Tuesday, May 26, 2009

thank you for humoring me, part two

ok, so i've had a lot of questions in my comments, on facebook, via telephone and email about my last post. maybe you all were just being kind. but just in case you weren't i don't want to leave you hanging in your VERY uncool quest you are joining me in. i honestly hope you find some success in this and that it helps you fund your families' real heart's desire. so i'm going to answer some questions on the methods that i use to get this beast under control.

can i just also say how relieved i am to know that i am not the only one this ridunkulous!

life is full in a wonderful way
apart from my not so part-time job, our church, our friendships, our kitchen renovation and just all those other little commitments you find yourself in there are...

easter eggs to be dyed

vegetable, herb, and flower seeds to start

ropes to be jumped

and beautiful baby boys to obsessively photograph

so i'm not going to lie and say that this does not take work or time. it truly is a part time job in itself. developing a method for the work has made it manageable to me. i like order, structure, lists, and plans by the way. it's part of the fabric of me. if you happen to be cut from the same cloth...this is how i handle some of the facets of it all.

planning the attack

i am not sure how anyone reaps the full benefits of couponing without the grocery game. this is a site that you can pay a minimal amount to save you a ton of time and track the stores you want to shop at. each week they give you a color coded list of the week's sales. somehow they even know the sales that are not even advertised in the flyer or on the shelf. i'm not sure why the store does not show all the sales they are doing, but it is true - they do not. on their list, the black items are OK prices (if you must buy them, then do), the blue items are the things that if your household uses them then you should stock up on - meaning buy as many as you have coupons of and room in your house for. blue is what they call a rock bottom price and their research on the item has shown that combined with the coupon, you will most likely not find a better price for the item for at least another 3 months. the green items are those you can get for free. these are rare for grocery stores but often for drug stores you will find green on the list. the list will also tell you what coupon to use and will have the date beside it to show you what week it came in the sunday paper. (some people actually don't cut their coupons and just file them uncut in file folders that are dated with sundays and pull out and cut as needed - which i think is not a bad idea).

* you really can generally trust this list. i have had a rare occasion where they were off completely. but they are so in the know that even when the store shelf price isn't claiming it's on sale, the receipt confirms that it was.

* an example of how a green item works... last week at ingles french's worcestire sauce was on sale for .98. i had 3 coupons for 1.00 off. so i got 3 bottles for free.

where to get coupons?

while there are a lot of ways people go about this, i will just tell you where i get them.
1) the sunday paper is a must. this site can tell you each week what to expect. if you know people that get the sunday paper that don't save their coupons, ask them if they'd mind giving them to you. this will help you start a good stockpile.
2) samples usually come with coupons. check this website often for a list of samples and other freebies. the small sizes are very convenient for traveling.
3) stores have little coupon dispensers that attach to shelves.
4) the internet is such a wonderful resource b/c you can just print what you want. sites like coupons.com lets you print things numerous times. i also try to visit my favorite frugal living blogs once a week where they post links to tons of coupons.

drug stores are the bomb diggity
i can't speak for them all. but i love to shop at rite aid and cvs and here is why. you can get the things that they carry for dirt cheap and many things free if you play there games right. these are the places that have built up my stockpile the most. i had no idea how much we go through these things. i'm not going to re-invent the wheel here so i'll post the links on how these drug store games work.
cvs -
this is a great explanation. my only notes on this link is that i use the grocery game to track this store. another great thing about cvs is that they sell sunday papers all week long until they run out. so if you forget on sunday to get your coupons you can usually find them anyday there.

rite aid -
couldn't find a great explanation on how this works, but this is pretty helpful. i also have the grocery game track this for me to let me know what is a great or free deal here. best thing about rite aid is that you can often times get make up for free.


i did not intend to stockpile at first. it didn't make sense to me to spend money when you didn't need something in the very immediate future. wasn't the point to save money? but i'm a little stubborn and have to learn the hard way. stockpiling allows you to never pay near full price for the things that you use and is THE reason that our expenses have cut in half. another benefit of it is that you are not running to the store because you are out of something which has cut the chaos level in my house tremendously. and it's easy to make impulse buys while you are there to pick up that one thing.

but once i decided that stockpiling was the bees knees i went a little crazy on the deals. so because i personally have trouble knowing when to stop i bought bins for things and stop stocking up on something when it's full. with food items i have no bins, i just stop stocking up after i have 5 (seemed like a good number) of the same thing so that i can make sure things won't go to waste before we can use them. but with other things like toilet paper, shampoo, soap, toothpaste, medicine, and other toiletries i have a bin for each. this works for me.

most of the time that i shop i sweat before i make it to the cashier and sheepishly hand over my wad o' coupons. i feel like i've got "cheap" tattoed to my forehead or something. and then i usually get some worn out, over it, cashier who can't be bothered with my nonsense. if they have trouble with one coupon they'll just toss those babies without even asking me. they huff and puff at me like they've got better things to do. but every now and again i will have a cashier that seems genuiniely though mildly enthusiastic about the savings that i've just gotten. but i have and may never again have an experience like i had the other day at ingles. the lady cashier and the teenage bagboy were MORE excited than i was. i kid you not.

first she asks me for my card and i hand it over.
teenage bag boy asks if i mind if we wait to scan it till the very end, explaining that he loves to see all the money deducted. it's the little things i guess.
um, sure we can and i have like 30 coupons too.
precious teenage bag boy says "sweet"- can we scan those before we do the card?
um, yes and can i adopt you?
wise, precious teenage bag boy then notes that almost everything i've bought is on sale. then after noticing that i'm stocking up on olive oil, yogurt, and some other things, that i'm also saving trips to the store.
is he after my own heart?
wise, precious, unadoptable teenage bag boy then drumrolls before my card is scanned and as the numbers start falling he literally is jumping up and down, hand over his mouth, telling the people in line to come look.
at this point i'm a little embarrassed. but i just saved $75, so only kinda.

and then when i got home to tell robbie and thus prove how much of a score he got by even marrying me, he implies that maybe these folks were making fun of me with this charade and that i may have been the laughing stock of their day. i'm pretty sure he's just jealous though of the soul connection that took place between me and the bagboy that fateful afternoon.

so this all sounds pretty daunting and involved and maybe i'm a cornball, but i find this really fun and a game for sure. i have such a hard time buying anything now if it's not on sale and i don't have a coupon for it (ie: stacking). i know i'm posting this to the uniworld here, but i still feel really secretive about it. like that it ruins my reputation (you know...the really fly one i had going). well i hope i've helped. this has been a very humbling experience revealing all of this.