Well, we're two weeks into extreme couponing and there's still so much left to learn! By now, you've been looking at your couponing blogs, collecting coupons from the paper, downloading coupons to your Kroger card, and keeping it all organized.
But what happens when you need MORE of a certain coupon? Did you know you can BUY COUPONS ON EBAY? Let's say Kroger is running their Ronzoni pasta for $.75 a box and you know you have a coupon for $.75 off any Ronzoni product. Well, that would make it free! But you only have 2 of those coupons. Well, go to Ebay and type in "Ronzoni coupon" and you will see several options to buy a "lot" of those coupons. You can find a listing for 20 coupons for around $2.18 plus shipping, for a total of $3 for those coupons. Since the pasta is normally $1.10 at Kroger and on sale for $.75, you're getting 20 boxes of pasta (worth $22.00) for just the $3 you paid for the coupons. Sweet, right? And the great thing is, if you're reading your blogs, you know what items are coming for sale a few days before the sale even begins, so this gives you plenty of time to get your coupons ordered and delivered before the sales end. I do this ALL the time, several times a month. I do especially if I see a high value coupon in the newspaper inserts for an item I use frequently, like Lipton tea for example. If I see a coupon for save $.50 on one box, I know Kroger will double that to $1 and usually at the beginning of the summer (when they know people drink the most tea, they'll run their boxes on sale for $1.50 a box, so I'll order the coupons and get 20 boxes of tea for $10 and that will last us almost a year and a half!
If you're reading your blogs regularly, you'll see that there's a lot of free samples out there. I know a lot of people don't want to get into free samples because you think it's a lot of junk in your mailbox...but I ORDER FREE SAMPLES for one reason: They almost always send high value coupons with their samples. They want you to like their item, and then turn around and buy several of them. Recently I got a free sample of Puff's tissues and it included 5 coupons for save $.50 on any Puff's product, which Kroger doubles to $1 off. What great coupons! Plus, it's nice to get something other than a bill in the mail box! :)
When I first started couponing, I really just used them on everyday items at the grocery store, and it's only recently that I've learned out to SHOP AT WALGREEN'S AND TARGET. I avoided these places for good deals in the past because I assumed they were more like "convenience stores" and overpriced on most items. And in some cases they are. But if you learn how to shop their circulars, you can get a lot of items for next to nothing. Let's take Target. For the most part, their groceries are a little on the high side, but they have price cuts all the time and when their stuff goes on price cut, it's usually a VERY GOOD price. For example, right now they have their Betty Crocker fruit chewies on sale for $1.88. These are $2.89 at Kroger for regular price and $2.50 at Wal-Mart (the everyday low price). I used my save $1 on 2 coupons and got them for $1.38 a box, which is a GREAT price. Target also does Gift Card Deals, which you can really rack up some great deals on. For example, last month they ran a deal where you would get a $5 gift card for buying 4 participating Kellogg's products. The products were marked down to $2.50 each and with coupons as low as $1.50 each. So essentially you paid $6 for 4 products and got a $5 gift card for your troubles. You could keep that gift card and spend on whatever you wanted, or you could use it again on this same scenario and pay $1 for the Kellogg's products and get another $5 gift card back. Sweet! The blogs will not only tell you what the gift card deals are, they'll tell you where to find the best coupons to match with them.
Walgreen's is similar, but instead of gift cards, they have Register Rewards. Their ad might say, if you buy Colgate Advanced at $2.99 (a price that's too high), we'll give you a $3 RR back. You can use a $1 off coupon and get the toothpaste for $1.99 and then get back $3 RR towards your next purchase. You can use that RR on anything in the store but if you use it to buy more Colgate, you won't get another $3 RR back. You CAN use it on a different RR purchase, like for shampoo or something. Here is the important thing to remember about Walgreen's The number of coupons you hand over CANNOT exceed the number of items you are purchasing...and an RR counts as a coupon. So, if you are using a $3 RR to buy some shampoo and you have a coupon for that shampoo, then you are buying 1 item and using 2 coupons. For this scenario, you would have to include a cheapo "filler" item so that you would have 2 items and 2 coupons. The blogs will list cheap filler items each week, such as a $.39 candy bar. I love the RR promotions because you can "roll" them into each other and end up with some great savings. For example, let's say your first transaction is the toothpaste. You will pay $2 and you'll get back a $3 RR. You can use that $3RR on the Dove promotion which is buy one Dove at $4 and get $4 RR back. If you have a $2 off coupon for the Dove, it costs $2 and you have $3 RR to spend. You will have to pick up a $1 "filler" item to get all the way up to $3. You will pay nothing (except tax) and get back $4 RR. You can use that on the cottonelle deal that say you will get $5 RR when you buy $6 Cottonelle product. You'll have a $1 off Cottonelle and your $4 RR and pay nothing again and get back a $5 RR. So far, the only thing you paid for was $2 for your toothpaste, but you now have toothpaste, shampoo, and toilet paper, plus $5 RR on your next purchase. See how it works?
It's important to note that both Target AND Walgreen's will allow you to "stack" a store coupon with a manufacturer's coupon. For example, if Walgreen's is running a sale on Campbell's soup for $.79 per can "with in-store coupon" that means that you need to cut out that coupon in order to get that price. Since this is an in-store coupon, you can also use a Campbell's coupon for save $1 on 3 cans of soup, so you end up getting each can $.46 each. These are typically $1.49 at Kroger when not on sale, so that's a great price. They limit you to 3 or 4 at a time, but just do 2 transactions and you can get more. Pairing an in-store coupon and a manufacturer's coupon can add up to some serious savings!
That's it for today. I keep putting off talking about tracking your savings, but I promise we'll talk about that next week, along with coupon etiquette, pantry tithing, and sending expired coupons to soldiers.