I am a couponer, I love getting great deals and rarely spend full price on anything. I have been an avid couponer for over a year now and it has saved our family a TON of money. I am not a hoarder when it comes to stocking up, although I would like a better stockpile for reasons like emergency's, war, earthquakes, lack of planning, quick meals, or pure laziness. I normally save 50-75% or more on my groceries, buying things that we normally would eat. OK I confess, I have mistakenly gotten excited about getting something for nearly 98% off and bought it even though we wouldn't normally drink or eat it. We never drank the 12 lemon lime Koolaide packs that I got for $.25c for the bundle, but OH it felt fun.
PET PEEVES OF COUPONING:
1. Here's one thing that I don't understand... There is one line open maybe two, it's busy, I have a basket or cart full of things, coupons that match most of those items so it is a little longer transaction, but I'm organized and ready to go. The next person in line walks up with their 3 items and waits and about a minute into the transaction I start feeling steam coming from their ears and lazar eyes. The tension is so great I almost feel I have to apologize, but then I realize this... THERE IS SELF CHECK OUT!! I have been tempted so many times to ask why on earth they are getting so upset when they can just go right over there at self check out and be done with it! So now I don't even let it bother me as I have grown and matured realizing it is their choice to wait and be upset about it. On the converse I have had people watch in awe at the total price go from $70 to less than $20 and my 6 bags full of groceries. If there is no self checkout I often let others go ahead if they just have a few things or warn the person buy saying "I have a few coupons so this might take a few extra minutes" which helps.
2. Grumpy Checkers: Now I know that being a checker must not be the most fun and exciting job in the world, who knows (although Trader Joes does something right). But I find that at some stores one in particular (Safeway, Lower Boones Ferry Rd Tualatin/Tigard) has the rudest customer service when one is using coupons, which is so strange and here's why...
They lure us into their store with the great deals and their own store coupons. They tease us with the extra savings coupons and doubler's, they want us to shop at their store! Show up to this particular store line with a pile of groceries and a stack of coupons they act like you ruined their day and you MUST be trying to get away with something. I'm convinced in their store meetings they have a couponer bashing session because they are SO disgruntled. There was once a really super nice checker there that I always went to, but she is no longer there which it wouldn't surprise me if either she was too cheery or she actually congratulated the couponer for their savings. My advice is go to the younger people they seem to have less issues.
I understand why they may be grumpy if they have people taking advantage of the "system", which I do not. I'm sure they get people in there that buy 100 toothbrushes, 90 bottles of ketchup and the whole myriad of other items they can't possibly use in their lifetime. Afterall, the secret is out thanks to the TLC show, but that show is more of branch off "Hoarding" in my humble opinion. That is one store I will avoid at all costs and drive the extra 2 miles to go to the other Safeway that treats couponers great!
If you want to get started saving money for your family and eating out less or picking up prepared food at Costco.. here are some great tips and recourses I have learned along the way on my own, through friends and websites.
1. Get a binder for all your coupons! Baseball card holders are perfect for each section of coupons. Divide into sections like Medicine, Dairy, Soups, Cereal, Snacks etc. I once had a lady ask me where something was in the store because she saw my binder and thought I was doing inventory!
2. Coupons can be found in Sunday Paper, Tuesday Paper, online sites and magazines and store websites.
3. Hang on to coupons until the deals come up and then buy.
4. Watch the adds carefully and know what's in your book so when something comes up in the add you'll know to jump on it.
5. Go to the store that has the most matched deals and limit your purchases to just buying what has coupons attached (except for produce). Don't get a bunch of coupon items and then stray from your list to buy super expensive item not on sale. Eventually the store will have it on sale and then you can go stock up.
6. You can use your manufactured coupon per each item and also on top of a store discount or coupon. If the store is running a store coupon of $.50 mayo and you have a coupon of .50 of one mayo from the manufacture in your binder and a doubler you will get $1.50 off that one bottle of mayo! This makes an item sometimes lower than $.50!
7. Check out websites that help you. There are tons of them out there that give you great ideas. Just google them. If you live in the Northwest, http://www.frugallivingnw.com/ is a great place to start.
8. Be organized when you go to checkout and watch the screen to make sure your items are ringing up. There are SO many times that I catch mistakes and the error is in my favor! When a talkative checker is too talky I just keep my eyes on the screen but still talk minimal. I'm not there to be mean or not make friends, but I am serious about saving money and making sure the price is correct! Always check your receipt carefully!!
9. Check the end caps for further red tagged mark downs that you can add your coupon on top of the lowest price. There are alwasy overstock or marked down items on sheves near the back near the stock room.
10. It will be a little overwhelming at first but once you get the hang of it, you will never feel good about buying anything without a coupon! This also can be a downfall.. I've had to work through the fact that for instance we really need milk, but shoot milk is not on sale!! You still need to buy the milk or toiletaper, however with toilet paper you can just buy the cheapest until the bigger deals come out maybe next week!
11. Buying in Bulk doesn't always mean you are saving money! Do the math before you buy. :) I haven't been to Costco over 9 monthes and we have saved money! I do miss the samples.. but we'd end up buying stuff that we didn't need and shell out an easy $200 each time.. no thanks!
Hope that helps! Leave your comments and ideas below!