Tuesday, October 20, 2009

More coupon lessons learned

Today I made my weekly trek to Kroger and Walgreens in search of great deals. Since I only have an hour to shop for groceries with two kids in tow, I've learned a few tricks to be as efficient as possible.

Last night I wrote down my grocery list in order of the aisles I shop. I also flipped through the flyer online to see what extra items were worth adding. I then went through my coupons and pulled the ones I thought I would use and put those in a separate envelope (I brought all the coupons just in case).

My total Kroger savings this week was $42.96 and I spent under a hundred bucks. The best deal was on Fiber One bars and Nature Valley granola bars. Four boxes are usually $12. Each was on sale for $.50 off, there was an additional buy 4, get $4 off, I had two Shortcuts coupons for $.40 each, and I had 4 manufacturers coupons for $.40 each (which Kroger doubles). In the end, I got 4 boxes for just $2--that's right $2!! The Fiber One bars came out to $.10 each (normally $.60 at Kroger and $.36 at Sam's Club). I was practically giddy with excitement.

Then at Walgreens, I went in for the deal on Triaminic cold medicines. It's good to stock up before you need it. What normally sells for about $20 I got for free, but I learned an important coupon lesson. Thanks to Coupon Katie's guidance, I saw the big savings here. This week, Triaminic is on sale for $5 each (normally $6.50). If you buy 3, you get $8 RR, I gathered three Walgreens Health coupons for $2/1, and I printed two manufacturers coupons for $1.50/1 online (two was the limit).

In theory, this should have been a money maker, but I forgot one important Walgreens rule: the coupon to item ratio. In short, you can use a Walgreens coupon AND a manufacturer's coupon on one item but you can't use more coupons than items you purchase. The solution is to buy a few small items to fill out your cart. Since I was trying to use 5 coupons on 3 items, I needed to buy 2 more items. This should have been solved by the two extra candy bars I grabbed next to the register, but the cashier only rang up one and set the extra coupon aside (probably tired of dealing with coupon fanatics like me). I didn't realize this til I got home. Oh well.

With my $8 register rewards and a $5 coupon in the flyer, I was able to get a cool spider cape for Halloween (regularly $15, my total: $2.91). So that made me happy.

My question for all of you savvy savers out there: how do you typically handle the coupon to item ratio? What items do you buy to level the score? If you have better suggestions than candy bars, my hips will thank you. Let me know in the comment section and happy savings.

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