Friday, April 30, 2010

The coupon game

I'm not really a coupon person. I love a good sale and get a dozen promotions from various apparel and home stores in my email weekly. But when it comes to groceries, I don't even make a list when I go to the store much less plan out what coupons to use.

I worked at a newspaper for almost four years and of course subscribed (well, it was required), and every few weeks I'd get inspired and cut coupons. But when I'd go to the grocery store on Monday, I'd think I had to use all of my coupons that day or I would forget and they would expire. But I would also get carried away and buy things I don't normally buy because I had a coupon. This approach really didn't save me any money and might have even cost me money.

But I've seen people that play the coupon game very well, my friend Jawan is an expert. And when I was home for Easter, I discovered my younger sister has also mastered couponing as she pulled out item after item and told me she got all of them for free.

My sister is letting me on her secrets, although really the secret is The way to play the game is to collect coupons and then use them when the stores are also running specials, so you are saving dollars instead of 50 cents here or there. Southernsavers sorts through the weekly ads and pairs up items with coupons (both in the newspaper and online) and allows you to print a grocery list.

I have to admit I was intrigued but still not ready for the challenge. I needed to do some major grocery shopping this week, and my sister had been telling me how jealous she was that one of the stores here was tripling coupons this week. So I decided this was the week to take the plunge and try out her system. She was very helpful and even sent me a list from Southernsavers and talked me through all of the lingo.

On Wednesday night, I ventured to Harris Teeter (if you live near one, you have until Wednesday, May 5, to triple your coupons) armed with my list and some coupons. Because I have not been faithfully clipping coupons, I didn't have all the ones from previous weeks that would have worked. But I found my shopping to be more efficient even though it was an unfamiliar store. I had a list, and when I got to the right aisle I knew exactly what brand and size to buy of whatever the item was.

Now I clearly missed this warning on Southernsavers:
This is the long awaited triples week, so get your coupons ready. For triples, if you have never done this before you need to go early. Very early. If your store is open all night many will let you start checking out at 7 am.

The item I was most excited about and fought with my printer over was cheese. It was buy one get one free to cut it down to less than $2, and I had a coupon for 75 cents off that would be tripled, thus making it FREE. Well, the specific kind of cheese I had to buy was completely gone, and I felt like I didn't get my reward.

But all things considered, I do think I saved more than usual. I needed everything I bought and almost all of the items were somehow discounted, so although I wouldn't say it was a total success, i.e. nothing was free, it was a better experience than expected and I only forgot two things.

With the co-op, I am trying to avoid the grocery store as much as possible, but there are things I do have to go to the store for so I might as well save some money there. But I think my main goal right now is to be more aware of what I'm buying and how much I'm paying for it. But ultimately, I'd like to start play the coupon game well enough to pay for my Sunday newspaper subscription, which of course supplies the coupons but I also love reading the paper on Sundays.


  1. Oh, girl....I can't tell you how many times I go into Publix, Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS and find that the one item I was most excited about is GONE! Argh. But, you really can save a load if you take the time to do the clipping, math, and browsing. Usually, I have three ducks nibbling at my feet so I don't always do as well as I'd like in the checkout lane.

  2. Great Post! I do love southern savers now that I have fiqured it all out!