*Somewhat* Extreme Couponing - An Update
Well, maybe you didn't have any of those thoughts, and maybe you didn't even read my blog into *somewhat* extreme couponing. That's okay, there's still time! :) But just in case you did have those questions, this is an update to share what I have learned.
In my first blog about couponing, I attempted to purchase too much. Honestly. I spent more on my first "coupon trip" to CVS and Rite Aid than I spent in many follow up trips, and have learned a thing or two about getting some sweet deals since then. I have decided that a few of the essential tips and tricks to couponing are as follows:
1) Get as many products as you can for as few dollars out of pocket as you can. Don't spend $25 out of pocket, if you can focus on purchasing just the great deals and only spend $6.
2) Focus on getting as many Extra Care Bucks (ECBs) at CVS or UP+ dollars at Rite Aid for as few dollars out of pocket as well.
3) Continue to roll over the ECBs and UP+ dollars as long as you can. Turn your ECBs and UP+ into more ECBs and UP+.
4) And always, always, stick to your list.
When you use these tricks, you can get many products for a very low out of pocket investment. For example, so far this year I have spent $228 according to Rite Aid's records, a tally which is printed out on every receipt as my wellness+ point total where you earn 1 point per dollar spent. According to my own records on mint.com (which I HIGHLY suggest, for an online total money picture and budgeting tool), I only spent $55.22 this year. Big difference, and so much of the difference has to do with using the reward monies from CVS and Rite Aid wisely!
And as for the $55.22 that I have spent this year, here is just a sampling of the items I have acquired at Rite Aid: 4 boxes of Post cereal, 6 Aveeno baby products, 6 Nivea body washes, 2 packages of 16 Sharpie permanent markers, 3 Colgate toothbrushes, 4 bags of Stayfree pads, 2 NYC nail polishes, 4 bottles of Dawn dish soap, 4 tubes of Tom's toothpaste, 4 or 5 boxes of Finish dishwasher packs, 4 packages of Children's Advil, 6 bottles of Tresemme shampoo and conditioner, 2 boxes of Culturelle probiotic capsules, 6 bottles of Yardley body wash, 6 packs of Dentyne gum, 2 GE CFL light bulbs, 1 gallon of whole milk, 2 bottles of Disney children's gummy vitamins, 2 bottles of Clear shampoo, 4 packages of Reach floss, and the list goes on! They aren't items that you don't need and won't use, which is a common misconception about couponing. I also am not hoarding it all away, which is another common thought about couponing, but have been able to be generous with friends and families in need with all of my goodies! Yay!
To illustrate the tips and tricks I mentioned earlier, I'll detail one of my recent trips to Rite Aid. I spent $0.04 out of pocket at Rite Aid, and walked away with approximately $85 worth of products and an additional $24 UP+ to spend on another shopping trip. How did I manage this ridiculous feat?? I guess I'm just that good! ;) Well, not really, but I did have a good teacher (ahem, Heather)... I used a few websites (most notably Cuckoo for Coupon Deals and Coupon Divas) to lookup "Rite Aid matchups" and put together my list. On the list, I had Yardley body wash, 2 packages of floss, 2 bottles of Clear shampoo and conditioner, 4 packages of Stayfree pads, 1 Keri lotion, and perhaps markers or glitter toys (which were on sale with UP+ rewards). What I ended up buying is in the picture. I had buy one, get one coupons for the Stayfree pads, buy one, get one coupons for the Clear shampoo, a Rite Aid coupon for the Keri lotion, and multiple $1 off coupons for the Yardley body wash. In the end, I spent $30 UP+ reward dollars and $0.04 out of pocket, and had $24 UP+ reward dollars to spend another day. So if I hadn't had UP+ reward dollars, it would have cost approximately $30, and I would have still received $24 UP+ to spend later. Deal? I think so.
This kind of scenario is more what I had in mind for couponing! It can be time consuming to look up deals and clip coupons, but when you are spending $1-$10 per trip and making out with 10 to 20 products, it's totally worth it! One thing I started to do to save myself time is not to clip the coupons, but to leave the whole insert together and to leave all the inserts in a stack by date. Most coupon sites tell you where to find a coupon by the date and the circular, so you don't have to clip everything. Hours saved!
Sharing all of the goodies that you get for cheap with friends, family and those in need has really been a lesson in checking my heart for greed. It's easy for me to not want to share the goodies I have purchased, but I'm reminded of two things... One, that everything that I have comes from God. If everything isn't mine to begin with, it's only right to share. And two, God promises to supply all of our needs. So while couponing may give me excess to share in this season, I am better off giving it away and not stockpiling it for 5 years down the road. If in 5 years, I am in need, God will provide. Perhaps through another person who is into crazy good deals and couponing! But in this season, I'm learning to share, and God is making me a more generous person along the way!
While it's true that nothing in life is free, some of the finds at CVS and Rite Aid are pretty darn close. If you have any questions or are interested in couponing, feel free to ask me anything!