I am new to using coupons. My sister, M, is a fantastic couponer. (WordPress says couponing and couponer aren’t words, but I’m going to pretend that they are.) When I decided not to go back to work after Little Man was born, I decided that I should do what I could to lower our expenses. I was visiting M and she taught me how to shop with coupons. It doesn’t sound like something that needs to be taught, but there is much more to it than just clipping a few coupons when you go to the grocery store. (You can of course do that and save a little, but you can save A LOT if you take a little more time and learn the tricks.) Where I live, we have one grocery store that doubles coupons, but they are a smaller store and don’t stock a lot of brands. Also, their prices tend to be higher than my regular grocery store, HEB, and certainly higher than Walmart. So, I shop there some, if I have the right coupons, but not a lot. That is one thing that prevents me from saving as much on groceries than other good couponers. Where I really save is at the drug stores.
If you have a Rite Aid, I’m jealous. They have awesome deals, so if you have one, definitely look into their deals. In my little town, we have CVS and Walgreens. Before couponing, I rarely shopped at CVS. Their prices are much higher than the other stores, but now that I am watching the sales, I have done very well shopping there. For instance, tonight, I spent $3.93 and saved $38.95. Plus, I have $12 in Extra Care Bucks (ECBs) I can use like cash on a future trip. The trick at CVS is to combine the items they are offering with ECBs and coupons. For instance, the Reach toothbrushes were on sale for $3 each and if you spent more than $10 on Reach toothbrushes, you got $5 back in ECBs. I used two buy one get one free (B1G1) coupons and two $1 off coupons. So, for 4 toothbrushes, that should have been $12, I spent $4 (I’ll tell you later how I spent less than $4 out of pocket) and got $5 in ECBs. So, I actually made money (in the form of ECBs) by buying toothbrushes. Once you start couponing, you will never pay for toothbrushes or toothpaste again.
Another other deal I did was buying Revlon nail files and clippers, I got $7 ECBs and only spent $6.70 on them, so I made 30 cents (before tax, after tax I spent about .25 on them. I wanted to get two clippers which would have been 30 cents cheaper than the files, but they only had one set and I needed files, anyway). Lastly, the olive oil, usually $8.50, was B1G1 plus I had two $1 off coupons (when items are B1G1, you can use coupons on the free items!), so I got both for $6.50. All of these deals are good through 1/8, so if you have good coupons, you can do them, too!
So, with just the coupons and sales, I would have spent $17.20, plus tax, but I had more! I got an e-mail from CVS with a coupon to get $5 off when you spend $25 (They use the total before coupons.). Then I had $8.50 in ECBs from a previous shopping trip. In our state, you only pay sales tax on the after sale and coupon prices, even ECBs, so I save on the taxes by using coupons, etc., too! So that is the long version of how I spent $3.93 and saved $38.95. (Plus $12 got ECBs for next time!)
I didn’t do nearly as well at Walgreens today. I spent $17.32 and saved $22.31, plus I got $11 in Register Rewards (Walgreen’s version of ECBs). I consider it a success if I save more than 50%, but one of my coupons wasn’t scanning right, so they wouldn’t let me use it and that cost me $5 (I still made $2 on that item, but I was expecting to make $7 on it after RR). I got a package of diapers, three cans of tomato sauce, three lip glosses, deodorant, medicine and a newspaper (for the coupons!).
There are several websites I use when I start to make my shopping lists. The best is Southern Savers. You can even check off the items in her posts to make shopping lists, which is helpful. I also like Money Saving Mom. Both blogs post deals all day for lots of stores. They can both teach you a lot more about couponing than I can. They are masters. After I check their sites, I go to the ads from the newspaper for each store. Sometimes there are variations or I notice something in the add that I didn’t see online. Then I look to see if I have coupons I can combine with the sales and ECBs or RRs. I’m still figuring some things out, but I’m having a great time saving as I learn!