Tuesday, August 11, 2015

As my first entry into the Blogging world, I have decided to write about something that I believe is important for anyone to know. Even if you shrug it off as cheap or not useful in your situation, secretly you’re impressed. Don’t worry. Your secret is safe with me.

“Couponing” is so much more than the American housewives that hoard 100 Lysol in their stockpile basement and sweat when they’re at the cash register.  It’s a way to reduce costs every single time you go to the grocery store.

I use the term “Couponing” in reference to the three main things I do to save money when grocery shopping.

1.       Price Matching.

2.       Using Coupons.

3.       Rebates.

I will admit, there is no super easy way to save, it does take a time commitment from you depending on how big of a shop you’re planning. I don’t necessarily see it as a commitment or “tedious” myself as I enjoy the challenge. Being 8 months pregnant, a mental challenge is about all I can handle right now; unless you count getting up the stairs to my room as one.

Some people like to train their brain with Sudoku, I like to find an item at full price and find the absolute cheapest way I can leave the store with it.  It really gives me that “STARTTTT THE CARRRRR!” feeling, and it’s a hobby that in turn, provides for my family.

Price Matching. If you can’t commit to coupon clipping and you’re just interested in the idea of saving some money on basic groceries, I would recommend downloading the app “Flipp.”

This provides all weekly up to date flyers in your area and can be an amazing resource. Play around with it a bit and get to know how it works.

**TIP! Some grocery stores have limited internet connection.

(I personally think this is done on purpose so it is harder for you to Price Match while in the store, because it causes connection problems at the register when pulling up deals. For this reason, I screenshot EVERY price match I intend to use while at these certain stores ahead of time. This just saves a lot of headache, and the person behind me in line from losing their shit)

First thing I do is write out my grocery list in my special notebook.

Marble Cheese


Yada Yada Yada.

Good job. Now, pull up your Flipp app, and go into the grocery section. Type in “Cheese” to see all the sales, or type what brand you prefer (exp. Black Diamond)  Check the flyers dates because once in a while, it is a flyer “preview” and doesn’t start until the next day. (Which pisses me off when I am planning and see an amazing deal I can’t have yet)

If you’ve never Price Matched before, you may not have paid attention to food pricing. You will now start to learn about this.

**TIP!! Here is a small list of what prices may catch MY eye in Flipp on some staple grocery items in our household;

Eggs- $2.99 and under for a dozen

Cheese- $4.50 and under for 400/450g

Milk-$3.97 and under for 3 bags

Skinless Boneless fresh Chicken Breast- $3.99lb and under ($8.80kg, kilograms is what I go by for my meat)
Lean Ground Beef- $4.44lb and under ($9.79kg)
Pork Chops-$3.49lb and under (7.69kg)

Red or Green Seedless Grapes- $1.49lb

Cucumber- $.60 each or less
12 pack of Pop- $3.33 or less

As you Price Match more often you will quickly learn what is a good deal and what is not so great.

**TIP!! Sometimes a flyer price may actually be MORE then what they’re charging in the store you’re in so TAKE THE TIME to check. Cashiers don’t always know, (or give a shit) if they’re charging you more or less. They just punch in the number you show them so make sure it’s a damn good one.

If your grocery store has a meat department without a separate meat counter, you will Price Match at the front register with all your other groceries. If they do have a meat counter, bring it there and they will weigh it, and add a sticker that states the amount the cashier will take off while ringing you through.

With all other items, I like to line them up on the checkout belt according to the sequence in which my deals have been screenshot in my phone. This just makes it easy for me to flip through the photos to show the cashier and makes for a faster experience. I also tape all my coupons to each individual item.

If you only have one or two items you probably won’t have to be that anal. But sometimes I will Price Match 20+ items….and that would make the person in line behind me, again; lose their shit if I wasn’t organized.

**TIP!! Speaking of the angry person behind me, to avoid this I shop certain times. I find first thing weekday mornings is good but the best is about 9:00-11:00pm on weekday evenings. Many grocery stores are open until 11 and I like to take advantage of that so I am not the asshole holding up a Saturday morning rush.

Couponing. You can find some insane deals using coupons. For example, Swiffer released a $10 off coupon in one of the booklets recently. Walmart had a sale on Swiffer Starter kits for $11. There you go. A slightly cleaner house for only $1… If you ever use it. Mine is still in it’s package.

Coupons can be found in stores, brand booklets, flyers, magazines, online, just about everywhere. MY favourite resources for coupons are online printables or mail outs, and in store tear pads.

Next time you’re at a grocery store, pharmacy or supermarket, look around for a tear pad board at the front of the store, or look down the isles for individual product coupons. Take one. Hell, take 5. You may not use them right away but you can save them for when the item goes on sale. And usually… eventually, it will.

For example, I grabbed 4 coupons for $1 off any men’s Dove product. Now normally, even with $1 off Dove Man goodies are still pricey, but I put those coupons away for a rainy day. That rainy day came offering a Price Matched Dove Men’s line hair gel at $1.44. Clear-out pricing. Well I got 4 hair gels that generally retail for over $8 for .44 cents each.

