Extreme Couponing Tip: Rolling Catalinas

extreme couponing

Extreme Couponing Tip: Rolling Catalinas

Here is an Extreme Couponing tip that I love talking about.  It’s about rolling your catalinas and how they are an unbelievable tool to saving money on your grocery bill.

Often, I hear: “you used a Catalina so your out of pocket expense wasn’t actually as low as you say it was.”  I know it can be frustrating trying to understand Catalina deals, but honestly, this is one of my favorite ways to save.  If you’re new to couponing, I hope this little experiment will help you understand how to maximize your savings and keep your out of pocket (OOP) expenses low using coupons and rolling Catalinas!

Reader Laura D. was awesome enough to conduct this “Track a Catalina” experiment!  She started out at ShopRite tracking her purchases the week of  8/5.  As of 8/18, Laura has only spent $2.11 out of pocket and has just about $100 worth of products just from rolling her Catalinas each week!  I hope this gives you more confidence in using Catalinas.  They really help us save tons of money.  Below I will break down Laura’s purchases each week for you to see how she was able to score so much stuff for so little OOP.

I also would like to point out that obviously Laura does not live off of cookies, deodorant, body wash or air fresheners.  But what she is able to do, during her 2 week experiment , is stock up on items that were pretty much free.  Once you have built up your stockpile, like Laura has,  your purchases each week are really only for free or super cheap items along with any deals on meat and your perishable items like produce.  For me, I am able to keep my weekly out of pocket cost for groceries down to only $50 each week because I do shopping trips like Laura, spending next to nothing out of pocket and then I visit stores where I have found the best prices for meat and produce.  If there is a great deal on meat and produce, I’m sure to stock up on that as well, freezing items that I will not use before the expiration date.  For more on what you can freeze, be sure to check out the What Can I Freeze post.

Here is how Laura’s experiment went…

Week of 8/5:

Bought in 4 Different Transactions:

(4) Glade Expressions Fragrance Mist Starter Kit, $3.39 each

Coupons Used:

(4) $3/1 Glade Expressions Fragrance Mist Starter Kit Printable

Total OOP: $1.56
Received: (4) $1.00 Catalinas (Glade)
$2.44 Money Maker

Week of 8/12:

Transaction #1:

(3) Suave Deodorant ($2.39), $1.67 each 
(4) Nature Valley Protein Bars ($3.40), $1.88 each
(1) Sundown Folic Acid ($2.19), $1.09
(3) YoCrunch Yogurts ($0.99), $0.60 each

Coupons Used:

(2)  $0.75/1 Suave Deodorant (RP 7/29/12)
(1)  $0.50/1 Suave Deodorant Printable
(1)  $0.50/1 Suave Deodorant  eCoupon
(4)  $0.60/1 Nature Valley Protein Bars Printable
(1)  $0.50/1 Nature Valley Protein  eCoupon
(1)  $1.60/1 Sundown Vitamin Printable
(1)  $1.00/1 Sundown  eCoupon
(3)  $1.00 Glade Catalinas from week #1 (“Rolling” her Catalinas,”purchasing items that will produce more Catalinas)

Paid:  $0.02
Received: $2.00 Catalina (Suave-Buy 3 Get $2) $2.00 Catalina (Nature Valley)
Total OOP to date: $1.59 OOP spent
Total Catalina’s still have: $5.00 ($2 Nature Valley, $2 Suave, $1 Glade)
$3.42 Money Maker

Transaction #2:

(3) Suave Deodorant ($2.39), $1.67 each 

Coupons Used:

(2)  $0.75/1 Suave Deodorant (RP 7/29/12)
(1)  $0.50/1 Suave Deodorant Printable
(1)  $1.00 Glade Catalinas from week #1 (“Rolling” her Catalinas,”purchasing items that will produce more Catalinas)

Paid:  $0.01
Received: $2.00 Catalina (Suave-Buy 3 Get $2)
Total OOP to date: $1.59 OOP spent
Total Catalina’s still have: $6.00 ($2 Nature Valley, (2) $2 Suave)
$4.41 Money Maker

Transaction #3 (week 2):

(2) Suave Deodorants ($2.39), $1.67 each
(1) Suave Body Wash ($3.39). $1.77
(1) YoCrunch Yogurt ($0.99), $0.60
(1) LaYogurt Yogurt “Clearance” $0.34

Coupons Used:

