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Monday, September 12, 2011

Where Do I Start: Part 6

There are 2 ways to use coupons, casually and seriously.  Here’s how I define the two:

Casual couponing: Once in a while you’ll remember to grab the coupon off the fridge so you can save $0.50 on a package of frozen waffles.

Serious couponing: You get multiple copies of the Sunday Paper each week and scour the internet for printable coupons. When the weekly ads are released for your favorite stores, you go through the ad and match the sales for that week with your coupons. (note that I do not use the term "extreme" any longer as due to that TV show and the fraudulent use of coupons it encouraged). 

Saving money is saving money and every penny you save adds up over time. For some of us, however,  saving  quarters and dollars is preferable to saving pennies.

The idea behind serious couponing is to buy products that you will use at some point WHEN THEY ARE ON SALE and not when you need them.  By doing so, you decide what you will pay for the product.  For example, I will not pay more than $0.25 a roll for toilet paper or more than $0.25 for a tube of toothpaste.  I can wait for the best prices on these items because I have been combining my coupons with the weekly sales and have a small stockpile of them to sustain us until I find them at that price again.

When you are first starting out with couponing, you might not notice huge savings at first.  The reason for this is you have no stockpile so you are in need of a lot of things and will have to pay retail or close to it.  Each week, look at the sales circulars and decide what you feel is a good price and start to stock up on a few things. Remember to check Momma's Moolah daily as I do all the hard work for you by matching up the sales each week to the available coupons.

Start small.  Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to do too much in the beginning. It does take some time to get the hang of things and become comfortable with the processes.  I also recommend picking one store to start with. Drug stores are the best places to get the greatest deals when you shop the sales and use your coupons.  The 3 major national chains are CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid. I don't have a Rite Aid near me and so far have had no requests from any of my readers to add the match ups for it.  I will be glad, however, to add it if you want!

Each week you can find “match ups” online on my blog and many others like it.  We do all the work for you to save you time.  We go through the weekly ad and find the coupons that are available AND we tell you where you can find the coupons.  Here’s an example of a match up:

Aleve 80 ct $10.99
-$1/1 Aleve, 40 ct+ Walgreens IVC 
-$1/1 Aleve, 20 ct+ (3/18 SS)
-$2/1 Aleve Product (IE), 80 ct+ 

In the example, Aleve is on sale for $10.99.  You can find a Walgreens Instant Value Coupon for $2 off 1 package of Aleve 80 count or higher by clicking the link  or you can get a $1 off 1 package of Aleve 20 count or higher in the 3/18 insert of Smart Source (SS).  You can COMBINE (stack) either of those coupons with a $1 off 1 40 count or higher coupon you can print from the Walgreens site or from the  Booklet found in the store.  After using those 2 coupons, you will pay only $8.99 for the Aleve, saving a total of $3.

A general rule of thumb for stocking up on items is to get 3-6 months of the product stocked up which should last you until it comes around on sale again.  You decide how much or how little you will stock pile. 

If you are extremely brand loyal, you might find it a little more difficult to save and stock up.  One of the things I have found I like the most is trying other brands without paying much for them.  I have found some things I like and will definitely purchase again and some that I didn’t.  On the things I didn’t like, I don’t feel I wasted any money on the product because I paid pennies on the dollar for it.

Take advantage of store rewards and loyalty cards.  CVS has an Extra Care card that is required to get the sales prices.  Each week they also offer “extra care bucks” on certain items.  Extra care bucks (ECB) are coupons that are printed at the bottom of your receipt that you can use on your next purchase. These ECB’s can be used on any items and are not product specific.

Walgreen’s offers “register rewards” (RR) on certain items every week.  These can be used on your next purchase.  They are not product specific; however, if you use a RR on a transaction that contains the same product you received the RR on you will not receive another RR.  ECB’s and RR’s are a great way to cut your costs even more.

Here’s an example:

$3 RR wyb AirWick Freshmatic or Neutra Air FreshMatic $7.99
-$4/1 Airwick Ultra Freshmatic or Compact Freshmatic Kit (9/11 SS) or (8/14 SS)
Pay $3.99 and $3 RR back
Most bloggers will list it like this: = $0.99 after Q and RR

In the example, you will receive a $3 register reward when you buy Air Wick Freshmatic for $7.99.  You can use a $4 off one Air Wick Ultra Freshmatic coupon that you can find in the 8/14 or 9/11 Smart Source coupon inserts.  Final price of $0.99 each is after using the coupon and getting the $3 in register reward.  The Air Wick Freshmatics usually sell for $14.99.  So you have a total saving of $14!  This is the kind of savings I get really excited about!  I have stopped listing them the way most bloggers do after reading and hearing a lot of complaints that some think it is misleading.  So I tell you what you will pay OOP (without tax) and what rewards you will get in return.

Have questions after reading this?  Leave me your question in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer!