Tag Archives: extreme couponing

Summer Couponing Update

14 Jul
Last week's CVS haul was amazing!

Last week’s CVS haul was amazing! I spent $6 on all of this, which is equivalent to paying for just one purple bottle of the shampoo shown here. I had $25 in Extra Care Bucks and a variety of manufacturer’s coupons to combine with the CVS weekly promotions and sales.

It’s been such a long time since I did a couponing post. The springtime is so busy at work and at home that I don’t have as much time to devote to couponing as I’d like, so I didn’t have a lot of really great hauls to write about. I got lots of little deals here and there, but nothing really blog-worthy.

However, this summer in just one week’s time or so, I had two huge hauls and when I posted the photo shown here on the left on Facebook last week, I had a lot of “Please tell me how!” type of requests, so I decided that I’d do a post about couponing soon.

On the night that I came home with all of the items shown here, I said to my husband, “And I bet when I go back, I’ll have earned $5 from the Beauty Club too!” At CVS, for every $50 you spend on beauty products you get $5 back. Shampoo, conditioner, hair color, hair supplies, body wash, and all makeup products count as beauty supplies. With three girls and myself living here, we go through a whole lot of all those things. At CVS there’s always great sales and great CVS coupons to stack along with the  manufacturer’s coupons for all these types of items, you can’t go wrong.

Sure enough, when I went to CVS tonight (I realized we were completely out of extra toothbrushes and I’d just tossed mine in the trash) my $5 Beauty Club reward popped out, but so did a $5 Prescription program reward! I walked into the store with $10 to spend for free! (At CVS, for every 10 prescriptions you fill, you earn $5. You can sign up three customers per loyalty card.)

My coupons and Extra Care Bucks rewards in hand, I headed straight to the toothbrush section. After comparing prices and sales, I opted to just go with a basic set of two CVS brand toothbrushes. From there I moved on to the makeup section because when I’d scanned my card at the CVS machine, a coupon for $4 off $12 of makeup popped out. I try to keep things like foundation, mascara, and concealer, on hand because again…a house full of women, two of whom use makeup, we go through quite a bit.

This week's haul was just as good, if not better, than last week's! I had $22 in Extra Care Bucks and several manufacturers coupons to combine with the new week's sales and promotions at CVS!

This week’s haul was just as good, if not better, than last week’s! I had $22 in Extra Care Bucks and several manufacturer’s coupons to combine with the new week’s sales and promotions at CVS!

Imagine my surprise when I came upon the Physicians Formula makeup section and saw those bright yellow CVS signs that said, “Buy any 2 Physicians Formula items and receive $10 in Extra Care Bucks!” I couldn’t believe my luck! I had $4 off already! I grabbed two of the concealers that we use, which are $6.99 each, which gave me the $12 I needed to spend to use the CVS $4 coupon, knowing I’d earned my $10 back.

I moved on to the cereal section. We go through tons of cereal for breakfast and snacks, especially in the summer. I buy a huge variety usually, and we range from the healthier types to the sweeter types, depending on what coupons I have, what’s on sale and what’s left on the pantry shelves.

I had a $1 off 3 Kellogg’s cereals coupon as well as a $1 coupon off two boxes of the Cheerios in the yellow box, which also had a “get $2 Extra Care Bucks Back” sign on display.

In the end I had a total of $22 Extra Care Bucks and spent only $7 out of pocket for my entire haul shown here. That’s equivalent to paying for just one of the concealer sticks!!

I can’t emphasize enough that it’s so important to utilize all aspects of any store’s promotions in addition to manufacturer’s coupons when you shop, no matter what store you’re at. If the store utilizes a customer loyalty program, sign up for it. If they accept their own store coupons, internet coupons, manufacturer’s coupons or any combination of those things, use them to your benefit. Try to shop the sales and promotions even if you don’t currently need a particular item. If it’s something you use, it’s better to get it for free or almost free, ahead of time than to pay full price for it the day you need it. My toothbrushes are a perfect example. I’m usually very good about keeping them on hand from sales and promotions as well as from the dentist and I have enough toothpaste to sink a small ship, but somehow I’d forgotten to keep up with the toothbrushes, so some of my first $5 of Extra Care Bucks went right to a 2-pack of toothbrushes. That’s kind of a waste of Extra Care Bucks, but at least I had them to use and I didn’t have to pay for them anywhere out of pocket.

In my first week’s haul shown above, the majority of my coupons were CVS store coupons coupled with their own store promotions. At CVS you can stack their own store coupons with each other, so for example, if you have a CVS coupon off of Almay makeup for $2 off $10, and you have a CVS coupon for $5 off $15 of makeup, you can use both. If you have manufacturer’s coupons off of Almay you can use those as well. And if you’re lucky there may be a promotion going on such as a Buy One Get One 50% off, or an Extra Care Bucks promotion where you earn back some of what you’ve spent. If you have two manufacturer’s coupons for the same item and you buy two of that item you can use both coupons in addition to your CVS coupons. You can use manufacturer’s coupons off of the half-priced items and even off the free items for a Buy One Get One Free promotion.

No matter what store you go to, be sure to know their coupon policies before you go in. Not all stores are the same. I do the best with my coupons at CVS and Target in my area because they have their own store coupons and promotions to couple with the manufacturer’s coupons.

