I love free stuff. It makes it much more exciting to shop when at least a few things are free, even it’s just toothpaste and floss! The way I figure it, there are things that are a necessity to my family that I can almost never get for free, like meats, milk or wine; so if I can get at least a few things for free, that saves me money to spend on these other items.
My stockpile (see above!) is looking full and I love it! In this picture, I got all the condiments (ketchup, mustard, salad dressings, bbq sauce and marinades) and pastas for free. I also have LOTS of other mini stockpiles hidden around my house 🙂 The rest of the items were purchased for very cheap, usually under $1 (except for the TP and PT’s, which were cheap, but not THAT cheap).
There are a few different ways to get things for free and certain items that you can almost ALWAYS find for free. I find the most common types of items that are free are hygiene items, like toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, soaps, shampoo and conditioner. Although you cannot EAT these items (as my husband likes to remind me) it’s still an expense I now don’t have to make 🙂
In order to score free stuff, you need to know you store’s coupon policy. If you are a food store, it’s best to try and find a store that will double you coupons as straight doubling or up to $1. Here in AZ, Fry’s and Safeway will double up to $1. Back in MA, Stop & Shop and Shaw’s will straight double. All stores say they will double only 4 like coupons in one transaction. My Fry’s doesn’t enforce that, but some here do.
The easiest and most straight forward way to get stuff for free is for items to go on sale 10/$10 and then you have a coupon that is $1 or that is under $1 and your store doubles up to $1. BOOM, free! If it’s a non-food item though, you will still pay tax, so remember that. That’s how I get about 80% of my free stuff. From my experiences, it seems that there is usually, at least, 1-2 items a week that will fit this. Watch your sales flyers and coupon blogs to monitor what items will be on sale each week. If an item is free and it is something I will use eventually, I’ll always get it. Yes, I have about 20 mustards, toothpastes and 100 things of floss, so what?!?! I know we’ll use it! If I ever have “too much” (is there even such a thing?) then I’ll donate.
Other, less easy ways to get thing for free are with mail in rebates (after purchase) or by getting a catalina. A catalina is a coupon that will print out after you’ve purchased a special combo or amount of items. Catalinanetwork.com will list lots and you can also check your local coupon blog.
A catalina works like this:
Buy 4 Kraft salad dressings, get a coupon for $2 OYNO (on your next order)
*if the salad dressing was on sale 10/10, say, and you used (2) $1/2 coupons, it would make each bottle 50 cents, and you’d pay $2 for all four bottles, then your coupon prints out at the end and voila! free 🙂
At target, you can get things for free sometimes by stacking a target and manu coupon together to equal the total value, or you can use a $1/1 coupon on an item on sale for $1.
At Walgreens or CVS, you can buy items that will give you back a register reward (wags) or extra care bucks (CVS), which is sort of like how a catalina works.
These are some tips for getting items for free while shopping! Remember that getting an item for extremely cheap is also great! Stock up on these items when you can, this will defer your costs later on down the road.
Check out the other posts in this series: