Couponing 101: Chapter 2

Couponing 101: Chapter 2

I don’t think I’m cut out for extreme couponing. Anyone who knows me will testify that I love a good deal, but I really struggle to get into the couponing craze. Our former wingman, Cate, dove into the trend a few months back and documented a successful first trip. She also had a successful second trip but was unable to share, because her husband unintentionally threw away her receipt. I wanted to continue her adventure, so I volunteered to be the brave soul who would change the way I shop, plan meals and view the Sunday paper.

Well, I gave it a good hour of my time and I’m retiring.

I began by researching tips for beginners and gladly took the advice to start small. It was also suggested to shop at one store, which is fine with me, because no matter how good I get at this, I’m not visiting every pharmacy in town for a deal on heartburn medicine. So, armed with that advice, I skimmed through the Sunday paper for ad inserts. Apparently, my co-workers beat me to the punch because all the manufacturer inserts were gone (Procter & Gamble, Red Plum and Smart Source) as well the circular for my all-time favorite store, Target. Feeling slightly defeated (since I want to start couponing and I want to start now!), I settled on the two inserts for the local grocery stores and figured I’d pick the store with the best deals.

Being a good sport, I flipped through the two stores’ inserts and selected the one that had the most items I always buy, regardless of price. I then created a list of name-brand items with their corresponding deals and prices, but this is where I lost interest. The long list of coupon terms, like “$1.00/2” and “BOGO”, had me overwhelmed. I love sales, but I don’t like chasing them. Once I had my list of “store coupons,” the next step was to locate manufacturer coupons for each of the items. Since the Sunday inserts had been picked over, I tried looking at specific merchandise websites, but after visiting a couple sites for laundry detergent and lettuce… I realized that while this might be an awesome opportunity for someone, it’s not for me. I have the desire to coupon, but not the will.

My short career as a couponer reminded me something about myself. I love bargains and I’m already darn good at achieving them, whether shopping for food, clothes or entertainment. I take sales into account, but in moderation. I only buy a clearance grocery item if 1) I’ll reasonably use the item before it expires, and 2) I have the space. I don’t buy JUST because it’s on sale. The way I save the most is by buying off-brand products. Some things, like toilet paper and macaroni and cheese I’ll never skimp on, but with many other items, I can’t tell one bit of difference between off-brand and name-brand.

So in the end, I think I may have discovered how I can master Couponing 101. Next time shopping, I’ll record the prices of store-brand items and name-brand items on my grocery list. Then, I’ll figure out how much I saved. Dare I say this tactic may be just as good as couponing? I may not experience the ridiculous savings or leave with a free cartful of deodorant and mouthwash, but at least I’ll have my sanity.

Wish me luck as I rebel against the coupon craze.


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