FREE Drinks – Mini CVS Haul

Last week my mom gave me her unused SS 4/17 insert, which included a BOGO free coupon for the 12.5 oz. bottles of Garnier’s new Whole Blend shampoo & conditioner. I also got an email from CVS with a $2 off coupon for any Garnier Whole Blends shampoo, conditioner, or treatment. I have been so anxious to try it, so I went to CVS last night. And although my trip didn’t go as planned, I still scored some great deals!

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CVS Basics

I began my coupon journey at CVS. I’ve always loved how convenient this store was – I could drop off my prescriptions, and while I waited I could go pick up my favorite brand of tampons. I’ll admit, I wasn’t a fan of CVS’s prices at first (Walmart offers the same items for much cheaper), but then I found out about their coupon policy and I was hooked!

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Tips for Beginners

Be realistic. Yes, Extreme Couponing encouraged me to start clipping coupons, but that show is unrealistic! There is no possible way that you will checkout with a total before coupons over $500, and walk out of the store paying absolutely nothing.

Start your coupon journey by focusing on one or two stores. To make things easier, Coupons Over Cash focuses on CVS, Safeway, and Target deals, as I think these are the easiest for beginners. Each store is unique and provides different incentives, which helps make your Out of Pocket (OOP) less!

Know the store’s coupon policy. There have been multiple times when I’ve checked out at a store and the cashier didn’t know the store’s coupon policy. In these situations, it’s best to keep a printed copy in your coupon binder, or bookmark it on your phone.

Know the difference between “per transaction” and “per purchase.” At the bottom of most coupons, it will mention limit one per purchase or one per transactionOne per purchase refers to the purchase of an individual item. For example, you plan to purchase four tubes of Colgate toothpaste. If the Colgate coupon said limit one per purchase, you could use four coupons because you are purchasing four of the same item. One per transaction refers to the entirety of what you’re buying. Similarly, if you were buying four tubes of Colgate toothpaste, and the Colgate coupon said limit one per transaction, you could only use one coupon. An entire transaction consists of multiple purchases.

Keep your coupons organized. I have arranged my coupons MULTIPLE different ways. I started with the binder method, then switched to a “clip as needed” policy. Find what works best for you.

Buy only what the coupon states. If a coupon is for $2 off Lysol toilet bowl cleaner, don’t try to use it on Lysol disinfectant spray. Some dishonest couponers will try to do this and assume that because the coupon didn’t *beep* at the register, then it is okay. This is actually considered coupon misuse. What would be acceptable is if the coupon said $2 off ANY Lysol product.

Don’t be afraid to try new brands. I’ll admit, I used to be loyal to specific brands. I’m talking to you Charmin Ultra Soft toilet paper. If an item is free (or extremely cheap), don’t be afraid to branch out. I mean, all brands of toilet paper do do the same thing, pun intended.

If you can’t use it or donate it, don’t buy it. All too often, some couponers will do a deal only because they have the coupons for that item, and never use what they bought. If you cannot use it, or donate it, it’ll just clutter your home.

Invest in a paper cutter. If you’re going to use a coupon binder, save yourself some time (and hand cramps) and get a paper cutter. You’ll thank me later.

Do you have any additional tips for beginners? If so, leave a comment below!

 

Coupon 101

Finding Coupons:

Coupons can be found just about anywhere, but here are a few of the most common places to find them:

  • The Sunday Newspaper: Every Sunday (with the exception of major holidays), there will be anywhere between one and four coupon inserts included with the sale ads. The three main inserts are Red Plum (RP), SmartSource (SS), and Procter & Gamble (P&G).
  • Printable Coupons: Online sources, such as coupons.com, provide printable manufacturer’s coupons for various products. Typically, the limit for printable coupons is two per device (computer, cell phone, tablet, etc.). Coupons are often available on the brand’s website and/or Facebook page, as well.
  • Tear Pads: Sometimes there will be a display in front of an item, with a pad of coupons attached, that says “TAKE ONE.” Tear pads look like mini notepads attached to a cardboard display sign.
  • Blinkies: Much like a tear pad, blinkies are the boxes that appear in front of an item on display. The boxes are usually red electronic boxes that say “TAKE ONE,” with a red blinking light on the end. These are usually found in grocery stores.
  • Peelies: These coupon stickers are attached to an item, and are usually peeled off by the consumer before they checkout.
  • Mailed from the Manufacturer: Manufacturers like to receive feedback for their products. Often, as a way to say “Thank you” for your feedback, manufacturers will send you paper coupons in the mail.
  • Load to Card: Some stores with reward cards, like Safeway, allow you to digitally “clip” coupons to your card.

Basic Coupon Lingo:

In some deal scenarios that I’ll post, there may be some acronyms that you aren’t familiar with yet. These are the most common:

BOGO/B1G1: Buy One, Get One (free or 50% – this can vary)
B2G1: Buy 2, Get One
ECB: Extra Care Bucks (at CVS)
Exp: Expires
GC: Gift Card
IP: Internet Printable
MFR: Manufacturer
OOP: Out Of Pocket
Rolling: Paying for a transaction with a GC or ECBs and receiving a new GC/ECB back
Stacking: Using a MFR coupon and a store coupon on the same item
TQ: Target Coupon
WYB: When You Buy
YMMV: Your Mileage May Vary – this deal may or may not be available in your area


Store Coupon Policies:

Every store has its own unique set of policies for accepting coupons. Knowing each store’s coupon policy will benefit you in the long run. I used to keep a printed copy of each store’s policy on-hand, but I keep them bookmarked on my cell phone now. Here are a few:

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CHEAP CEREAL! 17¢ per box

As part of Safeway’s $5 Fridays, TODAY select General Mills cereals are on sale for 3 for $5! With a few IPs, you can score cheap Golden Grahams cereal! Here is the deal breakdown:

Buy 3 boxes of Golden Grahams cereal for $5
Use (3) 75¢ off 1 box Golden Grahams cereal coupons = -$2.25
Safeway’s double coupon offer = -$2.25
Pay: 50¢ total (or 17¢ per box)

There is a limit of 6 boxes per Safeway membership card.

 

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