Couponing 101

Interested in learning to how to use coupons in a way that manufacturers don't expect you to use them?

Some of my face-to-face friends have said they are anxiously awaiting me to update my coupon pages. I've also been asked, several times, to hold a coupon how-to. If you are seriously interested in my Bargain Bootcamp, let me know, via comment or email so that I can accurately gauge the interest and plan accordingly. 

And, here's something to get you all thinking about how you spend.

Here's the full list of typical household purchases and how much I try to pay for them... i.e., as little as possible. Keep in mind that pricing on some things may vary by location and that I rely on stores that double/triple coupons, which really does make a difference.


*Baby shampoo/conditioner ~ free to $1 (we use Johnson's or Aveeno and I try to get this only when there are deals where it is free or close to free)

*Diapers - I try not to pay more than $4-5 for a jumbo pack of diapers and/or Pull-Ups using coupons/Register Rewards/Extra Care Bucks. But, I usually try to buy them when there is a "deal" so I pay even less. With each baby, I had a big stockpile of diapers (13 jumbo packs or boxes of diapers and 5 packs of Pull Ups currently), so I would only buy them when they are at really good prices.

*Infant/children's Tylenol - free to $1-$2 per bottle

*Wipes - between .50 and .80 per tub

(I'm not including produce prices because that varies a lot by location and by "season"...I just buy what is on sale and in season typically)


*Brownie mixes - free to $.20/box

*Cake mixes - free to $.50/box (I have been able to get cake mixes for free several times using coupons and sale prices)

*Chocolate chips - no more than $1 per bag (this is for Nestle brand)

Canned Goods

*Canned fruits - $.50-.75/can

*Canned vegetables - $.25-.40/can

*Chef Boyardee - no more than $.65/can

*Soups - $.70/can for "cooking" soups (cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, etc. because I use the 98% fat free and it's hard to find "deals" on can get the regular for a lot less) and $.50-.75/can for soups like Progresso or Campbell's Chunky/Select

Convenience foods (cookies/crackers/chips/granola bars/fruit snacks/etc.)

*Cookies - $.50/package (this is typically for the Keebler line)

*Crackers - $.50-$1 per box (this is for Sunshine, Keebler, or Nabisco)

*Fruit snacks - $.35-.50 per box (this is for Betty Crocker or Kellogg's)

*Granola bars - $.35-.50 per box for Nature Valley and $.50-$1 per box for Quaker (the Quaker ones are my husband's favorites and it's not as easy to find "deals" on them)

*Juice - $.50-.75/bottle (this is for Juicy Juice or Mott's apple juice)

*Pasta - preferably free, but no more than $.50 per package - Barilla comes out with $.50/1 coupons which double at my grocery store, so when there are 10/$10 sales, I can usually get this for free and I stock up!

*Pasta sauce (jarred or bagged) - no more than $.70/jar(this is for Ragu, Prego, or Barilla)

*Peanut butter - no more than $.75/jar
*Pop Tarts - $.50/box for 8ct and $1/box for 12 ct


*Cheese - $.49-$.99/package (when Kroger has their Mega sales, I can usually get the bags for $.49/each using coupons and the expiration dates are usually several months out, so I stock up and wait for the next sale)

*Cream cheese - $50-.99/package (this is for Philadelphia)

*Eggs - no more than $.99/dozen (I don't stockpile these, though I have heard of people freezing them...)

*Sour cream - free to $.99 (when Kroger has their Mega sales, I can usually get Daisy sour cream for free or close to free using coupons and even when there are not Mega sales going on, I can usually get it for a decent price using a coupon that doubles or triples - the Daisy sour cream coupons don't seem to ever come out in the inserts in my area, so I have to buy them other places and when I stock up, I look for expiration dates that are about 3 months out so I will be set until the next sale...this DOES NOT freeze well!)

