Doing the extreme coupon thing is all well and good, but I've found it to be a different mentality than what I've been used to. It's a game of skill and shrewdness, of planning and strategy, biding your time. Here are a few things that I've learned that totally went against what I thought I already knew:
- When clipping coupons, you're supposed to clip everything. I never knew this before. I thought you were just supposed to clip whatever you happen to think you'll use. In the past this meant I would throw out the entire insert just because I found nothing in there that I normally buy. So now, I clip everything. Even dog food coupons, and I do not have a dog. But if I happen to see a really good deal on jerky treats, then I'll pick them up and give them to somebody who does have a dog. Also, I'm not completely nutty about it, I mean I don't clip the Fixadent coupons or anything because really..... but pretty much everything else, I clip.
- You're supposed to clip multiple copies of coupons. Okay, so just cutting everything in your Sunday paper is not enough. You're supposed to round up all those in triplicate or MORE if you can. This is a little hard to come by, at least for me. My MIL is nice enough to give me her coupon inserts, so I get 2 copies and that is pretty much enough for whatever deals I happen to come across. But there are times that I have read about when you may want to stock up on something and you want to buy 10 items of something, well you would need 10 coupons. Thank goodness some coupons are internet printable.
- The notion of the stockpile. Before, when Dave and I were DINKs we just bought what we needed as we needed it and didn't think anything of it. Shampoo, laundry detergent, whatever.... just picked it up on an as-needed basis. This is not the object of the couponing game. When you're into scoring deals, you're looking for a really hot bargain and then you stock up when you see it and buy more than what you need at the present time. You buy enough for the present and also enough for a certain period into the future. So at any given time you can go to your closet and select a tube of toothpaste from your pile, and a roll of TP, and know that all these things were bought at rock bottom prices. I always wondered why my grandma had closets full of TP and paper towels. Now I guess I know. She stocked up when they were on a good sale.
- Don't be picky about brands. They say you should abandon all loyalty to your favorite brands. You will be buying whatever is on sale, whatever has a coupon. Don't be snobby about buying Mueller pasta when it's Barilla that you normally buy (or vice versa). Since all deals come around in their own good time, it's probably fair to say you'll be trying all kinds of different brands at some point. For example I don't use garnier Nutrisse shampoo, but if I have a chance to get it for free or dirt cheap like you can this week, I'll be trying it! I'll try anything once.
- Get over the idea that you have to buy generic in order to save money. If you are effectively shopping the sales and using coupons you will actually get better deals buying name brand products.
- Buying in bulk is not such a great deal after all. This came as a shock to me! I always thought shopping at BJs was a good idea. I always thought that when you have a choice between 4 different sizes of a product, that the largest size was always the better deal because of the price per unit. Yes, this is mathematically true if you always buy everything full price and never use coupons. But if you have a $2 coupon, it will more dramatically bring the price down on the smallest size than it will the largest size, and it's all about the bottom line in this game. But clearly, you have to use your judgement. I can think of a couple of exceptions to this.
Anyhoo, that's what I'm learning so far..... I still have not scored any good deals at the grocery store yet, none that I would write home about. A grocery trip is far more complex than a trip to the drug store for personal care items. I need to get more advanced. I did however spot an opportunity for free Meow Mix treats after a coupon this week.... LOL. Too bad that doesn't help me or Dave any. I know 3 little beasties that might like it though.