On the other hand, I think, "Oh my God. That's a lot of freaking mustard."
I remember as a kid, I was always thrilled when my mom shopped with coupons - sometimes it meant getting things we didn't normally buy because of the discount. (I remember once we got a box of Count Chocula... and it was the best day of my life.)
So, there has to be a happy medium between frenzied, mustard-hoarding couponing and paying full price for thing. How can someone use coupons to save money and not make it a 60-hour a week job?
I decided to listen to some pros on the subject.
A few weeks ago I made a trek to Westminster Library to attend a free couponing class held by Karen of Saving With Karen and Ashely of Carroll County Couponers.
|Ashley (left) and Karen save ridiculous amounts of money... and I'm so jealous.|
These two lovely ladies spent about an hour talking about how to make the most of your couponing experience. I'm going to pass on a few of my favorite tidbits from the class to you!!
You catch more flies with sugar than with bitchiness. This was my favorite concept. Karen and Ashley emphasized being courteous and respectful when you coupon. Whether you are dealing with fellow shoppers or store personnel, being polite is going to win you more points. If you disagree with a store associate, practice what Karen calls "polite persistence." Don't back down on getting your discount, but don't be mean about it. If you can feel the situation escalating, don't start yelling and throwing packs of gum - ask to speak with a manager. (Knowing the store's coupon policy can also prevent issues at the checkout. Visit a store's website to print out a copy of their policy and bring it with you to show cashiers and managers. No one can argue with a written policy.)
Be mindful of other customers as well. Sure, that's a great deal on dental floss, but don't wipe out the whole shelf. Trust me: You don't need eleventy billion boxes of floss, no matter how much popcorn you eat. Leave a few for the next shopper.
Create an email address specifically for discounts. It happens to all of us. You think, "Oh my God! I love sausage!!" So you point your browser to sausage.com. The site is offering a 98% off coupon for sausage - all you have to do is "register" with your email address. You sign up, print the coupon and head to Sausage-Mart. The next day when you check your email, you have 6,325 messages in your inbox with recipes for sausage brownies and how to use chorizo to cure athlete's foot.
By creating a new email address exclusively for savings sign-ups, you can avoid cluttering your current inbox with discounts and promo codes. (This also works with Facebook, but I definitely don't need another reason to
waste spend more time on Facebook.)
Don't forget about drugstores. I don't shop at drugstores because traditionally items are more expensive than at Walmart. (This is actually true of every store in the world.) But more and more drugstores (like CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens) are compensating for higher prices by offering bigger sales and more savings opportunities. By combining sales, coupons, "bucks back," rewards cards and other discounts, many times you can get a price that knocks Walmart out of the water. (This is becoming true with Target, too, which now offers mobile coupons sent right to your smartphone. Savings + technology = badass.)
Always ask. When you get to a store, ask an associate if they have any coupons available. It doesn't cost you anything to ask, and if they do, you will probably save a little green.
Do your prep work. If you know you are headed somewhere new, check out that place's website and Facebook page. Not only can you usually get a coupon or two if you sign up for their mailing list, but you may find more information about specials. For example, the Texas Roadhouse will give you a coupon for a free appetizer if you join their email club. Combine that with the "Kids Eat Free" special on Monday evenings, and you can have a fun night out for a fraction of the cost.
I may or may not be currently brainstorming ideas for sausage brownies.