Saturday, June 13, 2009

Joining the ranks of the coupon queens

I was talking to a friend of mine who went shopping recently with her mom (who is a coupon fanatic.) She said that they learned that the SuperKmart near our house does double coupon days about once a month. They both went there that week and stocked up on groceries and saved a bundle.

So, when the store did another double coupon offer, I thought I’d see how big a savings I could get. I used manufacturer coupons that were doubled and a few that I got off the Kmart website that couldn’t be doubled. I also found a coupon online for $5 of a $50 purchase.

Here’s how I did. I had two transactions. My first total was $52.36 and I had $27.23 in coupons, so the total I paid was $25.13. My second transaction total was $42.59 with $14.46 in coupons, so my total was $28.13.

I also got three register coupons on my way out. One was for $5 off a $15 purchase, one was for $4 of a $20 purchase and another was for $5 off of $25.

I got a box of cereal that's normally $4.59 for 90 cents. I got Pringles for 50 cents a can. I got a pack of razors that are normally $7.49 for $1.00 because they were on sale for $5 and I had a $2 coupon that was doubled. I also got a $5.49 bottle of shampoo for free because it was on sale for $3.33 and I had a coupon for $2 off that got doubled, so I didn't pay anything for that item.

I actually enjoyed it. I can see why it’s almost an addiction for some women. I got a few items I wouldn’t have if I didn’t have the double coupon offer. For example, I’d never pay full price of $5.49 for a Sara Lee Cheesecake, but since it ended up being $2.49, I got it. I chatted with another shopper who suggested some other websites and we swapped some coupons. Another lady told me that the Chicago Tribune has a lot of coupons and that you can buy a copy at the Dollar Store.

I also figured out an easier way to organize the coupons. When I remember to bring along coupons, they’re usually all stuffed into a small envelope or I have them in a little coupon caddy with about a dozen different categories. That sometimes makes it harder because you have to search through so many places to find them. I brought along a file folder and had some sheets inside as separators. I had four sections: one for frozen and refrigerated foods, one for foods that aren’t refrigerated, one for non-food items and one section I left empty. As I went through the stack, the coupons I realized I wouldn’t use that day went in the fourth compartment so I didn’t get them mixed up. It worked out well with the way the store was set up.

This morning I also made a stop at Walgreen’s. It was Saturday afternoon, but they were already putting up tags for the sales starting on Sunday. I knew I was almost out of peanut butter, so I went to that aisle to get a jar. I saw that it was on sale for 2/$4. I think the normal price was around $4. In smaller print, it said that if you bought 8, you’d get an $8 off coupon for your next purchase. So, it was like getting them for $1 each. Now not everyone goes through that much peanut butter, but the expiration date was more than a year away and the way my boys are eating lately, we’ve been going through a jar of peanut butter every two weeks. It will probably last us through the end of the summer. And if I had gone tomorrow, they would likely have not had eight jars on the shelf since they run out of sales items quickly. Now on my next visit I can use that coupon and get three gallons of milk for free.

Well, happy shopping! Can’t wait to get the Sunday paper in the morning and start clipping.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Resolving trust issues with the Devil Woman

Today I went to meet a friend for lunch at a place I’ve been to before, but not for quite a while. I knew the general route to get there, but put the address into my GPS anyway. I immediately noticed that it was sending me a different way that I had planned. So, I started to follow the instructions, then saw a “construction ahead” sign and backed out. I set off in another direction only to be told to make a U-turn and head back where I’d just come from. Finally, I gave in and went where the arrow on the screen was directing me and there it was right in front of me.

For some reason, I have this problem trusting my GPS. It’s a computer and I guess I’m in that generation between the ones that grew up in a pre-computer world and the group that has never known a world without computers. Computers were being introduced to the world as I was growing up and I guess I fall somewhere in the middle. I see both positive and negatives to computers. I know there was once a time we lived without them, but I know that they can also make our lives much more convenient. For the most part, I am thankful for them, but still have a slight bit of reservation when it comes to putting my complete faith in the hands of a little chip.

Shortly after we bought our Garmin, we took a trip to Wisconsin. We were thrilled to discover the feature that lets you search for specific businesses. The kids were getting hungry and Taco Bell was the first request. We followed the instructions of the GPS which did eventually get us to the nearest Taco Bell, but via a long winding road through a residential subdivision (when in reality it was right down the street), which added a few more minutes onto the trip. As we arrived at Taco Bell after a scenic detour, my husband mumbled under his breath, “Ok, Devil Woman, we’re here.” And that name stuck.

The Devil Woman has helped to get us to many places, but also added frustration when I’ve relied on her completely and then she couldn’t find a satellite signal, directed us into a massive traffic jam or a recently constructed road didn’t register.

So, on my way home from lunch, I turned on the GPS and decided I would trust it to get me home, no matter what route it suggested. I shaved off 8 minutes from my trip there and got home safe and sound. I guess the Devil Woman knows what she’s talking about after all.