Saturday, February 26, 2011

Art of FREE: Pay it Forward

To those I met at the coupon fair this morning, welcome to my blog! To those bargain bloodhounds who sniffed it out because of the word FREE, welcome as well. I just returned from the Second Annual Knoxville Coupon Fair, and I'm pumped up. The crowd doubled from last year (around 600)! I barely had a moment between breaths, but that made it more fun.

As I reflect on how much has changed from my Coupon Fair experience last year, the phrase PAY IT FORWARD resonates in my mind. I didn't even know there were deals at pharmacies until Coupon Katie shared her knowledge with me a year and a half ago. And it was here last year that I first met Gabrielle from Couponing in Critical Times, who inspired me to start Couponing for Charity. In a few weeks I will take my fourth batch of freebies to a local non-profit, and the annual total value of my contributions alone will be about $650 of goods. Wow!

That's why today my topic to share with folks was "The Art of Free." The goal was to give the basic tools to acquire these freebies themselves but more importantly to inspire them to share a portion of their good deals with others. PAY IT FORWARD. Whether you share them with your mom, your church, or the food bank, I challenge you to find some way to spread the good coupon karma. I hope that you will accept this challenge and share with me how I've inspired you in the months ahead. You never know the impact you could have. Gabrielle has impacted mine as a mentor, confidant, and friend. ;-)

If you didn't make it to the fair today, here's part of my hand-out:

The most beautiful word to any couponer is FREE. I smile every time I say it. But there is an art to attaining freebies. Here are a few tips.

  1. Know what to look for. Items you can usually get for free are:
  • Hygiene: toothpaste, toothbrush, dental floss, body wash, razors, shaving cream, feminine products, deodorant, shampoo, lip balm, eye solution, and travel first aid kids.
  • Medicine: I haven’t paid for pain relievers or cold medicines all year.
  • Candy: You can usually get candy bars for $.25 or free and bagged candy for $1 or less through pharmacy deals. Great for holidays.
  • Food: Free pasta, canned soup, brownie mix, tuna packets, snack mix, energy bars, and granola bars for $.50 a box or less are typical.

  1. Know where to go.
  • There are weekly freebies through the rewards programs at CVS and Walgreen’s.
  • Kroger doubles coupons up to $.50, making many “10 for $10” items free.
  • Target allows you to stack manufacturer’s and Target coupons on the same item.
  • Staples often has “easy rebates” or rewards deals that mean free office supplies.
  • Earthfare sends out weekly email promotions for free items when you spend $5.

  1. Sign up for free sample email alerts. sends emails with the free sample of the day. These are good on items I don’t use regularly, and they often come with a coupon for future savings.

  1. Know which coupons are worth clipping / printing. When in doubt, clip. That’s good advice when getting started, but there are some coupons to specifically look out for.
  • $1 off any Tide product gets a free travel size Tide at Target. I’ve also gotten several free travel first aid kits with $3/3 J&J when they’re a dollar each.
  • A $.50/1 coupon for Colgate, Crest, Reach, Speed Stick, Duncan Hines, Star Kist, Pillsbury, Green Giant, or Ronzoni will usually mean free products on sale at Kroger.
  • Cereal can be tough to get totally free but if you’re patient, you should never pay more than $1.50 a box. Coupons for cereal range from $.33 to B1G1.

  1. Know the rules of B1G1.
  • In most stores, you don’t actually have to buy 2 items to get an advertised B1G1 deal. If vitamins are B1G1 at $8, you can buy 1 for just $4 and if you have a $2/1 coupon, you only pay $2.
  • If you have a B1G1 coupon for an item, you can also use another coupon for money off the one you’re “buying.” Say deodorant is on sale for $1 each; you have a B1G1 and $1/1 for that brand. You can use both coupons to get two free.

  1. Even if you have a FREE coupon for an item, it’s wise to wait for a sale.
  • Kroger sends targeted free coupons based on your spending habits. Waiting for a mega sale when I buy multiple boxes of granola bars helps bring down the total price per box.
  • Since you usually pay tax, even on coupons that say “free,” it’s better to pay tax when it costs $3 as opposed to $5.
  • Read the fine print on free coupons. Sometimes it’s up to a certain value. I was able to get Cottonelle wipes for free at Kroger – not so at Walgreen’s or CVS.

Thank you to Gabrielle and Christy for the photos.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your sweet words! I'm so blessed to have you as a friend!