Smart Couponing

1,100 boxes of cereal? 20 jars of pickles?  Who needs all that?  To hoard it?  To give it away?  Neither of these are good reasons to spend 6 hours of my precious time planning for a strategic strike.  Multiple transactions?  NO WAY!  Not only would that make me grumpy, it would make the sales clerk and the people behind me grumpy too. 

Some people enjoy the challenge of finding items and working the system to get it at the lowest cost possible by checking out in multiple transactions.  While many say there is nothing wrong with this, I for one do not have the time to check out at the register in multiple transactions, nor do I care to store all the stuff that I got for “free” or for next to nothing.  Not to mention, I know this statement will probably have people up in arms, but why buy so many items? Your are depriving other people from enjoying a sale too.  Nothing annoys me more than seeing people clear the shelves.  I had coupons too that I wanted to use, but now that you bought 100 boxes of the same cereal, I cannot use my coupon. More and more stores are starting to limit multiple coupons and just last week, Kroger posted a sign at each register that said that they will NOT do multiple transactions.  I think that this will be a continued trend by stores.  I also noted that many coupons say: Limit one per transaction, per person.  Or, not subject to doubling, etc.

I think the funniest thing I hear extreme couponers say is: “Well, when it gets close to expiration or if I bought a lot, then I just ‘bless’ someone else with it, or donate it to a food bank.”  While this is admirable, how can this be a savings to you if you are not consuming it personally?  I would prefer to focus on brands I normally buy and things I normally eat and buy somewhat normal quantities.  For me, this system works a lot better for me.

I was going to write a longer post on this subject, but I found that so many others have already beaten me to it.  So, without further ado, visit these great bloggers for their take on the extreme coupon craze.  I will give you a hint, they think the same thing that I do:

Extreme Couponing, Is It Worth It?

Response to TLC’s Extreme Couponing

I love this quote: “In regards to the show, for many that watched this will be their first taste of couponing and will only cement their fears: that couponing is an overindulgent, irresponsible, and rude practice.”

Extreme Couponing: Not A Reality

A quote from the above link:

“First pretty much everything you saw tonight can’t be done in most grocery stores.

  • They will not let you check out for 5 hours and do 18 transactions back to back, and nor should they.
  • The lady shopping in the Kroger store in Houston lives in an area that will actually no longer double coupons starting next Wednesday.
  • Most stores have a limit on the number of like item coupons they will accept or a limit on the number of like coupons they will double.  (We will see Bi-Lo break their own policy for this in a few weeks on another episode).
  • Many coupons are starting to have limits written on them “per transaction” and “per customer”.
  • Very few stores double items past their value (i.e. you buy a 60¢ product but they double to $1).  The one big store in the south that has done this, Publix, is even updating their systems to no longer allow it.  Remember stores pay for the doubling on coupons so there is no reason for them to do this.”

Forget extreme couponing, let’s just talk about using coupons and using them wisely.  The very last link I posted above, the woman gives sound advice.  It is something I do already: Pick one store you are comfortable with, start small and once you get used to it, you can expand to buying more than 2 weeks to a month’s worth of groceries at a time.  The strategy is very simple and does not take hours of preparation.  By being loyal to one store, you start seeing the pattern of sales and will know when things will come up for sale.  If you sign up for a loyalty card, I use Kroger for example, they send you weekly emails about what is on sale and you can also load digital coupons right on to your card.  How easy is that?  That is a little less clipping to do.  I log in online, add coupons that I know I will use.  It will also let you make a grocery list based on the sales paper, then you can print it at the end and it will print your grocery list, as well as a list of what coupons you have pre-loaded so you won’t forget.  Easy as pie.

Another thing, Kroger sends me coupons based on products I buy frequently and they also send coupons for store brand items.  SAVINGS!  I buy a lot of Kroger store brand items…with an added coupon…this makes it worthwhile to shop there.  I also get $10 off of $100 purchase coupons, $3 off $15 from the meat department and you can use all of them in a single transaction.  I went to Kroger last week and I bought two weeks worth of groceries.  Granted we are a small family of three.  My total was $138.  I used several paper coupons, as well as my pre-loaded digital coupons.  I also bought as much as I could on sale.  Some of my items were not on sale, but I am brand loyal to a couple things due to allergies, so I did pay full price.  But, the savings from other items evened it out.  Also P&G sends saver coupons and Kroger has a buy 10 participating items and you get $5 off.  After using a combination of my Kroger card, digital coupons, paper coupons and store coupons, my total was $84.63 and $10 was Historical Association lemonade stuff (lemon, limes, frozen lemonade and gallos of water) that I got reimbursed for.  You can see that I bought pretty much normal items in normal quantities.  Here is my receipt:

Kroger Receipt Andrea

I will point out my favorite savings:  

The steak, pork chops and chicken were all on sale.  I bought all three, they were already half off, then I used a $3.00 off coupon that Kroger sent me for the meat department and I had an extra coupon specifically for $1.00 off the chicken.  I saved $4.00 on top of the sale prices.