-(2) $0.75/1 Suave Deodorant (RP 7/29/12)
-(1) $0.50/1 Suave Body Wash Printable
-(1) $2.00 Suave Catalina from this week (“Rolling” her Catalinas,”purchasing items that will produce more Catalinas)
-(1) $0.05 Canvas Bag Refund

Paid: $0.00
Received: $2.00 Catalina (Suave-Buy 3 Get $2)
Total OOP to date: $1.59 OOP spent
Total Catalina’s still have: $6.00 ($2 Nature Valley, (2) $2 Suave)
$4.41 Money Maker

Transaction #4 (week 2):

(2) Suave Deodorants ($2.39), $1.67 each
(1) Suave Body Wash ($3.39). $1.77
(1) YoCrunch Yogurt ($0.99), $0.60
(1) CraZart Crayons ($1.00), $0.33

Coupons Used:

-(2) $0.75/1 Suave Deodorant (RP 7/29/12)
-(1) $0.50/1 Suave Body Wash Printable
-(1) $2.00 Suave Catalina from this week (“Rolling” her Catalinas,”purchasing items that will produce more Catalinas)
-(1) $0.05 Canvas Bag Refund

Paid: $0.00
Received: $2.00 Catalina (Suave-Buy 3 Get $2)
Total OOP to date: $1.59 OOP spent
Total Catalina’s still have: $6.00 ($2 Nature Valley, (2) $2 Suave)
$4.41 Money Maker

Transaction #5 (week 2):

(4) Fudge Stripe Keebler Cookies ($3.69), $0.99 each
(4) Chips Deluxe Rainbow Keebler Cookies ($3.69), $0.99 each

Coupons Used:

(3) $0.55/2 Keebler Cookies (RP 7/29/12)
(2) $2.00 Suave Catalinas
(2) $0.05 Canvas Bag Refund

Paid: $0.52
Received: $5.00 Catalina (Keebler, Spend $25 Get $5 Catalina Toward School Supplies)
Total OOP to date: $2.11
Total Catalina’s still have: $7.00 ($5 Keebler, $2 Nature Valley)

Final Results after 2 weeks of shopping:

Total OOP: $2.11
Total Catalinas Remaining: $7.00
Total Value of Products: $99.16
All FREE + $4.89 Money Maker!

I know this may be an “extreme” example of rolling Catalinas, because it was done in multiple transactions and took a good amount of coupons, however this is just to give you an idea of the potential there is in strategically planning your shopping trips using Catalina deals as well as coupons!  Next time you see a reader shopping trip or one of my own shopping trips using Catalinas, with an OOP very low, I hope this helps you understand why we can really say our OOP was truly that low, because we are often rolling Catalinas from prior purchases that we hardly ever spent any money on!

A special thanks to Laura D for taking the time to prepare these trips.  You rock!

Do you have an idea for an Extreme Couponing tip you’d like to see addressed?  Leave your ideas in the comments!


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  • Anne T

    I got lost on Week #2. Transaction #1 used 3 of 4 Glade Catalinas. How did she still have 3 Glade Catalinas for Transaction #2?

    • LRWC

      It was my typo. She only used (1) Glade Catalina on Week #2 (Transaction 2). I corrected it. Thanks for picking up on that!

  • sophie

    How did she only spend .02 for tran #1? I’m needing help with the math — or the science of catalinas?

    • Laura D.

      Hi Sophie, my Shoprtie “fully doubles” meaning a $0.75/1 coupon will deduct $1.50 off that product. The “eCoupons” do not double. If you are still having trouble figuring out the math I’ll be happy to write it all out for you when I get home later tonight. Sorry, I have to run now.

      • sophie

        Ah – that makes all the difference. Thanks so much for your reponse!

        • Laura D.

          😀

  • Michelle T.

    I love this post. It shows how couponing can be so much fun. I always say what a great hobby I have. I get to keep our grocery budget down and bring home all kinds of brand name products! No need for store brands here :). I need to slow down on the air fresheners too LOL!

    • Cindy

      It really is a great hobby. But you can even look at it as a great part time job. Usually hobbies cost money getting your supplies or equipment for your hobby. This hobby makes you money! Gotta love that 🙂

  • Claire H.

    Laura – you did an awesome job and Cindy, thanks for sharing. My problem with catalinas is that often they don’t print or I have bought the wrong thing or I bought the right thing and customer service wants to give me grief so I spend more time chasing up the Catalina co and waiting to see if they will reimburse me. I have personally decided for me that if they work, they work if I need to buy the item anyway. But I have cautiously learned the hard way with a little grief! Glad to hear they work better for you than me!

