Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hints for Couponing

In answer to questions from friends and in the comments, I thought I would do a post on how I do all this frugal shopping.

How Publix works:
  • Mystery Coupons are good only on Sundays and Mondays.
  • You need to buy at least $10 in groceries to get the Mystery Coupon item. That includes the Mystery Coupon item itself.
  • You can only get one Mystery Coupon item per transaction.
  • Some stores require you to have the actual paper mystery coupon, others don't. If you don't have it, and you have at least $10 in groceries, just ask the cashier; they may honor it.
  • BOGO items are really half price. You do not need to buy two of the item to get the half price.
  • You can use a coupon with each BOGO item you buy.
  • Coupons are automatically doubled up to 50 cents.
  • Publix puts out some Publix-only coupons, usually in the monthly fliers. They say P.U. (sorry: L.U.) and then a number. You can use these coupons at the same time as a regular manufacturer's coupon. This is called "stacking".
  • Publix corporate policy is to accept competitor's coupons; however, not all cashiers know this.

CVS Extracare Bucks:
To start out, you'll need to sign up for an Extracare card at CVS. Then start collecting coupons to use with your ecb items. You get the best prices by combining coupons with the ecb deals. I save almost all coupons from the newspaper. Even if it's a product I will never use, it might be something I could donate to charity, and I might be able to get it free. I never know what might become a great deal in the future, so I save them all. However, I personally don't save coupons for hair dye, diapers, a few kinds of junk food, and smoking cessation products because I don't use them and I don't donate them to charity.

You'll need to plan to invest maybe $20 to $30 until you have a small stack of extracare bucks. Buy things that will earn you ecb's, paying cash for these items. Ecb's will print out on the end of your cash register tape. Cut these off and save them. Note: ecb's expire one month from the date they print out.
Soon you will be able to pay for your ecb items with ecb's. This is called "rolling". You buy ecb items, but you don't pay with cash; you pay with ecb's. As you keep doing this, you'll find you don't spend any more cash at CVS, except for a small residual, under a dollar usually. Don't forget to check your coupon stash to see if you can match coupons to products. Next you'll see that you earn so many ecb's that you have too many to spend on just ecb items. So branch out and buy non-ecb items with your ecb's. Those things will be free too, since you are only spending ecb's. But try to never completely use up your ecb's or you will need to start over saving them up again.

Expect the need to fill in with some small items now and then to get your total up to or over the ecb amount. This is called "filler". Favorite fillers are the candy bars right at the cash registers. That's what they are there for! (Just kidding.)

When your closets are too full of some types of items, don't stop. Continue to roll your ecb's to collect more, and donate your extras to charity.

Hint: Always check your receipt before you leave the store, to make sure your ecb's printed. Once you leave it's difficult to correct it.

Where to get coupons:
From the Sunday paper (Keep in mind there are usually no coupons on holiday weekends.)
From the throw-away paper tossed on your driveway every Thursday.
From your friends and neighbors who don't want their coupons.
"Blinkie" boxes attached to the shelves in the grocery store.
Sometimes there are "peelies" on products.
Go dumpster diving into the newspaper recycling bins.
From ebay. I'm not sure how this works as I have never done it.


Richard said...

Hi, My name is Richard Krenz, and I work for Publix Supermarkets in Brevard County, FL. I have a few corrections to offer.

BOGO items, or Buy One Get One Free, are not half price. In order to receive any discount, a second item must be purchased. The register will ring up the second item, and then automatically subtract the price of the second item immediately afterward. You will be charged full price if you just buy one item. Only items advertised, for example, as 2 for $6.00 would ring up $3.00 each.

And also, the Publix Coupons have "L.U." printed on them and then a 4-digit number. This is called a Look-up number.

All cashiers in our supermarkets should be trained to know they can accept competitor's coupons. Be sure you are using coupons from other food retailers. We do not except coupons from pharmacies like Walgreens or CVS, and discount stores like Dollar General.

I am not familiar with the Mystery Coupon, and it may not be something we have in the JAX division, though I've heard about it before.

Thank you for your time!
Richard Krenz
Store 0264/0329

A.D. said...

Thanks for your comments, Richard, but you are mistaken about the BOGO items. Maybe in Florida you must pay full price for one item, but here where I live a customer CAN buy one item and pay half price for it. I do it all the time. That is why I say that BOGO is really paying half price. It sounds like it's a regional thing.
Mystery Coupons must also be regional thing. GA and TN have them.

Heather said...

I have heard that Publix is different in Florida. The ones in Florida don't double coupons, don't have mystery items, and don't make the BOGO items half price. The stores in other states do. I think FL ones also have different weekly sales than stores in the other states.