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!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I had more bullet points than this but I've misplaced them

  • Yes, it's been two weeks since I last blogged. I've been busy, and by "busy" I sort of mean "lazy."

  • That swell fellow I blogged about two weeks ago? Really swell, thanks for asking.

  • I think the homemade pizza has almost been perfected. It looks something like this:

    completely awesome pizza

    You can achieve it using this crust recipe and this sauce recipe.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

When life hands you rhubarb, make pie ...

So getting stood up may have been an actual good thing (I think they call it a blessing in disguise around these parts). Not that I want to go getting all personal here again when I should be writing about badly-made food and power tools. But I had coffee with a really swell fellow yesterday.

Ooh, good band name: The Swell Fellows. Write that one down.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Ooh, check me out, I'm crowdsourcing!

So for various reasons* I don't get too personal here, which often leaves me little to blog about. But I'm going to bend the rule a teeny bit because, well hell, it's my damn blog, isn't it? I can do whatever I want.

Anyway, every since The Former Mr. Pants and I split up, I've been working on a "new life resolution" of sorts, that amounts to: be happy, goddammit! OK, so it's a little more evolved than that ... I've been trying to maximize my good, happy and optimistic qualities and keep negativity to a minimum. It's a tall order and a daily struggle, believe me. I really had to do it, because otherwise I think I would have fallen into a pretty deep depression. The whole divorce thing was a big bummer ... but in hindsight, not as big a bummer as the marriage had been. See? That's being positive ... I am able to see what a good thing my divorce was. Yay divorce!

OK, so I don't write too much about this personal quest for happiness because that veers dangerously close to the kind of sappy earnestness that makes me cringe. Besides, other people write about being happy a lot better than I would. Also I just can't help being snarky and sarcastic, and I would just end up making fun of myself for trying to be happy. That would get confusing ...

Oh, but I digress, as usual ... those who know me outside of this blog know that in the two years since the former Mr. Pants and I split up I've done a wee bit of dating (most of it to one person, see snarky asterisk below). I could fill acres of cyberspace with my reflections on the topic, but I'm too lazy for that right now.

But I am curious about one bit of modern dating protocol ... or maybe etiquette is the right word. I'm hoping to hear some thoughts on this ... here's the scenario: I went out a couple of times with a guy. We had a few e-mail exchanges, some phone conversations, a few text messages back and forth, and I was thinking he was pretty swell. He seemed to think I was kinda swell as well, or so it appeared to me. We friended each other on Facebook, yay, and things seemed peachy enough. Then he stood me up the third time we were to meet.

He apologized very sincerely and admitted it was rude, but his reason for standing me up was nothing like car trouble or a ruptured appendix or anything unavoidable. It amounted to "Getting together with you turned out to be not so important to me." Of course, he phrased it much more tactfully and apologetically than that, but the take-home message for me was that he obviously just wasn't that into me. So I eloquently and politely declined any further involvement with him because, well, why invite heartbreak?

Anyway, I guess he did me a big favor (this is me being positive!), because better to find these things out sooner rather than later. I really did think he was a swell guy, and given some more time I probably could have wrapped my mind around him and tied it in a knot ... which would have made the heartbreak of discovering he just wasn't that into me much worse. So he saved me lots of anguish by delivering the message in a timely manner.

So my protocol question is: considering that I don't bear him any malice, well, not much at least, do I unfriend him on Facebook or leave it be? I mean, unfriending someone seems like a spiteful, bitter thing to do, and I'm all about avoiding spite and bitterness (all it does is feed on itself and grow until it takes over your life). Then again, it's not like I really consider him such a friend at this point ... but my friending policy on Facebook tends to be liberal and inclusive so maybe that shouldn't matter. I mean it's not like he's my enemy. The one good thing is that Facebook doesn't notify people when you unfriend them, so unless they are actually paying attention (and I have no reason to believe he is), they don't get a message that may amount to a big "f**k you." I've been trying to cut down on sending that message to people.

So what say you, oh trusted crowd?

*One of the reasons was that a major participant in my life for a small portion of 2008 and a large portion of 2009 had asked not to be mentioned here. But because all agreements with him became null and void the day he broke up with me via text message, I'll now say that he was the inspiration for the "Reverent Smiths Listener Dealbreaker" axiom I posited a few weeks ago.