Thursday, July 28, 2011

Guest Blogger - Rachel Elizabeth Cole

 Rachel Elizabeth Cole and I bonded at our online writer's group over our mutual Canadianness. She is a writer, a mom, a wife and rabbit submissive. More than all that she is funny, talented and a real pal. I hope you enjoy reading a little 'Rachel' ... I always do! If you want more rachel check out her Website!

I admit it. I’m addicted to using coupons. I didn’t use to be this way. Sure, I thought I was a savvy shopper: never buying items at regular price, buying in bulk, waiting for the best sales, etc. Then I discovered couponing. (Yes, coupon has become a verb.) Now I wouldn’t dream of paying even the lowest sale price without using a coupon. $1.50 cereal? .99¢ laundry soap? .50¢ deodorant? .09¢ soup? Free toothpaste? You betcha!

I’ll be honest, couponing isn’t easy. You have to find the coupons. And where I live there are a lot of other couponers, so that can be a challenge. Tear pads at grocery stores disappear within hours of going up. Flyer inserts never make it to your front door. And as couponing becomes more popular across the country, online coupons disappear just as quickly. Shelves get cleared. Clearance items vanish.

So I find myself waking up early on recycling days to walk my neighbourhood, looking for coupon inserts and cereal boxes with coupons inside before the recycling truck can come take them away. (Or worse yet, another couponer gets there first!) I plan my shopping trips around the days when the sales start. I shop at three different stores instead of just one. And I carry my coupon folder, flyers, and shopping lists with me everywhere. After all, you never know when or where you’ll find that next deal.

I’ve learned stores’ coupon policies, how to understand the small print on the coupons, and what terms like SCOP, rain check, price match, overage, and stacking mean. I’ve made friends with other couponers and started trading coupons.

I’ve also learned to ignore the people who sigh loudly and switch lines when they see me pull out the coupons. Or the ones who whisper a little too loudly, “It’s just like that show.” (You know the show I’m talking about.) And what to do when a cashier says, “I’m sorry, this coupon says one per purchase.”

So why do I go to all the effort? Well, the first reason is obvious: the savings. Grocery prices are going up and are expected to keep going up. I’ve only been couponing a few months, but I’ve already seen 25-30% savings to my monthly grocery bill. And in the months to come, when I don’t have to buy laundry soap, dish soap, toilet paper, shampoo, body wash, cereal, soup, pasta, etc. I expect to save even more.

But then there are those moments that really make it worthwhile. The look on the face of the frazzled young mom standing in the baby aisle after you’ve handed her a $5 off coupon. The sincere “thank you” from the little old lady picking through the discount bread rack after you’ve given her a Buy One Get One Free coupon.

That really makes it worth the effort.

 Be sure to check back next Thursday for part two of Rachel's couponing adventures where she'll teach us her sacred, secret ways of Canadian couponing!

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