Earlier this year I decided to try my hand at clipping coupons. Although I do clip coupons for food related items, like shredded cheese and ice cream, I primarily clip for household staples like paper goods, shampoo, soap, and cleaners. I find that I am saving more and more money with each shopping trip, and on some trips I actually make money on the transaction.
My savings strategy is quite simple. First, I try to shop at stores that offer rebates. The Rite-Aid near my home has one of the best rebate programs in the area. At least one or two items are ‘free after rebate’ each month. On most occasions I find manufacturer’s coupons for these same items. CVS can also provide great deals. I earn rebates through the CVS Extra Care program, which is automatically linked with both the Washington Post Points program and upromise. On rare occasions I have managed to purchase items that earned points and/or money through each of these programs.
For example, through a combination of sale items, in-store coupons, manufacturer coupons, and rebates I recently obtained four items for free and received 39 cents back in the process. The four products I purchased were all on sale. Originally priced at $16.26 the products were discounted to a total of $10.46. In addition I applied $3.85 in coupons to the purchase and submitted receipts for $7.00 worth of mail-in-rebates.
Despite my progress with clipping coupons I have learned a few hard lessons along the way. For starters, CVS and Rite-Aid tend to charge more for items than other stores including Target and Walmart, and even large grocery stores like Giant and Safeway. So it’s a good idea to know how much other stores charge for the same item. For example, I recently purchased sun tan lotion from Rite-Aid using a combination of coupons and mail-in-rebates. In the end I paid about $7.50 per bottle. This past weekend I found the same product for $7.44 in Walmart. There is nothing worse than wasting time searching for deals and clipping coupons, only to find that greater savings would have amassed from doing nothing at all.