Category Archives: Tips for Newbie Couponers
This post takes the form of a rant which you may find familiar if you have tried to use CVS at all here in the Lawton area. You can find the gas card info (and why it’s not the best option here in Lawton) in the last paragraph if you wish to skip over the rant.
I’ve been to CVS one time, many months ago, to pick up a free bottle of hand soap thanks to a Beauty Club printable coupon and I have to say that I wasn’t very impressed with the service I received. If we have an issue with certain cashiers, practices, or empty shelves at Walgreen’s during our coupon adventures at least there are options. Sadly, this is not the case with CVS. Not if you can’t (or won’t) drive crazy distances to score a great deal.
Since I was making a trip to CVS anyway for my free hand soap I thought I should take advantage of some of their sales and gathered a few additional coupons to see what I could find. Instead of great deals, I found that the shelves were poorly stocked and the cashier was uninformed (or at least unfriendly and uncooperative, which is worse, in my opinion). I couldn’t find any of the deals I had hoped for and the one I did find beeped at the register. I was still new in my coupon adventures (they can truly be adventures some days) so I didn’t want to push something I didn’t understand myself but it would have been nice for the cashier to help talk me through why it didn’t work rather than just flat-out saying ‘This won’t work.’ while tossing the coupon back in my direction. I tried to be polite, I tried to ask questions, but all I managed to produce were snarky replies about coupons, the extra work they involve, and the ‘type’ of people who use them. The only good thing that came from the trip (besides my free hand soap) was the desire to work harder at learning coupons (and a better store to use as my coupon conundrum guinea pig). Walgreen’s worked out so much better for me in the end and I’m happy with the fact that I can do 7 transactions in one day at 3 different stores without a single beeping coupon. But, that doesn’t mean I still haven’t eyed the CVS ads wishing there were a way to include them in my weekly shopping trips.
Last week I found a way (or at least a reason). The Huggies sales have been great lately but money has been tight so I have to time my trips wisely and try not to break the bank while still managing to get enough items stockpiled to last until the next sale. Timing is everything with coupons and the week that Walgreen’s was having their great Huggies sale, we were having major vehicle issues so I had no choice but to go after the CVS sale the following week.
I loved that the Huggies diapers were included in the gas card deal and I figured that it was good that I had to skip the Walgreen’s sale because when I spent at CVS I would make back a few extra bucks for gas. This was not the case. The gas card offered at CVS is actually for Shell gas stations which we don’t have in the Lawton area. Fortunately, this time, I had a great cashier who had transferred from a CVS in The City and she was more than a little helpful when it came to my questions and coupons. When I first made it to the register I asked her how the gas card would work and she said ‘Let’s ring this up to make sure you get the gas card.’ I got a little antsy right off the bat, worried that this trip would be a repeat of the last but once she began talking about coupon deals she rang up before and other personal things (I’m from OKC so we had A LOT to talk about!) she started to tell me that it’s a good thing I have family to visit in The City since that’s the place I would need to use my gas card. That’s a great idea in theory but really I’m not using gas IN The City to GET TO The City so I wondered about options.
That’s when the extremely helpful cashier told me that in a town such as Lawton (without local Shell gas stations) we can ask to redeem it as a CVS gift card instead. Woohoo!
So, there is a way to use the Gas Card deal without having the right local gas station to redeem the gift card. You can always use the Shell gift card if you’re traveling outside of the Lawton area. OKC has a Shell station just before you enter/leave city limits on I-44 or use it at the Shell in Burkburnett, TX if you’re traveling south. If the gas card isn’t the right option for you, get the CVS gift card option. I went for this option myself and now have a $10 CVS gift card tucked away in my coupon binder waiting for the next great sale. I would have loved to have the $10 in gas but, as an option, I don’t mind the CVS gift card at all. I will be back to CVS, thanks to their helpful employee for being one of the friendliest cashiers I have encountered during any of my coupon adventures.
With temperatures soaring well into the triple digits (112? Really? Again? Ahh!), it’s important to keep in mind that groceries can spoil quickly in the car during long trips into town or even multiple stops while shopping. The Lawton Constitution ran a great article reminding us that it doesn’t take much time at all for the car to reach food spoiling conditions and it even has a few tips on how to keep your groceries safe during your grocery shopping trips.