*Yogurt - $.25-$.35 per cup (this is for Yoplait)

Meat (There are LOTS of ideas for stockpiling meat on a budget in this post here)


Beef roasts - $.99/lb (yes, you can really get it for that cheap on sale - I've got several roasts in my freezer right now to prove it)

Beef round steak - $.99/lb

Ground beef - we ONLY use the 93/7 lean beef, so $1.99/lb is a "stock up" price on this for me

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts - $.99-$1.69/lb (it's hard to find it for $.99/lb these days although it does happen every now and, I consider $1.69 to be my "stock up" price when I'm getting low) - I know that "bone in" chicken or whole chickens are much cheaper but this is much more convenient for me, so I'm willing to pay more

Split chicken breasts (these typically have the bone) - no more than $.99/lb

Pork chops (again I buy boneless) - $1.39/lb

Pork spare ribs - $.77/lb

Pork roasts - $.99/lb

Ground turkey - $1.99/lb (again we buy the 93/7). Anything under $1.50/lb is knock-down-the-people in the store prices. Our last stockpile was a few months ago and we snagged over 15 packages for $1 each. This was purely coupons and sale combining... not even Manager's Special prices.

 HEALTH & BEAUTY ITEMS: (if you have a Walgreens or CVS, you should be able to get most of these items for free or close to free)

*Band Aids - free (there are so many coupons and RR/ECB deals for these that you should never pay for them!)

*Body wash - free (whenever a new body wash comes out, it seems like there is a way to get it free with coupons/ECBs/RRs and I stock up - we're not brand specific at all on this stuff)

*Contact solution - free (around August, CVS/Walgreens both tend to offer deals on contact solution so you can get it for free after RRs/ECBs. I stock up at this time and I have more than a year's supply stockpiled right now)

*Deodorant - free (my husband has a specific type that he uses, and I have at least a year's supply stockpiled for each of us and only get it when I can get it for free or close to free using ECBs or RRs)

*Feminine Hygiene products - free (from my experience, the best time to stock up on these is during the summer months and then during January)

*Over the Counter cold, cough, and flu meds(Theraflu/Triaminic/Tylenol/etc.) - free (for two years now, I've managed to get a HUGE stockpile of this stuff for free)

*Pain relievers - free (we've got Advil, Excedrin, and Tylenol ~ we use Advil the most, but our stockpile of that is dwindling, so I'm hoping for a good deal soon so we can stock up again!) In the meantime, we have been using WalMart's generic of Advil, which is just fine, but not free.

*Razors - free (my husband uses Gillette razors and I use Schick razors and I can't remember the last time I've spent real money to actually buy either one...the "catch" is that you sometimes have to use a new razor rather than buying refills)

*Shampoo/conditioner/stylers - free (I'm not really "brand specific" when it comes to shampoo, although I love John Frieda's Root Awakening. I am in the middle of a huge stockpile from an awesome sale about a year ago.

*Shave gel - preferably free but up to .50 (I really don't like paying for shave gel, but there aren't really good "deals" on it as often as I'd like, either. So, if we're getting low, I try not to pay more than .50 per can using coupons or ECBs/RRs and sale prices)

*Toothpaste - free (even if you're just starting out, if you're not brand specific, you should be able to easily get a stockpile of toothpaste for free or close to free pretty quickly because it's on sale almost every week at either Walgreens or CVS)

*Vitamins - this varies, but I typically like to buy them during BOGO free sales when I can use coupons on top of the sale - I was able to stock up for this year at the Nature's Bounty BOGO free sale at CVS a few week's ago and got all of our vitamins for free! (with the exception of "kid" vitamins which are much harder to find deals on)

 (Here's a tip ~ There aren't a lot of ECB/RR deals on household cleaners, but there seem to be a lot of BOGO free deals, so I use those to stock up and use two coupons - one for each item - to bring the price down!)

