i try it- coupon buying adventure!

25 01 2011

so last week when i was writing about coupon contingency plans when you miss a newspaper, i mentioned the possibility of buying coupons from an online clipping service. i’d considered it before, but always got big case of the lazy (with a side of cheap), and decided that it wasn’t worth the risk of buying a bunch of coupons that i might not ever have the occasion to use. but recently, the coupon stars have aligned in such a way that it finally seemed worth the minimal effort to take the risk (and by risk, i mean approximately $6 and a week worth of waiting).

there is a deal at CVS that has been quietly bubbling away over the last few weeks- seemingly unnoticed or unnoted by the usual local coupon clipping suspects (although, maine  just doesn’t have the shelf cleaner problem that’s rampant in other states). apparently, every year in january, they clearance down all of their cosmetics that are being discontinued. well the time has come, and there are tons and tons of little orange (75% off) and yellow (50% off) stickers (it’s breathtaking really) littering the beauty aisles. in general, i’m not really a makeup person, and i am FIERCELY LOYAL to the things that i do wear. for example, i presently have a fridge full of discontinued max factor foundation (11 tubes purchased on ebay) that i’ve been wearing since the late 90s. but since i started the makeup project and also began my burlesque career, i’ve found a greater need for such products in my life (i finally figured out how to apply false eyelashes!). biggest issue- COSMETICS ARE FUCKING EXPENSIVE! on the final day of the makeup project when i was trying to fill in the last few holes, the cheapest blush i could find was $4.99! so this year, i’m stocking up my burlesque sparkle stash and beginning the makeup project good and early (2011 will be bigger and better than ever!), so i never have to be saddled with the tragedy and shame of paying for full price blush ever again.

this is where the clipping service comes in. with a multitude of items reduced down to $2 or $3 each (or less!), i knew there was ample opportunity for me to get a massive load of top shelf cosmetics for wet & wild prices (or free!) with the right coupons. unfortunately, i didn’t actually have any. i chose the coupon clippers because they had the impressive distinction of being first on top of my google search (although there are tons out there). i grabbed 10 $5/2 l’oreal,  5 $2/1 l’oreal, 5 (they accidentally sent me $6!) $2/1 neutrogena, and a fistful of $.50/1 sally hansen nail coupons. i saw a wide variety of different products on sale from CVS to CVS (there appears to be somewhat arbitrary in the southern maine area), so i wanted to be prepared for any possible scenario. ranging from $.10-$.25 each, i spent $6.28 including shipping. even though $6 isn’t very much money in the grand scheme of things, it still hurt my heart a little bit paying for coupons. but all that torment/vague guilt was erased when that hefty envelope arrived at my door. why on earth have i been screwing around with scissors and sunday papers, when for a very minimal fee i could be getting only the ones that i actually want- in multiples!

as evidenced by this photo of my epic haul ($19.01 including one coupon screw up, a bag of cheetos, and tax), i cleaned house. 36 pieces in total, for about $.52 each (it would have been $8.73 total before tax if i had not missed that $5 off coupon and bought the cheetos). and i got some pretty hot shit too! AND not even one register beep or cashier side eye about my hefty stack of identical coupons. i even have some leftovers! and if this photo is any indication… it appears that they are continuing to mark stuff down (i barely scratched the surface at 2 stores). i may need to put in another order, especially because they just released a flood of revlon coupons (which as you may already know, we don’t ever get in maine- BALLS!), and there’s lots of eye and lip options in the $2 range.

because i just popped my coupon ordering cherry, i don’t exactly have any pro tips to share at the moment. but, don’t be freaked out by the minimums, and give yourself at least a week for your order to show up in the mail. you can always stalk your deals in advance at websites like iheartriteaid.com and iheartcvs.com that get elicit copies of the store fliers weeks before they’re published.  i’m a lazy asshole, so i prefer the one stop shopping factor of a clipping service, but i also have it on good authority from anastasia at on the mommy track, that you can get your coupons even cheaper if you order them from ebay.

while i can definitely count myself as a convert to the clipping service concept, i don’t exactly see myself putting in weekly orders. it’s a great resource if you have a master plan, but i could see how it would be possible to get greedy and go over the edge. definitely proceed with caution, and remember that the cost of that coupon (plus shipping) does factor into your overall bottom line.

any other clipping service whores out there? share your secrets!

