Extreme Couponing Tips: Come shopping with me
Dear Jill: In one of your recent columns, you featured a letter from a reader who stated that she spent $45.81 and saved $47.36 with coupons.
I have read numerous articles over the years where people say they get their order for free or for a very low cost.
These articles never show what was bought and the coupons used. I have always said this is smoke and mirrors as there is no detail. — Joe B.
Dear Joe: When you can combine great sales with coupons, it's absolutely true that you can bring your total down significantly at the register. To help explain how this is possible, I'll walk you through one of my recent shopping trips.
I went shopping at Meijer, a supermarket chain in the Midwest where I live. Following is a list of the items I bought and the coupons I used on each.
• Gallon jug of store-brand milk: $2.19. I used an ecoupon from the store's website for a free gallon of milk and paid $0.
• 6.4-ounce Colgate toothpaste: $1. I used a 75-cent coupon from the newspaper inserts and paid 25 cents.
• Colgate Wave toothbrush: $1. I used a 75-cent coupon from the newspaper inserts and paid 25 cents.
• Snapware food storage container: $2.39. I used a $2 coupon from the newspaper inserts and paid 39 cents.
• 20-pack of Finish dishwasher detergent tablets: $2.69. I used a $2.15 coupon from the newspaper inserts and paid 54 cents.
• Three 16-ounce boxes of Barilla pasta: $3. I used a $1-off-3 coupon from the newspaper inserts and paid $2.
• Three 16-ounce cans of Old El Paso refried beans: $3. I used a 60-cents-off-3 coupon that I printed from the Internet and paid $2.40.
• 15.5-ounce box of Honey Bunches of Oats Greek Yogurt cereal: $1.99. I used a $1 coupon from the newspaper inserts and paid 99 cents.
• 16-ounce Tennessee Pride roll sausage: $2.50. I used a $1 coupon from All You (a coupon magazine) and paid $1.50.
• 72-ounce bottle of Purex laundry detergent: $2.99. I used a $1 coupon from the newspaper inserts and paid $1.99.
• Two bottles of 59-ounce Trop50 orange juice: $5. I used a $1-off-2 coupon from the newspaper inserts and paid $4.
• 16-ounce box of Purina One Beyond cat food: $2.99. I used a coupon for a free box from the newspaper inserts and paid $0.
• 12 double roll package of Angel Soft bath tissue: $4.99. I used a 45-cent coupon from the newspaper inserts and paid $4.54.
Before coupons, my total for all of these items was $35.73. After coupons? Just $18.85.
I almost cut my bill by half with coupons. No smoke, no mirrors and certainly no magic involved.
Despite this being a digital age, the vast majority of the coupons I used came right out of the newspaper inserts — something that's true for most of my trips. I'm always on the lookout for the best coupons to use each week, but most of them still come from the newspaper.
According to a recent study by NCH Marketing, this is true for most shoppers. In 2012, more than 90 percent of the coupons issued for consumer-packaged goods were distributed in newspaper inserts. Less than 1 percent of coupons were issued as printable or electronic coupons. A newspaper subscription is a necessary tool for all coupon shoppers.
If you'd like to see more detailed information about the inserts in which these coupons were located, I've outlined it in further detail on my blog at jillcataldo.com. You can even watch a clip from my local news station in which I featured several of these deals on air during the week of this sale.
Smart Living Tip: If you're an avid couponer, your couponing habits will more than cover the cost of a weekly newspaper subscription. With my shopping trip above, I saved $13.09 with newspaper insert coupons — much more than I pay for the Sunday paper each week.