Monday, May 30, 2011

Extreme couponing?

There is a new show on TLC, called Extreme Couponing, where these crazy women go into a store with a million coupons, and come out with $2500 worth of groceries that they paid $6 for. Now, however impressive that may be, it's a bit unrealistic, don't you think? Most people don't have the time, or ability to put together such elaborate treasure hunts, but anyone can certainly do it to a point. I love coupons. I use them all the time, and have managed to save quite a bit of money for my family.
A friend of mine asked me about coupons the other day. She wants to save more at the grocery store, and is interested in using coupons. Naturally, she has lots of questions on how to get started, and it has me thinking about how I use coupons to help my family.
I thought I would share the little bit I have learned about using coupons for big savings at the store.
The trick is to know your store, and the prices for items you buy on a regular basis. For example, your favorite store sells body wash for $1.99. If you find a coupon to save $.75 on one, hang on to it until the body wash goes on sale. Lets say, for example, the sale is $1.49. Now, I go to the store with my coupon, which my store will double. (Not all stores will do this, so be sure you know your store's coupon policy before going.) After doubling, I am saving $1.50 on a product that costs $1.49. ~Free soap! Now, if like me, you bought 6 papers on Sunday, and have 6 coupons, you can get 6 of those bottles of soap for free. Easy peasy, right?

I went shopping this weekend with several coupons I had saved over the last few weeks.
I had:

15 coupons to save $1.50 on an oral -b toothbrush
1 target coupon to save $1 on body wash
1 $1 off manufacturer coupon for the same body wash,
1 $1off coupon for a Hawaiian tropic product,
3 buy one get one free Axe deodorant coupons
and, the knowledge that target was giving away a $5 gift card with the purchase of 2 Hawaiian tropic or banana boat products.

So, I headed out to Target. They had Axe deodorant on sale for $3.44, regular price ~ $3.99.
I bought 6 and used the B1G1 coupons, so 3 were free, and the rest were on sale. I saved $13.50 on the deodorant, alone.
I bought 1 bottle of caress body wash $2.99, and paired it with 2, $1off coupons coupons, so I paid $.99.
I bought 1 banana boat lip balm for $1.99, and one Hawaiian Tropic sun screen for $7.99 and used a coupon for $1 off Hawaiian Tropic. This earned me a gift card, so the out of pocket expense was $3.99, I saved $6.
Then I bought a total of 15 toothbrushes from Walmart and Target (because of a per transaction limit stated in the coupon). Regular price was $1.50 at Walmart, and $1.59 @ target. The coupons made them free @ Walmart, and $.09 at target. I saved about $22.00 on toothbrushes.
Then, just because I needed them, I bought a box of paper clips for $1.29, and a shower puff for $1.00.

My total, before coupons, was $65.16. After coupons, I paid $27.84, then got the $5 gift card, bringing my total down to $22.84! That is a 65% savings. Not as "extreme" as the ladies on TV, but still a pretty good haul for the day!
With a little work, and a little research, you can save a bunch at the grocery store, and have extra money to help with so many other things. ...New van, here I come!