Couponing in Northwest Indiana/Chicagoland


Thanks Mashup Mom!

I wanted to write a quick post about a great website that tailors to my area.  Based out of Villa Park Illinois, Mashup Mom has great information not only for Northwest Indiana, but Chicagoland as well.  Finally, a place that I can call home.

When reading about Rachel, the creator, you learn that she’s a former librarian.  It shows.  Her site is easy to navigate and thorough.  Complete with match-ups, informative posts, online deals, and much more.

A super feature is Crunchy Friday which rounds up the week’s best organic, natural, green, and gluten and other allergen free deals.  Including a list of links to coupons on these items.  This is something that I rarely see in conjunction with couponing.

One of the highlights is a printable list for each store.  What’s so spiffy about these lists?  You can customize it quite a bit.  Who doesn’t want to save ink!  Just look for this button at the bottom of the post you’d like to print.  Print Friendly

A few of the stores I had been wanting to find match-ups for were:  Jewel-Osco, Strack & Van Til, Ultra (Town & Country), and Meijer.  They can all be found there and many more.  So, check this site out if you live in these areas.

Happy Couponing!

Which Newspapers have the Best Coupon Inserts?

Newspapers B&W (5)

Newspapers B&W (5) (Photo credit: NS Newsflash)

I’m asked this question quite a bit.  Living Rich with Coupons has compiled a list into a post.  Follow the link to find out which newspaper has the best coupon inserts in your area.

Which Newspapers have the Best Coupon Inserts?#comment-225416#comment-225416.

Spending Money to Save Money – Part Two


Couponing at CVS

Experienced Couponers may already know most of this information.  Then again, I consider myself decently experienced and I’m still learning new things quite often.  For those interested in couponing, I hope that this post helps to get you on your way to saving money.  In this economy, it’s a struggle to keep up at times.  However, with a little legwork, even the strictest of budgets can have room for those little extras that help keep up morale!  So, what’s next?

ExtraCare Rewards  from CVS

Follow the link to sign up for an ExtraCare account.  It’s easy to do.  You may already have one for prescriptions.  There are many benefits to having this card.  Especially if you already shop at CVS regularly or get your prescriptions there.  Personally, before I started couponing, I only went to CVS to pick up prescriptions.  Using the drive-thru, I rarely ever entered the store.  Things have definitely changed.

Ok, so right now, you may be thinking …their prices are higher.  Unfortunately, there is some truth to this.  But, not in all cases.  This is where some of that legwork comes in.  There are times, CVS is cheaper than anyone.  As long as you keep an eye on sales and match up with coupons (and you don’t always need coupons), you can really save.

Just incase you’re wondering or you don’t know your ExtraCare card or phone number are linked to your ExtraCare household account.  So when they say 1 per household, they mean it.

How Can You Save? 

By earning via spending, going green, checking your email, and keeping yourself beautiful.  Let’s not forget swiping your ExtraCare card in what we couponers call the, “Magic Coupon Machine”.

Magic Coupon Machine:

I chose this one first, because I know how excited I was to hear about this when I first started shopping at CVS.  So what is it?  It’s a red in-store kiosk which can be found in most stores.  It allows shoppers to scan their card before shopping.  What you’ll get is store coupons that you can use on items in the store.  I make a habit of scanning my card every time I go in the store, before grabbing the items I need.  It spits out at least one and sometimes up to three coupons per swipe per day.  Yep, you can scan it everyday.  Make sure you swipe your card until it says it has no more coupons for you today. 

These coupons won’t just be on CVS brand items.  They could be on any item in the store.  Now, the thing that makes these so great, they’re store coupons.  Which means you can use these coupons and use manufacturer coupons that you’ve printed or clipped from the paper.  This could make for SUPER deals, hence the idea that CVS can sometimes be cheaper than anyone.  The downside is that these coupons expire pretty fast.  Like in a week fast, usually.  All in all…it’s fun, saves money, and is pretty magical in my book.

Spend to Earn with ExtraBucks Rewards:

In all honesty, I didn’t even realize I was getting rewards for spending until recently.  Once you sign up, you’ll receive a rewards statement in your email, but I must’ve just skimmed over it.  Thinking that it was just letting me know how much I saved in the quarter.  Seeing how much I saved, must’ve been exciting enough.  *giggle*  Because I totally missed the bonus!

