So You Want to Start Couponing Pt. 3: Some Store Secrets

For this segment I would like to let you in on the stores where you can score some of the sweetest deals. I was surprised to find that the stores that offered the lowest prices everyday were not necessarily the best places to take your fat stack of coupons. Instead, it’s the moderately priced stores who desperately want you to pick them over Wal-Mart, and most of all, pharmacies in competition with one another that offer the best deals. I’m going to go over a few that I frequent, but I won’t speak for the stores I have not personally shopped. There are many more places to use your coupons (Target, for example, has a fantastic coupon policy and great store coupons) and you can read about those tips on bigger blogs. Some stores I do not have available to me include: Target, CVS, Dollar General, Family Dollar, CostCo, Sam’s Club, and others.

My Favorite Couponing Spots:

Walgreen’s

If I could only get deals in one place, it would probably be Walgreen’s. For some reason I just think shopping their weekly deals is a blast!

This is probably why.

Not ordinarily associated with savings, nearly every week Walgreen’s has items for FREE. They manage to give customers “free” items by printing “Register Rewards” after purchase that match the amount paid for the item. So you do have to pay for these items, but you immediately receive that money back in the form of a little Catalina-style print out good on your next purchase at Walgreen’s. The smart way to do this is with multiple transactions. Also, keep in mind that at Walgreen’s the number of coupons must not exceed the number of items.

Example:

Transaction 1

Buy  1 Lansoprazole $6 Receive $6 RR = FREE

Transaction 2

Buy 1 Goody’s Headband $2 Receive $2 RR = FREE

Buy Starbucks Refreshers x 2 at $1.99 each, use $1/2 Walgreen’s Store Coupon + $1/1 Manufacturer Coupon x 2 = $.98 for 2

Buy Blue Diamond Nuts $3.79 x 2 B1G1 use $.60 coupon = $3.19 for 2

(This works because I have 4 items and 4 coupons. If I had one fewer item I would need a filler item to meet their policy requirement.)

I usually spend very little at Walgreen’s and get big big savings (up to 90%). Most of the time this is due to B1G1 (buy one get one free) promotions and Register Rewards. I try to steer clear of B1G1/2 offers because they rarely save enough money to price match bigger grocery chains. One important consideration: Walgreen’s prices are not the best in town. Be sure that you’re only getting the best deals here and saving most of your coupons for the stores with already low prices, doublers, and comparable B1G1 offers.

Rite Aid

Another favorite of mine, Rite Aid competes with Walgreen’s offers and sometimes beats them. Look for the B1G1 +UP rewards offers for the BEST deals. +UP rewards are like Register Rewards, but they’re associated with your free Wellness+ card (more on that later) and are a little easier to get. One downside: many +UP rewards require that you purchase a large quantity of a particular item before you start saving. Only consider these deals if you’re prepared to stockpile, and a B1G1 offer is also in effect. For example, Clint and I took advantage of a B1G1 Arm & Hammer deal where if you bought $30 of participating products you rec’d $10 +UP rewards! This meant that we got toothpaste, kitty litter, deodorant, baking soda, etc. for the next year for just $20! Great deal, huh?

Another Rite Aid perk is their Video Value coupons, where you can simply watch videos and receive valuable coupons in exchange.  Don’t be fooled by the Rite Aid logo on these coupons . . . they are manufacturer coupons and can be used wherever you find the best deal.

Here is my most recent Rite Aid success:

I paid a whopping $3.28 after tax for all of this!

Here’s how this went down:

Duracell Ultra AAA 8 pk on sale for $2.94 use $.50 Duracell coupon = $2.44

Energizer Headlamp on sale for $3.99

Kleenex Purse Packs on sale for $.44

Toothbrush on sale for $2.99 use $.25 coupon = $2.74

NYC Nail Polish x 2 for $1.99 each use $1.50/2 = $2.48 total

Wet N Wild Nail Polish $.99

TOTAL : $13.08

APPLY $11 +UP rewards from last transaction

TOTAL: $2.08 + tax = $3.28

SAVINGS: $38.25

Albertson’s

I have only shopped at Albertson’s twice, but when they publish “Twice the Value” (doublers) in the Sunday paper, they can be the best place to shop in the area. Unfortunately with my 1 hour commute from Lewiston to Colfax I rarely get the chance to stock up on their great meat/dairy/frozen deals. I try to remember to bring a cooler with me on those days, but I’m pretty forgetful. One of my favorite things about Albertson’s is their Preferred Card and the option to load paperless coupons on it for easy clip-free couponing!

I know that they are region-specific, but you might check your smaller stores for similar promotions!

Safeway

I’m also new to Safeway, but so far I’ve been pretty please with their deals. They just started a Just For U coupon service where they select coupons for you based on what you purchase using your Safeway card (also free to sign up.) This means extra store and manufacturer savings! Weekly ads feature impressive meat sales, great B1G1 deals, and sizable discounts offered to club members only. I don’t have specific deals to brag about, but I will continue updating this post as I learn more about the regional stores.

K-Mart

Now K-Mart isn’t the best at working with couponers (see the hour I spent trying to clarify my coupons with customer service) but they’re trying, and I appreciate that. K-Mart jumped on the Rewards Card bandwagon with their Shop Your Rewards program (attached to their affiliate store Sears) and is currently running a double coupon deal EVERY DAY. This deal comes with some stipulations, however. I happen to know them by heart due to frequent complications:

  • Doubles apply for up to 5 coupons per customer per day.
  • Only cosmetic and grocery coupons can be doubled.
  • Coupons can be up to $1 in value (making the doubled value $2 max.)
  • The transaction must reach $25 total (in cosmetic/grocery items) BEFORE coupons are applied.
  • Customer must show the cashier their Rewards card and scan it before any items are scanned.

K-Mart tends to be somewhere between the pharmacies and Wal-Mart in their prices, so you’re often better off using doubled coupons at K-Mart (on top of advertised B1G1 deals and K-Mart specials) than you would be at the pharmacies or even Wal-Mart for face value. I also find K-Mart to be a nice change of pace.

Wal-Mart

Recently Wal-Mart has updated their coupon policies in an effort to attract couponers. They now pay overages (none of the above stores do that), price match ads, and at some select Wal-Marts, even price match doubles! That means if you live near a K-Mart, your Wal-Mart may offer the same promotion, making their deal considerably better. Overall, I would rather not shop at Wal-Mart at all, but they simply offer the best deals and most freebies. If they’re paying me to coupon, I don’t feel too bad about shopping there.

Here is a deal I snatched last night:

Pay me to coupon? Yes, please.

Now this would have been a SUPERB deal, but Clint had to get his fancy OJ, so it’s a little bit skewed. The scenario:

Renuzit Fresh Accents $1.76 x 2 use B1G1 coupon = $1.76 for 2

U by Kotex 16 ct. liners $1.24 use $2.00 coupon = FREE + $.76 overage

Trial Aquafresh $.97 use $1.00 FREE + $.03 overage

[Total for my goods: $.97!]

Fancy Simply OJ w/Pineapple $3.48

Total $4.45  +tax = $4.90

Take out Clint’s OJ and that’s a hell of a deal.

I try to only shop at Wal-Mart for their freebies and EXTREME savings, and put the rest of my money elsewhere. Look for an upcoming post detailing the social responsibility of couponing and how to use all that money you’re saving!

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