Batteries and lipstick.
The lipstick I buy typically runs $6 a tube. CVS had it for $2.99; it was a Doorbuster at Walgreen's for $1.99.
A while back, I wrote about my brief foray into the world of Ultra Couponing. I have friends who swear by it. I, too, have had limited success and most of that success involved our area drug stores. I perused the circulars and came up with a plan.
No sweat, I thought. I'll load up on lipstick, batteries, and the other items that are free after rebate.
Item # 1 -- Crest with Whitening -- $3.99 with $3.99 back in Bonanza Bucks (or whatever they're called). Sold out.
Item#2 -- Lipstick -- $6.99 with $5 back in Bonanza Bucks. I stood in line f-o-r-e-v-e-r to buy two tubes of lipstick. I watched my the first $5 coupon print, but where-oh-where was the second one?
"Oh, no," the nice cashier explained, "you can't get two coupons at the same time. You'll have to get back in line and return one of the lipsticks and then buy it again."
Once again I waited f-o-r-e-v-e-r. I successfully returned the lipstick, the cashier rang it up once more, and I handed her my $5 coupon.
"Oh, no" the nice cashier explained, "you can't use the coupon to buy the same item."
I hunted down the other deeply discounted items -- batteries and Chapstick that were buy one, get two free. Turns out the Chapstick wasn't actually Chapstick, but a substance known as Chap-Aid.
I endured the line for the third time. The cashier rang up my items. I handed her batteries and Chap-Aid. Thirty-five cents! Victory!
I went in search of conditioner and another tube of toothpaste -- both nearly free with Bonanza Bucks. Back in the line once more. Bought them without a hitch, snagged my second tube of lipstick, scored another $5 coupon.
I had the $5 coupon and another $2 coupon burning a hole in my pocket. What to buy, what to buy? In the candy aisle I spied a box of chocolate coins, perfect for Saint Nicholas Day. The tag read $1.99. I grabbed several boxes of Kleenex to bring my total to $7.
"That'll be $12," the nice cashier told me.
I left the store unclear as to how much money I had actually spent and how much money I had actually saved and how many times I had actually stood in the line. While all this was so very muddled, I drove home with two crystal clear thoughts: First, retailers know the system much better than consumers; second, the only sure fire way to save money is to stay home.