Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sales, Price Matching, and Coupons, OH MY!

So, it is Wednesday. And I have some assignments due for class, a messy house, and two stinky dogs.

But alas, I am not motivated to do anything today. Except gloat express great joy about my success in sales searching, coupon clipping, and price matching! Just this week, I have saved over 70% on our groceries and household items! I realize that I haven't mentioned any of this before now, and I myself am slightly baffled as to why. I guess I just feel that it is something everyone should be doing, but I've come to realize that many, many people are not even aware of how to start the adventure into the 'couponing' world. So, I am here today to start a '12 step program' of sorts as to how I have come to learn this art and hope that you all will start as well!

First, let me share this weeks load!

Love my coupons and price matching!

I got this entire table of groceries and toiletries for just $34!! Thanks to price matching, freebies, and coupons! My mom and I are lucky to have the few hours a week it takes to plan out the shopping trips. Now, don't get me wrong, we are not those crazy 'experienced' people on tv that have rooms full of so much food and toiletries that there is no way they will ever use them up. We stock up for a few weeks or months at a time when good sales go on. We then try to use through what we have, or give away some products to friends and family. My mom has also started a tradition of letting my husband and I, and my brother and his girlfriend (hopefully soon to be sister-in-law!) to go on 'shopping trips.' She will set up her mudroom with all of her free products, (mostly cereals, boxed mac-n-cheese, deodorants, razors, shaving creams, body washes, shampoo/conditioners, toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc.) We each get a list of how many of each item we are entitled to, then we get to it! It is a blast!! I usually let my brother and his gf have most of the toiletries, because we already have a nice 'stock' as it is. And, they both work full time and go to school full time, so neither of them really has the time to look for good sales and coupons. But, we do have fun helping them shop, (and adding more things to their bags w/o their knowledge!) My brother has always been a 'no, I'll do it on my own' kinda guy, but his gf is helping him to relax a litte and understand that mom and I take the time to do this to help them and other family and friends!

ANYWAY!! Getting to why you are here.... In order to begin this adventure, you must either buy or sign up to receive Sunday papers. Usually the big city papers work the best because they have more coupons and ads. You then have to set aside about 2 hours a week, (or 2 or 3 weeks depending on how often you shop,) to clip out your coupons, go through the ads, and even check some websites for deals. This can be very daunting at first, and believe me, I went through many headache filled Sundays before getting the hang of it, but it is worth it! So, you start with your coupons, clip them out, keeping in mind what you are clipping. I then organize mine into my coupon binder (yes, I'm one of those nerds that you see in Wal Mart with my big coupon binder!) by category, i.e. dry foods, canned foods, cold foods, frozen foods, cleaning/laundry, air fresheners, vitamins/pain pills, shaving, oral products, shampoo/conditioner, body wash/soaps, etc, etc.... This can take some extra time, also, but is totally worth it to not have to dig for a specific coupon at the checkout while the rude couple behind you huffs and puffs and taps their feet. JUST DO IT!

The next step is to look through your ads, find out what is on sale where. If there are good deals, and especially if you have coupons, start making your list. Match up your coupons with your list, and make sure to make a note on your list for which items you have coupons, (I always put a small 'c' next to the item to remember.) Also, I make separate lists on one piece of paper for the two different store we visit weekly, keeping my coupons for each separate and paper clipped. Make sure that for your price matching store list, you write down the exact price to match, and from which store the price comes. Keep in mind which stores double coupons, and to what extent, such as 'doubling up to a dollar,' so you know you can use any coupon valued between 50 cents and 99 cents to round to a dollar savings. Keep in mind that not every week is worth shopping, there are off weeks. After looking through the ads for a few weeks, you will start to catch on to the 'normal' sales that occur often, and the 'wow' sales that only occur about once a month.

Now that you have looked through the ads and checked prices, it's time to start planning your shopping trip! Remember that there are stores (such as Wal Mart,) that price match any competitors advertised price. This can make a HUGE difference in your total! I know that our Wal Mart is generally very accomidating to our crazy coupon and price matching, but I always take my ads in with me just in case the cashier we get is a little miss cranky pants, and wants to question every price match. The policy states that they will price match any exact item without the ad, but some of the cashiers choose to be snoots, and request the ads, which wouldn't bother me if there wasn't a freaking line of like 4 people waiting for my crazy coupon ass to get through this transaction so they can just buy their Mountain Dews and beef jerky!! But, whatever, I oblige with a big 'eff you' smile on my face.

We almost always go to at least two stores, one (Kroger) for meat, and deals requiring double coupons (and the Starbuck's in the store doesn't hurt,) and the price matching store (Wal Mart) to avoid having to go to umpteen other stores for the deals. While it does slightly suck having to go to 2 different stores, I'd rather do that than have to go to 6 or 7. So, make sure that you take your LIST AND COUPONS with you! (Been there, done that, spent way to much, and forgot way too many things...) If you have to buy a small organizer, or even a binder like me, thatn so be it. Who cares what other people think? You are saving bookoo bucks and they are paying full price... Make sure before you go to check out that you have each item you wanted to purchase, and that all of your coupons are present and accounted for. Then, head for the check out, and apologize to the cashier because you will have coupons/price matching. But, assure them you will make it quick and painless. Also, keep in mind that some people who get into line behind you may get impatient, FORGET THEM. If you feel the need, you can apologize, but they can suck it up. If they were in that big of a hurry, they should have gone to 'self-checkout.' Don't let it frazzle you! When you start to line the items up on the belt, try to keep them organized. I have a tendency to put the items for which I do not have a coupon or price match first, then leave a slight gap and put the coupon/price match items after. It just makes life easier on you and the cashier. You then start price matching, make sure to tell the cashier the exact price to match, and the competetor matching. Hand the coupons over last, you can hand them all over, most cashiers prefer so. But, if you feel more comfortable handing them individually, that's up to you. Next, be shocked at how much you saved and how low your total is! Celebrate!

Now, I know this is A LOT of information to take in, and I am here to take any questions you have. Please feel free to comment with any concerns and I will respond! I will also continue writing about our successful shopping trips, and future helpful tips, but just get started, and then we will get to all of that!! Thanks for reading!!