June 30, 2011


So continuing the non-human things I love list, coupons must be included. I became obsessed with coupons after Clover sent me a link to the coupon goddess's blog on how she got free Huggies diapers at Rite-Aid. That was in September and I haven't looked back. There is all sorts of stuff to be had for free out there if you have the right slips of papers. Sometimes you can get paid to take stuff. After 8 or 9 months of couponing, I have a good sized stockpile. I feel so legit having a stockpile. It is the couponers equivalent to a fame hungry person's reality TV deal. I have arrived.

A new show started on TLC this spring (I think, maybe winter?) called Extreme Couponing. From what I hear, it shows these OCD types who buy stacks of papers or coupon inserts and spend 50 hours a week clipping and planning and pre-ordering so they can go into stores and get 90% off their bill. Most extreme couponers buy 100 of the same item because there is a good coupon and it looks good on their receipt. But you can only go through so many boxes of Chex and so many bottles of mustard before they expire. TLC has a sense of irony anyway, since it is supposedly followed by the show Hoarders. Extreme Couponing, for all its unrealistic stupidity is really changing the couponing landscape for regular couponers and is deeply hated on all coupon blogs. Stores are starting to change policies to make it harder to get good deals. After about 10 years of doubling coupons up to $1 in value, Price Chopper, our local grocery store, will cease to double anything over $.99. Most manufacturers coupons are $1, so this is going to majorly change my grocery shopping. I have been pretty slack about coupons this spring, after obsessing about them through the fall and winter. With these changes looming on the horizon, I have kicked up the couponing a notch and started stockpiling like a squirrel in late October.

I know, looks crazy. But yogurt and cereal are two of the kids favorite breakfasts and snacks. AND last week at Price Chopper, with my handy dandy $1 off coupons being doubled to $2 off, I was getting 6 multi-packs of Yoplait yogurt and 4 boxes of General Mills Cereal for $8 and then getting a $5 coupon from the catalina machine at the register for anything else I wanted to buy at Price Chopper. I use that kind of coupon to knock down my fresh food bill, since it is hard to find coupons on vegetables, fruit, or meat. So subtracting the $5 I would be spending anyway on fresh food, pretty much $3 for 10 items, so 30 cents per box of cereal or yogurt multipack. At that price, and with the coupon policy changes coming up, I couldn't turn it down. Yeah, my kids eat sugary breakfast cereal. But per serving it all has less than half the sugar of an 8 oz glass of orange juice, so I don't worry about it too much. (I just looked--Lucky Charms and Reeses Puffs have 10g of sugar per 3/4 cup while Orange Juice has 24g of sugar per 8 oz. Ha. I have now justified giving my children fortified empty calories rather than something 100% natural.)

Laundry detergent. Purex can be pretty cheap or free with doubled $1 coupons. Ditto with Tide stain release. Generally anything new is cheap with coupons. They want you to try. it. out.

I really need those pantry shelves Justin promise me.

Personal Care items. These are all from Rite-aid or Walgreens. Drug stores are one of the best places to shop with coupons.

Toothpaste anyone?

 You can almost always get free toothpaste even without coupons. Last week at Rite-Aid, they had colgate on sale $2.99 and on your receipt, you get up+ rewards coupon for $2.99 off any other item you purchase at Rite-Aid. This week it is Crest for $2.69 with a $2.69 up+ reward. They do this every other month or so. I think they like couponers to have clean teeth. At least they won't have to deal with bad breath when those obnoxious couponers are arguing at the register. These deals are great because if you have a coupon for the toothpaste, you can bring your purchase price down to $1.99 and still get the $2.99 up+ reward. So you are getting paid 1 Rite-Aid dollar for taking the toothpaste from them. I'll take that!

Obviously, we don't need that much toothpaste. And some of those personal care items we can't even use. But when you are getting paid to take them, it is hard to not think "Maybe so and so could use them." I got rid of a whole rubbermaid of personal care items by having everyone in the meeting dig through and get what they could use out of it. And then I got to go and fill it up again! Yay!

There is something fun in figuring out how to get something for nothing. Despite people's perceptions, the stores aren't getting ripped off. The coupons are like cash from the manufacturers. The store gets paid for the coupon. In the instance of the toothpaste, the manufacturer is generally footing the bill in conjunction with Rite-Aid for the up+ rewards. Some cashiers act like you are trying to rob the store at the end of a coupon binder/file. But the stores are doing fine.

I hope sanity returns to coupon world once Extreme Couponing goes away. When I started couponing just 9 months ago, I would only occasionally see people with coupon binders. The other day in Price Chopper  I passed 7 people with their binders out. This is what the stores and manufacturers are responding to--an increased number of people who watch Extreme Couponing and suddenly realize they can get something for nothing. And in this economy, you certainly can't blame people for doing that. Still, I sort of wish they would do it somewhere far away from Price Chopper. I like my $1 coupons being doubled!


Virginia said...

Hahaha! When WW3 breaks out, I'm trekking to your house since you'll never run out of supplies! And yeah, it's annoying what Extreme Couponing is doing. All of a sudden everyone uses coupons (I've been using them for years now!) and the coupons in the Sunday paper are suddenly lame. I don't do your amount of couponing, tho. I feel like I'm letting the corporations win when I buy 2 boxes of Cheerios in order to use a coupon when I only needed 1. So I only use coupons for things that I was already going to buy, in the amount I was planning on buying. The deals have been lacking lately. :-(

Evan and Clover and Co. said...

You don't need pantry shelves, you need a tractor trailer or some such gargantuan storage thingy. I'd make fun of you, but then you might cut off my supply of cheap kids' toothpaste. :-)

Verity Earl said...

I don't usually care for coupons b/c they used to be good, like, $1 off stuff, but then they started doing, buy one and get the second for 50 cents off, which, in my opinion, is not worth it. However, Mom and Dad are members of BJ's, which is a super awesome store, because not only can you buy things in bulk, which is always cheaper anyway, but every month they send you a coupon booklet of $3 off stuff. And it's all useful, too, not like random and bizarre things no one is ever going to buy.

PS Toothpaste goes bad. It takes a few months, but it does go bad. FYI. Fill up your rubbermaid with those first. :)

Anonymous said...

Funny you posted about couponing just yesterday I was checking out the Extreme Couponing clips because of all the talk about it. I don't have cable, one of the ways we try to save money, but since I started using coupons a bit I wanted to see what it was about. I definitely think having a stock pile is a good thing, but I can't see why anyone needs to keep something in excess, like the lady with the 70 bottles of mustard, but maybe theres a recipe or something? Anyway I follow Hip2Save and a couple other sites and have been to a couponing class here and I like it but I don't have the time to think it all through. I love the sites that post the deals and what coupons to use that makes it so much easier. But thanks for posting I wish I had more of a system/method to my madness. I so wish we had Rite Aid here because of those up rewards. CVS does pretty good and I always seem to mess up at Walgreens. UGH!! congrats on figuring it all out and stretching those dollars.

Cari said...

Loved this post!! I started couponing a month ago when I was sick laying on the couch doing nothing and someone mentioned Extreme Couponing on FB so I started watching the clips on TLC's site. CRAZY they way they have changed their garages and rooms to make room...although I wish my garage and rooms were that organized. It has been fun to give it a try!! I have a nice stockpile of toothpaste and mens body wash...Just saw the Krazy Coupon lady's stock up price list and realized I'm not doing as good as I thought I was but it is definitly better then before. I do have to remember to only buy the things that I would normally buy and not go on an all out spree with things we've never used before and will probably not use and remind myself we still have a budget. I got a spreadsheet to help keep track of my savings that I love but again I find myself buying things I shouldn't...My biggest problem so far though is how long it takes me. From getting the ones online printed, cut and filed, to the ones in the newspaper, cut and filed, to making my list and matching my coupons and then actually getting through the store. My poor kids...when they see me grab the binder they groan! Hopefully that will get faster and I will figure out my limits!