I started couponing last summer because I didn’t work as much and it takes me about an hour a week to prepare for my grocery and Walgreens trip. I don’t save an incredible amount at the grocery store since a lot of coupons are for things I don’t purchase anyway and to buy them even cheaply would still be taking money out of my budget for things we don’t need.
For Walgreens… I started reading online about the “drugstore game”. I was intrigued but never took the time to research and understand the “game” until Maggie came along. With spending about $36 a month in wipes and diapers I had to find a way to stay in budget. This is how it works.
Every week Walgreens has items on sale and with the purchase give you a coupon that prints at checkout good toward your next purchase. They are called Register Rewards. For example, last week the Nivea lip balm was on sale for $2.99. When I purchased it, I had a $1 coupon which made it $1.99 out of pocket plus I got $2 RR for purchasing it therefore in the end making it free (Joe calls it woman math). So, last week, I purchased a lip balm and some glade room spray (also $2 RR). I paid $4 out of pocket after coupons and received $4 RR to use this week. This week I will go and purchase more items with register rewards. This week, the Walgreens men’s 5-blade razor is on sale for $3.99 and you get $3 RR with the purchase. There are several other items but I don’t have my list handy right now. I will use my RR from last week to bring down my total out of pocket expense and still earn more RR to use for the next. Basically, I spend $2-$5 each week and get anywhere from $5-$15 in Register Rewards. The biggest bang for your buck comes when you purchase RR items and have coupons for the item. A few weeks ago my total before coupons was $40. I used coupons and register rewards to bring down the balance to $4 plus $15 RR printed to use the next week or two. Some weeks are better than others. If it is a slim week, I will hold on to my RR and use for another week.
A few things to remember that tripped me up the first few months I did it:
1. You can only get one like RR per transaction. For example, the Walgreens razor. If I purchase two in the same transaction, I will only get 1 reward printed off. If it is a hot item, I get Joe to go in with me and purchase a second because they may be out the next day when I return to do another transaction. There has been such an influx of “Extreme” couponers that many stores have set limits on even the number of newspapers you can buy.
2. Be careful that you only have one RR per company in your transaction. Example: If I want to purchase Colgate toothpaste for a RR, and colgate toothbrushes for a RR, because Colgate is giving the RR, they will only print one even though I am purchasing different items.
3. Be sure when redeeming your RR to remember a few things about them:
- RR have an expiration date generally 1-2 weeks after the purchase (I have used expired RR with no problems but I’ve heard that they can deny them if they see that they are expired.)
- Do not use a RR to pay for item from the same brand. Example: If I buy the Walgreens razor today, I cannot use my $3 RR I earned from that razor to purchase another one tomorrow because the RR will not print again.
- You still have to pay taxes on the subtotal before coupons. (This is where most of my OOP expense comes from)
- You must have as many items as coupons and RR count as coupons. If you are purchasing 3 items and you have a coupon for each item plus 2 RR to use, you need to add two filler items. I generally look on the clearance section, get a pack of gum or grab a jar of baby food or something Mags can use.
- You can stack Walgreens coupons and manufacture coupons. Walgreens puts out a booklet monthly with store coupons and also in their weekly ad. You can use these with coupons you get from the newspaper or online for an even better deal, but remember to add extra items so your coupons don’t exceed your total number of items.
- If an item is marked 2/$6 with $4 RR…you must purchase 2 to get the RR.
Some people who can explain all this better than me:
Websites I use for my coupon matchups every week:
I have also “liked” a lot of these places on Facebook as they will post a new deal as soon as they find it and enable me to print off a coupon right away before the limit is reached. Most of them use Twitter as well.
Using the matchups, I select the items I would use and print off my shopping list with the coupon matchups. When I get home I can pull out my coupons and find the coupon.
1) Colgate Total Advanced Toothpaste 4 oz $3
(1) -.75/1, .35/1 Colgate Toothpaste, exp. 3/17/12 (SS 02/26/12 R)
Total = $2.25 (Get Back $3 RR Colgate)
If you purchase this toothpaste, it costs $3 this week. Use either $.75 off or $.35 off from your Smart Source insert from February 26. Your total will be $2.25 if you use the $.75 coupon and you will get $3 RR to use on another transaction.
Obviously, if you have RR to use from previous weeks, it will bring down your OOP. Call me if you have any questions and I will try to explain if this is not clear.
Oh, and for coupon organization. I don’t have time to clip every coupon I get especially when I won’t use some of them. I keep all of them in a binder and write the date in permanent marker on the front of the insert. So when I see the Colgate coupon is in the smart source (SS) insert form 2/26, I can flip it open, clip it out and I’m set.
I get 2 inserts a week. Dean gives me his and I purchase a paper so that I have at least 2 coupons. Just be sure to check and make sure the coupons haven’t been snatched before you purchase the paper.
Just a personal preference, I go early in the morning on the way to work. I choose a day of the week to drop Joe off and am in the store at 7 am when they open. Most of the time, I am the only person in the store and the employee is not irritated dealing with me. If they are super packed and the lines are backed up, some of them will get an attitude and they will be unwilling to help you if you have an issue with your transaction.