Couponing Ninja Skill: Roll Your Rewards

If you're wondering just how in the world you're going to save big while following the paleo diet, this post will give a little bit of insight.

There are definitely deals on organic and paleo foods. However, what made the biggest difference for me in terms of overall savings was reducing my out of pocket costs on the non-food items I used.

Whether you are paleo or not, you still probably buy laundry soap, shampoo, dish soap, toothpaste, etc.

Reducing your expenses on those items goes a long way toward making room in your budget for paleo foods.

Spending less also has a lot to do with timing. That means you have to wait until it makes the most sense to buy the item.

That's where the grocery stores make their profit. I am amazed at how people will just go to the grocery store and load up the cart without any thought to the timing.

It's one thing to take your coupons to the store. Waiting for a sale is even better.

Want to squeeze more out of your dollars? Take your skills to the next level? Then practice rolling your rewards.

Rolling rewards means that you break your purchases into smaller transactions, and use the rewards from one transaction towards the out of pocket cost of the second transaction.

Pull this off a couple of times and you'll never want to pay full price for anything again.

Most people never pay attention to this level of strategy. Keep in mind, your experience may vary.

Strategy is my favorite part of couponing. I LOVE playing the game where I lower my out of pocket costs for the things I want to buy.

Side note: I know these posts are long, but I think a lot of people get confused about the details of how couponing works. I also enjoy writing, and don't mind spending a little more time explaining how I do all this stuff.

Here's my real-life example on a deal I did today:

There was a one day only deal on Target Cartwheel (an app for your smartphone. More on that in a later post) for 40% off all C9 workout apparel AND shoes. These offers are RARE, as are coupons for C9 gear.

By now you probably figured out that I will not spend $100 on shoes or expensive workout gear. I like the C9 stuff and I'm sure it lasts just as long as the $98 pants from that expensive yoga store whose clothes don't fit anyone over size 10. I can't shop there anyway. And half the time I wind up doing my crossfit WODs in my bare feet.

I found some good stuff on the C9 clearance rack at the end of December. When I checked out, a coupon for $5/$20 C9 purchase printed from the Catalina machine. I was excited, because, as I said, those are rare. I put it in my coupon binder for safekeeping.

BTW, Catalina is the marketing company that makes the printers that prints coupons on strips of paper. The cashier sometimes hands them to you when you check out. I suggest you actually look at them before you throw them away.

At Target you can use a manufacturer coupon, a Cartwheel offer and a Target coupon on ONE item.

There were two deals I wanted to do today: a $5 gift card WYB (short for when you buy) $20 or more of L'Oreal products (this was a text coupon, more on how to save at Target in another post) and the workout gear.

There were some great L'Oreal coupons in the paper recently: a BOGO shampoo get a conditioner for free, up to $7.99.

I bought two shampoos at $3.99 each, two conditioners at $3.99 each, and one treatment for $5.99. This got me over the $20 threshold for $22 before tax.

At checkout, I used:

two BOGO coupons
one $2 off treatment coupon
and the Target gift card text coupon for a $5 gift card WYB $20.

When I checked out, the register took off $7.99 for each BOGO coupon. When you consider that I only spent around $22, these two BOGO coupons knocked off $7.99 each, for a total of $17.98 from all my coupons for a $22 purchase. PLUS, I got $5 back in the form of a gift card. This transaction was net $1.76 for five hair products after the gift card.

Then, in a second transaction, I paid for the workout gear. I bought a pair of shorts, a sports bra, and a clearance pullover.

The shorts and bra were both $16.99 and the pullover was $7.48.

The total for the second transaction was about $45 with tax.

Then I used the $5/$20 apparel purchase coupon from a couple of weeks ago, which brought the total down to around $39.

THEN, I used the Cartwheel offer, which brought the total down again to around $21.

THEN, I used the gift card from the first transaction to bring the out of pocket cost down even further.

My total cost for $45 worth of workout gear? $16.51. That's about 67% off retail.

A few notes:

First, I've noticed that although Cartwheel offers say they exclude clearance, they almost always work on clearance items. When in doubt, load it anyway and have them scan it.

Second, whenever you know there's a Target deal that involves the gift card, do that in a separate transaction, FIRST, and use it on your second transaction. This assumes that you aren't saving the card for later. Also, not all gift card deals make as much sense as this one does.

It made sense for me because the out of pocket cost was so low. I have plenty of stuff in my stockpile at home, so it wouldn't make sense for me to buy this if I had to spend $5 out of pocket.

I don't really care if I don't use this shampoo since my investment is so low.

To save the most money, pay attention to your out of pocket costs! Some people get really hung up on the thrill of saving money, but it has to make sense for one reason or another.

Sometimes it makes sense to buy items you'll never use simply because YOU WILL MAKE MONEY.

Hard to believe? I thought the same thing before I started couponing.

If you make money on it, who cares whether you'll use it? You can donate it (and get a receipt!) if it's not something you'll use.