This past fall, I decided to look into the hype about Super Couponing. I rented Jill Cataldo’s video from the library and gave it a whirl. I learned a lot about retail and coupon processes. I don’t want to give away all of her content, but here are a few of the basics.
The big idea behind Super couponing is to only purchase the items that you need when they are the best possible price. To do this, you have to stock up on the staples in your weekly consumption when they are on sale about every 4 months. When the item goes on sale, buy enough to get you through to the next time it is on sale. You also save your store and manufacturer coupons to use when the items are on sale, increasing the savings.
The ideas work – we are saving more as we learn more. I recently used Cataldo’s techniques to stock up on breakfast cereal. As a rule, we don’t eat processed cereal for breakfast. We do, however, have a weakness for Cinnamon Toast Crunch as a dessert item. Also, now that Baby Hippie is almost ready for finger foods, I am anticipating our demand for Cheerios to skyrocket. So, I have been watching the ads for cereal deals, waiting for the prices to be less than $1.99, which is the typical sale price for most cereals in our area. A few weeks ago, the Dominick’s ad promised several of the cereals we enjoy for $1.49 when you purchase 4. I had a few coupons available – $1 off of 3 for most of the cereals we like, and $1 off of 2 for Cheerios. When all was said and done, I bought 16 boxes of cereal for about $1.05 each. We are set. For a long time.
It is possible to get some of your groceries for free. It is also possible to get discounts in addition to the free items, so you end up making a little money on the deal. Toothpaste and other oral care products are the easiest products to make money off of. They often go on sale at CVS and Walgreens, and then they offer register rewards/extra care bucks back in the amount of the purchase. You can use those rewards on your next shopping trip. If you have a manufacturer’s coupon for the product, you pay less than you get back in rewards. A few weeks ago, I made this purchase:
CVS had this deal on Crest Pro-Health mouthwash: the product was on sale for $3.99, and you would get $3.99 in Extra Bucks rewards. I had a P&G manufacturer coupon for $2 off any Pro-Health Rinse. When I scanned my card upon arriving, I also had a $0.50 credit from the Extra Care program for the purchases I had made during the previous month. So, with tax, I spent $1.78. On my next trip, I will have $3.99 to spend on the next deal like this so that I can keep rolling the deals into one another.
The video has its obnoxious moments, but it’s worth a watch. It packs a lot of information and some great practical tips into a compact, quick format. I’m sure you could get this information from her website (www.supercouponing.com), but the site is a hot mess. I found it very difficult to navigate, especially compared to the ease of watching the video.
Here are a few things we’ve picked up as we give this process a try:
- Space: Logistically, you can’t do this without some extra space, as you are essentially stockpiling frozen and nonperishable groceries when they go on sale and then using them as you need them. We have had to get pretty creative with space to make this happen, but it is doable. Part of our solution was to purchase stacking crates (we got ours from Office Depot when they were Buy One Get One Free). I labelled them by category and put a lot of our purchases in these crates that can be stacked high in a small amount of floor space. This is especially useful for items that are in bags instead of easily stackable boxes or cans. We also store glass bottles and jars in the crates – I was worried that they would get knocked off the shelf and broken.
- Newspaper subscriptions: You do a lot with the coupon inserts in the Sunday paper. For a few weeks, we bought three sunday papers to compare ads – our local paper, the Trib and the Chicago Sun-Times. The ads were, indeed, different. The Tribune often has more coupons. The values are similar to those in the Sun-Times, but every once in awhile the coupons are worth more in the Trib . I read on a different website that serious savers should have access to multiple coupon inserts from Sunday papers. He suggested lots of ways to negotiate with neighbors and community centers, but that was a little intense for me. We do, however, get multiple copies of the Chicago Tribune on Sundays. They offer a Sunday-only subscription. I did notice that each week’s newsstand copy offered a different price for subscriptions. One week, a Sunday-only subscription was offered for $1/week. The next week, the subscription was 50 cents per week. The third week, it was back to $1/week. The offer code is different, so be sure you are getting the best deal. Subscribe over the phone and ask to make sure you are getting the best price. This price is an introductory rate, so the price will jump after 6 weeks. From what I understand, though, you can call and negotiate a lower rate for some newspapers.
- CVS and Walgreens offer some great deals, but stick to your list. Their everyday prices are very high.
- “Like free” is not the same as “free.” Yes, you can get register rewards or extra care bucks back in the amount that you spent for some items, but you have to pay for the items in the first place then use your credit on a later shopping trip. This means that you have to have a storage system for these credits/coupons. You are also responsible for tax on these items. At first, there is a giddy excitement to getting something for free or getting money back on an item, so you might go out of your way to get a tube of toothpaste for free. However, many deals are not worth it unless they are for something you really need, especially if they require a separate trip to a store.
I don’t think I’ll ever be organized or dedicated enough to truly be a Super Couponer. However, with the information I got from the SuperCouponing DVD, we are saving a decent chunk of change at the grocery store each month. If you are interested iin giving this a try, I recommend checking out the DVD so that you can get everything Jill Cataldo has to offer, rather than just my clif notes version.