Read Heat has Potential to Spoil Trip for Groceries thanks to the Lawton Constitution and Nan (for forwarding this great article) which includes info on just how fast that food can spoil when left in a vehicle.
Tips for Keeping Groceries Cool:
Keep a Cooler or Ice Chest in your Car
- Reader Mary uses 2 Liter bottles in an Ice Chest to keep her purchases cool on her long drive from town to home. If you prefer to use ice but find yourself low while you’re out be sure to check out the Ice House in front of Pat’s Wash Tub on Lee (link to map) for bags or ‘Fill Your Cooler’ Self Serve Ice Station. This gets you 16LB bags or 20LBs of ice in your ice chest for only $2. Much cheaper than the nearly $2 measly 10LB ice bags at other places. We tried it out on our way to Lake Lawtonka for the 4th of July and were impressed with the concept and hated to buy more ice at Walmart in the middle of our camping trip.
Store Your Purchases Closer to the AC
- Store things in the backseat of your vehicle rather than the trunk so they are cool at least while you have the AC running. Better yet, keep the frozen and refrigerated stuff in the floorboard of the front seat for quick trips to help you remember to take them inside first and keep them closest to the cold air during the drive.
Keep Perishable Food Together at Checkout
- I’m big about this one anyway, I like my canned items together, boxes together, etc. If you keep all of your frozen, refrigerated, or produce items together it keeps you from finding a lonely cheese slice packet spoiled and unusable once you finally make it home.
Shop in the Evening
- Of course, the heat is the worst in the daytime so it would help to shop at night but, if you can’t; just keep the tips above in mind to help save your groceries.
I get lots of feedback on the idea of doubling coupons and the fact that CountryMart will only allow one per family, per day. This rule doesn’t have to hold you back from tremendous savings. If you live outside of town, you know that going to the store every day can quickly use enough gas to cost you any savings you may have found while shopping. So, trying to double your entire coupon inventory may not be a money-savvy option.
I live only 9 miles from my closest CountryMart and I find it easy to get up there twice a week, but I have more coupons than that to get all the deals I hope to get in any given week, so to ease my stress levels (and to take it easy on my gas levels) I use more than one coupon in a shopping trip even if it only doubles the first. With the right sale you are still getting the deal cheaper than you could anywhere else and you have taken an additional shopping trip off your list.
I write this article today to bring your attention to Consumer Queen’s post about not having to double every coupon and how you can get out of that mind frame. Also, keep in mind that if a coupon doubles doesn’t necessarily mean you should try to wait to use it at CountryMart. If you’ve been couponing for any length of time you know that it’s difficult to find the sale items that are free after coupons each week and so, sometimes it’s easier to find them where you can at a price that is right for you and your family/sanity.
Over the last two weeks I’ve come across several articles that warn consumers about the dangers of Extreme Couponing. I’m sure you’ve heard of or maybe even seen the show (I still have yet to see a single episode to date) and wonder how you can get massive savings EVERY time you shop. I’m no expert, I still have much to learn when it comes to coupons but I can tell you that trying to ‘Extreme Coupon’ with every shopping trip is hard work and Extremely Exhausting!
After a month of Extreme Couponing I found that I had no time for anything else. Between sorting coupons, making lists, and doing the actual shopping, there wasn’t even time left to clean house or make homemade dinners. I also had issues keeping enough gas in my vehicle to handle multiple shopping trips. So I had to step back and assess the situation and find ways to get my time (and sanity) back without losing the savings I had already become accustomed to seeing. So now, I like to shop in a way that I’ve started referring to as Reality Couponing. The truth is that couponing can be an effective tool for saving money but not if it poses additional issues for you and your household.
I know that long articles can be annoying and often go unread so I don’t want to bog you down with each and every way I’ve changed my couponing habits in one post. Instead, I’m going to break this down into a series of posts that will offer tips and tricks on how you can continue couponing in a way that makes it a hobby rather than a full-time job. It will take a little extra time to learn in the beginning but once you’ve found your groove you’re golden. 85%+ savings is amazing but requires a lot of time and effort. 55% savings is what I benchmark now and I’m happy with that because it only takes me a few hours each WEEK to obtain rather than a few hours each DAY!
