By Mac Fife
Maybe I’m wrong, or maybe I’m right, but if I had to guess, I’d say most blog reading women have at least a baseline knowledge of what the coupon craze is about. This recession has made us all more aware of what good value is, and clipping those Sunday morning inserts has proven to save more than just the dimes and nickels we once associated with coupons.
If you’re heading into Kroger with a 4½” binder of baseball card holders, this post isn’t really for you right now. But if, like me, your baseball card holder has collected dust for months, or, if you generally look at the baseball card women like they have three heads (or at least too much free time), I think you’ll be ready for what I have to say.
(Also, if you have no idea why I would even be talking about baseball cards, there are plenty of great resources to help you out. Collin, over at hip2save.com makes it really easy to understand! )
What can the rest of us do with our coupon burn out? Sure, it’s pretty great to come home with bags of free or almost free stuff, but personally, I found myself spending money for “almost free” stuff I never would have otherwise purchased. I now have more varieties of anti-itch cream than a girl could ever hope to use in a lifetime. (Although, I’m not sure why anyone would ever hope to use any anti-itch cream… unless maybe they were just always itchy… but that’s a different blog post.)
And have you noticed the best deals aren’t usually even on groceries?! When I started logging all my local store sales and coupon savings, I actually found that running from store to store and matching up my coupons RARELY saved me more than five dollars a week on food items, compared to my local Aldi!
So, where can you get the REAL savings in the world of coupons? Personal care items! I’m talkin’ toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, body wash, razors… Every Super Bowl, when they add another blade to the “Mach Whatever”, manufacturers and retailers alike want you to be the first to rush in and try the next big thing. This equals big manufacturer coupons and rebates, PLUS big retail sales. I’m assuming here that you know the drill, but if they’re both offering buy one get one free… that means you get TWO free! What a money saver!!! Plus, it’s just nice to have your bathroom stocked with the latest and greatest stuff that comes out! I love feeling pampered!
In light of this, do yourself a favor, and join me: THROW AWAY the baseball card organizer! Instead, take a trip to the Dollar Tree and buy a traditional purse sized coupon file. Remember those? Like our grandmas always used! Next, use the thirteen or so pockets to divvy up only the big savings categories: Like “Hair Care”, “Body Wash/Deodorant” (I like to keep these together because a lot of coupons are for either/or/both), “Dental”, “Feminine Hygiene”, “Meds/First Aid”, “Supplements”, “Shaving”, “Cosmetics”… You get the drift! Now that you have a sensible number of coupons to manage, it should only take 10-15 minutes a week to clip, sort, and purge expired coupons.
Now, go ahead and check those websites you always checked back when you were a couponista, but lets ditch this feeling like we’ve got to hit every single store and snag every single deal! For me, the drug stores are always a winner, so once a week I stop in my two favorites and stock up on the coupon deals that will truly help my family. (No more itch cream!)
And, just a side note: PLEASE don’t rush first thing Sunday morning to get your deals before they‘re sold out. Learn to ask for rain checks! I admit, this might be intimidating if you’ve never done it before. For now, just take the store circular to the check out or service counter, point to the picture, and say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t find any more of these on the shelf! Do you have any more in the back? Or could you write me up a rain check?” They’ll take care of you from there! (I’ll write more on this later.)
You don’t have to go crazy to take part in the coupon craze, and you don’t have to spend a ton of time to save a ton of money. If you keep your strategies simple and your savings fun, you can be set for a lifetime of low cost living! And seriously… call me if your family gets poison ivy, and I’ll give you the hook up!
So, what’s your favorite store for coupon deals?