Monday, June 20, 2011

All Hail Couponicus: Queen of the Nap

I think I've established the fact that I like to save a buck whenever I can. That habit was born around the same time my daughter was, 20 years ago. Actually it was probably born way before that but I just didn't notice it until then. I have both Arab and Jew genes at war in my body and we know how they are about money.

I wrote out this big long post about when I started clipping coupons and why but it bored me half to death so I figured no one else would want to read it either. Instead I'll just cut to the chase: I do it and I'm about to tell you the method that works for me. Right now anyway. It might not work so well in a couple of months and I'll change it cuz that's how I roll.

I used to be an avid couponer for the first 5-6 years of Taylor's life when I had $40/week in the family budget to buy groceries, toiletries, cleaning supplies, oh yeah and diapers and formula too. Let me tell you, that was a challenge. As our financial situation improved I got lazy about clipping coupons but a friend recently forced me to watch an episode of Extreme Couponing and I got the fever again. Don't worry, you're not likely to see me in an upcoming episode any time soon. However, if TLC does a program about Extreme Napping...I'll be instantly famous.

Taylor has recently started calling me Couponicus, which I rather like. It has that geekiness which fits me well but it also sounds a little bit like a Greek goddess or maybe even a super hero and those also fit me well. In my own mind. 

Last week it took me almost an hour and half to do the grocery shopping which is not unusual when you're couponing and trying to match your coupons to whatever is on sale in the store and combine them with a store coupon and whatever incentives your store card is offering at checkout.  I shop at the Kroger a couple of blocks from my house and I still haven't quite memorized exactly where everything is.

I thought it might save me some time if I wrote down the layout of the store and had my coupons separated according to that layout so I could find what I need more quickly.  I considered filing them to match the aisles of the store, but since I do occasionally shop at other stores that really didn't make much sense. Instead, I decided to file them by category but when I pull the ones I know I'm going to use for that week, I refile them by store aisle. I have a visual that will make more sense.

I also revamped the grocery list that lives on our fridge. Everyone in my house knows that if they want me to pick up something from the store they must write it on the list. Don't tell me about it, don't leave me a note somewhere else, write it on the dang list or do without. They learned fast when they ran out of deodorant or toothpaste and I said, "Sorry, I've already done the shopping for this week, you're on your own."

Here's my new list. I printed out about 10 copies and made a little magnetic pad to stick to the front of the fridge.

There's always a pen right next to it so no one has an excuse for why they didn't write Chocolate Frosted Honey Buns on the list if that's what they really needed to survive the week.

I used a scrap of chipboard covered with wrapping paper and a couple of book posts for the binding.

This cheesy magnetic clip has held our fridge pen for 20 years. I stuck a vintage rhinestone on it to pretty it up but I don't want to replace it because I like it.

The different sections on the list each correspond to a different aisle at the store. I don't start my shopping on aisle 1 so I didn't start my list there either.

I'm keeping fairly detailed descriptions of each section on here until my family gets the hang of this and learns what goes where. If we're out of soup, they find the soup section and write in what kind they want. Simple, right?

When I'm ready to go to the store, I rip the list off the pad and put it in the front of my handy dandy coupon organizer bag thingie that I got from Glowgirl's etsy shop. She has lots of different sizes and fabrics to choose from and will even customize for you.

The bag is made to attach to your shopping cart when it's open which is a huge convenience.

I file my coupons by category and within each category the ones expiring the soonest are toward the front. Before I go to the store I check the Krazy Coupon Lady to make sure I didn't overlook any of the weekly specials at my stores. I also scan through her Coupon Database and her eCoupon Database to make sure I didn't miss anything there either. I pull the coupons I know I'm going to use then I refile them in those numbered dividers at the front of my organizer. Those are my store aisles. That way when I'm on aisle 17 at Kroger all I have to do is look under my tab #17 to see the coupons I've already pulled to match the store's specials. If I hadn't already done that, I'd have to look under the tabs for soap, lotion, haircare, dental, deodorant, shaving, etc. since all those things are on aisle 17. I may still have to go back to my main tabs on occasion if I find an unadvertised special, but for the most part everything I need will have already been pull and is right there waiting for me.

At the back of my organizer, I have tabs for restaurants, shopping, services (like an oil change or car wash) and special offers such as rebates and my Extra Care Bucks from CVS. Behind those tabs I keep a printout of the current eCoupons that are loaded onto my Kroger card. 

eCoupons are something new to me. You get them from stores like Kroger who have a store card that entitles you to specials. You register on the store's website, enter your store card number, then look through the coupons they're offering and select the ones you want. Your selections are automatically loaded onto your card so that when you buy that product you get the discount without having to present a printed coupon of any kind. Pretty cool, huh? Before each shopping trip I go through and highlight the eCoupons I'll be using so that I'll remember to save my printed coupon for another trip.

Kroger also has a pretty cool fuel program too. For every dollar you spend at Kroger you earn one point. Some things like prescriptions and gift cards are worth more points. They accumulate on a monthly basis and you have until the end of the following month to redeem them at the Kroger gas station. For every 100 points you redeem, you get 10 cents per gall off of one fill up. You can redeem up to 1000 points at a time which means you'd get a discount of $1.00 per gallon on one fill up. That's a pretty good deal considering all you have to do to get it is buy the groceries you need anyway!

That's how I cut corners on our grocery bill! The Houston area Kroger stores stopped doubling coupons shortly before we moved here and I'm a little miffed about that. But I still manage to save an average of $30-$50 on each shopping trip which isn't bad at all. I can save more at CVS with their Extra Care Bucks.

I don't have enough storage space to stockpile 83 tubes of toothpaste like they do on Extreme Couponing but if I can get something really cheap I'll go ahead and buy 2 or 3. Besides, we're a family of 3 and our little chickie could leave the nest at any minute so we really don't have a need for 83 tubes of toothpaste at this point in our lives. It won't be long and we probably won't even have our own teeth anymore. Besides, if I did buy 83 tubes of toothpaste I would just forget where I put them. Or forget that I bought them in the first place and buy 83 more. Extreme couponing is not for the elderly.


Emma_ps said...

Brilliant Post, I love the humour in your writing as well as all your craft projects! I wish I was organised enough for couponing, I'm not even sure we get a lot of coupons in the uk, I may have to make it my mission to have a look!

shamayn said...

Holy Maird!!!!! YOU NEED A MED CHANGE!!!
I'm exhausted from reading this blog post cuz it's too OCD.