This is what I’ve learned since then:

Use your ExtraCare card every time you purchase* something and you will earn 2% back.  Including prescription** purchases.  Which accumulate and pay out on your receipt, at the ExtraCare Coupon Center or through® in January, April, July and October.

Customers must shop during the 45-day distribution period to receive their 2% and prescription ExtraBucks® Rewards, which will be rounded down to the nearest $0.50. Members who do not spend $25 in qualifying purchases or who do not otherwise reach a minimum of $0.50 in ExtraBucks Rewards by the end of an earning period will not receive rewards and will not have earnings carried over.

My actual Current Balances when I log into my ExtraCare Rewards:

Description Current Balance End Date Reward Details
WINTER 2012 SPENDING: 180.18 03/15/2012 2% of your Winter 2012 Spend will be issued on April 1st. Rewards are redeemable in-store and online.
FALL 2011 SPENDING: 148.06 12/15/2011 2% of your Fall 2011 Spend will be issued on January 1st. Rewards are redeemable in-store and online.
BEAUTY CLUB SPENDING: 34.84 12/31/2012 Spend $50 on beauty products and earn $5 ExtraBucks

Another way you can earn ExtraBucks Rewards is by purchasing qualifying items which are usually specified in the weekly ads.  ExtraBucks Rewards will print out at the bottom of your receipt.  Not in Catalina form.

Sometimes, there are unadvertised deals as well.  This is where having your binder with you comes in handy.

You may be wondering how this works.  So, here’s an example of one simple transaction from the week of 2/26/2012:

Thermacare Lower Back and Hip Heat Wrap, 1 ct. $3.79

Buy 1, Receive $3.79 Extra Bucks, Limit 1

Pay $3.79, Receive $3.79 Extra Bucks

Mentos UP2U Gum, 14 ct. $1.00 Use $1.00/1 Mentos UP2U pack from SS 1/1 (exp 3/1) or $1.00/1 Mentos UP2U pack from SS 2/5 (exp 3/31) Free

Colgate Sensitive Pro Relief Toothbrush, 1 ct. or Toothpaste, 4 oz $4.99

Buy 1, Receive $4.00 Extra Bucks, Limit 2

Use $0.75/1 Colgate Toothpaste, 4 oz or larger from SS 2/26 (exp 3/17) And use $1.00/1 Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief Toothpaste Excludes Trial Size from CVS Reinventing Beauty Magazine, Winter Issue Pay $3.24, Receive $4.00 Extra Bucks

You pay:  $7.03 (plus tax) OOP (out-of-pocket) and take home $7.79 in Extra Bucks.  So you just made .76¢.  That still makes me chuckle!

Of course, you could use those ExtraBucks right away on another transaction.  I usually do this because like the Walgreens RR’s, ExtraBucks do expire in about a week, but sometimes they do last longer.  Or, you could take them home and wait for next week’s deals.  Not a bad plan either.  Just keep in mind they may expire.  If they do expire, then you haven’t saved much money.

If you read Spending Money to Save Money – Part One you need to know that there are similarities between Walgreens Register Rewards and CVS ExtraBucks.  There are also differences.  Some couponers feel CVS is a little easier.  Less rules do apply from what I’ve noticed.  The need for one more item than you have coupons isn’t necessary at CVS.  Also, as far as I know, ExtraBucks are only accepted at CVS.  Unlike Walgreens RR’s being accepted at Jewel-Osco.

For instance, Walgreens, from what I’ve experienced has always had a limit of 1 RR per transaction for an offer on a specific product.  The CVS limits vary by product.  A limit of 1 is more common, but it’s not a constant.  What this means is, if there is a limit of two (always check) you can buy two of an item and receive the ExtraBucks two times all in one transaction.