*Bathroom cleaners/toilet cleaners - no more than .75-$1 each (I typically buy Lysol toilet bowl cleaner and Scrubbing Bubbles bathroom cleaners)

*Dish soap (liquid) - free to $.50 (I buy Dawn or Palmolive, whichever is on sale and you can get it fairly often at CVS or Walgreens for these prices when you use coupons and take advantage of ECB/RR deals)

*Dishwasher tabs - free to $.99 (high dollar Electrasol coupons come out fairly regularly where you can get these for free or up to $.99)

*Dryer sheets/fabric softener - free (I can't remember the last time I've had to pay for these...I use either Bounce or Snuggle and have a pretty good stockpile of both that I've gotten for free)

*Hand soap - free (The best time to ctock up is when grocery stores offer the "All Coupons = $1 promotions and I can usually combine with a 10/$10 sale for free soap, using coupons)

*Kleenex - no more than $.50/box (this is for the actual Kleenex brand)

*Laundry detergent - $1-2 (I usually buy All or Tide - this price is for the liquid, 32 loads. I'm currently in the middle of a massive stockpile of Purex. I snagged 34 bottles of Purex soap for free. Well, we paid $7.12 in tax on the 34 bottles, but now you;re just being picky.)

*Multi-purpose cleaners - no more than $.75/$1 each (I typically buy Fantastik or the Windex Multipurpose)

*Paper towels - .25 - .50 per roll (I never pay more than $.50/roll...We'll go without before I pay more. 

*Toilet paper - free to .30 per roll (this was a hard one for me because it's been so long since I've paid for toilet paper, but I know people want to know good "stock up" prices, and so I would say no more than $.30/roll)


  1. Wow! Very helpful! Can you write more about Extra Care Bucks and Register Rewards? How do you get those?

  2. Yes -- the RR and ECB are a part of my "coming soon". Basically, though, they are a system of reward dollars at Walgreens and CVS. I frequent those stores A LOT. They may seem like a rip off, and they are if you shop there without any attention to ads and coupons. However, if youlook at the circulars, you will see lots of promotions that read something like this:

    Gum 2 for $2, earn $1 in Register Rewards
    "It's like paying $1 for 2 packs of gum"

    You will receive a coupon after you pay the sale price. At CVS they are called Extra Care Bucks and they print on your receipt. They are specific to CVS. Walgreens, however, prints it as a "catalina coupon," the long strips of paper you may get with your recipt at a grocery store.

    Walgreens has a 2 week expiration on the coupons/RR, and you can use them on your next purchase of anything (except liquor and tobacco and RX).

    The fun part is when you start learning how to "roll" one register reward deal into abother, so you are basically not paying out of pocket for anything.

    For example, I buy shampoo for $2. It generate s a $2 Register Reward ("It's like getting it for FREE" the ad will say). I will tehn take that $2 RR and buy something else that is also generating a RR. So that Out of Pocket up-front expense is covered by the Register Reward.

    More on this soon, and in a way that will be easier to wrap your head around. This is why I need to hold a class. So I can show everyone what the ads and coupons look like.

  3. This question was sent to me on Facebook. I thought I would post it here as it would be helpful to most of you just getting started with coupons:

    I have another question! So say you have a manufacturer coupon. It is for 1 thing bought. Can you use multiple coupons if you buy multiples in one transaction? Or would you need to check out seperately?

    SO say you have a coupon for toothpaste it is save 50cents when you buy one. You want to buy 2 can you use 2 coupons? .

    Elena Tosi Malovich February 20 at 9:38pm

    Of Course!!!! Most coupons are "one per item". It may read "one per purchase" amd people get comfused by this thinking the purchase is the whole trip to the store, But each item you buy is a purchase.

    Incidentally, toothpaste is free, or a moneymaker at CVS this week:

    •Colgate maxwhite or maxfresh 6 oz, or total advanced or enamel strength 4 oz $2.77/$2.99 get $2 eb Limit 2

    (Colgate Maxwhite clearanced @ some stores for $1.74 and included)

    USEL $1 Colgate Toothpaste, 4 oz+ (exp 2/19/2011) 1/30/2011 SS