Monday, July 4, 2011

Shopping With Coupons and Without Kids

Today started out amazingly well. My son told me that he missed Grandma and Grandpa and wanted to see them. Whenever my kids say something like that I always have them call the person and tell them how they feel. I think that since you never know when your time is up, or their time is up,  you should never leave anything unsaid, and I'm raising my kids that same way. I dialed the phone and handed it to him. I could only hear his side of the conversation, but it sounded cute. Not surprising though, my son is quite the little charmer. Anyway, Grandma and Grandpa decided that they wanted to take all three kids for the afternoon. Whoo hoo!! I quickly got the kids fed and shipped them off for an afternoon of swimming and fun. The first thing the hubby and I do when the kids are gone? Go to the bedroom? No. Take a nap? No. Get things done around the house? No. We go grocery shopping. Shopping without helping hands is amazing! I only end up with what I wanted to buy, no one whines or complains, there are no little hands sneaking out and pushing things off shelves, and my cart contains absolutely zero people hitting, pinching, kicking, or arguing. It's as close to heaven as I think I'll ever get.

If you've read my profile you know that I'm into couponing... extremely into it. It's like a sport for me, or a drug. I am going to tell you the secrets to couponing successfully, so get your pen and take notes, or you can always copy and paste, you lazy person. During my planning, which takes about 4 hours a week, I'm calm, collected, and in charge. I go through the ads, the coupons, the online coupons, and, at the store I go to, they have a store reward card that lets you clip coupons from the internet that they offer exclusively. I make my list and place my coupons in their corresponding envelopes. (2 for every store; food and non-food.) Important note: If you're just starting couponing you either need to spend more money to get started and stock up on things, or you need to resign yourself to the fact that for the first 6 weeks or so you'll only be eating things that are on sale. I chose to spend more money and get stocked up, but what you do is your business. Once you're stocked, you never buy anything, with the exception of milk and things that expire quickly, unless you have a coupon AND it's on sale. Please notice that that says "and", not "or".

Next step: The store. By the time I walk into the store, the panic takes over. Oh my God, what if I didn't count my coupons right? What if I put something in the wrong envelope? Am I really sure that the total is going to be that much? I get shaky, nauseous, light headed, my heart starts pounding, and I spend the entire trip that way. Which is another great reason to dislike the long, drawn out trips with my kids. I have no tips for avoiding panic, but if you have some, please feel free to send them my way. So, I'm in the middle of my freak out when a store employee walks up and asks me if I want to open a store credit card. This may surprise you, but I am anti-credit card. I don't think debt is healthy or intelligent, but, after our buying a new car fiasco a month ago, I have come to realize that without debt you have no credit, and without credit you have no anything so... I told her that I'd love to sign up for a card. She takes my information and goes to run it and get me my card. I'm thinking, "I just qualified for a new car loan. A new credit card? This should be no problem!" But noooo. She comes back announcing loudly that I did not qualify for their card, but they'd be happy to mail me ways to help my credit. Are you kidding me?!? I propose that THIS is one of the many, many things wrong with our great country. People can buy new cars, but cannot have food. What the heck is that?

Back to couponing though. After the freak out all through the store comes the Holy Grail- the checkout. This is what I've been waiting for, this is the light at the end of the tunnel, this is where my skill will combat technology and only one of us will come out the winner. I'm sure you can see all the pressure that this creates to perform well, and here is my secret weapon, what every great couponer needs to get through it- a favorite cashier. My favorite cashier is Tyler. I will wait in his line for hours and I don't care how empty all the other lanes are. Not only is he VERY attractive, which was my initial draw to him admittedly, but he also has the patience to deal with me when I realize that I've lost a coupon, or something hasn't scanned right, AND the sense of humor to joke with me. I like to blow off steam by laughing and it's been said that my sense of humor is less than acceptable, perhaps even a little rude and off colored. I don't see it, but it's been said, so it is a little difficult from time to time to find someone that can handle me. The key to keeping a Tyler? Be memorable. You want them to recognize you when you get there. It's only fair that if you are potentially going to be losing it at their register, that they have time to see you coming and get mentally prepared. There are many options when it comes to this; wearing a funny hat could do it. I choose to have the same introduction every time, "Hello, Tyler. I'm very happy to see you today." I promise you that he probably doesn't hear this often from the people who frequent his lane. Step 2 to keeping a Tyler around- every single time I'm there I ask him to call his manager to the register and I go on and on to the manager about how awesome Tyler is and how much I appreciate him- it's important to do this in front of your Tyler- stroke his ego a little, Tylers like that. As  you walk away from the register, mile long receipt in hand and a big smile on your face, do not forget to thank your Tyler for all of his help and make sure to tell him that you hope to see him again. It is important to do this even if you calculated wrong and just wanna cry, just keep your head up in front of your Tyler, grab a Starbucks on the way out and cry all the way to your car if you have to, but never make your Tyler uncomfortable.

Now that I've shared my no fail tips to couponing, I hope you can all save as much money as possible. I personally manage to save about $200 a week, well worth the hassle and stress if you ask me. If there are further questions, or if you're having trouble finding a Tyler, leave a comment and I'll see what I can do for you. Maybe there's a Tyler union somewhere with a map or something.

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