I haven’t given you an update on my couponing madness.
Tonight is your lucky night! I will endeavor to describe, in intimate detail, my coupon routine. If you’d rather read about how to get married in six months click here. If you’d like to have a valid reason why you should never travel with two poodles and a Great Dane, click here. Maybe you’re dealing with life changes and you need a refresher on how to deal with it gracefully, you’ll read about that if you click here. And if you have a hankering to visit North Dakota, I’d recommend clicking here because they don’t have internet in the snowy wasteland and it might be the last click of your life.
Now that we’re all settled, let me begin.
I’ve stopped by the local paper every Monday morning to pick up the Sunday paper. Our community doesn’t run coupons except on Sunday, so the Sunday paper it is! I’ve discovered I save 50¢ per paper if I go to the newspaper office instead of just pick it up in a newspaper stand.
This has helped me become friends with the front desk lady. She takes my $4 every week and thinks I’m crazy.
Which I am, but it’s a little unsettling to have the newspaper front desk lady know.
I trot on home with my newspapers and dutifully separate all of the advertisements from the coupons. I peruse the Red Plum and Smart Shopper for coupons I know we’ll use for certain, write the date on the top, and file it away in a file folder with that particular date on it.
Yes, I’m anal retentive. But I’ve done my research and “THEY” have told me this is what real coupon people do. I have no basis for disagreement and I can find what I’m looking for when I need it so I’m pretty happy with the system.
Then I browse all the circulars from the groceries and drug stores in town. I go to a website called Bargain Believer and see what she’s discovered for coupon match-ups. I write all the interesting stuff down on a piece of paper, separated by store.
Finally I get my weekly menu from Mealtime Makeover and organize what coincides with the specials and coupons I’ve already discovered.
(Yes, I have a subscription plan to help me plan menus! I’m not gifted at cooking, which is something I’m ok with because I do have gifts in other areas. I’m an “eat-to-live” person, not a “live-to-eat” person. Mealtime Makeover has menus that match the sale items at grocers and WalMart you can subscribe to for three months at a time (my family of five usually eats for about $80/week). Since I’m a boring person and don’t try new things without prompting, this has worked great for us. I haven’t had a bummer meal yet – and we’ve been doing this for nine months!)
At first this all took me about three hours and my conviction it was worth it was fading fast. But I’ve gotten faster as I’ve gotten used to it and now I can get it done in about an hour. And then comes the best part of this whole rigmarole:
For many weeks now I have walked away from the grocery with savings of at least 35% off the total bill, usually it’s more like 55%-60%! The cashier’s eyes widen and they catch themselves as they read the receipt with what I’ve saved. (Makes me happy because they also cringe when I show up with my handful of coupons. That’s a reason I like the website, Pick Another Checkout Line, Honey!, they make you feel better about taking longer at the checkout because you realize if you don’t you’re literally throwing money away!)
Several have asked about the coupon extravaganza, so hopefully this illuminates the process a bit. I think it’s worth it and it’s become a game to me. It’s awfully fun to get 1¢ spiral-bound notebooks, like you can at Staples now. And I’ve also gotten 24¢ 24-packs of Crayola crayons. That’s fun!
(Especially if you’re raising a daughter who believes crayons make excellent hors d’oeuvres.)
One other thing I may try in the future is to actually save the money not spent using coupons and specials. So, if you save $43.67 at the store, don’t just skip your way down the road singing a merry ditty, go ahead and pull $43.67 from your budget and put it in your savings account. Or your mattress. Whichever works for you, I’m not judging.
Do you coupon or bargain shop? What websites or resources do you use?