Back to School with FlatBrokeCoed

Do you hear what I hear? It’s the sound of millions of students and their families readying themselves for the back to school/ back to college season, and it sounds like wallets emptying.

Although August can be a great time to stock up on office supplies, school supplies, dorm furniture, and your back to school/ Fall season wardrobe, there are still a lot of tricks retailers use to try to get you to spend more than you have to on items you weren’t planning for.

That’s where I come in! You’re welcome in advance.

Throughout August, I’ll be doing a Back to School series about how to save money on all of the expenditures you and your family are sure to have, as well as share some tips and tricks on how to get the most out of shopping at some popular retailers.

To start off your BTS inspiration, follow me on Pinterest at @flatbrokecoed! I’ve already added and am continuing to add loads of money saving ideas and inspiration! I’m currently loving my new FlatBrokeDorm board, where I post low-cost and DIY dorm decorating and organization ideas.

Happy Pinning!

‘Til next time, keep saving and pinning, my friends.

Signed,

FlatBrokeCoed

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My CVS Haul- A Demonstration in Couponing

Hey everybody! I thought I would share my recent CVS haul to illustrate how I coupon. I’m currently couponing to add to my stockpile for college, and I couldn’t resist some of the deals this week:

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Do you see the parts on the receipt where it says I spent $33.75 (not counting tax) and I SAVED $47.00? I love when a receipt says I saved more than I spent. Ah. Such a thrill. And I feel more responsible with my money to boot.

So, how did I do it?

Like I’ve said before, ALWAYS and only pair a coupon with a sale or clearance. That’s how I got a lot of these deals.

Here’s a breakdown of my CVS trip the other day:

Covergirl LashBlast Lenghts was 50% off for clearance, bringing it down to $4.49

ROC Multi-Correctional Eye Treatment was 50% off for clearance bringing each down from $29.99 to $14.74 a piece. I also had two coupons for $3 off any one ROC Mult-Correctional item. I used one on each eye cream, bringing each down to $11.74 (I got two).

Colgate Total Advanced Mouthwash was on sale for $2.99 (down from $4.49). I had a $1 off any one Colgate product and got $1 ExtraCare Buck for any Colgate purchase, bringing the total down to $.99!

The Essie Nail Polish was full priced at $7.99 but I used a $.50 ECB from a previous CVS shopping trip as well as a $4 off a $12 cosmetics purchase that printed out at the CVS kiosk. So that took $4.50 off of the Essie polish, bringing it down to $3.49!

So there you are, that’s how I saved more than I spent today.

Have any awesome couponing hauls? Any questions on couponing? Leave a comment below!

My nasty, dirty love affair with coupons <3

LET’S GET READY TO SAVE MONEY!!

Okay, if you haven’t heard about coupons or couponing before, you stink at being cash-strapped. I guess that’s why you’re here, right? So let’s get started!

Just to boil it down, couponing is gathering coupons from various sources to apply to products in a retail store.

For example, I specifically coupon for grocery and health/beauty goods, as those are my biggest expenses. They’re probably yours too. So why not save some money on them? I know the “coupon” brings to mind sweet little grannies leafing through the Sunday paper on their doily covered coffee table in an effort to “just” save 10 cents here and there. That’s not how couponers roll nowadays. Coupon sources, policies, and couponers themselves have evolved. Coupons can be a very useful and versatile tool to slash prices on your favorite goods and get them for a significantly cheaper dollar amount.

There are different levels of couponing. I’ve given them cute names: Opportunistic Couponer, Part-time Couponer, and Coupon-Crazies. Opportunistic Couponers will occasionally use coupons when they stumble upon them or for very specific products or stores. Part-timers are a little more consistent. They’ll clip coupons consistently but use them on a  relatively smaller scale, maybe for personal use or for their family. Coupon-crazies include everyone who makes couponing their full-time job, their life even, and let it take over their home. Coupon-crazies have major stockpiles. They’re easy to spot in the store. They keep coupons in a giant trapper keeper and often have helpers with them. I, myself, am a part-time couponer.

So how do you get coupons?