I had a coupon that printed at the register the last time I was at the store that if I bought 4 Pilsbury, General Mills or (can’t remember other brand), items, that I would get $2 off.  So I bought 3 cans of Pilsbury biscuits (we eat the like crazy), they were on SALE for $1 each, and I bought one box of instant potatoes, also on sale for $1.69.  So my total was $4.69. And I got a $2.00 off coupon good for my next grocery visit.  Which I used last night to buy dog food, which NEVER goes on sale.  I am not going to say it was “like” paying $2.69 because that phrase irritates me.  I did pay $4.69 and took my bonus coupon and used it on another item that I know never goes on sale but I have to buy anyway.

I bought some Herbal essence spray gel which also usually doesn’t go on sale.  It was $2.94.  I forgot I loaded an ecoupon on my card for it about a month ago, so it was a bonus to get the .60 off!  A nice surprise.  That is why it is good to go and load the new coupons on things you normally buy every week when they send the email even if you do not need it immediately, still load it.  They usually do not expire for 60 days.

CLOSE YOUR EYES MEN!  Playtex, which normally is $4.99 a box, went on sale for $2.53 a box.  I had a $1.00 coupon and only paid $1.53!  Also, at register, it gave me a $2.00 coupon on my next purchase of 2 boxes of Playtex.  I will hold on to this until they go on sale again.

Arm and Hammer Detergent (the perfume and dye free, the ONLY one I can use) went on sale for $3.99, normally $5.99.  I had a $1 coupon, so my final price was $2.99.  I also had coupons for Tide, but Tide was not on sale.  It does go on sale at a deep discount twice a year.  I will hold on to this coupon until it does.  These are the only two detergents that I can use.

You don’t have to sacrifice little things that you like either.  I like Haribo gummy bears.  MY FAVORITE!  I noticed they were on sale 10 for $10 (you don’t have to buy 10 by the way, they are still only a dollar each if you elect to buy lesser quantities).  They were $1, which is .39 off.  I also had a coupon for .30 off and my final price was .70.  Those were some good gummy bears!

Due to my allergies and Vivian’s slight lactose intolerance (she still drinks some milk), we generally buy a lot of soy milk or almond milk.  Whatever is cheapest at the time.  The Almond Breeze was on sale for $2.99, normally $3.59 and I had a $1 off coupon that I saved waiting on it to go on sale.  My finally cost was $1.99 for a gallon.  Not shabby.

You will notice that a  lot of the items were not on sale and those items I generally buy anyway.  A common misperception is that people who use coupons buy brands they do not normally buy.  This is not true in my case.  I do buy some of the better brands because of allergies.  And sometimes, if it is cheaper to buy the better brand over the store brand, heck yeah!  I will buy the better brand. 

I like to drink Folgers Colombian Dark Roast.  I know that it is hard to get a coupon for Folgers products.  So, I generally hold on to Folgers coupons when I get them and wait for Kroger to put it on sale (which they do once a month, you better check the sales paper!!!).  Any other brands that I normally buy, I ALWAYS, ALWAYS, check their websites or the coupon websites to see if they have any coupons for those items.  I have to buy them anyway, it doesn’t hurt to search for corresponding coupons.  I also am signed up to receive manufacturer coupons from CouponMom.com and I get an email weekly with new coupons.  I print the ones I will most likely use and leave the rest.  I do not get the sales paper, I do not get the Sunday paper.  I do not get coupons from the paper.  I am able to save money without a subscription to the paper.  I more likely than not, didn’t get my paper.  Someone would pick it up because the lady was always late delivering it.  So, it was not worth the money for the subscription.  Also, I count the $15 for the subscription into the final cost of the items.  Was it worth paying $15 for the coupons?  In my case it generally was not because I could get the same coupons through other means.  If you live in a bigger city with a bigger market, this would probably benefit you.  It does not benefit me in Alexandria, Louisiana. 🙂

I have lots more to say, but will maybe continue in another post later.  I will be having a coupon class soon and will announce the date and location.  I have another friend who coupons a completely different way.  She has a larger family and she has subscriptions to paper coupons.  She has a great way of saving money and knows all the rules about doubling and tripling coupons.  I am going to get her to tell her strategy.  The bottom line regarding couponing is:  You have to find what works for YOU.

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One thought on “Smart Couponing

  1. That is pretty much how I do it most times. My 50 tubes of toothpaste this week was an exception rather than a rule. I don’t clear shelves and I made sure your dad has care packages going out to troops. Most of what we get for free are diapers, and we use those so a stockpile of diapers is not a bad thing.

    Another interesting note is that one gal on the show was actually committing coupon fraud and several savvy couponers caught it. She was reading UPC codes to use the coupons for the higher priced items on the lower priced items, which is why she was so nervous on the show at the register.

    ttp://www.jillcataldo.com/node/16258

    http://www.hotcouponworld.com/2011/05/extreme-couponing-star-admits-to-committing-coupon-fraud/

    I also saw on one episode where they stopped a couple as they were going through the store to explain to them that their policy is not per transaction now but per household.

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