How I Got $50.07 in Groceries for $7.64 at Target

My post is inspired by a post I saw on Hip2Save about her grocery score. If you click over to her post, you'll see it's a big pile of food that Paleos won't eat. To be clear, I'm not criticizing her, because I appreciate the inspiration for the post.

Having learned how to extreme coupon on the Standard American Diet, I can tell you that it's very easy to get junk food for free with coupons.

Guess what? It's also just as easy to get extreme coupon deals for healthy foods, too. That's why I did this post!

Not only did I get healthy foods, I got a bunch of other deals too, which lowered my grocery bill significantly.

The items pictured are all items that we consume regularly in my house, with the exception of the sloppy joe mix.

This is a long post because I wanted to explain everything in depth, so pull up a chair and grab something to drink while you follow along.

In this post, I'll share with you how I got $50 worth of groceries for a little under $8. You'll probably want to read my post on How to Save Big at Target. I also ran into a cashier problem, and I've written a post about that, too, called 13 Tips for Dealing with Difficult Coupon Transactions.

This week, Target is running a $10 off $50 grocery promotion. You can print two of those coupons from coupons.target.com, OR get them by text message (see the Save Big at Target post for how to to that).

This grocery coupon, like many of the recent coupons at Target, are threshold coupons. That means you can still use coupons on individual items and use the $10 coupon on top of your other discounts and promotions on the individual items you purchase. Target will allow you to use a Target store coupon,a manufacturer coupon, and a Cartwheel on ONE item.

So if you had a Manufacturer coupon, store coupon and a Cartwheel for each of the items in your cart, you could ALSO use the $10/$50 coupon. Just hand that one over first while your total is $50 or over.

This was definitely an "extreme couponing trip" to Target, not because I bought 100 bottles of anything, but because of how I structured the transactions.

I did a total of four transactions. Why? Because this week, Target has several very nice gift card promotions on Unilever products, which includes Dove, Clear, Tresemme, Simple, Pond's and other brands. The promo is Buy 3, get a $5 gift card.

One of the reasons I like the gift card promotions is because they give me my money back on the items I purchase. CVS works similarly with their ExtraCare Bucks program, but I am essentially using the gift cards to roll rewards and lower my out of pocket costs.

Often, there are deals that are moneymakers after coupons. Instead of going into the store and buying your grocery items, you can get some near-freebies with your coupons and gift cards, and then use your profit or the money you got back on the gift cards to lower your grocery bill.

That was my strategy for this scenario. Before I went to the store, I planned my trip.

I learned about the gift card deals from Totally Target, a coupon blog that focuses specifically on deals at Target.

Coupons for Paleo does the same thing, except we're looking at Whole Foods and Sprouts ads so you have an idea of what to expect when you get there.

I am only showing you how I did this so you can see what is POSSIBLE with coupons at Target.

Remember your intent for couponing: is it to lower your out of pocket costs for groceries? Are you just having fun looking for deals?

The main concern for me when I do these scenarios is that the out of pocket cost needs to be low. I think a lot of coupon scenarios I see other bloggers doing on their sites don't consider the out of pocket costs. Sure, you might get reward back, but if you had to spend outside of your budget to get the reward, that money is no longer in your pocket, and your reward is probably only good in one place.

I am also not saying you should all run out and buy these items. If it makes sense, then do it. If it doesn't, then don't. I bought these items because my out of pocket costs were low, I have a purpose for the items (more on that in the future), and I got the gift cards to use toward my grocery items.

One of the criticisms of extreme couponing is that people buy stuff they don't need. In this instance, that isn't a concern for me, because the out of pocket costs are so low, and I spent LESS doing it this way than I would have if I'd just gone in the store to buy groceries with my coupons. You'll see the breakdown on the numbers when you get to the end of this post.

So, back to the coupons for this transactions: Unilever coupons have restrictions on them that only allow you two like coupons per transaction, so you have to mix and match items so you're not using all of the same coupons.

For my first transaction, I bought two Simple cleansing wipes and one Pond's cleansing wipes. These were on sale for $3.79 each, and WYB 3, you get a $5 gift card.

To make this deal work REALLY well, you would use these coupons:

(2)$2/1 Simple wipes printable

(1) $1/1 Pond's newspaper coupon

(1) $1/1 Target Store Pond's coupon printable

So, $3.79 x 3 = $11.37 - $6 in coupons = $5.37 - the $5 gift card, which makes these three items only $.37.

The out of pocket cost is $5.37.

