April 2, 2009

Coupon Strategies

Yesterday I confessed to morphing into a bit of a coupon queen. (This may be why I continue to write this blog under a pseudonym, although 92 percent of my 13 readers know my identity. I admit to a residual slight sense of embarrassment about couponing, but have discovered it's not what it used to be, due to the the confluence of the 1) multiplicity of promotions for a new product's launch; 2) online social networking by moms who take the effort to figure out (and are happy to blog about) how to take advantage of such promotions.

Scene at Walgreens on Diversey yesterday afternoon: I bought $42.05 of products at Walgreens, put out $7.97 in cash, and got exactly $7.00 back in store credit for my next shop at Walgreens.

The Wags clerk looked at me in amazement, and said, "How did you do that? Really, I want to know."

"Blogging moms," I said.

"No, really; you must tell me," she said. Although there were two people in line behind me, I jotted the address for one of my key blog mom websites (see below.)

Similar scene a few weeks ago at a Walgreens on the northwest side of Chicago. I bought some Dove products for $8 using a coupon combined with leftover Wags store credit from another deal, and received $10.00 back in store coupons (actually making a teeny bit of money after tax). That clerk, a big burly guy, shook his head and said, "What in the world? How did you do that? I gotta get me some of that." I wouldn't do this all day long, but for products I use, or can give to others, it's worth it.

Yesterday at CVS I bought two bottles of "Natural Dentist" healthy gums mouth rinse. Retail price: $13.98. I used two $2.00 coupons at purchase, received $8.00 back in credit for my next purchase at CVS, and will a receive a $10.00 rebate check in the mail in the next 4 to 8 weeks or whatever. Interesting math, eh (net a profit near $8.00)? Kind of worth buying even if I poured the stuff down the drain. But it's good stuff--containes no alcohol, artificial sweetners, dyes or preservatives. So I bought four bottles, which I admit is a bit of overkill.

If you are a friend of mine, next time you are at my house, ask me, and I'll give you one. I've been giving away full-size bottles of shampoo, body wash, and toothpaste to anyone who comes by, since have been accumulating them for free at Walgreens and CVS.

In the last two days, I tripped through Walgreens, CVS and Menards and purchased the items in the pictures below. After store credit or rebate or whatever, they are essentially free. (Except the jelly beans, which came out to 29 cents/bag, but I'm babysitting the Lyday twins on Friday and we'll need some sweets.)

From Menards, got two high-intensity 14-LED bulb flashlights ($6.00 retail; free to me), two 7-piece Black & Decker screwdriver kits, two gallons of deck wash (this is not a waste; it is spring, and I, DIY-er when it comes to my deck, will use it all up) and a gallon of car wash.

(No, I don't need two flashlights or two screwdriver kits, but I may toss them in with a gift bag or make an emergency tool kit birthday gift, or give one of them to you just for coming to visit me. I will not hoard stuff just because it is available. There were more free items for the getting, like cat food, but I had no use for them.)

From Walgreens, got two packs of Mentos gum (above, free), four boxes of Quaker cereal (almost free), Skintimate shave cream (free), soy candle (free), cough drops (not free, but for my sore throat; store brand), Chapstick tropical shimmer and One-A-Day liquid vitamins (both free). [The latter tasted so awful, and had so much red dye it in that I threw it out.]

Below are my most frequented mom sites for scouting these savings. It takes a bit of time (printing coupons) and then making an actual list from which I shop, so organization and some attention to detail is required.

These blogging moms post links to sites to print coupons, then detail what store at which to spend to get the (almost always new, introductory) products at no cost except for tax. I've been doing this several years at Walgreens, to the tune of several hundred dollars in savings, but these blogging gals take it to a whole new level, so I'm following them now.

Yesterday was the first time I purchased items for full rebates from Menards, which I have been frequenting more lately anyway, having finally noticed the prices are consistently lower per product than Home Depot.

http://www.moneysavingmom.com (over a quarter million hits a month for this mom of two toddlers who is about to deliver her third child.)


p.s. Guys, nothing wrong with a mommy blogger working your shopping list for you. Sneak onto these sites and have them help with your home/bath product shopping planning, too.

Oh, and p.s. again: this is what my Walgreens receipt looked like:


  1. Broke Girl, welcome to the couponing world! Show your coupons with pride! :-)

  2. Thanks, Liz. Will there be a hazing or welcoming ceremony I should know about?