If you’re new to couponing, or want to be, I’d say start small. Pick just a couple of stores that you frequent most and try it out there before going all over the place trying to hit up every store in your town with your coupons. And remember, anything you save is better than not saving at all, and you’ll get out of it what you put in to it. If you have lots of time to devote, you’ll save more money. If you have a little bit of time to devote to it, you’ll save a little less money, but every penny saved is money in your pocket rather than someone else’s pocket!

Good luck and happy saving!!

Couponing Update: Last week’s CVS haul

29 Apr
It's that time of year again: Summer Stock Up time!

It’s that time of year again: Summer Stock Up time!

About a year and a half ago I started my couponing, and last spring I decided to try to stock up for summer on things we go through most, so that I would not have to shop for those items over the summer.

This year, it’s springtime again and I’ve decided to do the same thing. As time has gone by, I have gotten a better handle on things we go through a lot of and things that last a long time.

For example, last year I found out that 48 rolls of toilet paper lasts way longer than just through the summer, but body wash we go through almost weekly. So this year I’m making adjustments in my stockpile. Recently I’ve gotten good deals on women’s deodorant, dish detergent, and a few other things. Last week, however, I had a particularly good “haul,” so I thought I’d share it with you and tell you how I did it. People often ask me for a quick tutorial, so this may help anyone who’s thinking about couponing.

Today’s post is about a CVS trip, and it’s probably the place I shop the most often because of their great store sales, their fantastic stackable coupons, their super Beauty Club, and their awesome Extra Bucks.

Going into CVS, here is what I had:

a $4 off $10 worth of body wash which I’d gotten out of the CVS machine. CVS brand body wash is $2.37 each or 2 for $4.00 normally. That week though in the CVS flier, it was Buy one get one half off. I had to buy 7 to get to $10, but then I got $4.00 off.

5 manufacturer’s coupons for Old Spice men’s deodorant for 20 cents off. The deodorant was on sale in the flier for $2.29 that week. So I’d be getting mine for $2.09 each.

1 CVS machine coupon for 20 cents off Palmolive dish soap. The soap was on sale in the flier for 99 cents already. Normally it’s more than $1.00 at CVS.

7 manufacturer’s coupons for $1.00 off two bags of Chex Mix. The Chex Mix was on sale at CVS that week four bags for $5.  Each bag is more than a single  serving, so it makes a great lunchbox snack if you put it into ziploc bags, and it is great for a playdate or after school snack. During the summer it’ll be great for beach snacks, assuming it lasts that long!

I also discovered that day that Chex Mix comes in Chocolate Turtle flavor. I had to remind myself that each bag was more than one single serving or I might have eaten the whole bag.

My total cost that day was $30.

I got:

7 bottles of body wash
5 deodorants
1 Palmolive dish soap
14 bags of Chex Mix

So, in total, 27 items for $30.

If you are new to couponing, the lessons to take away from today’s post are the following:

Be sure to examine *all* of your couponing and sale options. Use the CVS machine coupons, and remember you can scan your card multiple times a day until it tells you there’s nothing more for you.

Look closely at the flier because oftentimes the fliers and sales coincide with the store and manufacturer coupons. Remember that you can stack CVS store coupons with manufacturer’s coupons.

Only buy what you use, unless it’s totally free and you can donate it. Don’t spend money on things you can’t use, just because it’s on sale.

And finally, use as many manufacturer coupons as you can. Having multiple numbers  of coupons is great when stores run sales such as the one I got on Chex Mix and deodorant this time around.

Happy Saving!!

End of Year Couponing Update for 2012

3 Jan
Hot off the press!

Hot off the press!

As many of you remember, I accepted a challenge from my college roommate, Karen, last January and tried my hand at couponing. I began at the end of January, right around the 28th of the month, or thereabouts.

My first couponing trip was to CVS and with that one trip, I was hooked on saving money!

This week marks the start of the new year, a whole new year of saving money. To celebrate, I am sharing with you some photos of a local magazine article in which I was one of the couponers featured. This magazine, Prime Time, is the January issue and it’s put out by the same company that puts out the two newspapers I work for, Beacon Communications. I was so excited when they asked if they could feature me for the story. Also featured is my friend Pam, who has been so helpful in teaching me her couponing strategies along the way.

Clip, clip, clip...

Clip, clip, clip…

I thought that with the feature story coming out today, it’d be a great day to share with you some of my couponing savings totals for the 2012 year.

Remember, all of the items I purchased were from places I already shopped, for things I already buy. I did not add any other stops to my already busy schedule and I did not start purchasing things I don’t need, like baby wipes for example, when I don’t have a baby, just to use the coupons.

Ready?

CVS: I saved $1604.36 at CVS this year. At CVS I utilized their own store coupons, stacked with manufacturer’s coupons, along with sales and their Extra Bucks Rewards to make the very most of every penny I spent there. I also made sure to enroll in their Beauty Club and just yesterday, their brand new prescription program, both of which earn you additional Extra Bucks for purchasing things you already were buying.

TARGET: I saved about $90 this year just by using my Target Red Card, which is not a credit card since we do not use credit cards, but rather a debit card. This does not count all of my savings from manufacturer’s coupons or Target store coupons, which I stack in order to make the most of my savings. With the Target Red Card you save an additional 5% off your total purchase after coupons. Caroline recently used our Red Card herself when purchasing an item that was over $200. She had saved up for months and used her Christmas money and a Target gift card for the rest, and saved herself quite a bit of money out of pocket by using the Red Card.

