Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Life of a Working Couponing Mom

It's been a busy weekend! There are two main drugstores I shop - CVS and Walgreens. Both have their own reward systems. I shop them in spurts depending on what's on sale. Both stores broke early Black Friday ads this Sunday, meaning they released most of their Black Friday deals in this Sunday's ads. Good for me because I'm working on Black Friday. Not so good for the Black Friday shoppers because there probably won't be any product left by the time the second sale ad breaks on Thursday.

So here's how it works...

CVS has Extra Care Bucks or ECBs. Fake CVS money. You can earn ECBs by buying certain things. They print at the bottom of your register receipt after buying said item. ECBs expire 30 days after you get them. You have to have CVS's ExtraCard to earn and use your ECBs and they are tied to your card, meaning you can't use the ECBs that you find in the parking lot or the ones your friend gives you. There is a limit on how many times a sale item can give you an ECB. Most of the time it's just one, but sometimes it's more. You can also scan your ExtraCare card at their card reader/price checker when you enter the store and it will spit out CVS coupons. You can use both a CVS coupon and a manufacturer's coupon on the same item.

Walgreens is a bit more complicated (in my opinion). Their reward system is called Balance Rewards (BR). You can earn BR points by buying certain items that are on sale that week. Once you earn a certain number of points, you can use them to pay for your purchases. 1000 BR points equals $1.00. You cannot earn BR points if you use BR points in that transaction. Your BR account is kind of like a gift card account since your points do not expire. You need to sign up for a Balance Rewards card to take advantage of their sale prices and rewards. They also have something called Register Rewards (RR). Some of their sale items will spit out a coupon with your receipt called a Register Reward. The RR is for a dollar amount that is good for a future Walgreens purchase - so it's fake Walgreens money. You do not need a card to get RRs. Only one RR will print per transaction for a specific item but there is no limit to how many times you can get the RR. If you use a RR to pay for an item, you cannot earn a RR on that same item.The RRs expire 14 days after printing. I don't like the RRs as much because 14 days is not a lot of time to "roll" the RR into another deal. Sometimes there just isn't anything to buy at Walgreens the next 2 weeks after you earn the RR so you just end up spending it on a full price item.

Both CVS and Walgreens have a bunch of items this week that are "free" after either ECBs or RRs - meaning you pay X but will get an ECB or RR for that same amount when you check out. Both stores have also been known the last few years to run a boat load of "free" item sales on Black Friday then have crappy sale ads for weeks afterwards so it's hard to roll the ECBs or RRs into other deals and people just get stuck with them. That being said, I can see the upcoming ads for the next several weeks on most of the deal sites so I can plan out what to do with my ECBs or RRs.

So enough background. Here's my last couple days...

My day off. My younger daughter G and I spent Friday night at my in-laws house in Columbus so we could go to a Christmas Art Show Open House in the morning. One of my mother-in-law's  friends is an artist that was selling paintings at this Open House. There were glass artists there too. I like art glass. G likes art in general. The Open House was from 10 am to 4 pm. G had Nutcracker rehearsal from 3-6 pm in the afternoon so we decided to go at 10 am when they opened.

Got up. Checked my email and coupon sites while G got ready. I found out that there are specially marked Eggo waffle boxes at Target where you buy 4, enter the KFR (Kellogg's Family Rewards) code inside the box on the KFR site, and you get a $5 Target gift card. Eggos were on sale for $2 that week - meaning I had to buy them Saturday for the sale price. Also realized the Quaker Warm and Crunchy Granola boxes go off sale that night too. They were on sale for $2.50 (normally $3.99). There is a Target coupon for $1 and a manufacturer's coupon for $1, so only $0.50 a box after coupon stack.

Went to the Art Show. Drove an hour back to Greenwood. Hit CVS on the way home and bought 4 newspapers ($5.00). I always get 4 copies of the weekend Daily Journal on Saturday. The Daily Journal doesn't come out on Sunday so all the Sunday ads and coupons are in the Saturday paper, plus the coupons are better and it's less expensive than the Indy Star.

Ran home long enough for G to change clothes and grab food, then it's back in the car to drive to an hour to Carmel for Nutcracker rehearsal. Today was parent observation - the one open studio rehearsal the parents get to see - so I was obligated to sit and watch the 3 hour rehearsal.

