MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK: Using catalinas to save money

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Grocery stores are constantly running promotions that will get you inside the store to shop.

You get them all the time, you just may not know what they're called. Those little coupons that spit out on that printer beside the cash register. These are "catalinas" and you'll get them depending on what you buy.

These coupons are for your next shopping trip. Some have money off a specific product, others can be applied to any item in the store. Some let you try products absolutely free.

The fun thing about catalinas is you can roll them, meaning you can buy the products, get the catalina, then use the catalina to buy more of the product and to get another catalina. Local stores offering catalinas include Martins, Food Lion and Kroger.

And this week, Kroger has an amazing scenario. For every five participating General Mills items you buy, you'll get back a $5 catalina. This will work on more than two dozen different products.

So here's what I did:

I bought five boxes of potatoes, five boxes of Mac and Cheese, five packs of Fiber One brownies, four cans of enchilada sauce, four cans of refried beans and two boxes of Motts fruit snacks. Five of my coupons brought the total to $31.34, but I got back $25 worth of catalinas.

So I rolled it, and rolled it and rolled it to show how much you could get. The potatoes and Mac and Cheese cost one dollar - for every five I bought, I'd use one $5 catalina to pay for it, bringing my total out-of-pocket down to zero every time.

In the end, I only spent the original $31.34 for 100 products. I still have $25 worth of catalinas to spend and a hefty donation for the food bank.

Two things to keep in mind, make sure you use them before they expire. Most are only valid for a week or two and check the wording. Some catalinas have a limit of one per transaction.

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