Monday, August 15, 2011

The Beginning of Couponing

I've always been all about a good deal. I'm not someone the frivolously spends money....especially on myself (on the Cuties...that's another story). I'm always plan any shopping excursions based on who has the best deal - vs. what I really want. It works for me. I don't have millions - and I've learned (after trial and error) that I can't spend like I do. 

I love using coupons. I go to printablecoupons all the time and print my Gap coupons, Hobby Lobby coupons, Kohl's coupons, Michaels, Old name it. It's rare that I go into Old Navy without a coupon. Or Michael's. Or really any of those stores. I use coupons while shopping at Fry's. We buy Fry's brand whenever it's cheapest (except for Fry's brand Fruit Loops - yuck!) I save my cashier printed coupons (that I've learned are called Catalinas) that they give me when I checkout. I also save all the Fry's coupons they send me in the mail. I have a teeny coupon book that I asked for during Christmas awhile back. 

I thought I was doing a good job. But, the fact is - if couponing was a class, I'd get a D. Seriously. My teeny coupon book is filled with expired coupons. I thought it was just a matter of 1) make a list of meals, 2) make a list of groceries needed for said meals, 3) check my teeny coupon book to see if I have a coupon for any of said groceries, and 4) shop and use the few said coupons that are NOT expired. Oh, and of course buy generic, Fry's brand. 

Wow - was I wrong. 

I recently took the kids over to one of my old friend Jaime's house for a playdate. She has 2 stinkin' cute girls, Alex and Sammie. We went around lunchtime. She fed all of us. The cuties LOVED it. When I talked to her before our playdate I remember thinking (as she told me she'd whip something up for lunch for all of us) that thank goodness it was at her house because if I was having a playdate at my house - I'd for sure have to grocery shop. I mean, I have quick throw together lunches for the cuties...but, I don't think I could feed a whole group. 

While at her house - the kids all ate and played. After chatting for awhile, I helped her clean up the kitchen from the mess of all the kids. As I was putting away something in the mouth about dropped. Holy crap! Her pantry was S-T-O-C-K-E-D! And, I really mean stocked. I'd never seen anything like it in person. We're not talking psycho Extreme Couponing - we're talking normal, everyday items and A LOT of them. And no, she doesn't have toilet paper hiding under beds. She has normal groceries, toiletries, etc. all in the right places. Each space (pantry, laundry room, and linen closet) was organized, clean, and FULLY STOCKED with everything we use. 

Uh-oh...I guess she could tell that I was beyond dumbfounded and she giggled and said that she normally doesn't let people in there. She was joking. The "always look for a good deal" person inside of me was immediately curious. I asked her if she coupons. She of course, said yes. She said that she has been couponing for the last two years. I said - yeah, I coupon...but, I guess I'm not doing it the right way. She then went on to say that now that she is fully stocked that she only spends $150 a month in groceries. 

I about died.

$150 a MONTH??!!! That's pretty much what I spend a WEEK to feed all 5 of us. So, the curious, psycho, easily influenced, addictive-personality person that I am immediately wanted in on this phenomenon. 

Yes, I coupon. But - now....I could learn from pretty much a pro. 

Seeing that I was extremely excited and curious - she went on to show me her laundry room and linen closet. In her laundry room she had a backup freezer (that many of us have) stocked with her meats and frozen meals. In the linen closet she had a good deal of toothpaste and toothbrushes and deodorant and soap and pretty much all of the toiletries you would need. She said that to get a stock like this and to get everything you can out of coupons, you can't always be picky on brands. So...if you absolute MUST use one type of deodorant, you just won't have as big of a supply.

We're not picky over here (remember we buy Fry's brand anyway on a lot of things). I am kind of partial to my Secret deodorant - but, I'm definitely willing to give other brands a try when they end up being free. I mean...unless I'm allergic - I'll use it.

Yes, seriously.

So - she showed me her paperwork she received from a coupon class that she took. She introduced me to (best site EVER!!). And, she showed me her coupon system. She even has emailed me a few times telling me what store she was going to, what she was getting, and what coupon she was using. For instance, she was going to Target because they had these Papermate pens on sale for $.88 and she had a coupon that makes them free. Do I absolutely NEED pens right now? No - but, I do work from home and I am always looking for pens. And heck - it's FREEEEEEEEEE!!!! I'm going to Target anyway - so, might as well pick up a free "gift" for entering the store!

couponer. I'm pretty sure I'll be sticking mostly to Fry's...but, I'll make it work. If I can even eliminate $150 from my monthly grocery bill I'll feel like it's worth it.

Thank you Jaime!

p.s. Bryan is totally indulging me on my couponing. He even went into the dollar store to get me 3 (the maximum) Sunday papers while I went into another store for 3 more. Yes...did you know that you can get the Sunday paper at the dollar store for $1? 

p.s.s. If you run into at the store with my box of organized coupons, checklist, and spreadsheet. Don't laugh. I'm saving money. 

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