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Archive for the ‘Crazy Couponing’ Category

This trip was an exercise in tough decisions. Most of my deals this week did not meet my challenge criteria, BUT (see how I feel the need to defend my decisions?) we were out of toilet paper, I haven’t bought new makeup in almost a year, I needed pads – and wanted the gift cards, and I couldn’t pass up a sale on my favorite shampoos/conditioners even if they weren’t almost free. I’m still creating my stockpile and even though I did not meet my goal with this trip, I still feel pretty good about my purchases, and I didn’t pay full price for anything. Can I do better? YES! And I did on shopping trip #4.

I’m still learning and I know that as I slowly stockpile there will be less of a need to buy stuff when it’s not at its rock bottom price. I’ll get there, and so can you. Don’t give up on either of us, okay?

Once again, this was my non-food stuff because all of the food was put away already. Hey, my table is only so big. 😉 I did get some great deals on food by shopping Thanksgiving sales with coupons! This is a lot of work to list everything and I’m REALLY glad that I do not run one of the couponing sites I follow and have to do this every day! Here we go:

Cottonelle Toilet Paper Retail 5.00, on sale for 3.99, MQ -.75/1.

Final Price=3.24 (x4) Total Savings=35%

Charmin Toilet Paper Retail 4.29, on sale for 2.99, MQ -.25/1.

Final Price=2.74 (x3) Total Savings=37%

Always Maxi Pads Retail 5.99, MQ-.50/1, Target deal-Buy 3 get $5 gift card.

Final Price=3.82 each (x6) Total Savings=36%

Oral B Toothbrushes Retail 2.99, on sale 1.50, RR 1.50, MQ -.75/1.

Final Price=FREE after register rewards +.75 money maker (x4)

Scunci Hair Elastics Retail 2.99, on sale 2/$3, RR $3.

Final Price=Free after register rewards (x4)

Herbal Essence Shampoo/Conditioner Retail 3.49, on sale for 2.99, MQ -1.00/1.

Final Price=1.99 (x4) Total Savings 43%

Garnier Fructis Shampoo/Conditioner Retail 3.49, on sale 2.49, MQ 1.00/1,

Final Price=1.49 (x2) Total Savings 58%

Garnier Fructis Hairpsray Retail 3.59, on sale 2.99, MQ -2.50/1.

Final Price=.49 each (x2) Total Savings 86%

Dawn Dishwashing Liquid Retail 1.49, MQ -.50/1 doubled.

Final Price=.49 each (x2) Total Savings 67%

Schick Razors Same deal as the last post.

Final Price=FREE. Total Savings 100% (x2)

Command Adhesive Hooks Retail 2.99, Target Coupon -1.00/1, MQ -.50/1,

Final Price=1.49 (x1) Total Savings 50%

Energizer Batteries Retail 4.49, Target Coupon -1.00/1, MQ -.1.00,

Final Price=2.49 (x1) Total Savings 45%

Cover Girl Eye Shadow-4 color Retail 5.79, on sale 3.47, MQ-2.50/1,

Final Price=.97 (x4) Total Savings 83%

Cover Girl Eye Shadow-single color Retail 3.79, on sale 2.27, MQ -1.00/1,

Final Price=1.27 (x4) Total Savings 66%

Cover Girl Perfect Blend Pencils Retail 5.99, on sale 3.59, MQ -2.50/1,

Final Price=1.09 (x2) Total Savings 92%

Cover Girl Wet Slick Lip Gloss Retail 6.99, on sale 3.50,

Final Price=3.50 (x2) Total Savings 50%

Loreal Double Extend Mascara Retail 12.99, on sale 6.49, MQ -1.00/1,

Final Price 5.99 (x2) Total Savings 54%

Total Retail=$234.13

Total Spent=$88.10

Money Saved=$146.03

Average Savings = 62%

Not terrible. Not great. I’ll do better next time. 🙂

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I’ve decided that the word “extreme” doesn’t suit me. There’s nothing extreme about creating a small stock pile to get my family through leaner times, or using coupons to get free stuff which allows me to reallocate the money I saved to other areas of my budget. It’s not extreme to shop a few different stores each week. I am fortunate enough to live in an area where King Soopers is across the street from Safeway, which shares a parking lot with Walgreens. That’s 3 of my possible 5 stops in 1 block. The other 2 stops are usually Sprouts (love their produce) and Wal-Mart for whatever I couldn’t pick up at the other stores. They are about a block from each other and only a few miles from the first stops.  I call that smart. From now on you can refer to me as a “smart couponer.” 😀

Confession: My binder was a bit of a pain to put together. I thought I could get away with using clear zipper pouches to house the coupons, and that buying baseball card pages to organize my coupons was a waste of time and money. Having to dig through 100+ coupons to find the right toothpaste coupons to get them all free (from my first shopping trip of the month) convinced me otherwise.