Until I get the series rolling I want to send you all to We Use Coupons which has a great section filled with articles on just about anything you could ever wonder about coupons. You can find their ‘Virtual Classes’ under the Beginners Tab and these articles help with starting out, organization, finding coupons, and then matching coupons to sales, plus so much more. There are tips for Beginners, Intermediates, and even Advanced Couponers so you should be able to find new advice no matter what level of couponing you enjoy. There’s nothing saying Extreme Couponing can’t be done. The show portrays that it can! But, only you know your limits and what you are willing to do to save a buck (or thousands).
We Use Coupons is a forum based site where you can go to get your coupon questions answered in a timely manner. They also have a section for matchups on virtually any store so be sure to take a look around while you’re there. If you lose track of this post you can always find them by clicking on their logo here on the right hand side of my blog.
I went to CountryMart this evening (6/8) and found there were large signs welcoming coupon shoppers and a break down of their coupon policy. You can find this policy HERE if you would like to print a copy for your records.
There is a slight change that I had read would be coming to Homeland stores HERE on Consumer Queen and this policy change is going into effect for CountryMart stores as well. They now want you to present your coupon at the time the item is being scanned. This will help assist the cashiers and hopefully make your checkout experience quicker and more efficient (especially for those free item coupons). This may be a hassle but it will help to cut down on coupon fraud as well since those trying to defraud the system will no longer be able to use coupons for items not listed on the coupon or for things they don’t buy at all.
For those worried that this change will cause more headaches than it’s worth, I did ask the cashier which would be easiest: present at time it’s scanned, place with item on belt, or hand them all to the cashier when you first get to the register. She said she really didn’t mind how the couponer does it but it does help to be on the item if you have quite a few. I only had about 20 or so with my transaction and she had just opened her register so I was feeling a little flustered about trying to get them on there but she took my coupons and just scanned them when she came across each item. It was really very easy and I loved how easy my receipt was to read with this kind of coupon scanning.
She also said that this went into effect this week and we can expect to be asked to do this with every transaction in the future. So be ready! I like to pull over right before I get to the register and organize my coupons anyway so that I don’t have one in there that I had changed my mind about picking up. This may be something that helps you, too.
I’ve never used a Farmer’s Market but since there are rarely any good produce coupons I’m thinking it’s the year to give it a try.I’ve found the Lawton Farmer’s Market online HERE and it’s great that the website tells you which produce you can expect to see for the upcoming day. They’ve opened for the season and their days are Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7:30am-Noon (or until supplies run out).
Have you been? What did you think of selection and prices? I’m not sure when I’ll get a chance to check it out but I’ll let you all know what I thought when I do!
Don’t forget that today is the last day of the month so many sites will reset their coupons after tonight. There aren’t many left for the month but I would grab that Kraft Deli Deluxe coupon on coupons.com if you are hoping to as there is a chance it won’t be there tomorrow. If you have printed your limit for this month be sure to check back in at the first of the month to see what is available for you to print again. This is the best way to score multiple coupons if you only have access to one computer throughout the month and can’t seem to find enough inserts.
I love, love, love this event! VocalPoint is putting on a LIVE Facebook event for some discussion on Couponing. I have read a lot about coupons in the last few months but there is always something new to learn and I love the idea that they will be discussing coupon fraud since that is a danger that will affect us all if manufacturer’s change their coupons or even (Gasp!) offer fewer coupons!
Here are some topics:
* How do you get started couponing/where to obtain coupons
* What do the codes mean
* Shopping efficiently: How do you match with weekly sales ads/how do you keep your coupons organized
* Coupon fraud
You can RSVP for this event HERE. It will be this coming Thursday May 26th, starting at 6pm CST.
To my current readers: Check it out, my CountryMart Ad Deals HERE on Consumer Queen!
