Coupon Shopping Plan, What to Do When Yours Is a Bust

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coupon shopping plan

When was the last time your coupon shopping plan was a bust? What do you do when you get to the store and what you were going after isn’t there? Do what I do? Grab a flyer and scan for your life? This week has been a bad week for me. I never did make it to Walgreens earlier in the week as planned and because of that, I ended up with $25 in Register Rewards (RRs) that were going to expire yesterday if I didn’t use them. I grabbed my Shopping Spreadsheet with my Walgreens shopping plan on it and ran to Walgreens. What did I find of course? Just about everything on my list was gone! Eee gads! What was I going to do? I went back up to the front and started looking for substitutions; frantically.

My Coupon Shopping Plan Going In

This is what I had to use: two $6 RRs, two $5 RRs & one $3 RR. On my list was St Joseph’s aspirin (gone), Snicker’s crème hearts (not on sale as told), Pur-Absorb iron supplements (recalled, Wags out of their sub.) M&Ms and Blink Tears eye drops. The only thing left in the store was the M&Ms and the eye drops. My coupon shopping plan going into the store was to use up my RRs and get the same amount back in RRs, but my plan was a bust. What was I going to do?

The Blink Tears are on sale this week, buy one for $8, receive an $8 RR back. This deal I was OK with since they actually still had many in stock. The other RR deals were out of stock so I needed alternatives. I picked up the flyer and started scanning it. I was looking for another deal that earned me RRs. I got out my calculator and started figuring what I needed to do.

Plan Re-formulation

The eye drops were $8 and I had a $1.50 printable, which meant I had $6.50 out of pocket (OOP) on that item. I figured on my first transaction I would use one $6 RR and one $5 RR (for a total of $11), which left me with $4.50 yet to spend ($11.00 – $6.50). I spotted the Air Wick Freshmatic Ultras on sale for $7.99, with a $4 RR back. I broke out my Coupon Spreadsheet on my phone to check for a coupon. Score!!! Just got a “$2/1 Air Wick Freshmatic Ultra Starter Kit or Gadget” coupon in the 1/29 SS. My inserts hadn’t arrived yet, but luckily I bought four papers here in Ft. Lauderdale and had just clipped & put them in my binders two days before. Because I always keep my binders in the car, I left the store to grab the coupons.

The Freshmatic Ultra kit was on sale for $7.99. I had a $2/1 coupon, which left me with $5.99 OOP on that one. It was more than the $4.50 I was looking to spend with my coupon shopping plan, but when your choices are limited, you make do. Adding the two together, I was going to be spending $12.49 OOP for the Air Wick and eye drops, before RRs. With my $11 in RRs, I was left with $1.49 OOP, before tax. BUT, I wasn’t done with my figuring yet. How many coupons and items did I have? Let’s see, 2 items, 2 coupons to go with them, + 2 RRs, which are coupons. OOPs, 2 items, 4 coupons; I needed fillers. Scanning the ad again, I saw the Valentine pencils & cups on sale 6/$1.00 w/ in-ad coupon. Two of those were my fillers. Since Walgreens store coupons do not count in the item to coupon ratio, once I added two pencils to my basket, I had 4 coupons and 4 items. I was ready to check out. I ended up spending around $2.78 and receiving $12 in RRs. Not a bad deal for last minute planning.

As my second transaction, I planned on doing the same thing, an Air Wick Freshmatic and eye drops, but I still had an extra $3 RR to spend so I needed an alternate, to my alternate coupon shopping plan. After scanning the ad a bit more, I decided to just do a 3rd transaction and get one more Air Wick. There really wasn’t anything else I was interested in. There were a couple other things I could do here or there, but I would only receive a $1 RR for those deals and I like to get as much back as I can in RRs. Like I said in my “Take the Confusion Out of Walgreens Shopping” post, I like to roll my rewards, not spend them. My third transaction ended up costing me about $3.65 OOP, but I received a $4 RR back so I was happy.

My Coupon Shopping Plan Usually Works Out in the End

If you’re like me, you do a lot of careful planning before you get to the store, and if you live in the same world I do, sometimes your plan is a bust when you get there. With a calculator and some strategic planning though, you can make it work out. If you have been reading my previous posts on my Shopping Spreadsheet, you know that I am a planner. I live on the computer and spreadsheets are my thing. When I get to the store though, and end up having to make a new plan, it’s nice to know that I can still work my brain, a paper and a pen! When you get caught up in this situation, take a deep breath, grab a flyer, even head back to the car if you need to. Sit there a few minutes scanning the ad, search your binders or spreadsheet for coupons and make a new plan. It’s not the end of the world.

If I couldn’t have rolled my rewards without spending a lot OOP, the worst that would have happened, is I would have gone in and just spent them on things I needed and not worried about what I was or wasn’t earning. I can earn RRs another day and start the rolling process again. Trust me; if this happens to you one day, and your coupon shopping plan ends up a bust, it really won’t be the end of couponing as you know it. Just make a new plan and do what you can on that day and live for another. As we always say at The Coupon Wizards, “The deal will come around again.” Until it does, Shop Happy!  ~ Michele


  1. Emma Bower Pfanner says

    Nice to know I’m not alone when this happens!!

  2. This happens to me all the time. Or they have the items and the registers or cashiers stop your plan when checking out. Just don’t let them expire!

  3. That’s great you had a great trip.. I still can not understand the RR’s and the actual price you end up paying..

  4. Elaine Spink says

    Michele, You did great replanning your transactions. I’m glad you ended up finding items that had RR attached to them. There’s nothing like rolling! I don’t go to Walgreens because it’s too far away, but I love CVS and always roll my ecb! You did a great job!! 🙂

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