Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I'm trying to put the coup in coupon

A couple of weeks ago I went to the dentist for a cleaning and the hygienist started grilling me about what I was doing differently. It seems that during the bit where she prods my gums and calls out numbers to the assistant who enters them into my computerized chart, a couple of the numbers were too large (they were "5," to be exact). She asked if I'd been lax in flossing. I said no, well, not really, I mean, not terribly, OK, maybe slightly ... but the one big difference between now and 6 months ago was that my Sonicare toothbrush had snuffed it and I hadn't bought a new one because, well, have you seen how much those things cost? So she said I was most definitely to purchase a new Sonicare pronto, and gave me a $10 off coupon.

So $10 is good, but not good enough. I kept my eyes peeled, and discovered that this week's Rite Aid Sunday circular had a $10 off Sonicare coupon in it. Rite Aid allows you to stack their in-ad coupons with a manufacturer's coupon, so now I had $20 off my Sonicare. But I wanted more. MORE! I also had a coupon for $5 off a $25+ Rite Aid purchase. So I ended up getting $25 off my Sonicare, thanks to the magic of coupons. Now I'm hoping the magic of Sonicare will save me on future dental work ...

So the better-living-through-coupons project is continuing apace. I probably don't save as much or as consistently as girlnblack77 (my mentor!), but she's shopping for a family and needs to buy a lot more of the kind of stuff you can save big on with sales+coupons. For example, she's more likely to take advantage of a $5 off your next purchase offer on 5 bricks of Kraft cheese than I am because, much as I adore cheese (my motto: "Even bad cheese is good cheese."), 5 bricks at once is a bit more than I would typically use before mold set in.

But I do get my share of fabulous deals, such as (you knew I was going to use bullet points at some point, right? I adore bullet points.):
  • The Heluva Good cheese that was on sale for $1 and free after the $1 off coupon.

  • The 2 boxes of Electrasol Finish Powerball tabs (which I would normally not buy at all in favor of some house brand dishwasher detergent) that were on sale for $2.99 but brought down to 49 cents each after my $2.50 off coupons.

  • The Bayer Aspirin that paid me money after stacking Rite Aid & manufacturer's coupons. It's technically not supposed to happen per Rite Aid's coupon policy; when the value of the coupons is more than the value of that product, the coupon value is supposed to be adjusted down to the product price. But the entire value of these coupons was subtracted from my order total, which means that Bayer ended up giving me a discount on my other items as well. Thanks, Bayer! Love your aspirin! When it's free, at least ...

  • The free Dove 2-bar pack and bottle of lotion I got when I complained because they have a bogus coupon link on their web site. The link lures you into signing up for their e-newsletter, but then after you do that and try to print your coupon, you get a message that "There are no prints for this campaign." Then why do they have a link that says "Print coupon?" Who knows. I complained about it and they sent me coupons for free stuff. (The link is still there if you want to complain about it, too ...)

  • The closeout-priced Dickinson's Pumpkin Butters that were free after Harris Teeter doubled my $1 off coupons.
I'm now being recognized as "the organized one with the book" by at least one of the cashiers at my Kroger. Last night he said "I ought to get you to do my shopping for me."

"The book" is the 3-ring binder I am now using to organize my coupons. I had been using a little plastic accordion-style organizer, but I was finding it got full quickly and didn't give me enough room to sub-categorize my coupons, so consequently it was taking way too long to find what I needed quickly enough.

So I splurged on some plastic baseball-card collector inserts for a 3-ring binder. (I didn't splurge on a binder, because I already had a few of those, but if anyone has one of those expensive fancy zippery Mead 5-Star binders lying around that they want to get rid of, I'll take it off your hands ...) Then I took some time and organized all the gazillions of coupons into their little pockets, and now it looks like I'm very organized when I go to the store. Never mind that I'm not completely happy with how I categorized things and I want to redo it somewhat, I can now mostly find the coupon I need very quickly (like when I'm looking through those closeout bins at the front of the store and find something at a price that makes it free or close to it with a coupon.)

And you'd think the cashiers would hate me because I'm holding up their line, but some of them get almost as excited to see how much is going to come off my total as I do. On Sunday one Kroger cashier very helpfully pointed out that I had picked up a bar of the the wrong kind of cheese to qualify for the 10-item mega sale. She could have just said nothing and then left me doing math in my head trying to figure out why my bill seemed way too high in the end, but she held up the line while I went back to exchange it for the right cheese. It's almost as if store employees like me even more now that I'm one of the coupon geeks than they did when I was just an ordinary shopper. OK, I know, I'm taking this a bit too far ... I'm sure they don't like me at all. They're just nice and friendly in a way I never noticed them being before.

All in all, even though it's more of an effort and not always so convenient, extreme couponing has made grocery shopping way more fun for me. It's like a treasure hunt, in a way. And the prize is free cheese. Free cheese!!


girlnblack77 said...

Yea, free cheese! :)
I took my momma to Kroger yesterday. We bought $150+ worth of groceries for under $45. I kept a bottle of OJ, two bricks of pepper jack cheese, and some granola bars. The rest went to her house, because my pantry, freezer, and fridge are overflowing! :)

josephine said...

You are my idol! I get excited when Waldbaum's has four packs of soda for $12.

Lisa B. said...

Girlnblack should be your idol ... she's the one who showed me the ropes!

Marsosudiro said...

So fun! Treasure hunting, for real. And yay for your prior happy post, too.