Blog Post: Rolling Catalinas and Stockpiling


I shared with you the other day on how to roll ECBs at CVS. Well, I am so excited that my friend, Christy, was able to do an excellent example on how to roll Catalinas at a grocery store.

If you are wondering what a catalina is, it’s just a coupon that prints out after you check-out at a store that can be used on your next purchase. See her picture on her posting for an example.

In her posting, she spends $5 for 15 boxes of fruit snacks, but still has $3.50 in catalinas to use on another order–$.10 a box! Talk about a great way to stockpile.

So if you want to see a little insight into rolling catalinas and stockpiling, check out Coupon Gal’s posting.

Great write-up, Christy!

How To Roll ECBs at CVS


Several of you have asked me in the past on How to Roll ECBs at CVS and I promised you a step-by-step walk through. Well, I finally made it to CVS on one of the weeks where there was a good “rolling scenario” to show you how to do this. If you have the right coupons and stock in the store, you can do this same transaction through Saturday, March 13th, 2010.

First of all, if you haven’t already, make sure that you sign-up for a CVS card. It’s your key to savings. You can sign-up online but I usually recommend that people do it in store as you get your cards instantly. The thing to know about CVS is the term “ECB” which stands for “Extra Care Bucks.” These are what I like to call “paper cash” that you can use in your store on your next purchase after you earn them. So while some things may say “Free after ECBs,” you must remember that the initial money will come out of your pocket. Eventually you’ll have some ECBs to “roll” and that out-of-pocket expense will become less if you keep rolling them.

Now the first thing you are going to do is check out your newspaper to see what you have that’s a good deal that week. The big thing to look for is FREE after ECBs in the ad. Those are the ones that not only can you get for FREE but are potential “money-makers” if you happen to have a coupon that you can use on it.


I see right away in my ad this week that the Oral B Cross Action Toothbrushes are on sale for $4 with $4 ECBs. At this point, I can search my coupons to see if I have one, if I clip them or I can also check a blog, such as Common Sense with Money, that types up the weekly deals. When I do check Mercedes’ site, I find out that there’s one for $.75 off in the 2/21PG.

OK, now you are saying, what is a 2/21PG? Well this is how you read those: In the February 21st newspaper, there was a Procter and Gamble insert. That’s where you’ll find it. Now if you haven’t grabbed that paper in the past for those inserts, you are either out of luck or you’ll have to find somewhere that has the coupon, such as eBay or Collectable Coupons where you can pay for their coupon clipping service. I took a picture of the insert and the coupon for you to see:

Now comes a little planning and a little luck that they’ll be in stock at the store! If you are just going to pick up the toothbrush, there’s no planning there aside from clipping your coupon. But if you want to “roll” your ECBs while you are there, here’s where you need to think for a minute.

The first transaction is easy. I’m going to just buy the toothbrush which is $4. It will take off $.75 for the coupon, costing me just $3.25 plus tax. My total ends up being $3.53 for my area. This is what my receipt looked like:

At the very bottom of that receipt were my ECBs for $4. I quickly ripped those off and did a second transaction to “roll them.” I got lucky and the store was empty so I just checked out twice in a row.

Here where the “rolling” gets tricky. I can’t just go and buy another toothbrush because my coupon will take off the $.75 leaving my total below $4 and the ECBs are for $4. So I must find a “filler item.” This just has to be something small. I recommend picking something you actually need–or have been wanting. I saw earlier in the morning that I still had a $1 Off Starbucks Frappuccino Printable Coupon. When I checked in the store, they were $1.99, making them only $.99 after coupon. This was exactly what I need as a filler. This is what my receipt looked like:

The toothbrush was $4, minus another $.75 off coupon. The Starbucks was $1.99, minus my $1 off Starbucks Frappuccino printable coupon. Both items came to $4.24 plus tax making it $4.55. Now don’t forget, I earned $4 ECBs from my first purchase that I used. So my end total? $.55 out-of-pocket. And I earned these:

Yes, another $4 in ECBs. Now this particular deal has a limit of 2 per card, so I can’t do this same transaction again. But I do have $4 in ECBs to spend on another trip, which I’ll save for next week.

