How to Use Coupons to Create a Wad of Pseudo-Cash


Last week I posted on Facebook about my shopping trip to CVS on Sunday.  I am always so pleased when people comment and are struck with awe at what coupons can do!  Because I have been actively couponing for 3 years straight, I tend to forget how amazing it must sound to only spend 36 cents for $47 worth of items.  Now don’t get me wrong, I do get very excited about my shopping and my savings but it’s not the same overwhelmed, awe-struck innocence that I hear from people who have never couponed before.   It inspires me when I talk to people who say, “How do you do that?  Will you teach me?  I want to learn!”

But this week’s slew of those innocent comments made me realize, I should maybe have a blog post recapping how coupons can save you tons of money.  If you are just getting started in couponing, please refer to my earlier posts about Coupon Basics.  Those posts will give you step by step instructions on how to get started.

But today, I’m going to go over what I did at CVS to only pay 36 cents for $47 worth of household and beauty products.  For starters, I have been hitting CVS over the last month and scoring great deals on their weekly Extra Buck deals.  These are the deals they offer each week that earn you a coupon worth Extra Buck money (basically it’s like store credit!).  A lot of times, you buy an item and the Extra buck is worth as much as you paid for it, making it basically free.

The key to all of this though is to use your coupons on top of the store offer.  For instance, CVS had Pantene shampoo on sale for $3.50 each with an Extra buck reward of $1.00.  So, I looked through my coupon binder and found a $3.00 off 2 Pantene shampoos.  So, here’s the breakdown, I paid $7 for 2 shampoos, less the $3 coupon = $4 for 2 shampoos.  But as my receipt prints out I receive a $1 in Extra Bucks.  See how that works?

My point in telling you this is so you see that you don’t have to fork over a bunch of money in order to get the Extra Buck rewards.  If you use your coupons right, you can earn the rewards without having to invest a whole lot of money.  That tends to be a misnomer about these rewards.  People think they have to spend $30 to get $30 in rewards.  That is SO not true and completely against a Smart Couponer’s philosophy.  Use your coupons to get those prices down while you earn the rewards.  Make sense?

Well, last Sunday I went in with $37 worth of Extra Buck rewards which were getting close to expiring and a handful of coupons.  I always check my store loyalty card at the red coupon machine in the front of the store.  Today I lucked out and had earned another $5 Extra buck reward!  Score!!

I bought the following:

2 Covergirl Mascaras—Buy one get one 50% off plus I had a $1.00 off coupon

1 Neutrogena Facial cleansing bar—on sale (no coupon but I love this stuff!)

1 Always Infinity Maxi-Pads—on sale plus I had $1 off coupon

3 Dawn Dish soaps—on sale for 99cents plus I had 2 25cent off coupons

2  Gallons of milk—best price in town at $2.99 each

2 Pantene shampoos–$3.50 each plus I had a $3.00 off coupon for 2

My total was $47.36 cents before coupons.  Once the clerk rang in all the coupons and Extra bucks, I heard the words that make any couponer jump for joy…”Oh, maam your total is negative 14 cents, so you need to buy something else.”  Well, my boys got a special treat that day since I threw in a Nut roll for 50 cents.  Making my grand total a whopping 36 cents for all those products !

But the story doesn’t end there.  It gets even better!  At the bottom of my receipt was a new 10 dollars of Extra bucks which I had earned by purchasing that week’s Extra buck’s products.  So, let me recap for you:  I paid 36 cents for almost $50 worth of home and beauty products plus 2 gallons of milk and don’t forget the Nut Roll AND I walked out of there with $10 Extra bucks in my pocket.

Yup, that is the miracle of couponing.  Anyone can do it if they are willing to do it!  It’s all about finding rock bottom prices, using coupons on those items and then earning and redeeming rewards at the right time.   You want to try and replace the rewards with new rewards so that you are never left empty-handed.  By “rolling” the rewards (meaning using them on a product that earns you more rewards.) you  spend less out of pocket and create a perpetual “wad of pseudo-cash”.

If you are new to couponing, I hope you find inspiration in this shopping experience!  It’s possible to really make a dent in your grocery bill by smart couponing. If you are a veteran at couponing, I hope you find renewed inspiration.  Sometimes when we do something for so long, we take things for granted so it’s always refreshing to see the situation through fresh, new eyes.  That’s how I felt hearing the comments this past week on Facebook !  Thank you for your inspiration and happy couponing!

Erin’s got tons of tips for saving money, couponing, sticking to a budget, and living sustainably in her blog archive.


Erin Eisenman-Turner is proud to be a native Missoulian. Along with her husband and three sons, they raise chickens, pigs, rabbits, and vegetables at Turner Family Farms in the Orchard Homes area. When the farm chores are done, the coupons clipped, and the blog written, you can find Erin exploring Montana, collecting antiques, and trying to maintain a well-run, happy, and organized home for her family.

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