clipped cash

Have I turned into the crazy coupon lady?

It all started back in February when I was debating various Valentine's Day gifts for Steve. The holiday falls in a hard place for me; not long after the holidays, just after the kids' birthdays, and just two weeks before his own. I usually have something in mind for his birthday and this year was no different.

Boconi 'Leon Slim Mailbag' Messenger Bag

I knew I had a slam dunk birthday gift, but what of Valentine's Day? It is a bit of a challenge to come up with that in between holiday; something not too big, but still meaningful. After much debate, I opted for a Sunday subscription to the Boston Globe. Steve loves his Sunday Sports page. If we happen to be somewhere with access to the real live newspaper, he reads it cover to cover. Don't bother talking to him, he is reading the box score. His first edition arrived that weekend, right on schedule, tossed to the edge of the driveway. I have to admit that as much as that sports page is for him, I pour through the rest. That first Sunday, I breezed through the Arts and Real Estate and there, cradled in the middle, were the circulars, wrapped in the funnies. I couldn't just throw them away, I thought, "let's just take a look."

I was skeptical. I've clipped some before only to have them sit somewhere ignored and forgetten until they expire and I trash them. I even forget to bring my extra bucks to CVS and that little machine in the store to check your card? I never remember until I am walking out after spending way more than I thought I would. I try to be as spendthrift as I can. I make out like a bandit on the consignment sales for the kids. I scroll through the Zulilly and Mini Social emails. I'm always on the hunt for a way to save us more dough and put more money into the fun pile. I do most of the shopping and I like it that way. I keep track of what we need, how much we have tucked into the closet, waiting to pounce on the Bounty Big Buy when it comes up again because I know we are frightfully low on paper towels. My job allows me some flexibility with where and when I shop and I know this gives me a tremendous edge. I am typically not flying through the market tossing things in just to get the hell out of there before this entire store plays witness to one of my children's untimely demise, because the sassing. Last weekend, I announced to Caroline that while she had a beautiful name, I was quite sure all of Stop and Shop was quite sick of hearing it being called out again and again and if I had to say her name again I was changing it to Brunhilda. It worked. I suppose even a five-year-old does not want to be called Brunhilda.

I've seen Extreme Couponing on TLC. I am decidely equaly parts impressed and disgusted to be honest. The savings, Wow! The shelf clearing greediness? Not so much. I clipped a few that first week and tucked them into an envelope, forcing myself to remember where I hid it the following Sunday when it was time to shop again. I outgrew my little envelope, more out of necessity of organization, than quantity. I'm sure I spent the first few weeks savings on my little Martha for Avery at Staples Binder. It's adorable and it has little pockets for everything. I think I might like couponing JUST to flex my organization skills.

I'd say I'm saving around $10-$15 dollars a week using my clipped coupons. I don't look online for additional ones and I haven't even looked up the match ups. I do it myself, comparing my circular to my binder and skipping a little bit when I find a particularly good thing. Since I only clip what I know we use regularly, I'm not worried that I am buying a ton of extra stuff that will just sit. I still tackle my circular the same way; first taking stock of what we have and buying as much of our weekly shopping from the sale items as possible. I haven't created a stock in the garage of a year's worth of Angel Soft, and I don't intend to.

What I have done is teach Caroline that the paper gives you free money each week, all you have to do it clip what you need and remember to bring it with you to the store. I took on the store with both kids solo last weekend and assigned her the task of "holding the coupons." She took her role very seriously and actually matched some of the coupons to the things we were buying. "Look Mommy, I have that one right here!" Yes, now just don't lose it. Sometimes I'll end up with extras that I am teaching her we share with the world. I bought Tide last week on sale at the store for a great deal with an extra 1.00 off. I somehow had a similar coupon in my pile and we left it for someone else to use. I don't need four bottles of 100oz Tide Detergent, but someone else might want to save an extra buck on theirs. As we made our way to the dairy section, also known to the kids as the "almost done" section, she caught sight of a girl pushing cups of Pirate's Booty on customers. She retrieved two cups for herself and Connor while I perused the milk. "Look Mom, a coupon!" She held it out for me, $1.00 of any size bag or multipack. "That is what Connor brings to school!" Far from being a crazy coupon lady, I think the message has been received.


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