So, let’s review what my expenses looked like. In my first transaction, I paid $3.53 and in my second transaction, I paid $.55. This makes my total out-of-pocket expenses as $4.08. But I also have $4 in ECBs for another purchase. Isn’t that amazing? This is when you’ll hear bloggers say “It’s like spending $.08 for two toothbrushes and a StarBucks Frappuccino!” :)

This is the key to really keeping to your budget and getting the household items that you need. Anyone who has been a “CVSer” for any time at all will give you this advice—never pay cash for a toothbrush! And from the transactions above, you can see why! There are several deals throughout the year where they are either free or $.99 after ECBs. And there is almost always a coupon available that will either turn it into a “money-maker” or help you get it for free. (So definitely save those toothbrush coupons!)

Now since I already have a plethora of toothbrushes, I am going to donate these—and then treat myself to a Starbucks Frappuccino for my good deed. Sound like a good deal for $.08 doesn’t it? :)

I hope this has helped illustrate to some of you how to “roll” ECBs. Happy Shopping!

Disclaimer: These transaction pictures and posting are copyrighted and cannot be shared without written permission from Coupon Geek.

Video: Rolling ECBs and RRs


I know that when you first start off shopping at CVS and Walgreens, learning how to “roll” Extra Care Bucks (ECBs) and Register Rewards (RRs) can get kind of confusing.

My sister-in-law sent me this great little video clip from a local Chicago station here where a reporter did a small “rolling” shopping trip series. I thought it might help you see a little on how it all works.

I’m hoping to get in a series here soon explaining it all and showing you a few trips I’ll make on how to start out. I’ve been waiting for the weather to warm up some because let me tell you, it’s not fun to shop when it’s 12 degrees and it’s almost considered a “heat wave.” :) But I promise I’ll get one going here soon. So stay tuned and check out the video for a little help in the meantime.

Also, I wrote up a posting on Register Rewards, Extra Care Bucks and Stacking Coupons. I’m hoping that will offer a little more help, as well.

Thanks for sharing the video, Jodi!

Earn Extra Money Through Surveys & Reward Programs


And a little info now for my readers on how to make a little extra holiday cash:

Before I started blogging last year, I’d spend at least 30 minutes at nighttime to take a few surveys. I loved being able to bring in a little extra money while still being able to stay home with my Son.

I’ve been wanting to get together a list of “legit” Survey companies for you all, in case you are interested in that same path.

Before you start taking surveys, here are a few important things to remember:

1) You’ll definitely want to set up a separate email account just for surveys. A lot of the companies offer you $ for simply just reading emails, which can accumulate to 3-6 per day per company. This will also prevent your personal account from becoming bombarded.

2) You won’t “get rich fast” with any of them. They take time to reach the designated payouts that some companies require. You’ll need to definitely practice a little patience, but it’s so worth it when the checks show up!

3) Different companies offer different rewards. Some only payout with gift cards. Others you’ll have to reach a designated threshold before you get your money. Others pay out in freebies. And you might get lucky enough to find some that payout in a little of everything!

4) Always make sure a company is “legit.” Ask around or look for those posted as recommendations from bloggers you trust. But always follow the rule of “Use Your Best Judgment” or “If It Sounds Too Good To Be True…It Probably Is!” Never, ever pay a fee to join one!

5) You can use a program such as Roboform HERE that will automatically fill in data for you, saving you time! There’s a FREE version that you can download.

6) It may not seem like your surveys are adding up to much so consider putting them in a separate high-interest account, such as one from ING, to watch them grow (and earn interest!) Think of it as your Vacation/Christmas Club!