Printable coupons are an easy way to get great stuff. These usually have a print maximum so you can only print say 3 total (just for example) within one account. If your spouse or Imaginary Friend has an account they can print that many too. Here are a few of my favourite pages to find coupons;

At the same time you are printing coupons, you can also be ordering some of them through snail mail. Usually if they’re available to be mailed they’ll have a small envelope sign beside them. The best place to find these in my opinion is www.save.ca

You can only use one coupon per item here in Canada, so you’re not going to walk out of the store being paid $50 like the crazy housewives in the States. But you CAN make money on some deals, when you combine a coupon, a rebate and a Price Match together. Sometimes even a significant amount. In my eyes, that’s anything over $1. $1 becomes significant when you realize the buying power it has. Seriously.

**Tip!! Read the fine print on a coupon. Most cashiers don’t bother too, but it’s mighty embarrassing when you tape 8 of the same coupon to 8 items and find out it’s only available in the USA.

So generally, after I have Price Matched my items I search through my coupons to see if I can add them to any products. Sometimes I do the opposite. I’ll pick a coupon and then search for a Price Match. Generally I do this when I am purely shopping for anything free or extremely cheap. You will find your own Groove as you open your eyes to the wonders of Saving Money.

Couponing does not have to be just for groceries, you can coupon all kinds of goodies. There are always amazing deals on cleaning products, household items and once in a while you can find something free in the makeup department.

**Tip!! There are a lot of couponing groups on Facebook; join them. Everyone shares deals and great advice. I even have some ladies who will snail mail you out extras. It’s like Christmas in your mailbox. Another reason all of this doesn’t feel tedious is I enjoy the social interaction it brings me through these groups and discussions and swaps and trades. Just go to your search bar and type in Coupon. Bam. A billion groups that want you to be successful.

 For example, One of my coupon friends mailed me two Revlon coupons. One was for buy 2 Ultra HD lip products and get $7 off. The other was buy 1 Ultra HD lip product and get a free Bold Mascara. Well, I held on to those coupons until there was a sale on Ultra HD lip products at $4.98 each, regularly around $12. I ran both lip products down the till, the first one with the buy 2 get $7 off. Then I attached the Buy 1 Ultra HD lip product get a free mascara to the mascara at the end and BAM… $36 worth of Revlon makeup for about $3.

Rebate Apps. These are one of my favourite parts of the process. After Price Matching everything, seeing your total go down at the cash register with your coupons, this is the Grand Finale of your shop. These rebate apps use a picture you take of your receipt (using your smartphone) and give you rebates according to the deals they’re offering. Some of my favourites are Checkout51, Snap and Zweet. There are more, but these are the ones my shitty phone will hold. Download these now.

As you can see, there are tons of everyday products that you can “claim” after purchasing to receive a rebate. Most apps require you to acquire $20 in rebates before they will mail you your cheque. And yes, it does come in the mail and is cashed with no problem, and yes; it is awesome.

Checkout51 features a lot of “One time” claim products meaning you get a rebate once. This is great for trying out new products once.

Snap features a lot of “Limit one per receipt” or “No redemption Limit” rebates. This is what I like best as you can purchase as many as you like and claim each time. I like to stockpile so this is where it can get exciting. If you see a “Limit one per receipt” you can always cash out twice at the register, making sure the items are on separate receipts to claim them both. The only time I usually fuss with this is if I get the item absolutely free or make money by doing it. Snaps offers tend to stick around for a while and randomly return so keep your eyes peeled. I check my rebate apps daily.

For example, Smartsource.ca was offering $6 off Glade Electric Wax Melters as a print off coupon. I printed off two and my Imaginary Friend printed off 2 more and was nice enough to give them to me. Snap was offering a $6 rebate on each purchase, “Limit one per receipt.”

After Price Matching those babies down to $8.00 from $15.95, I ran four of them through all different receipts, got them for $2 each with the Price Match and coupon, then came home and claimed another $24 through Snap. This made me very happy and I had some Housewarming gifts I actually got paid $16 to purchase.

Using all of these apps can be a bit overwhelming at first, but try doing one Price Match next time you shop, and one rebate. Take it slow, and it will start to become easier.  It takes some brain training and a bit of trial and error, but man can it be fun. My hubby knows when I get home from a shop I’m guaranteed to be in a good mood, with a bunch of goodies in tow.

One final **Tip!! before I finish what became an essay, always be on the lookout for an error on the register’s screen when checking out your groceries. If something is priced at $8.99 for example, and it rings through at $9.99, you have the right to call what is known as a SCOP error. It’s the “Scanning Code of Practice.” Why bother? Because your first $10 off your bill is free if you catch this. Yes. It’s true. So yell it out if you see it. Yell it like you’re playing bingo, because you literally just won free shit.

Everything I’ve yapped about is based on my own experiences, and is all my own opinion. I still have lots to learn but think it's important to share what I do know.
I hope this helps anyone considering the venture into the world of coupons. It’s a fun hobby  and can really take you places when it comes to providing for the Famjam. Especially when you’re on a budget.

Who thought being broke could sometimes be a fun challenge? Talk about a positive attitude!

Thanks for reading,