Adventures in coupon clipping services. | Shopping & Services

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Adventures in coupon clipping services.
Adventures in coupon clipping services.

Last week when I was writing about coupon contingency plans, I mentioned the possibility of buying coupons from an online clipping service. I’d considered it before, but always got big case of the lazy (with a side of cheap), and decided that it wasn’t worth the risk of buying a bunch of coupons that I might not ever have the occasion to use. But recently, the coupon stars have aligned in such a way that it finally seemed worth the minimal effort to take the risk (and by risk, I mean approximately $6 and a week worth of waiting).

There is a deal at CVS right now that has been quietly percolating over the last few weeks- seemingly unnoticed or unnoted by the usual local coupon clipping suspects (although Maine  just doesn’t have the shelf cleaner problem that’s rampant in other states). Apparently, every year in January, they clearance down all of their cosmetics that are being discontinued. Well the time has come, and there are tons and tons of little orange (75% off) and yellow (50% off) stickers littering the beauty aisles. In general, I’m not really a makeup person, and I am FIERCELY LOYAL to the things that I do wear. For example, I presently have a fridge full of discontinued Max Factor foundation (11 tubes purchased on eBay) that I’ve been wearing since the late 90s. But since I started the Makeup Project and also began my burlesque career, I’ve found a greater need for such products in my life.

The biggest issue is that cosmetics are RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE! On the final day of the Makeup Project when I was trying to fill in the last few holes, the cheapest blush I could find was $4.99! So this year, I’m stocking up my burlesque sparkle stash and beginning the Makeup Project good and early, so I never have to be saddled with the tragedy and shame of paying for full price blush ever again.

This is where the clipping service comes in! With a multitude of items reduced down to $2 or $3 each (or less!), I knew there was ample opportunity for me to get a massive load of top shelf cosmetics for Wet & Wild prices (or free!) with the right coupons. Unfortunately, I didn’t actually have any. I chose the Coupon Clippers because they had the impressive distinction of being first on top of my Google search (although there are tons out there). I grabbed ten $5/2 L’Oreal, five $2/1 L’Oreal, five (they accidentally sent me 6!) $2/1 Neutrogena and a fistful of $.50/1 Sally Hansen nail coupons. I saw a wide variety of different products on sale from CVS to CVS (this appears to be somewhat arbitrary in the Southern Maine area), so I wanted to be prepared for any possible scenario. Ranging in cost from $.10-$.25 each, I spent a total of $6.28 including shipping. Even though $6 isn’t very much money in the grand scheme of things, it still hurt my heart a little bit paying for coupons. But all that torment/vague guilt was erased when that hefty envelope arrived at my door! Why on earth have I been screwing around with scissors and Sunday papers, when for a very minimal fee I could be getting only the ones that I actually want- in multiples?

As evidenced by the above photo of my epic haul ($19.01 including one coupon screw up, a bag of Cheetos, and tax), I cleaned house. 36 pieces in total, for about $.52 each (it would have been $8.73 total before tax if I had not missed that $5 off coupon and bought the Cheetos). I got some pretty incredible stuff too! AND not even one register beep or cashier side eye about my hefty stack of identical coupons. I even have some leftovers! And if this photo is any indication… it appears that they are continuing to mark stuff down (I barely scratched the surface at 2 stores). I may need to put in another order, especially because they just released a flood of Revlon coupons (which as you may already know, we don’t ever get in Maine), and there’s lots of eye and lip options in the $2 range.

Because this is my very first coupon ordering experience, I don’t exactly have any pro tips to share at the moment. But, don’t be freaked out by the minimum order requirements, and try to give yourself at least a week for your order to show up in the mail. You can always stalk your deals in advance at websites like iheartriteaid.com and iheartcvs.com that get elicit copies of the store fliers weeks before they’re published.  As we already determined, I’m exceptionally lazy, so I prefer the one stop shopping factor of a clipping service, but I also have it on good authority from Anastasia at On the Mommy Track, that you can get your coupons even cheaper (and often with free shipping) if you order them from eBay.

While I can definitely count myself as a convert to the clipping service concept, I don’t exactly see myself putting in weekly orders. It’s a great resource if you have a master plan, but I could see how it would be possible to get greedy and go over the edge. Definitely proceed with caution, and remember that the cost of that coupon (plus shipping) does factor into your overall bottom line.

Any other clipping service loyalists out there? Share your secrets!

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