However, for the sake of my readers, today was the day I was going to tackle the "big coupon trip"! In the spirit of full disclosure, I had help. Before my trip my husband helped me clip new coupons (he even helped me locate the Smart Source insert that I was certain was missing!), he also paged through ads and flyers, pointing out good deals that he saw, and lastly, he offered to stay home with the babies, so I could shop solo (a fabulous gift!)
I set out with four envelopes full of coupons. I had one for Central Market, one for CVS, one for Cash Wise Foods and one with my other coupons that I planned on using if I spotted a deal.
My first stop was at Central Market. As I was going through the paper for sale ads and coupons I came upon four store coupons that are good for 3 days only. One coupon was for Our Family brand Parmesan Cheese for $1.99 a can, limit two cans. The second was for 30 count foam plates for 88 cents each(limit 2). One was for Lay's Stacks for 99 cents each (limit 4), and the last was for (6) 6 pack 20 oz bottles of 7-Up products for $10. I picked up all of these deals, plus a few pounds of grapes, as they were on sale for $1.48 a pound. Total before coupons: $49.61. Total after coupons: $23.53! 53% savings!
Next I tried something that I've never been brave enough for before; I shopped CVS, with a flyer and coupons in hand. CVS offers some fabulous savings, however, the small shopping carts and tight aisles have made me shy away from shopping there with children. Today I was brave. And alone! Some deals were: Cheerios, buy 1 get one free, plus I had 50 cent off a box of Cheerios coupon. Pantene Shampoos were 2/$6.97 Normally this is not a low enough price for me to purchase shampoo. However there were also $2 in Extra Care Bucks (ECB) with the purchase of 2 bottles, which brings the price down to 2/$4.97. Then I combined that with a coupon from last week's paper for $3/2 Pantene products. This brought my final cost down to 2/$1.97, or under $1/bottle!
All of CVS's sale prices and ECB deals require an Extra Care Card. The card is free, and easy to register for. As an added bonus, scan your card at the coupon kiosk as you enter the store. It will print additional coupons for you. Today I got 99cents off of a Pringles snack stack (free with coupon) and $1 off of Twizzlers (my kids are very happy). My total before coupons was $78.86. I used $11.85 in manufacturer coupons, bringing my total down to $67.01 which is a 15% savings. Not bad. However, I also got $5 back in Extra Care Bucks, and a $10 gift card back as well. . .which gives me a 45% savings! According to my receipt, by using my Extra Care card and coupons I saved $55.83, however this is a misleading total, as the prices before the card discount are much higher than I would ever consider paying. All in all I was rather pleased with my "haul" here.
My third, and last stop was at Cash Wise Foods. By far, this is my favorite place to find deals in the Bismarck Mandan area. Not only do they have low enough prices for me to shop without coupons if I am in a hurry, they also have a free item of the week, tons of store coupons and a very clear coupon policy. I used the four weekly coupons from the refrigerator magnet that I got in the mail about a month ago. With this I got some great deals on Lays Potato chips, Reser's potato salad (which i combined with a printable $1 off coupon), hamburger patties and hamburger buns (can you tell that I'm stocking up for a camping trip?) Coke products had an in store coupon for 3 12 packs/$8. This is by far the lowest price I've seen on Coke all season. You can bet I'll be going back and stocking up a bit! There is also a flyer available in-store with many high value coupons for Kraft Family foods. Several Kelloggs and General Mills cereals were on sale and I had some $1/2 printable coupons in hand. My total before coupons was $135.65, my total after coupons was $100.76. My savings was 26%. My cashier said that I had the biggest savings that she had seen all day! (I also had a coupon print out for $2 off of my next order from purchasing Oscar Meyer lunch meat. . .on sale).
So, at the end of the day, I saved $73.48 in coupons, and I have an additional $17 that I can take off of future purchases! All of this was achieved through only buying one Sunday paper a week, and only printing the appropriate limit of coupons with one computer. I did not purchase nor trade for any additional coupons. I followed all known coupon policies. My total shopping and driving time was just over 2 hours.
I did learn a few things:
- It is easy to get sidetracked and tempted to buy things off the list even without kids around!
- It made things much easier to have coupons separated by store. As I finished a store and had unused coupons, I moved them to the "general" coupon envelope.
- Although CVS has great deals, and corporately encourages coupon use, the cashiers are a bit annoyed by them. . .and by full baskets of groceries, so be gentle. They do not have conveyer belts, or baggers. . .so not-so-extreme couponers like us may annoy them just a bit. Slap on your kindest smile and try not to be impatient!
- Cash Wise Foods cashiers love to save you coupon money. . .you just may make their day!