Here are a few I’ve tried: (NOTE: Click on their name to get to their site.)

My Survey – This is my all-time favorite one. After I reached my payout amount, I had my check in one week! They also sent me freebies to try and review that weren’t even on the Market yet. And whether or not you qualify for a survey, you still got whatever points they promised. They give you 10 points for joining and up to 1500 points per survey. They also have a referral program giving you 150 points for referring a friend

Inbox Dollars – This one was slow to reach payout. But I mostly focused on clicking on emails to read. Once I reached the payout, they did make me wait a set time before they processed the check and in the meantime, I had to keep my account active.

My Points – I didn’t get to work with them much because I started blogging right after signing up. But I know of others that like them and earn gift cards through them.

These are other recommended by other bloggers/readers, but I haven’t tried:

Ipsos- iSay- You’ll get 2-5 survey opportunities a week that earns you points. You can turn those in for gift cards to places such as Applebees, Chilis, Olive Garden, Amazon and Kohls. Each survey you complete also earns you an entry into a $5,000 drawing.

Surveyhead – You can get paid through Paypal. They send out frequent survey opportunities and you’ll get a $5 bonus just for signing up.

Opinion Outpost -This one lets you cash out at 50 points ($5) and most surveys are worth 20-30 points.

Survey Spot – Earn up to $5 per survey and you can request payout when you have earned $5.

Dollar Surveys – You get $1 per survey and you get paid out after completely them, rather than waiting to reach a specific threshold.

LightSpeed Research – They offer a lot of surveys. And you can even take the option of being paid in gift cards.

Other Income/Prize Earners:

SwagBucks – Have you heard me gush about them enough? If not, I have to say that I love them! You earn points just for doing your normal searches. Every so often, a box will pop up and you’ll have earned a “SwagBuck.” There are also Free codes put out every so often or other ways to earn Bucks.

Tryology – You get to try out FREE products in exchange for doing a video review on them.

Nielsen Home Scanner – You scan your purchases, upload them via software they give you and then you cash in points for prizes.

These are just a few out there. There are several more that are a little slower in earning. While these are “legit” companies, you may each have a different experience with them. Some are happy with slowly earning $, while others want to earn faster and find a company is not right for them. The only advice I can give is to sign-up for them and try them out. If they don’t work, you can close your account and try another one.

Feel free to share you experiences with these companies, but please…word them nicely, such as listing both pros/cons for them. Thanks!

I’ll save this in my left sidebar under “Resources” for future reference and update as I find any more that bloggers/readers enjoy.

Reader Q&A: How to Make Money Without A Blog


Whenever I get a question a few times from readers, I try to put up a posting on it. As they say, when one asks, there are several that don’t.

The one I’ve been getting lately is “I don’t have time/knowledge to run my own blog but I’d like to make a little extra money for my family. Do you have any ideas or recommendations?”

Obviously, the first thing Coupon Geek would HAVE to tell you is…coupon and follow blogs to find great deals. :) This won’t make you money but you’ll save loads. (But sometimes, you’ll get lucky and actually find money-making deals!) Then…

Before I had my own blog, one of the things I did was to participate in surveys. My favorite was My Survey. I actually put up a posting about it awhile back HERE.

Another thing to do is to join SwagBucks and to do your online searches there. You can turn in your SwagBucks for giftcards. I turn all of mine in for $5 Amazon gift cards, which only takes 45. Save up your $5 ones so you can get that FREE shipping at $25 threshold that most items qualify for. Especially make sure you do this on Fridays, as they are “Mega SwagBucks Days” and you can win more. $5 may not seem like much but it adds up and it doesn’t take up any extra time. This won’t technically “make” you money, but it will free up your cash you’d spend on those items for other things.

If you really want to know about some great money-makers, Moms By Heart has a well-written posting HERE with lots of ideas.

I hope this helps!

