Wednesday, July 9, 2008

So what's a girl to do? Shop, of course!

...The dilemma...

It’s Saturday afternoon and I had worked my fingers to the bone all week long. I needed a break, but wanted to do something that was profitable, as well as didn’t break the bank!

“Go shopping!” my husband has stated in the past when facing this dilemma. “You always enjoy that.”

Therefore, with the echo of my husband’s words ringing in my ears, I climbed into my trusty vehicle to “shop til I drop.” Only this kind of shopping was vastly different from what 99% of American women today do when “out for recreation.” I was out coupon shopping!

I was looking at an open space of about 4 hours and I had on my horizons the goal of coming home with some free shampoo, several batches of Atkins shakes and some other groceries that I had read about on the good deal alerts, and noticed in the ads myself.

Heading 12 miles down the road, I decided to check out the Dollar General store in Ridge Manor. On my radar were several items that I had been informed were inexpensive or free, if you could locate them. (Not all stores have all the products all the time.) Unfortunately, the only thing I could find was the Excedrin Back and Body, 2 packs for $3. I could have used my $2 coupon, making two boxes equal $1, but I have about 40 boxes of Excedrin waiting for an onslaught of headaches already. So, I left the store, quite disappointed, empty-handed, and headed down the shopping center to the Winn Dixie.

Just the thought of invading Winn Dixie and seeing how well I could do, however, gave me an adrenalin rush. I parked quickly, gathered my coupon organizer and purse and headed inside.

At 1:36 p.m., after scouring all the markdown bins, deciding that the Tidy Cat that was on sale was the same price as Walmart everyday, I checked out. I was thrilled. I walked out of the store paying a mere $12.85 for $71.10 worth of stuff. I’ve put pictures up of most of what I was able to capture.

As I was checking out the “young clerk kept saying, ‘I really need to start using coupons.’”

I chuckled all the way out to the van. “I wonder if she thinks this ‘just happened,’” I thought to myself, then added, “It really does, only with some careful planning and coupon clipping.”

Success breeds confidence. It was only 1:36 in the afternoon. Other things crowded my mind that I could be doing, but I decided to try the other Winn Dixie in Brooksville. So, I drove another 10 miles or so to the next one, and there I paid 10.34 for $28.72 worth of stuff. I didn’t do as well, but it’s hot outside, and I splurged on a Diet Dew for myself, adding a ridiculous $1.39 to my bill. Other things I wanted didn’t seem to be on sale, so I passed, not wishing to create a scene at the register. I was done there at 2:13 p.m.

Calling me from across the street was Publix, one of my absolute favorite stores at which to shop. So, I gathered up all my coupons, including a $5 off $40 which I had picked up at a different time, and was waiting to use it in a Publix. I invaded the store, armed with confidence, a coupon organizer and a shopping cart. I proceeded to check on everything I’d read about, from the Revlon nail clippers to the Nabisco cookies, Atkins shakes and other deals.

I decided to try out the Revlon nail clippers deal. It was all over that these were FREE this week with the in-store coupon. They were $1.49 and the Revlon coupon was $2 off ANY product. My sister had emailed me from Poland that she’d love to have 100 sets for her teenagers’ orphans’ gift bags at Christmas time. So, “for free,” I decided to “go for it.” I picked up one nail clippers and two packages of Nabisco cookies, for which I had $1/1 coupons. When it was time to check out, the clerk totaled me up to be $7.49. I handed her my coupons and the savings came off from the store sales as well. Total paid: A mere $.49. I dug around in my purse to find actual money. I didn’t think I should make Publix pay a $.30 debit card fee when I was just basically given 2 packages of cookies and a set of nail clippers. I left there at 2:35.

Now fully charged with “shoppers’ high” (which, by the way, if you’ve never done this before, has GOT to be better than drugs any day of the week, as there are ZERO negative repercussions as a result of this HIGH)… I decided to run into the Spring Hill Drive Publix since I was going to go home via Powell Road. According to Beatrice, my trusty GPS, she tells me it’s only about 3.5 miles to that particular Publix once I turn onto Powell Road.

Furthermore, there I decided to hit hard. I opted to just go ahead and “go for it”. Shop. Fill the cart. I had several things I needed to purchase, so I put it all in my cart, along with more cookies and some more Revlon nail clippers, among other things. I dug out my $5 off coupon, which I had decided NOT to use at the last store, as I had simply wanted to test the Revlon deal.

At 3:16 p.m., I was done legally robbing that store, as well, leaving behind a mere $12.97 for $68.90 worth of goods.

I talked myself into a quick trip to the Mariner Commons Publix, because as any good coupon junkie knows, “you can’t resist a good deal.” So, I drove the 5 or 6 miles more to the next Publix and finished wiping that one out at 3:51 p.m. I paid $15.98 (had to have another Mt. Dew, as it was terrifically hot in the car, adding an extra $1.39 plus tax to my bill) for $68.60 worth of stuff.

While I was there, I wanted to check out SweetBay, as I’ve been avoiding that store lately, not really following the sales there, as there’s not as much national attention given to it on the boards. I figure if there are any good deals there, I’d have to find them on my own, but I certainly needed to check it out. And since I was only across the street, I’d give it a try. So, at 4:17 p.m., I left there, armed with a Glade wisp candle, paying $2.99 for a $7.99 candle. I’d been wanting to try that for months.

I figured I’d better GO HOME, resisting the urge to hit the Winn Dixie on Spring Hill Drive on my way home, as that would put me home well after 5 p.m., if I did that.

So, I headed back to Powell Road and back to little ‘ole Dade City, armed with a van load of food and goodies for me, for my sister in Poland’s ministry and for my kids as well as a boatload of confidence. I had just spent $55.62 for $252.80 worth of goodies, paying only $.22 on the dollar, racking up a huge 78% savings.

If I factored in 4 gallons of gas, which is about what it took for this trip, I could add $16 to the cost of the groceries, and still have a 72% savings.

Yes, I’ve done better. But what good does it do to buy things that you don’t need? I know of people who are petless, who go in redeeming all the free pet food coupons they can, so as to rack up a better percentage and make the bill look lower. However, this seems senseless to me, unless, of course, you’re needing to get the bill up to a certain dollar value, so you can bring it down with a $5 coupon off $30 or $40.

Most people, when needing a break, would end up costing their family money. They’d either go to a movie (at $5 to $8 per ticket), go out to lunch $5 to $15 per person), go a Rays’ Game $8 and up for tickets plus gas to get there), or some other expensive diversion. However, for me, it’s “GO SHOPPING.”

The difference? I pay with little pieces of paper called coupons, instead of my hard earned cash. Try it. You’ll find that you love it! No coupons? Order them from We make it as easy as we can for you.


COMMENTS about the items I bought:

Perrier water is FREE for anyone as long as your store has the red blinky shelf machines. However, we got it home and realized it was mineral water. I’m glad I only bought two and that they were FREE.

You’ll notice on the PERT, that there are TRY ME FREE stickers on some of the bottles. I can fill this out, turn in my receipts, if I am feeling so led, and get $3.69 back, as that’s what the shampoo rang up as on the receipt. I probably will NOT do it, preferring to save my receipts for a while, as proof that we do NOT need to double coupon in order to get the good deals! However, the product was FREE to begin with, after sale price and coupons, so I’m not really losing anything, just not MAKING money. (Which you can do using these little pieces of colored paper called coupons.)

The Glade Wisp Flameless Candle has been the best air freshener system I’ve bought in ages! This wisp of air has smelled like vanilla for hours upon end. I love it and it was well worth my $2.99 investment to try a new product.