Coupon update: coupons to print now

and P.S.: Buy a few copies of the Sunday paper. There are FOUR coupon inserts this week.

Stockpile (verb): to accumulate (material, goods, or the like) for future use

Because of last night’s “Extreme Couponing” show on TLC, there has been a lot of talk on couponing blogs about whether building up a stockpile is outrageous (If you’re interested in reading the stockpile discussion on other blogs, try here, here, here, or here).

We are currently amidst the season of organization and I thought I’d talk a bit about my stockpile and ideas about stockpiling. The basic gist of stockpiling is to buy multiples (like a 3, 6, or 12 month supply) of an item when it is at a rock-bottom price. When you build up a stockpile, your weekly or bi-weekly grocery trip involves buying two types of products: 1) perishable food items such as produce and dairy, 2) items that are at a rock-bottom price to add to your stockpile. You shop your stockpile for the rest of your groceries.

My stockpile is modest compared to some of the stockpiles that you saw on last night’s Extreme Couponing show. Perhaps my stockpile might fit into the “full pantry” category. Here is a look inside how stockpiling is at work in our house.

Stockpile location #1: Linen closet

Linen closet + a few shelves of stockpile

Top shelf – paper towels and tissues
Not stockpile – in-use cleaning supplies & suntan lotion, etc.
The 4th shelf holds detal, shaving, and shower supplies
Shelf 5: Medical supplies, hand soaps, bar soaps, etc.
Shelf 5 close up: deodorant, med supplies, lotions, many kinds of soaps.
Toilet paper shelf holds 15 rolls (if we have additional TP, we stockpile in the basement). On the floor are cleaning supplies, feminine hygiene products, and household maintenance items

Stockpile location #2: Attic stairs

Shelves installed on the side of the stairs to our attic (located in the hallway right next to the kitchen)

Top shelf - Cereal & baking

Shelf 2 - dry foods, coffee

3rd shelf canned goods and paper products

Shelf 4: beverages, Shelf 5: baby food

Bottom shelves: candy and cans of soda

Many of the extreme couponers seem to keep one large stockpile (in their garage, or in a big walk-in closet, etc.). In my house, we have a bunch of storage space throughout the house and therefore tend to stockpile near where the items get used. For instance, our extra laundry detergent is on shelves near the washing machine, and extra baby supplies are in the nursery. If I ever acquired a huge stash of those items, I’d have to find a new home for the surplus, but for now that system works well.

Coupon – (koo pon), verb

This post was written by Kathy. Leslie’s 2 cents appear a few times in blue.

To coupon or not to coupon, that might be your question.  Here are a few things I take into consideration when I’m trying to save money.

What should I clip or print?

When I was cutting coupons by myself (now I share with others at church), at first I only cut coupons on items that I previously bought.  However, this changed for 2 reasons.  1- Before I couponed, I usually bought store brand items.  Often there aren’t coupons for these things.  I had to learn that sometimes name brand, paired with a coupon and a sale, could be even cheaper than store brand.  AND 2) Inevitably, I would see a deal later that I wished I had a coupon for.  So, I changed my strategy.

Now, when clipping coupons, I ask myself, “If this product were virtually free, would I use it?”  If the answer is “yes,” then I clip it.  I am now willing to try multiple brands of personal care items in the name of “almost free.”   Sometimes the answer is “no” — For instance, I’m never going to buy “stop-smoking gum” because I don’t smoke, so if I see a coupon for that (which I have), I don’t cut it out.

If it’s a printable coupon, I’m usually more selective.  In the beginning I printed often and wasted paper and ink.  Now, I usually print Facebook or special offer coupons right away because they can sometimes be limited in the number of people to get them.  Online coupons like Red Plum or Smart Source, I only print if I’ve previously purchased the item.  Usually these coupons are available for a few weeks and I can always go back and print later.

BOTTOM LINE:  “If this item were free (or just pennies) would I buy it (to use or give away)?” — CUT THE COUPON!