STOP AND SHOP: I only recently started popping into Stop and Shop  due to our new dietary needs, for things that my other grocery stores don’t have. Therefore, I only have one month’s worth of savings on my last receipt there, but I have saved $62 in that one month alone, according my last 2012 receipt.

I have also saved with coupons at Walmart, Staples, AC Moore and Michael’s. I’ve saved online using Groupon, Living Social and other group buying deals, throughout the year. I accumulated over $200 in rebate money through the year, which I used to start off my Christmas shopping early this summer.

My kids and my husband have also picked up some great couponing skills. They all scan the CVS card when we enter the store, as many times as it will let us, and they can spot a good coupon right away. We recently went to CVS to get some Zyrtec. I had a $4 manufacturer’s coupon and when we walked in, a $5 store coupon off that very product came out of the machine. Elizabeth came running down the allergy aisle holding it up. She knew we would now save $9 off a product we used to pay full price for.

Of course, being my competitive self, my goal for the new couponing year is to beat the 2012 totals for the next year in order to save my family even more money!

Time to get clipping!

Couponing Update: Back on the money-saving wagon

17 Sep

I had 3 BOGO coupons and $10.75 in manufacturer’s coupons so that I got almost all of these razors for free, and earned $10 in EB on to boot!

Last week I mentioned that after taking most of the summer off (not spending, but not saving either), I was now ready to begin couponing again. I had such an amazing money-saving week that I just had to share it with you today.

My first (and only) couponing stop: CVS.

I had been very close to earning $5 in Extra Bucks from the CVS Beauty Club (for every $50 you spend you earn $5 back in EB) for most of the summer, but since I wasn’t buying, I wasn’t earning. Last week after I’d cut all my coupons I was ready to save. I desperately needed a particular make up item from L’Oreal. It was a $10 item but I had a $2 off coupon and I’d get my $5 Beauty Club EB for the purchase as well. However, when I saw the circular for CVS I saw that if you spent $10 on any L’Oreal items you’d earn $3 in EB this week.

Even better.

I also noticed when I cut my coupons that I had several copies of a particular coupon that was Buy One Get One Free for Gillette razors for men and also for Venus razors for women. In addition to the BOGO coupons I also had four $1 off coupons for the Gillette razors and two $3 off coupons for the Venus razors and I had a CVS store coupon for 75 cents off the Venus razors too. You can combine CVS store coupons with manufacturer’s coupons and you can also use $$ off coupons with BOGO coupons.

When I saw the CVS flier however, I realized that if you spent $30 on Gillette products you got $10 back in EB. So I was going to be buying four packs of men’s razors and two packs of women’s and using all my coupons to get almost all of them for free, but I’d earn $10 in EB to boot.

I was out of Zyrtec. I had a $5 off coupon and I’d earn $4 back in EB.

It was a banner week, to say the least.

Here’s how it worked out:

1) Four packs of Gillette Razors $7.99 each, ($32) two packs free with BOGO coupons ($16 off), $4 more off in manufacturer’s coupons (down to $12 for four packs of four razors) and an additional $10 back in EB at the register.

2) Two packs of Venus Razors $8.50 each ($17) one pack free with the BOGO coupon ($8.50 off), $6 more off in manufacturer’s coupons (down to $2.50) and another 75 cents off with my CVS coupon (down to $1.75 for two packs of four razors).

3) Zyrtec $18.99 for 30 pills, with $5 off from my manufacturer’s coupon (down to $13.99) and an additional $4 back in EB at the register.

4) L’Oreal makeup $10.99 with $2.00 off from my manufacturer’s coupon (down to $8.99) and an additional $3 back in EB at the register. By the end of the week I’d earned another $5 back in Beauty Club EB because those Beauty Club bucks take a few days to process.

All this plus a case of water, a bottle of vitamins and a canister of wipes, all for free with my $22 in EB earned at CVS this week. You can’t go wrong with Extra Bucks!

TOTAL SPENT: $36.73 (for makeup, six packs of razors and Zyrtec)
TOTAL SAVED: $37.75

TOTAL EB EARNED: $22.00

What I got with my EB:
One case of water
Four packs of Nature Valley Granola Bar and Granola Thins snacks (on sale 2 for $5 plus I had $1 off three)
One can of CVS brand “Lysol” wipes
Four bottles of laundry detergent
One bottle of vitamins (on sale B1G1 1/2 off and I had a coupon $1 off one).

During the week I also utilized coupons for other non-grocery/household items.

For example, I took advantage of the Payless Shoestore BOGO Half Off sale plus the $4 coupon per pair of shoes they give you when the store you’re at doesn’t have the size you need to get two pairs of dance shoes for my daughter for $31 instead of paying $47.

We also ate out at the Olive Garden restaurant over the weekend, using a “Kids Eat Free” coupon for two of our kids’ meals and a $25 gift card from my father-in-law for my birthday, to get the rest of our meal for just a a fraction of the cost of what it would’ve been for five of us to eat out.

A great week, don’t you think?

