Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Coupon Madness

During the past two days I have done things that I never thought I'd do. I'm not ashamed, but I would have never pictured myself being that woman at the check-out with forty coupons in hand. I never would have imagined myself dumpster diving either...Here is what transpired:

Lately I've been doing some modest couponing, but nothing too extravagant. I would check the Sunday paper (if we got it), as well as the Red Plum pamphlet that came during the week. If there was a coupon for something I would regularly purchase anyway, I would cut it out and save it in a drawer. After I started seeing savings, I started cutting out more coupons. I'm still limiting these to items I would actually use, but in terms of "more," I mean duplicates. I've started raiding my parents' newspapers, checking the local library's "free" bin on Sundays, and having my husband ask my father-in-law for the coupon inserts from his papers.

Then came the dumpster diving incident. This week I didn't make it to the library until Tuesday. When I looked at the "free" basket, it was completely empty. I asked the librarian about it, and she told me that it was just taken to the recycling bin and everything should be on top. So, it really was more like clean recycling-bin diving as opposed to dumpster, but I know I received looks from the patrons walking by while I sorted through the coupons in the library parking lot. I'm happy to report that I found what I was looking for! :)

Our local Smith's grocery store had a promotion today that all coupons under $1 would equal $1 at check-out. I gathered up my stash, looked through the store's flyer, then wrote out a detailed list of what I wanted to purchase. I couldn't believe it; here's what I got for FREE (the discount was higher than the sale price on these items):

Regular price: $20.29 My price: FREE!!!!!!

I also purchased the following substantially discounted when sales were combined with coupons:

I'm don't want to be selfish or greedy. I also don't want to become that hoarder on 20/20 with 500 bars of deodorant stashed in the garage. Here are some steps I'm taking to ensure that my couponing doesn't spiral out-of-control:

1.) Keep a price book! This way I know if a deal is really a deal, or if I can get the same item for less somewhere else (or make a substitution, use a generic, etc).
2.) Only clip the coupons for products we already use or for products that I could easily donate
3.) Clean out my coupon folder (I have one of those accordion pocket folders) weekly to eliminate build-up and expired coupons
4.) Have fun--there is no need to stress about coupons!
5.) Try to have a little more dignity--no more pulling out the papers from the recycling bin in front of the library (but I'll still check inside the library...)

I believe that I was pushed over the couponing edge today due to reading the following book earlier in the week: Retail Anarchy by Sam Pocker. This book is filled with conspiracy theories, colorful language, opinions and tips--about coupons and retail in the United States. Despite the colorful language, I really enjoyed the points made and fun had. I do recommend this book as much for entertainment as for ideas about how to use coupons.

Today I was that woman--the woman with one child crying and another eating a chocolate donut he was bribed with in the shopping cart. The woman who pulled out forty coupons. The woman who held up the line while a manager was paged to make sure everything was correct on the receipt. The woman who came back two hours later to challenge a discount not given on the receipt (and was rewarded $8 for it). The woman whose children grabbed shampoo off the shelf and squirted it all over the floor by the meat aisle (of course I apologized and cleaned it up).

Even though I was that woman today, I am proud of myself for being assertive. This is something that is often difficult for me and I have to work hard to do. I was polite and courteous, and the sales associates were helpful in return. It worked out well. I know that I have an important role in my family as wife and mother, but I don't get the validation of a physical paycheck for my stay-at-home profession. Today I enjoyed the feeling of adding economically to my household instead of blindly spending the funds entrusted to me.

Happy couponing!

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