Thursday, December 17, 2009

Visions of buy 1, get 1 free sugarplums ...

I'm sitting at home waiting for the city furnace inspector to show up to tell me if my installation is within code or not. It's one of those "window" appointments where you have to be there for four hours and then five minutes before the end of the window he finally shows up, so you end up having to take even more time off work to get the thing done ... plus we're talking the City of Durham here, so it will probably be much worse than even that. See, I really love Durham, but I've discovered that the City of Durham is pretty much ineffective, inefficient and downright backwards in just about everything it does. (Please, please Inspector Person, prove me wrong somehow!)

So my new austerity plan is going really well. I've discovered that basking in the feeling of superiority I get when I conquer my materialistic impulses is far better than buying stuff. Unless there's a coupon involved ...

But no, even if there is a coupon involved I've been able to withstand, even if it stings. For example, for months I've wanted a GPS thingie and I've been watching the prices, looking for the big deal that will make me lock and load. So this week, I found it: Target had a deal on a Tom Tom where it was $99.99 and you got a $20 Target gift card with it, PLUS there was an online printable coupon for an extra $10 off. Here was my deal! But no, alas, a GPS is not a necessity. So I can't really buy it right now. Well, I could, but I'd only be sabotaging my "Pay Off the Furnace Now!" campaign.

There is one non-essential expense that I've already committed myself to, back before the furnace thing, and that's my trip to Wales in April. The plane ticket is already paid for, and I'm not so concerned about my expenses on the ground there (even though absolutely everything in the UK seems jaw-droppingly expensive ... or maybe that's just London), because I just won't eat a lot and I'm pretty sure I still have a free place to stay. The expense I'm really worried about is the dog-sitting. It will be between $60 and $70 per day, considering I have 3 dogs. If I had only one dog, I could probably find one of my dog friends to take it on for a week out of kindness, but when you have three no one wants 'em all at once. Even when they are as cute as mine. Last year I did a whole bunch of free dogsitting for The Former Mr. Pants, and I sort of feel like he still owes me. But he suddenly became disinclined to even return a simple phone call after his dog died and he no longer needs my petsitting assistance. So fat chance of me getting fair play out of him. The other option could be my mother. I happen to know that she was just going to write me a check for Christmas. I wonder if she would consider coming to stay at my house for a week in April instead? I guess it won't hurt to ask! Otherwise, it's one more reason I can't have that GPS ...

As for the couponing (and here's where this post gets extra boring if you're not at all interested in couponing), it's going OK in week two. It will be another month or so of Sunday paper coupon inserts before I have the stockpile of coupons necessary to do the deals right. See, the trick is matching the various coupons, store doubling policies, rewards schemes, etc. with weekly specials to stock up on the stuff you need when it's cheap. (There's way more on how it works here if you're curious.) Basically, it's like you're putting together this never-ending puzzle, but you don't get all of the pieces at once, so it only gets more put-together after time. I find it rather fun, but it does take preparation, planning and a bit of effort. I'd rather spend the time than the money at this point, and I think it will get easier when I get the hang of it.

Anyway, my savings in this week's trip to Kroger was not so dramatic as last, mostly because there were things I really needed to buy that I didn't have a coupon for (but I did find most of them on Plus card special, at least) and a couple of things that I needed and had a coupon for but were not on sale. Also, I bought an impulse buy: a bottle of Concha y Toro Riesling, but to my credit it was at least on sale (for $3.99). But still, it was a non-necessity and it pushed my bill up $4.00 that I didn't need to spend.

Nonetheless, before paper coupons and doubling were figured (but after Plus card savings and e-coupons), my bill showed as $63.44.(I have no idea if that included tax or not, because the before-coupons machinations don't show up on the printed receipt. I had to have a pen ready to write that number down.) After paper coupons and store doubling (50c or less at Kroger), it was $47.56. According to the receipt, my savings were: Manufacturer coupons=$14.50, Bonus coupon savings (I think this is the doubling)=$3.40, Kroger Plus savings=$20.05. Except that it doesn't seem to add up correctly, so some of those manufacturer coupons are obviously the e-coupons that were taken off BEFORE the $63.44 total showed. So I saved slightly more than it looks like, but not as much as last week.

All in all, I find the coupon thing to be a little entertaining. So yes, I'm spending more time on grocery shopping and yes, it's a bit of trouble, but I'm having fun with it. Maybe it will get less fun as I go along, but I'll be more efficient at it so it won't take as long. I think. Maybe not and I'll burn out on it. We'll see.

2 comments:

santos. said...

kudos to you and your austerity measures--keep it up! if anything, maybe you'll have money to spend in the UK for extras like, um, public transportation.

Lisa B. said...

I know! I was flabbergasted to see that a little one-way trip on the underground cost 4 pounds ... that's more than 6 bucks! Also, getting from Heathrow into London on the Heathrow Express is something like 54 pounds ... more than 85 bucks! I can catch the El from either Chicago airport to almost anywhere else in Chicago for $2.

I'm hoping Wales is slightly cheaper than London ...