Couponing Update: My Summer Stockpile

2 Jul

I had to break my own rule and make an overflow spot for all the shampoo and conditioner I’ve stockpiled.

It’s official.

I’ve saved $1053 at CVS since January 31.

I’d never couponed a day before that.

I’m completely blown away by how much you can save when you coupon. I still can’t help but kick myself for not doing it sooner.

Today for example, I went in to CVS just to buy my newspaper. I went to their red coupon machine in the store though, to check and see what store coupons came out.

Tons of coupons came out. And $5 Extra Bucks from a previous Beauty Club purchase. Since I was there and since I wasn’t planning on coming back for a while, I decided to see how I could best spend those $5 Extra Bucks and combine them with the coupons that came out of the machine.

I bought:

1 Cranston Herald 50 cents

1 Hershey Simple Pleasures (on sale $3 but normally $4.59)
2 VO5 Shampoo
2 VO5 Conditioner (on sale 79 cents each for all four)
2 CVS body wash (on sale buy one get one 1/2 off)
I had $3 in coupons for the chocolate ($1 from the CVS machine  and one for $2 from the mail that I’d stuck in my pocketbook the day I got it.)
I had no other manufacturer’s coupons with me but the machine had given me $1 off the body wash and $2 off shampoo or conditioner.
I saved $14,  I spent 74 cents out of pocket.
I’d saved so much that at the register my balance was negative and they can’t give me back money so I had to send my kids back to the aisle to get more stuff. Twice. We finally got it up to the 74 cents, so I could leave.
Anyway…..
About six weeks ago or so, I set a goal for myself. Knowing that my couponing was going so well, and knowing that my paycheck can be significantly less over the summer when school is out (less hours I’m available to work and less school news to cover), I decided that while my pay was consistent and while my kids were in school–I could shop alone, and concentrate, I’d start stockpiling as many non-grocery items as I could for summer. I’d use my Extra Bucks at CVS as wisely as possible between then and now. I’d use my coupons and my Target Red Card as wisely as I could also. I’d get us set up so that other than fresh fruits and veggies, and meats, I’d have as much as possible on hand so that we spent less over the summer and used up what we had.
(I still shop mainly at CVS and Target because they allow the stacking of their store coupons together with manufacturer’s coupons and they have great sales. CVS is my top favorite spot because of the added Extra Bucks.)

I won’t need toilet paper or Lysol wipes all summer long.

I tried to utilize the sales to my advantage when I could, especially the ones at CVS where I had coupons, a sale, their own store coupons, and received Extra Bucks back on top of it. I got three cases of water for free, six tubs of laundry detergent for free, four cases of toilet paper for free, shaving cream, cereal, body wash, allergy medicine, and lots and lots of shampoo and conditioner, all for free. I had four tubs of Lysol Wipes until just before I took this picture.

I was stocking up, for sure.

And meanwhile, my regular grocery spending has been shrinking every month.
Did you know that Suave deodorant is just $1.37 at CVS before coupons? Get a $1 off and you’re paying 37 cents. That happens all the time.

One of my favorite days I saved $99 at CVS. I got 32 items:  23 bottles of shampoo and/or conditioner, two bottles of laundry detergent, two toothbrushes, one toothpaste, and four deodorants, all for $36 (including tax). I had utilized the manufacturer’s buy one get one free coupons, plus CVS coupons and sales, and Extra Bucks. I was so excited when I left that my hands were shaking.
Not to mention that for every $50 you spend at CVS on beauty items (which includes all the shampoo and conditioner) you get $5 back in Extra Bucks on one of your next trips. So I knew I’d have more money to spend.
At the end of each quarter you get 2% of your spending back (including prescriptions, which we have quite a few of during the year) and I earned $16.50 to spend after July 1. Of course, I’ll find the best way to stretch that with sales, coupons (both CVS and manufacturer’s) and see if I can earn any additional Extra Bucks back.
Last week, I spent $24 ($20 before tax) and got a men’s razor that came with two refill blades, a pack of 5 refill blades, two bottles of vitamins, four mascaras, and two 12 packs of wet Swiffer cloths. I saved $59. I’d gone in specifically because I needed the razor and Swiffers, and I had coupons for them all; both CVS coupons and manufacturer’s coupons. But, when I got there, there were sales, and Extra Bucks were earned on the razor (which ended up being free with all my coupons), which paid for one of the packs of Swiffers, and I earned $5 more Beauty Club Extra Bucks with the mascaras. (The mascaras were buy one get one free with my two BOGO manufacturer’s coupons plus I had four $1 off coupons too, that I was able to use.)
And so it goes and goes and goes.
I don’t want to spend my summer scanning sales, cutting coupons or shopping with my kids. I want to be outdoors, with my family, having fun. So now, we dip into the stockpile and see how long it lasts us.
And you know I’ll keep you posted!

With a family of five, three of them being long-haired girls, we go through a lot of shampoo, conditioner, body wash and shaving cream, in particular.

In total, I’d stockpiled eight containers of shaving cream!

New recipe, new product review

27 Mar

The Weelicious oatmeal recipe for the crock pot is one of our favorites.

Back in January I posted the recipe for the Weelicious Overnight Crock Pot Oatmeal and said how much my family enjoys it. One of my gripes about it though, is that as delicious as it is, it makes a thick “skin” on the inside of the crock pot, which takes forever to clean. Normally I have to soak and scrub, soak and scrub.

