|The Finish was all FREE, and the cat food (donated) paid for part of the rest with overage. Also note my homemade marshmallows in the corner. Mmmm!|
Couponing has become far more than a method to save a few pennies for me. I began couponing as part of a my New Year's Resolution. It had long been a goal but I just couldn't seem to figure it all out. None of the websites that charge a small monthly fee cater to the NY Capital Region. And until the last few days of December, I had yet to discover any helpful coupon blogs.
|This was when I decided that I could make my "buy" price for detergent $0.03 or less.|
But since discovering blogs and cracking the coupon code, it has become such a fun hobby. I treat it as a game each week. Beat the system. I play by the rules and still manage to come out ahead each week. And I just love it!
|Always pay attention to hanging coupons. These were bundled as BOGO and then there was another hanging mail in rebate for shampoo. So in the end, both the Organics shampoo and conditioner were FREE.|
I do not hoard, as is often a criticism of couponers. I wouldn't have storage space to hoard even if I wanted to, actually. But I do pride myself in having what I use most often stored in multiples, as much as possible. Actually, I am not shopping at drug stores much these days. Not because there aren't great deals. But because I have plenty. I recently took count of my stock and realized that I am at my max on things such as razors, hair supplies, dish cleaning supplies, laundry supplies and more. Unless I find a deal of free laundry detergent, I have banned myself from buying more.
|That Tide was found on a clearance end cap. I think I got them for @$0.50/bottle after the sale and coupons. Every single box of granola bars and Excedrin were FREE. Actually, the Excedrin was a money maker!|
Like many new to couponing, I went a little overboard in the beginning. Thinking that I would never find such a great deal again. Little did I know that paying $0.50 for toothpaste was about $1 too much! Yup, now I would only ever buy it if it was a money maker. Funny how things change. But I think all of that is just part of the learning curve. I am sure I will be back with all new perspectives and lessons learned come January.
But here are a few bits of advice for those just starting out...
Always check the clearance end caps! I find the best, unexpected deals on the Rite Aid and Target clearance sections.
|My favorite brand and after my coupon, I paid all of $0.12/each. This was my first fun clearance end cap discovery in the winter.|
Don't overlook items you don't use if they are going to give you overage to use on other items you do use. My local food bank LOVES it when I deliver a box full of baby formula. It's very expensive and needed. And I buy it when it gives me overage. Win, win.
|That Finish was FREE but I have yet to use it. I honestly can't believe how expensive it is before coupons - depending on the store it runs $12-14!|
Warn both the cashier and the person behind you in line that you are using lots of coupons. But my best advice is to, after kindly warning the person behind you, refrain from making further eye contact. We all know those eye rolls and huffs and puffs. It works our last nerve and makes us feel so stinkin' guilty. And that's just silly. So a fair and honest warning should be enough for them to chose to remain in that line or not.
|Make sure you know when coupons are able to be used on travel size items. Remember your goal is to pay as little out of pocket as possible!|
Be organized. Every single trip to a store using coupons means that I pull my cart into a quiet aisle to get my act together. I make sure I separate my coupons for separate transactions. I also separate those items in my cart so that each check out process is as quick as possible. At Walgreens, I triple count to make sure I have the ratios down. I would rather take 15 mins of quiet time to myself if necessary than in front of other customers and managers and beeping computers and cashiers accusing me of stealing.
|Most of this was donated.|
And last, know your buy now price. For me, this is a constant fill in the blank. And on many food items, I still do not have one. I RARELY find gluten free items on sale. So I actually still by those (and I seriously buy very few) items at full (gasp!) price. But over time, as I figure things out, I lower many of my buy now prices. And that's just the coolest feeling!
|If I remember correctly, I believe the only thing I paid for here was that OJ and even then it was under $1!|