How do I organize my coupons?

I organize my food coupons much the way I organize my grocery list.  At my store, the produce is first, then the “pantry” type items and then the cold/frozen section.  I actually make my list in groups so that I don’t forget what I want when I’m in a particular part of the store.  Therefore, that pattern carried over and my food coupon categories are:  “pantry,” “refrigerated/frozen,” and “treats.”  I put treats as a separate category because they aren’t a necessity and even a good deal on something you don’t need is not a good deal.

I have 4 other spots in my coupon organizer.  The first one is store or restaurant specific coupons.  This includes my Rite Aid Video Value coupons and dining out coupons.  Another one is called “personal care” and includes shampoo, razors, etc.  The other two are random, but they work for me.  One is labeled “medicines, TP, diapers.”  The final one is misc/household and includes cleaners, batteries, light bulbs, etc.  Basically all the leftovers are in this category.  These I found by trial and error and what I had coupons for.  Sometimes I mix things up and have to look in two places — is Blistex lip care a “medicine” or a “personal care”?  Overall though, this works for me.

The coupons that I collect with friends at church are arranged by expiration date.  We figured that this for a few reasons:
1- We’re often looking for a duplicate coupon, so we’d already have one coupon to know when it expired.
2- It’s much easier to separate since people use different categories.
3- It’s much easier to clean out since we just take a month at a time and throw them away.
4- Leslie has mentioned the coupon database before in this post.  I can search for a coupon there, get the expiration date and then go to my group coupon box.

I’ve been using the Couponizer for 3 months and am very happy with it so far. When I’m about to make a trip out, I load my “coupon purse.” The coupon purse is the place where all of my coupon-related things live. I add my wallet, keys, etc. so that I don’t have to carry an additional bag. Here are the things that are always in the Coupon Purse:



  • a 9×13″ envelope that holds duplicate coupon inserts from the newspaper
  • scissors (to cut out the duplicate coupons when I find a steal!)
  • a white envelope that holds all of my store-based coupons (Rite Aid vv, CVS, Grocery store, Target)
  • all of my frequent customer cards (in the silver pack)
  • the Couponizer
  • a store flier, list, coupons, and any rewards for each stop.

BOTTOM LINE:  Organize the way that suits YOU and how you shop!

How do I plan a trip?

This is a little trickier to answer, because I spend a decent amount of time (it has lessened as I’ve learned more), but sometimes my careful planning doesn’t work if I get to the store and they’re out of what I needed to make my deal.  However, here is my usual routine.

1- Check out CVS for next week on the previous Thursday. This at least gives me an idea of what sales there might be.  It also helps me to know if the $5/30 coupon I sometimes receive by email on Thursdays which are good Thursday-Sunday is better off used this week or next week (Sunday only).

2- Read blogs and check newspapers for coupons.  I have 2 blogs that I have found to be helpful to me.  There are many out there, but I encourage you to find 1 or 2 that seem to be helpful to your specific needs and follow them.  Don’t drive yourself nuts trying to read a ton of blogs.  Hopefully you’re finding the deals on this blog helpful to you!

3- Make a list.  When I make a list, it usually goes through a few drafts.  Sometimes I scribble down a deal from a flyer or a blog on a quick list.  Then, I go back and “plan” my list.  In the beginning, I really tried to make several transactions so that I wasn’t carrying around UP rewards or ECB.  However, I now have a cyclical stockpile of those coupons, so I don’t worry so much about walking out without “future rewards.”

My next list has four columns.

