Triple-coupon shopping without spending a dime, or a nickel, or a penny

5 02 2009

Just after I decided to go the entire month of February without spending a dime, word leaked out that Harris Teeter would be tripling manufacturer’s coupons for four days, today through Sunday. My friends thought I was crazy to go through with it.

I hadn’t yet posted my no-spend challenge so, honestly, I did consider quitting before I even started. After all, triple couponing promotions are a major part of my success in keeping my weekly spending to $50. It’s during triples that I’m able to stockpile items for free or a few cents each so I don’t have to purchase them during my regular shopping trips at higher prices.

Ultimately, though, I decided to go through with the no-spend challenge. My stockpile is so large now and encompasses so many products that I figured I wouldn’t miss out on all that much. There’s always another great deal waiting around the corner.

My game plan: I would only go after a select few products that I really needed, spend as little as possible and pay with an American Express gift card I got in the mail unexpectedly last week.

(This gift card is a story unto itself. Home Depot sent it to me as an apology when its promotion for free tickets to the movie Bedtime Stories ran into troubles with faulty redemption codes.)

But in the end, I decided using the gift card would be taking the easy way out. I wanted to stay as true to the spirit of the challenge as possible and only call on my gift card stash for necessities. Besides, I also wanted to experience a more simple lifestyle during this hiatus from spending and trolling the aisles of Harris Teeter for deals doesn’t qualify!

So I went to triples with nothing more than my regular coupons and two $1-off-your-next-order coupons that I got last week at Kroger after buying  a bunch of mustard. These Catalina coupons, or spitties as some folks call them, are as good as cash.

I initially intended to purchase three bags of 2% Kraft shredded cheese and a box of  Hungry Jack pancake mix. My total would have been 98 cents plus tax so I planned to give the cashier one of  the $1 Catalina coupons and pay a couple pennies in tax. I then planned on doing the deal again tomorrow.

But when I got to the register, the cashier told me she couldn’t triple the cheese coupons because they said DO NOT DOUBLE on the top. While Harris Teeter has always taken these sort of coupons in the past, it’s not my style to argue with employees of a store that has been so generous in its coupon policies so I politely thanked her for letting me know before she checked me out.

Back in the grocery aisles, I selected two Hungry Jack pancake mixes (we used our last box last night) and threw in a Colgate toothpaste. We didn’t need the toothpaste but I needed a quick filler so I figured I could donate it. After store sales and coupons plus tax, the store owed me $0.01. I asked if we could just call it even, but the cashier insisted on giving me the penny so her drawer would be even at the end of the night.

So, in the end, Harris Teeter paid me $0.01 to shop.

I’m not sure yet what I’ll do with the other $1 Catalina coupon….any suggestions?

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