Monday, June 20, 2011

MrsDrPoe: A Beginners Guide to Couponing, Part 5

In this week's installment of "A Beginners Guide to Couponing," we will continue to discuss the drugstore game. Today we will be examining the inner workings of...

One of the benefits to couponing at Wags is that there are no initial steps to be taken other than your typical collection of coupons. There is no membership card program here, nor is there any method for collecting extra RR (like with the green bag tags at CVS).

As with CVS, I carefully examine the sale and coupon matchups before I visit my local store. Jenny again does most of the grunt work for me. Her site details the items that are on sale, the RR offers, all the coupons that could be applied to the product, where to find these coupons, which coupons to use to get the best deal, and how much you'll end up paying if you do what she tells you to. There's even a function to print out a nice list of the deals that YOU want and the possible coupons you can use. Wags sales run from Sunday through Saturday.

Since Wags does not require you to have a membership card to take advantage of their sales, they limit the number of items you purchase in another manner. Suppose there is a deal on Shampoo X where, if you purchase a bottle for $3.00, you will get $2.00 back in RR. If you buy TWO bottles of Shampoo X in a single transaction ($6.00 OOP), you will ONLY receive $2.00 back in RR. If you purchase ONE bottle of Shampoo X in your first transaction ($3.00 OOP, $2.00 back in RR), and then you purchase a SECOND bottle of Shampoo X in your second transaction, using the RR you got from buying the first bottle (termed "rolling your RR"), you WILL NOT get $2.00 back in RR for your second purchase, even if there are other items in your second transaction. If you purchase two bottles in two transactions and don't roll your RR, you could end up with 2 bottles of Shampoo X and $4.00 in RR in you wallet. (Thus, technically even though there are limits, there are no limits- please don't abuse the system!)

Another method Wags uses to get you to spend more money in the store involves the number of coupons you are allowed to use in a single transaction. You may use one manufacturer coupon AND one store coupon on the same product; however, the number of coupons used in your transaction must be less than or equal to the number of items purchased in that transaction. Suppose Deodorant Y is on sale for $2.00 per stick. You have a manufacturer coupon for $1.00 off 1 stick and a Wags coupon for $0.50 off 1 stick. In order to use both your coupons on a single stick of deodorant, you must purchase at least one additional item (cost doesn't matter). Often times you will be able to find $0.10-$0.50 items (candy, clearance, etc.) that make a nice "happy" for a friend, spouse, kid, or whoever. Note that RR count as "coupons" as well! If you are paying for an item with RR but you also have a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon, you must pick up two "filler item" to use all three.

When I get the Wags add in the Sunday paper, I make sure the deals I like are available at my store, then I clip the coupons I need, and I'm ready to go to shopping.

Coupon Matching Notes:
B1G1 coupons are typically best paired with B1G1 sales at drugstores because of the way they price these items - the first item rings up full price, and the second rings up at no charge. When you pair the B1G1 coupon with the B1G1 sale, you're truly getting both for free. Consequently, when you are purchasing an item that a drugstore advertises as B1G1, you must purchase both to actually see the savings!
Furthermore, if you have two $x off 1 item manufacturer coupons, you may use both when taking advantage of a store B1G1 sale, since you are purchasing two items. If the product costs $y, you are getting two items for $y-$2x...if you're not great at algebra, this usually means it's a great deal.

The first time I walk into the store each month, I pick up a monthly Wags Coupon Book. These books are pamphlet size, contain store coupons valid for the current month, and are located in front of or below the sales circulars. Occasionally, store coupons will also print out at the register from the machine that prints out the RR.

When I've grabbed all the items that I want, I pull out all the coupons for the items I have in my cart, double check that I picked up the correct items and number of items (including fillers), think about how many transactions I wish to make, and head to the register.

If I am planning to make multiple transactions, I try to limit myself to two, and I make sure that the cashiers aren't swamped so that I'm not a nuisance to them or other customers. The potential benefit to multiple transactions is based on the idea of rolling RRs, i.e. when I purchase items that give me $x back in RRs, I immediately use that $x on my second transaction. Rolling RRs helps to keep the amount of money you pay out of pocket (OOP) as low as possible. (Recall that rolling RRs on the same product will cause you to lose money!)

When I get to the register, I place the items for my (first) transaction on the counter. After the items have been scanned, I hand the cashier my coupons. Next, I hand him/her any RRs I have from previous transactions. RRs will not cover the tax on an item- if you owe $1.75 and $0.75 is tax, you may only use an RR worth $1. If you attempt to use an RR worth more than $1, the register will beep angrily at you. When I've gotten the total down as low as possible, I pay for my purchases and obtain my receipt.

As with all receipts, Wags receipts detail the items you purchase, the coupons you used, the tax, and the total you paid for the transaction. They also show you how much you saved on an item (the difference in the price you paid for an item and its regular price at the store). Since you do not have a rewards card, your previous savings at the store is not tracked.

Your RRs will print out separately from the receipt on long thin strips of paper that look like this:

(the above is actually a rebate that printed out for me- check back this evening for the skinny on this deal.) To redeem the RR, just present it to the cashier at the time of purchase. Anyone can use these RR (since there is no card number attached to it). Typically, you have two weeks from the date of purchase to use them.


  1. I got hooked on a marathon of Extreme Couponing on TLC. I wanted to ask how you get manufacturer's coupons? Do you buy papers each week? I noted that some on the show had friends saving them and some were dumpster-diving. Have you found a resource?

  2. @Sue Poe I buy 2 Sunday papers each week and then keep an eye out online for any printable manufacturer coupons that may be useful to me (from, facebook, etc.).

    Of course, it doesn't hurt to have friends collecting for you too- when we lived closer to them, my parents would keep their Sunday coupons for me.

    I think a lot of the "Extreme Couponing" people buy their coupons online from other people who won't be using them. I've never done this because I don't trust it (and I'm not sure if it's totally legal).