Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Not so extreme, but fun, couponing!

So, I assume by now that everyone has seen the "show that shall not be named" about couponing, which has been wowing people across the globe!? If you haven't, it basically showcases several people who basically go to the store and shop using a ton of coupons and ultimately walk out of the store with hundreds of dollars worth of product for what can [sometimes] amount to mere pennies.

Now, while the show can be entertaining, it doesn't always ring quite as true as perhaps people think that it might. For instance: to get THAT much of a discount on groceries you will first of all need a LOT of high value coupons. Usually these coupons are found in the local Sunday papers and online via sites such as Coupon Kutters for a very minimal fee. For hardcore couponers the cost of the initial coupon could cost more than they let on (on "that show") and the total of the shop is not quite as "free" as it may seem. A lot of these extremists will "dumpster dive", buy coupons, collect coupons from friends and receive coupons as donations when they're doing a drive to collect items for charities and organizations. If you are looking at saving a little money here and there with coupons, it is entirely possible - just start off slow and don't expect to come across your coupons in quite such large quantities for free - sometimes it pays to spend a little to gain a little and you need to keep that in mind.

Now, what if you've tried a spot of couponing yourself and have not yet seen the big savings shown on the show? Well! The truth of it is, the likelihood of you saving THAT much is pretty slim to none - but saving big is absolutely possible! Take note of the contents in the cart as show takes you around the isles of the store and you will see that [most often than not] the shoppers are loading up on hundreds of the same item, using hundreds of the same coupons, to make that huge total look staggering as it drops down to close to zero. What you will most likely not see is any purchase of meat, dairy or fresh veg/fruit produce on the show unless they're clearing an overage. Coupons for these items do come up on occasion but usually these are paid for at full price or very close to full price on every single visit and coupons in these areas are extremely rare and any shopping for these items is usually kept separate to the shop you see on the show, in order to make their total look as low as possible! Notice, next time you watch, the items they are putting in their cart - great if you can get them gratis, but you really can't live on sports drinks and pain killers for the rest of your life, unless you want to cause yourself some serious trouble!

Having said that though - couponing CAN work and most of the time couponing can save you between 40 and 75% of your total bill if you put in the work to collect coupons, sort through weekly circulars and match up to the coupons you have in order to get the lowest prices and the best score!

Just last week I purchased $60 worth of items in CVS and paid $15 out of pocket for the entire lot. So, what did I get and how did I get it?

Well, I purchased 6 Revlon nail polishes, 4 Suave deodorants, a jumbo pack of Pampers and a tin of Enfamil baby formula (even though I breast feed and really only keep it for back up!).

To start with, CVS give you something called "ExtraBucks" for certain purchases, which can be used as credit towards your next purchase. I had 4 of these on my card when I entered the store and these are equal to $4 worth of product.

I had 6 $1 off coupons for Revlon nail polish, 4 $0.75 coupons for Suave, $5.00 off Enfamil, $3 off baby goods and a coupon for a free bag tag. (bag tags are tags you put on your reusable bag and scan every visit you make to the store (once a day max) to get a $1 credit every 4th visit).

Now, last week, CVS was offering Revlon nail polish for $4.99 but giving you 4 extrabucks back per item purchased. You could then use those extrabucks on whatever you liked, right away, as they print out as a coupon on your purchase receipt. The limit of purchases on the nail polish was SIX (a rare, but fabulous, total!) and I decided to take full advantage of this opportunity!

My first transaction was for the 1 nail polish. I handed over my CVS card, bag tag, 4 extra bucks and $1 coupon. They don't give you cash back so they rounded it down to $4.99 and I got the item free PLUS 4 extrabucks back for buying the nail varnish. I then made a SECOND transaction for the second nail varnish, handed over the 4 extra bucks from the first nail varnish, another $1 coupon and my CVS card, making that one totally FREE too and, yep, they gave me 4 extrabucks back again so I kept going until I reached my limit of SIX! That is $30 worth of nail varnish for ZERO dollars and I still had my 4 extrabucks left on my card from that last nail polish! I then used those 4 extrabucks, plus $3 worth of Suave coupons, the $5 enfamil coupon and $3 baby product coupon on Pampers which were on sale from $12 to $8.50 already before the coupon was used! Score!

I did not pay full price for ANYTHING, I walked out of CVS after a staggering 7 transactions and a lot of odd looks, but made a big 75% savings!

Will I be able to survive on nail polish and diapers? Probably not! BUT! It is fun to shop and score a few freebies that I would otherwise not have purchased (the nail polish) and you can never have too much deodorant - especially in this 90 degree heat!!

If you are new to couponing, don't stress if you're not seeing the savings you might have come to expect - but have fun with it, and save where you can! A penny is a penny and you never know, it may bring you luck!!

Happy Shopping! xxx

***All opinions in this post are my own, and are in no way meant to offend or persuade anyone in any way.

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