There are many ways to organize your coupons, but I advise you to use a system that makes sense to YOU. I recently joined a couponing group here in Denver and several of my new friends like the Krazy Coupon Lady’s system. I chose to improve on the system I was already using with my small accordion file. It’s mostly alphabetical with non-food items at the front of the binder because that is what I use the most. Here’s what you’ll need for my method of organizing: A sturdy 3-ring binder (mine is 3.5”), 2-3 packages of baseball card sheet sets, a few sheet protectors, tabbed dividers, paper trimmer, scissors and/or rotary cutter and self-healing mat, a black marker, and a little patience. (Click on the pictures to enlarge them.)

You can see from this picture that I get specific in my categories. I designated tabs for me, Benny, and the kids, but everything else is general use. Benny uses specific body wash and deodorant, but his section is also for general manly smelling stuff, while mine is for lady specific items like feminine hygiene products and girly body sprays & perfumes. I had so many makeup coupons that I made it a separate tab. In case you’re wondering, I have a baby tab because several of my closest friends have new babies at home. I’m all about saving them money too.

My categories are: Baby, Benny, Cleaning, Dental, Deodorant, Hair & Body, Household stuff (batteries, light bulbs, 3m hooks, etc.), Kid Stuff, Laundry, Lotion, Make-up, Niki Stuff, Paper Products, Razors/Legs, Sophie Stuff (our dog), Vitamins/Meds, Baking, Boxed Foods, Breads, Canned Foods, Cereal, Condiments/Dressings, Dairy/Eggs, Drinks, Food Storage, Frozen/Fridge, Meats, Soups, and Snacks.

I also sub-categorize behind each tab when needed. For example, my cleaning section has a page or 2 each for laundry soap (even though I make my own, I’ll take advantage of free soap any day), stain treatments, air fresheners, cleaning products (409, glass cleaner), dishwashing soap, and tools like sponges, Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, etc.

I file the coupons so that I can easily read them when my binder is sitting in the child seat of a shopping cart. If a coupon is too big to fit the slot, then I fold it in a way that I can see the dollar amount and the expiration date can be seen by looking at the back of the page, or fold it the other way so I can see both the amount and the date. It depends on the coupon. Here’s how each page looks:

        

The front of the binder (before the baby tab) is reserved for special store coupons like King Soopers and Target. I don’t get many that are King Soopers specific, so I don’t fold those over. I also keep one of the clear zipper pouches to hold coupons that are about to expire and those I plan to use each week, like Michaels and Walgreens. The back of the binder holds a few sheet protectors with copies of the coupon policies for the stores I frequent in case I meet a checker who doesn’t understand their store’s policy. I’ve been told store managers can change coupon requirements and that some things are left up to individual stores as to how they enforce quantity limits, but the general coupon policies are available on the store’s website.

The biggest challenge for me has been learning coupon lingo and understanding what is and isn’t allowed. Especially what “one coupon per purchase” means. The Krazy Coupon Lady has an easy to follow, illustrated explanation here, but sadly her B1G1 Free scenario is being banned from a lot of stores. Couponing 101 has a handy glossary you can check out too.

Does all of this sound like a lot of work? It was for the first few weeks, but after a month of this, I’m fairly comfortable. There are websites that pair coupons and sales for the region you live in to help you get the most for your money. Here in Denver, I use Bargain Blessings and Denver Bargains. I also subscribe to Sunday Coupon Preview to see what coupons will be coming in the Sunday paper each week, which I buy at the Dollar Tree on my way home from church.

I’d like to say a few words about the actual clipping process. The Krazy lady mentioned above, and several others who have taken the time to make YouTube videos, staple their multiple copies of coupon pages together before cutting them so they can carefully align the coupons. I just line them up and use my bypass blade paper trimmer to cut through all 11 coupon pages at once – without stapling a thing. I line up my pages, slip them under the plastic guard, put a finger or two on top of the guard to hold the pages firmly in place, and then slice. It’s that easy. Occasionally I have pages that are arranged so my usual method would cut through a coupon instead of around one, so I lay the pages flat on my self-healing cutting mat and use my rotary cutter to cut through the pages until they’re small enough to fit in my paper trimmer. Quilting methods work for couponing. Who knew? This is so much faster than using scissors, and I used Michael’s and JoAnn Fabrics 50% off coupons to buy these tools. I’m just thrifty that way. 😉

        

This is definitely my new hobby. I already had the tools from other projects I’ve done, and the sheet protectors and marker I repurposed from my homeschooling stuff, so my new expenses were the baseball card sheets (Wal-Mart) and the binder, which I bought on clearance at Staples. All worthy investments. What I saved on my first shopping trip alone would have paid for all of these items.

Are you still intimidated by couponing? Come on over for a cup of Chai and I’ll help you get started.

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Congratulations Barb! Send me your email and I’ll send you the codes.

Thank you to everyone who entered, and stay tuned for another give away after Thanksgiving. I know you love free stuff as much as I do! 😉

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