Couponing

If you have seen the hit show “Extreme Couponing”, then you have seen how much money the right coupons can save you. No, I am NOT an extreme couponer, but I have been using coupons and store reward programs for about 2 years now. I have saved roughly $1,000/year by buying the right products at the right time using the right coupons. I have done this by buying 1-2 Sunday papers each week and by taking advantage of Walgreen’s Register Reward (RR) program and CVS’s Extra Care Bucks (ECB) program. It does not take much time because I just file the coupon inserts away in order by date and only clip them as I need them. Every week I match coupons with sale prices and also store program specials. I do not go to each store every week because I check out the deals at home first and if there’s nothing that I need or use, then I wait for the following week. Some months I go to each store every week; other months I might not go to either store for a few weeks. It just depends on what the sales are. And, yes, I only buy when things are on sale, unless absolutely necessary.

This is my coupon insert stash from the Sunday papers; it is just a greeting card organizer but you could use a folder or a binder or whatever you have on hand.

I also use a larger binder for those “extra” coupons such as store coupons that print at the register, coupons that I’ve already clipped but haven’t used, coupons that come inside product packaging, and coupons that come via mail (there are all sorts of free samples that are available from product websites/Facebook pages that you can request and have sent to you). I organize these by category using those clear baseball card pages.


By doing this, I have built up a supply of all of our toiletries so that we rarely run out of something. Throughout the year, body wash, shampoo, deodorant, dental care, and skin care is on sale often! And most of these items are easily gotten for free (after using coupons). Since so many people are familiar with the use of coupons nowadays, I won’t bore you with the details of the store programs or how to use the coupons, but they are incredibly valuable!

My first year of couponing I had a lot to learn but I was able to stock up on a lot of toiletries. In fact, after the Joplin tornado, I was able to donate about $100 worth of items to that area! And there are always places to donate your extra stockpile to; local hope centers, shelters, etc. You can stockpile as much or as little as you want. Mine covers 3 large shelves and is just enough for our family. Like I said, I buy 1-2 Sunday papers each week, check out the weekly deals, and grab those deals IF they are used by our family. That’s it, I don’t make multiple trips to the same store, or spend all my gas driving around town to clear the shelves. The best way to get started is to start small.

Couponing also trains you to think outside the box. I recently ran out of Softsoap hand soap. But I saw that there was a great deal on Suave body wash last week. So I decided why not use body wash as hand soap? Both of my stores had deals on Suave the same week (not uncommon). So at CVS, the sale was 3 bottles (12oz size) for $5, which makes them $1.67 each. And for those of you who aren’t familiar with this type of sale, you don’t have to buy 3 items when the sale is 3/$5; even if you buy just 1 item it will be $1.67. But since I also had a “Buy 2 Get 1 Free” coupon, I did buy 3. So I was able to get 3 body washes for $1.11 each. Walgreens, on the other hand, was offering $3 in Register Rewards (which is basically store credit) once you spend $10 on Suave products. So I used another “Buy 2 Get 1 Free” body wash coupon and also 2 Suave deodorants (using coupons on those too) in order to get my total up to $10. So after the $3 RR, I snagged 3 body washes and 2 deodorants for 80 cents each.

During the holidays, I didn’t get to the stores as often and my stockpile was becoming disorganized. So I recently rearranged and took “inventory” so that I can easily check and see what I’m running low on. Again, if you’ve seen the extreme couponing show, then you’ve seen these people’s stockpile rooms/closets/garages. I just don’t have that extra space so you won’t believe where I chose to store my mini stockpile…

Yep, it’s a shower! This shower is very tiny. It’s in our master bath (also tiny) and we weren’t using it. Also most of the items are bathroom-related, sooooooo yep that’s where it is! I found some shelving that fit perfectly and voila! I am too cheap thrifty to spend a lot of money on clear bins for everything so I use empty boxes of all shapes and sizes to put everything in. Might not be as pretty, but it’s still practical and serves its purpose. I did have to remove the shower doors simply for the purpose of this picture, but I can put them right back on and close the doors and it looks like a completely normal bathroom. Well it IS a completely normal bathroom…with a secret hidden stockpile of a thrifty mom!

So there you have it…my mini stockpile!

Couponing has so many benefits besides saving money. Since it requires a little bit of planning ahead for your trips to the store, it helps you to be prepared so that you avoid those unexpected trips. It teaches your kids the value of money; my kids know that if we’re at the store, don’t even ask for it unless we have a coupon! My 3 year old has been shopping with me so much that one day while we were at my in-laws, she grabbed her little purse, slung it over her shoulder, and announced “I’m going to Walgreens!” 🙂

Even my husband has learned the value of couponing. He’s not pro (yet) but he has been to the store with a few coupons to see what deals he can grab. I also showed him how to use a coupon database. Many coupon websites have this feature. It’s great because if you’re in need of an item, you simply type in the name into the search box an it gives you a list of possible coupons available, both from Sunday papers and printable ones from online. So even if you do need to make one of those unexpected trips, you can still quickly find a coupon for what you need. Usually there is a link to the product’s website and you can print one from there. Since I live near St Louis, I usually go to http://www.savingmoneyinmissouri.com/ or http://stlmommy.com/. But you can always find a great coupon site with store matchups that are suited for your area.

Being crafty (I’m not just thrifty ya know!) I like LOVE to visit Michaels and Hobby Lobby often! Before I go I always go to their website to see what coupons they have available to print. There is usually a 40% off coupon and I usually print 2 and ask for 2 separate transactions at checkout. Hey if I have to drive 30min to the nearest Michaels (or 45min to the nearest Hobby Lobby! no kidding!!) I figure I’m going to make it worth the trip!

I do use coupons for food items too but not as much. That’s another blog for another day…

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Sarah
    Jan 21, 2012 @ 06:47:48

    Great words! I was wondering if you were going to let the world see that your stockpile is in your shower. It sure has evolved from the last time I saw it! Happy Saving!

    Reply

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