I know I haven't posted anything in a long while and I know I'm long overdue for one, so I decided to show you all my recent obsession that's been preventing me from my blog (and other things). Couponing! Yes couponing! I know most of you have heard about it and maybe even seen the Extreme Couponing show on tv. At the very least, many of you are interested in it, whether you want to admit it publicly or not. It's a simple concept; look for an item on sale then find coupons to bring that price even lower, or free! In some cases, you can get "paid" to "buy" an item. There are slight small prints to getting paid to buy an item though, but we'll get to that later.
It all started in mid to late December, 2013. I was browsing random webpages and getting my daily dose of random news and seemingly useless info. I somehow came across this site about a man (not really sure if guy or girl but I will use "man" for all purposes) who did a month long challenge in which he had to "eat well" using only $1 a day. His method to complete this challenge was to coupon. After his first day of the challenge he spent $4.49 of the $31.00 he had for the month and this is what he accomplished:
2 boxes of Quaker Instant oatmeal
4 packs of Philadelphia Cream Cheese Minis
1 package of Knudsen Light sour cream
2 lbs of carrots
4 boxes (small) of Wheat Thins
1 jar of Skippy All Natural peanut butter
2 cans of pork and beans
1 bag of long grain brown rice
2 packages of Mission 100% whole wheat tortillas (10 count each)
He also got the following items and donated it to a Food Bank:
15 packs of Philadelphia Cream Cheese Minis
4 boxes (small) of Wheat Thins
1 Scrubbing Bubbles Extend-A-Clean bathroom cleaner
1 Scrubbing Bubbles Extend-A-Clean bathroom cleaner refill
That was on DAY ONE! Amazing, right!?!?! Of course his food items were not healthy to start with, but he eventually found ways to get more and more healthy and tasty foods for next to nothing. I was so amazed at his accomplishment that I read all his entries for each day of the challenge. In the end he managed to buy $597.96 worth of food and other stuff for $27.08, meaning he had approximately $4 to spare in the end, and that's after donating most items to a Food Bank! Super crazy!
I was immediately hooked. I wanted that knowledge. So I read more of his posts about the mentality it took to become a couponer. He further explains that you need to have a whole different mindset in the way you shop and the items you buy and more so the way you use items at home.
At the time, I fit into the perfect example of the type of customers that manufacturers and stores want. They love the people who decide what they want to have for dinner based off of cravings or impulses, rather than on what you have in the pantry. Same goes for non-food items. The thinking is that if you decide to make spaghetti for dinner but you don't have any of the ingredients at home, you're going to the store and buying the items whether it's on sale or not. Companies LOVE this type of consumer because they make the most profit off of them. There's more to it, but I'll let you figure it out on the link above.
Next he explained that if you want to get into coupons, you need to collect coupons and have lots of patience. Easier said than done, however, I was able to collect 2 weekends worth of Sunday inserts from the newspapers. Since I am fairly impatient, I searched for other couponing websites and found two that really fast forwarded me into couponing. The first was a website/forum called WeUseCoupons.com and the second is TheKrazyCouponlady.com. After browsing every inch of both sites, I came upon a coupon scenario (as it's called in the coupon community) that I had all the resources to do, so I did!
In the first week of November, literally just a day or two before I was leaving for Vegas, I did my first coupon deal. It wasn't as amazing as it was supposed to be because I forgot to use 1 set of coupons that would have made me a profit of $1.01 per each transaction. I also added a few bottles of shampoo and conditioner to the deal because it made it extremely cheap and it's the brand I use. In total I got 4 bottles of Tresemme, 8 various Axe products, 4 Degree deodorants, and paid only $9.70 for it all! Amazing, at least to me, considering that the Tresemme alone was $3.99 a bottle.
Despite my mishap in the scenario, I still think it was an amazing accomplishment. I even had a slight adrenaline rush while at the register. It's weird but you kind of feel like you're doing something illegal or wrong. I also felt uncomfortable when people lined up behind me and saw me using coupons, taking forever to finish my transaction. But the more scenarios I did, the more all those feelings withered away.
