I’ve never been one to stick with hobbies/activities for very long. I don’t know if it’s lost interest, lost motivation, or sheer lazyness… but in my 26 years, I’ve tested quite a few waters, and none of them were suitable to hold my interest! I’ve been through karate, flute playing, piano playing, cub scout leader, college, several fast food jobs (big suprise there..), and probably more – none of which I stuck with. I believe I may have found my passion, although it’s become increasingly difficult – in my town anyway – to keep this going. Coupons… Now, I’ve heard of the ‘Extreme Couponing’ show from TLC before, and pretty much looked the other way. I used to be a fan of Hoarders myself, for some reason I found watching a 30 year old man swim through a pile of cat feces, smashed pumpkins from 3 halloweens ago, cockroaches, and Celine Dion tapes to get through his living room, extremely delightful! I’d always imagined people who used coupons however, to be older housewives, with too many children, too much time on their hands, and one too many papercuts. I figured couponing consisted of cutting out a deal for 20cents off of laxatives, and feeling good all week about it. Extreme couponing however made me wonder, so one day after Youtubing the woman who has to tie herself to her chair at night so she doesn’t fall in the landfill of God knows what while she sleeps… I saw Extreme Couponing in the sidebar, and decided to give it my 1minute and 45seconds. I was deffinately a little impressed, who knew you could ‘double’ coupons? Stack them? Who would have thought to purchase more than one newspaper or order coupons online for this purpose?! And wow, did you see that collection of 172 packs of toiletpaper that lady stashed under her kids bed cause she ran out of room on top of the refridgerator??? This show was like hoarders, but without the poop, bugs, and rotting food… (well maybe a little rotting food, depending on their stockpile rotation habits….) So I started watching… But alas, that’s as far as I took it. However, one day at work a woman was telling me how much her friend saved on cans of veggies, by doubling and stacking coupons at a local supermarket, this got me a little excited. I inquired with the girl, and she added me into her facebook group for couponing moms! I was super excited to learn the inside tips! From the moment one of them uploaded their first “haul”, I was hooked! I had to learn more! So I checked out http://www.livingrichwithcoupons.com and I went to school! (not literally, we see how well that turned out last time…) Amazingly, the concepts were simple, and my husband already had an awesome binder, that I helped myself to, to prepare for my first coupons! I ran to Walmart the following Sunday, and purchased about 120 sleeves of baseball card holders, and then I went out and bought several newspapers. Much to my dismay, there were no inserts. So I went back to the newsstand, and I told the guy what I thought of his employee’s and himself five-finger-discounting my papers before I had a chance to buy them. After he refused to reimburse me, (assuring me he had nothing to do with removing the inserts – yeah right buddy!), I told him to keep the paper, he needed it more than I, then left the store, I realized that it was a national holiday, and there were no inserts that week. How embarrasing. There’s one store I can never visit again. Anyway, after the holiday’s passed, I eventually procured my inserts, and got to clipping, it was time consuming to say the least, but boy was I excited to fill up my cart and pay .12cents for $200 worth of items!!! Turns out, that’s easier said than done. My first successful haul was rather interesting, and made for a good laugh. I decided to bring my mother-in-law so she could see what a krazy koupon kat I’d become, but I think she only saw the krazy part. I looked online at some matchups for my local Walmart, and after shopping for about 45minutes, we had a cart consisting of: 8 vials of KY Jelly, 6 boxes of laxitives, 2 boxes of stool softener, 2 sponges, 3 dental floss, and 4 diabetic testing meters. Someone had raided the anti-itch cream so that was all gone sadly. I basically only paid roughly $2 for everything, but imagine the cashiers face. I think we’d have looked more sane had we filled up the cart with ducktape, rope, flammable liquids, and hunting knives, while laughing manically as we paid for our purchase in change. Anyway, as strange as my first haul was, it was electrifying to think that I saved 95%, and had a full shelf, and empty bowels to show for it! Several months later, I’ve revised my strategy to save myself time, effort, money, and repute. I no longer clip and categorize my coupons, I simply took the less invasive approach of clipping the like inserts together, and sharpie-marking the date on the front. That way, when I need to find a coupon for a deal, I can just look up the date online, and wa-lah! The only trouble I find is that the dollar stores in my area usually don’t carry half of the products advertised in online matchups, so usually I end up leaving dissapointed. Also, we only really have one big grocery store, besides Walmart – which is not Super – and the deals are always cleaned out FAST. My other option is driving over the bridge to the next state, and hoping the shelves are stocked there, but that’s a bit of a drive for a tired pregnant lady, so for now I’m going to just stay local, stay positive, and try to stay on top of new deals the day they are released! Some quick tips for dealing with empty shelves when you have all your coupons ready:
- Shop early!!! The day of the sale, if possible early morning, chances are if you wait too long things will be gone. There’s also the chance you could be racing 4 other moms to the shelf of men’s deoderant at 6am, to score them for .32cents, but if you’re lucky, those moms will be in bed with a wine hangover!
- Get a rain-check, this works for most of the time, unless the cashier at customer service is having a bad day….
- Price match. Walmart usually offers price-matching, with several stipulations which aren’t too bad, just check them out online before you embarrass yourself.
- Visit another store. If you’re one of the lucky folk, and you have 3-4 riteaids within a 2 block radius, this will work for you… If you live in the boondocks, then you might have to drive… or take a plane, to do this one.
- Call ahead. Some friends of mine do this; I don’t recommend it, unless you have a voice changer, because I get paranoid. They’re watching us, after all.
- Ask the store when they usually restock, or I say: “When does yer truck come in???”, makes me feel like I know what I’m talkin’ about…
Following these tips, plus practicing good coupon ettiquite yourself – do unto others as you would have them do unto you (not buying 90 bottles of ketchup just because they’re on sale, and you only have 37 bottles left at home), and hopefully others will fall into suit. =)