    • Laura D.

      There are a few “musts” when doing Catalinas.

      You “must” check the UPC code to the shelf sticker to make sure you have the correct size product. While you are doing this, you “must” check your local store’s shelf price (that’s the number in parenthesis). Now compare your shelf price with Cindy’s, does it match? Yes, great! No, Ut oh, time to redo some calculations!

      You “must” make sure your shelf price amount goes over the requirement! if it is $25.00, $24.99 won’t get you the Cat at Shoprite. Double check your math!

      Finish your Catalina order and BEFORE going to the registers take a second look at your order to double check. If you REALLY want to know what items will ring up as before you take the checkout plunge, find your stores price checker and scan each item. (I am always scanning items!)

      Last but not least, you “must” make sure your Catalina machine is GREEN. If it is blinking or red, don’t checkout on this lane! Proceed to the next lane with a steady green light!

      Watch your Catalina machine! Did it print? Yes. success! No? Check your receipt, redo the math, recheck your products against the ad! If everything was in place, maybe your store only triggers on sale prices? People here have reported that, I’ve read. If thats’ the case, maybe try another store.

      When learning, know you need more time to figure out what went wrong. Don’t give up. Post your trip under the store you went to, include the sizes and prices on your receipt. See if a reader can help you determine what went wrong. Succeed with the smaller quantities before diving into the larger deals. Learn how to “read” your receipt. Most of all know you will figure out your store! It may just take time and determination!

      Everything I learned was through LRWC!!! Reading Cindy’s trips and other readers trips and breaking them down deal by deal. If you take the time to figure them out, you will LOVE them! 😀

  • nadyme

    Love it, my recent trip wasn’t free but was ableto roll some catalogs, when i got home with a $80 worth of merchandise for $10, my husband said “i guess you will be taking a picture of what you got to send to Cindy” i thought it was hilarious.

    • A

      LOL! My husband used to tell me that when I started couponing a year ago. I sent pics to Cindy and I won her shopping bags.

  • Darlene

    Excellent work! I actualy created a spreadsheet of your item costs, coupons used and catalinas received just double check the math. Excellent Excellent Job!

    • Laura D.

      I hope it all added up, it makes my head spin sometimes!

  • laurie bishop

    great job

  • Katie Coupon

    This is a great example of rolling catalinas! I love it! My friend couldn’t believe my receipt yesterday when I showed her I saved $96 and spent only $17…then I really shocked her when I told her I got back (2) $5 catalinas ‘in change.’…all thanks to rolling catalinas 🙂

  • Casey B

    Cindy: You literally have changed my life (not to mention my bank account). I also consider this a fun hobby!! Thank you, thank you!!!

  • jewel

    How do you find which stores do catalina’s? I live in Jacksonville Florida and I don’t ever hear of any good catalina deals? We don’t have double coupons here so I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t have Catalina’s either?

    • Laura D.

      Hi Jewel, I’m not familiar with Jacksonville Florida, I’m in Northern New Jersey. However, the stores here that have Catalina offers are Shoprite, A&P, Stop & Shop, Pathmark, Acme, Giant, Target, Kmart and probably some others. To find out if a store by you offers Catalinas, you can do two things. The next time you are at the checkout ask the cashier if they have a machine next to the register that prints coupons. Also, search your local weekly ad REALLY carefully for the grocery stores and pharmacies. Read EVERY word. It should have some sort of statement that says Buy _________ Get ________. These are the rewards that store will give you if you purchase those specific items. Match those items with coupons and you have made a deal! It’s definitely worth the time you put in to learn how they work. As Cindy said this is a part time hobby that can make us some money! 🙂

  • jewel

    are you considering a catalina, like the extrabucks from CVS and the WAG money from Walgreens?

    • Laura D.

      Yes, a Catalina machine is located next to the cash registers. I shop at Shoprite, A&P, Stop & Shop & Pathmark. It is from the Catalina Marketing Company. It is the grocery stores version of Extrabucks from CVS, Register Rewards from Walgreens and +UP Rewards from Rite Aid.

  • Meli

    this is a great post. i try to keep rolling them but usually end up using it for my meat and veggies. either way i am saving a ton of money !! Thanks

  • hanna

    Great job Laura. D!!
    I did Glade and Suave Deodorant/body wash deal few times but cookies, I didn’t have coupons (was not in my coupon) nor it was not $0.99 for larger size. Still I have some CAT left to use for this week.