Over the course of only a couple months I learned a vast amount of info about couponing. The coupon community has their own lingo that can make it quite confusing, especially for a newbie. Thankfully there are tons of help out there! I eventually found a Facebook group for couponers in my area, and I found that the coupon community on Instagram is infinitely huge and welcoming! A quick search of coupling hashtags resulted in thousands of couponers posting deals/scenarios for you to copy, tweak, or just plain learn from. From there I sifted through the various couponers to find ones more local to me, since stores are different across the nation. In addition to all the above, I recruited a friend who I thought would be good, and more so interested, in couponing. I was right, as usual, because he's quickly become my cbff (couponing best friend forever), and we've helped each other build quite a stockpile!
Oh yeah, "stockpile." That's basically a couponers way to show how good they are at couponing. Different couponers will coupon for different items and neatly place them on shelving units or in pantries, or even just piled up in their garage or spare bedroom. It's an amazing sight to see how much things people can get for next to nothing out of pocket (oop). Here are a few of my hauls that currently contribute to my very own stockpile:
As you can see, there are seemingly random things and large quantities of some. I can honestly estimate that the total price for everything pictured above was less than $100 oop, including the red dutch oven which retails for over $80! Now when you look at all that, the first thing you're thinking is, "what the hell are you gonna do with all that?" Well I can answer this several ways, and a few not so nice, but the gist of it is that most of these items are things I normally would use or need throughout the year, however I just so happened to be able to buy the years supply all at once and for a mere fraction of the cost.
Now there are items that I may have couponed for that I in no way need or want, but there's a reason to the madness! For instance, I bought glucose meters from Walgreens (Wags) for $10 each, but I had a coupon for $10 off, making this item free (except taxes). Now you're asking, "but what are you gonna do with glucose meters?" Well, nothing! Give them away? Sell them? Who knows! But here's the catch; for each glucose meter that I had purchased, I received 10k in rewards points, which is approximately $10 that I can use towards a purchase of any item in the store. It's kinda like a gift card or store credit. So now I have $10 in store credit I can use, all thanks to an item I don't want or need. This is also where the couponers mentality differs from the majority of consumers. Majority of couponers know that you may have to coupon for items you don't want/need, in order to get items you do. Majority of the consumers will pass on the item & the accompanying deal simply because they think they don't need the item. The same mentality that stores want! But hey, to each their own.
Since I started couponing a bunch of friends and family have asked me to teach them, and I tell them to call me or meet up with me so I can at least get them started, but only 1 has actually followed through and became a full fledged couponer, and in Vegas of all places!! She had help from another friend too, but either way she's now on her way to saving money for her family.
If you wanna get started in couponing, I've found that it's fun to set a small couponing goal to help you strive for better couponing success. It also pays to know your stores coupon policies inside and out. You'll find that many cashiers/managers think you're stealing simply because you paid almost nothing for $100's worth of product, and they tend to make up their own rules on occasion. Don't let that dissuade you though. Many people don't understand that a coupon is a set amount of cash that a manufacturer is willing to pay a store (and most times with extra) when used towards the purchase of their product. A common thing I get from cashiers is "you can't use that coupon because it makes the item free." Well, DUH! That's why I want to use the coupon, and it's perfectly legal and accepted by just about every retailer! And I say "almost" because some stores don't take manufacturers coupons, like Big Lots!
My goal when I first started couponing was to get name brand cereal for less than $1 a box! Just a couple weeks into couponing and I was able to buy 125 boxes of General Mills cereal for an average of $0.62 a box, and some as low as $0.48 each! I was proud as hell after that! And you better believe I posted my cereal success for others to see, and hopefully save on:
Of course that's not all 125 boxes, but you get the picture. I'd like to add that if not for my cbff, I wouldn't have been able to accomplish this feat! Together we find deals and share scenarios, as well as coupon together at stores. It's more fun with friends.
I guess that's all I have to say about this for now. It's a crazy wave that I'm still riding, so expect to see more posts about it. Please know that this is just been my personal journey in couponing and that I don't speak for all the couponers out there. We all have our own reasons for doing what we do. =)
Peace & Poi,