I've had more than a few inquiries into how I figure out the deals I've been getting so I thought I'd write a short post about what exactly I do. So....here goes =)
1. As the weekend approaches I start looking at money saving sites (they get circulars and coupon releases sooner so they will match up coupons to deals and stores before the rest of us even get our flyers). These are my favorite sites:
(some of these sites are regional--it's best to go to bargain briana (dot) com and look at her frugal map--click on your state and local savings blogs will pop up).
2. I take a look at what each store will have on sale and see whose sale items best fit the things I need. These sites also have links to printable internet coupons which are free, and if your computer will actually print them, will save you a lot of time and money. The websites are great--they'll always tell you what you can get totally for free at any store and will give you a heads up if there are certain deals that will make you money.
3. Each store has a different coupon policy--it's best to familiarize yourself with them (they are right on their websites or explained on the deal websites above) b/c there are many cashiers who have no idea what their stores' policy actually is!
4. I have been buying the newspaper each week for the coupons--it has def. paid for itself! We are going to subscribe to the Sunday Paper to save money. My Mom is sending me coupons from NY too (their coupons are better than ours for some reason!)
5. Here's a rundown of how I figured out my most recent trip to CVS:
A. I needed printer ink--it was on sale AND there was an offer for $10 bucks back for purchase. So I bought it at CVS and decided to use my bucks back for some items I needed/sale items. It was about $5 more expensive here than I would have paid at target or staples but I could invest the bucks back into grocery items I needed.
B. My second trip:I started out with a coupon for $5 off of $25 (it printed on my last CVS transaction receipt). So I sat with the flyer and plotted how to spend $25--I needed paper towels (on sale for $5.00 with a coupon to print out online), I saw their dryer sheets were BOGO and there was a good coupon online so I put those on the list and printed the coupons (CVS will accept coupons towards items that are free-um, THANK YOU CVS =), Now, I didn't NEED dryer sheets but since they were cheap I worked them into my deal. I also got a body wash which was on "sale" for $5--which is a ton of money but there was a coupon online and I got $4 back for buying it so it works out to "free." I look at it as an investment in my next trip. I also "invested" in a shick quattro razor--it was $9 but I had a coupon for $4 off and got $3 back for buying it. There was also a rebate in the Sunday Paper for $11.99 refund for the razor making this a "money maker." last but not least, I bought a candy bar to make sure I spent enough and also b/c it looked delicious =)
Rundown of purchase:
paper towels 5.00
dryer sheets BOBO 4.50
body wash 5.00
delicious dark chocolate candy bar 1.50
= $25 plus tax
-$5 off of $25 purchase
-$1.00 on paper towels
-$2.00 on dryer sheets
-$1.00 on body wash
-$4.00 on razor
-$10 extra bucks back (from printer ink purchase)
= $2.00, with $7 bucks back ($3 for razor, $4 for body wash), and mail away receipt for $11.99 rebate
I highly recommend CVS--they have THE BEST coupon policy and are the most user friendly as far as getting money back, making money and doing multiple transactions.
Confused yet? Sorry--it's kind of something you have to do for yourself a few times to get the hang of. It's worth the trial and error AND it DOES get easier with practice. I promise.
6. I'll include one more transaction to see if this "helps"
Walgreens: I probably wouldn't have gone here but I "needed" pepsi and it was on sale! I worked out a few deal scenarios but ended up doing the one that would cost me the least (sometimes I "invest" in a deal b/c I can use my extra register rewards bucks for next week's transaction).
I did 2 transactions here:
1. I saw that pads were $2.99 and if you bought three they gave you $5 back. I had coupons for these. I also had a BOGO coupon for Nivea lip balm that was on sale. I got aluminum foil (on sale) and I think that was it.
2.99 x 3 for the pads
3.99 x 2 for the lip balm
1.50 for the aluminum foil
-3.99 for the lip balm coupon
-3.00 for the pads coupon
-6.00 (store coupon for the lip balm which was on sale for .99)
-1.00 (store coupon for the aluminum foil)
=4.50 with $5 back for buying the pads
2.This left me with $5 extra bucks for transaction 2:
I wanted pepsi, saw coupons online that I could combine with Walgreens store coupons to get free toothbrushes, batteries (store coupon plus manufacturers coupon), and then I needed a "filler" item. Filler items at Walgreens are inexpensive items that you buy when you have MORE coupons than items in a transaction. I was only buying 4 things but had 1 register reward, 2 battery coupons, 2 toothbrush coupons so I needed to buy 2 cheap things so that my ratio of coupons to items was equal. Enter more pads--at 50 cents a piece they were cheaper than candy bars. I had a coupon for those too--with a limit of three so I picked up three so now I had: pepsi, batteries (2 coupons), 2 toothbrushes (2 coupons), 3 pads (1 coupon), 1 register reward. 6 items, 6 "coupons"
$2.50 batteries (they were on sale with store coupon for $2.50--orig. like $5)
$2.00 toothbrushes (on sale with store coupon for 1.00--orig. 1.79)
-5 register rewards from first purchase
-1.00 battery coupon
-2.00 toothbrush coupons
-1.50 pads coupon
= $1.67ish before tax
so for a grand total of $6 I rec. $40 pre-sale of items. And all b/c I wanted to get pepsi which was on sale there =)
Walgreens tips--stack manufacturer coupons WITH store coupons for double savings, look for things you need that come with bucks back and treat those bucks AS coupons. Remember you need an equal number of items to coupons for a deal to work.
I hope this helps a little. I know it's daunting--you don't need to go "all out" for the deals! Even just clipping coupons to use at the grocery store for things you need is a savings! Every penny really does matter. If you want to save BIG it's GOING to take effort, time and trial and error. It's not easy and doesn't happen over night but as with ANY new skill it can be acquired and does get easier with time and practice. Find out what works for you! Any questions--shoot me a message. =)
Also--this works for me b/c we have 3 CVS, 2 Rite Aids and 2 Walgreens in a ONE MILE RADIUS. There are even more if you extend out to two miles. That's the magic of south jersey! shopping on every corner!
The end. Time for a nap and a bite of that delicious nearly free candy bar. =)