Couponing 201: Strategy and Cost Standards

Here is lesson two in my couponing series!  You can find the first one, Couponing 101, here.  Today we’ll go more in-depth about couponing strategy.

I’ve found that it’s best to purchase two newspapers each week.  Be sure to check to see if the coupon inserts are inside before buying your papers!  There are people that steal coupon inserts or sometimes a paper gets missed in the stuffing process, but you don’t want to get home and discover that they’re missing.

I tend to cut out every coupon, with the exception of products that I will never find use for (i.e. pet food, because I don’t have pets).  Once in a while, there may be an item on sale that you can turn into a moneymaker when you coupon.  Matching your coupons from multiple inserts together will save time when it comes to shopping preparations.  Next, I sort the coupons into categories and put them into envelopes for each category.  For example, a few of my envelopes are: Baby, Makeup/Lotion, and Toothpaste/Toothbrushes/Mouthwash.

Each Saturday, I visit The Krazy Coupon Lady to view each store’s upcoming sales that will go into effect on Sunday.  I have a couponing notebook, in which I write down exactly what I’m going to purchase, how much it is on sale for, the coupons I will use and the final price.  I pull the coupons I need from my envelopes, then put them in separate envelopes corresponding with each store where I will shop.  I like to shop on Sunday or Monday to ensure that the items I want are in stock.

Now…let’s talk dollars and cents. ;)

I’ve learned a lot in my past four months of couponing.  I’ve made a lot of mistakes, too!  After watching sales cycles for this long, I know what price point items need to reach before I decide to stock up.  If you need certain items, you may not be able to wait for these price points; but once you have a small stockpile then you can be picky.  I have about 4 tubes of toothpaste, and several deodorants and hair products on hand.  That’s about as large as my “stockpile” will get.

Shampoo/Conditioner/Styling Products: $1 or less
My favorite brands are Dove and Aussie.  I also use Pantene’s line of products for curly hair.  The most I’ve paid for Dove and Pantene is 65 cents per product, and you can routinely find Aussie for $1 at CVS or Walgreens.  There are many other brands that go on sale – I just haven’t purchased others yet, so I can’t recall the pricing of them!  If you’re looking for a medicated shampoo, you’ll occasionally be able to find Head and Shoulders for $1.99.

Deodorant: 75 cents or less 
In the past few months, we’ve stocked up on Old Spice, Irish Spring and Dove Men+Care for Hubster.  I admit that I paid $1.50 when I started, but now I know better!  Hubster has enough on hand right now that I can be picky and wait until it’s 75 cents or less.  For me, I’ve held out for sales on Dove deodorant.  I’ve seen many sales for Secret and Arrid, though.

Toothpaste: 50 cents or less
I used to purchase the cheap 74-cent toothpaste at Walmart, but now I realize that I can get Crest or Colgate for even cheaper.  Match coupons with sales and store offers (Target gift cards, ExtraBucks at CVS or Register Rewards at Walgreens) and you can get name-brand toothpaste for less than 50 cents – and sometimes FREE!  When a new toothpaste comes on the market, it’s basically a guarantee that you can find it for free somewhere.

Mouthwash: $1.50 or less
Hubster is currently using pink Barbie Listerine Smart Rinse for kids because I got it for free!  He may not want to show off his Barbie mouthwash, but it was free and it does the job.  :)  Listerine Zero is a relatively new product, so you can expect to find some great deals on it right now.  The best deals are typically on the 500 mL bottles, but once in a while you can get a large bottle for very cheap (especially in a different brand, such as Crest).

Toilet Paper: varies by brand
The best toilet paper deals are on Cottonelle.  One week, I scored Cottonelle for about 12 cents/roll at Walgreens; but we hated it.  I’ve decided to only purchase Scott Extra Soft.  I wait until I can match a coupon with a store sale.  Sometimes you’re just willing to pay more for certain items!

Feminine Products: $4.50 or less
Even with couponing, tampons and pads are still rather expensive.  However, you can get some awesome deals at drug stores.  I’ve been able to get an 8-pack of Walgreens brand tampons for free, as well as a 20-pk of Carefree liners at CVS.  Keep in mind that these are with Register Rewards and ExtraBucks offers.  You can also get good deals on name-brand products when you combine coupons with store sales and offers.  Target often offers a gift card deal when you purchase a certain dollar amount in Playtex products.  Walgreens and CVS also offer store rewards that you can combine with coupons and sales for a deep discount.

Dish Soap: 74 cents or less for a small bottle
Since I started couponing, I only purchase my dish soap at CVS.  They regularly put name-brand dish soap on sale for 99 cents and there are often 25-50 cent coupons in the newspaper inserts.  I have enough in my stockpile now that I will only purchase it when I have a 50 cent coupon to combine with the store sale.

Diapers: 16 cents/diaper or less
Target is hands-down the best place to find deals on diapers.  I *love* Target.  Target often runs a sale where you can get a $5 or $10 gift card for purchasing two or three packs of diapers (the $10 gift card is offered when the huge boxes are on sale).  Sometimes they also have store coupons for diaper purchases.  That means that you can combine a manufacturer coupon with a store coupon AND the sale – resulting in a huge savings.  The best deal that I ever got was 8 cents/diaper on Luvs at Target; but other than that one occasion, I typically purchase Pampers or Huggies.  I’ve found that couponing makes diapers cheaper than what I could get through shopping clubs or programs like Amazon Mom.

Baby Wipes: 0.0069 cents/wipe
My cost standard for wipes are the Up&Up brand from Target.  The refills come in 240-count bags and cost $4.99 for a 3-pack.  It is extremely rare to find a deal on name-brand wipes for less than that.  My best wipes deal was using a coupon for $1 off a $3 or higher Up&Up item (found on Target.com).  The 9-pack of wipes was on sale and I got that for $11-something after the coupon.  AMAZING DEAL!

If you would like to hear cost standards for any items that I didn’t mention, please leave your request in the comments!  I’ll be happy to help!

Trackbacks

  1. […] sure to check out Couponing 201 for further couponing tips! This entry was posted in couponing, featured and tagged budget, […]

  2. […] coupon for diapers.  If you want to learn how to coupon, see Couponing 101 and 201.  The bottom line: I never purchase diapers unless I can buy them for less than 18 cents/diaper […]

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