CVS Trip

A great trip to CVS is always worthy of a blog post.

I made a very simple trip to CVS today for some basic necessities. So I hope this shows you that you don’t have to “extreme coupon” to be able to save money on household things.

I bought 2 Secret deodorants, 2 VO5 conditioners, and 1 Colgate toothpaste.

My original total (before sales and coupons) would have been $19.25.

I only paid $7.91, I saved $12.50!

{I also earned another $6.00 in Extra Care Bucks for my next visit!}

My savings:

$5.00 in sales

$2.50 in manufacture coupons

$5.00 rewards card from viggle

 (a reward program where you can check into your favorite TV shows and earn points/rewards)

I love CVS!

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Just an average couponing trip

I have only posted once on the topic of Couponing {click here to read it}, even though it is something that I keep up with every week. The other night as I sat clipping my weekly coupons, my husband said “Ya know, you haven’t taken any pictures or posted on any of your great deals lately!”  So I decided I would share the details of a couponing trip I made this week.

So I am going to show you everything I bought at CVS, and what I paid for it.  Occasionally there are items that I have to buy that aren’t on sale, but I still manage to get a good overall savings on my transaction.  My example this week: headache meds. I ran out and these are a necessity to me (and most moms). I have kids…LOUD kids…kids that don’t always treat each other kindly…hence the need for headache relief. {ok, now I feel bad for blaming it on the kids, sorry kiddos, love you!}

To start with, I had $10 in Extracare Bucks (ECBs) from last week. This is store credit for anything in the store. $10 in ECBs is a lot for me; sometimes I don’t have any leftover – it just depends on the week. Also, this time when I scanned my Extracare card at the magic coupon machine, I happened to get 2 coupons for things that were actually on my list! The only thing better than that is when it prints a 20% off your total coupon…love those! So when I walked into the store, I started off with a total of $12 in coupons that I didn’t even have to clip from the Sunday paper!

CVS Receipt: Spent $4.79...Saved $22.02...Made $4.98 in ECBs for next week's trip.

For the rest of the transaction, I will breakdown the details:

The deodorant was 2 for $5. I had a B1G1 free (buy 1 get 1 free) coupon PLUS a $1 coupon and a .75 cent coupon. Which totaled .75 cents for the pair!

The gum was .99 cents each. I used a $1 off 2 coupon. So I bought 2 packs for .98 cents total.

The toothpaste was $2.99 each. I used a .50 cent coupon and a $1 coupon. So I bought 2 for $4.50 PLUS there was an advertised Extracare reward on this item, which gave me $4.98 back in Extracare Bucks!

Then there was the CVS brand headache relief for $8.99. Thanks to my leftover ECB’s, this was covered by those coupons.

CVS Goodies

So I paid $4.79 for everything in the picture, saving $22, and receiving another $4.98 in ECB’s for my next visit. So by using sales, coupons, and store rewards, I scored these necessities for free. And this is what I do every week to keep stocked up on the things we use everyday. If you start doing this on a regular basis (doesn’t have to be every week), so that 1 trip you buy toothpaste and deodorant, next trip you buy hair products, next trip is body wash and lotion, etc…you get the idea…over the course of time you manage to almost always have necessities on hand. The idea is to buy things that you use when they are at their lowest price, instead of when you need them, which is inevitably at full price, which no one wants to pay. And yes, occasionally we run out, or need extra for trips/vacation, or just want to try something new, but I have a little system going and even a small stockpile.

Now if you’re picturing spending hours clipping coupons from the Sunday paper, lugging a gigantic coupon binder into every store, or standing in the checkout lane forever with mounds of items and coupons, do not fear!  All you need is about 1 hour to scan through the weekly deals, clip the coupons you need, or print from online (coupons.com is a great source!). Also, when I go shopping, I only bring an envelope with the coupons that I plan to use for that trip. The rest stay home in my binder until they are clipped for next week’s trip.

So if you’re already an avid couponer, keep up the good work…and I sure hope I didn’t bore you to tears!

If not, start small, every little bit helps, and best of luck to you! And feel free to send me a message if you have any questions! Good luck!

Saving on healthy groceries while keeping the hubby happy

We are in a bit of a health kick around here at this time of year and are trying to make better food choices, yet not get bored with the same healthy recipes over time.

I know it is not easy to buy healthy groceries on a budget. Produce can really cost you an arm and leg. That’s why I buy most of my groceries at Aldi! They do have a great Fit & Active line of food, but you can’t get everything there. Since both my husband and I are home for lunch ( I am a SAHM and he works from home) we were getting tired of sandwiches. My husband says he needs more MEAT but he doesn’t care for leftovers everyday…who does? We were looking for other options for quick, healthy lunches. Frozen lunches are the quickest, but not always the healthiest, UNLESS you invest in the healthy ones.  So I used a coupon database (you can see my post on Couponing  for how to use this very handy feature) to find coupons for some healthy, meaty meals in minutes. Most healthy brands all cost around the same whether its Weight Watchers Smart Ones, Lean Cuisine, or Healthy Choice. You can find coupons for Smart Ones and Lean Cuisines (they are usually $1 off 5 or something similar), but I found several online (and higher value) coupons for Healthy Choice and Morningstar veggie burgers, so I decided to stock up on those. Also, they have more flavor options besides chicken. I was able to print 8 coupons (4 of which were Target store coupons). Walmart is closer to my house AND they honor competitor coupons, so I decided to stock up at Walmart using all my coupons.

What I learned from this:  It was not as easy as I thought to use competitor coupons there so I should have done 2 things:

A) Told them I was using these coupons BEFORE they started

B) Asked for a separate transaction for all my Healthy Choice items (I meant to do this and forgot before they started ringing them up).

See? I’ve been couponing for 2 years and I’m still learning as I go. 🙂 But I do know that if you’re nice to your cashier, they are usually willing to work with you and get you the deals you came in for.

Anyhow, it all worked out and I was able to save $8.48 on  $47.56 worth of healthy meals. Since he doesn’t eat these every day, these 16 meals lasted my hubby about a month. The Morningstar burgers are 4 per box so we have eaten some of those for dinner. I figure if he worked in an office and ordered his lunch just once/week for 1 month, it would still cost more than his frozen lunches for a month! AND he doesn’t get bored because I bought all beefy meals! No chicken since I cook enough of that at dinner!

I used 7 of these coupons: 6 $1 off coupons and 1 Buy3Get 1Free coupons {I did not use one of the B3G1Free’s}.

I bought these meals:

Once we started running low on those meals, I was able to print more coupons, so this week I bought 10 more meals, while saving $6 in additional coupons.

So, aside from eating more fruits and veggies and less snacking on junk food, this is one way we have eaten healthier this year, and saved while doing so!

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…