Friday, March 28, 2014

Realistic Couponing - The Weekly Flyer, Your Second Best Friend

Who's your first best friend? Your G.D. coupons that's who! But we're not there yet. Oh no. You can't jump into the pool without taking your clothes off first, or in this case, without making a grocery list.

Remember last week's post? You are no longer brand loyal. You are loyal to cheap products, and you find cheap products in your weekly flyer.

Your weekly flyer is your instruction manual. If the shit you want is not in it, or you don't have a coupon for it, then you're not buying it. Understand? As a couponer you NEVER pay full price for ANYTHING! That's for suckers.

Now, how I like to start is by grabbing a pen and just taking a first pass at the ad. I circle products that I like. I circle products that are a super good deal, things I'm running low on, and things I'm pretty sure I have a coupon for. Once I have all of my items circled, I go through my coupons and start matching things up. The goal is to find what I call the trifecta.

1. Product is a favorite
2. Product is on sale
3. AND I HAVE A COUPON!

When that happens, you've struck savings gold. When you have a trifecta, you buy as many of that item as you can.

Here's where the naysayers say, "I don't have time for that shit."

Yes, you do.

Admittedly, going through the weekly ad and making my list is where I spend the bulk of my couponing time. I would say this takes roughly an hour to an hour and a half a week. But let me tell you where it saves time.

Let's go back, to when I was a full-price paying fool. I used to go to the store, 2 maybe 3 times a week to pick things up because I was buying them on-demand, as in I bought things as we needed them. Not only was I paying more for these items, but every time I went to the store, I was buying extra impulse items.

From America's Cheapest Family:

"Shoppers making a ‘quick trip' to the store to pick up a few specific items usually purchase 54 percent more than they planned."

"Forty-seven percent of shoppers go to the store three or four times each week."

"Consumers graze at the grocery store, with impulse buys making up between 50.8 and 67.7 percent of total purchase."

As a marketer, I rub my hands together and make a cruel evil laugh. This is exactly what we want. We spend tons of money to get you into stores as much as possible so you will buy more of our frivolous things. And it works! Muwahahaha.

Because you think it's easier and quicker to just run by the store and pick up a few things, but it isn't.

Trust me. I live in the tiniest state in the union, where everything is literally 2 minutes away, and I would say by the time I get in my car, drive to the store, get out of the car, go into the store, wander around buying extra stuff I don't need, pay for it, get back into the car, drive home...I've spent 30 minutes. 30 minutes, 3 times a week is an hour and a half. Compared to the one hour a week I spend at the store now, I'm saving 30 minutes a week, and yes, I still make impulse purchases, but I only do it once.

Here's another time saver. Meal planning. The worst thing about cooking meals is figuring out what the hell to cook. Now it's easy. I look through the ad, I see asparagus is on sale, I circle it, and then I go online and find a recipe that uses asparagus. I make sure the recipe has other ingredients on sale or thing from my wares, and then it's decided. That's what we're having this week.

And for those of you who say, "You can't eat healthy when you coupon." That's B.S. I'm a vegetarian. My family eats tons of fresh vegetables and organic foods. I probably eat healthier than some of the non-couponers out there and still pay less.

So next week, get ready to talk about the gold. The coupons!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Realistic Couponing - Step 1: Changing your mindset

I love saving money. If I could steal a slogan for myself from a tire store, it would be name brand at discount prices. Couponing makes good sense, apart from the extremists who buy rooms full of cat food and have no cats. I think that's just silly. But when my friends come over and see my shelf full of detergent, they always say, "I should start couponing, but I don't really have the time." or "I don't know where to start." or "You can't get good deals on good food." To which I say BLASPHEMY! All those things are untrue, which is why I am adding this to my blog, because let's face it, a writer's life doesn't pay that much.

Step 1 - Changing your mind set
To start your savings, throw brand loyalty right out the window. You are now loyal to the products that are the cheapest. You are no longer buying Coca Cola. You are buying soda. You are no longer buying Pantene ProV you are buying shampoo. Understand? The benefit of this is you get to try new products, and some of them you might like better than the ones you used to buy. Others, not so much. And this my friends, is why we stockpile.

If you really have to have your Coke, wait for it to become the cheapest soda, and then buy the maximum the store will allow. The next day, go back and do it again and the next, until the sale ends, or you have amassed enough Coke to carry you to the next sale.

Now this is where the coupon naysayers will say, "But I don't have room to store it."

Of course you do.

Your rent. Your mortgage. These are bills that will not change. (unless you refinance, take on a roommate, whatever, but for the most part, they are static.) So let's say your rent is $1000 a month, and in your apartment, you have two closets that roughly make-up 5% of the living space. You are paying $50 a month for those closets. Now what is on the bottom of those closets? Junk? Old clothes? Do you really want to pay $50 a month to keep old clothes around? Because that's exactly what you're doing.

Now as I said, there is nothing you can do about getting that $50 back, unless you sublet your closets to very small people, but you can make better use of it. The best deal I've gotten on soda is 4 12-packs for $10. Regular price for soda is at least $4.00 per 12-pack, so...

Sale Sodas = $2.50/12-pack or $.21/soda
Full Price Sodas = $4/12-pack or $.33/soda
Savings: $1.50 or $.12/soda

If you buy 34 12-packs of soda at the sale price, you have saved $51.00. If you can fit those in the bottom of your closets, you've just made those closets profitable. Got it? Take a second look around your house. Now do you have some extra space?

If maximizing living space isn't doing it for you, think about this. You and I drink the same exact soda, but mine is $.12 less. Every delicious ounce you drink is a penny more than mine, and I didn't do anything special to get it. I haven't spent any extra time. Haven't clipped a coupon, I just bought more when it was on sale.

That should get you started. Next, we'll talk about the weekly flyer: the couponer's second best friend.