Adventures in Couponing

The Sunday before last I started couponing.  Don’t freak out you will not see me on Extreme Couponing or anything like that.  I just want to save a little money.  I tried to do this before and I allowed myself to become intimidated by it and never followed through with it.  This time I am determined.

I have never been a grocery coupon user, maybe here and there but NEVER consistent.  I’ve tried in the past, clipping a few and then sticking them in my purse only to forget about them and then they expire.  So we can chalk it up to laziness, disorganization, and my brain flat lining in the check out line.

This time I am on a mission.  A mission to save some money, to figure it out, and to become diligent on using them.  When I made this decision I spent the entire day researching.  If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right and make it effective.  I am not out to save a dollar or two, I want to make a dent in my receipt.  I spent the day on couponmom.com, thekrazycouponlady.com, and couponing101.com.  Each site is a plethora of information and can quickly become overwhelming but I didn’t let it happen.  I took it slow.

The Krazy Coupon Lady site has a beginner section that breaks down becoming a good couponer in 10 days.  This site seems a bit more dedicated to the organized hoarder extreme stock piling couponer but it still has good tips.

Couponmom site is where I spent the majority of my time.  It is full of good information and tutorials.  What I love about this site is the video tutorials and every week she posts sales for the each store and matches them up with coupons giving you, in black and white, item, sale price, coupon to use with the date of the paper and the source it came from, price after coupon, and percentage saved.  You can go down the list and check the boxes of the items you want or need and print them out.  After you print your list, you match up the coupons you need for your trip and out the door you go.

I ran up to the gas station and got 3 papers.  Yes I bought 3, don’t judge me.  I have found you need at least 2 papers so you have 2 of the coupons especially for the B1G1 deals.  Anyway, I bought 3 papers and headed home to start clipping.  My living room looked like a newspaper stand exploded.  I spent the evening clipping, printing out online coupons and organizing.

Monday evening I headed out on my first couponing trip.  I decided on Walgreens.  Not too overwhelming right?  I printed out my little list, matched up my coupons and off I went.  I only had a few things that I was after, I started small.  First couple of items went into the basket and I was feeling great!  Next up toothpaste.  Well what do you know the particular brand that I was after was wiped out.  Not a tube left!  WTF!  Damn stock pilers!  I was bummed, I didn’t let it get me too down and it was time to check out.

My total before discounts and coupons: $31 and some odd cents.

My total after: $11.85!!!

AND I got $4 in register rewards to use on my next trip!

SCORE!

I was stoked…I was beyond stoked!  It was AWESOME!  I did it!!  I was so proud of myself!  I will admit confession style that I did get a little high from it.  I can almost *almost* understand the crazy couponing people out there that get $600 of stuff for $4.

My next trip out was the following day to try this at a grocery store.  I had prepared my list the night before, loaded up the kids and off we went.  The store that I was going to was still in the process of changing their sale signs over throughout the store so I panicked for a moment with the thought “oh crap, am I here on the wrong day?”  I grabbed their weekly ad from the front of the store and all was good to go.  Here I am walking around with my list, coupons, and the weekly ad stopping in every aisle making sure not to miss what I am after.  Yes, I was that person.  It was checkout time, the moment of truth.  I had a whole cart full of stuff, top and bottom.

My total for the Trip: $116.00

Total Savings for the trip: $47.01!

SCORE!!!

I had one more trip to make the following day for a couple of reasons.  I get my meat from this store and also they had some good sales on things THAT I NEED not want just to say I have it.  Well, it was depressing.  Why?  Because the hoarders stock pilers bought it all up.  Empty shelves everywhere.  85% of things that were on my list were gone, just tumbleweeds blowing by on the shelves.   So Sad.  I finished up my shopping and headed home.  I did save that day but not as much as I had planned because of the bare shelves.

That trip leads to my first couponing rant:  These extreme couponers that clean out shelves need to stop.  Just because you can get it for free or for $.75 doesn’t mean you need to buy every single one of them on the shelf.  Leave some for the little people, that just one 2 of them.  There is no damn reason…NO DAMN REASON…you need 150 tubes of toothpaste, 64 bags of chips, 100 deodorants, or 50 boxes of mac and cheese unless you are planning for the end of the world and I am pretty sure we still have a few billion years before that happens.  I just wanted 2 boxes of mac and cheese, that’s it and they were gone.  If you are one of these extreme couponers that have your whole basement stockpiled with absurd amounts of items and absurd amounts of one specific item you are *in my eyes* an organized hoarder.  Period.  If you have 6, 7, 12 kids cool, stock it up a bit more but if you are a normal family of 4 there is absolutely NO REASON to clean out a shelf.  You are selfish.  Period.

