Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Not So Extreme Couponing

Have you guys seen that show Extreme Couponing?  If you haven't, think people buying massive amounts of groceries at a huge discount, like $1,000 worth of stuff and only paying $2 after a giant stack of coupons.  While that's not my thing, the show got me wondering if I could find coupons for vegan food and products, you know, stuff I would actually use!  So for the past few weeks I've been doing what I call not so extreme couponing, finding great deals on stuff I would buy anyway, and not buying massive amounts of anything.  Really, there are only two of us, and as much as I love coconut water, we don't need 700 containers.

Yesterday I was able to pick up some new drinking glasses at Pier 1 for super cheap.  We've needed new glasses since we're getting rid of some of our old yucky plastic glasses.  So I used a one day only coupon for $10 off a purchase of $10 or more and got 4 glasses for $2.50 total:

What I've found over the past few weeks is that it is absolutely possible to save lots of money on things I buy all the time anyway, gotta love that!  There are a few secrets to making the most out of coupons, here are some of the things I've learned:

1.  Combining Sales and Coupons.  For example, my favorite brand of coconut water was on sale at Whole Foods for $1.50 down from $1.99ish.  I also had a coupon for $1 off the coconut water so we only paid 50 cents! 

2.  Know Your Store's Coupon Policy.  Some stores, like Target, Walgreens, CVS, and some Whole Foods let you use a store specific coupon and a manufacturers coupon on the same item.  For example, Target was having a sale on Morningstar Farms frozen meals, they were all $2.99 down from $3.49ish.  Target had a coupon in their online coupon section for $1.50 off of two Morningstar Farms products, and I had 2 $1 off coupons from the Morningstar site.  I was able to use all of my coupons and get a couple of yummy vegan frozen meals for cheap!  They were also low in fat and sodium, making them perfect healthy meals for days when you don't feel like cooking.

3.  Don't Buy Something Just Because it's Cheap.  This should be obvious, but don't buy a bunch of junk just because it's super cheap or free.  The only exception to this rule is buying healthy food that you wouldn't eat, but donating it to the food shelf.  That I highly encourage! 

4.  Think Seasonally.  Depending on seasons and holidays, different things go on sale at different times.  Right now, it's high season for back to school deals.  For example, packs of Bic pens were on sale for 50 cents each at Target.  Target also had a coupon for $1 off any Bic pen purchase, so 2 packs of pens were free!  That's a great deal for someone who loses as many pens as I do.  I also picked up a pack of free Sharpies by combining a coupon with a sale.  This is great for teachers and people with kids, school supplies can really add up! 

5Keep Track of Great Deals.  The thing about couponing is that it can take a fair amount of time if you do all the searching and deal tracking yourself.  I'd rather not do that, so I depend on a great blog called the Krazy Coupon Lady.  She posts about great deals, you can look at deals by store, and she keeps track of all of the printable coupons that companies have on their sites.

6.  Print Store Specific Coupons.  Target has a huge amount of coupons on their site that you can print out, here's a linkWhole Foods also has coupons to print, and coupons in the store ad, usually places somewhere near the front entrance.  Really, almost any grocery or drugstore has their own coupons online, so check it out the next time you're planning a shopping trip.

I hope this info helps anyone looking to save money on healthy food and daily needs, a little bit of couponing has really helped us out so far!

Do any of you guys use coupons or try to buy the things you need on sale?  Have any other great ideas for saving money?



moria said...

Thanks for the Krazy Coupon Lady site! I didn't know about that one.

Vegan Cuts and Daily Gourmet are also good sources for online specials, and you don't have to sort through a gazillion nonvegan items. (DG is omni, but you can set your prefs so they send you only vegan deals.) They're less useful for daily purchases, but if you happen to want the current special (e.g., vegan nacho cheeze, cinnamon buns), they can be pretty helpful!

Thea said...

I don't use coupons anymore, they don't seem very big into that in England for some reason...

One tip I've learned is that sometimes you can save money by *not* buying something that's on sale. You could find something that's cheaper which isn't on sale.

missmuffcake said...

I try to coupon as much as possible and it is hard when you buy vegan, organic food. I try to find coupons online, use Groupon and get coupons in the mail. I also use the store coupons they print out with your total if they actually give me coupons I can use!

CleaStagnitti said...

Nice post. Thanks for sharing. Sometimes I even get coupons for free bags of carrots and bread and stuff. Believe it or not, you can get them at radio station schwag tables at events so keep your eyes peeled for that stuff too.

Hannah said...

Seriously smart advice. I'm big on coupons and waiting for sales... I often stock up when things are cheaper, I don't have to buy dried mushrooms or vanilla extract for the better part of a year or more, for example. Makes it easier to just get cooking when you have these things on hand, too!

Gina Guillotine said...

That show got my wheels turning, as well. It's a shame we'll never be able to experience the deals they get, but look what they buy. Lots of their purchases are for junk food.

That said, I've found contacting companies we like helps. Earth Balance sent me some coupons for their milk and for their new coconut spread, which I've yet to find in a store.

Whole Soy Yogurt will send coupons if you ask for them.

So far, the most I've been able to save has been $20 on a $100 purchase at Whole Foods. Not great, but it's something.

The best deal I got, though, was on Swheat Scoop cat litter at Petsmart. Sometimes Petsmart will have a $5 off any amount coupon to print and those come in really handy for cat litter! The bags have to be rung up as separate transactions, but still.

foodfeud said...

I've been wanting to get more into couponing but I never seem to be able to find any unless I'm already in the store. I do get the WF emails though.

Claire said...

Love this post!
Love extreme couponing! I saw one with a lady that gave a load of cat food to a shelter so that's really nice
Couponing is more of an american thing I think. Unfortunately we don't get as many offers :( But if we'd did I'd probably go a little coupon crazy. I love a bargain!

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