Saturday, June 26, 2010

Blame It On Couponing

My accident, that is.

I'm thinking about going back and making the manager at the local CVS feel guilty. He's the one who was getting so excited one night when this lady was piling things on the counter and going back for more and getting it all for very little money.

If it had not been for him, I would never have checked into couponing and would never have tossed that pair of scissors into my bag before leaving to go shopping. And I'm sure it was his fault that I misplaced my car keys and got irritated and stabbed myself.

Anyway back to the CVS guy. He was very enthusiastic about what you can do if you concentrate on shopping and plan (very weak points on my part). He said he had done a lot of research and found that there was no way the store lost any money, and the customer comes out way ahead.

I've bored my family with tales of the things I've gotten free or less than a dollar, but they're not going to mind being on the receiving end of some of them. You can't argue with filling a whole shelf of the freezer with Eggo's whole-wheat waffles for 39 cents a box or getting shavers, razor blades, toothpaste, shampoo, etc. just free. And sometimes even making a few dollars' profit.

It does take concentration and planning and even after thinking I have it together, I'll run into the Rite-Aid guy who usually works in the pharmacy and has no idea about anything and cares not one bit whether you get a refund on toothpaste, and then I just have to put back things or not get as good a deal. Or just a sullen cashier who breaks out in hives at the sign of a coupon.

And here's where it gets complicated. There has been a huge upsurge of people doing the couponing, and there are hundreds of blogs written dedicated to it. People will take pictures of whole tables of their loot and then say that they paid just $6.31. There are those who are turning their garages into mini-warehouses. This kind of bugs me. It's okay for people with big families, but how much body wash do you have to stockpile.

Yesterday, someone on a blog was giving away five $3 coupons for something (I believe body wash) and told people to make a comment on her blog and she would give the coupons away at the end of the day. When I last looked, there were over 800 people requesting them! Coupons!

Mama and I need very little, and I concentrate on buying the things that we ordinarily would buy or things I can send to other family members. But it's hard to resist free deodorant or juice even though we can't use it. I figure I can donate those things to our church or a homeless shelter, etc.

But some of these people are brutal. They have multiple computers and even BUY coupons so that when a good deal happens, they're the first ones there and clean the shelves, leaving nothing for those who want only their fair share. (All those waffles I got at 3 stores over 2 weeks and only took 2 at a time). And there are those who hold up the line doing multiple transactions and questioning every penny. It's kind of like big business to them.

So, I can see how the store managers and cashiers are getting a bad taste in their mouth about the whole practice. But that means that those of us who are doing this on a small scale have to suffer the consequences. It is so refreshing to find someone who thinks what you're doing is commendable, and I've found the nicest people at Publix (nothing new there!) A sweet young girl got more excited than I did at free apple juice and blackberries and coffee creamer and the fact that she subtracted over $40 from my $80 grocery bill - plus the added bonus of my senior discount, buy-1-get-1-free things, and penny item day. All this, along with the clean store and happy employees, almost - almost - makes buying groceries a pleasure.

I'm also brutal now that I have a mission. If regular graham crackers aren't on sale and Teddy Grahams are, that's what Mama gets (which she actually like better). It also makes me try new things (which is the purpose of coupons from the manufacturer's point of view). Now I'm no longer satisfied with Cremora in my coffee - I have to have French vanilla Bailey's liquid creamer. Yum. A whole new coffee experience. I'm pretty sure next time I need it, it won't be free.

I'm not sure if it bothered me more that I had to have stitches Wednesday or that I was foiled in my bargain quest. I did go straight across the street to Publix from the clinic and buy groceries. No one likes hearing it, but I took out those sharp little scissors and clipped a coupon or 2 in the store - very carefully.

I mentioned earlier that Debby had her knee replaced Monday. It kind of got shoved into the background when I tried to top her drama. We've exchanged awful pictures and given each other sympathy, but while I've stepped down from a huge impressive looking bandage to a little Band-Aid, Debby is just getting started in her recovery - despising the physical therapist, suffering muscle spasms, and just not able to find a comfortable position. If Debby can't read, she's not a happy person, and it's hard to concentrate when you're in agony.

Everyone say an extra prayer that she can get through these next 2 weeks and start a new life of walking without pain.

And that it will rain before my grass is completely brown.

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