Welcome any readers joining me via my ad deal featured on Consumer Queen. I hope you find it easy to read my posts through your favorite site. I have a menu set up for easy reference to my features (I love printable coupons and deals!) and a list of keywords and categories I use the most for now. I’m still new to the blogging world but I hope to grow with my readership and find ways to offer you quick ways to read the things that will help you save money while staying closer to home. Central Mall
I will be updating and upgrading as I go so bear with me. Summer is upon us and I’m taking a vacation the first week of June but after that I plan to look into hosting a giveaway and adding new features to the site. But feel free to let me know if there is anything I can help you find, any suggestions for features you would like to see, or even questions about coupon usage. I’m no expert but if you are new to coupons, I might have had an experience that helps you figure out your own coupon conundrum. (I still have them myself!) Be sure to check me out on Facebook or Twitter for faster responses!
I’m extremely excited to join Consumer Queen’s line up of wonderful bloggers (No, I’ll say it, I passed over-joyed and am down-right giddy!). I can’t wait to share these deals with YOU, my fellow neighbors here in SouthWest Oklahoma! Happy Coupons!
I went to Walgreen’s yesterday and did some major shopping. I didn’t save like I did last time (85%!) but I did manage to still save more than I spent ($63 spent, $88 saved!). I knew this shopping trip wouldn’t be as amazing because I had coupons to use before they expired but everything was on sale making most of my items at least 50% off. Plus I had a few situations that I’ll explain that might help you in the future.
(4) Off! Clip-Ons, $9.99
- (2) BOGO printable coupons
- (2) $2/1 printable coupons
- $1/1 Walgreen’s May Coupon book (took off $4 when scanned)
Always scan your monthly coupon book LAST! It will make coupons beep like they can’t be used if you scan it before the manufacturer coupon.
Total OOP = $11.98 or $3 each!
This one allows both the BOGO and the $2/1 because you are paying for one and putting a coupon on the free one. If the coupon allows this kind of use then the stores allow it as well. Most P&G coupons and some others will state ‘1 coupon per quantity stated’ which means if you have BOGO it will not allow a coupon to be used on the second item. Same is true for coupons that say it is good for This AND That as opposed to Buy This GET That for $1 off which would allow you to put a coupon on the first item but not the second since that is actually which item the coupon will attach to. The cashier actually questioned 2 other coupons I had before she got to these and those were just $1/1 coupons, 1 for each item. Once I explained this to her she retracted her ‘1 coupon per transaction’ statement.
Sally Hansen nail polish, $1.09 (clearance)
- (2) $1/1 printable coupon
Total OOP = $0.18 or $0.09 each!
This is the kind of things it’s great to watch out for to get the most savings out of your coupons! But they also have the ‘Hard as Nails’ line for $4.99 with a stackable coupon in the May coupon book for $2/1 so you could use the printable coupons to get the high end polish for only $1.99 each.
Little Swimmers, $8.99
Pull-Ups, 2/$18 ($3 RR will print for buying the 2 Huggies diaper products)
- $2/1 Little Swimmers SS 5/15 insert
- $2/1 Huggies SS 5/15 insert
- $2/1 Pull-Ups mailer coupon
- $2/1 Little Swimmers May coupon book
Total OOP = $18.99 printed $3 RR
Like getting all 3 for $5.33 each after RR!
(2) B&L Renu contact solution, $8.99
- (2) $2/1 printable coupons
- $3/1 May coupon book (takes off $6 for 2)
Total OOP = $7.98 or $3.99 each
I was hoping to wait for a RR deal to work on these but I printed the coupons last month so they expire tomorrow. Instead of letting the coupons expire (since there is no guarantee these will ever get a RR deal) I figured I would pick them up now and jot down that I’ve spent as little as $3.99 so that way I know I need to keep an eye out for lower prices in the future. I will never spend more than $4 a bottle for these in the future but if I find them cheaper I will change my statement to whatever the new lowest price is to keep an eye on what prices are good for stockpiling. These 2 bottle will easily last me 3-6 months depending on usage so that gives me plenty of time to scope out future sales and if I come across 1 or 2 dollars a bottle that is when I’ll stock up for a year or more!
I only did 2 transactions for everything I picked up and I had 1 $3 RR when I started plus I received $12 in RR from the first transaction so I picked up the $0.39 candy bars to use as filler on the second transaction. This wasn’t an ‘Extreme’ coupon trip as far as savings show, but with items like diapers, contact solution, and Off!, I can’t beat these prices!