by Sandy Shields
There are people who believe that coupons are not worth the time and effort it takes to clip them and keep them organized. I am not one of those people. On the other hand, I am not one that has to have a coupon on every item in order to buy it either. I do buy store brands when the item is cheaper than a brand-name item with a coupon.
I have been using coupons for a few years now, and for me they really are worth the effort. I can easily save 20-30% off of my grocery bill each time I shop. Many times I am able to save 50% or more, and our area has no double coupon stores! I try my best never to have to pay full price.
I have found that the key to saving money with coupons is to use them only in conjunction with sales, and only on what you will use. If you buy something because it is a good deal, and not because it is something you would buy anyway, chances are you wonít use it, so for you it is not a good deal. Using coupons can be quite addicting, and sometimes we all tend to want to use them on items just because they are a good deal. If you canít use the item, donít buy it. If you must buy it, donate it to a charity, or give it to someone who can use it. There have been times for me that a deal was just too good to pass up, so I bought the item(s) and gave them to family, or to a local charity.
Coupons are relatively easy to find on the products you need. They are in most Sunday papers, and in grocery store ads. If there are many good coupons in a paper, I will buy extras, or ask family and friends for their coupons. I get lots of free or nearly free items by stocking up on good coupons. Here are some of the best deals and freebies I have been able to take advantage of:
You know the little red 'blinkie' machines in stores now? Well, the machine by the Aussie Shampoo offered $1.00 off one any size Aussie coupons. Note, ONE ANY SIZE. This means if there are trial sizes out, they are free or nearly free. I found some trial sizes at Kmart for .99 cents. I bought about 5 that day - that was all that they had. On my next trip to Albertsonís I checked and they had lots of the trial sizes for .89 cents! I purchased every one they had, and got them all FREE! Winn Dixie, Food Lion, and Publix did not have the trial sizes.
This was an incredible deal!! Target had Kodak Gold single rolls 24 exposure on sale for $2.00 each. I took the sale flyer to Walmart to ask them if they price matched, they said yes. I looked around and found that the Kodak Gold film at Walmart had $2.00 coupons stuck on them. I was able to get many rolls of film FREE! Since this was such an great freebie, I visited several of my local Walmarts. Each store handled my 'deal' differently.
Store #1 handled it fine, and was impressed at my "shopping ability".
Store #2 handled it fine too, but had to call management to get it approved.
Store #3 said "No Way" to the deal.
I talked with the manager at Store #3. I asked him if they price-matched, and he said yes. But when he found out I was getting the film for FREE (just tax), he said that was not allowed.
I was honest and upfront with every one of the cashiers/managers at every store. I also increased the number of rolls of film I brought to the checkout each time. I do believe that if I had not brought as many rolls as I did to the checkout at Store #3, I might have been able to take advantage of this deal.
Right Guard Deodorant
This deal was EXTRA fun, as my husband was with me. The Right Guard was for him, so that is what encouraged him to do this shopping with me. This deal was at Eckerd drugstore. Two weeks before the trip with my husband, I went to Eckerd to get Right Guard when they had it on sale for .99 cents. They were out of stock, so I received a raincheck. This was a good thing, as there were $1.00 coupons out on the Right Guard that didnít expire for a few weeks. Since I had the raincheck, and knew I would be going back later for the Right Guard, I was able to stock up on these $1.00 coupons. By the time my husband and I went back to Eckerds for the Right Guard I had collected 21 of these $1.00 coupons! The first thing we did when we got to Eckerds was to check and see how many Right Guards that they had in stock. Then we proceeded to the checkout, and requested to see the manager. My husband was very interested to see what would happen. He didnít think we would 'get away' with this. When the manager came over, I explained the deal to him, and asked if there were any limits on this, as there were none mentioned on my raincheck. He said no, and that I could go get one and use the raincheck. I told him I wanted to buy 21 Right Guards with the raincheck, and he let us have all 21 for .99 cents. Then I showed him my coupons, which startled him. He walked back to the Right Guard and thought a bit, and then walked back up to the cashier, and told her to go ahead, he had no reason to deny us. My husband was impressed, and we paid $0 for 21 Right Guard Deodorants!
White Rain Products
This was an easy one. There were coupons available in the ' blinkie' machines for .79 cents off White Rain Shampoo or Conditioner. Kmart had them on sale, so I stocked up and bought 18, and all I paid was tax. The cashier was impressed!
Hunts Pudding ran a promotion featuring Specially Marked Packages with coupons good at Toys R Us. The lowest denomination coupon was for $1.00. There were $5.00 ones, and more. So if you just bought the pudding on sale for .99 cents, you got 4 cups of pudding free. That is a good deal in itself. But there were also .40 cent coupons out on Hunts pudding at the same time! If you bought a 4-pk pudding for .99 cents, this was the deal: Pay .59 for the pudding (with a .40 cent coupon), get (minimum) $1.00 coupon for TRU. Right there you make .41 cents, and you also get 4 cups of pudding! I know that I bought at least 150 packages, as that was my last count. Then I traded the Toys R Us certificates to people who could use them for things I needed. We ate some of the pudding, but donated most of it to the City Rescue Mission.
Aquafresh toothpaste was on sale for .99 cents. I had quite a few Aquafresh $1 coupons, so I got lots of free toothpaste! I didn't have to pay for toothpaste for a long time.
Quaker Instant Grits
Quaker Instant Grits were on sale for $1.59. In the Winn Dixie flyer there was a coupon good for B1G1F Quaker Instant Grits. That meant 2 boxes of grits for $1.59. Plus I had coupons good for .50 on each package. That brought it to .59 cents for 2 boxes of grits! And the really good part was that there were rebate forms on the packages to get Free Grits!
Coupons are on of the easiest and most profitable resources that consumers can take advantage of. All it takes is some time and effort. It is one of those things that you get out of it what you put into it. If you live in an area that offers double or even triple coupons, you are throwing away a great deal of money by not using them. Coupons are distributed for consumers to use. If they are used in conjunction with sales or rebates, many products can be purchased for no more than tax. How many other ways do you know of to regularly get lots of free merchandise?
Sandy is webmaster and owner of TheFrugalShopper.com. She enjoys living the frugal life, saving money, and helping others to do the same. Reprint permission granted with this footer included. Copyright © 1999-2007 TheFrugalShopper.com.