Friday, February 27, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Now we're ready to learn the ins and outs of shopping at CVS pharmacy. This will take you a couple of shopping trips to get the hang of it, but don't give up!! First, log on to www.couponmom.com and click "cvs" under "drugstore deals". Filter the results by pressing the upside down triangle next to % saved. This will bring all of the free items to the top. Make your list and gather your coupons. Always double check your local CVS sale paper to ensure accuracy. You will notice a few items state "free after x amount of extra care bucks". In a nutshell, this is how I work the system. If the paper states that a bottle of x brand shampoo is on sale for $3.99 but it's like getting the bottle for free after $3.99 ECB, a tube of x brand toothpaste is on sale for $2.99 but you get $1.00 ECB, and so on, here's what I do. I make a list of the items I will purchase with each transaction. On transaction #1, I will buy the shampoo and pay $3.99 out of pocket (if I don't have any ECB left over from previous shopping trips). While I'm still in line, I then buy the toothpaste but use the ECB from the previous transaction, and so on. Yes, I hold up the line with an average of 5-6 separate transactions per trip, but I never come more than $5.00 out of pocket for each trip. You can also use coupons that match up with the ECB deals, saving even more money, and you still get the full amount of ECB. Please note, if you have for example a $5.00 ecb voucher, you have to use the entire voucher, not just part of it, for the transaction. I always use cash at CVS so that I don't have to swipe my debit card in case I have to come out of pocket 2 or 3 times. Have fun shopping! More lessons coming soon!
Sunday, February 8, 2009
So, now that you have a good understanding about using coupons at the grocery store, it's time to move on to the next series of lessons-drug stores. In this lesson, we will focus on Walgreens. Walgreens national coupon policy states that they will take manufacturers coupons at face value. You may also "stack" coupons. To "stack" coupons means that you can use a manufacturers coupon in conjunction with the Walgreens in ad coupons out of the newspaper and easy saver catalog. Before you begin a Walgreens expedition, go to your nearest Walgreens and pick up a free easy saver catalog. Most of the time you can find these as soon as you walk in the door, in a little "basket" where they keep their weekly ad. Now, flip to the middle of the catalog and there is a tally sheet that states which items are free after single check rebate. Look through your coupons and see if you have any coupons that match the free after rebate items for the month or any of the other rebate items. You will have to pay out of pocket for the free after rebate items. After you purchase your free items and any other rebate items, go online to the Walgreens website and register for a free account. Once you have your account, go to the Easy Saver link and click on "claim rebate". It will prompt you to check off on the online tally sheet which eligible items you purchased on your reciept. Then, it will prompt you to enter your reciept's RFA number, that can be found on the top of you reciept. Now, if you KNOW that you are not purchasing anything else from Walgreens for that month, go ahead and click submit. If you are not sure, click save and return later (so that you can enter another reciept and check off more items). Once you submit your rebates, it will ask if you want to recieve a check by mail or gift card. ALWAYS choose the gift card. Here's why: they give you a 10% bonus on the gift card, which more than pays you back for the tax that you paid on the free items. The gift card is reloadable up to $250. So, the next month when you go to get the free or almost free with rebate items, use your gift card to pay. Repeat the online process, they will reload your gift card with the rebates plus 10% extra. Keep rolling over the balance on your gift cards. Happy Shopping!
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
You may be asking why I use couponmom.com only as a guide. Here's why: The deals and coupons found on this site are for what is found in the Atlanta area. My local Sunday paper does not have all of these coupons, and my local stores don't have all of the displayed deals. Also, the filing system did not work for us and many of my coupons expired. Here's what I do: every week, I log on to the site. I live in Louisiana and have a Kroger (which I love because they double and triple coupons every day). I go to grocery deals by state, hit the drop down arrow, scroll down to Louisiana Deals-Kroger and click. I then check off the deals that are beneficial to my family and print the list. Then, I look through my coupon binder and pull out the coordinating coupons. If I do not have the exact coupon to match the deal, usually I have one for that particular brand that will do just fine. I pull the coupons out of my baseball trading card holder and put them in a zippered compartment at the front of my binder with my list. While going down the aisles at the store, I keep my coupon binder open. I do this because many times, you will find "surprise sales". Sales that are not advertised or items that are on closeout. 90% of these closeout items, I end up getting for free after using a coupon. When I find a deal like this, I pull the item into my cart and pull the coupon out of the holder and place into the zip compartment of my binder. I do this method for drug stores, too. Stay tuned for Lesson #4 to be posted tomorrow. The subject will be how to shop for free at Walgreens.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
So, you have all of your supplies and you are ready to roll! Before you head to the store, you need to complete this exersise: go to www.couponmom.com and register for a free account. The owner of the website does an awesome job explaining the ins and outs of couponing. This is how I got started. Her website can be a little overwhelming to newbies-here's how to break it down. First, download and print her e-books (yes, they're free as well). They will only take you a few minutes to read them, and they are chock full of valuable information and shopping strategies. Next, surf around the "drugstore deals" and "grocery deals by state" links. Here, you can get a general idea about how much you can really save with coupons. Personally, I use her site as a guide and have formed my own couponing system. Although her drugstore deals are from the Atlanta, Georgia area, I very rarely find my local stores with different deals than the ones listed. Now, go and surf. Familiarize yourself with how to read the deals. Ps..turn off your pop up blocker for this site. Have fun, this can (and will) get addicting!
Monday, February 2, 2009
So many of you have asked how I feed 5 people on $30-$40 per week, including my household items, hygene items, etc. I have compiled a list of short lessons to get you on your way to effective couponing strategies. Our first lesson: get prepared. You will need to gather a cloth zippered 3 ring binder, a package of baseball trading card holders, dividers with tabs, scissors, a calculator, pen, and notepad. This will be essential for organizing your coupons. Buy at least one sunday paper and pull out the coupon inserts. Divide your binder according to how your main grocery store is laid out, ie produce, salad toppings, can goods, dairy, etc. Clip all of your coupons and place them in the baseball card holder sheets in their respective category. Stay tuned for more lessons, beginning tomorrow. Have fun clipping!! :)