At first, I thought coupons and discount cards were not worth the trouble. I had a discount card in Rochester, NY, for the great deals. Upon a move to Phoenix I was going to skip it my first grocery trip. 15 minutes later I was adding up how much I would save with the card, so I went to the service desk to get it. My new roommate was doing his shopping on his own, though we had carpooled. He said the exact same thing, it was adding up to $10+ extra to pay for no reason. I just stuck to frequent shopper cards for the most part the next 10 years or so. I saved quite a bit, but thought little of it or planned many purchases.
After the financial crisis of 2008 and the political climate in the USA the years after, I got introduced to “prepping.” That is, having enough supplies and redundancies on hand to survive small to medium emergencies or setbacks. Around the same time, I got “Netflix” which had one of those “extreme couponing” shows available. Bored, I watched. Of course, the shows are faked, reality TV. Even reality TV has some good points, however.
BUILD A STOCKPILE
The concept I didn’t see, I should have all along as it is so obvious, is building a stockpile. Now, I stockpiled a little here and there before. About 1998, Pepsi, which I really drank a lot of at the time, was on sale for $0.88 a six pack. That was 1970s prices in 1998! 4 case limit, I hit 2 stores twice each. This was May, I was still drinking it in December.
I did buy more than one day’s food, and did sometimes load up if I saw a good deal. Still, the effort I put into it was fairly minimal. I didn’t yet have the Bachelor Pad Bum mindset. I had a “carefree single guy mindset.” Buy some of this and some of that. Think of what you you wanted to eat for dinner that and the next night or two, then buy it. I never looked for coupons, if I stumbled on them I used them, perhaps three times a year.
The women on the show, and all but once it was women, talked about the idea of building a “stockpile.” Things like soap and toilet paper have an effective infinite shelf life. They go on sale and have good coupons from time to time. When this happens, buy up to as many as you are allowed to use a coupon for. Put it in the closet or pantry, and BOOM, you have a supply.
MANLY “PYRAMID” SAVINGS
This is where you really make things happen. You have to understand how consumer marketing works. People get set in their buying habits. To change them requires motivation. Competition in grocery stores is stiff, very, very stiff, in most items. Manufacturers want to break this cycle and get you to buy MYnew product, or switch to their established one. To do this, they lower the price and give “push.”
Say they decide they need to move more laundry detergent. They will have their sales reps call on store managers, regional managers, or marketing departments. They might drop the price by half, on the condition that the store make a “Buy One, Get One” (BOGO) and give push for it in their weekly circular. They could even give a “spiff,” or payment to place the detergent on an aisle “endcap” so everyone and anyone sees it.
You CAN do better! Along with the push at the local store, manufacturers will put their own coupons out there. Years ago, coupons were simple. “Save 10c on one can of soup!” Now, the savings are higher, but they make you buy 2-5 of the item. Did you know that when you BOGO you are getting credit for buying 2? I didn’t, until I saw that silly show! Keep this in mind.
But—you can STILL DO BETTER! If you are lucky, you live in a market where they double coupons at least up to $0.99. This can be serious bang for your buck. I enjoy making a game of this. I do not load up weekly, but every few months I will make a “coupon run” and save myself $20 or so. This leaves $100 in my pocket and not my grocer’s. I have even done a manly pyramid on razors, which NEVER, EVER seem to be on sale. I forget exactly, but I ended up with 3-4 months of razors for around $10. Compare that to $4 for each blade if you go with the national brand, and the blade lasts maybe 2 weeks.
MY TRUE STORY
NOTE: These numbers may not be exact, it has been a few months, but the idea is what you need to see. I saw the $0.75 coupon for Purex(r) laundry detergent, 50 loads, which usually went for about $5-6 each. The store, at the same time, had a BOGO on it. 2/$5.50 if I remember right. BUT, I had the $0.75 coupon, which they doubled to $1.50. Remember, when you BOGO, a coupon for 2 should count. I got 2 for about $4. Then I did it again, as I had 2 coupons and the store put no limit on it.
You want to say, “Big deal, girlie man!” think about this. I have 200 loads of laundry, which should last me just under 2 years. For $8 I have peace of mind that I can throw a load in the wash (ever go to do wash and realize you were out of detergent?). If I should get laid off at work or my income otherwise be interrupted, this is one worry I will not have. Think if you do this over many items, how much do you save and get peace of mind at the same time?
For some reason, I feel some of you reading still are thinking the whole coupon thing is a but girly. Well. A former co-worker I kept in touch with and I were going to go to a local tavern to get a few cold ones and shoot some pool. I was getting my jacket and he saw a pile of coupons on the coffee table.
“You use coupons?”
“Yeah, saves me a few bucks.”
“I thought I was the only guy who did that!”