Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Realistic Couponing - Steals and Deals

Below is a list of my favorite steals, deals, tips and tricks. Things might vary by your location, but I think for the most part, you should be able to grab these savings and avoid these missteps.

Proctor & Gamble
I had no idea how many P&G products I used already until I started clipping coupons. Iams, Tampax, Always, Oil of Olay, Puffs Plus, Tide, Bounce...just to name a few, and there is ALWAYS a discount on P&G products, which means for over thirty years I was an idiot paying full price for these things.

P&G sends out their own coupon flyer in the Sunday paper about once a month. ie, once their coupons expire, there is a break of about a week, and then you'll get a new one. So never buy a P&G product at full retail. The stores usually match their discounts to this flyer, so the day the P&G flyer comes out, CVS will mark down their Tampax and their Tide.

My grocery store also does deals like, buy $20 worth of P&G products, save $5 instantly. (this is after coupons) I do this deal all the time. Before going to the store, I take my store flyer and my coupons and figure out how to get $20.01 of P&G products after coupons, and then BAM! get the $5 off. I usually walk out of the store with $30 worth of goods for $15.01. That's a 50% discount, kids. You can't pass that up.

Target does a lot of these deals where if you buy X amount of goods, you get a gift card. This is another evil marketing scheme to get you back into the store so you make more impulse purchases and spend even more money! Muwahahaha!

You can avoid this though, because most cashiers are very nice people who will let you split your order. With order 1, you buy what you need to get the gift card. Order 2, you use the gift card right then to pay for the rest of your things. It avoids a follow-up trip to the store where you'll get suckered into buying that adorable dress for only $18.99!

Target also offers their own in-store coupons which can be paired with manufacturer coupons for even more savings. (read the fine print) The other day I bought diapers. They were on sale. You bought 2, you got a $10 gift card. I had a $2 off Target coupon and a $2 off manufacturer coupon. When all was said and done, I saved $9 off regular retail on each pack. Not too shabby.

I also use the Cartwheel App and have a Target Red Card for additional savings. You can even use your Red Card at the in-store Starbuck's to save 5% on your coffee!

You can make out like a bandit at CVS, but it requires more work. They do a lot of buy X of this product get $2 in CVS extra bucks! Which is like the Target gift cards, another evil marketing ploy. At my CVS, they will not let me split the order, so I have to come back. Granted, there isn't as much tempting impulse buy fodder there, but there is always some.

The best CVS deals are when an item is discounted, you have a coupon, and CVS is offering the Extra bucks. They also have store coupons that can be paired with manufacturer coupons. I can usually print these from the kiosk right when I enter the store. Additionally, I read an article once (and can't remember the source) that said beauty products, medicine and health products are always cheaper at the pharmacy versus the grocery store. I'm not sure if that's true, but I have gotten some major deals on vitamins (Centrum and One a Day always have coupons) and cough medicine.

Yes, you can get some major savings at Kohl's, but they have their own evil marketing ploy. They mark everything double and then slash it by 50%. ie. They mark an item $10, say it's 50% off making it $5. However, at Walmart, that item is just $5. It gives you a false sense that you're saving all this money when you're not. The best way to avoid this it to know your prices.

Like in my first blog post, I said my best deal on a 12-pack of soda was $2.50. Make note of your best deals and never pay more than that for an item. Knowing the lowest price value of things can help you spot better deals.

Quick Tips

  • Before you buy anything online, Google, "Coupon Code for ENTER RETAILER HERE." 90% of the time, something comes up and works.
  • Mark in your calendar when rare or hot coupons expire so you don't miss using them. I'll often hold coupons to wait for a sale, but if one doesn't come up before the expiration date, I'll use it anyway.
  • Restaurants that always have coupons: Friendly's, LongHorn, Chuck E. Cheese, Olive Garden, Ruby Tuesday, Dunkin' Donuts, Burger King, Subway, Outback...don't eat at any of these places without a discount!
  • Retailers and manufacturers discount things seasonally, which means cough medicine and vitamins are discounted during flu season, paper plates and mustard are discounted during BBQ season, and baking ingredients are discounted during holiday season. Stock up on these things during their season to avoid buying them in the off times.

To close, I am posting a photo of my stockpile (part of it) I am very proud of this, and if a zombie apocalypse ever happens, I will be stocked with non-perishable goods for at least a few months. So not only am I saving money, I am insuring my survival.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Realistic Couponing - Your first best friend, the Coupons

Here we are, finally at the stage of cutting coupons. Do you realize it took us three posts to get here? That's because couponing isn't just about the coupons, although it's a lot about the coupons, which is why they are your first best friend.

Let's start. First off, buy a newspaper. The Sunday paper. In Rhode Island, it's $3.50, and we get it delivered so it's waiting on my doorstep first thing in the morning. I get up like a kid on Christmas and say to my husband, "It's coupon day!" while I squeal and jump up and down because not only is there a coupon flyer in there, the Sunday paper has every store ad imaginable, so you can seek out other timely deals. Definitely worth the $3.50 and easy enough to monetize. If you can save $4.00 a week with coupons (which you can), you've made a $.50 profit. It's a no-brainer.

We also get a coupon flyer in the mail on Wednesdays. In case you're wondering, the coupons are different, so you need them both. Once you have your coupon flyers, you sit down and you clip them. You cut everything, except for the things you definitely won't use, like diapers if you don't have a baby. This is REALISTIC couponing, not extreme couponing. But, do hang onto those flyers because I belong to an online coupon group and sometimes people will ask to trade their cat food coupons for your diaper coupons, so you can get more of what you need.

My third coupon resource is Coupons.com. I usually go here after I've made my list in the previous blog post and matched up my coupons. I use it to fill in the gaps where I might be buying a sale item but one without a coupon. And obviously, while I'm on there, I find other coupons that are worth printing and clipping.

Once you have your coupons clipped, you need to organize them. Here is a photo of my coupon envelope.

I have it labeled in order of the way things appear in my store. New coupons in the front of the section, older ones in the back so it's easy to clear out the expired ones. It's also small enough to tuck in my purse so I can keep it with me and never miss any deals. You can buy one of these at the dollar store.

After a few months of coupon clipping, you will begin to learn which items always have a coupon and which items rarely have coupons. This helps you  manage your stockpile, and when you have enough of those frequent coupon items, you can trade those coupons for some of the rarer ones.

Since I started couponing, I save on average $2400 a year on groceries, and I have more food and better food than I did before. That's a car payment, folks. Or a vacation for my family, and that doesn't include what I save elsewhere: on clothes, eating out, entertainment...because I don't pay full price for ANYTHING. Inspired yet?

Next week I'll post a list of some of my favorite deals and steals.