    My friend tells me I have a great hobby which saves tons of money and she gets free shopping from my stock pile!
    Before couponing, purchasing sale item, I could not bring weekly budget less than $120.00/week. Now I spend about $75.00/week with stock pile build at same time. That also include donating foods and other needing item to local shelter/food bank and snacks for after school activity.

    Thanks Cindy and all of you who helps each other!

  • Shanta

    Great job Laura D. Thanks for sharing Cindy!!!!!!

  • Anne

    I know this sounds obvious but keep the CAT’s handy. My $2.00 Cat didn’t print after allowed purchase. I went to customer service at Safeway with my reciept and the CAT and they gave me my $2.00 in cash so no rolling…cash is just as good! 🙂

  • anonymous

    I appreciate this but where do you get 8 $0.75/1 Suave Deodorant (RP 7/29/12) coupons? Also, I’m assuming that you have 2 computers as each printable coupon seems to limit me to 2 printings. Plus, don’t the cashiers object to multiple transactions? Are there any limits on how many of each catalina will print per week? Sorry for all the questions but I’m new to this site.

    • Anonymous

      The $0.75/1 Suave Deodorant (RP 7/29/12) were fom newspaper inserts, the Red Plum (RP) from the weekend of 7/29/12. I buy newpapers every weekend and have a home delivery. In addition to that I get many, many donated inserts from people that I know. I know other readers purchase coupons from clipping sites and ebay. I haven’t done that yet.

      I have had 2.5 computers (the .5 only prints from a few sites). Over the past month we just updated and my kids now have new computers (which they let me print from 😉 ) Plus over the next month I will finally get a new laptop. We saved up the cash first. I also have family & friends that will print out coupons for me a few times a month (they also shop out of my stockpile).

      Sometimes I can do multiple transactions back to back (limit 3). It depends on which store I am at, how busy they are, and what time of day it is, most importantly who’s the front end manager. Usually, I do one at a time,go outside and come back in and do another transaction. On a big “stock up” week I do transactions over the course of the week. I always plan to include extra trips to the store just to coupon along my commute.

      If the weekly ad doesn’t have restrictions on the Catalina, it will print during every transaction all throughout the week. Sometimes, the ad will state 1 per customer (which means trasnsaction), or one per family (which sometimes will continue to print per transaction). There is one case when the store(Shoporite) will track the offer at the bottom of your receipt then when you reach the specific amount it will print the Catalina. This is when only one Catalina will print per offer. You can always read the threads to find out what is working and what is not. Then go to the store once you know the deal is working for others.

      Welcome! You will LOVE LRWC! Don’t ever worry about asking too many questions, this is such a great site with so many helpful people. Everyone here was new once. When readers have the time, you will notice they answer many questions. It’s how we all learned and continue to learn each week which deals are working! It’s great to read through the threads, there is so much sharing of information! 🙂

  • Rocky

    Hey, Laura, Great job explaining this. So glad to see that you are in the “spotlight” – very well deserved!

    • Laura D.

      Thanks Rocky! I’ve learned so much from Cindy over the past year and 9 months, I just wanted to give something back!

  • Marissa

    the only question i have is that if I have five catalina can i used them all in one transaction so i dont have to spilt my shopping in one week?

    • Sandy

      Usually yes unless of course the catalina states “limit 1” per transaction or can be used only on certain dates.

      • Marissa

        It says limit 1 per family so does that mean 1 per transaction? And on top it just states expires 11-15-14 so does that also mean one only? I just really wAnt to make sure I understand. Thanks

        • Sandy

          You’re definite good on the expiration date. Sometimes deals at SR will specify when doing a deal – “Spend $20 on Purina products and get $5 to use next week on additional Purina products” as opposed to just stating “on your next shopping trip” with usually a 2 week expiration date which is the one you have right now. If you have a cashier who will dissect your cats then they may say you can only use 1 of the “exact same cat” per transaction but I’ve never run into that problem. I’d just hand them all over without any concerns….

          • Marissa

            Thank you. It will help due to the follow weeks I won’t be able to split my shopping days. You guys are great. Reply fast. Again thanks

  • liz

    can i do the lysol catalina deal more than once? would i have to buy different items?

    • Laura D.

      As long as you do separate transactions, you can do the Lysol deal more than once. You can even purchase the same products the second, third time.

    • Denise Uzunis

      Once per transaction, but you can do it as many times as you would like in separate transactions!