Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Extreme couponing: a real man's sport... or so I keep telling myself (part 1)

Who hasn't heard of "extreme couponing" by now?  I'm not sure how something as stereotypically feminine and boring as clipping coupons suddenly turned into something that could be mistaken for an X-games sport, but it has, and it has caught my attention. My challenge:  avoid clipping my man card while I plan trips to the store for deals on make-up and tampons.

My wife, like so many other women (and men too I guess) started watching Extreme Couponing on TLC and decided she wanted to try her hand at it.  I thought to myself what a waste of time.  I mean, is it really worth hours of digging through ads and clipping coupons to save $.25 on a $10 package of paper towels?  The people on the TV show really are extreme, almost to the point of being sick.  I have a sneaky feeling we will be seeing some of these people on an episode of another popular show called Hoarders :)  We have enough of the crazy spectrum covered in our house so adding coupon clipping to the mix wasn't exactly top on my list.

I had pretty much written off the idea as crazy and hardly worth the effort, but if she wanted to try it I would at least be supportive and let her.  She went out and bought a paper then spent a few hours going through ads and got what she felt was a decent amount of coupons for stuff we "could use". 

For whatever reason she decided to send me to Walmart to pick up a few things and try out the coupons.  It was a disaster.  I went through the store like I normally do, which was a big mistake, randomly browsing clearance aisles, walking through hardware, checking out sporting goods, playing with electronics, etc.  At the check out, I used her coupons and saved about $6.  Not too bad... but considering my overall bill was about $250 I considered it a mega fail.  I bought a ton of stuff on impulse and we ended up with a bunch of food no one liked, or that we liked but didn't want to cook because it required too much effort (Jimmy Dean Skillets).

My wife had pretty well given up, but I couldn't now.  I despise the feeling of failure and I took this very personal.  So, instead of giving up, I decided to treat it like a problem that needed a solution.  The problem was:  "why didn't coupons work for me while they do for other people?"  With this, I turned to my good friend and mentor Google for research and advice as I would with almost any other problem I need to solve.  I'm sure there are millions of sites out there about the topic, but I found a great website that clicked with me called Living Rich With Coupons and it seemed to have very up to date information but most importantly, a "Beginners" section :)  I started to realize that coupons are big business and can be a serious way to save some cash.

With a little research under my belt and a fresh set of terminology in my head, I set out to get redemption (and hopefully a few deals).  We bought a few Sunday papers and got started, again.  My wife did help me clip coupons but this time the planning was up to me.  This time was going to be different.  I was a man on a mission and nothing could stop me.  My target:  Walgreens.  My goal:  I wanted to come out with a cart full of stuff for around $10.  How did I do?  Well... tune in for part 2 of this documentary to find out but let's just say the phrase "third time is the charm" seems fitting.

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