Confessions of a Sometime Couponer

Over at feMOMhist’s blog, it’s Work, Labor and Money week. Among the topics that she’s tackled? Extreme Couponing.

I confess to being a tiny bit of a fan of both the show and the philosophy. (Note: Canada has a much less robust coupon culture and opportunity than in the states, so even if I did go crazy, I wouldn’t be saving and stockpiling like those folks on the TV show.) I haven’t bought into the idea all the way, but I’ve found ways to make coupon and loyalty points work for me.

My biggest score’s been a Wii system bought entirely with loyalty points earned over a three month period of strategic shopping at our local pharmacy. I didn’t spend all that much to stockpile those points! I’ve gotten free bananas, free ice cream and free ground beef. Toilet paper’s always purchased on sale and with a coupon to boot. There’s a whole shelf in the bathroom cupboard with a small stockpile of deodorant, shampoo and other necessities which has also relieved me of reacting on short-term need to buy something at a high price.

Still, my time’s too much in demand for me to spend a lot of time on couponing. Yet you need to approach couponing with insight and information, or you’re just collecting slips of paper that don’t do you much good or thinking you have to buy stuff you don’t need or want to save money.

So how do I save some bucks but only spend on what I need? I rely on the group-mind of internet coupon sites. Here in Canada, there’s one great web community, Smart Canucks, and another wonderful blog, Mrs. January, that I follow. (In the states, I’d recommend following my wise friend Denise, at Blogher.) These sites alert me to all sorts of avenues from which I can get useful coupons (circulars in the paper, printable coupons or others I can order from manufacturer or retailer websites) and also track hot deals in weekly flyers. They’ve alerted me to coupon codes for the book store and favourite clothing stores.

I also learned about how to better use store loyalty programs. One pharmacy offers a 20x loyalty point event every few weeks. If I buy necessities on those days at a good sale price and with a coupon to boot? I’m laughing and buying that Wii with my points. I’ve saved that many points again to use on another bonus redemption day and that’s just since August.

Everything I’ve saved, I’ve done so because of their guidance. If I didn’t have these sites, I’d have to work a lot more to save even half as much and I just wouldn’t find it worth my while. Not when there’s editing, writing and marking to be done. Speaking of which. . . .

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