You wouldn’t know this by looking at the total, but price matching totally saved my tush last week.
Hi, my name is Tiffany and I’m a former coupon addict.
Price matching is a prime opportunity to capitalize on the competition between stores. But before I get into how-to’s on saving money without using coupons, I need to explain why I don’t use them.
You see, at one time (pre-Extreme Couponing era), I knew the coupon policies for the seven stores I frequented on a weekly basis by memory. (Bear in mind these are NOT the same seven stores I shop at now.) Back then I scored deals that the average consumer didn’t think were possible. Free food, free razors, free you-name-it. The only items we actually paid for were bought for at least 75% less than the shelf price. Our grocery budget essentially paid for meat, produce and tax.
My latest shopping extravaganza seemed to be the only topic I knew. My family and friends snickered when they asked what my latest deal was, knowing it was going to be something we didn’t need and that I didn’t pay for it.
Saving money started out as a necessity. Once I learned the ropes at one store, it became a challenge to buy as much as I could while spending as little as possible. But it also quickly became an idol.
My focus wasn’t on what I was buying, it was on how much I was getting it for. Not paying for things became more important than the reason I was buying them in the first place.
- We’re a 30-something family with two young kids, but in the closet was an ample supply of Depends undergarments (for both men and women, in various sizes).
- My hair is naturally dark blonde but I dye it red for fun. “Darkest Midnight Black” and “Lightest Platinum Blonde” were both in the stockpile, even though I would never, ever use them.
- At the time we used canola oil for only one thing – frying chicken. Because of the time and lingering scent, we only fried chicken (using 1 cup of oil via stove-top) maybe twice a year. Open my pantry and you’d find twelve large bottles of canola oil, purchased the same time as the twelve cans of Pam.
The reasoning for buying things and continuously adding to the stockpile was because “we’d use them someday… why pay full price later when I can pay pennies now?” This made complete sense when both kids were in diapers and potty-training was nowhere in sight. In a way, this reasoning still does make some sense.
We had so much that we were continuously giving things away. My dad came to me for hair dye, sensitive toothpaste and contact solution. When an employee in my husband’s building lost everything he and his family owned in a house fire, I put together two Trader’s Joe’s paper grocery bags filled with various toiletry necessities. It was a blessing to be able to give, but I wasn’t shopping for them. I was shopping for me.
In the midst of the addiction and despite the continuous giving, we had two yard sales to clear out the excess stockpile we weren’t using. I went to Wal-Mart and priced out the cost for most of the items I had. I then tagged every item with a price that was 50% lower. This was even the tactic used when advertising the sale on Craigslist.
Avid couponer is selling her stockpile. HUGE list of high-end, brand-name items being sold for half the price of Wal-Mart. Why spend more AND pay tax?! Sale starts Saturday at 7am.
Imagine a 3′ x 6′ folding table. You know, the typical grayish/whitish table you pull out when you want to extend your dining room table at Thanksgiving or Christmas.
If you need help with the visual, it’s something like this.
Now imagine four of these, completely covered every non-perishable consumable item that you could possibly buy for your house: shampoo, conditioner, body wash, dish soap, laundry detergent, hair dye, contact solution, face wash, loofahs…
There were also baskets underneath each table for items that don’t stand up easily or were too many of to take up precious table room: toothbrushes, deodorants, toothpaste, feminine hygiene items, razors…
You get the point.
These tables represented 18 months of solid and continuous shopping. Four newspaper were being delivered to my house every Sunday. I convinced my husband that using his work computer to print coupons was a necessity if we were truly going to get the best deals. I scoured drug-store ads WEEKS ahead of time to make sure my binder had all the coupons needed for the deal. It also allowed me time to buy coupons in case I didn’t have enough.
Yes, you heard me right – I spent money to save money.
And then this past Spring I had an epiphany while reorganizing the stockpile closets for the bazillionth time to make room for more items. The stockpile was growing at a rate much faster than we could use the items, and storage space was running very, very low. The addiction had to stop.
Strangely, about the same time this light bulb turned on, my newspaper subscriptions ran out. I was faced with the opportunity to renew at only 36¢ per paper each week, but I knew in my heart that wasn’t the path I was supposed to take.
I chose not to renew them.
Instead I chose to take one month off from couponing. Not only was a break needed, but I needed to make sure that I could function without clipping those little pieces of paper. Seeking the best deals at all those stores – and shopping for those deals – took up a significant chunk of my time. I needed to make my life work without both. It took much planning and restraint, but in the end I did it.
Not having to find the absolute best deal on every single thing we bought was incredibly freeing. I stopped reading deal blogs and stopped visiting the coupon community I was a leader of. Instead my energy was channeled into making better food choices and re-learning realistic prices. The no-coupon trend continued into the next month and I soon realized that coupons didn’t exist for the foods I wanted to buy.
So I never looked back…
until last week.
Continue reading part 2.