  1. The first is the item.
  2. The next is the price (I don’t take coupons off on this column because I might be trying to get a certain dollar amount for an additional coupon.  For instance, my CVS coupons are spend $30, get $5 ECB.  The $30 is the price without coupons).
  3. The third is the $ amount of coupons I have (this column will be subtracted from column 2 when I go to pay).
  4. The fourth column is the amount of rewards I plan to get back.  These are for future use, so I don’t figure them into today’s shopping trip, but I do like to know if my bottom line is a good deal.
Here’s a sample list. The first column is the item. Column 2 – the price ($). Column 3 – coupons (C). Column 4 – rewards (UP). Across the bottom I’ve tallied each column. Then, I subtracted the coupons from the price to get my Out Of Pocket (OOP). That’s what I’ll pay. My net cost for today is determined by subtracting my rewards from my OOP.  In this scenario, I’m purchasing 4 Lip care products, 2 Body Washes, 1 Lotion.  My OOP will be $12.97 and my net price for all those items will be $2.97.

Sometimes I’ll need to break my transactions into two if I have multiple $ off total order coupons.  You cannot use a $5 off 30 coupon at CVS and a $3 off 15 coupon too.  If I want to do that, I’ll figure out my totals so I can use both.  However, like I said earlier, if the deal doesn’t pan out, that can be wasted time!

In addition, I might have to match my current in hand rewards to today’s purchases.  I think Rite Aid prints out a separate coupon for each UP reward, so they are often small — $1, $2 or $3.  (However the Nivea deal in the picture was from Rite Aid the week of 12/26/2010 and it had a $10 UP).  In my opinion these are easy to match up and use to an order.  However, CVS will sometimes combine two deals (If the limit is 2 on one deal, they will add those rewards together).  I spend time with CVS to match up my rewards so that I spend the least OOP on each trip.

In addition, as with coupons, make sure you use your rewards before the expire.  Otherwise, they are wasted rewards!  Try to use the ones that expire soonest first.

I paperclip my list with my coupons, rewards, and my shoppers’ card to the weekly ad and take the whole thing with me to the store.

BOTTOM LINE:  Saving money takes time; prepare the best way you can, but be prepared that something might not go as YOU planned it!

THE Trip

When I finally make my trip, I hope they have everything!  If not, ask for rain checks.  Both CVS and Rite Aid give them, and with the appropriate rewards (watch your expiration dates on the coupons though!).  I now started carrying around a calculator for quick figuring in the store in case an item isn’t there and I have to rearrange.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  I can’t tell you the number of times the items I’m looking for don’t have a sale tag.  I double check my flyer when getting the item.  When I get to the front, I ask the cashier to scan the item to see how it rings up.  For me, it usually rings up correctly, but it’s easier to ask first than to fix a mistake on a purchase with all those coupons and rewards.

Finally, don’t leave the store without checking your receipt.  There have been occasions where rewards didn’t print.  Just ask the cashier or a manager.  You have your copy of the flyer, so you can show them the deal and they will fix it! Yes! Please check your receipt, especially if you are carting around one or more children! Nothing is worse than realizing you have to go back to the store…

BOTTOM LINE:  You’ve spent the time on the deals beforehand.  You know what to look for.  If something’s not right, ASK FOR HELP!

Before, During & After

Don’t beat yourself up over a deal that didn’t quite work out.  If it was a bad enough botch, return the items.  If not, just be thankful for the deal you got!  For instance, this past week, I realized I bought an extra Nivea Body Wash that I didn’t need to make the deal.  In my head, I’m thinking, “That’s $2.99 I didn’t have to spend!”  I also didn’t get the rewards on the pencils, erasers and brads that was advertised.  In my head, I’m thinking, “I should have gotten $12 back and I only got $6.”  I should remember that this trip netted me a PROFIT of $5 (I bought several other things).  So, even though it could have been a net of $14, I still got a good deal.  I’m still learning this principle!

BOTTOM LINE:  Be willing to see the big picture, when deals don’t go quite as planned.  If the big picture is still in black and white, return it!  But possibly,  you’ll see the overall deal through rose colored glasses.

Where is all of the cheap cereal?!?!

