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Do You Take Advantage of Free (Or Almost Free) Stuff?

August 2, 2010 · 14 comments

in Personal Finance

I love free things, and I take advantage of obtaining free items any chance I get.  Stores know that we shoppers love free things too, as they  try and lure us in with free, or almost-free items, with the hopes we will spend a bunch of money on periphery items that are anything but free. (I posted a few weeks ago about the almost free flip-flops offered at Old Navy, and the madness that ensues during that sale.)

Since that post was written, I had some opportunities for absolutely free things. One of those free things was the 7 ounce Slurpees that were given out at participating 7-11 stores on July 11th.  (Get it?  7/11?)  My kids just love that day, as do all their friends.  Of course, I piled all my kids in the car that day and hoped that our local 7-11 hadn’t run out of the 7 ounce cups.  I carefully watched the people coming out to see if they also made additional purchases, which might somewhat justify the expense to 7-11 for giving away so many Slurpees.  Strangely, not one person I saw walk out of the store had anything other than their tiny Slurpee cup.  It is marketing campaigns like this that I wonder if they really pay off for the company.  I will say though that it does get us to 7-11 on a day that we would otherwise never go.

A few days after the free Slurpees, I had a lot of coupons for an item that was for ‘Buy 1, Get 1 Free’.  Well, have I told you how much I love these deals?  I love them because CVS quite often offers this product as ‘Buy 1 Get 1 Free’ themselves.  You know what that means?  Free Free for me!  I had 5 coupons, which meant I could end up getting 10 of these products perfectly free.  However, I do still have a little pride- I didn’t want to slap down 10 of these items on the counter along with my coupons and then walk out whistling with a grocery cart of free stuff.  So, as I was driving around to various soccer or baseball games, I would pull over to a nearby CVS and get my 2 free items.  I did this 5 times, and came home grinning.  (This happened over the course of a few days, not all in one afternoon.)

Another way I get free items is through the use of my Kroger card.  Once a month or so they mail me a bunch of coupons for items I usually buy (obviously my spending is being tracked, but if it means cheap stuff for me, I don’t care).  A lot of times, these coupons are for completely free items, like Nestle Chocolate chips, Doritos, a watermelon.  You never know what you are going to get.  I love my store-cards, and I cannot imagine people not using them.

So, do you have certain products that you know you can basically get for free or close to free?  Do you go to great efforts to procure those items?  What are some of your favorites??  Share a ridiculous story if you have one.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

BW August 2, 2010 at 10:13 am

Hello!

I LOVE getting things for free or almost free! BTW – I would have no problem taking all 5 of those buy one get one free coupons to CVS at the same time and getting all my items for free! 🙂

Kmart (note: I absolutely hate Kmart and would not be shopping there if it weren’t for this…)used to have a coupon promotion where they would double manufacturer coupons up to $1.00. So, an item that was $2 or less for which you also had a $1 coupon was free. You could also get a bunch of items for less than $1 each if you had a good coupon. So, I would spend some time putting together my envelope of coupons over $0.50 (since most grocery stores already double up to this amount) and up to $1 on items I believed were $3 or less each. I would then go to Kmart and stock up mostly on toiletry items and cheap food items. I would donate anything that my family didn’t already use on a regular basis. Yes, I would hold up the line while the cashier rang up my items and then scanned my 50 or so coupons. However, the person behind me in line would usually end up amazed at how little I had to spend for all of the items I purchased and I believe they usually forgave me for making them wait. There was always an exception or two. I stocked our hall closet with so many lotions, shampoos, conditioners, razors, body washes, etc. that we truly did not need any of these items for at least 6 months.

Kmart no longer has this promotion. They now have double coupons up to $1 with a limit of 5 coupons which is just not worth the time or frustration of going to Kmart.

Rite Aid has a card that you sign up for now that will get you the special sale prices each week. These prices, combined with coupons and their rebate program usually yield a lot of free or almost free items each month if you are willing to put the time in to figuring out the deals.

Happy shopping! 🙂

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Kris August 2, 2010 at 4:16 pm

BW- Whenever I went to Kmart, they never had the sale item in stock, so I gave up. You obviously had better luck than I did.

I have not tried Rite aid much, as I usually shop at CVS. I may have to diversify.

