When I was really going hog wild with my couponing, I went to Walgreen's, Rite Aid, CVS, Target, Albertson's and Von's. That was exhausting! There are wonderful resources online that tell you what is on sale and at what store, but my favorite is couponmom.com. This site has lists for each store .. the list tells you what are the best deals, what coupons there are out for the products, whether it is a printable coupon (which means directing you to another site to print), or the date that the coupon appeared in the Sunday coupon section, what the sale price is, and what the final register price should be. Is that not incredible??? They have done 7/8 of the work for you! No more pulling out all the sale flyers for each store and figuring out what is on sale and trying to match coupons to items. The only drawback I have found is that because the site gives you information for all states, occasionally an item that they show on sale, is not on sale here. No big deal.
I have pared down what stores I will shop at ... on my list is #1 CVS, #2 Target, #3/#4 Vons and/or Albertson's. I often have great intensions to go to both grocery stores, but if I run out of time during the week, I don't sweat it ... unless it is a spectacular sale! CVS works the best for me because it is very near where I live (and three doors down from the Starbuck's where I have coffee several days a week!); I think they are very consumer friendly. I used to believe their prices were on the high side for a drug store, but when you really use all the tools they offer you to save money, it is the #1 store that I do the best at.
Here's an example from this week ... daughter is going back to college next week, so I am thinking about the things that she needs. CVS had All detergent on sale for $3.99 for a 28 oz. bottle; an electrc t'brush for $5.99 and any of the Revlon mascaras for $5.99. When you have a CVS card (and if you shop there it is a must), there is a red machine that spits out great coupons every week when you scan your card. In addition, every time you shop there, the cash register will print out coupons on things depending on what you have purchased. You usually have at least a foot of register tape. This used to annoy me, until I started playing the game. On top of coupons, CVS gives back "bucks" for different items that you purchase every week; those bucks print out at the register after you purchase them. You then bring the bucks back and use them as cash on your next trip. I'm sure loads of people throw that stuff away, because they can't be bothered or don't have the time, or don't realize what they are throwing away. In addition, you can combine manufacturer's coupons with a CVS coupon and use both. Here's how my recent trip panned out:
All $3.99 (with coupon of $1.00 from paper, and $1 extra buck) = final $1.99
Oral-B elec t'brush $5.99 (with coupon of $2.00 from paper + $2 ex buck) = $1.99
Revlon mascara $5.99 (with $1.00 coupons from paper + $4 ex buck when you buy 2) = $2.99 each
(when I show ex bucks here, they are printing at the end of my trip so I have to use them on my next trip, but they are included in my bottom line total)
On top of those coupons I also had $4 in ex bucks from a previous trip, several CVS coupons that printed at the register that say something like "$3 off on any cosmetic purchase of $10 or more," so the original total was around $21.96 before tax, and after coupons was $4.96. That is an awesome trip! Now I don't buy everything in one trip because I want to turn around and use the ex bucks that printed from this trip on another trip. Some people separate there items into different groups and let the cashier ring them up in several transactions, but I don't like to do that. Since I am near that store several days during the week, I'll just make a few short trips. The next trip to CVS a couple days later netted me:
Pantene shampoo $3.50 (w/coupon B1G1 free + $1 ex buck) = $1.25 each
All detergent $3.99 ($1 coupon .. ex bucks were not avail because I used them already) = $2.99 (still a great deal for a 28 oz bottle of laundry soap)
Revlon mascara $5.99 (no coupons, but at that sale price a great deal) $5.99
Neutrogena cometic wipes $6.50/ea (w/coupon $1 on two) = $6 each (daughter uses these after theatre performance and goes through them like crazy ... they are normally $8+ a piece)
With my $7 in extra bucks from my previous trip and more coupons that printed at the register that I had saved to redeem, before tax total was $38.27, and after coupons $8.99. Now those are some savings I can get excited about!! I don't do that well every week, but the things I routinely buy and stock up on at CVS are: shampoo/conditioner; make-up; laundry detergent; toothpaste; toothbrushes; dental floss; paper products like toilet paper, etc. The other thing I do because I am strange and get a kick out of seeing my savings ... is somewhere on each item I buy I write in black permanent marker the month I bought it and what I paid.
After shopping like this for a short while, you will see there is a pattern to sales, times of the year, and rotation of what is on sale. You stop trying to get every single sale you can (that is just too exhausting and burns you out), and buy the best deals and what you will use. What I love to do is stock up on certain items; I always want a stash of laundry detergent, toothpaste, toilet paper, paper towels. You can get toothpaste for usually no more than $1 tube when it is on sale, with coupons and ex. bucks, and I cannot stand to pay full price for items like that. Sometimes I am more into it than others, and sometimes I don't do anything at all except sale shop, and always use the CVS extra bucks that print out.
I hope this helps someone understand a little more about the coupon game. With so many stores, and so many policies, it can sometimes be overwhelming. But there is nothing more exciting than scoring a great deal and taking the money you save at the grocery/drug stores and using it by fabric!! Or there is something a little more exciting ... getting new pictures of my sweet granddaughter!