I found the idea of the slow cooker liners intriguing.

Therefore, I was intrigued when I saw a coupon for Reynold’s Slow Cooker Liners back in early March. I decided that since I had the coupon and since I use my crock pot kind of a lot, they’d be worth trying out and I could decide at that point if they were worth buying again. The cost at Shaw’s was $3.99 for four liners and I had $1.00 off.

Around the same time, I discovered a new Overnight Slow Cooker Apple-Cinnamon Steel Cut Oatmeal on Pinterest, which was originally from Monica at The Yummy Life blog. I decided to try the recipe and the liners at the same time.

The recipe was indeed “yummy” as the title of her blog implies! It was very similar to the Weelicious one but it had brown sugar and butter that were extras. I always add apples to my Weelicious recipe, but they were in this new one too. I also noticed she had two other overnight oatmeal recipes on there. I might check them out in the future too.

As for the liner, it was okay. I opened the box and found the instructions, which say:

1) Open the slow cooker liner and place it inside the slow cooker bowl. Fit the liner snugly against the bottom and sides of the bowl; pull top of liner over rim of bowl.

2) place ingredients in lined slow cooker first, then turn on slow cooker. Place lid on slow cooker. Cook according to recipe.

3) Carefully remove lid to allow steam to escape. Serve meal directly from lined slow cooker.

4) Cool slow cooker completely; remove liner and toss.

The illustrations show a sparkling clean slow cooker at the end.

I followed the directions and had no problems using the liner. It fit inside my slow cooker easily and the cover went on without a problem.

All ingredients ready to go.

In the morning we ate our oatmeal as usual and I followed the directions, serving it right out of the container. I was worried that the plastic might tear when I was scraping the spoon against the sides to serve it, but it didn’t rip.

The "after" photo, after the liner had been removed. Not as clean as I'd expected but not as bad as without.

I let the crock pot cool completely before pulling out the liner. I was surprised to find that the crock pot wasn’t as clean as I’d expected it to be, based on the illustrations in the directions from the box. However, it also wasn’t anywhere near as bad as it would be without the liner and it was much easier to clean.

Overall, the jury is still out as to whether or not I’d buy these again. I think it will depend on how the liners do with our other recipes. I do think the cleanup was much easier though, so we’ll see how it does with something like “gravy” or BBQ Beef. Those can be super-messy and that might be the true test for me.

Here is Monica’s recipe for the oatmeal. I also like that she included the Weight Watcher’s Points at the bottom.

The magic of the crock pot: it cooks while you sleep. I love coming out in the morning and having breakfast already done, especially on a school day.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (2-1/2 to 3 cups chopped)
  • 1-1/2 cups fat-free milk (I had 1%)
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked steel-cut oats
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons butter, cut into 5-6 pieces (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed (I don’t have flax seed so I skipped this one.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Optional garnishes: chopped nuts, raisins, maple syrup, additional milk or butter

DIRECTIONS

Coat inside of 3-1/2 quart (or larger) slow cooker with cooking spray (I used the liner instead). Add all ingredients (except optional toppings) to slow cooker. Stir, cover, and cook on low for 7 hours. Spoon oatmeal into bowls; add optional toppings, if desired. Store leftovers in refrigerator. Freezes well.

To reheat single servings: Put 1-cup cooked oatmeal in microwave proof bowl. Add 1/3 cup fat-free milk. Microwave on high for 1 minute; stir. Continue cooking for another minute, or until hot.

Recipe can be doubled in 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Increase cooking time 1 hour. I doubled mine and cooked it from 10 pm to 8 am.

Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 4 pts per 3/4 cup serving

Couponing Update: a one paycheck snapshot

12 Mar

After my last couponing update, my one month check-in at the end of February, I had so many emails. Everyone was intrigued by the post and everyone had questions about specifically HOW to do it, exactly what I did. I’d shown the stuff I had gotten for free all month long, but everyone wanted to know *exactly* how I got those things free. So, I decided to keep very detailed notes during the next two week pay period, detailing where I went, what deals I was going for, what I got, how much I paid and how much I saved.

Well, two weeks is up. Tomorrow is pay day and it’ll be time to start all over again. So, here is the running record, with photos, of what I got, when, where, why and how. Hopefully it helps to answer any questions you had, but if not, be sure to email me and I’ll answer them if I can. Please remember, I’m new at this, so I’m not by any means an expert, but I am sharing what I know. Please also remember I only utilize certain stores, so although there might be other deals other places, I’m trying to keep to places I normally go to, places I can go to in between my travels as a “roving reporter” and a mom.

Be sure to read to the end (or skip to the end if you must) to see our final numbers; what we spent, what we saved, what we got for free. It’s amazing to me.

***********************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Payday: February 28
We get paid…time to shop!

FEBRUARY 28:

Regularly scheduled two-week “big shopping” at Aldi’s $120.40  (This is approximately $100 less than average prior to couponing and stockpiling. Two weeks ago when I did my ” big shopping” at Price Rite it was $193, still under with hardly any errands in between to get anything extra, but now this was way under, this time.)

