I used to think of bargain shopping as this: I should do it because it will save my family money, but oh, what a pain!
But I’ve had a transformation the past few months. Now I find bargain shopping fun and extremely satisfying.
It’s become almost a game actually. I want to share what I’ve learned so far, including how to get awesome deals through CVS and Walgreen’s.
Step 1. Collect coupons. Lots and lots of coupons. Build up your stash. Even if it’s a coupon of something you don’t think you’ll buy, clip it, because you may use it. We’ll look at why in a moment.
The easiest way to build up your coupon stash is to buy the Sunday paper each week. If you get into bargain shopping, the paper will pay for itself in one shopping trip.
Another way to build up your coupon stash is to visit sites like Coupons.com or Smart Source and make good use of their printable coupons.
Step 2. Organize your coupons into categories and according to dates. It helps immensely to have a coupon organizer like Mrs A’s coupon organizer. This allows you to get an easy overview of what coupons you have before and during your shopping, instead of digging through a pile.
If you aren’t able to purchase a coupon organizer, at the very least organize your coupons according to date and category. Suggested categories are:
- Produce and Deli
- Bakery and Baking items
- Prepared and Canned foods
- Cereal and Breakfast
- Beverages and Snacks
- Dairy and Refrigerated
- Paper and Plastic
- Health and Beauty
Step 3: Know your sales for the week. Again, refer to your Sunday paper for this.
Track what is on sale, where. Everyone has their own system. Some carry the flyers with them, with notes on the front about what sale they need. For me personally, I created a Sales page that goes in the front of my coupon organizer.
I write down the store, the product, the sales information and price, and finally check if I have a coupon.
You can download the three ring binder size of this form here.
You can download a smaller version that fits into Mrs A’s Coupon organizer here.
There are websites that also offer weekly information on store sales and matching coupons such as the A Full Cup. Beware of websites that charge you for this service! Don’t pay for this as there are other sites that do it for free. It is simply a matter of finding those sites.
Step 4: Although you don’t have to, the best thing you can do is use stores that double coupons. Call your local stores to see which ones do this. Combine your doubled coupons with store sales and you can get stuff for almost free sometimes!
Step 5: Here’s the fun part. Shop stores that specialize in bargains like CVS and Walgreen’s. This can get a bit tricky, but here it is broken down. We’ll start with CVS. CVS often has Buy 1, Get 1 Free deals.
If you have a Buy 1, Get 1 Free coupon for the same product, use the coupon the week of the sale and get the product free! I now buy most of my makeup this way! In addition to this little trick of the trade, a lot of CVS products also have Extra Care Bucks with their purchase.
This means money goes on your CVS card, which you can then use for your next shop. Combine your ECB’s with your coupons and the sales and you can get a lot for next to nothing.
The same concept works at Walgreen’s, only they do end of the month rebates with their Easy Saver Program. You can find what is being offered in the Easy Saver program that month by either picking up one of the Easy Saver Catalogs at your local Walgreen’s or by downloading it from the Walgreen’s site.
Once you have made your purchases you can send in your rebate form or you can log in to the Walgreen’s site and enter your receipt number. I prefer the latter, because it takes less time and effort. Just by entering your receipt number, all your rebate items that you purchased that month are automatically tracked and recorded.
You can then get your money back in a check or you can get it back on a Walgreen’s card at the end of the month. Choosing to get your rebate back on your Walgreen’s card is the better of the two choices because then you get an additional 10% with your rebate!
Keep rolling this rebate money over, month to month, and you’ll eventually spend hardly anything each time you shop at Walgreen’s!
Step 6: When I bargain shop, I keep in mind the following thoughts:
- I don’t buy anything I don’t use regularly. It’s not a bargain if you buy it just because it was a bargain! The whole point of bargain shopping is to get what you would normally buy at cheaper prices.
- If I can get stuff for $1.00 or less, even if it’s something I wouldn’t normally buy it, I will still buy it.
So I can give it away!
I now have a cupboard for food items and toiletry items that I can dive into when I hear of a family in need or I want to send a college student a care package.
- The more I build up my coupons, the more I’m learning to not buy anything unless it’s a) on sale, and/or b) buyable with a coupon.
Even better is when I can do both at one time!
Additional note: I have found that there are some sites that are great at giving a heads up about coupons and deals that can be only found by way of the internet — in addition to listing weekly sales and coupons that can be found in your Sunday paper. You may want to check them out and add them to your favorites folder.
Money Saving Mom
Also, it is fun to track how much you save in a week, a month, and a year. To track your savings, check out this Savings Tally Sheet I put together for my own records.
Pic of the Day: The story of Shay