Thursday, March 18, 2010

Couponing for Charity: Update #1

Here is the first reality check for my new mission: couponing for charity (click here for more details on how all these deals work). I'll start with the good news: I now have two tubes of toothpaste and one deodorant for my cause and they were not only free; I "made" $2. The bad news is that if you're not careful, trying to work the deals can be confusing, disheartening, frustrating, and exhausting. Even though my experiences this week have been up and down, I encourage you not to give up. I'm certainly not.

My quest began at Kroger on Tuesday. Specifically for charity, I was looking for Speed Stick, Irish Spring, and Dial soap. I had to be careful to pick the Speed Stick variety on sale, but that was free after coupons($1.50 on sale, -$.50MD, -$.50 MC doubled). The Irish Spring was also a good deal, but since that's my hubby's favorite, we're keeping that soap. I couldn't find the Dial soap for the sale price advertised; so I put that coupon away for another day.

Thursday is typically my Walgreens day, but I needed a few items at Target. The best deal was 4 Mini Wheats (Bobby's favorite) for $.56 each (4/$10 gets you a $5 gift card with no expiration date; I had 2 $1/2 manufacturer's coupons and 1 $.75 Target coupon from the recent mailer). I also got a bag of Almond Joy Pieces for $.29 ($2.29, $1 MC, and $1 TC). I searched for the free Buddies soap Coupon Katie describes with the $1/1 Johnson and Johnson coupon but couldn't find them anywhere.

I was also tempted to get the Dial soap for charity for just $.02, but I really needed soap to refill our hand dispensers in each bathroom. Though it may sound great to just get new bottles every time one runs out, that's a poor environmental choice. I usually try to find the refills in the containers that use far less plastic, but this Target didn't have those. So I did save $1.35 off my Dial purchase ($1 TC, $.35 MC), and now I'm set for weeks.

When I went into CVS for the deodorant deals, I was met with empty shelves and no sign that they even sell one item I had coupons for. I just walked out.

I then went to the Walgreens nearby on my next deal seeking adventure. Tip: There are several cases where they are within eye-sight of each other: Western Ave. & 275, Clinton Highway & Merchant's Drive, Middlebrook Pike, Oak Ridge Turnpike in Oak Ridge, etc. Brooke was amazingly patient.

This is where I got the "money maker" for toothpaste: buy 1 Colgate for $3.99, get $4RR. Using a $1/1 coupon made each tube a $1 money maker. I bought one tube each in separate transactions to get multiple register rewards (only one per transaction). The trick is finding something of value for at least $4 within the next 2 weeks. I'm hoping there will be a diaper deal, especially with the new $3 Huggies coupons just released. I decided to forego the toothbrush deal; I think I can do better.

This has nothing to do with my charity finds but it's a good lesson to learn: it's not always easy finding the right deal for your register rewards. I needed to use a $5RR that was expiring today (couldn't let that happen!). Originally I was going to buy 2 bottles of Purex laundry detergent for $5.99. With my RR, that would be just $.99 for 2 bottles--score! Not so fast. None of that Purex detergent was rated for the HE washers. I don't know what happens if you run non-HE detergent in an HE machine, but I'm not willing to risk MY washer. So, plan B. Walgreens also had the larger bottle of Tide the same price as K-mart and Target, and I had a $1/1 MC. Wouldn't you know none of these sale bottles were HE rated either?! So, plan C. I purchased the smaller HE Tide (not on sale--crazy, I know), but it still only cost me $3.

I hemmed and hawed over the Kleenex deal as well, because the $.89 price is only good for 3 boxes, and I needed 6 boxes to get the $3RR. I should've just bought them, but Brooke was squirming, the phone was ringing, and I wanted to be done with it. To get my coupon / item ratio correct, I also made an impulse buy. Remember my post about trying to find items for stuffing Easter eggs? Well, they had Dove eggs on sale 2/$7 with a $1 RR. It's not a great price, but I wanted them for their Easter baskets.

After all this shopping, I rewarded Brooke with Mother Goose at the Oak Ridge Civic Center. It's a free class for babies to age three the first and third Thursdays of the month. Lori, who leads it, is great. Babies meet at 10am, toddlers at 10:45am, and 2s/3s at 11:30am. It's important to mix in play with the errands or you'll hate yourself within a month.

To summarize, I did more running around this week than normal in the name of research. In the future I will limit myself to either Target, CVS, or Walgreens in one week. If you really want specific deals at CVS, I'd recommend shopping earlier in the week, as I've missed out twice now.

Total products to donate this week: 2 tubes toothpaste, 1 stick of deodorant
Total value of products to donate: $10.27 ($3.99 each for 2 toothpastes and $2.29 for deodorant).
Total spent: -$2 (it's like having two bucks in the bank to spend another time).

How did you do?

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