NOTE: If you have a question, please, by all means, feel free to email me at coupongeek at live dot com. I do my best to answer my readers. BUT please remember, some weeks get crazy and it may take me a bit to get back to you. But if it’s been a week, forward your email again. It either means I’ve spaced out or I’m disorganized that week. I honestly do not always have it together. :) You know how it is—going six directions at once sometimes.

Coupon Classes: Materials For Doing Your Own


Here is the information that I promised you all on how to do your own coupon class. Now keep in mind, I’ve only done the one myself. I’m definitely not an expert by any means. But at least this will give you a starting point. Yes, please feel free to use the materials. But if you do, I ask that you credit them at some point in your packets/presentation as having come from Coupon Geek. I only ask that as it took me soo many hours to put these together. :)

Here is the order of how I set up my couponing packet:

1) Cover Sheet – Just a nice little welcome and an explanation of who you are, ex. listing your name/website, for future reference. I put a picture of my blog button so they might be familiar with my blog when they went there.

2) Coupon Lingo – I wrote up an extensive list HERE and shared it with them. I did not go over it in the class but did explain it was in there in case they needed to refer to it while I was talking. I made sure to explain what a catalina, Register Reward and ECB was right away, though.

3) Where To Find Coupons – This is so important for new couponers. They usually have no idea where to start. This will give them a few ideas of where to look for coupons. I have a list HERE you can use.

4) How To Organize Coupons – Now they’ve found their coupons, help them organize them. I wrote the top 3 ways HERE. Visual aids are so useful in this part. You can use an inexpensive shoe box w/ lid from say Target for $1.99 for the coupon box. I happened to have a zippered binder from when I tried that method so I could show them. And the coupon insert method is just an expanding file you can get for $3-5. I got a cute designer one at Target for $5. And the little ones are around $3 at Target. I actually bought an extra for a giveaway. If you wanted to have fun, you could fill an organizer with inserts for a giveaway!

5) Walgreens 101, CVS 101 & Stacking Coupons – Now that their coupons are all organized, teach them how to use them with deals and sales to make the most of those coupons. I wrote this info up HERE. I also did a quick walk-through on Jewel, since that’s where most of our area shops. I talked about how you can use coupons with the “Spend 25, Get $10″ to make great deals and how sometimes the $25 you need to spend is pre-sale prices and not on the sale prices. This segment is by far the most important one to have visual aids for. In my write-up I gave examples of toothpaste, soap, etc. and I actually brought some with to hold up with a coupon while I explained the steps. I’d highly recommend bringing a Register Reward, CVS Extra Care Buck, Catalinas and Store Coupons to show examples of. Find an example of a Store and Manufacturer’s coupon that they could stack. It really does make it easier. If you really want to help, bring the latest sales ad and show them a few deals they could get that week.

6) 31 Ways To Save On Your Grocery Budget (without coupons!) – I put this in my packet in case they decided that couponing just wasn’t for them. That way, they can still work on reducing their grocery budgets. I have these written up at this link. (Note: I only gave the header of each and referred them to my site for the details of each one. It would have taken up way too much paper to write it all out. Also, please note, these are my own work and not something I simply found online and copied into a posting.)

7) Resources – This was the last page in my packet. It listed several websites/blogs that I recommended in helping them find deals & coupons. This is a personal preference of your own favorites.

Overall, the best advice I can give you is to just be yourself. While speaking in public can be a very nervous experience, you will find partway through just how easy it is to speak about couponing, if it’s already something you are pretty good at now. I had so much fun at mine that I completely forgot I was talking in front of people. When mine was over, I handed out a bunch of freebies I collected. These were just things I picked up for free or cheap with my coupons.

