Wednesday, February 22, 2012

couponing newbie

A few days ago, I decided I’d try my luck at “civilized couponing.”  It’s what we bloggers like to call the saner version of “extreme couponing.”  Not that there’s anything wrong with clearing out shelves and paying zero to very little for it, but it’s just not my style.  Juggling coupons and deals can be very overwhelming (as it was to me) and I have limited kitchen space as it is.  So, with the lead of Little Bit Funky and a few others, I decided to try my hand at buying what I needed or regularly use at a much cheaper price.

So, Monday, with the help of my hubs, I ventured out on my very first couponing trip.  Like I said, I was very overwhelmed at the thought, but who doesn’t like saving money??  I spent an hour that morning looking through deals on the internet and printing coupons.  I spent about an hour and a half and went to four different stores.  I paid $23.28 for all of this:

It's really like I bought that shirt and got the rest FREE ;)

How did I do it?  I’ll tell you, of course!

First stop was Staples.  They had those reams of copy paper on their “easy rebate” list.  Meaning, you have to pay for them in the store, but they give you a rebate form and you get fully reimbursed for them.  And when they say easy, they actually mean it.  All I had to do was fill out a simple form online (seriously took less than 2 minutes) with the rebate information printed on the receipt and my address.  You can even choose how you want it rebated – a rebate check mailed to you, or directly deposited into your PayPal account.  Total price: FREE!  Sweet!  Word of advice for this though: when you hear about easy rebate sales going on at Staples, go as quickly as you can.  I went on the last possible day, and a few of the other items they had on the rebate for free were sold out.  And there’s no rain check for that.  Sorry, folks.

Next stop was Michael’s.  I’m not a huge fan of this store.  Ok, let’s be frank.  I can’t stand this store.  But there aren’t many craft stores around this area.  So a few months ago, when we moved in to our new place, I purchased a few white photo boxes, at what I thought, was a good deal.  I eventually wanted to see my entire craft closet filled with those boxes, but that’s kind of expensive. 

Each box is regularly $3.99.  If you sign up for Michael’s emails (which I did a long, long time ago) not only will they email you the circular with the sale items, but they will also send you coupons for that week.  This week’s circular showed that my beloved photo boxes were on sale 6 for $10.  That’s just $1.67 each.  Whoa!  THEN one of the coupons they sent was 20% off the entire purchase – including sale items.  That brought the price down to $1.33 each.  So I loaded up by cart with 6 of those puppies and paid a whopping $8.37 for everything (that’s like four FREE photo boxes, people!!)  My closet never looked better:

ok, ok.  it's still very much a work in progress.  BUT!  it's the first time I've ever had a place for my craft tools, so I'm stoked!!  I hope to spruce it up eventually :)

The third store was Target.  Target is an awesome place, no?  Rule of thumb at Target that I learned thanks to the incredible folks at – hand the cashier the manufacturer coupons first, then hand them the store coupons.  You’re allowed to combine coupons there, but apparently this is the way to do it.  I’m not sure why.  And I didn’t argue.  I just did as told.

I had a $3 off one maternity item store coupon, so when I found that shirt on clearance for $3.60, I nearly died.  Do you have any idea how expensive maternity clothes are!?  And I got one for 60 cents!???   I’m still in awe.

I headed to the personal care items isle next and landed my husband’s favorite body wash for $1 off, and a pack of cotton balls for $0.50 off.  Both of which we needed.

Then I went to the food section.  Our local Target is currently undergoing renovation on their 
grocery section, so a lot of the coupons I had (both store coupons and manufacturer coupons) couldn’t be used, simply because the stock was limited.  For instance, I really wanted to buy yogurt there, since I had two coupons for it, but they didn’t have any.  :(

I had a store coupon for Welch’s grape jelly.  When I started searching through the jellies, I found one bottle (ONE bottle) that had one of those manufacturer stickers on it that said “save $0.75 now!” and I did, by combining it with the Target coupon I already had.  SCORE!  Then, I had a coupon for a $1 off two Ortega products, so I chose the taco seasoning, making each packet only 19 cents each.  Hello!

Total Target bill for a maternity shirt, body wash, cotton balls, grape jelly, and 2 packs of taco seasoning: $4.87.  The cashier didn’t even blink an eye.  I, however, started getting butterflies and feeling a little bit giddy.

Last stop, Food Lion – a grocery chain here in the South.  I had a manufacturer coupon for Totino’s pizzas, which I happened to know were on sale at Food Lion.  Typically $1.79 each, they were on sale for $1 a piece.  Pair that with my buy five get a dollar off coupon, and it was a pretty sweet deal.  I also bought all those yogurts with a coupon.  One thing the cashier did, that she probably shouldn’t have done but I thanked her for a lot anyway – I had a manufacturer coupon for 50 cents off 8 YoPlait yogurts.  That yogurt pack I had in my cart technically has 8 yogurts in it.  But the pack is already at a discounted price.  I don’t think YoPlait meant for those coupons to count towards the 8-packs.  But technically there are 8 in there, and the coupon never said you couldn’t so I tried it.  When the coupon wouldn’t scan, the cashier agreed with me and chose to override it.  **Note, if you’re ever in doubt, don’t be afraid to speak up.  The coupon never said it wouldn’t count, and the cashier agreed that I was purchasing 8 yogurts, so she gave me the discount anyway.  I’m sure my nice attitude (and cute baby bump) didn’t hurt.  Cashiers easily get annoyed when you hand them a stack of coupons.  Be nice!!  It can go a long way!  Total FL bill: $10.04.  I don’t think I ever come out of that store paying so little!

So there you have it.  That’s how I did it.  2 ½ hours invested (that includes shopping time, and believe me, I took my time and browsed at each store).  What should have cost me over $75, really cost me $23.28.  And I didn’t purchase one single thing that I can’t use.  And I’m not hoarding twenty bottles of mustard in my basement either.  Success!!

So where did I find the deals?  I’d like to say I’m super on top of things and very conscious about store deals / where every single dollar goes, but… that’s a lie.  *sigh*  I already told you that I took the lead of Little Bit Funky.  She recommended a site (again, I already mentioned) – which posts an unbelievable amount of deals each day.  I got the Target coupons at and the manufacturer coupons at  I got the Taco coupon on the Ortega website.

Any other questions – don’t hesitate to leave a comment and ask.  I definitely don’t mind!  I don’t know how often I’ll be doing this couponing thing, but even if I do it once a week, or once a month, saving money on things we use … well I can’t go wrong there!

And now I’m off to celebrate my birthday!  :)  …which was yesterday.  But after taking my first glucose test at the baby doctor, I had all the sugar I needed.  The thought of birthday cake was not appealing after that.  But a very long nap was.  ;)

Ps – my apologies for the poor picture quality.  iPhone it was!


  1. April, looks like you definitely got some great deals! And Happy-Day-After-Your-Birthday!

  2. Wow-what deals! I'm your newest follower from TDC-stop by for a visit!