Last month I told you about how I started using a few rebate apps, which basically give you back money after you shop when you buy certain items - kind of like a coupon you use afterward. Even better, you can use the rebates on top of sales or coupons. Over the last month I've realized sales, coupons, and rebate apps are not that amazing on their own, but if you pair them together you can get stuff super cheap, even free! I've always loved a good puzzle, so I've been having fun looking for the best combinations.
I've never been very good at coupons. I always go through the newspaper (and the Kroger digital coupons) and just clip the coupons for things we often buy. But then I either leave them at home, or the generic brand is cheaper, or I get all the way up to the register & forget to use them. I'm pretty terrible at keeping up with them, but seeing how you can match them up to get much lower deals has got me super motivated to use them now!
The best coupons are usually the ones from the newspaper, but you can also find tons of printable coupons on coupons.com. (Unfortunately there is no search, but chose "Brands" from the category drop down menu & you can see the coupons for each brand.) Printable coupons are especially nice when you are just starting out & don't have a lot on hand. Now I still clip my normal coupons for stuff we buy a lot, but I also clip anything that I wouldn't mind getting for free and sort those alphabetically so I can quickly check different brands when I see a sale or rebate.
My first two weeks I had no idea what I was doing, but I did notice a few coupon/rebate 'match-ups' and got all of this for free (that's a 3 pk. of bar soap, but my husband snatched one already, haha) ~
Couponing Sites ~
After that I started looking around for sites that posted lots of match-up deal ideas. My favorite two places to look are Krazy Coupon Lady's freebies category and under $1. Souther Savers posts similar weekly list for grocery store deals here (she calls them "Top Acorn Deals" because she marks the best deals on her site with a little acorn icon). She also posts some of the top pharmacy deals here.
By week 3 I was finding lots of good freebies this way, and finally braved some of the pharmacy deals I'd been passing over before. I'll tell you about that next!
I couldn't resist going back for $25 of free nail polish ~
I've always ignored the CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens flyers before, but if you look close you can find some unbelievable deals. I've found most of my freebies there! On lots of items you can earn 'bucks' or 'points', which you can either spend right away or on your next trip. They are also always running $5 off $15 type sales (that's the total before coupons), and they print out or email you similar coupons, both of which you can use together. Add some newspaper/printable coupons on top of those, and prices get crazy low. I recently found an awesome site where you can preview the pharmacy sales flyers 2-3 weeks in advance!
Two weeks ago the Proctor & Gamble coupon insert came out, and all three stores were running $10 off $30 worth of P&G stuff so you could match coupons with the sale. I got $36 worth of stuff for $8 (which is the cost of the mascara + the 20 oz., so I'm counting the rest as freebies!).
One problem with pharmacy deals and rebate apps is that you have to spend some money up front to get the money back later. This is rough when you are starting out! I figured out deals at both of the other pharmacies where I could have gotten another $30 worth of stuff for free, but it would have temporarily tied up $10-17 in reward bucks per store. Normally that wouldn't be a big deal, but my business has been super slow lately, so we're really having to watch what we spend.
But the big problem with pharmacies is that each of them have different reward bucks/points programs with different rules to remember, and sometimes more than one program at the same store! I'd avoided pharmacy deals before because I didn't know how they worked, and they really can be confusing! I keep a post-it with each store's guidelines written down so I can check them before I shop. If you go to either of those couponing sites I linked above, you can find info on how each pharmacy works, or I will probably do a post about them soon. If you don't want to bother dealing with the fine print, I'd stick to CVS, which is very straight forward with no weird rules.
Last week we were on vacation, so I didn't have much time to go shopping for deals, but I did manage to snag some nice snacks for the road trip before we left!
One thing you've probably noticed is that you can get tons of shampoo, body wash, and toothpaste for free. Way more than you could ever use! I've started a 'freebie box' that my friends can pick out goodies from, and I'm hoping to donate extras to a food pantry or shelter. I've also seen some crazy low prices for diapers (like $2 or even $.50 a pack!), but unfortunately we *just* potty trained our youngest. Wish I'd known about these deals 6 years ago!