With that said I am not against a small stockpile..SMALL..Key word.  5 tubes of toothpaste cool, 5 12-packs of pop awesome, 5 bottles of shampoo right on etc etc.  I am out to save money, have some things on the back up but that’s it.  I won’t lie I don’t want to have to go buy toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner or lotion every month and yes I want to get it on sale but I will get enough to last me a few months and that’s it.  I will NEVER clean out a shelf.  You have my word.

This past Sunday I stayed true to my mission, purchased my papers and clipped and now all of my coupons are nicely organized in a binder.  You read that right, I made a binder.  Why?  Because it is soo much easier.  I originally had them all in a little holder that fit nicely in my purse but when I found myself rummaging through it to find something it was like a lightbulb when off…The binders make complete sense.

I also found a GREAT spreadsheet that I have started using that tracks my spending and savings.  I found it on thecouponproject.com, another great website.  Even if you don’t coupon this is still a great spreadsheet to use if you are trying to work on a budget.  You can find the spreadsheet by clicking on the link above and then under the downloads tab by clicking on ‘savings tracker’.  It is a spreadsheet that comes ready to go with all formulas in place.  You can set your budget for every month and after your trip to the store you enter the info from your receipt and it keeps a running tally of the shelf cost (cost of all items purchased before any savings), store discounts, coupons amount, sales tax, your total and it gives you the percentage saved on that trip.  It is so handy and easy to use or if you have trouble figuring it out she offers a video tutorial or a handy dandy user manual.  I highly ,highly recommend trying it!  On this website she also offers a coupon 101 and many many helpful hints and links.

Screen shot of the Spreadsheet, taken from thecouponproject.com

So there you have it, my adventures thus far in couponing.  I have to run out today and get a few things because I NEED them not because they are just on sale (that’s just an added plus) so the adventure continues.

About Jamie

Taking my time through this A-Mazing thing called my life. I'm the owner and photographer at The Adore Girls here in Nashville TN. Life is what you make of it and I am making mine...AMAZING!

Posted on August 9, 2011, in life, Me and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Wow…and I thought I was organized. Your binder and spreadsheet put me to shame.

    • I went into this thinking NO binder craziness but it does make sense and I rocked the binder at Kroger. Thank goodness I took it in with me (I was going to leave it in the car) because I scored some more savings I wasn’t planning on.
      The spreadsheet is pretty neat, check it out!

  2. Rockin’ the awesome sauce! I agree the extreme shoppers are ruining it for the rest of us. I have found the same thing. I coupon but I would not say it is over the top. Only a small coupon book, I use the weekly flyers so I can NOT shop at Walmart, etc.

    Great job though on this as we discussed before, it takes some effort but when you see the savings it is impressive and you realize it is worth it.

    • Seiously, they are! I was very surprised to find only 1 empty shelf today on my shopping trip. You are smart woman staying away from walmart. I am managing staying away too now that I have started this and it feels awesome. I did have to go there the other day for ink cartridges but that’s because I was too lazy to drive to the other end of town.

  3. Wow!!!
    I admire you… I think I am just to late.

  4. I liked this post. I was recently visiting with a friend of mine and she asked if I had ever watched Extreme couponing and honestly i had never heard of it (we don’t have cable so I’m out of the loop) but I ma fascinated by this. A friend of mine does the couponmom site and loves it. You have inspired me to try. Hopefully I don’t end up on Extreme Couponing or whatever it is.

    • Thank you! You are not missing anything by not seeing or knowing what the show extreme couponing is. Consider yourself lucky. I wanted to throw shoes at the tv the first time I saw it.
      I hope you do try! Do the spreadsheet with it, it’s amazing what you can save and especially what you see you would have spent without the savings!
      Good Luck to you!!!

  5. A friend in Idaho is a big fan of couponing too and she designed a purse/tote to “hide” your binder and be more stylish. Check her stuff out at http://www.stylinbinders.com/

  6. I have used coupons for as long as I can remember but never in the “extreme couponing” kind of way. I’ve never hunted down sales or anything. Maybe I should. I do print out coupons and load online ones to my shoppers cards. I’m not as organized as you are but recently stuck all my coupons in envelopes in my purse. Does that count? 🙂 I keep telling myself that I should buy the Sunday paper but when Sunday rolls around I forget. My mother-in-law is recently into couponing. I’m hoping that once they get all moved and settled she will be the push I need to make the effort. When you move out here we can all work together on it. See? Your move here is already saving you guys money (let B know)!

  7. I am so with you on the Extreme Couponers. These people piss me off! If you already have 300 tubes of toothpaste at home, you don’t need more! Even if it’s free! I think those people just like the attention they get at the grocery store.
    Excellent post.

  1. Pingback: Stock Piling Stuff – extreme couponing «

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