If you read my list of rock bottom prices here you’ll see that there are many items for which I will never pay a dime, like toothpaste. How can you do that yourself? There are three things you’ve got to know to do this yourself.
How store coupons and manufacturers coupons work together
Coupons that come with the Sunday newspaper and internet printable coupons are most commonly manufacturer coupons that can be used at any store that takes coupons. Manufacturer coupons can usually be combined with a store coupon, which is a coupon that is put out by the store. For example, if you have a $1 off Pantene manufacturer coupon and a $1 off Pantene Target coupon, you can use both coupons at Target to get $2 off a bottle of shampoo.
How store rewards and rebate programs work
Walgreens and CVS each have their own reward/rebate programs that function differently. For example, CVS has the ExtraCare program. Extra Bucks (also known as ExtraCare Bucks, or ECBs) are coupons that print at the end of your receipt after qualifying purchases. ECBs can be used like cash on future purchases, except you will not change back if you spend less than the total face value. They typically expire about 4 weeks after they are issued. You will need an Extra Care card to participate in this program. You can get one at your store or here.
Walgreens has a program that’s somewhat similar to the ExtraCare program called Register Rewards, which are coupons that print out after you make a qualifying purchase. These typically expire 7-14 days after they are issued. Walgreens also has the monthly Easy Saver rebate (ESR) program. Each month, Walgreens comes out with the Easy Saver catalog, which includes many rebate offers as well as coupons. After you make your purchases, you submit the required information online (it is quick and easy) and wait until you get your rebate. You’ll receive an extra 10% on your rebate if you have the rebate credited to a Walgreens gift card.
How to maximize savings
The key to big savings is using coupons and rewards programs together. Blogs like www.DollarsInThePocket.com help you do this by compiling shopping lists. For instance, let’s say CVS offered a deal of free-after-ECB L’Oreal Revitalift Anti-Wrinkle Serum. it’s advertised that if you buy one at $11.99, you get $11.99 back in ECBs. But wait! If you use a $2 off $10 purchase coupon that was available online at the same time, and a $3 off L’Oreal Revitalift Anti-Wrinkle product coupon from a previous Sunday newspaper, you will only pay $6.99 and still get $11.99 back in ECBs. In other words, you’d “make” $5 to spend at CVS on things you’d be buying anyway, like food or diapers or toilet paper. Cool, huh?
- Be prepared: The first few times you shop in a new store and use a new system will likely take longer than what you are used to. I promise you will get faster over time.
- Avoid impulse buying: Stores offer some items for deeply discounted prices because they want you to come into their store and buy something else for full price. Don’t do it. Make a list and stick to it.
- Have your coupons ready. Use envelopes or a small coupon holder from a dollar store to get yourself organized. No one wants to be fumbling with coupons at the register with a line of people behind you.
- Smile. Sometimes using coupons can create problems with the cash registers which are programmed a certain way. Be patient and always be polite. If you ever experience poor customer service because you are using coupons I would advise you to report it to the company through their website.
- What other tips and tricks do you have to help someone get started maximizing their savings?
(This post was based on information from Chief Family Officer. Thanks Cathy!)