As part of Operation: Penny Pincher I promised to use a variety of the most popular money saving methods out there and report back on my results. By far, one of the most popular strategies is to stack coupons with sales, rewards programs and rebates. Women all over the internet report savings of 80-90% sometimes. The gals over at The Krazy Coupon Lady utilize this theory to save tons of money on everything from toothpaste to kitty litter. This method works best if you have a multitude of stores to choose from, but I live in central Missouri and frankly, there just isn't squat around here except for Wal Mart. According to many couponers, WalMart is the devil...or at least related to him. I'll admit, I don't do very well going to WalMart with my coupons in tow. I tend to do better at Walgreens with my coupons, which is why I occasionally make the 25 mile drive to Walgreens in the next town. Of course, I typically combine it with other business I have over that direction. I will be going to get my son from his dad at our halfway meeting point tomorrow so I'll swing by Walgreens while I'm over that direction. Other weeks I combine it with a trip to the fabric store.
I have been trying this theory for some time myself and have had mixed results. Shoppers who are not fans of this method complain that it is too time consuming and complicated, with too much room for error. I would agree, except I have occasionally made out like a bandit. So, for the sake of my experiment I will continue to try it and see if I can get consistent results.
The key to this method is planning ahead. Being extra nice to the check-out clerk will get you farther, too. I sat down with the Walgreen's ad for this week (available online if you didn't get Sunday's paper) and my stack of coupons. I have also learned to not buy everything just because it is a great deal. Even buying something at a 75% savings is a waste if it isn't something you need. And frankly, as an Army family, stock-piling isn't really much of an option. We either don't have room or are moving soon.
**couponing alert** It does take some time to get enough coupons to be beneficial in this system. Start slow, you can buy a Sunday paper and then go to The Krazy Coupon Lady website to print some internet coupons. They have a list of internet coupons you can print from your computer.
Walgreens uses a customer reward program called Register Rewards. It's pretty simple. Buy a product featured as having a RR attached to it and a coupon for a specific dollar amount will print with your receipt. You do have to pay full price (or sale price) up front, but the coupons are typically pretty good. The best deals come when you use a Manufacturer coupon on the item then get a RR. Example from my shopping last week: Gillette Proglide razors were on sale for 9.98 with a $5 RR. I had a coupon from the paper for $4 off one razor. I bought one razor, used my coupon and paid 5.98. I then got a $5 RR good for a future purchase at Walgreens. The gals over at The Krazy Coupon Lady do a really good job of explaining coupon policies of most major chains.
So on my list this week for Walgreens:
Arrid Extra Dry 99 cents ea. (limit 3) with in-ad coupon
deodorant for my hubby (this is the only brand he'll use so I have to stock up when I catch it on sale)
1 Schick Hydro Razor 7.99 - $5.00 coupon (from Sunday's paper) = 2.99
1 Schick Hydro Shave gel 1.99 - 1.00 coupon (also from paper) = .99
purchase a Schick hydro razor and receive $2.00 register reward
total expense for hubby's 3 deodorants, razor and shave gel = 6.95 and a $2 RR
I have $3 in RR from last week in my wallet so my out of pocket expense will be $3.95 and I'll be getting back $2 in RR. Not bad.
Walgreen's is also having a sale, RR promo on Venus razors, but I think I can actually do better at my commissary on those items so I'm gonna hold out.
The good about Walgreen's is that you can use a Walgreen coupon and a manufacturer coupon on the same item essentially doubling your savings. Walgreen's puts out a monthly coupon book, in this month's book they have a coupon for Listerine. I have manufacturer coupons for Listerine as well so I'll be able to use both of them.
The kicker with multiple coupons is that your total number of items purchased must equal or exceed the total number of coupons. So, I couldn't buy one bottle of Listerine and use two coupons. Too many coupons, not enough items. In order to make the transaction work, I have to add a "filler" item to my purchase. Lots of people buy a small pack of gum or something like that. I try to avoid buying something I don't need and instead try to stack my purchases with something that is simply on sale that I need. *warning* using register rewards to pay for your purchase counts as coupons.
Since each item in my purchase has a coupon, in order to use my RR to pay for my purchase, I will need to add 3 more items (I have 3 $1 RR). This is where some shoppers would get tripped up (I have made high dollar mistakes here before). By planning carefully now, I will avoid tripping up at the store. I also still need some school supplies for my kids. Walgreen's has great prices on school supplies, often beating Wal Mart by a landslide. I will be adding the following school supplies to my shopping list as well. These items are on sale and do not require any coupons:
Elmer's Glue sticks (2pk)-19 cents
Loose leaf wide rule paper-49 cents *I will be purchasing 2 of these*
I've added the three items I needed for my kids and to be able to use my RR from last week and only added another $1.17 bringing my total out of pocket expense for the trip to 5.12 + tax and I will receive a $2 RR.
1 shave cream
1 pk of glue sticks
2 pks of loose leaf paper
total: $5.12 plus I walk out with $2 in RR in my wallet.
And I will be carrying cash...$10 to be exact...no debit cards this time.
not bad....not bad at all.
There are tons of other great promos in this week's Walgreen's ad, but since this is my experiment and not my attempt at saving YOU money, I am only going to highlight the deals I'll be using.