My Foray into *Somewhat* Extreme Couponing…


So I have this friend who gets a ton of ridiculous stuff for free with coupons all the time at places such as CVS and Rite Aid.  I was inspired and totally impressed with her couponing, and I LOVE a good deal, so I decided that I wanted to try it.  I rounded up my coupons and some tips and pointers from my friend Heather, and gave it a go.  After trying a few stores, I thought I'd share my thoughts and experiences for the average person considering couponing. 

Before we start, let me help you with a few terms that you need to know, starting with the most important term first.  Coupon matchups or coupon match up is the term for when a couponer goes through a store’s circular and “matches up” coupons to deals.  These “matchups” are available everywhere on the internet.  Try searching Google for “CVS matchups”, “Rite Aid matchups” or even “Giant Eagle matchups” and you will have more hits than you know what to do with!!  One site that has a lot of matchups and is still user-friendly is coupondivas.com.  It’s a great site with lots of info, links to coupon databases (so you can print coupons), links to retailers’ coupon policies, lots of matchups, and more!  Another good website is couponmom.com.  They even have a list of freebies and good deals at all national retailers, organizable by many different criteria, great for us Type A personalities!  Neat stuff!!
 
There are just a few more terms that will help you out when you read the coupon websites.  BOGO means Buy One Get One, BOGO50% means Buy One Get One 50% off, and then there is the much more obscure acronym, wyb, which means "when you buy", like "$1 ea wyb 2" means each item costs $1 when you buy two of them.  To "stack" coupons means using some combination of manufacturers' coupons and store coupons on the same product.  SS, P&G, and RP are abbreviations for Smart Source, Procter & Gamble, and Red Plum inserts where you can find coupons.  Last but not least, ECB stands for Extra Care Bucks which are monies redeemable for future purchases at CVS, and UP+ are the similar rewards received from Rite Aid.   

So what I decided to do was to search a few coupon matchups for CVS, Rite Aid, and Dollar Tree and try my hand at shopping at each store with the coupons available to me.  I had a few weeks worth of clipped coupons from the Sunday edition of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and also purchased three Sunday papers at Dollar Tree (only $1 each!) to get a bunch more coupons.  With all my clipped coupons, internet matchups, and tips and emotional support from my friend Heather, I dove in. 

I decided to do CVS, as they seemed to have the best deals, and if I was only able to do one shopping trip, I wanted CVS to be that one.  I made a list for CVS using the coupondivas.com website as my matchup source.  Overall I had brands such as Tide, Puffs, Dawn, Advil, Nivea, Aveeno, Purex, NyQuil, Colgate, Pampers, and Crest on my list with specific numbers of specific items to buy to maximize savings.  In the end, for my planned items, I spent $101.23 for 22 items pictured below.  I had 14 coupons to redeem which were worth $16.50 and received $35 ECB to use on my next trip.  So the total amount spent was more like $66.23 for my 22 items, which you could equate to about $3 per item. 
The spoils from my CVS couponing trip

It may not sound like "extreme couponing" to still spend $66.23 (or $101 before ECB!) for the items I purchased, but when you consider the items I got and the fact that this was my first foray into "somewhat extreme couponing", in all it's a really good deal!  The Aveeno products ended up being $3 each, which is good for nice face wash, Dawn was $0.24 each, and Listerine mouth wash was $0.99!  It includes six bottles of laundry detergent, two bottles of Advil Liquid Gels, four Aveeno face washes, two tubes of toothpaste, three boxes of tissues, Nyquil, and mascara, whew!  So while it may have been a chunk of change, I got a lot of good stuff!  One of the keys to couponing (or so I'm told) is buying when items are on sale, not when you need items, because then you will likely end up paying full price for the items you need.  

Next stop was Rite Aid.  The Rite Aid circular had extra coupons in the middle which you were able to stack with manufacturer coupons for even better deals.  I used coupondivas.com website again for a coupon matchup and walked away with some better deals than CVS.  I spent $54.15 total, with a coupon savings of $50.75, for 27 items pictured below, which is about $2 per item.  (BTW I forgot to put a pair of footless leggings in the picture that I got for $1.25!)

My Rite Aid spoils
At Rite Aid, I scored a couple of free and less than $1 items.  I got three Glade scented oil warmers for free ($0.97 minus $1 coupon!), two bags of Werther's Originals for $0.50 each, and two Nivea for Men face wash for $0.99 each (original price is $6.99)!  Two packages of Schick disposable razors which retail for ~$10 each, but I was able to get them for $3 each!  Playtex tampons were $4 a box, which was cheaper than even the Rite Aid store brand by $1.  A large box of Corn Flakes was $1.75 and Garnier Fructis shampoo was ~$1.33 each.  So the total was more than I would have liked to pay, but each item was a great deal!

The last trip I made was to Dollar Tree.  I used a matchup from groceryshopforfree.com for the Dollar Tree, but it wasn't a local blogger/couponer, so it wasn't 100% accurate for my store.  I was able to get 13 items for $5.25, which is a steal at about $0.40 per item!  This is more what I was thinking for extreme couponing!  I was able to get Advil PM for free, Lady Speed Stick for free, Ricola cough drops for $0.75, Halls cough drops for $0.50 each, Hefty bags for $0.25 each, and Lysol toilet bowl cleaner (14 oz size) for $0.50 each!!  


Dollar Tree steals!
My total monetary investment was $161 (which was more than I was aiming to spend) with $40 bonus dollars (ECB and UP+) to use on future trips.  I purchased 62 total items, which works out to $1.95 per item.  When you consider the diversity of items purchased, it was all a really good deal.  The most expensive retail value (before sales and coupons) was ~$17 for a Nyquil value package, and the cheapest retail value is $1 for each item at Dollar Tree, and included were items usually on the more expensive side such as razors, tampons, dishwasher detergent, and pain and cold medicine.  I spent a few hours cutting coupons, researching websites, and shopping for the items, so there is certainly a time investment necessary to get these freebies and good deals.  Now as far as getting everything for free, I haven't figured that part out yet, but I'm just learning!!  Maybe I just need to get more tips and tricks from my coupon queen friend, Heather!! :)  

On a go forward basis, I will probably keep an eye out for free and super cheap items at CVS, Rite Aid, Giant Eagle, and maybe even Walmart too from the Coupon Divas and Coupon Mom websites and keep reading circulars and clipping coupons!  Maybe when I learn more about using ECB and UP+ to get more stuff for free, I'll post another blog update about my foray into *somewhat* extreme couponing.  Until then, give it a try and see what you think!  I'd love to hear about your questions and experiences too!  

Comments

  1. Did it seem like a full time job? Either way I'm super intrigued by couponing, this is great

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  2. Not full time job, but maybe a small part time job. It's kind of addicting to find out what deals are out there and organize coupons and a list. Well, for me anyway! If you can get stuff free, it may as well count as a job of sorts, because you are basically making money in the form of consumer goods! If you like to donate goods, you can write off the cost of the goods, even if you got them for free or cheap. Couponing isn't that tough, because of all the help on the internet, and can be exciting! Try it out!!

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