Friday, November 19, 2010

Target: Things Were A Little More Complicated

After CVS, I headed to our local Target. Target's a dangerous store for me because I LOVE IT SO MUCH. I walk in and I just want to spend money.

Thanks to Jill Cataldo once again, I was on the alert that Target's coupon accepting was all kinds of screwed up, but after reading the post on it I'm still a bit confused so I just vowed to be careful and make sure everything rang up as it was supposed to. Yes, I decided I'd be one of those slow old ladies who watches the register and double-checks everything. Annoying, I know. It sucks double for me because I am not used to doing it, and it's hard! Things ring up really fast. Luckily I had a really friendly checker, so that all went pretty easily (couponers suggest going for the younger cashiers, they seem to be more tolerant of our couponing ways).

Using Jill's deals of the week, I had my eyes on:

"No Coupon Needed" Deals: One-dozen Grade A large eggs are .99 a carton.

Deals continuing from previous weeks: Buy any 5 Glade Holiday items and get a free $5 Target gift card. This sale runs through December 26th, and many Glade items will go on and off sale prices during that time. UPDATE: This deal got more interesting this week, as aerosols, candles, candle tins, candle refills, and plugins oil refills are all on sale for $2.50. DEAL SCENARIO: Buy any 5 products priced at $2.50 each ($12.50 total) that you have $1 coupons for. Use a $1 coupon on each item ($7.50.) Pay $7.50 and get $5 back, which knocks the price of each to .50 each!
There were a variety of coupons available for the Glade items as well; I didn't list them all here, but they're on Jill's site.

Target meat deals: Archer Farms spiral-cut honey hams are $1.99/lb.
Target produce deals: 5lb. bags of russet potatoes are $1.99.

I have to take a moment here to confess that I have a TERRIBLE head for numbers. TERRIBLE. They just don't stick in my brain. Which means that I have pretty much no concept of whether or not something is at the high end of its price range or the low end. This is why I was tracking all my spending on my own grocery spreadsheet when I tried to do this myself - because despite the fact that I'm 32 years old now and have been an adult for quite a few years (no matter how often I don't FEEL it), and despite the fact that I have been a grocery shopper on my own for more than a decade now, I STILL just can't remember how much groceries cost. The odd item will stay with me for a while, but mostly I couldn't look at a loaf of bread and tell you if it's a good price or not. Even milk, and we go through 2-4 gallons a week in my house! It just doesn't STICK in my brain. So if these websites are going to tell me that meat or produce or eggs are at a great price this week, I'm probably just going to listen to them without question. I'm not doing any better on my own!

I also knew that I would be perusing the dollar section for holiday gifts for my kids. Christmas is looking like it'll be pretty lean this year, and I'd like to make the most of whatever I can. The Target dollar section is always enticing and gives me a few great stocking stuffers. I was not disappointed, and left with 12 $1 stocking stuffers.

Per my friend Leslie's suggestion, I also used the free website Coupon Mom to check Target's deals for the week, and was informed that I could take advantage of:

click to enlarge

I was most interested in the Suave deodorant as well as the Friskies treats and the Beggin' Strips.

I cut out the required coupons from my 11/14 papers, and I checked Target's website for the recommended printable coupons. (It's under the 'see more' section at, in case that link is personalized. I'm not sure if they do it based on IP's/areas or if they're all the same for everyone.) I could not find the russet potatoes coupon mentioned by Coupon Mom, but I did get Target coupons for Friskies, Beggin' Strips and Suave.

In case you didn't know it already, it is important to have both the Target coupon AND a manufacturer's coupon for every item you're getting because you can use one of each on EVERY purchase. Meaning if you have a Target coupon for $1 off X ITEM and a manufacturer's coupon for $1 off X item, you can use both those coupons on ONE package of X ITEM and get $2 off. That's called stacking in Extreme Couponing. Most stores will accept their coupon AND a manufacturer's coupon on every item.