Walmart Run (no coupons) $42.87 (10 items I absolutely had to get, no coupons and hadn’t had any for them in the past month. Time to just cave in and buy them. Even still, this is approximately $60 less than average prior to couponing and stockpiling. And, just as an aside, one of the things I bought, a giant tub of laundry detergent, ended up being something I’d get for free during the following two weeks, but at the time I didn’t know that and we were out.)

FEBRUARY 29: Last day to use February expiring coupons, first day shopping the new week’s sales and deals.

CVS February 29 Transaction #1

CVS
Store Extra Bucks specials

 Cover Girl Spend $10 get $3 in Extra Bucks, Maybelline Spend $10 get $3 in Extra Bucks, Colgate Toothpaste Sale $2.74 plus get $1 in Extra Bucks at the register

Store coupon emailed to me that day: 20% off entire purchase

Expiring Coupons
Cover Girl $2.50 off two items, Maybelline $2.00 off lipstick item, Colgate $1.00 off toothpaste

Gillette Buy one deoderant get one free body wash, Gillette $1 off deoderant

Gillette $1 off body wash

Purchased

Transaction #1:

Two Cover Girl Items (These particular items are items I regularly use and run out of, not things I was just buying to get the Extra Bucks or to use the coupons.)  $7.79 and $8.29, One Colgate toothpaste $2.74, Two Maybelline Items (This lipstick I bought two of, is “my” color so I use it and run out of it and I was currently out of it.) $8.99 each, One Cranston Herald Newspaper $.50, Gillette Body Wash $4.99, Gillette Two Pack Deoderant $8.99, and a specific shampoo and conditioner needed, for $5.99 each and had no coupons for.

Used all the coupons listed above.

TOTAL BEFORE COUPONS, SALES, DISCOUNTS: $67.65

TOTAL AFTER COUPONS: $50.56

TOTAL ATER 20% DISCOUNT: $41.86 (TOTAL SAVINGS: $25.79)

EXTRA BUCKS EARNED FOR FUTURE PURCHASES: $7.00

(NOTE: You can get a price adjustment if you find a coupon you didn’t use. I later went back and got $1.00 off one of the $5.99 items. That decreases my total above and increases my savings above by $1.)

Transaction #2

One Sally Hansen Salon Effects Nail product for my daughter who was with me, $9.99

Used Expiring coupon $1 off one SH Nail product (the specific one she was buying)

Used $7.00 CVS Extra Bucks (normally I’d use the Extra Bucks on things we needed, but I’d allowed her to use them instead. I wanted her to see the value in waiting to spend until she had a coupon and EB. She only owed me $2.69 instead of $10.)

TOTAL BEFORE COUPONS: $10.69

TOTAL AFTER COUPONS: $2.69 (TOTAL SAVINGS: $8.00) **FYI: when I put my final numbers at the bottom, I do not include her purchase as it’s her money being used, not ours.

(NOTE: The Salon Effects nail product didn’t work at all, so I emailed Sally Hansen (Coty) right away and will be getting the entire $10 back in the mail–essentially making a $7.00 profit, although not on purpose, obviously. But, that $10 purchase added to my running tally of Beauty Club purchases for which you earn $5 Extra Bucks back every time you “spend” $50.)

Target February 29

Later that same day…
TARGET
Target Store Specials:

Quaker Granola Bars $2 per box (These usually are $2.50 or more, even at Price Rite.) Hunts canned tomatoes $.84 per can

Expiring Coupons:
Yo Crunch Yogurts $.29 off (I had eight coupons)

Yoplait Yogurts $.50 off ten

Any gallon of white milk FREE with any three breakfast products (granola bars, yogurt count as breakfast products) *Milk had to be a name brand. Target brand didn’t count.

Hunts Tomatoes $1.00 off four cans (I had two coupons.) Quaker Granola Bars $1.00 off two boxes

Transaction:
Nine Yo Crunch Yogurts (I know I only had 8 coupons but I needed nine yogurts, three for each kid.) Ten Yoplait Yogurts, One gallon Garelick Farms Milk @ $3.84 per gallon, Two boxes Quaker Granola Bars, Eight Cans of Hunts Tomatoes

Used above coupons

TOTAL BEFORE COUPONS: $26.69

TOATAL AFTER COUPONS: $17.88

TOTAL AFTER RED CARD DEBIT CARD 5% back: $16.99 (TOTAL SAVINGS: $9.70)

My free cereal from Shaw's. But, they wouldn't take my free milk coupon, so I left the milk and went home. I'll never go back to Shaw's.

March 2: On the way to pick up the kids at school I decided to make good on a raincheck I’d gotten a couple of weeks back.

SHAW’S

*Normally I don’t shop at Shaws because it’s so expensive, but I broke my own rule a few weeks back when I realized they had Cheerios for $1.49 and I had three coupons for $.75 off each box. I had to get a rain check for the cereal because they were out. In the meantime I got the free gallon of milk coupon when you buy 3 breakfast items, so I went back to use them together. They also had an item there that I couldn’t get at Aldi’s or Price Rite and I had a coupon for it.

However, when I went, they refused to accept the milk coupon. I will never shop at Shaw’s again.

 

Transaction:

Three boxes Dulce De Leche Cheerios $2.50 each before raincheck : $7.50, One box Slow Cooker Liners $3.99

TOTAL BEFORE COUPONS: $11.49

TOTAL AFTER CEREAL RAINCHECK, CEREAL COUPONS AND LINER COUPON: $3.21

(TOTAL SAVINGS $8.28)

Surprise savings! All I paid for in this photo was the nail polish remover, which was an item we were out of at home.

