Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Thrift: Best Coupon Haul So Far

You know how weight loss ads usually have small print at the bottom that read, "Results Not Typical- Your Results May Vary"? Those Extreme Couponing shows should have the same disclaimer. Getting the great deals like they show on TV takes a lot more time and work than they would like you to believe. Many steps in the process are left out. When they say, "So-And-So's six hour shopping trip netted her $625 worth of groceries for $18," you hear "$625" and "$18" but did you hear "six hour shopping trip?" I bet you missed that one, didn't you? I'm going to give you the details of my best coupon stock-up deal to date, the good and the bad.

The Deal:

  • ShopRite had a special "Advantage" deal where the register printed out a $5 coupon and a free reusable shopping bag coupon for your next order for each 6 qualifying items you purchase.

The Steal:
  • Many of the qualifying items were less than $1 each with the regular sale price or coupons. With the right combinations of items, you could end up getting a lot of things for free, nearly free, or tax only.
  • That $5 coupon printed out as soon as the 6th item scanned, not at the end of the transaction, so it could be used on the same transaction!

The Catch:

  • Many of the items had limits on the number you can purchase at the special price. That means that in order to stock up and make use of the deal multiple times, you need to make multiple trips or multiple orders (something they gloss over on TV). This takes time to do, and it can be embarrassing. 

The Plan:

  • Qualifying toilet paper was 4/$3 (must buy 4). Qualifying tissues were $0.99.  A set of 4 rolls and 2 boxes would be $4.98 and the 6 items would return a $5 coupon and a free shopping bag.
  • Qualifying pasta was 8/$10 (must buy 8). I had coupons for those which doubled to $1 off each box, making the price 8/$2, and yielding a $5 coupon and a free shopping bag. CHA-CHING!$!$!
  • To keep within the limits, the TP/tissue combo could only be done twice per transaction. To be able to use the two $5 coupons on the same transaction, the total had to exceed $10 in merchandise (not tax), so I added a packet of Kool-Aid to get the total up.
  • Lost yet? OK, here's the fun part...

The Haul:

Actually, This Isn't All of It
  • 40 Rolls of Toilet Paper
  • 20 boxes of Tissues
  • 20 boxes of Pasta
  • 11 Re-Usable Shopping Bags
  • 4 packets of Kool-Aid
  • 2 packs of Paper Napkins (regular price, non-qualifying... I just needed them)
  • Retail Price (including sales, but not coupons): $75+
  • TOTAL COST: $5.92

How My Results Varied:

  • At some point during the scanning of my coupons, the coupon bin did not register one of the free shopping bag coupons. Having been distracted, I thought perhaps I had not placed it in the box, so I inserted another identical coupon in its place. In the end, only 9 coupons for shopping bags counted instead of 11. Loss: $1.98.
  • This deal took 6 orders to complete. I spent about an hour and a half in the store between the 2 visits.
  • I was so tired after this trip that I did NOT visit another store that had something else I needed on sale. I missed out on that deal because of it.
  • The next day I went to a different store for items for dinner as well as a few things we had run out of. I spent $35 on 9 items.

So there you have it: Coupons in The Real World. Of course this is one example, and there are people who spend all their time doing this. It really did feel good to spend a nickel on each item, and to have the peace of mind to know that I won't have to buy them again for a while. It is work, however, and does not work every time without fail. I guess I won't be buying tissues or toilet paper for a while - unless they are on sale and I can stack that sale with a coupon! 

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