6 pm (umm... where did my day go?) Done with rehearsal. Another hour back to Greenwood. We ran through Target on the way home. I found the specially marked Eggo boxes and got 4.

Home. Fed everyone. Went to the KFR site and entered my codes and boom, $5 Target gift card in my email. Kids devoured an entire box of Eggos. I decided this was a pretty good deal.

Kellogg's Family Rewards is another rewards point site. You enter codes from the inside of Kellogg's products. The codes give you points. You redeem the points for stuff. I think you have to redeem an exorbitant number of points for their stuff but, a couple times a year, they have "sales" on their point items and then it's a deal. I always redeem my points for high value coupons.

I searched my coupon database for Eggo coupons. There are no printable or regular insert coupons out at this time. There are, however, Eggo coupons that I can redeem points for at the KFR site. I redeemed 1000 points for a $1.50 coupon. I can print 2 copies.

9 pm. My older daughter needs driven to a friend's house. I drive her over and hit Target again. This time I get 4 Eggo boxes and use two $1.50 coupons. So $5 for 4 boxes. I also remember to get the Quaker. Had to do 2 transactions, used my own bag both times so got another $0.05 off each time.

End result. 8 boxes of Eggos, 2 boxes of Quaker Warm and Crunchy Granola. Spent $13.90. Got $10 in Target gift cards.

I'm scheduled to work 6:30 am - 3:00 pm. I have an hour drive each way.

Up at 4:30. Left the house 15 minutes early so I could hit the 24 hour Walgreens that is on my way to work. I am starting Walgreens this week with nothing to roll. So basically starting with just the coupons I have.

Walgreens: Got Swisse vitamins - $10, used a $5 coupon. Gelusil antacid tablets - $3, used $2 coupon. Paid $6.91, Got $10 RR for Swisse and $3 RR for Gelusil.

Worked from 6:30 am to 4:00 pm. We were busy so I ended up staying an hour over. I had to pick up G in Carmel from Nutcracker rehearsal at 6pm. Hit Walgreens again on my way North.

Walgreens: Got another Gelusil ($3, used $2 coupon), Tums Freshers ($4.50), 2 Grape Nuts cereal ($1.99 each, used 2 $1.00 coupons), 2 Glad Cling Wrap ($2 each, used 2 $1.00 coupons), Reeses PB cup ($0.59). Used the $10 RR from the morning to pay plus $0.92, Got $3 RR for Gelusil and $4.50 RR for Tums.

I had to buy the Reese's as a "filler". Your pre-tax total has to be greater than the amount of the RR you want to use. Without the $0.59 Reese's, my total was only $9.48. The Reese's pushed it to $10.07. The rest of what I paid was for tax.

Hit the CVS that was on my way too. I am starting CVS this week with $1 ECB. Got 2 Sparkle paper towels ($1 each, used buy one get one free coupon), Colgate toothpaste ($3.00, used $2.50 CVS coupon and $0.50 manufacturer's coupon), theater box Whoppers ($1.00), Orbit gum ($0.99), 2 Starbucks Double Shot Espresso cans ($1.50 each).

Paid $5.41. Got $3 ECB for Starbucks, $2 ECB for Sparkle, $1 ECB for Whoppers, and $0.99 ECB for Orbit.

Got G in time. Came home. Fed everyone and passed out.

Scheduled to work 6:30 am - 3 pm again. Up at 4:30. Left 15 minutes early again to hit Walgreens.

Walgreens: Got Swisse vitamins ($10, used $5 coupon) and candy $0.29. Used $4.50 RR from Tums purchase, paid $1.51, got $10 RR for Swisse.

I had to buy the candy as another filler. At Walgreens your coupon count has to match your item count. I had a $5 manufacturer's coupon for the Swisse and wanted to use a $4.50 RR. The RR reward counts as a coupon so, without the candy, I would have 2 coupons but only 1 item so the register will not accept the second coupon. The candy was the cheapest thing I could find.

Worked from 6:30 to 4 pm. Busy again. Hit Walgreens on the way home.

Walgreens: Got Max Freeze muscle rub ($7, used $2 coupon), Tums Freshers ($4.50), and a Reese's PB cup ($0.59). Used $10 RR from the morning, paid $0.94, got $5 RR for Max Freeze, $4.50 RR for Tums.