The Target receipt pictured is only part of my receipt -- it doesn't show all my coupons credited with this group of items, but you can see the price, some of the coupons, and the gift card I received. The Target store coupons show up at the bottom of the receipt.

Transaction 1 total with tax: $5.37

I did that transaction a second time, but with only one $2/1 newspaper coupon because my printable coupons would not scan. If the cashier is cool, they will push it through. (That's why it's important to cashier profile!)

Tonight that wasn't happening because I had a difficult cashier and assistant store manager micromanaging my transactions. I even had to pull out the Target coupon policy!

I couldn't use the printables at all. I only had one of the Simple newspaper coupons left, so I missed out on $2 savings in the second transaction.

Even without the $2 coupon, after the gift card, I only spent $2.37 out of pocket for all three items after the gift card.

I also found a deal on Speed Stick Gear Deodorant for $3.49, I used a (2) $2/1 printable from coupons.com and stacked it with a $1/1 Target store printable to get two deodorants for $.49 each.

I also bought two Target tissue packs for $.99 each and used (2) $.50/1 to get tissues for $.49 each.

Transaction 2 total with tax: $11.02

In the third transaction, I did another Unilever deal on Clear shampoo. I used the following coupons:

(1) $2/1 Clear coupon from All You Magazine

(2) $1.50/1 Clear printable from coupons.com

(2) $1.50/1 Target Clear printable store coupon

(1) $1.50/1 Target Clear newspaper store coupon

These were $4.99 each and you get a gift card WYB 3. So that's $14.97 - $9.50 in coupons = $5.47 - the $5.00 gift card, which makes these items $.47.

So, my out of pocket cost for these three items was $5.47.

I also found some other crazy deals on the clearance endcaps.

These Old Spice products were $1.98 clearance price. Several weeks ago, the Target catalina machine printed out several high value $1.50/1 coupons, which I saved in my coupon binder. Those coupons made these .49 each after coupons.

The lipstick is a brand new product, regularly $9.49. This one was clearanced down to $4.74, and there was a $3/1 L'Oreal coupon for this specific lip gloss, PLUS a $1.50/1 Target coupon for L'Oreal, which made this lip gloss just .24 cents.

Transaction 3 total with tax: $7.73

For my fourth transaction, I bought groceries. No junk food here! (Next time I will take a better photo!)

Here is a list of what I bought and the coupons I used:

(2) Driscoll's berries on sale 2/$4

(2) Market Pantry Chicken Breast bags $5.99 each

(2) Vlasic Farmer's Market Pickles $2.99 each

(4) Mamma Chia Chia Squeezes 4/$5

(5) Glaceau Smart Water $1.27 each

(1) Dole Smoothie Shaker $1.27 each

(3) Mrs. Dash Salt Free Sloppy Joe Mix .92 each clearance price (not exactly primal, but not the worst spice mix out there)

(3) Noosa Lemon Yogurts $2.39 each (This stuff is delish and is high in protein)

(2) Packages Sargento cheese slices $2.79 each

Total: $50.07

Here are the coupons I used:

(1) $1/2 Driscoll's Berries Target Printable

(1) $1/5 Glaceau beverage items Target printable

(3) $1/1 Noosa Yogurt Target store coupons (one catalina, two printables)

(2) $1/1 Market Pantry chicken item

(1) $1/1 Dole Smoothie Shaker item

(2) $.55/1 Sargento cheese slices printable

(1) $1/2 Sargento cheese slices Target store coupon (catalina)

(2) 2/$1 Vlasic Farmer's Market Pickles

(2) $1/2 Mamma Chia Chia Squeeze Coupons

Total Coupons: $16.10

So, the grocery transaction looks like this:

Total before tax: $50.07

Use (1) $10/$50 Target grocery store coupon (use this one first!)= $40.07

Subtract $16.10 in coupons on individual grocery items = $23.97

Then use $15 in gift cards from three prior transactions = $8.97 for $50 worth of groceries.

Transaction 4 total with tax: $7.64

Here are those totals again:

Transaction 1: $5.78
Transaction 2: $11.02
Transaction 3: $7.73
Transaction 4: $7.64

Total Out of Pocket cost for all transactions with tax: $32.14

By breaking up my transactions the way I did tonight, I lowered my out of pocket costs considerably.

If you can get items for free AND lower your out of pocket costs, would you leave the items on the shelf?

I would love to hear your questions and comments about this post! Please let us know what you think on our Facebook page!