Sunday, September 18, 2011

Extreme couponing: a real man's sport (part 2)

Sorry to keep you all waiting... I thought I had already posted this but I guess it has been stuck in draft!  Nothing like suspense!  :)

After my first mega fail of a shopping trip with coupons, I was determined to get a "good deal" using coupons and solve my problem of "why it works for others but not me".  I started preparing for my second attempt at extreme couponing but this time with what I thought was a solid plan.

I started on a Saturday with all the coupons my wife had collected for the first trip.  We got the kids involved and clipped just about every coupon from probably 6 copies of each of the coupons book.  When we got done clipping four hours later, our entire dining room was nothing but coupons and scattered remains of the coupon books.   Now, I was faced with a new problem: how to take all this and turn it into money!  I had so much coupon money I was going to be rich!  Muahaha!

First, though, I needed to figure out how to organize the chaos that had now consumed my house (maybe that is why it is called "consumer goods").  I decided to start simple, which was probably one of the smartest choices I made during this whole process, and get a handful of broad categories so that we could at least get the table cleared off. I think we started with what I called Personal Care, then Household, Groceries, Medicine, and Dining Out/Misc.  About 15 hours in and two shopping trips later to buy organizers (more details on how we do it in a future blog entry), we ended up with a three ring binder that zipped shut and was full of coupons.

Sunday morning came and I had my wife go out and buy several papers so we could get the RedPlum, SmartSource, and P&G Brand Saver coupon books as well as the ads to see exactly what our shopping trip would need to look like.  I spent some time clipping and organizing but then decided it was time to start planning this trip and to get my redemption.  I started going through the Dollar General ads, she started going through Target or something.  Then we switched, then we started going through Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, basically looking through all of them.  We would see random items but nothing that was just such a great deal that I had to get it.  Overwhelmed, I went back to my friend Google and did more research.

I saw a post somewhere calling Walgreens and CVS the stores for beginners so I figured I would start there. My wife and I both like Walgreens more than CVS so we pulled out the Walgreens ad and started planning.   By the time I got done several hours later, I had a list of about 20 things that I felt I could get a good deal on.  One rule that we established early though was not to buy things just for the sake of getting a good deal.   If there is a sale on adult diapers, we are not buying them because we do not need them (no matter how much simpler that would make life ;).  There are some exceptions to this rule, but I'm not going into that right now.

I was ready like Spongebob.  We grabbed our binder, loaded up the kids and told them we were going on a treasure hunt, and we headed to Walgreens to prove I could do this.

Did it work?  Um... well.  My wife considered it an epic fail.  When we took our two carts up to the check out (two carts = two sets of register rewards... cha ching!) and each cart came to about $100 so we spent right at $200 at Walgreens.  $200 AT WALGREENS and we didn't have any prescriptions!!  Luckily I bought the adult diapers!  (just kidding... or am I?)  So, feeling defeated again, I went home, we argued, and I declared I would not try to coupon anymore and we would return the stuff that we did not absolutely need later in the week.

Now, after thinking about it for a bit, I consider it taking one for the team.  When I started looking at what we could return, I found that the kids had thrown in a few extras.  In fact, about $40 worth of toys and candy that slipped through because I was so focused on coupons and my wife was focused on keeping the kids from destroying the store.  Then, I analyzed some of the other stuff... we spent about $70 just on razors and razor heads.   At first it seemed like a lot, but I was out of the razor heads for my razor and my wife needed a new one so these would have been things we were buying anyway and at Walmart, they wouldn't have stood out on the bill.  Plus, because they had a special going on, we got 2 x $3 register rewards for the razors, 2 x $10 back for the razor heads, and 2 x free cans of the shave gel I use (priced at about $4.50 each).  So in the end, we took back about $50 worth of junk, meaning out of pocket we spent about $150, but we got back about $60 in register rewards and got a couple of freebies.

So in the end, I felt somewhat OK with the way trip #2 went.  My wife still didn't think it was worth it, but after the next couple of shopping trips she was calling me her coupon sugar daddy!  Over the next three trips, we were able to get about $80 worth of stuff for about $10 with $10 back in register rewards so it was practically free.  More details on the next trip in part 3 of this post.  Stay tuned!

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