Colgate Sensitive Pro Relief Toothbrush, 1 ct. or Toothpaste, 4 oz $4.99

Buy 1, Receive $4.00 ExtraBucks, **Limit 2 **

Use $0.75/1 Colgate Toothpaste, 4 oz or larger from SS 2/26 (exp 3/17) And use $1.00/1 Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief Toothpaste Excludes Trial Size from CVS Reinventing Beauty Magazine, Winter

Pay $3.24, Receive $4.00 ExtraBucks

Colgate Sensitive Pro Relief Toothbrush, 1 ct. or Toothpaste, 4 oz $4.99

Buy 1, Receive $4.00 ExtraBucks, **Limit 2 **

Use $0.75/1 Colgate Toothpaste, 4 oz or larger from SS 2/26 (exp 3/17) And use $1.00/1 Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief Toothpaste Excludes Trial Size from CVS Reinventing Beauty Magazine, Winter

Pay $3.24, Receive $4.00 ExtraBucks

You pay:  $6.48 (plus tax) OOP and receive $8.00 in ExtraBucks.  You just made $1.52 in 1 transaction. 

Now lets say you want to do 2 transactions so that you can use your ExtraBucks to pay for other items immediately.  This works a lot like the Walgreens RR’s.  Except, you don’t NEED a filler you WANT a filler. 

Check out the following:

1st Transaction

Thermacare Lower Back and Hip Heat Wrap, 1 ct. $3.79

Buy 1, Receive $3.79 ExtraBucks, Limit 1

Pay $3.79 OOP (plus tax), Receive $3.79 ExtraBucks to use on your next transaction

2nd Transaction

Colgate Sensitive Pro Relief Toothbrush, 1 ct. or Toothpaste, 4 oz $4.99

Buy 1, Receive $4.00 ExtraBucks, Limit 2

Use $0.75/1 Colgate Toothpaste, 4 oz or larger from SS 2/26 (exp 3/17) And use $1.00/1 Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief Toothpaste Excludes Trial Size from CVS Reinventing Beauty Magazine, Winter

Pay $3.24, Receive $4.00 ExtraBucks

Also, any filler item.  Something you need or a quick snack.  Whatever you’d like.  The filler is to bridge the gap between $3.79 and $3.24 which is .55¢.  Why?  Because otherwise you’ll lose it.  CVS can’t give you actual money back nor will they give you back new ExtraBucks with the remaining amount.  You earned it, you might as well get your money’s worth.  So, in this scenario, finding an item for at least .55 would work well.  Continuing on with the scenario…

You pay:  $3.79 with your ExtraBucks (plus tax – OOP) and receive another $4.00 ExtraBucks for next time or your next transaction.


*   Excludes alcohol, gift cards, lottery, money orders, prescriptions, postage stamps, pre-paid cards, tobacco products or items reimbursed by a governmental program.

**  Excludes pharmacy items paid for in whole or in part by state and/or federal health care programs. This includes, for example, Medicare, Medicaid and TRICARE. Not valid on prescriptions purchased in NJ or NY. In Louisiana, not valid on any prescription for a controlled dangerous substance. CVS/pharmacy may, at any time and for any reason, exclude prescriptions dispensed in other states, other types of prescriptions, or prescriptions paid for by other payers. ExtraBucks® Rewards on prescriptions limited to $50 per year per card. This rewards cap was adopted for all customers to ensure CVS/pharmacy complies with all federal and state laws and regulations regarding prescription drug purchases.

Going Green to Earn Some Green

This one is pretty simple.

At the register or online you can buy the Greenbagtag from CVS for .99¢. 

Next attach it to a reuseable bag.

Then scan it along with your ExtraCare card every time you make a purchase at CVS.

After every 4th visit, you will earn a $1.00 ExtraBuck. 

If you think about the value of a coupon, this $1.00 ExtraBuck makes a for a nice bonus.

Checking You Email for Money…I mean Coupons

When you’re signed up for an ExtraCare account and have provided a valid email, you can opt to receive newsletters.  These newsletters frequently include in-store coupons.  A common coupon to find is 20% off your entire purchase during a specific timeframe.

A little tip though.  Usually at the bottom it says this excludes sale items.  Well, that can throw a curve ball of gloom.  Once in a while, they do send coupons that don’t exclude those sale items.  Keeping us hooked is all too important I suppose.

If you were new to the idea of the CVS ExtraCare account, and you clicked on the link I provided at the beginning, you may have noticed the offer of a $4.00 off $20.00 coupon for new email subscribers.  That is a pretty good example of the type of coupons you’ll receive by email.

