Thursday, June 23, 2011

Couponing 101

Couponing at Rite Aid (or any other store) is an art form.  You must enter into it slowly in order to minimize your frustration.  Good things take time, so with that being said…TAKE YOUR TIME.  Everybody wants to extreme coupon like they see on television. Let’s be realistic folks….that’s TV. You and I live in the real world, so let’s be REAListic about what we expect to save from week to week.  Yes, you can save an enormous amount with carefully planned couponing, but don’t get upset when you have to spend a few bucks.  Good couponing isn’t about not spending any money, it’s about catching good deals and minimizing your out of pocket cost with coupons.  Now with that being said, let's review the Five Steps to a Successful Shop at Rite Aid (of course this is AFTER you have already made your coupon binder).

 5 Steps of a Successful Shop

Step 1 - Read the circular and check out my blog ;)
Even with all of the blogs that point out the most fantastic deals of each (including mine), I never put all my faith in another person.  Besides, what will you do if your internet connection is down?  It's okay to review the blogs and pull your deals from them, but I use them as a platform for developing my own shops and you should do the same.  Just because I recommend buying a certain automatic hand dispenser and a certain type of toothbrush together, doesn't mean it's the best deal for you.  Therefore, you have to become comfortable with scanning the weekly ads and creating your own plan. 

I recommend READING everything. Don't get caught up by the pictures.  Some of the best deals have been found in the tiny print.

As your reading break out that Sharpie and start marking up the pages; circle, check marks, asterisk signs...whatever works for you.  Just don't use a pen because you will have the hardest time noticing the marks if you find yourself in a pinch at the store and you need to make a quick scan.

Step 2 - Make a list
Once you've reviewed the ad of the week, make a list of all the wonderful merchandise you would like to pick up. WRITE IT DOWN. WRITE IT DOWN. WRITE IT DOWN! I can't place enough emphasis on this.  Do not depend on your brain to remember it all.  While you may have the best brain ever, trying to remember will stress you out.  Make it easy on yourself.

Step 3: Match your coupons to items that are on sale
Aha...the tricky part.  Well not so much, but this step does take some time to get down. Not because you can't, but because you have to get used to recognizing a good deal and a mediocre deal and the difference between a good coupon and a HOT! coupon. The good thing about Rite Aid is that you can make a good coupon into a HOT! coupon if they a have video value (adperk) to go along with it. Hurray for Rite Aid!

When matching your coupons, I recommend using a coupon database.  While I don't have one here to offer you (hope to in the future), you can find one on the LRWC website.  Also, take the time to scan your binder.  Get to know what you have and put your skills to the test.

Step 4 - Work your deals
Okay, this step can be the tricky part and it's the reason why I say you can't depend solely on blogs to tell what deal is good for you.  It all depends on how invested you are in Rite Aid.  Are you a couponer with tons of Up+Rewards, several $3/$15 survey coupons, and that has a 10 or 20% discount on non-sale items because you have spent so much throughout the year? Or are you a couponer, with 0-2 Up+Rewards, one $3/$15 survey coupon, and no discount? I, personally, depend on my Up+Rewards to help me earn more rewards and my receipts to give me more survey codes for coupons.  They also allow me to aim for those high price items and eliminate my out of pocket costs. Here's an example:

Automatic Hand Soap Dispenser - $7.49 (coupon match up - $3/1 AND $1 Rite Aid Video Value)
Lotion - $3.99 (coupon match up - $2/1)
Total - $11.48
Coupon Total - $6.00
Total OOP - $5.48
Up+Reward Received: $4.00
2 Automatic Hand Dispenser - $7.49 (coupon match up - (2) $3/1 AND (1) $1 Rite Aid Video Value)
Lotion - $3.99 (coupon match up - $2/1)
Total - $18.97
Coupon Total - $9.00 + $3/$15 Survey Coupon = $12.00
Total - $6.97
Use - $6 in Up+Rewards
Pay - $0.97
Receive - $7.00 Up+Rewards

The difference between deal one and deal two is that the total before coupons on deal two is over $15.  This allows me to use the $3/$15 survey coupon and make out with more merchandise for less money and more rewards.

Know what you have and work your deals!

Step 5 - Pull your coupons and organize them by transaction

After you have worked your deals, pull the coupons you plan to use.  I like to put everything together in order, just in case I plan to roll rewards on more than one transaction.  Each transaction is bundled together with a paperclip and put in an envelope that I tuck in my binder with my marked up circular. 

Voila! Happy couponing!

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