WLOX Special Report: Freebies & Cheapies

By Rhonda Weidner - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Most everyone is feeling the financial strain these days. Even people who have money are looking for ways to save money. That's why it amazes me that more people don't advantage of things like coupons, store rewards and rebates.

It only takes a few minutes to fill out rebate paperwork. In many cases, you can file online, instead of mailing the rebate. You can even track your rebates online and by phone.

I get anywhere from $15 to $100 a month in free products just by sending in rebates. Sometimes I even make money by using manufacturers coupons towards my purchase.

I recently caught up with another smart and savvy shopper who also loves freebies and cheapies.

Debbie Waltman can be seen on any given day at a local store with her coupon filled binder, rebate books, and store ads. She says if it's not free, or on sale, she won't buy it, unless it's an absolute necessity.

Debbie told me she never pays more than a quarter for a tube of toothpaste. How does she do that? When the toothpaste is on sale she hauls out her coupons for extra savings.

She also looks for products that will give you store rewards. Those are coupons you get at the register for buying that product.

I watched her cash in on peanut butter and pasta sauce. She bought eight products from the same company, got a $10 register reward. She also used manufacturers coupons for each product. Debbie ended up paying less than $10 for about $24 worth of products.

But all that peanut butter and pasta will go quickly. You see, Debbie has six kids which means tissue goes fast too. On this day, Debbie used her quarter coupons for tissue that was on sale for 89 cents. Instead of the usual $1.69, Debbie paid 64 cents a box.

Generics can also stretch your dollar. I found some cold medicines, same size, same ingredients. It was $7.99 a bottle for the name brand and $4.99 for the generic and that was two bottles, not one.

Then, there are the seasonal sales. Walgreens Store Manager Michael Daley says to look for things like drink and snack promotions during the holidays and football season. If you use coupons and get register rewards, you can cut the bill in half.

The best way to save is not to spend any money at all. Stores like Walgreens offer monthly rebates. Look for the rebate booklets when you enter the store. If you are willing to let go of some cash for a few weeks, you can get $5 to $100 worth of free products every month.

At Walgreens, you can even make money by using coupons and getting a ten percent bonus for requesting a gift card instead of rebate check, and don't forget about cashing in on those register rewards too. Every little bit helps.

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