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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Counponing with a D+ Student

I admit it- the idea of spending hours in line waiting to save $1.00 on a box of laundry detergent didn’t do it for me.  I mean I am use to being a savvy shopper simply by knowing which store brands were the best and most like the expensive name brand ones. 
But then I started talking to a friend at the gym.  She explained to me she saved over half her grocery budget by doing this insane thing called couponing.  

I started to listen….

She talked about some of the deals she had gotten, and how, “She really wasn’t that good at it.  Lots of people she knew saved more than that.”  

I kept listening….

She went on about how she saved enough to figured her hourly profit- at least $25 an hour. 
Now I wanted details.  

I made her repeat some of the deals she had gotten, and asked since I cook so much of my own foods, try to stay as far away from prepackaged meals as I can, would I still save?  She said, “yes, especially on cereal, shampoo, razors, and detergents.”

I was hooked.  I looked up all types of sites, mostly national ones and found to my surprise…everyone was doing this.  (The conversation at the gym took place about nine months ago)

Immediately I was frustrated.  I didn’t want to be “one of those woman”.  I refused to build a notebook and haul around every ad that ever came out. 

So of course, I did it my way.

I found an old cosmetic organizer bag I already had and started clipping…and printing…and headed to the store with my organized and very precise list….

And quickly got so frustrated I left embarrassed about how I had just acted like a spoiled brat when the store employee said they had already been wiped out of literally everything I had on my list…  (see, now I had just become one of those OTHER woman)

I regrouped, realizing flexibility- something I was still developing- was critical in this new adventure.  I needed to look at this as something I would get some great deals at, but others – the really OMG ones, would likely be gone because I refused to be one of the notebook people.  I had a talk with myself.  Was I ok with not saving as much to keep from toting the notebook and shopping everyday?

Yes, yes I was.

So I tried it again.  Only this time I went with a happy, causal –this-is –fun- attitude.  It worked.  I saved about 20% on my bill- not bad and got things I would use. 

Fast forward nine months. 

I am still couponing, but again not to the level that some do.  Last week for instance, I was behind a woman who had an entire cart load of food, (including the bottom) and paid $3.45.  (That same day I was thrilled that I saved $35 and my total was $66!)

So is it worth my time?  Yes.  I have to grocery shop anyway, if I can save 25%-35%  or more per trip- it’s worth it. 
Could I save more?  ABSOLUTELY!!  But for me, it isn’t worth trading what my family eats for cheaper options.  I still make all my own sauces,  I try to make my own tortillas (I really hate it though) and focus on eating as much real food as possible. 

Having said that- I love paying almost nothing for toothpaste and getting free or even better) toothbrushes.  I get giddy when I buy razors for less than $2 a pack. (and no not the cheap ones that make my legs look like Edward Scissor hands helped)  My husband is a body wash boy and is very specific about the types- I stock up when they are a great deal.   

So For me Couponing has changed my life- But I am only a D+ student at best, unwilling to put more time and sacrifice into it.  I know I will never be featured on a TLC or make the TODAY show – Best leave that to the bestselling books that are still in the works.