January 26, 2011

Super Saver

Yesterday, I opened myself up to a whole new world of grocery shopping.

I became a couponer.

Yep, that's right. A couponer. "Just exactly what is a couponer?", you may ask.
Here is my personal definition.

couponer (noun): a person, or thing, who scours the Sunday newspaper for the coupon sections, then religiously cuts each one out, only to then spend hours on the Internet at various coupon sites to find certain products and print the coupons out. Afterwards, this person (or thing) diligently researches the area grocery store ads to search for the aforementioned products, only to then make a spreadsheet and power point presentation of what items to buy at which store, in order to stretch every George Washington bill to the extreme until he starts to bleed and beg for mercy. 

 Okay, I may have embellished a little bit. I didn't actually make a power point presentation. But you get the gist of what I'm saying, right? So, let's get right to the story.

     It all began in the most inconspicuous of places... Super Wal-Mart. (This was my first mistake). I had several accomplices. Seven of them, to be precise. (This was mistake number two). We grabbed a vacant cart from the parking lot, loaded the babies inside, and took off for the entry.
     Now, I have no ill feelings toward Wal-Mart. I have family members who work there and I shop there all the time. But, so does everyone else! This Super Wal-Mart was packed to the gills with people. They were everywhere. I should have noted this and turned around immediately. But I couldn't do it. I had, after all, put lots and lots of time into making these grocery lists. They were color coded. Not to mention that certain coupons were ready to expire. And, that's just like throwing money away, I told myself. Plus, I had them strategically aligned in my binder to use at this very moment. No. We had to do the job. It was go time.
     I pushed the cart, confidently, down aisle after aisle. We were doing good. I was finding every item I was looking for. Things were getting checked off the list. Then, we hit the pet aisle where the fish were. Children clamored to stop and see them. Okay, okay... just for a minute or so though, because we still have shopping to do. Ten minutes later, we finally departed from the fish, with the beginning of a coup that I should have immediately squashed but didn't.
     We headed to the health and beauty department to get some toiletries. A debacle arose over fluoride rinse. People took sides and the rebels broke alliances. I was now dealing with two hostile parties. It was bound to get worse. Little did I know...
     All that was needed to successfully end our trip to Wally World was a tour of the laundry detergent aisle. We headed there, only to have one baby start screaming and two toddlers immediately declare that they needed to go potty. But the restrooms are all the way across the store, where we just were (and you know, in a Super Wal-Mart, that means it's half a mile away) and we are almost done. Can't you just hold it? Nope. Didn't work. So, thankfully, the eldest daughter, taking note of the predicament I was in, suggested that she take the toddlers... in exchange for a cereal of her choice. Fine, fine... I said. Those were the last words spoken peacefully by the couponer.
     "What?!?", various children started crying out. "Why does she get to have something?" and "I want XXX Sugary Cereal. I'll do any chore you want me to..." and "When are we going home" and "I have to go to the bathroom too" and so on and so forth. I'm not really sure I answered any of them. I just went to a quiet place in my head and focused on the chore at hand. I only had 3 more things to cross off this forsaken list and I was going to get it done.
     Dragging child A by the arm and child B by the ear, we headed out of the soap aisle, into the cereal aisle. Eldest daughter met us there, with toddlers in hand. She did her task well and was to be rewarded. I let her take a minute to decide. In the meantime, toddler 1 and 2 were busy opening boxes of cereal. This I did not realize until a man came up and asked me, "Are those your children?" My first response wanted to be, "Nope." But, I had to answer honestly and claim them. Needless to say, we ended up with 3 extra boxes of cereal in the cart with, (gasp!), no coupon to make them a super savings. 
     We exited the cereal aisle quickly after that and headed immediately to the check-out lane. The children unloaded the cart for me and we watched as the nice man checked all of the items. The bill was big. It was my moment to shine. I handed him my pile of coupons. The woman in line behind me let out a big sigh. She knew this would take a while. Or, maybe she was sighing because Toddler A and Toddler B were rolling on the floor. Whatever the case, I wasn't going to let her ruin my moment. "Beep, Beep, Beep" went the register as my bill went down, and down, and down. In total, I saved over $60 on my grocery bill with coupons. It was astounding. And, besides the cereal, there was nothing there that I wouldn't have ordinarily bought.  

The story had a happy ending. I saved a bunch of money. However, there are a few lessons to be learned here.
1. Don't take this lightly. To be a couponer, it takes time and energy. I'm not sure that I'll ever be able to talk myself into doing it again.

2. Don't do this with children. You'll want to pull every hair out of it's follicle and then gouge your eyes out. Go to the store alone.

3. If you do have to take children, don't forsake nap time to go. It will end in disaster.

4. If you just shop the sales, then casually look for coupons, you'll make this task a bit easier and not so daunting.

There you have it. My day in a nutshell.
The children were exhausted when we came home. Maggie couldn't even hold herself together to eat dinner.


Shannon M. said...

You are a BRAVE woman! Congratulations on the savings.

Marcia said...

Katie told me this story and I had to come on and read it myself. Very funny! (I am one of four, and my mom never took us to the grocery story when we were little - I think it was her only time alone.)

Linda said...

I'm not sure how brave I am. Maybe "stupid" would fit better.

Yes, Marcia, Katie and I both had experiences that week that made us remember why it's better to go alone to the store. lol.