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16 responses

25 01 2011
..0..o...

Oh, My, God. I don’t have a treasure trove of makeup coupons (I just pulled all my non-expired ones out…god those dates go by fast) but it looks like I can at least do a little refresher and replace some colors in the kit that I’ve had for mebbe 7 years…

I’ll pick up anything extra for next December’s project while I’m at it!

27 01 2011
bessmarvin

i have a fear that this sale will spoil me on paying full price for cosmetics for the rest of my life. although apparently it comes around every january, so i should probably have enough to last me. i also picked up a bunch of half price e.l.f. stuff at target, and a bunch of discount lip smackers at big lots. you should see my stash, it’s already OUT OF CONTROL!

27 01 2011
MJ

Where do they hide the e.l.f. stuff at Target? I looked and looked last time I was in.

29 01 2011
bessmarvin

they may only carry it at holiday time, but i always find it on an endcap, it doesn’t have it’s own space in the cosmetic section. although in general, they have great sales on their website, and shipping is pretty cheap- plus they have a better array of stuff. i’m on their email list so i hear about sales. p.s. i have AT $$$ for you!

25 01 2011
Cyndel

I’ve been seriously considering a clipping service. I’m mainly nervous though because my usual coupon usage goes something like this:

1) Bum coupons off of my parents or boyfriend’s parents when I see them (I don’t get a paper).
2) Cut out everything that I may want in the next few months (but only the things I actually use).
3) Carry the coupons around for 3 months and use 0-3 per shopping trip.
4) Throw away 90% of the coupons I cut because I didn’t happen to need those items in the past few months.

I’m nervous that if I spend even $6, I’ll throw $5 of it in the recycling bin. Haha. However, you have inspired me to look for a specific deal and THEN buy the coupons.

27 01 2011
bessmarvin

i used to steal them from work, but we stopped getting the paper 😦 i will also occasionally steal them out of people’s recycling bins if they’re on top. i still haven’t gotten the cojones to dig deep. but yeah, i clip out a lot that i don’t use. and then at the end of the month when i’m cleaning out my folder, i curse myself for cutting out so much shit that i would never ever buy. i also HATE the scissor part. i would try ordering once and see how it goes. i feel like i ordered a lot. i think the coupon clippers have a $3.00 minimum which is less than the cost of 2 newspapers.

25 01 2011
forefrontfash

this is pretty epic. the $2 neutrogena is calling my name…since that shizz is crazy expensive!

27 01 2011
bessmarvin

makeup is ridiculous in general, and this is drugstore shit. sephora needs to have a 75% off sale.

25 01 2011
sweetersalt

I need to go to CVS now.

Also, I found this little buddy today: http://slickdeals.net/permadeal/45849/weshop.com-10-cvs-gift-card

$4 for a $10 CVS gift card. Woot woot!

Laura

27 01 2011
bessmarvin

i totally ordered one! GOOD CALL. i think i might order some more coupons today too. i may be developing a problem…

25 01 2011
chris

i always use a clipping service when they have catalina deals at shaw’s and i want to stock up on items for 6-12 mos for practically free. there’s one coming up this friday.

27 01 2011
bessmarvin

thanks for the tip! i was just about to order some coupons, but maybe i’ll check out the shaw’s flier first! after this experience, i’m definitely going to pay more attention to what’s coming down the pipeline.

26 01 2011
Winnie P.

I use a clipping service to get ready for big sales, too. I hate scissors now…

27 01 2011
bessmarvin

i hate scissors too. clipping is the worst part of being a coupon lady. i wish they would all come fully clipped in an envelope like those shitty valpak coupons. it’s comforting to know that there are midwestern baptists willing to do the dirty work for me.

21 02 2011
Audrey

OK pretty lady, I just tried this coupon clipping service!

I’m totally psyched that I’m about to stock up on major tofu and cookie mix. What a contradiction. But I’m spending $4 to save most likely $50 and it only took 20 minutes to extract these from this awesome website.

Even more awesome? I paid with my Paypal balance and didn’t have to put my CC info in anywhere. Swoon.

I think this will revolutionize my ability to use coupons effectively. Thank you, thank you.

26 02 2011
bessmarvin

i’ve been so cut off from the coupon world for the last month and i’m so out of touch! i need to stock up on tofu! where did you end up getting your coupons? tell me your secrets!

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