You're a Chump if you Pay Full Price for That

By Catherine Shaffer on 29 December 2007 (Updated 18 August 2011) 14 comments
Photo: babasteve

Couponing and bargain shopping are not for everyone. It takes some time to clip the coupons, organize them, and keep track of sales at all of your favorite stores. But since I've gotten into it, I realized I was missing out on some very simple deals. A number of retailers and manufacturers run perpetual sales or coupon deals on products such that you would be a chump to pay full price for them.

I know I was a chump for many years, paying full retail price when I could have gotten the same thing for as much as 50% off. Here's a short list of items I've come across in my rounds that I never need to pay full price for:

Couponing and bargain shopping are not for everyone. It takes some time to clip the coupons, organize them, and keep track of sales at all of your favorite stores. But since I've gotten into it, I realized I was missing out on some very simple deals. A number of retailers and manufacturers run perpetual sales or coupon deals on products such that you would be a chump to pay full price for them.

I know I was a chump for many years, paying full retail price when I could have gotten the same thing for as much as 50% off. Here's a short list of items I've come across in my rounds that I never need to pay full price for:

  • Vitamins and supplements under brand names such as Nature Made, Nature's Bounty, Sundown, and store brands like Meijer regularly go on sale as "buy one, get one free" or BOGO. You can either stock up on your favorite brand when it's on sale, or simply buy whatever is the best deal when you need it. A big bottle of fish oil capsules typically runs $12-$15 at regular price, so without the BOGO deal, you are paying quite a lot for your supplement.
  • There is almost always a sale, deal, or coupon promotion going on for name brand batteries such as Energizer, Duracell, and Rayovac. I never buy batteries unless I can get at least a dollar off with a coupon, preferably combined with a sale price, such as $5.29 for an 8-pack of AA's. I really was a chump all those times when I paid the full $9 price for the same product.
  • Tide laundry detergent goes on sale on a regular cycle. You can't always find a coupon for it, but it's obvious that Procter and Gamble are not expecting you to pay $12 for a 40 load bottle. We like Tide, so I wait for it to go on sale for $5.99, and use a coupon if I have one.
  • Brand name cold remedies and other over-the-counter medicines like Tylenol and Robitussin have coupon promotions running all the time. Sometimes the coupon is right on the outside of the package, but the cashier doesn't always peel it off and scan it, so make sure you get your credit for it. Generics are usually a better deal, even after coupons, but if you save some of those coupons that are floating around and use them with a sale, you can get the name-brand cheaper than the generic.
  • Unless you have a sensitivity or other reason to be brand loyal, you can almost always get your contact lens solution on sale or free. Right, free. Since I've been looking, I've found a couple of free-after-rebate deals on contact lens solution. Even if you can't find an amazingly great deal like that, you can usually find a sale for $2 or $3 off. If you are brand loyal, wait for your favorite brand to go on sale, then buy a 3-4 month supply.

This is just a small selection of the numerous products that are overpriced so that they can become "bargains." Once you start looking for these deals, you'll have your own list. In addition to individual products that you can almost always buy for less than full retail price, there are a number of store promotions and other easy deals you should be aware of.

