If you haven't seen the new show on TV, Extreme Couponing, it is about people who buy thousands of dollars worth of products for almost nothing using coupons. The cash register total will be $1200 and after they deduct all the coupons it ends up something like $8. These are people who get stores to bend the rules and they will buy 80 of an item if they have that many coupons. Some they put away in their stockpile, some they give away to friends and some to charity. It's pretty impressive, but also a little bit insane.
I know I could never go to that level, nor would I want to. However, I challenged myself to a lower form of extreme couponing. I have used coupons before so nothing new there, but I really have never mapped out the sales to get the best deal on the products. This required a whole new strategy far different than the occasional clipping and rarely using method of the past. The first step was signing up for a few "deals" sights (the Krazy Coupon Lady is a good one) and a few coupon internet sites. The next was clipping coupons from the Sunday papers. The third was doing a bit of research. Then it was time to plan my first shopping trip. Target seemed an excellent choice as it had a flier with Target coupons that could be combined with manufacturers coupons.
I won't lie, the prep work is a bitch. It took me hours and hours to look at the ads, compare the coupons, match the Target and mfg. coupons up and then make a spreadsheet with the quantity and sizes required to meet the coupon requirements. And that was just for one store. Plus it took me three times as long to shop to make sure I was getting the right stuff. But some of the rewards were fun. I got 8 boxes of Puffs tissues combined with a large bottle of Tide Liquid Stain Release on a promotion for a $5 Target gift card. It worked out like this...Puffs 8 pack on sale for $8.99 less coupon for $1.50 off and $2.50 Target gift card value for $4.99 which makes it about 62 cents per box. Add in a coupon where I got a 3 pack of Puffs to go for free for buying the 8 pack. The Tide was on sale for $10.99 with a $3 coupon and the gift card split of $2.50 to bring it down to $5.49.
Another good deal was on Iams dog food. The 40 pound bag was on sale for $33.33. I had a $1 off coupon. By adding in an 8 pound bag for $12.75 I got another Target $5 gift card. I have a rebate for the 8 pound bag so will get the full $12.75 sent to me by check. That makes the 40 pound bag a total cost of $27.33, which is an excellent price. I also met with some success on tanning products. Banana Boat sunscreen was on sale for $6.49 with a $1 off coupon. Hawaiian Tropic after sun lotion was also on sale for $6.99 with another $1 off coupon. It also had a bonus of a small sized tanning lotion bundled with it for free. Buying the two products also netted another $5 Target gift card.
My total was $169.24 and my coupon savings was $58.24. I walked away with $15 in Target gift cards. If I had used my Target charge card I would have saved an additional $8.45. I got a free bag of dog food, a free suntan lotion, a free pack of puffs to go and a free bottle of pantene shampoo. If you add in the price of the the savings and the free stuff I spent about $70. So nothing earth shattering savings wise, but it was all products I will use now or in the future at a pretty good discount. I was not drawn into the trap of buying something I will never use just because it is a good deal. The downside is if you are paid for your time, then the savings isn't as great. If you consider it a hobby though, you are getting paid to play. I shall continue this throughout the summer and see if I can get more efficient and better at finding the deals, especially the free stuff. Stay tuned to see how much I spend to save a few bucks...