purchase... I took those coupons and my coupon for $10 off $15 pampers purchase and bought an 82 pack of Pampers, a full size body wash, a box of CVS brand band-aides and a candy bar for $1.12! And because I bought the box of diapers I got $4 Extra Care Bucks (In store credit)... Thus beginning my love affair with CVS!

The first thing you need to do to coupon at CVS is to sign up for their loyalty card program "Extra Care Card". It gives you access to their store ad prices and things called "extra care bucks" or "ECB"s for short. You can sign up online or in the store.

SECOND... sign up for their Beauty Care program. It links up to your Extra Care Card, but keeps your beauty care purchases totaled separately. For every $50 you spend on beauty purchases you get $5 ECB (that you can use on anything... not just beauty purchases)

Every time you walk into a CVS you need to visit the coupon kiosk, also referred to as the "Magic Coupon Machine". The kiosk is usually close to the front of the store... and close to the Pharmacy counter. Every time I shop at CVS, the first thing I do is scan my card at the kiosk. It will print out store coupons and coupons that say a % off your total, or $ off a $$ purchase. These kiosk coupons CAN be staked with manufactures coupons. You can find the % off and $ off $$ purchase online at too. You will have to log in to access them... I find it easier to keep track of them that way, so I can plan my weekly trips and what-not.

Like Walgreen's, CVS's weekly deals give a in store credit (ECB) with certain items purchased. You can use these to purchase ANYTHING in the store (minus the normal no-no's, lotto tix, liquor, cigarettes ... you get the picture). To maximize savings and reduce total out-of-pocket expense, I like to roll the ECB into other items that also give out ECB.

UNLIKE Walgreen's, CVS lets you use your ECB to purcahce same deal items... so for the Example: Purchase one Dove/Degree deoderant for $2.99 get $2.00 ECB... I can do that transaction over and over again using the ECB just earned.

HOWEVER... UNLIKE Walgreen's, CVS puts a limit on the amount of times you can do the transaction to earn the ECB. You will find the limit under the ad price. It is usually "limit 1".

My favorite thing about CVS is that UNLIKE Walgreen's I don't have to have to watch my item to coupon ratio. I can pay for my total transaction using coupons and ECB.

Also, with CVS, you earn 2% back... so at the end of the season, you earn 2% of what you spent (after coupons) back. It prints into an ECB that you can use in store.

That is all I think... I know that it can seem really daunting at first, but it is so worth your time! It took me awhile to get the hang of it. Not every transaction works the way you plan either. Sometimes I walk out of the store and look at my receipt and do a facepalm... "ugh... that was stupid"... And sometimes you just HAVE to buy something that isn't cheap and that you DON'T have a coupon for... like a 12 pack of Dr. Pepper 10 for $6!!!

1 comment:

  1. Gosh that IS a lot of work. I am so proud of you!