It’s definitely worth the little bit of extra effort to sign up.  Remember, you can always log in at the CVS site, to make sure you’re getting all of information on deals and check your balances for spending.

Keeping Yourself Beautiful and Making Money Doing it

ExtraCare Beauty Club is another reason you can learn to love CVS.  You can get started by signing up at the link provided.  The rest is simple.  Just check your email and swipe your ExtraCare card when making purchases of beauty products.  In fact, always swipe your ExtraCare card.  You’ll get coupons, tips, and new product information in your email.

How do you make money?  By earning it.  In pretty much every CVS ad there is a section dedicated to beauty product sales.  For every $50.00 spent on beauty, you earn $5.00 ExtraBucks.  Only if you’ve signed up for the Beauty Club.  This may seem like a lot, but there are often deals that make this cost less out-of-pocket than you might think.  Using coupons and matching up will get you there quickly.

See the following example:

 Physicians Formula Lash Boosting Eyeliner $11.29, Regular Price

Spend $10.00, Receive $7.00 Extra Bucks, Limit 1

Pay $11.29, Receive $7.00 Extra Bucks, Submit for Try Me Free Rebate (found on select products) $7.00 Moneymaker

On the example listed above, you’re actually MAKING money.  Not only that specific product deal, but now that $11.29 is added to your Beauty Club account.    In this coming week’s ad 3/4/2012  there is a rebate offer that looks pretty great!  This might be a great week to stock up.

Get to Shopping

All in all, CVS does offer less red tape in comparison to Walgreens.  It’s prices are a bit higher, but still competitive when using your ExtraCare card and using ExtraCare Rewards along with coupons.   I recommend you try it at least two or three times.  Get a feel for it.  In the end, I think you’ll enjoy shopping at CVS.

I also want to add a link to a website that answers quite a few questions about shopping at CVS.  It’s called Creative Couponing.  Always review the coupon policy to double check that something hasn’t changed.  I’ve linked that at the bottom of this post.

Happy Couponing!


CVS Coupon Policy

A Change in CVS/pharmacy Coupon Policy 2/7/12


I just found out and thought I should share, just in case some of you may not have heard that some updates have been made to the CVS Coupon Policy.

Here is a highlight:

  •  Sales tax must be paid for any Buy One, Get One Free coupon offer, if required by applicable state laws.
  •  Two coupons may be used on a Buy One, Get One Free promotion as long as it does not exceed the item total

Ex. Suave Shampoo is on sale for $2.00 Buy One, Get One Free and the customer is purchasing two shampoos; customer may use two coupons for $1.00 each and pay the applicable tax.

  •  Buy One, Get One Free promotions may be combined with Buy One, Get One Free Coupons. Customers are responsible for paying applicable tax

 Ex. Suave Shampoo is on sale for $2.00 BOGO and customer has a MFG coupon for Suave BOGO. Customer will receive both items for free but will need to pay any applicable tax.

Click on the link to the CVS Coupon Policy to see the rest of the updates.

10 Adjustments That Made Couponing Work for Me



I’m coming up on a year of being a couponer.  Sure, that doesn’t make me an expert.  However, I have learned a few things.  First let me say, I’m a stay-at-home-mom with two young children.  When my friend suggested couponing to me, considering the budget busting that was happening daily, I was eager to give it a shot.  Then she began to relay all of this information about how to get started, what I needed, and the rules of this and that.  Letting out a long sigh, I thought, hmmm maybe this might be too much.  She assured me to give it a go and offered to help me along the way.  So, I started down the path.  It wasn’t long after, I felt overwhelmed and impatient.  Because, one of the first things you need to know is that in the beginning, you need coupons.  Plain and simple.  Waiting for Sundays to roll around was like waiting for Christmas.  In the meantime, I was gathering my supplies.  Binder, sleeves, tab dividers, and printing out a few here and there.  After a month or so, I had enough.  I was clipping, sorting, and filing.  It was time.  Time to make my first go.  At a real store.  Walgreens.  I wrote out my list (which took all day and numerous phone calls with said friend).  Eventually, I made it there and began.  They were out of several items on my list and I thought I was going to blow it.  After a few more calls to my friend and list adjustments, it was time to check out.  Nervous as I could be, I watched the check-out.  Waiting for a moment that there wouldn’t be anyone else at the register.  Surprisingly, it turned out ok.  As I left the store, still shaking, I felt amazingly good.  I did it!  My total out of pocket (OOP) was $9.69 and my total savings was $43.48.  Yes, I kept my receipts.  That was my ah ha moment.

