Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sensibly Extreme Couponing: How I paid $11 for a cartload of groceries

Today the cashier at ShopRite applauded me as she handed me my receipt, announcing to the bagger and the customer behind me that I paid $11.22 and saved $91.63. That doesn't count the $5 Catalina coupon that printed at checkout for me to use next time I shop, or the 19 cents I'll be getting back from SavingStar.

I guess I qualify as an "Extreme Couponer" now, but honestly, I'm not crazy! You're not going to see me coming home with an entire car packed full of toilet paper; it's just not my style.

Here's what I don't do:

  • I don't buy coupons online.  I have a single set of coupons from my Sunday paper, and if the deal's really good I might ask a friend if they have a spare.  
  • I don't buy things that my family won't use, unless they are completely free or money-making deals and I can donate them to someone.
  • I don't do a lot of extra transactions to be able to use more coupons.  Sometimes I'll go through the checkout twice if it's a really good deal, or I'll stop back later in the week for more, but you won't see me going through the checkout five different times in the same day.  Who has time for that?
  • I don't avoid buying things that aren't on sale in a transaction just to make my savings look higher.  If my family needs something, I buy it.
Here's what I do:

  • I look up good deals that other people have posted online to save me time.
  • I will try a different brand for an item my family will use, or try a new product that I think we would like  
  • I will shop multiple stores for the best price (though most of the time, I only hit up one or two stores in a week)
  • I stock up on items that will last in my pantry or freezer if they are things that we use regularly.  I love stocking up on things like cereal and paper products when there are great sales so that I don't have to ever pay full price. But I have one storage shelf in my basement and that's it -- I'm not about to become a grocery hoarder!
  • I use internet coupons a ton and take advantage of being able to print multiple copies.

Here is a picture of what I bought today, minus a box of toothpicks that I hadn't noticed fell off the bench before I snapped the photo:

All these groceries for $11.22 thanks to sales and coupons!
Here's the breakdown of my trip to ShopRite today:
  • Beneful dog treats, on sale for $2.99
    • $1.75 eCoupon loaded onto my card
    • $1.75 Printable manufacturer's coupon (MC)
    • Total: -$0.51
  • 3x Bagel Thins, on sale 3 for $6
    • 3x $0.50 Printable MCs, each doubled
    • Total: $3 ($1 each)
  • Pork chops, on sale for $1.99/lb: $6.39
  • Chicken drumsticks, on sale for $1.29/lb: $11.20
  • Corn on the cob, on sale for $0.19/ear: $0.95
  • 2x Jennie-O Turkey Franks, on sale for $1.50/package
    • $0.55/2 eCoupon loaded onto my card
    • $0.55/2 Printable MC, doubled
    • Total: $1.35 ($.68 each)
  • 2x Safest Choice eggs, on sale for $1.99/dozen
    • 2x $0.75 Printable MCs, doubled
    • Total: $0.98 ($0.49 each)
  • 2x Birds Eye Recipe Ready Chopped Onions, on sale for $0.99
    • 2x $0.75 Printable MCs, doubled to cost of item
    • Total: FREE
  • Klondike Kandy Bars, on sale for $1.99
    • Store coupon for $1 off
    • $1 MC found in blinkie coupon dispenser in-store
    • Total: -$0.01
  • 4x Turkey Hill ice cream, on sale for $1.99
    • 4x $1 Printable MCs
    • Total: $3.96 ($0.99 each)
  • St. Ives Body Wash, on sale for $1.99
    • $1 eCoupon loaded onto my card
    • $1 MC found in paper (5/18/14 RedPlum insert)
    • Total: -$0.01
  • Suave lotion, on sale for $2.77
    • $1.50 eCoupon loaded onto my card
    • $1.50 MC found in paper (5/18/14 RedPlum insert)
    • Total: -$0.23
  • 2x Dove Advanced Care Antiperspirant, on sale for $4.99
    • $4/2 eCoupon loaded onto my card
    • $4/2 MC found in paper (5/4/14 RedPlum insert)
    • Total: $1.98 ($0.99 each)
  • Diamond toothpicks, on sale for $0.69
Other deals:
  • $10 off $50+ store coupon that printed at checkout last week
  • $3 Catalina coupon from last week's shopping
  • $5 Catalina coupon from last week's shopping
I'm slightly confused because I get $11.74 when doing the math myself, so somehow I saved another $0.52 somewhere.  The cashier did have to enter some coupons manually so it's possible she mistyped (or maybe I just miscalculated).  I'll take it!

I also got a $5 Catalina coupon at checkout for buying the St. Ives body wash, Suave lotion and Dove antiperspirant.  It was a deal when you spent $15 on Unilever personal care products.  The $15 is determined before coupons and before any Price Plus Shopper's Club discounts, though, so I only spent $1.74 to get the $5 coupon!  I'll use it next week along with another $5 Catalina I have from last week's shopping trip (it couldn't be used this week because it has specific dates).

I'll be getting 20% back on my corn purchase as well, thanks to SavingStar (more info on SavingStar soon -- it's great!).

And another $10 off $50+ coupon printed at checkout for next week.  Woo hoo!

In the coming weeks, I'll be breaking down many of the little tips and tricks I've learned that help make shopping trips like this possible.  I promise, it's not hard!


  1. I appreciated reading your personal do's and dont's. It's like having a good Scope section before reading a good size report. Thanks!

    My challenge to overcome: before, I've downloaded software to allow me to print online coupons aaand my comp (Windows 7) did not play well with it. My laptop stopped being slow and noisy when I uninstalled the software. Now, I'm back to relying only on sales, catalina coupons, and the weekend papers.

    Do you have a source for online coupons that doesn't involve downloading software? Do you not have Windows 7?

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hmm... I've never heard of that issue before! Both of our computers have Windows 7 and we don't have an issue with either of them. Most of my coupons come from (sometimes from a different site, but it almost always uses their printer tool). Their printer software only runs when you are actively trying to print coupons so it shouldn't slow anything down. I just double-checked on my computer and the software is not currently running in the background or anything.

      What browser do you use? We mainly use Chrome here. I'm not sure if it matters but given that you start from the browser it might make a difference.

      And assuming it is that you've been struggling with (guessing so given that they're by far the largest printable coupon company out there), they also have a support team that may be able to help you. I had some issues printing once and ended up having to change some settings. I'd check out and maybe contact their support team with your specific issue.

      I should note that I only have the printing software installed. I did not install their toolbar or anything else they may have tried to get me to download in the process.