  • Anything from JoAnn Fabrics is at least 40% off. Every single week, JoAnn's publishes a coupon for 40% off any regularly priced item. Additionally, they have weekly sales, rotating through most of their stock. JoAnn (whoever she is) doesn't expect you to pay those high retail prices. You can get 40% off any time, unless it's one of those weeks where they have 50% off. If you can get more than one copy of the circular, you can get more than one coupon, and those are good for separate items in the same transaction. Or, if the cashier balks, have him or her ring you up separately. We have two JoAnn's stores here, and one of them stocks the circular at the front of the store, so you can pull out as many coupons as you want (I take my scissors with me to the store). The other store does not, although they are bigger and stocked better. If i need to go to the big store, I stop and get extra coupons at the small store first. It kills me to think of all the times I paid full retail price for a fabric or other item from the store, not realizing that I could have used a 40% off coupon. I am even a former JoAnn's employee, and I didn't know that. (Although at the time, about fifteen years ago, I don't recall ever seeing coupons come through at the register.)
  • I don't usually shop at Michael's, but I've noticed that they have the same ongoing 40% off coupon deal that JoAnn's does. So you should be able to get anything at Michael's for 40% off. I actually went shopping there recently without my coupon, and was kicking my own butt all the way home, because I could have saved at least $10 if I had brought it.
  • Similarly, Linens and Things and Bed, Bath, and Beyond run perpetual 20% of coupon promotions. These coupons are usually good for sale and clearance priced merchandise, although there is a list of brand names at the bottom that it does not apply to. So almost anything you buy at these stores, you can get an additional 20% off.
  • Lowe's and Home Depot don't run coupon promotions all the time, but a couple of times a year, they send out coupons such as $10 off $50 or 10% off. I have also heard (though I haven't tried this) that Lowe's honors competitor's coupons. So even though you can't always count on getting a deal at these stores, if you have a project you are planning, it may be worthwhile to wait for a coupon to turn up. If it comes in your Sunday paper, run out and buy several more papers. Then you can use the coupon for several items. For example, when we were buying paint for our house, we scraped together several coupons, and divided the purchase so we would be able to use them all. Those coupons can really add up to a lot when you are working on a big project.
  • Likewise, Cabela's often has coupons for a dollar amount off of your purchase above a certain price. If you are planning a major purchase of outdoor recreation or hunting equipment, don't pay full price at Cabela's. (You'll notice that the prices are on the high side anyway.) We got new coupons in the mail from Cabela's nearly every day for a while leading up to Christmas.
  • Free Money! Many stores print out special coupons with your receipt. It's shocking how many people throw these coupons away, or forget to take them. Every time I use the self-checkout lane at Kroger, I find a coupon someone forgot to take with their purchase. Last time, the coupon was "$3 off your next order." I used the coupon immediately for my own purchase. People, this is free money. I'm sorry to say this, but if you leave those coupons behind, or throw them out with your receipt, you really are a chump. Put it in your wallet next to your other money, and use it next time you shop at the same store. In my area, these special coupons (called catalinas by expert couponers) are available at Kroger and Meijer stores. So keep your catalinas, and be on the lookout for ones left behind by other shoppers.

These are just some of the easy deals that I've become aware of. It doesn't take a lot of effort to save money on these things. Once you start looking around, you'll make your own list. Many retailers and manufacturers are using these tactics to get people excited about buying a product for what they think is an amazing price. And some people will actually pay the inflated price, not knowing that they can get it for half the price next week. All of this maneuvering makes me a little bit tired, and I've come to really appreciate the "every day low price" policy of stores like Trader Joe's. However, Trader Joe's doesn't have everything, so it's a good idea to get familiar with the pricing strategies for products you buy frequently. Of course, once you get used to saving money on these "easy" deals, you may decide you don't want to pay full price for anything. Thus, a couponer is born.

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Guest's picture
Lynnie

Paying full price is really silly when in this online age of shopping for bargains is the norm. For example, on the Nature Made Vitamins, there is a product code on each bottle/box. If you register on their site, you can 'bank' your points and redeem a $5 coupon for the first 500 points and then a $7 coupon for every 500 points thereafter (payable every 30 days). I get my coupon monthly and really score at checkout :). Last time my Multi for Women 50+ were a BOGO so at checkout I got my 2 and then used my $7 coupon and the total for both came to ........ $0.49!

Shopping is fun again lol.

Guest's picture
Mark

It's not very well advertised, but even though BBB and LnT are direct competitors, they will accept each other's coupons -- sometimes even the expired ones, depending on the store.

Guest's picture
Guest

In the last two or three years, we have had a lot of Super JoAnn stores (the really big ones) start opening, and now Michael's will accept the JoAnn coupons in order to stay competitive. JoAnn's also accept Michael's coupons, but not on fabric since Michael's doesn't carry fabric. This is in Arizona, so it might be worth checking with your stores in the other parts of the country.

Catherine Shaffer's picture

I didn't know about the online points system, Lynnie! I am all there! Thanks! 

Catherine Shaffer

Wise Bread Contributor

Myscha Theriault's picture

I know a while back Linsey also did a post on certain items being rebated partially through a caregiver web site. Nature Made was on the list, so by using the strategy in this article with the rebates mentioned in hers, it should be a killer deal.