Time is Money and Money is Time:

Some time went by and many, many, many transactions.  There was a problem though.  Now the coupons were coming at me full speed it seemed.  If I didn’t get to clipping the coupons for a couple weeks, I was destined to spend two days clipping, sorting, and filing.  Granted, if I didn’t have kids and I had a lot more time, it wouldn’t take as long I’m sure.  The point is, it was becoming very difficult to keep up.  Then adding the list making process to actually do the shopping and the fact that I was still phoning for help a bit…well let’s say I was about to quit.

My mom became very ill and was admitted to the hospital.  Things were looking grim.  My siblings and I were staying by her side as much as we could.  She was sleeping a lot, so I brought my coupons with me.  Believe it or not, I got caught up.  Meanwhile, the nurses were coming in and seeing what I was doing.  They asked a ton of questions.  Asking me if I was an “Extreme Couponer”.  I laughed and shyly said no, I’m just a beginner.  Realization kicked in and I decided I couldn’t quit.  I mean I was saving.  My husband wasn’t making $60.00 Walgreen’s runs to get deodorant, toothpaste, and diapers anymore.  Thank goodness!  Something else had transpired that I hadn’t realized at first also.  I was buying more fresh fruits and vegetables.  Were there coupons for these.  No, not really.  I was saving so much in the other parts of my grocery bill that there was more room in the budget for fresh produce.  There was a downside to this though.  Getting lists and coupons ready for groceries took even LONGER than the Walgreens or CVS runs I was doing.

Unfortunately, my mom did pass, and I was too distraught to think about coupons for awhile.  Which of course led to so many coupons to clip.  Once again, even though it was helping our budget, I thought I would quit.  It was just taking too much time to save money.  I ended up muttering through for a couple months with only a few trips here and there and doing minimal clipping.  Obviously, I’m still couponing so I did come up with a way to make it work.

What Saved My Couponing:

1.  Simply put…tab dividers with pockets.  Two pockets per divider.

This is definitely the most important change I made.  I no longer clip my coupons to file them.  Instead, I have tab dividers that have pockets.  One on each side.  What I did, was file the first week’s inserts of each month in one pocket.  The second week of that same month in the pocket on the other side.  Then added one more divider to accommodate the weeks three and four of that month.  So, I have two dividers for each month for a total of 24 dividers.  They have the tabs already on them so I wrote:  Jan.  Wk 1+2 on each side of the first divider.  Then Jan. Wk 3+4 on both sides of the second divider.  You could do this differently.  Ex:  Jan.  Wk 1 then flip it over and write Jan.  Wk 2 and so on.  Another possibility would be to write dates, however, you would have to change them the following year as the coupons will come on different dates.  Also noting, that there weeks we don’t get inserts.  The reason this is important is, I file them by insert dates.  Smartsource (SS) 1/29/12 got filed into the pocket labeled Jan. Wk 3+4.  Since it came in week 4 of January.  I do file all of the inserts together.  Redplum (RP), Smartsource (SS), Procter & Gamble (PG).  There is no sorting them.  They go straight into the appropriate week regardless of the company.  I clip all of the coupons that are on my list before I head to the store.

labeled by Month and Week

-What about deals you find while shopping that are not on your list?

If you have access to the internet on your phone you can pull up a coupon database ( is one that I’ve used and bookmarked for easier access) while in store, search for the item, then clip the coupon.  I keep a small pair of scissors in my binder.  There are many databases out there.  Here is another I like to use found at

-So how much time did this save?

Well, I don’t clip any coupons on Sunday, unless I’m going shopping.  Also, think of all of the coupons you’re probably never going to use.  You don’t have to bother clipping them ever ..if not needed.  In short, a lot!

*If you have anymore questions on anything in my post, feel free to leave them in comments or email me.  I will be glad to help.

