Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Frugal Living - Coupons

Have you watched the TV show Extreme Couponing on TLC?  I've seen a few episodes, and while informative in some respects, I find the show quite maddening.  Yes, I'd love to save 90% on my grocery bill, but I live in reality.  I don't have 60 hours a week to devote to cutting, logging and matching coupons to grocery flyers, nor do I live anywhere near a place that offers unlimited double coupons.  When I lived in Dallas years ago, they did. I don't know if the stores there still do.

What drives me crazy about this show is that people are stocking up on JUNK and things they don't need, just because they have a coupon.  One show had a lady buying 70 bottles of mustard because they were 39 cents each after coupons.  Big deal.  That's still $28 you just spent on mustard.  Oh, did I mention she doesn't even eat mustard?!?!?  Then there was the woman who bought 35 bottles of Maalox with coupons.  Let me tell you one thing, if you need 35 bottles of Maalox, you best get yourself to a doctor!!!  And there was the woman who had a hoard of diapers when she doesn't even have a child.  I hope she has one some day or she's going to be kicking herself big time.

And don't get me started on the amount of candy and junk food these people are buying for their kids.  Childhood obesity is going to run rampant.

The show has motivated me to get back to cutting coupons, so I guess that's a good thing.

Today I did a fair amount of shopping to stock up on some things for lunches for school and school snacks.  This is the time of year that many things are on sale, so I took advantage of that.  For the day, my savings averaged about 40%.  I saved 50% at the grocery store and at Walgreens, about 30% at Target, and I haven't figured out my savings from Office Max.  They weren't nice enough to print it on my receipt for me.

With certain stores such as Target and Walgreens, you can "stack" manufacturer coupons on top of store coupons.  It was the same way with my grocery store today.

Everything that is pictured in the photo I got for free, with the exception of the stack of office supplies. I paid a total of 58 cents for the whole stack (excluding the highlighters - those were free.)

How did I do it?  It took a little planning, but not 60 hours a week!!!  Take the toothpaste.... At the grocery store they were on sale for 98 cents each.  Then I had a $1 coupon that got doubled today because it was double coupon day (our grocery store only doubles up to 5 coupons and other grocery stores in the area don't double at all) so that was $2 off toothpaste, which gave me 2 tubes for free.  I had another 50 cent coupon that got doubled, so the third tube was free as well.

The three health & beauty items in the back of the picture were purchased with buy one get one free coupons.  However, I won't buy something just because it's a BOGO deal. It has to be a good price, and on sale is even better.  Some stores will let you use two coupons on a BOGO deal because you are paying full price for the first item, you can sometimes use a second coupon to get that for a lower price.

The office/school supplies were the best deal.  Since it's back to school time, Office Max has a bunch of stuff on sale.  Even though we have already bought our school supplies, I bought extra because you know you're going to need them, and the price was beyond right.  All the folders and rulers were a penny each and so was the protractor.  The crayons were 5 cents each.  We got a binder on clearance and then there were the Sharpie brand products.  Follow along with the math here....  They were buy 2 get one free, so the highlighters were free.  Additionally, there was an instant $5 off if you bought 3 of the specified products.  Since the package of markers was $5.29, I got them for 29 cents.  I had to pay full price for the first item, another pack of dry erase markers that daughter did need for school.

Target is a good one for letting you stack coupons, but better yet, you can go online and print out store coupons for store brands as well.  Their Archer Farms and Market Pantry are store brands and normally don't have coupons, but you can download them from Target's website.  It won't get you free items, but you can save.

My daughter is learning skills that will serve her later in life, and she loves to watch the total go down and see the total savings.  I use these shopping trips as time to work on math as well.  I get her to double the coupon, then subtract the coupon from the product price.  We also compare prices and figure out price per ounce or price per "unit" on things like granola bars.

With all my coupons today I saved over $100 on my trip, and I only bought things I would actually use/need.  We have soups, granola bars and other healthy snacks, health and beauty items, and even some clothes for school.  Target let me print a 20% of Circo clothing and it was valid on clearance products.  I may not save 90%, but I'm certainly doing OK.  And I'm being ethical about it too!!


  1. OMG, we watch that show on occasion, and wonder the same thing. They rave about getting 40 bags of dog food and don't have a dog! Or what does someone need 112 bottles of shampoo for? I could see if maybe you donate that stuff, but no one could ever use that much stuff before it would go bad. I think they are one step away from another reality show, "Hoarders".

    I like your common sense approach, looks like you got some great deals!

  2. Just because you CAN, doesn't mean you SHOULD!