The cheapest I’ve been able to buy cereal has been $.75 a box. The $.75/box happened on my most recent trip to RiteAid that I describe here. Sometimes when I hear about other couponers getting free or very cheap cereal, I wonder how they do it. Today, I did it!


On today’s trip to Martin’s, I saw that the Total Blueberry Pomegranate was on clearance for $1.86. I happened to have a $0.75/1 Total Coupon that Martin’s would double to $1.50…making the cereal…drumroll please…$0.36 a box! Of course, I came home and printed two more coupons and went back after my daughter was in bed to retrieve the remaining two boxes (in separate transactions so that both coupons would double). So, three boxes of cereal for $1.08. My new record.

Giant/Martin’s Clearance

Today my baby fell asleep in the middle of our shopping excursion and I knew she would wake up if I went outside in the freezing cold. I started shopping SLOWLY and just happened to stroll down the personal care aisle at my local Martin’s grocery store. There were a number of items on clearance.

I bought the Curel for $0.49 after my $2 off of any Curel 3.5oz or larger from the 12/5 Smart Source coupon insert.

I don’t use Head and Shoulders, but a few varieties of H&S were on Clearance for $2.97. If you use the $2/2 from this week’s P&G insert, you could get them for $1.97 ea.

I also noticed that Blistex was $10/10. There were some blistex coupons in the 11/14 Smart Source insert:

$0.55/1 Blistex Complete Moisture Lip Ointment or Five Star Lip Protection
$0.24/1 Blistex Lip Care Product, Any
So, if your Martin’s or Giant doubles coupons, you could use the $.55 on 1 of the qualifying Blistex and get it for free. It may be a small moneymaker ($0.10) if your store allows overages.
The blistex coupons are good until 1/31/10 and it’s hard to know if there will be a money-making deal at CVS or RiteAid in the upcoming weeks.

 

Kohl’s Sweater Clearance

UPDATE: Use the code Twenty4u to get 20% off (instead of HoHoHo15 for 15%).

Thanks to For the Mommas‘ post about clearance sweaters, I just bought 3 mens sweaters for $10.03. Here’s how:

1) Use code HOHOHO15 to get an extra 15% off
2) Use Ebates to get 4% cashback (that’s what makes my total oop $10.03 rather than the $10.45 shown)

Kohl’s has 99 cent shipping on each item.

More Rite Aid Deals

Remember that Rite Aid’s January Video Value coupons are now available and you’ll be able to at least snag (2) $1 off $1 coupons by watching the Rite Aid Pharmacy & Wellness videos.  Watch more for more savings!  For more details, go here.

I’m making my list for Rite Aid and below are a few things I’m hoping to get this week.
Also… Collin at Hip2Save has posted deals for “better than free” pencils, craft sticks, pens, & Zone bars.  Click here to read her post.

 

Nivea Deal, spend $20 on certain items, get $5 UP
Buy (4) lip care products @ 2/$4
Buy (2) body washes @ 3.99 ea
Buy (1) lotion @ 5.99

Total:  21.97

Use (2) Buy One, Get One Lip Care free coupons (-$4.)
Use (2) $2 off Lip ca re (Facebook offer coupon) (-$4.)
Use (2) $1 off body wash (there are men and women coupons out there)  (-$2.)
Use (1) $1 off lotion (-$1.)

Total OOP:  $10.97, plus $5 UP
Net Total for 4 lip care products, 2 body washes and 1 lotion: 5.97

There are several combinations that you could mix and match to get close to $20.

 

Gillette Deodorant, 2 for $8, get $3 Up on 2

Use BOGOF coupon from 12/26 P&G
Use $2 off coupon from previous P&G (expires 12/31)

Total OOP:  $2, with $3 UP
Net total for 2 deodorants: $1 MONEYMAKER!


Gillette Clinical Deodorant, $7.99

Use $3 off coupon from Rite Aid booklet
Use $3 off coupon from 12/26 P&G

Total OOP:  $1.99, with $3 UP
Net total: $1.01 MONEYMAKER!