March 3: CVS surprise trip, surprise savings

I mentioned on my last CVS trip that I needed to bring in a coupon to CVS to have them take it off my receipt because I didn’t have it with me when I went last time. It was for $1. I was going to be in and out, get my dollar and go. As I was getting my $1 back, Caroline went and scanned my card in the machine and out popped $5 in Extra Bucks. With them we bought 2 laundry detergents on sale for $1.99 (happened to be the brand we usually buy, Xtra) and one shampoo and paid nothing. As we were walking out, I saw nail polish remover (which was on my shopping list for next week) with a coupon on it: buy a 2pack of CVS brand nail polish remover ($4.99 for the pack) and get $2 Extra Bucks at the register. So we went back in, bought the remover and used the $2 in Extra Bucks to get a third bottle of detergent. The sale on the detergent was $1.99 but it ended that same night, so that’s why I went back in and bought the remover so I wouldn’t miss the sale.

And best of all….when we went to pay for the nail polish remover to get the extra bucks, they didn’t print out. Upon a closer look, it turned out the label on the nail polish remover was expired at the end of January. So I told them forget it I didn’t want the remover or the detergent. But, they were able to print out $2 ECB for me anyway, which I then did use on the detergent.

Important lessons from this trip:  1) Always scan your card whenever you’re in CVS. 2) Always bring back coupons to take off your receipt if you get them in a reasonable amount of time after you shopped. 3) They will honor expired Extra buck offers if they are advertising them. 4) Always have your coupons with you if you’re going into a store. You never know if you’re going to “need” to shop. If I’d needed a coupon for the remover or the detergent I would’ve had it with me even though I hadn’t planned to buy anything while I was there. You just never know.  5) The CVS Beauty Club rocks. That’s how I keep getting these “surprise” $5 Extra Bucks. Every $50 you “spend” you earn $5 back in EB even if what you “bought” was free or almost free.
TOTAL SPENDING: $5.34 for the remover  TOTAL SAVINGS: $7.00

 

Love the free milk coupons!

Earlier that same day…..

TARGET:
I had purposely been spreading out my Target runs to go with when I needed a gallon of milk so that I could use my free milk coupons as needed. I hadn’t paid full price for a gallon of milk in more than two weeks. But since I can’t store or use all that milk at once, I’d wait til I needed a gallon and then go to Target to get it.

Target Run:
Free Milk Coupon requires that you buy 3 breakfast items. We needed cinnamon bread for french toast and sandwich bread for lunches, those count as the three items. I had a coupon off the two cinnamon breads and of course, the milk was free.

Total before coupons:  $11.71
Total after coupons: $6.87
Total after Red Card Savings: $6.53 (TOTAL SAVINGS: $5.18)

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Sunday, March 4: Price Rite Run: Don decided he wanted Chicken Parm for dinner that night so he made a run to get all the chicken, sauce, cheese etc., needed for that meal. $14 added to our 2 wk. grocery spending at non-coupon stores ($134 total so far. Still wayyyy under the $200-$225 we normally spend when we do our pay day “big shopping.”)

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In my efforts to get all my frozen stuff put away quickly after shopping, I forgot to take a photo of that day's "haul." But here's my tip: storing Eggos out of the box is a space saver in your freezer.

March 5 (start of a new sale week)
TARGET

Store specials and sales, stacked with Manufacturer’s Coupons:

1) Buy 5 Eggo Waffles and/or other specific Kellogg’s products get a $5 Target Gift Card
Sale on Eggo Waffles $2 per box
Coupon for Eggo Waffles (I had two) $1 off three boxes
Coupon for Free Gallon of Milk FREE Garelick MILK ($3.84 value) with purchase of three breakfast items

2) Target Coupon $1 off ten Yoplait Yogurts
Manufacturer’s Coupon $1 off ten Yoplait Yogurts
$.50 off six Yoplait Yogurts

3) Milk Bone Dog Treats on sale
Manufacturer’s Coupon $1.50 off Milk Bone Dog Treats when you buy two
Manufacturer’s Coupon FREE Healthy Treats Dog Treats when you buy two Milk Bone Dog Treats

4) Over the counter daily medicine $1.25 off one, had two coupons, needed two boxes

5) Target Coupon $1.00 off three Kellogg’s Cereals plus the above mentioned Kellogg’s deal
Manufacturer’s Coupon $1.00 off three Kellogg’s Cereals
Sale on certain Kellogg’s Cereals $2.75 each

6) Manufacturer’s Coupon $.99 off Scott Naturals Toilet Paper 4 rolls

7) Target Coupon $1.00 off Quaker Life Cereal
Sale on Quaker Life Cereal $2.74

TRANSACTION ONE: Everything listed above.

