Crafty Home Economist

Working the Dollar to Achieve Your Dreams

Series: Couponing for the Busy Couponer – The Savings Game (4)

Couponing for the Busy Couponer

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Day 4: The Savings Game

This is day 4 of our series.  If you missed our first three days, we talked about why we should coupon , getting and organizing your coupons, and creating a couponing plan.

Today’s topic is about the savings game.  The over all picture is buying what is on sale, then applying coupons to the sale.  However, there are a couple of areas I would like to go over.

#1 – Buy on Sale

People ask me what my philosophy is on couponing.  I tell them I don’t shop for what I need.  I know it sound counter intuitive, but you save by pairing items on sale with coupons.  That way you have double savings, first from the sale and second from the coupon.  When an item can be purchased at a deep discount, buy as many as you can.

A friend of mine asked me “what about those items you buy fresh every week?”  Our family chooses to go to the farmer’s market or the organic market every week for fresh produce.  These are items that usually do not have coupons, some produce companies do offer coupons.  But, couponing for other things help me buy my fresh produce.  In addition, frozen produce are routinely on sale and can be paired with coupons.

Example:

Toothpaste orig. $3.99 minus $0.50 coupon = $3.49, so all you save is the value of the coupon, $0.50.  If you at a store that doubles coupons your purchase price is $2.99.

Here’s the difference:

Toothpaste orig. $3.99 on sale for $2.99 minus $0.50 coupon = $2.49.  You save $1.50, or if you are at a store that doubles coupons your purchase price is $1.99.

Now that is a difference.

#2 – Coupon Stacking

Coupon stacking is when you combine a store coupon with a manufacturer’s coupon to achieve even deeper savings.  This is a more advanced couponing technique and requires understanding a particular stores policy.  What makes coupon stacking tricky is being willing to stand your ground, but don’t make a scene.  Many cashiers do not know their store’s coupon policy, just that they accept one coupon per item and will tell you they cannot accept both coupons.

Stores often have there own coupons.  Good examples of this are Target, Walmart, and Giant.  They will either mail them to you or you can find them in the newspaper.

If we add a $0.50 store coupon to our example from above, your purchase price is as low as $1.49.

Store coupons usually do not double.  This is usually the only time you can use two coupons on one item.  I’ll be honest, I don’t do this very often.

#3 – Drug Stores

Drug stores have a members program, as do most grocery stores, that give you extra discounts.  Usually these discounts come in the form of store money or cash back.  I am going to link you to Money Saving Mom.  She discusses the Drug Store Game and her experience playing it.

Let me tell you my experience.  I play the CVS game from time to time.  I use it mostly for toiletries.  You can easily get free toothpaste, tooth brushes, and deodorant.  The trick is having a few CVS buck on hand to use towards your purchase.  Be careful though, as to not get too many bucks at one time.  They usually expire two to three weeks after you get them.  Also, read the fine print.  The bucks cannot be used on certain items, like gift cards.  Trust me, I know.

One Christmas I bought a bunch of stuff from CVS, collected the bucks and had about $45 worth.  I picked out about $75 in gift cards and went to the register with bucks in hand.  When the cashier rang me up and I handed her my stack of bucks, she looked at me and said “Sorry ma’am.  You can’t use buck on gift cards.”  Yep, there it was in fine print on the bottom of each buck.  So, I paid $75 for the gift cards and had to find other stuff to spend my $45 in bucks on over the next two weeks.  So, the moral of the story?  Read the fine print and plan accordingly.

Time Saving Tips:

1. Stock up on non-perishable items when they are on sale and can be paired with a coupon (use coupon match-up blogs like Crafty Home Economist).

2. Keep a few CVS bucks, or rewards from store of choice, on hand to use.  Use them every two to three weeks and stock up on deep discounted items.

Next week is the final installation of the Couponing for the Busy Couponer series.  I will be discussing using what you got and my final thoughts.

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