Ugghhhh! There’s No Method to this Coupon-Madness!

Monday, January 30, 2012

I CANNOT believe the following statement is going to come from me…

Last night, I went to my first couponing class.

There, I said.

I never thought I would be at this point in my life – where I’m devoting so much time to cutting things out of the newspaper. (I feel like I’m back in grade school cutting pictures out of old issues of National Geographic and The Paducah Sun to create collages in art class. Only this is not art…this is about as much fun as sweatshop labor.)

But when there are seven mouths to feed in your house (two of which are teenage boys and two of which are drinking about twenty-five ounces of liquid gold formula a day), you’ll do about anything to save a few bucks.

So I decided to attend this class with one goal in mind – figure out what the secret is behind this couponing craze.

I walked in almost hoping for some mythical creature like Tinkerbell or my Fairy Godmother to sprinkle me with coupon dust and POOF! It would all make sense. (Alas, neither of them was there…maybe next time.)

Instead it was a handful of women – all of us with our newspapers, binders and scissors. We sat and cut our coupons. We passed the coupons we weren’t using to the next person in the group, and so on and so forth…

I asked, “So what’s the secret to saving so much money?” (It’s not like I’m looking to get out of the store with five carts full of groceries for three dollars, but I would like to know I’m eventually going to save more than $20 if I’m putting all of this time in.)

I was dreading the answer I got – “Time!!!”

That’s just not something I have much of these days.

But they did show me an awesome website (www.stockpilingmoms.com)

This site has the usual “Getting Started” information, but what I really like is that you can scroll down the page and select a store where you shop (Kroger for me) and it will show you how to pair coupons found in the Sunday paper with the store sale ads. Because this is where you save money.

You don’t just cut a coupon out of the paper and use it – although that’s what I’ve been doing and it’s perfectly fine if you’re looking to save twenty to thirty dollars. Instead, you start a collection of coupons and then you watch the store sales to look for an item to go on sale. When the item goes on sale, you pair the store discount with your coupon from the newspaper to save more money.

This require the second part to the couponing success – Planning.

I got a welcome packet at the coupon class that included spreadsheets for the following things:

Monthly Menu Planner

Daily Planner

Pantry Inventory

Freezer Inventory

Price Book

The logic behind all of these lists is if you plan ahead, you can plan your menu/shopping trips around when the items you need are on sale. (Again, requiring time. That magical thing I don’t have an overabundance of these days.)

But I’ve decided I’m going to start small and work on one list at a time.

(As I was writing this Bianca asked if she could have a Pop Tart for breakfast. I went to the pantry only to find that we’re out of Pop Tarts, so I guess the Pantry Inventory spreadsheet is where I should start.)

I also learned a few tidbits of info that I think will help me:

1)   Don’t throw away expired coupons! Military families are allowed to use expired coupons three months after the expiration date. Check with local groups or churches to see if they collect these.

2)   Don’t feel like you have to use a coupon just because it’s about to expire. Unless it’s something that you need right away, you’re better off to wait for the coupon to cycle around again and try to pair it with a store deal. (Most coupons run on a cycle or seasonally. I’m hoping this is something I’ll get use to as I do this longer.)

3)   Don’t make copies of coupons – especially if printed off your computer. These coupons have trackers in the barcode that can be linked back to your computer! You are NOT allowed to make copies of on-line coupons for friends.

4)   Try to find your Sunday paper early on Sunday or at a smaller Mom & Pop store. Most of the gas stations and grocery stores around me sell-out really early. At the coupon class I learned that some people drive around and collect all of the papers, clip the coupons and then sell the coupons! This is just ridiculous to me! Why would people spend money on coupons? Doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose?

 

When I got home from the class Chuck asked, “So, how did it go?”

I was in the middle of telling him how stupid this whole couponing thing makes me feel as I dug into my welcome bag. The first piece of paper I pulled out read:

Couponing for Beginners

This is Not Rocket Science!!!!

 

Obviously, it’s a good thing I didn’t follow in my parents’ footsteps and go into science!