I watched a couple of tv shows about extreme couponing an became titillated with the concept. I’ve been at it for about 2 months now and while I haven’t bought $923 worth of groceries for $2.03 yet, I am enjoying some pretty considerable savings.

First off, you must sign up for the loyalty cards offered by many drug stores and supermarkets. Second, get a subscription to the Sunday paper where you’ll find many of your coupons.

Here’s a free endorsement for couponmom.com, the first site I started using. In a nutshell, you sign up for free then they list the week’s deals (plus the next upcoming week’s deals) at major retailers. They also link to a generous number of online coupons that you can print off.  Use the 2 components to create a shopping list of what’s on sale at a given retailer that week combined with printed coupons. Then review special weekly discounts or cash back on larger purchases, and complete your shopping list. Print it off, grab the combined coupons you’re using to make your optimal purchases, and head out shopping!

cvs-receiptHere’s an example of a deal I got this week… a brand of hand cream I like was on sale at CVS for buy one, get one 1/2 off. Normal price was $3.79 (I paid $3.79 x 1.5 = $5.69 for 2, or $2.85 per tube. But I had a coupon for $3 off the purchase of 2 items, so I got each for $1.35. Now that’s a pretty good savings, but CVS had a deal where you got $5 “extra bucks” with purchase of 2 of these hand creams, which I can use on mynext purchase. So, in the end it was like them paying me $2.30 to get 2 tubes of the lotion I buy any way! I checked a few of my recent receipts and found documented on the receipt:

CVS, spent $43.27, saved $44.61
Kroger, spent $120.76, saved $38.48
CVS, spent $44.91 (used a $20.99 CVS money card so paid out $23.42), saved $86.65

You have to really read and study those newspaper inserts and the special deals each store offers each week. By the way, weekly deals generally run from Sunday through the following Saturday.

You’ll feel pretty good about your shopping trip on your first trip using coupons, but it’s on subsequent trips that you really start seeing your savings!

Based on the stores closest to me and my own buying habits, I happen to coupon at Target, CVS, Walgreen’s, Staples and Kroger. My Target store just added a grocery store, so I can get some really good deals on staple grocery items there. Based on recent shopping trips, very carefully planned to take advantage of weekly sales, bulk purchases, coupons and cash back rewards I have:

$38.50 Target Gift Card
$27.50 CVS Extra Bucks
$20.00 Walgreen’s Balance Rewards

My best short trip was to CVS last week. I made a $22 purchase and using Extra Bucks for $19 I walked out paying $3.22 AND another $5 Extra Bucks coupon!

I’m still a novice at this, but I check my receipts and am commonly saving between 29% and 55% on ALL my shopping for food, health/beauty products and the like. Remember, I’m canning and freezing garden goodies now and therefore not having to buy as many fruits and veggies as I normally would.

It’s hard to explain, but there’s a great adrenaline rush when you play the system that’s in place and can actually walk out of a store saving 1/3 to 1/2 or more on items you were going to buy any way!

Here are some things I’ve learned:

  • it’s taking me 8-10 hours a week to do the research on weekly deals, snip coupons and sort the coupons into a binder I take to the store with me and print off my shopping list
  • contrary to regular shopping, it’s often a better deal to buy the smaller size of something when using coupons, especially if it’s a BOGO (buy one, get one) offer
  • Target has online coupons that area really hard to find, but they allow you to combine their store coupons with manufacturer coupons to multiply your savings. Go to target.com and type COUPONS into their search box and you’ll get right to them – print & enjoy! Very often there are coupons for clothing and home decor items, for example
  • Walgreen’s will not allow you to both accumulate reward points and spend them in one transaction. Carefully consider your shopping list, and go through the line twice to make all your purchases in one trip to the store
  • Can you really have too much toilet paper, toothpaste or dish detergent? I’ve got 12 bottles of Dawn dishwashing liquid that each cost me between about 25 to 50 cents. I really will use it all, but may have to take over some of the shelves in the garage to be able to store my bounty

staples-rewardsI took my mom on a short couponing trip the other night. She was ecstatic to save more than half off on ALL her purchases for the beauty products she buys regularly to keep so young looking and beautiful!

I’m off now to buy some ink with the $58 in rewards bucks I have at Staples…

I’d love to get some tips from you on couponing, too – just add a comment below.