Monday, June 20, 2011

Green Extreme Couponing – Update

What I do is more like Green Normal Couponing because I don’t clear store shelves of mustard or want to create the world’s biggest stockpile. I don’t buy a newspaper, let alone 6, or swipe coupon inserts from foreclosed homes or dumpsters. I stick to the coupons I get in the Tuesday mailer and the 2 coupon limit I can print from my computer from the major coupon or manufacturer sites. That’s it.

I don’t spend hours searching the Internet for deals either. I check We Use Coupons maybe once a week when I’m doing my regular Web surfing.  The We Use Coupons forums have deals organized by store name and a section for organic and natural products. They post the coupon and sale match ups every week. Often they post unadvertised sales and price drops that I would normally miss. Thanks coupon people!

So how am I doing?

This is an example of my coupon purchases for the month of  April 2011.
Neither of these photos is of a weekly shopping trip. 

I got lucky and hit a sale cycle for several items I normally buy. This isn’t a haul of lookie all the free stuff I got with coupons and/or sales. My goal isn't to buy three carts of groceries for a dollar and that kind of savings rarely happens to me. I"m just happy to get things cheaper than full price.

 More of the ingredient type foods I bought with sales/coupons.
I keep plain frozen vegetables on hand when we run out of fresh.

My goal here is to show you that if, like me, you thought that there aren’t coupons for healthy things you buy you might be pleasantly surprised (except the frozen perogies. I blame my love of them from Polish grandmas making and selling them as a fundraiser during summer festivals in Cleveland.) My wallet is happy to pay $1.00 a carton for soy milk instead of the normal $3.00.
I’m saving an average of 50%- 70% (on a very good day) per grocery trip. I’ll take it!

Some thoughts on my not so extreme coupon use.

  • In the beginning shopping up to three stores a Saturday was draining (a combination of Target, Meijer, Aldi, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods.) Granted April was Earth Month and I wanted to take advantage of sales and coupons for items that only go on sale for Earth Day.  Now that I have 1 or 2 extra items like dish detergent I’m back to grocery shopping every other week or so and my shopping trips aren't as large either. 
  • I don’t understand how those people on TV can get so many items free without the store bending the rules for the show. None of my stores apply overage to my final total and even if they did I’d have to pay sales tax on the precoupon price. I’d like to see what a normal shopping trip is like for those extreme people on TV.
  • Lately a few stores make me feel like a criminal when I hand over my coupons. I’m all for checking my coupon to the items I purchased and the expiration date because I’m human and I make mistakes. I know a few dishonest people try to do things they shouldn’t. However, I’m getting more stink eye during my checkout. One cashier took every printed coupon to her manager to verify it (that store accepts that type of coupon, not all do), the same woman spent a crazy amount of time reading and rechecking a buy one get one free newspaper insert coupon to 2 products I bought. What I bought matched the name, amount and the photo of the item on the coupon from the newspaper insert.
  • Lately some cashiers think I’m a cheat, a scammer, or greedy because I hand them coupons. That hurts. I had another cashier refuse to ring up my legal coupon because a sale and a coupon made the item free (this is very rare for me) because “it wasn’t fair.”  I learned from the coupon people to carry the store’s coupon policy with me and he was even unhappier when I politely showed it to him.  Did I mention he’s the store trainer? I think he should know the store’s policies better than anyone should. I also think he would already know that the manufacturer reimburses the store for coupons plus an .08 handling fee for their trouble. The store made more money on me than they “lost” (according to him.)
  • I’m surprised that there are coupons for the ingredient type food I buy, including fresh fruit and vegetables. Before this experiment I largely ignored Meijer’s electronic coupons  and the printable Target.com coupons for fresh fruit, vegetables, and store brand items. I don’t anymore!
  • I read sales flyers every week and plan grocery shopping trips accordingly. I didn’t always do that either. Now I do.

What about you? Do you coupon? What do you think about the show Extreme Couponing?