Earlier today I posted my list of tricks/strategies for saving money on nail polish (if you missed it, you can find it here). I mentioned that later today I'd post a separate post on using coupons effectively, because this is one of the main ways I save money on polish. Many of you may be asking why I'd need a whole post on using coupons? You just clip them and use them, right? Wrong.
Don't get me wrong, couponing is very easy, but it can seem a bit complicated at first. I promise it isn't! Coupons are your friends, especially at the drugstore and superstores like Target. Bear with me and I'll walk you through my three favorite coupon tricks. Before I do, I must pay homage to The Krazy Coupon Lady site; this site and their book taught me much of what I know about couponing. If you're interested in learning more, particularly for more than just polish, take a look at their site and consider their book. Nope, I'm not affiliated in any way, I just love them 'cause they've saved me literally thousands of dollars on my grocery and drugstore shopping, including my polish. :)
Which brings me to a final quick introductory point. I know a lot of people don't like to use coupons, but I've never understood why. It takes only a second or two to hand a cashier a coupon, and who cares if that loser guy behind you--you know, the one who's only buying gin, tv dinners and hand lotion-- wants to judge you? Judge you for what, not throwing money away? Psh. Unless he's gonna pony up and pay for my stuff, I don't care what he thinks. But hey, that's just me. :P
Okay, let's get on to couponing for polish fiends! There are three main strategies I use for my polish purchases, and they build on each other, so I'll walk you through it all one step at a time. :)
1) Sale + Manufacturer's coupon
I already mentioned that you don't want to just clip your coupon and buy your item. The key principle that couponing is build on is this: wait to buy your item until you have both a coupon and it's on sale. Yes, both. That's how you get items for very cheap, or even free. Especially in the case of nail polish, most brands go on sale at one store or another every other week or so. It's very rare that your coupon will expire while you're waiting for a sale.
Let me walk you through the relative scenarios here. Let's say you don't wait for the sale, and just use the coupon. For example, Wet n Wild often has $1.00 off coupons in the paper. At my drugstores, these polishes go for $1.99 each. It's tempting to say Wow, with the coupon, that takes them from $1.99 to only $0.99, 50% off! Score, right?
Sure. But you can do better. My drugstores regularly have sales where Wet n Wild goes for BOGO (Buy-One-Get-One free)or BOGOne-half-off. If I wait for the BOGO sale, this is how my transaction is going to go:
First WnW: $1.99.
Second WnW: $0.00 (yes, you can use a coupon on an item even if it's free)
Minus two $1.00 off coupons = Two free polishes = 100% savings.
Of course, the BOGO-half-off sales are much more common, and often you won't get a regular BOGO sale before your coupon expires. But even then, your total looks like this:
First WnW: $1.99
Second WnW: $1.00
Minus two $1.00 off coupons = $1.00 total = $0.50 per polish = 75% savings.
The same principle applies to other drugstore polishes, which regularly go on sale (seriously, usually every couple of weeks). The two most common coupons after WnW are Sally Hansen and Revlon (which I may have to stop buying if it's confirmed that they have started testing on animals). It's rare to get these mid-range polishes for free (although I have managed it several times with Revlon), but you can still get some great deals, regardless. Revlon often goes on sale extremely cheap--I got all of my Moon Candy collection for $1.99 each; normal price for these polishes in my area is $8.99. So clip a coupon. Wait for a sale. And worse case scenario, if your coupon is about to expire and you haven't seen a sale, use it by itself. But that really should never have to happen. :)
2) Sale + Manufacturer's coupon + Store coupon
That wasn't so tricky, was it? So let's take the next step. The bestest case scenario of all is when you can do what you did in (1)...and use a store coupon, too. Yes, that's right: you are allowed to use one manufacturer coupon AND one store coupon per item. Sweet, huh?!
Let's first talk about the difference between a manufacturer's coupon and a store coupon. To figure out what type of coupon you have, look at the top of the coupon:
(Click here for the source for this image, and a great source for understanding manufacturer vs. store coupons)
Here is what you'll see if it's a store coupon:
Where do you find these coupons?
--The newspaper: The vast majority of the coupons you get in the newspaper (the glossy ones in the inserts) are manufacturer's coupons, but you can find some store coupons in there too (most often Target coupons, I've found).
