Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thursday Thrill, 12/31: Walmart

We AAALLL shop at Wal-Mart. In fact, I think that half of my town was at the store tonight -- and we have 5 Wal-Marts in easy driving distance, so that's really saying something! Well, I did a bit of ground work and we hit the stores with a stack of coupons in hand. Here are some things I learned from my first ever couponing adventure at Wal-Mart:

1. Leave the kids at home. It's never easy shopping with a 4-year-old, a 3-year-old, and a 2-year-old, but add in the time-intensive hunt for just the right product in just the right size and it gets a little mind-blowing. And then, you get to the register . . . . not pretty.

2. Be reallllly nice to people around you. I let two different parties go in front of me at the register: a man and a woman with just a little pile of items and a lady with just 3 or 4 items and 3 kids. I felt her pain. Our cashier was quite pleasant, and I tried to be helpful to her, too. I think it paid off in the end, because she forced through a couple of coupons that might have stopped other cashiers. She was very efficient, and it seemed to go very smoothly, but there was still a long line of people waiting by the time we finished.

3. Go during the lower traffic morning time. We enjoy shopping at 8:00am when we can - mainly because we so often can't because of work. We were there at 8:00 pm tonight, and it just was too crowded.

4. Go with a mission, and don't digress. I only bought one item tonight that I didn't have a coupon for. I'm proud of sticking to my original plan . . . well, mostly sticking.

We bought some things that, honestly, we don't need. But I learned from another, wiser couponer than I, that just because you don't need something today doesn't mean you're not going to need it at all. There's wisdom in buying something you don't need YET, especially when you can get it for free or cheap. Example: I bought a travel-size Renu contact solution. No one in my family wears contacts. But it was $1.47, and I had a $2.00 coupon. So, really, Renu paid me $.53 to take their product, and I was glad to do it. I like having that small-but-growing stockpile in my linen closet. (I'm going to have to find a better place for all my goodies, since my linen closet is not much wider than a shoe box. Not joking.)

I won't bore you with all the details of my trip, just a few highs and lows. My favorite finds:

The aforementioned Renu Fresh Contact Solution
Price: $1.47
$2.00 coupon here
Cost: FREE, with possible overage!

Klondike ChocoTaco Single
Price: $1.00
$1.00 coupon here
Cost: FREE!

Chef's Requested Beef Fillet
Price: $3.68
$3.00 coupon here
Cost: $.68!

And some of the lowlights, the items for which I'm less proud:

The aforementioned coupon-less loaf of Italian bread
Price: $1.50
Cost: $1.50

Pepperidge Farm Cookies
$1.00 coupon here
Cost: $1.98 - almost all of my items were below or JUST above $1, so this is one of the more expensive items. I couldn't resist, though, because these cookies are some of my husband's favorites.
Our total before coupons was $48 and change. After coupons, we paid $25.17.

Thursday Thrill, 12/31: Target Part II

I just wanted to add a shot of some of my Target finds. My favorite are the pants and sweater for my son. He's going to look sooooo cute!

Thursday Thrill, 12/31: Target

Super Target, baby! Finally found Christmas clearance for 75% off -- is still 50% locally as far as I know. (Our SuperTarget is about 1 1/2 hours away.) Here are some deals I scored:
Clearance clothing
a dress for my daughter $5.00
Cordouroy pants and a sweater for my son $14.92 (more than I normally spend on a 2-year-old's outfit, but it was too cute to resist.)
Christmas clearance - 75% off
Candy canes - 2 boxes of 24 each - $1.24
M&M Premium Mint $.87 (used a coupon for $1.00, so it was FREE!)
Christmas-themed children's plates and cups, 2 each - $1.96*
An ornament to use in my classroom - $.99
2-pack rolls of wrapping paper - $1.12
Disney Princess wrapping paper $.75
Toy Clearance
Little Play Dough sets (a tool plus 2 small tubs of playdough) $2.76*
(*Already building the gift bags for my niece and nephew for next Christmas!)
We used 2 reusable bags, so I got an additional $.10 off. :) What can I do with $.10, you ask? Nothing, really, until I keep going back over and over.
My only peeve is that the cashier would not take the coupon at face value. The coupon was for $1.00 off and she adjusted it to $.87 off since the candy was $.87. I don't get why I can't get an extra $.13 off when Mars/M&M's is going to reimburse Target for the $1.00 anyway. Did Target just make $.13 off of the manufacturer that was meant for the consumer? It feels that way from here, although I'll admit to just wanting that extra $.13 for myself. I'm a money-grubber-in-the-making, and I ain't 'shamed!

