Extreme Couponing: Office Supplies

February 7, 2012
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This past weekend I purchased a scanner at Staples for less than $3. No, that is not a misprint. Literally, I spent less than $3 out of pocket for a brand-new scanner that I will be using in my home office. Considering that this scanner’s listed retail price at Staples was $99, that’s some extreme couponing to be able to get a scanner for under $3.

How did I do it? Well, I was able to stack free shipping, coupons, and rewards points onto a single transaction that brought my purchase down to barely nothing. I almost didn’t save this much, though, so let me back up a bit and explain how I was able to target my savings and save 98% on office supplies.

As you know one of my goals for 2012 is to educate myself more on extreme couponing so that I can save as much money as possible across the board. In addition, one of my business goals is to get all of my magazine clips–that’s nearly 20 years’ worth of articles I’ve written for national magazines–out of the multiple file cabinets I have in my home office, and get digital versions saved onto an external hard drive. The scanner I currently own doesn’t do a great job of handling multiple page PDFs scans, so a few weeks ago I started researching scanners. It didn’t take long to identify the make and model I wanted.

Once I knew what I wanted, I need to find the best price. After searching various electronics’ sites, I ended up on Staples.com. The price that Staples was offering–$99–was no better or no worse than what I’d seen elsewhere. However, when I was on the Staples site, I noticed something about Staples Rewards. Well, I’ve had a Staples Rewards card for years, and I have the cashier scan it every time I’m in the store. But I got to wondering: had I ever synched my Staples.com account with my Staples Rewards account?

Turns out I hadn’t, and that’s how I discovered that I had $72 in Staples Rewards. You see, Staples used to mail rewards checks on a monthly basis, and I’d bring those rewards checks into the store to apply against any purchase. But I guess somewhere along the way Staples decided to post those rewards online only–I missed that announcement–and I’m so glad that I thought to check my account online, or I never would have discovered that I had so much money waiting for me to spend.

Add to that the fact that I’d recently received a coupon in the mail from Staples that I could get $25 off any purchase of $75 or more. And, on the Staples.com site, if you spend over $45, you get free shipping.

So taken together I was able to apply $72 in awards to my purchase, knock $25 off the purchase price by using that coupon, qualify for free shipping, and in the end only have to pay a small amount plus tax on my purchase–or $2.64.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been able to extreme coupon at Staples:

  • This past summer I’d earned Staples Rewards from paper purchases–you got a free ream of paper–as well as back to school supplies
  • During December Staples was offering 100% rewards back when you bought batteries–I’d included this deal in a Freebie Friday roundup, because, in essence, the batteries ended up being free. So I spent $25.98 on two packages of batteries and got that much in rewards.

What do I hope is your takeaway message from this post? Simple: if you have a rewards card at Staples or any other store where you buy office supplies, make sure you are getting the full value of any rewards you’ve earned. If you used to get checks and don’t anymore, log on and see if those rewards are available online. Then redeem them for any office supplies you need, and hopefully you can save 98% like I did on my new scanner.

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