Everybody likes to save money, right? Some people are enthusiastic about a good deal, while others seem to make a sport of it. We’ve even seen a new verb, “couponing”, spring from the obsession. I tend to fall more in the middle of the curve; I utilize coupons, but I’m definitely not the lady at checkout paying $0.23 for two carts full of groceries. Searching for, clipping, and then remembering to use coupons is a lot of work. It can certainly pay off, but when you’re as busy as I am, it’s more difficult to keep up. We live in an area where there are many grocery-type stores, so while it’s easy to hit them all for their weekly deals, it does take some time organizing lists and determining where to buy what. I find that I do save money by doing that, though, so I don’t usually mind the extra stops.
Each week, I scan the Sunday newspaper coupon inserts, but I’m finding that more and more of the products are those that I don’t want my kids to eat: fruit snacks full of artificial colors and flavors, cereals coated in sugar, and other random junk. I do clip the coupons for yogurt, dog food, and a few other items (new products that look interesting, for example), but more often than not, I just don’t have a use for them.
Enter the fun new coupon apps! I am loving that I can upload coupons to my store loyalty cards, or just flash a barcode on my phone at checkout, to save some money. Target’s new Cartwheel app is especially convenient; often, I just pull over in an aisle as I’m shopping to scan the offers they have available. I no longer have an excuse to not use coupons, because the stores are making it easier to do so; brilliant, because that is bound to draw in the crazy busy mamas who are trying to save a buck.
Offering free stuff always catches my eye, too. Earth Fare is great about offering a free product when you spend $10; I started buying meat almost exclusively from EF, and if I get a freebie, then I’ll totally make another grocery stop. They also have a great kids’ night every week, where kids can eat free when the adult spends $5 in prepared food. Tonight, I took two of my kids after their dance classes, and all three of us had a great dinner for $5.46. It was a great meal, for much less than it would have cost us at a fast food joint, and I didn’t have to cook after a long day (score!).
My favorite coupons, by far, are birthday deals. Many places will send you freebies via email if you sign up on their website. This year, I found that I couldn’t find time to use all the offers I received, as most of them expire within a week of your birthday. I managed to squeeze in three free meals and a free latte from Starbucks, though!
As much as I enjoy redeeming my coupons (and especially those freebie offers!), I think I am far from becoming an “extreme couponer”. I have absolutely no desire to spend hours grocery shopping each week, figuring out which offers can be stacked with weekly sales and rebates. If you’re one of those couponing enthusiasts, good work! While you’re doing that, I’ll just be over here, searching for more free birthday deals to use next year.