2.  Match-ups that can be printed out.

Remember, I used to write all of these out.  Then do the math and figure out transactions.  It took up a lot of my time.  These websites will have check boxes next to each match-up for a particular store.  You click the ones you need, then print it out at the end.  Major time-saver.  I’ve even recently found a great website that totals the amount you’re paying for all of those items you’ve chosen.  By looking at the website, I wasn’t sure how trustworthy it was.  It’s turned out to be very helpful though.  Which is  You’ll need to register to use it, but I’d say it was worth it.  The first one I discovered was CouponDivas.  That link should take you straight to match-ups.  There is no need to register at website.  There are more and I’m planning a list of all of the best websites in a later post.

3.  Making shorter lists.

I’ve learned that I don’t need to buy EVERYTHING that’s on sale with a coupon match-up.  Since we do use diapers/pull-ups and wipes with our daughter, I usually try to make my purchases around that alone.  Balancing this can sometimes be tricky, but it does make sense.  For example:  If I’m going to buy diapers and wipes, and the total would be $11.00, I buy just enough Register Reward (RR) items to pay for the diapers and wipes with the least amount of OOP expense.  Not much more than that usually.  Less coupons to clip, less work figuring out transactions, and less time hunting down the items once I’m in the store.  This may change soon though, as I just learned that I can use RR at my local Jewel-Osco.  When it comes to grocery shopping, I’ve started shopping every two weeks instead of once a month.  That cuts down on lengthy lists and coupon clipping.  I haven’t mastered how to cut down my lists at Wal-Mart.  I tend to go once every three months or so with a four page list.  This needs to stop!  *giggles*

4.  Trying to stick to items with stock-up prices.

What this means is, I try to buy items that are on sale for a super low price.  This helps by lowering my OOP expense and gives me the best deal.  How do I know if they are super low prices?  For one, if you haven’t heard of KrazyCouponLady yet, you need to click on that link and check it out.  It’s one of the best couponing websites I’ve found.  I owe most of my success to the lovely ladies who keep us informed everyday.  On their website they explain couponing A-Z.  They also do match-ups and in these match-ups, if there is an item with a stock-up price, they place a little yellow and black symbol next to said item. Stockpile-177

Here is an example:

Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bunny, Cadbury Egg, Reese’s Single Egg, 1.2 oz, Cadbury Mini Eggs, 1.5 oz $0.87 Buy 1, Receive $0.87 Extra Bucks, Limit 1

Pay $0.87, Receive $0.87 Extra Bucks

Final Price: Free

Really, there is a wealth of information on their website.  Do yourself a favor and check it out, if you haven’t already.

5.  Creating a junk email account.

This will come in handy for registering with couponing websites and manufacturers.  Keeping your couponing mail separate from your friend’s and family email.

6.  Networking.

Search around and find websites that offer you what you need.  For example:  Most of the bigger named options don’t usually have your local grocer on their list of match-ups.  So, do a search and find someone that’s in the same area as you.  If you are lucky enough to find one, this will save you time and hassle.

7.  When you’re out and about, look around.

Coupons are everywhere, for all sorts of things.  The grocery store I use the most has coupons for local places on the back of their receipts.  Good Will  almost always has a $5.00 off coupon on there.

8.  Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest to name a few.

All great places to meet fellow couponers and share experiences as well as deals.  Facebook especially is a super place to get extra coupons or find out about new deals first.  By clicking “Like” on a manufacturer’s Facebook, it may open you up a few new coupons and news about upcoming products or free trials.

9.  Free trials can really add up.

I love free trials.  A chance to try something new and you don’t have to pay an outrageous price for it (because it’s new).  Which reminds me of a note I need to add in here.  Coupons for new items are higher value when the item first comes out, but will quickly diminish and/or vanish.  If you like it, grab plenty while you have a better coupon.

10.  Expired coupons might be useful at your local store.

There are a few grocery stores in my area that take expired coupons up to one month past expiration.  This includes store catalinas that print out at the end of the transaction.  I know of a great way to find coupons that may have expired for an item I wish to purchase.  Coupon databases.  Hotcouponworld is great for my situation because you can choose to add coupons in from one month expiration to six months.  Since I only need to look back one month, I save a lot of time and energy searching through the database to find the coupon in question.

That’s all for now!  This is my first couponing post, so feedback is greatly appreciated.  Thanks for stopping by and happy couponing!!!