Oh, get your mind out of the gutter! ;)
I've been sick so there's been a lot of time on the couch watching Netflix. Recently they added TLC's Extreme Couponing and since I've been hearing pros and cons floating around about the show I decided to give it a try myself.
Let me just say, whoa! I defiantly see cons and pros. Obviously I'll never go extreme couponing, but it's taught me a lot. Or at least to rethink things and going online and applying couponing in a realistic way.
My first memories of coupons actually started when I was very young. My mom had one of those plastic boxes that you normally use with index cards and she put her coupons in them. She also used an envelope. I don't remember much about her strategy. I don't even think she took me to the store very often. But I do remember that she used to use them when I was young. Eventually she stopped clipping. I'm thinking it was because she went back to work and life got really busy. So I didn't learn about how to save a bundle.
I didn't start using coupons much until we first got married. I used an old binder that used to belong to Hubby, bought some baseball card thingys, and cut coupons. The problem was that I would go to the store with a list of food items for recipes for the week and try to match up corresponding coupons. The generic was always cheaper. I wasn't buying in season. And I wasn't looking to store items. So I gave up couponing without learning how to really use it to my advantage.
At one point I worked for Walmart and I learned about ad-matching. So that's pretty much how I've been doing it. Unless there's a buy-one-get-one free going on at a particular store, I tend to ad-match. Walmart will add match everything except percentage items in the ads and BOGOs. They'll even match competitive store coupons so long as it is a dollar amount listed like 1.77 for a gallon of milk. This is nice because if you have the space you can ad match at Walmart and then take that coupon and use it at the actual store. Some cashiers are really nice (or horrible depending on how you look at it) and will match every item even though the competitor has given limits on the amount (limit 4 gallons).
The thing Walmart doesn't do is double or triple coupons.
But Kroger (Fry's) does. They'll double a coupon up to a coupon up to a 1.00. Meaning a 25 cent coupon becomes 50 cents and 50 cent coupon becomes a dollar. This doesn't happen in Texas. (Sorry, ya'll). But you can look into what stores do and letter write.
I've learned now to look at store policies on price matching, rain checks, and more importantly coupons.
And I've learned to look for sales and to stock up enough product to last until the next sale.
Couponing 101 has taught me soooo much.
Even when I suddenly became a stay at home and joined MOPS, I learned from a lady about couponing but I sloughed it off. She said you can't really be so brand loyal (and I'm totally a generic freak) and then showed us how she bought a carbon monoxide detector from CVS for next to nothing. No offense to her, but your house only needs one or two and they last a long time. I was looking to save money in areas of groceries. She loves scented things (candles, plug-ins) and I can't even stand scented cat litter. How is this going to work for me? She also didn't mention looking for deals.
She did teach me about online coupons that you can print and load to a reward card like coupon.com and retailmenot.com
It wasn't until watching Extreme Couponing that I had an "Ah, Ha!" moment. I've been doing it oh so wrong. I wasn't looking for sales in the store and I wasn't getting the most out of my coupons.
But I'm not great at figuring things out from staring about coupons and store ads. So I stumbled on this site, where they literally have lists on the best deals. Just type in your area. And a list pops up for the deals that week at every store in your area. It even tells you where to find the coupon (in your Sunday insert or even links where you can print it online), how much the savings is, and even if the savings is huge like as in free. That's right; Free!
Why just today I bought two boxes of Stoffer's Stuffing for 19 cents a box. And I got a whole freaking Turkey for 10.04. Now I'm just waiting for a sale on cranberry sauce and a coupon to go with it.
The other thing that I never thought of was to buy multiples and how to get multiple coupons. We have a trash can outside the mail area where every dumps the coupons that come out of the flyers (which includes red plum). So now I think I'll go dumpster diving for the best coupons so to speak. It's not really icky because it's mostly junk mail in there.
Sometimes it's cheaper to use two coupons and buy two of the smaller than use only one coupon (because a lot of stores/coupons don't allow stacking) on one item.
So see. I'm learning how to do couponing right this time. And to think it's only taken me this many years to figure out how it's supposed to work.