Thursday Thrill, 12/31

WOOHOO!! What freebies I just landed! I just finished placing my order on for a Bed Head lip palette valued at $25 and a 1 oz. bottle of Wonderful Tonight hair conditioning treatment valued at $60. (Who in the WORLD can pay $60 for a 1 oz. hair treatment? I am apparently in the wrong line of work.)
I paid $0.00 for these items with $0.00 shipping! $85 dollars worth of free stuff! I'm thrilled!
I'll be putting those items away to add to gift baskets for Christmas next year, that is IF I can keep my hands off them until then.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wonderful Wednesday, 12/30: My First CVS Shopping Experience

So, I've read that newbies to smart shopping and couponing should try CVS first, since it's super easy to save money there. The ECB or Extra Care Buck system does seem like a great incentive program. My seasoned counterparts in couponing would probably shake their heads in disappointment or give a half smile of amusement at my adventure today, but I feel like I had a good start.

I had to sign up for the Extra Care Buck program today, since I'd NEVER done that much (ANY) shopping at CVS before. "Sign up" is a pretty inflated term to use, since all I did was say "I need a CVS card before I check out." The cashier replied, "Okay, I'll give you this card." There was no form to fill out or even an email address to be given. Easy.

I did two transactions - because the smart shoppers I'm learning from always do - so here's a break-down of each transaction.

Transaction #1
3 2-liters of Diet Coke
on sale for 3 for $3, plus get 1 ECB

Colgate Total Advanced Clean 4.0 oz
$2.99, get 2 ECB
used a $1 coupon from the December All You magazine

Pantene Styling Products
(Ice Shine hairspray, 11.5 oz.; Volume mousse, 6.6 oz.)
on sale for 2 for $7, plus get 2 ECB
used a coupon for $3/2 products
Total before coupons: $13.97
After coupons: $9.97
Got back 5 ECB

Transaction #2

2 Aussie 3-Minute Miracle 8 oz.
On sale for $2.88 each
Used 2 coupons for $1/1 from 12/27 PG

Total before coupons: $6.20
Used 3 ECB
Total after coupons and ECB: $1.20

Total oop: $11.17
For products valued at: $20.17
And I still have 2 ECB

Here is where those experienced shoppers are respectively shaking heads or half-smiling. $11.17 out of pocket is a bit much, I hear, for a CVS shopping trip. But, hey, I'm an amateur, after all.

A few notes worth, um, noting:
1. I'd read that CVS had a particular Biore product on clearance for $4 and offered 2 ECB's on that purchase. I wasn't able to find that product, so I missed out on a great clearance deal as well as 2 ECB's.
2. I had a $.50 coupon for Dawn Hand Renewal, and Dawn is on sale at CVS for $.99. I could have purchased the product for $.49 (and I have 3 coupons, meaning I could buy 3 products for the $.49 price). That item was out-of-stock at my CVS.
3. I'd read that I could use the $1 coupon for Ivory soap from 12/27's PG insert to purchase the Ivory soap on sale at CVS for $.99. The manager said I couldn't use the $1 coupon for the $.99 product. I don't really understand that, since Ivory (or PG) would reimburse CVS for $1 no matter what. But, whatever. I didn't buy the Ivory.
4. My town has several CVS's (?) so I will try for the Dawn and Biore at a different store, and I'll probably try the Ivory as well, just to see what happens.

Tuesday Tune-Up 12/29

Went to Target on a couponing adventure. Scored a couple of good bargains. Still a greenhorn at this smart shopping business, to be sure.

3 Tide travel size - $.97 each
Used 3 $1/1 Tide coupons from 12/26 PG
Paid: $0*
2 bags of Christmas-y M&M's - $2.99 each
On clearance for 50% off - or around $1.50 each
Used $1/2 coupon from ???
Paid: $2 for 2
*Only 2 of my Tide coupons scanned and I didn't notice until after the transaction was complete and I did a check of my receipt as my "mentors" have instructed. I was too embarrassed to go back to the cashier or to Customer Service to do something about it, though. So I really ended up paying $1.00 for one of those Tides.
Total oop: $3.33
Average spent per item: $.67