So I got my potatoes, my ham (which we cooked last night and IT IS DELICIOUS, we love ham so much, I'm so happy about it), my eggs, and I threw in a thing of madeleines for good measure, because they're delicious and also because it was getting late, I'm diabetic, and for some reason I always get low blood sugar when I'm grocery shopping. The excitement of it all, I guess (har). I was starting to feel a little shaky and decided to head that off at the pass. MMM, cookies.

Oh, and the Glade deal? I didn't end up with any Glade products. I brought coupons and picked five out, but while it is true that they WERE on sale for $2.50 a piece, the "buy 5, get a $5 Target gift card" deal was no longer going on, and I decided it wasn't worth it. And honestly, I thought most of the scents smelled pretty fakey and not all that delicious. So the Glade stuff went back. (I would have lived with the fakey candle smells if I had gotten the $5 back though, lol!)

At my Target, the Beggin' Strips, Friskies and Suave were not on sale. I hadn't brought a copy of Coupon Mom's list though, so I just remembered that I had coupons and the deals were supposed to be good, and I forged ahead anyway.

The Beggin' Strips were $2.49 a bag. My coupon was $1.50 off 2, and I had a Target coupon for $1 off 1. I picked up two bags for $2.48. Not 66% like Coupon Mom proposed but not bad either.

The Friskies cat treats were $1.42 each. I had a $1 off 2 Target coupon and a newspaper coupon for $2 off, I think, if I'm reading my receipt correctly. So I spent $2.48 and got $3 off; that's what's known as a MONEYMAKER item in Extreme Coupon lingo. You have to have other stuff to get the 'extra' money off your total though, which I did, so this one worked well for me. I actually did better here than Coupon Mom's suggestion of FREE! I think I got a better coupon somehow though.

The Suave deodorants were .99 each. I had a Target coupon for $1.00 off 2 and a manufacturer's coupon for .75 off one. I spent 1.98 and saved 1.75, so my two deodorants cost .23. Not free as Coupon Mom suggested, but I think I can handle two deodorants for less than a quarter.

THEN, and this was awesome, I brought my own bag into Target for my purchases. Why was this awesome? Well, not only am I helping the environment by reusing bags, but also Target gives you 5 cents off your total for EVERY REUSABLE BAG YOU BRING IN.

My percentage savings at Target was considerably weaker than my CVS savings. For one thing, Target doesn't list the 'regular' price of sales item on their receipts like many other places do, so I can't calculate how much I saved by picking up the potatoes, ham and eggs on sale. For another, some of the things that were said to be on sale actually weren't (though I don't think I did too badly on them with coupons anyway). My pre-coupon total was $48.99; I actually spent $40.49. A savings of only 17.4% off the total.

Here's why you can't always go by just the numbers though:
1) I bought a ham for $18.71, almost HALF my total spent. That ham will feed my family of four for 3-4 days. That's $1.50 a person or less for those meals.
2) I got 12 stocking stuffers knocked off my list for a very minimal price.

Those two points also make up the bulk of my receipt, at $30.71. Given what they were, I still feel that my Target experience was an overall success and provided me with savings. (Especially since I saw some hams at Jewel later that were over $3.50 per pound!)

After checking out, I also received a Catalina (one of those coupons that prints at the checkout) - $1.50 off Pup-Peroni. I may or may not use that in the future, depending on how the deals go, so we'll see if that ends up being useful or not!

Lesson from this time: I will write down or print a copy of the supposed sales prices (from Jill's site or Coupon Mom or anywhere else I may come across them) and bring that with me next time so I can compare the actual price at my store to what was listed on the internet. That way I can decide on the spot if the deal is still good for me or not!

Even though my couponing percentage was much lower here, I left my second store still feeling like I was getting pretty good deals AND getting things my family would use.

Experienced couponers, how do you think I did? Would you have done anything differently? Have any other lessons to impart for me?

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