Thursday, August 26, 2010

Adventures in Couponing

I've been shopping out of my pantry, freezer, garage and former linen closet for a while now; buying mostly dairy, meat and produce. I've also been able to "shop" out of my garden quite a bit.  However, there were a few items I needed to get at Walgreens because the deals were really good and I was running low.  Crest 3D White toothpaste is my new preferred brand, ever since getting a free tube.  The bad thing is it retails for $4.49 a 5.3 ounce tube! Wags had a good deal going this week: 3 tubes for $9 with $4 register rewards.  AND I had a .75/1 coupon.  So that brought it down to $1.41 a tube!  I think I did really well there!
2 jars Skippy 2/$4 - $1/2 coupon = $3.00
3 tubes Crest 3D (3 month supply) $9 - $4.75 = $4.25
2 packages Vanity Fair napkins BOGO = $2.99 for both
Hallmark card (don't look Beatriz!) full price
sandwich bags $.99
Barilla pasta $.99
Scrubbing Bubbles Mega Shower $3.50- $1 coupon = $2.50
$17.57 for everything

Next up - Walmart

Reynolds Wrap $3.32 - $.75 coupon = $2.57
2 mentos gum $2.56 - $1 coupon = $1.56
Dentastix - $2.98 - $2 coupon = $.98
4 pack 3 blade razors $2.97 - $1.00 = $1.97
Bisquick $2.92 - $.50 coupon = $2.42
$9.50 for everything

My hints:
Buy it on sale and use coupons! Use the sites below to find coupons.
Watch out for things that are just pretending to be a sale.  Example: Strawberries for $3.99 on BOGO (buy one get one free).  Sounds good, BUT other stores had strawberries for $1.99.  Not really a sale, they're just getting you to buy two!
Load your loyalty card (i.e. Jewel's Preferred Card) by visiting the store corporate website and logging in your card number.  Up will pop a list of just-for-you deals that will load on your card (no clipping). The deals stay on your card 2-5 days, so do it on shopping day. While you're there, sign up for emails.  I got coupons for Free Bakery Bread and Free Produce one week!
Swipe your CVS card as soon as you walk in the door.  Extra just-for-you coupons will print, good for that day only. I've gone home and got manufacturer's coupons and gone back so I can stack them.
Stock up.  Grocery items are on a 3 month cycle.  At some point they're at their most expensive and at the other point they're at their cheapest.  If you are financially able, it's a good idea to buy 3 months worth of product at it's lowest price.  Not necessarily all at once, but stop adding to your stash when you have a 3 month supply. I don't want to see you on Hoarders.  For the next 3 months, you get to shop for that item from your stash.  Not everything is on the same 3 month cycle.  July was dairy. This month it was body wash, shampoo and razors. For September look for deals on lunchbox items, soup and organic items.
Buy only items and brands that your family will use.  Stock up time is not the time to experiment with new brands.  Try one; use it right away and if you love it, go back for more.
Know your weaknesses.  I love cleaning supplies.  If it says it'll clean it better, quicker or deeper I'm fighting temptation to try that new product that will revolutionize the way I think about cleaning.  I find that's rarely the case; and often old (really old) products work best.  How old?  How about these brands: Comet (great for toilets), Bar Keeper's Friend (iron stains), Spic n' Span (floors), Easy Off (gas stove tops) and Grandma's laundry detergent - she made it herself from lye soap and it worked really well!  I now make my own and I'll post about that in the future.
Yep, those shelves are stocked like store shelves. Behind each item are several of the same. Paper towels, cleaning supplies, pop and toilet paper are stored in the garage.

Recommended sites:  matches the Sunday sale flyers to existing coupons.  You click on what you want to buy, print it as a handy shopping list and then clip your coupons.  The coupon date code is on the list. I use this for Jewel, Target, Walmart (prices may vary), Walgreens and CVS.  search for coupons for anything you need that's not currently on sale.  I also double check for coupons for items listed at couponmom - sometimes it will find higher value ones than couponmom.  her blog lists the best deals and tells you how to find those coveted catalina deals. sign up for email alerts.
Free Stuff Finder: "Like" them on Facebook to find out about all kinds of stuff that's free just by asking for it. Usually, there's a clickable link to take you right to it.

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