In the end, your class shouldn’t break your wallet. So if you wanted to do one for FREE, keep that in mind. I was lucky enough that since I did mine for free, the library made the photocopies for me. They also picked up cookies, water and $1 coupon organizers for everyone from Michael’s. (You could make your own cookies and watch for a good deal on water/coffee.) I picked up pens for FREE at Staples. I already had my visual aids. I did do two giveaways, along with the freebies. Overall, I really didn’t spend a lot. I just gave of my time and knowledge. My class ran about 1.5 hours and then we chatted for awhile afterwards, so I’d figure about two hours.

Good luck to all of you! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email me at coupongeek at live dot com. I should have some free time tomorrow to answer them and I am also going to email the Word Document I used to those of you that requested it. Thanks for being so patient with me while I put this posting together! I had to get a few postings up for the references.

UPDATE: Yes, by all means, if any of you just reading this would like the Word Document I used, I would be more than glad to email it to you, too! :) Just leave a comment on this posting and I’ll send it to you.

Couponing Basics: How To Organize Coupons

First, there is no right or wrong way to organize coupons. The only right way, is the one that works for you. There are several methods for organizing coupons, but here are the Top 3 that I’ve seen:

(Photo from Super Jenn)

1) Coupon Binder – This is some form of zippered/closed binder that they put “baseball card sleeves” in to hold the coupons. The coupons are “clipped” and folded into the slots of the sleeves so that you can just flip through your coupons page by page. To see how to organize one, Super Jenn has a posting HERE.

(Photo from Money Saving Mom)

2) Coupon Box – This is some form of box where the “clipped” coupons are usually kept in some type of labeled envelope system. If you go with this method, I’d highly advise a box with a secure lid! Usually, when they shop, the box is put in the child seat of the cart for easy access.

3) Coupon Insert Method – This is where the coupon inserts from the Sunday paper are kept intact, and either not clipped or partially clipped, and filed by week. Usually an expandable file folder that has tabs for labeling is used.

I currently use the Coupon Insert Method. Now you may ask, if you don’t clip all the coupons, how can you possible use them? Good question! It’s important to know what coupons are out, so each Sunday, I’ll flip through all my inserts to see what I think I might need. I clip those right away. I then label each insert with that week’s date, so this Sunday’s inserts would be 7/12/09 SS, 7/12/09 RP and/or 7/12/09 P&G, if there was one. I’ll then file them under July. It looks something like this:


(Photo from Coupon Geek) :)

The coupons that I clip, I put into a mini-expandable file coupon holder that fits nicely in my purse so I always have the ones I think I’ll need with me. It looks something like this:


(Photo from Coupon Geek) :)

Typically blogs will list where you can find the coupon needed for a deal. They say something like, “Use the $1/1 from the 7/12 Smart Source.” I’ll then go to the 7/12Smart Source insert, find the coupon and clip it. It saves me from having to clip out all those coupons, but I still have them handy in case I can get a good deal on something.

The disadvantage to this method is that you don’t have all your coupons with you when you shop. But I look at it this way, while I may miss out on a clearanced item or two; it also prevents me from “impulse shopping” and buying something that’s not on my list. I can always jot down the deal and take a chance at picking it up later in the week if I’m out again.

Now, if you make up your shopping list and you are buying, say Skippy Peanut Butter and Hunt’s Ketchup, you can go to one of the coupon databases out there and see if a coupon exists for those products. My favorite one to use is Coupon Mom. You’ll need to register, but it’s free and easy to use. Just sign-in, choose grocery coupon database and then your state. I always sort it alphabetically. For these items, I’d look for Skippy and Hunt’s. If they are listed, you’ll need to see what insert they are in. For example, the Skippy Peanut Butter says 6/14SS, I’d then go hunt down my Smart Source insert from 6/14 and clip it.

Like I said, there’s no one right way to organize coupons. You may even switch over time. I’ve tried all of them! Personally, I hate cutting out coupons and I have little spare time, so that’s why I stick with the coupon insert method now.

Always keep in mind; coupons are “regional,” meaning some areas/states get some we don’t. So you may see some listed on blogs that aren’t going to be in your inserts.