--Websites: There are a ton of websites where you can print out coupons. It would take me a whole post just to tell you about all of them, so let me again refer you to The Krazy Coupon Lady site. They have a button that says 'Print Coupons' that takes you to a page that lists alphabetically all of the coupons currently available to print. And if it's listed there, they've vetted that it is a real coupon that won't give you a virus, and it's safe for you to download and print.
--Facebook: Lots of Facebook pages for companies will give you a coupon if you 'like' their page. The Krazy Coupon Lady lists all of the ones available on that same page. (Didn't I tell you they're awesome?)
--From stores websites: This is the most reliable way to get store coupons. Some have websites where you can download coupons; the most impressive in this respect is Target, but other stores do this as well. Again, KCL has all of these listed. :)
--In the stores themselves: CVS has a red coupon machine that, when you scan your card, will issue you coupons. Walgreens has a new booklet every month filled with store coupons. Rite Aid and Walgreens also put store coupons directly into their weekly circulars. KCL again usually does an excellent job of tracking when these are available for you.
Now that you know how to tell the difference between a store coupon and a manufacturer's coupon, what do you do with them? You 'stack' them together on top of a sale price.
For example, let's say you have a Sally Hansen manufacturer's coupon for $1.00 off any bottle of polish, and a target coupon for $1.00 off any Sally Hansen product. Then, Sally Hansen Insta-Dry goes on sale for $2.50 each this week. Here's what you do:
Sale price: $2.50
Manufacturer's coupon: -$1.00
Target coupon: -$1.00
Final Price: $0.50 for a polish normally priced at $3.99: 87% savings.
Here's another scenario, from CVS:
Let's say All Revlon polishes are on sale for $2.50. You have printed 4 manufacturer's coupons for $1.00 off each, and have received a CVS coupon from the magic red machine for : $4.00 off of any $10 cosmetics purchase. Here's what you do:
--Pick 4 Moon Candy polishes, normally $8.99 each. Sale price will come to $10 (4X$2.50)
--Use 4 Revlon manufacturer's coupons for -$1.00 X 4 = -$4.00
--Use your CVS coupon for $4.00 off any $10.00 cosmetics purchase = -$4.00 (they use the price of the item before any of your coupons are applied)
Final price: $2.00 for 4 Moon Candy polishes, regularly priced at $35.96. This is 94% savings, and suddenly your stash just got a lot bigger.
Seriously, every time I get one of those CVS coupons for $4 off of $10 (or whatever, they vary a bit), I do a dance of joy and look to see what deals I can put together, while singing happy songs. :)
Okay, pat yourself on the back, because you just mastered the hardest part of couponing, and you're ready to go. :)
3) Don't forget to do all of that with clearance items.
The last trick is to use the above strategies with clearance/close-out items at drugstores. These are usually not advertised, and they can be tricky to find. Stores usually mark the individual items, and sometimes put them in clearance sections, but sometimes leave them in with the other items in the main display. Sometimes they forget to mark them at all, but that's okay; Nouveau Cheap does an amazing job of tracking current clearance items at drugstores. Here are two examples of deals I've scored this way.
Milani has/had some awesome scattered holo glitters that I wanted, but wasn't willing to pay full price for (I rarely am). A few months ago, CVS put them on clearance 75% off (I noticed this on Nouveau Cheap's list--these were not marked at my CVS), and I combined this with coupons I had, and got them all for about $1.00 each (Normally $6 at my store).
Target has dedicated clearance sections in different departments in their store, at least the ones by me do. I've found several Sally Hansen Insta-Dry polishes (top-notch for nail stamping) in my Target's clearance section for $1.79...Slap a $1.00 off coupon on top of that, and you're getting a $4-6 polish for $0.79.
One last tip: CVS has a 'Beauty Club' that pays you back $5 for every $50 you spend; that means you're getting 10% back on all of your beauty purchases. And that is based on the price of the item before coupons, and includes clearance items. So if you buy a polish on sale for $2.50 and work your coupon magic to get it for $0.50, you still get a $2.50 credit to your beauty club total. And 10% of $2.50 is $0.25...so actually, rather than having paid $0.50 for that polish, you only paid $0.25. Not too shabby, eh?!
I hope this hasn't been too confusing, I know couponing can be intimidating, but give it a shot, it really is easier than it looks! Start small, monitoring one store for sales and coupons, and then branch out as you feel comfortable. And please let me know if you have any questions or if I haven't been clear. :)
Hugs and coupon abundance,