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Welcome to my window on the world. A snapshot of my life and experiences. I'm a photography junkie and a scrapbook addict. I capture it all here, and share my journey down this amazing road called LIFE with you!

Monday, August 24, 2009

A week in my coupon world...

Some people have asked me how I get my savings each week. I mean last week I got a buggy full, and I mean full, of groceries from Bi-Lo for $55, and I saved $95 off my total in coupons.

So I will take you through a week with me, and then hopefully you can go from there and adapt a system that works for you.

1. I always get the Sunday paper unless there are no manufacturer's coupons that week. My husband brings me the coupons from the one delivered to his work. So each week, I have two sets of coupons to clip. Important on BOGOs because Bi-Lo and CVS let you use two coupons with a BOGO...meaning you save even more!!! You could also buy two newspapers. The savings in coupons will more than pay for your papers. So don't be stingy here.

Now, I will say that there are some serious, hard-core couponers that will get their neighbors coupons from their recycling bins. They will buy extra coupons off of e-bay. Then when a good deal comes out, they have like 10 or 12 coupons and can stock up and save a a bundle. My dh would DIE if I was caught sneaking through people's recycling bins in my neighborhood. And I don't have time to hunt around e-bay for that.

The point I am trying to make, is you have to take everything I tell you, and pick the pieces that work for your with your allotted time. That's what I have done.

2. Okay, I have my coupons, and I look through and give an initial scan. I also pull the CVS ad from the paper to check for anything interesting. Normally, I try to hit the CVS ad the night before or Friday night to prepare for the upcoming week. I try to keep what I have seen in my brain, but I'm telling you, by the time you are done your CVS run and your grocery run, your brain is going to feel like you just took a final exam. No lie! But your wallet will be fat, and your pantry will be full.

I have shelves in my laundry room full of canned goods and cleaning products. My bathroom closet is stocked with personal care items. I have more in my house now for less than I ever did when I was NOT an avid couponer. And I'm paying pennies on the dollar for alot of it. I'm buying things I don't need if the price is awesome because I can donate it. DONATE...a thought for another day. Another topic in itself!!!

3. First stop with CVS ad and coupons is Southern Savers. I click on the tab for CVS, and Jenny, the host of the site lists all the upcoming deals for the current CVS ad. I can use this ad to match my coupons from my stash, my ECB's (extra care bucks), and CVS coupons. If I try to explain all this your head will explode.

I'm not exagerating. I'm telling you to take your time. Tread lightly the first two or three trips until you get into the swing of things and understand. READ, READ, READ. Copy the deals exactly if you must. Don't worry if you don't have the ECBs listed, just do the deal to get your ECB's.

It is essential that you do have the CVS Extra Care card, so if you don't, get one when you go in BEFORE YOU CHECK OUT! And yes, you can use more than one card. I have four going at once. That means on a deal that says limit 1, I use four different cards, pay four different times! So if the item is FREE after ECBs, I have 4 FREE items. GET IT!

4. Another site I visit is HOT COUPON WORLD. You can learn alot initially from this site as it probably explains everything the best. You have to take your time to READ IT. READ. RESEARCH. Nothing in life is FREE and doing this is like a little extra job, but if you do it, you will reap the rewards and be amazed. And yes, both my sites listed do other stores, but I'm starting you on my trip and I start with CVS.

Frankly, I normally hit CVS after church on Sunday's because alot of the deals will be out of stock until they restock if I don't. I also have 4 CVS in town so I can hit them all if I want and need a certain thing and one doesn't have it. No I am not wasting gas as it's not the big here and I can drive in an efficient circle that is about a five mile radius.

5. Another site that I have found very useful is Chattanooga Cheapskate. I just discovered her recently and she is awesome! She also does CVS.

6. The reason I cruise all these sites is to find deals and which coupons are out there that I should have in my stash. All of them match up the Sunday coupons. I do not store my coupons by ad date, so for me this is a reference that I should have that coupon. Some hard core couponers store their coupons uncut and pull them out and cut to match the ad. They have a zillion copies, remember.... These sites assist with coupon matching. Very important. Very important. Very imporant. Apparently this is very important. So remember it!

7. The other reason I cruise these sites is they also list the printables. Oh yes, my people, you can print internet coupons! Now different stores have different rules about these but for CVS, have at it! Let her rip, print them all, use them all! It is just the same as a manufacturer's coupon. So you can add these to your pile for the week and save even more than you would have saved if you hadn't known about these fabulous sites.

8. And these sites will give you tips about hidden deals...which go fast so if you see one, you better move quickly. When I say a hidden deal, something that may be on clearance, or a super fab deal with a coupon you have that is a "money maker" or ends up being free. You'll see as you cruise the sites and get comfortable with the lingo.

9. And yes, there is a lingo associated with all this mess. ECB, coupon, catalina, MM and such. You will see. I had to learn and so will you, but you will pick it up fast. And for heaven's sake ask. People will help you on these sites. They don't mind newbies!

10. After I have visited my sites and stacked my coupons...I sort my coupons into my four envelopes so I know which card I am using with which deal, and which ECBs go with which card. Now when I get to the store, some of this I do in my head. Some people print out their deals. You have to be flexible and be able to think on the fly though if they are out of something you wanted and your "deal" doesn't quite materialize. This is where the brain part comes in...and it may take you a bit in the store to get it all sorted. I have it sorted by card in my basket

Now when I get to the checkout, I do act courteously. Hard for some of you to believe, I am sure, but I DO! I always move out of the way if someone is in line behind me. Why? Because I may have 10 transactions to do. And those people do not want to wait for me to tear off my ECB and load up my next deal and get my coupons. Plus if I've had to think on the fly, I may need a moment to regroup and make sure I am matching the right card to the right coupons to the right ECB's to the right product. You see... I also ALWAYS check my printout at the end to make sure I get the ECB's I'm due. Otherwise, you have to hold the line up further by making them force print them. And yes I do that.

This can be alot of fun and a great game. You will try to beat your best "score" each week. Some weeks are better than others, but the main thing is instead of paying $5.50 for a stinkin' bottle of shampoo or more, you are getting a brand you want for as little as FREE or $1.50 or $2.00. Do the math. The savings add up fast!

And that my dear coupon proteges is my take on the CVS in my world. Yes, there are others who do it better, faster, and probably save alot more than me. But, I'm saving more than I ever have, and that is the desired end result, right?

Please give it a try. Even if you only do one deal. You will be amazed. I will either share with you my last week's bounty from CVS or this weeks later on.

I think that is enough for today. Pace yourself. This is not a quick fix. You have to learn. You have to read. Explore the sites. Figure it out. Make it your system. That is the most important. If you don't adapt it to your lifestyle, it will never work for you!


Trish Richhart said...

Awesome Leigh! I was doing this for a while, but struggle with finding the time to keep up with it all. I found I got the best deals at CVS and Walgreens and even though I haven't been clipping coupons this way for over 6 months still have a stash of toiletry/personal items.

I will have to check out the sites you mentioned. I also really love Deal Seeking Mom and had really good luck with The Grocery Game.

Terry said...

Thanks, Leigh! I read through this and started over at the website you've got listed. Printed off a bunch of coupons for Meijers! YAY! Saved a ton!