G had dance practice at her local studio at 5:15 pm so drove up to my house, she hopped in, and we drove to the studio. G had a duet rehearsal that just lasted an hour so I dropped her off and did some more shopping.

Walgreens: Swisse vitamins ($10, used $5 coupon) and candy $0.29. Used $5 RR from Max Freeze, paid $1.01, got $10 RR for Swisse.

CVS: box of Kraft Mac and Cheese ($0.99), pack of 5 Gum ($1.00). Used $0.99 ECB and $1.00 ECB, paid $0.07 for tax.

Picked up G. Went home. Fed everyone and passed out again.

Tuesday (today, at least when I started writing this!)
It's my day off. Time to wrap up these deals.

"Slept in" until 6:30 am. Drove J to school. Checked my email and my deal sites. KFR sent me a birthday email yesterday. Got a code for 100 bonus points and a $20 Shutterfly credit. Also read on a deal site that KFR is giving double points for your codes on Black Friday and then having a "sale" from December 2-8. I'll hang onto my birthday code til Friday and see if it will double. Also found out that My Coke Rewards (MCR), another rewards point site I frequent, is having double points from now til 11/28. I enter my coke codes I've been saving. I always hold onto them until they have a double points event. I am a Diet Coke addict.

8:45 am. Drive G to school then go to Walgreens.

I need to start converting my RRs to BR points because I'm done buying the stuff I want this week. Walgreens has a deal this week where you can earn 10,000 BR points for buying 2 Nexxus hair products. 10,000 BR points equals $10. I have $5 Nexxus coupons. Conversion problem solved!

Walgreens: 2 Nexxus conditioners ($9.99 each, used 2 $5.00 coupons) and candy $0.29. Used $10 RR, paid $1.69, got 10,000 BR points.

CVS: 2 GUM toothbrush twin packs ($2.00 each) and 20ct CVS pantiliners ($0.99). Used $3 ECB, $1 ECB, and $0.99 ECB, paid $0.35 tax, got $4 ECB for toothbrushes and $0.99 ECB for pantiliners.

Home again. Clean. Eat. Make dinner reservations for Shula's for tonight through Open Table gives me points for making dining reservations and I can redeem points for dining credits ($ to use) at any Open Table restaurant. Plan the rest of my day. One more trip out to get everything done.

I need to drop off my recycling, go to the post office and the bank. Luckily there is a Walgreens and CVS on almost every corner where I live. I basically drove a big square to run my errands and there was a Walgreens and CVS on 3 of the 4 corners of my square. So...

Walgreens: Swisse vitamins ($10, use $5 coupon) and candy $0.29. Used $4.50 RR, paid $1.51, got $10 RR.

CVS: Kraft Mac and Cheese ($0.99), GUM toothbrush 2 pack ($2), 2 bags York peppermint patties ($3.99 each, on sale for buy one get one free, used $2.50 off 2 CVS coupon and $1.10 off 2 manufacturer's coupon). Used $2 ECB and $0.99 ECB, paid $0.81, got $2 ECB and $0.99 ECB

Walgreens: 3 boxes Grape Nuts ($1.99 each, used 3 $1.00 coupons), 2 Nexxus (9.99 each, used 2 $5.00 coupons) and 2 candies ($0.29 each). Used $10 RR and $3 RR. Paid $1.97, got 10,000 BR points.

CVS: 2 bags York peppermint patties. Used same coupons as above. Paid $0.67.

DONE with my deals this week!

Here's my summary:

Walgreens: Total paid out of pocket $16.46, got all this stuff - some of the candy got eaten already - still have $3 RR and earned 20,000 BR points worth $20 - $22. 1000 BR points = $1 but you can cash in 18,000 BR points for $20

CVS: Total paid out of pocket $7.31, got all this stuff - kids already snagged the 2 Starbucks, Orbit gum, and the toothpaste - still have a $4 ECB, $2 ECB, and $0.99 ECB. I'm not too worried about hanging onto the ECBs since I have a month to spend them.

My husband and I had a fabulous dinner at Shula's tonight!

My dinner - Caesar's salad, Filet Oscar (a filet mignon topped with lump crab, asparagus, and hollandaise sauce), roasted corn, sparkling water, MacMurray Ranch Russian River chardonnay, key lime pie. Pretty much had to roll me home. They even gave me this but I'll have to wait until tomorrow to eat whatever's inside!

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