Coupon Sources:

1) Newspapers: Sunday newspapers almost always have either an insert of coupons from SmartSource, RedPlum, P&G (Proctor and Gamble) or some combination thereof. These often carry a variety of coupons across a wide selection of types of products. You may find that one local or regional paper offers more or better coupons in their inserts. I’ve often seen this myself. You can either solely buy the paper you feel has better coupons or do what I do: my household subscribes to our local paper and I pick up my regional paper when I have the time to. That way I get a good selection each Sunday.

2) Online: Coupon aggregator sites like CouponSuzy.com, CouponMom.com, or even Swagbucks.com list coupons from multiple sources that you can print for free. I like CouponMom.com’s coupon layout  http://www.couponmom.com/printable-coupons-242. If you’re a member of Swagbucks (I’ll go over that site in another post) then print out the coupons they offer! You get 10 Swagbucks for every coupon you redeem from them.

3) Retailer Websites: Sometimes going to a company’s or retailer’s website really pays off. Oftentimes at the VERY bottom of the page, you’ll see a link usually reading something like “Coupons” or “Promotions”  or “Offers”.  For instance, I love printing out coupons from Target.com. They are Target brand coupons which you can stack with manufacturer coupons for even more savings!

4) Your Favorite Company Directly: I’ve had a lot of success emailing a particular company or calling in to give constructive feedback or just telling them how much I like their products. Nearly every single time I’ve gotten high value coupons mailed to me from the company for taking time out of my day to contact them. If you just can’t find a coupon for a particular product you love, email the company! Be honest. Tell them you love their product but can’t always afford it/can no longer afford it and politely ask if they have any offers or coupons. I’ve had a 95% success rate this way. (What’s better than coupons? Free high-value coupons!)

Coupon Tips:

  • If you can, get multiple copies of each coupon. If you find a good sale on something you use, use multiple coupons on multiple items to stock up! For example, my local grocery store had a BOGO 50% St. Ives body lotions. I had 2 “$.50/1 St. Ives product” coupons. so I applied them and my grocery store doubles coupons up to a dollar. So I got the BOGO deal, and an extra $2 off on top of that!
  • READ YOUR STORE’S COUPON POLICY. See if your retailer offers doubling on coupons or even accepts coupons printed off the web. Also please make sure to look over the Details/Exclusions listed right there on the coupon. The Manufacturer tells you right there how the coupon will be honored at the store. Having worked in a national retail clothing chain, I can’t tell you how many people threw a fit at the register because they didn’t look to see how the coupon could be used, or even when it expired.
  • Only ever use a coupon with a sale price. That’s the only way you’ll get a truly great deal.
  • Consider stockpiling, even a little bit. Stockpiling is pretty much what it sounds like: making a reserve of the items you use most. For example, when my deodorant is on sale, I usually have multiple coupons so I’ll buy an extra one or two. I stockpile just enough to get me through to the next time the item is on sale. I don’t stockpile like CouponCrazies do. If you want to have your garage dedicated to rows and rows of body wash and toilet paper, then knock yourself out. But stockpile according to your lifestyle and the space you have.
  • Shop around your local stores and local chains to see who has consistently better prices. Don’t be afraid to have 2-3 stores or more in your couponing repertoire.
  • If you don’t know what makes a good deal, keep an eye on you favorite products in your local store. You’ll more than likely see that they go on sale in 6 to 8 week cycles.
  • Organize your coupons. Please. Nothing is more annoying to other shoppers than to wait behind someone who is clamoring to find the coupon they need from their envelope. Invest in good coupon caddy or even a binder. Organize by expiration date or by product category or even alphabetically, whatever works for you.

This may seem like a lot, and I suppose it is. My biggest tip is start out small. Start with one store and focus on a few key items you’d like to start saving on. If you want to stockpile, start small. You won’t get one of every item you want to stockpile every week. You’ll get 2-3 of an item or two one week and a few of a different product the next. Stockpiles can take a few weeks to get started but the payoff is great.

Keep it simple and stay organized!

Coupons can be an amazing way to cut your spending while keeping the brands you love! (It’s also a kind of thrill to say you got an item 75% off the retail price between a sale and a coupon. I’m a couponing bragger.) 🙂

Happy Couponing!!

Have a question, comment, or tip? Leave a comment or shoot me an email at flatbrokecoed@gmail.com.