Apr 4, 2011

Coupon Frenzy; getting the best use out of your deals

A common question that I've been asked is (in one form or another)if, because I'm using coupons and finding great deals, I find myself buying things I don't need or wouldn't otherwise have bought. The idea behind the question is that just because you're getting a good deal doesn't mean you need the item you're buying. And if you don't need it, then you're wasting your money buying it - no matter how good of a deal you've gotten.

I must admit, there is some validity in this concern. But, if I didn't have an answer for it - I probably wouldn't be writing this post! :) In all seriousness though, we do need to be careful that we're not being wasteful and also that we're not putting ourselves and our families in a bad situation. If you have no intention of using an item, or making sure that it gets put to use by someone else, then don't buy it. An item purchased at 90% off - but sits on your shelf for 10 years - is a waste of money! Buying an item on super sale, but that your family can't stand and will not eat, is a waste of money...unless you happen to know of someone who likes/needs that item! Buying things that you wouldn't normally buy is not necessarily a waste of money and can, in fact, be a real opportunity for your family to learn to try new things and expand their horizons. Also, buying things that are free or next to free, that you know you will not personally use, presents a real opportunity to actually make some money on your deals - or to give things away! Remember, just because you don't eat/use certain things, doesn't mean that someone else doesn't! The picture below is from my most recent trip to Walgreen's. You'll notice several different items, but the key ones are the Biore products, the Snicker Eggs, the OxiClean Tabs, and the Luster Toothpaste.
OxiClean was on sale for 2/$5, minus $2 in coupons, minus $2 in RR = $1 total for both items. 
Biore was buy one get one free, minus $1 coupon, minus $5 RR = $2.99 for both items 
Luster toothepaste was on sale for $5.99, minus $1.50 coupon, minus $4 RR = $.50 total. 
Snickers Eggs were on sale for $.29 x 7 = $2.03 - $2 coupon = $.03 for all 7. 

I've never used any of these items before, but for a total of $4.52 + tax, I can try them all. I use cloth diapers with my daughter, so the cloth diapers are getting a little (how do I say this delicately???), icky. Her skin is pretty sensitive so I have stayed away from most items, but I thought the stain boost in the Oxiclean might be something easy and cheap to try out! If it doesn't work, or if it irritates her skin - it's only a $1 investment. Not Bad! I LOVE face products - I could probably blow my budget on facial cleansers and moisturizers. So, when I get an opportunity to try something new for so cheap (these Biore products would have normally cost me $18 + tax), I take it! I always wash my face in the mornings, and I always take off my makeup at night. Side note: Did you know that NOT taking off your make-up at night will age your skin up to 7 days??? Yikes!!! Moving on... I've got to have something to do that with - so why not try different things? I'm a dyed in the wool fan of Colgate, but I do not have the luxury of buying it at all costs. Thankfully it goes on sale often and there are nearly always coupons. However, because I coupon I often get deals for Crest, Arm and Hammer, and even recently for an all-natural toothpaste from Earthfare. The Luster toothpaste normally sells for $7.99 for 2 oz tube and I was able to get it for $.50. My husband has stains on his teeth from growing up in a town that had too much flouride in the water. At this point, we can't afford the treatments at the dentist office and the whitening trays haven't worked - so I figured trying this toothpaste which cost me $.50 was worth a try! The Snickers eggs were a great, super cheap addition to my prize bag for my student. 

Since starting to coupon, I've been introduced to Garnier Nutrisse Towlettes - I got an 8 month supply for a total of $8. I'm not tied to any particular brand of toothbrush - and it's a good thing. In the last 2 months I've been able to get about 12 toothbrushes with sales, coupons, and rewards from drug stores - for completely free and even made money on them sometimes! Same thing with body washes - from Clean and Clear, Goldbond, Right Guard, to Gillette and Aveno! Here is my receipt from my trip to CVS this morning. Now, I must admit that this is my best trip yet! 

You can see from the receipt that I purchased: 
2 Oral B Toothbrushes
1 Crest Pro-Health Rinse
1 Glide Dental Floss
2 Right Guard Body Washes
1 Goldbond Body Wash
1 Visine Travel Size 
With sales, coupons, and $7 in ECB's - I was able to pay only tax = $1.90!!! Plus, I walked away with another $13 in ECB's. What does that mean? I actually got everything on that receipt for free, plus I made about $4! But I'm getting side-tracked. This post is not about what great deals you can get - but whether or not you should get them! What am I going to do with all of this stuff? What do I need 12 toothbrushes for, or 6 different kinds of body wash? Well, there are a couple of options: 
1) Use it as an opportunity to try different things. Yes, I know - there are some things that you just can't compromise on. I will always (well, almost always) use Charmin TP and I will NEVER buy off-brand chocolate syrup (the only brand-name being Hershey's). But, there are some things that I don't have a strong preference for - in fact most things!
2) Make a "free shelf" in your linen closet, pantry, or garage. Things like toothbrushes, deodorant, shampoo/conditioner, really any kind of toiletries, are great to have on hand for guests who have forgotten this or that. But also canned goods and dry goods are great to have on hand to add to your church's food pantry, or when the boy scouts leave those paper bags on your front steps. Also, the toiletries are great to have on hand for the women's shelter or when a natural disaster strikes and people need basic necessities. What a great way to be able to help people when you don't have much money!!!
3) Sell them in a garage sale! So what if you only make $.50 for a $3 bottle of body wash that you got for free! There is good to be had all around! You made $.50, and you were able to provide someone with a brand new bottle of body wash that they would have had to pay $3 for at the store! A few weeks ago I was able to get Tena Security Pads at CVS - and because of the sale, coupon, and ECB's - I was able to make $2.50 on that purchase. Now, I certainly don't intend to be using these any time soon - but I can sell them in my garage sale for $1-2, make a total of $4.50 on the product, and provide them to an elderly person for 90% off! How cool is that? 
4) Swap your items! Have a swap party with your friends and bring all the things that you don't want or need!
5) Send a care package to a soldier over seas!!! I have two brother-in-laws who are Marines and they have both spent time in Iraq/Afghanistan. They LOVED getting care packages. If you don't know a soldier to send something to, ask around - someone does! 

This post is getting rather long, so I'm going to do a follow-up post later this week on budgeting and how to "control your inner-spender" with all of these deals.

So these are just a few of my ideas! If you've got some - please share in the comments section!!!


Sarah Faith said...

good points, can't wait to see the next post! :)

hollie said...

Great post. I donate items to church ministries and have done the garage sale thing too (good way to make a little extra cash). I also sell the items to my family members for whatever price I paid. I love being able to have them benefit from my sales shopping and they love not having to leave their home or clip coupons to get it.