Thanks for the info!

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Budgeting in the Fun Stuff August 2, 2010 at 10:18 am

I wish Kroger would send me the free coupons more often…I only get them twice a year. Maybe I don’t spend enough to justify the stamp…oh well.

I do take advantage of combining coupons from the newspaper with sales to get an item for less than 25 cents, but I’m not as good as the true grocery couponers (like you and anybody who plays the Grocery Game). I usually get my Suave deodorant for 50 cents or less and regularly get 30 cent rolls of paper towels from Kroger thanks to Bounty’s 25 cent coupons that get tripled. 🙂

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Kris August 2, 2010 at 4:25 pm

BFS – you sound like you are doing great. You can really save money on toiletries, that is for sure. I wish I could could get Tide cheaper, it is hard to get that price cut in half.

Kroger sends me coupons a couple times a month, and I love those coupons!

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Sandy L August 2, 2010 at 11:39 am

I wish I had Kroger. I do my best with combining coupons with sales, but in my small town, the grocery stores don’t have that much competition so I rarely come across things that end up being free with a coupon.

I have to admit, sometimes I’d rather go without an item than buy it if I know it goes on sale regularly.

We do have a ben and jerry’s and they give out a free ice cream cone once a year but I’ve never gone. It’s not worth the $3 to wait in line for an hour.

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Kris August 2, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Sandy – I have come to love Kroger. I imagine it is hard to save money without access to chain supermarkets. Competition is indeed key!

I also go without if I have to pay full price, unless it is something I absolutely have to have.

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Suba @ Wealth Informatics August 2, 2010 at 1:41 pm

I am a little confused. If you had 5 B1G1 coupons, won’t you have to pay for 5 times and get 5 free, how can you get all 10 for free? I would love to know.

I am not a big couponer, mainly because I am a vegetarian and I have never seen vegetables/fruits having coupons (may be I didn’t look enough). I just stick to my CSA. But I have never paid for any personal grooming/toiletries in the last 2 yrs, always get them for free & stock up. That might not be much for an avid couponer, but this is what I have been able to do… I am always amazed by those posts that show $500 worth of groceries for $5 … Have you seen coupons for veggies/fruits?

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Kris August 2, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Hey Suba. So this is is how it works. CVS has a promotion where an item is buy one, get one free. So, they automatically deduct the free one from your bill using your CVS card. Then they ring up the coupon, where they then have to give you credit for the free product since you indeed did purchase 2. (Even if you only paid for 1). It is the beauty of combining a store sale with a coupon. Not all stores will do this though. For instance, at Meijer, if it is a ‘buy one get one free promotion’ and you try to use a coupon where it is something like ‘get a dollar off when you buy two’ (of whatever), they deny the coupon. At least the one by my house does.

Only rarely have I seen coupons for fruits/veggies. However, a lot of my savings come from everyday items like toiletries and such, not just food.

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Budgeting in the Fun Stuff August 3, 2010 at 10:38 am

Suba, my Sunday paper usually has a few coupons for frozen veggies if that’s something you buy…Green Giant and those Steamer Pouches are big ones…

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Money Reasons August 2, 2010 at 6:13 pm

I always liked to buy the computer stuff heavily rebated at stores like CompUSA (not defunct), and best buy.

I hated filling out the rebate forms, but sometimes they would be from $20 or $30 dollars a pop. So I would go ahead and do it…

Once I bought a DVD burner for practically nothing! I was thinking about selling it on eBay, but my father-in-law’s birthday came up, so I used it for that purpose instead.

Frugality is great, if you are wise enough to take advantage of it! Kudos to you 🙂

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Squirrelers August 2, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Free is good. Correction: free is great! I relish the opportunity to get something for free, IF it’s truly free. Unless it’s a decent-sized expenditure, I will accept something free if it has no strings attached, AND doesn’t cause me to spend additional time to obtain the item that makes it “not so free” anymore. To me, time is a form of currency in that way.

But in general, within those parameters, free is great!

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Financial Samurai August 3, 2010 at 11:33 pm

The wife LOVES free stuff ,and so do I, but not as much as her!

Your topic is a good tangent to the “free unemployment benefits” Greg on my site should be taking advantage of.

We’ll all take it, for sure!

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