Jan 16, 2010

Demystifying Catalina Deals

Catalinas...no, it's not a fancy salad dressing. It's the coupons that print when you get your receipt at the register. They are almost always tied into something that you bought - something similar to the item you did buy, something by the same company, and often a coupon for dollars off your next purchase because you met the terms of a deal.

How do I figure out whether a Catalina deal is worthwhile?

1. I CAREFULLY read the terms of the deal. How much do I have to spend? Is it before coupons or after coupons? Usually when a catalina deal says "spend X dollars and get X off your next purchase", the amount you spend is AFTER sale prices but BEFORE coupons. Check with your own store's policy if it's not clearly stated in the sales flyer.

2. I figure out how much the reward coupon is really worth. Is it 25% of what I have to spend? 30%? This helps me figure out what the ACTUAL final cost of everything will be. If the deal is "Spend $30, get $10 on your next purchase", that means the final cost of the items I need to buy will be 33% off the listed price. I actually go through the list of qualifying items, and write out what the final cost would be right on the flyer, which helps me determine if it's really a worthwhile deal.

3. I hunt down any coupons that stack with the sale. In the case of P&G catalina deals, this is usually pretty easy since the P&G coupon flyer runs every month. But check your internet sources too! And remember, most of the time the spending requirement is BEFORE coupons! I gather my coupons, and figure out what the after-catalina after-coupon price will be - and whether I'm ok paying that amount.

4. I make a list of everything I plan to buy, the sale price (not counting the catalina), and the face value of any coupons I have for that item. This is where it takes a little time to really set myself up for success. I actually make myself a list with 4 colums - item, how many I plan to buy, total I will be charged for them, and dollar value of coupons I have for them. This makes it easy to figure out which items I should buy, and in what order, to make the catalina deal work for me. Most of the time I end up with a list of two or three transactions' worth of items, so I try to get as close to the spending requirement without going TOO far over in each transaction. I total up the value of the coupons I have to use for each transaction. This tells me what order to do the transactions! I do the transaction with the highest coupon amount first, so I spend the least amount possible out of pocket first.

5. I get ORGANIZED before I hit the store. I separate my coupons and make my shopping list by transaction, so that when I get to the register it's easier on me AND the cashier. When doing multiple transactions, I know it'll take a little extra time so I streamline as much as I can. Cashier's are less likely to give you a hassle if you're better prepared too. ***NEVER LET A CASHIER TELL YOU THAT YOU CAN'T BREAK UP YOUR TRANSACTIONS!!!*** You can buy 10 items in 1 transaction, or in 10.

6. I use the catalinas as soon as I get them. I would rather do three transactions, and use up the catalinas on the spot, than hold onto them for later. This is a personal preference, I don't do much shopping at the stores who do catalinas, so if I wait the coupon will either get lost or expire before I can use it. That's as bad as losing cash! I use the first catalina on my 2nd transaction, the 2nd catalina on my 3rd transaction, etc. I save all non-catalina deal items for my last transaction, and usually only add on items that total the amount of the catalina. (my final transactions usually end up being under $1 out of pocket!)

A note: many people choose to "double dip" the catalina deals - that means if the spending requirement is $30, they'll do $60 worth of qualifying items and get double the catalinas. I prefer not to do it this way because 1)I like to use the catalinas right away and smaller amounts are better for me, and 2)sometimes the register won't let you and you'll only get one catalina! Then you've spent an extra amount of money without getting your full catalina reward. They CAN do this because the wording of the sale is usually "purchase a minimum" or "spend at least..". I'd rather not take the chance, so spending extra time separating my transactions is worth it to me.

I'd love to hear your Catalina successes, or tips that work for you to make the most of these deals!

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mary b said...

I usually plan out the big cat deals using a spreadsheet. Next I write out each individual scenario on a small piece of paper & clip the coupons to each scenario. I label them trip 1, 2, 3 etc. then I carry them in a small envelope to the store. I add in a few extra scenarios in case the store is OOS of some items, and carry any extra coupons in case I need them.

sunnymum said...

Good tips! I agree, double dipping is a pain, especially for our household where we don't have the room to store a huge supply. I've also had bad luck in the past with even the first reward printing out when I've made the qualifying purchase. Maybe if I could grocery shop without my two little ones...