TOTAL BEFORE COUPONS: $66.34
TOTAL AFTER COUPONS: $46.55
TOTAL AFTER RED CARD: $44.75 (TOTAL SAVINGS: $21.59)
EARNED $10 in TARGET GIFT CARDS (which I used for Transaction 2)

TRANSACTION TWO:
Clothing on clearance: Three tank tops, two sweatpants for Elizabeth
TOTAL BEFORE GIFT CARDS: $29.96 (or $6 each on average)
TOTAL AFTER GIFT CARDS: $19.96
TOTAL AFTER RED CARD: $18.96 (Savings $11.00)

TOTAL TARGET SPENDING BEFORE SAVINGS FOR TWO TRANSACTIONS: $96.30
TOTAL SPENDING AFTER SAVINGS FOR BOTH TRANSACTIONS: $63.71
TOTAL SAVINGS FOR TRIP ($32.59 or all of Elizabeth’s clothes and one box of waffles for free!)

Zyrtec is very expensive, and two of the girls and I all take it, so getting any sort of deal on them is awesome! In this photo everything but the Zyrtec was free, and I didn't even pay full price for that!

March 7
CVS
Store specials stacked with coupons and Extra Bucks:

1) $10 off Zyrtec 70 count pills one week only. 70 Count is usually $34.99, 2) Had Two Buy 1 Get 1 Manufacturer’s Coupons: Buy one Olay facial cleanser, get an Olay Body Wash Free. 3) Had Two $2 off Olay Body Wash coupons Coupons
4) Olay Facial Wipes on sale $3.99 each, 5) Earn $2 Extra Bucks when you buy Olay Body Wash (Limit 1)
6) Received $5 Extra Bucks from the Beauty Club when I scanned my card today.

Transaction 1:
Bought Two Olay Facial Wipes on sale $3.99 each, Bought Two Olay Body Washes that included a FREE bar of soap with them $6.99 each
TOTAL BEFORE COUPONS: $23.50
TOTAL AFTER COUPONS: $5.52 (TOTAL SAVINGS: $17.98)
EXTRA BUCKS EARNED: $2.00

Transaction 2:
Bought One 70 ct Zyrtec $34.99, CVS Brand Cotton Balls $1.99, CVS Brand Ibuprofin (sale) $4.99, Cranston Herald $.50
TOTAL BEFORE COUPONS: $45.41
TOTAL AFTER COUPONS AND $7.00 EXTRA BUCKS: $28.06 (TOTAL SAVINGS: $17.35)

 WHAT I WOULD HAVE SPENT TOTAL WITHOUT COUPONS: $68.91

TOTAL SPENDING BOTH TRANSACTIONS: $33.58 (less than what Zyrtec alone had cost originally.)
TOTAL SAVINGS BOTH TRANSACTIONS: $35.33

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March 8: Aldi’s Run: Originally I went in for my end of pay period pick up of fresh fruits and veggies, milk, eggs etc. That’s usually about a $25-$30 or so run. However, they had Steel Cut Oats in, and on sale. I had to buy several containers to stock up since I use them often and they are expensive. That and a couple of other extras made my run a $47 run instead.

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We go through one box of waffles per week on average and one box of toaster strudels per week also. We have enough waffles to last approximately....three months. I won't need to buy them again til summer!!

March 10: Just when I thought I was done….
Target

I couldn’t help myself. I received not one, but TWO more Eggo Waffle $1 off three boxes coupons from my friend Pam. The fact that the sale at Target was going on for just one more day was all I could think about. (If you remember the sale was $2 per box and buy 5 get a $5 Target card.) I thought about it for two days, do I go back, or don’t I?

I went back. I opted to buy six boxes to use my two coupons. I used my free gift card to get Pillsbury Toaster Strudels, which I also had a coupon for, $1 off three boxes. So I spent $10 and my $5 gift card.

TOTAL BEFORE COUPONS AND GIFT CARD: $15.87
TOTAL AFTER GIFT CARD, COUPONS AND RED CARD: $10.00

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Here’s the lowdown on our final numbers

GROCERY SHOPPING:

Running 2 week grocery tally: $181, even with enough steel cut oats to sink a boat. This includes doing a “big shopping” as well as my end of the pay period pick up of the milk, eggs, veggies etc. This is much less than normal, well below budget
Walmart trip: $43

COUPON SHOPPING:

Total spent over 2 weeks: $182  ($91 per week)
Total earned free product stockpiled as a result of coupons: $143   ($71.50 per week)

Rebates earned this pay period:

$15 P&G Best in Beauty
The best thing about this rebate was that a while back I’d downloaded the form to my desktop from an email and then forgot all about it, so I didn’t even realize it when I was shopping that the things I was “buying” (Olay, Cover Girl, Head & Shoulders) were qualifiers for a rebate. Later I looked to see what that was on my desktop. It was the rebate and I’d met the qualifications. $15 more back in our pocket!

So there you have it….

Overall, I spent MUCH less on grocery shopping this month and slightly more than last month on coupon shopping but I got more than $140 in free product including what are normally expensive medications, in the process. And…lots of waffles. However, my coupon spending amount is still MUCH less than what all of my Walmart, Target and CVS trips used to be prior to couponing and on those trips I never earned anything for free. My Walmart shopping alone was $100 a trip usually. I have stayed with my goals of 1) only buying what we need, use, run out of, and nothing just for the sake of buying it, and 2) of only going to my usual places, and 3) only buying what we can store. Thankfully, we have Grandma Grello’s freezer in our garage or I could not have made good on all the waffle coupons and sale.

I am spending much less and earning much more.

And, that’s the way I like it!