 

Guest's picture
Bobert

Last week, CVS/pharmacy had Energizer AA/AAA 8-packs, 9v 2-packs and C/D 4-packs for $5.29. They also had coupons for $5 off of any of these. They also didn't apparently have a limit on how many coupons you could use (other than just one at a time). Well, I think that I have enough batteries to last until 2013 (their expiry date) and they ended up being $0.31 apiece. Plus, after buying $15 worth (before the coupon, so really after $0.90 worth), I got $5 in their ExtraBucks. And another $5 in ExtraBucks after the next $15.

 

So, be sure to be on the lookout for this type of stuff! I collect all of my finance/deals-related items into one Gmail label so that (a) it doesn't clutter my inbox and (b) I don't miss anything!

 

On another note, World Market has a -10% coupon that expires tomorrow:

http://ebm.cheetahmail.com/c/tag/hBHQ0JbAZHPKXBStORWBk3NKm.AZHPKXez/doc....

 

Though not as good as the -40% one item coupons that they offer from time to time, it is good on the whole order (save alcohol and gift cards). Also, they have a pretty good clearance section which has some discounted champagne and cava if you still need some for New Year's!

Guest's picture

They often have coupons there..especially for their new product lines.

Guest's picture
Amy

I also have found that Linens and Things often has their store models clearanced out to fifty percent off or more. They do the same thing with the items that get returned and you can get some real steals. My beautiful Cuisinart coffee maker costs me $35 because it had been returned and they are willing to pile the coupon on top of that. Now I just go there if I ever need a small appliance and keep checking their items for that one returned box.

PS- Thanks so much for swinging by my corner of the internet. Your comments were great! I really appreciate it!

Guest's picture
Debbie

Ok, toothpaste and macy's don't really go together, but here's my point.

There are ALWAYS coupons out there for toothpaste. I'm not loyal to one brand, so I don't mind switching from Colgate to Crest, etc.

MACY'S-every weekend and even some weekdays, they have a 15%-20% off coupon in the paper. You do have to read the fine print as sometimes, this is only off of clearance items and the percentage off goes down for things such as home items. These coupons come in handy for things like socks, underwear, etc.

I also give away my coupons from time to time. If I am in line and happen to see someone buying Pace Salsa (first thing that popped into my head, ole) and I know I have a coupon that is about to expire or I am never going to use, I offer up to that person. Granted, I know some people don't like me spying their groceries, but most people don't complain about saving money.

Catherine Shaffer's picture

Amy, thank YOU (and everyone who is leaving great bargain shopping tips)! I am getting so many great tips from this discussion.

Debbie: I had some expiring coupons this weekend and had fun stashing them all over the store for others to find. Sharing is good! 

 

Catherine Shaffer

Wise Bread Contributor

rstlne's picture
rstlne

I've used the 40%-off Michael's coupons many times. The coupon is only good for one item so if I need more than one item, I just wait for next week's coupon. But I just go to Michael's to restock my sewing supplies anyway so waiting a week is never a problem.

Guest's picture
Wendy

I'm a convert to CVS/Pharmacy ExtraBucks, thanks to you! I had never even noticed them and I shop there all the time.

A few weeks ago I took my $2.00 ExtraBucks and scored - big time. According to the shelf tag, the $10 Christams-themed personal care products form Essence of Beauty were half-off, and they had already been marked down 50%. I liked the "Sugared Pulm" scent so my thinking was I would score some hand lotion for $.49 plus tax.

Wrong.

The hand cream scanned at $.49. So did the shower gel, the body cream and the perfume. I got five items for $.49! My reciept (which I am thinking of framing) says I saved $33.50.

And I smell _marvelous._ *grin*

Guest's picture
BD

Another money-saving site is http://BlogDividends.com Almost to the bottom of the page is a list of gift cards that can be purchased less than face value from people trying to rid themselves of presents they don’t want. It’s a great way to get a Friday night dinner out at a discount! Scroll down toward the bottom of the page for a list of retailers that can be searched.

Guest's picture
michelle

You can usually ask the cashier if they have an extra coupon when you get to the register and most of the time, if they don't they will HONOR A COMPETITOR's coupon... They have a competitor coupon sheet where you sign and write your zip. Every time I go in, I just ask if there is a competitor coupon that week and most of the time, there is!