Saturday, August 17, 2013

Riding The Couponing Unicorn

Also known as...
Make Your Husband Think You Are Crazy as You Take Pictures of Your Purchases.

Last fall and winter, I entered the world of couponing. The WORLD. Sure, I'd used a coupon here and there, but mostly just purchased generics and called it a day. But with all the websites online these days that walk you through it, I thought it was time to jump in. And I did. Deeply.

To really get great results, you have to be quick to jump on the deals, quick to print the coupons, and meticulously organized. I was, for awhile. I was also new in town, without friends, without a job, ready to give birth any minute, and barely scraping by on the family budget.

There were some amazing deals to be had. Sometimes I did end up buying things that I normally wouldn't have... okay, often I would. But almost everything was put to good use or gifted.

Besides the excessive time it takes, the other problem I found it that I would get shopping paralysis. I wouldn't go to the store unless I had a perfect list with extreme deals. It got bad- I would not shop unless well prepared. There were a few times that supplies got pathetic.

When I got a part-time job in March, the couponing mostly fell to the way side. I still watched the budget like a hawk, but I just didn't have time to be extreme. It would pain me to see receipts from my husband running to Publix and blowing $30 on just a few things when I knew just how much farther I could have stretched that money. I would do a few deals here and there, but I went back to dashing into Aldi or just buying generics.

Well, I am back to freelance work now and money is quite tight again. I've been putting off a grocery trip all week (erm, maybe two weeks. Or three), and it's been rather funny to see how I can stretch our bare pantry with creative recipes.

I finally had to give in and go today. But I planned it tightly and walked away spending $63... and saving $107. I got many things for free or very close to it. And it felt good. I now have a good supply of basic toiletries to last for a few months too, and that makes a big difference. When hubby goes out and needs some of special manly-man body wash, I don't have to dish out $3.74, because I got it for around $1.

I didn't take a picture of my Public haul, because I was too busy putting it away. But I did also do a nice deal at Walgreens today, and took at picture to show what I got and for how much. I love it when other blogs to this, because it helped me to learn how to work the deals.

Okay, so here is how I did this deal. It's not jaw dropping, but it is a good savings of around 80% of regular prices. One of the most important things for me is to have a mental (I'm working on a spreadsheet too) of "Buy Now" threshholds. For me, the price needs to be less than I can get it at a dollar store or for a generic version. Each of the items below fit that criteria.

And now, here we go

Puffs- On sale for .99. Buy two and save $1.00. Total: $1.00 for 2, or .50 each
Turkey bacon- On sale for .99. Have a $1.00 coupon. Price, free plus .01 bonus
Bread- On sale for .99. Lower than the $1.39 generic.
Dove Chocolate- On sale for .49 each. Bought two to use a .50 off coupon, so .49 for both. I have these in the freezer to use for the next time I have the wild urge to bake something dark and wonderful.
Highlighters- On sale for .79. Used a 1.00 off coupon, so free + .21 to apply to the deal.
Toilet paper- On sale for $5.00 each & I bought two. Stacked coupons- $1.00 off each with a Walgreens coupon. Also had a manufacturer's coupon on top of that for .50 off. Then I got a register reward for $2.00, which I used to buy water in a separate transaction. So $5.50 for them both.

Water- On sale for $1.99. I don't often get bottled water, but we do sometimes need it school events or for the diaper bag. Walgreens often has their water on sale, and this is the best price.

So, I got two things- the bacon and the highlighters- absolutely free, plus made a little money. I have a big drawer filled with good school supply deals, so that I have them when I need them. I got everything for less than the cost of just two packs of toilet paper (on sale). It's just a nice feeling to have these things and not have to freek out when things run out.

So now I am off, to ride my couponing unicorn over to the land of crafts and get to work on a few fun projects.