I'm ashamed to say that I'm new to the world of couponing. I've been married nearly twenty years and I have enough kids to justify the effort but I never thought it was worth the trouble if I just bought the generic brand at WalMart. Indeed when I would compare the prices, it never seemed worth the time it took to clip the ads.
However, the internet has changed everything since my early dismissive days.
Recently I found a website that does the work for you, locates the coupons for you, and links the coupons for you. There is a web site that actually tells you how to game the system by combining coupons with offers that give you cash-back coupons so you get whatever is on sale for ridiculously low prices or for free.
It's not illegal or immoral. It's just finding the best price by combining sales with coupons, and certain coupon policies which sometimes allow multiple coupons. Somebody gets paid in the end, I always figure, whether it's the store, the newspaper, the ad company, or the company that sells the stupid printer cartridges for my inkjet printer--somebody always gets paid.
Since discovering this method of saving money (and the best website to integrate savings, clipped coupons, digital coupons, and everything else), I have looked at couponing (as a friend of my suggested) as part-time job. I haven't yet figured out how much I've saved because stores like Publix and Bi-Lo over-price their stuff, and it's only the sales + coupon deals that get them below WalMart prices.
But unlike other people who have part-time jobs, I've discovered that "coupon-moms" can be as intense and as ruthless about their weekly deals as a mother grizzly bear. Within a day or two, certain printable coupons become "no longer available" online because the company allows only a certain number of thousands to be printed. If a person doesn't get the coupon on time, tough. Buy one get one free deals (B1G1) are particularly dangerous deals. The stores usually run out of a these items the day or maybe the day after it is advertised (especially if there's a coupon available).
In other words, if a certain person shows up with her well-organized stack of coupons, expecting to find certain Lysol products on the shelves because the brand is a B1G1 at the store, and there exist several coupons with a dollar or more off that product (rendering it 35 cents or so)--making a person want to buy as many products as she has coupons--the product simply won't be there. Moreover, that certain person will feel like fool for showing up at noon (instead of 5 AM) on the day the product went on sale.
Obviously this event has happened to me (on more than one occasion).
But I also had the satisfaction--no, satisfaction isn't the word I'm looking for--maybe the phrase, empoweringly helpful feeling--wait, no--satisfaction is definitely the word--of being the person who helped another novice learn that the world of couponing is, or can be, a pretty bloody business.
I once encountered a lady with two sweet, little toddlers who was looking for the Gogurt B1G1 on sale at Publix that week, just after I visited the Gogurt aisle. I had six coupons (mind you, coupons collected over a period of five weeks or so) that got me a dollar off two Gogurts (which we freeze and use as popcicles) and one coupon for a dollar off one. Naturally if there are only 13 boxes of Gogurts in the refrigerated section of the store, it's not unreasonable for me to take as many as I need. It's certainly not illegal or unfair. It's just couponing.
So the young mother pulled her cart up right after I loaded up my 13th (and last) box of Gogurt and I heard her say sweetly to her two year-old (who in my guilty memory might have been looking longingly and forelornly into the refrigerated area that usually holds the Gogurt) , "Sorry honey. It looks like they're all gone."
There was a part of me that wanted to chase after her as she pulled away and say, "HERE! Take two boxes!!" But I couldn't also help but wonder if she wasn't the person who had taken the last eight bottles of Lysol I was expecting to find the week before.
Probably she wasn't.
But, she soon could be.
Or, soon will be.
(I can't believe I'm sharing that link. It's like I'm my own worst enemy sometimes)
I just discoverd that Publix will issue a rain-check if they run out of something during a sale. I suppose this makes all of what I said above totally irrelevant.