The average shopper does not come home from the grocery or discount store, empty their bags, artfully arrange their purchases and snap a picture with their camera.
But then, I am not your “average” shopper, nor are the 40+ people I’ve interviewed for the book I am working on. These women and men are the avid couponers among us. I won’t use the word extreme since the TLC television program with that name has done little to endear the “extreme couponer” to the public. The women and men I am profiling in my book were more than happy to oblige when I requested photos of their stockpiles. In fact they were eager to take pictures.The coupon users I feature in my book are certainly diverse in their incomes (one was unemployed when I interviewed her, another makes over $500,000 a year) and their family size (from single people to a mother of 8), but the one thing I could count on when talking to each of them was that they loved talking about their hobby. Even the most reticent avid couponer lights up when you ask what they paid for their good deals. We get excited about our super shopping trips. Thus, the popularity of pictures on our blogs and coupon websites Those of us who go through the work of clipping coupons, combining sale prices with coupons and strategically planning shopping trips, are proud of our good deals. We might be an oddity among our family and friends, but we enjoy what we do, and with good reason. It is fun to walk out of a store with bags of free merchandise.
If you live near a Target, this was the week to shop there. Some Targets are advertising a $5 gift card offer when you buy seven frozen food items. For those of you lucky enough to live near a Super Target with the offer, it included the bags of frozen vegetables priced at $1. My trip was to a smaller Target in Dubuque, where the freezer sections were sadly sparse in their pickings. All the $1 bags of vegetables were gone. What I did purchase was 21 boxes of Weight Watcher’s meals that were on sale for $1.80 each. I used two $5 Target Weight Watcher meal coupons and two manufacturer $3 coupon on top of that. (you are allowed to use a manufacturer coupon on top of a Target coupon) After coupons, I paid $21.80 for the 21 boxes, a good deal in itself. However, I netted five $5 Target gift cards, making the final cost of 21 meals just $6.80. Those boxes went straight into my freezer when I got home so they are missing from the picture. I apologise. I am sure it would have made your day to view a photo of 21 Weight Watcher’s meals stacked against my wall or artfully arranged into a pyramid. Instead, you will have to console yourself with this less impressive photo:
The Dove deodorant and the razor kit are from Walgreen’s sales ($2 manufacturer coupon paired with Wagreens $1.99 coupon=free deodorant and razor paired with catalina coupon=$1.99 for a $9.99 kit) but the other items are from Target. The jeans were free with the Target $5 off women’s denim jeans, shorts or capri coupon. (no longer available) I was able to get two pairs of clearance-priced jeans totally free. By the time my son was ready to print off two extra coupons for me, the coupon had disappeared off their site. The Quantum Finish dish washer detergent was on clearance for $2.50 so I used my $2.25 coupons on those, making them just 25-cents each. The vitamins were marked down to $4.98 a two-pack and I had $3 and $4 coupons from All You magazine to use on those. I paired a manufacturer $1 coupon with a $1 Target coupon to get the Glade sprays free. And the Up & Up products were dirt cheap with the Target $1 coupons.The mouthwash was 37-cents, ibuprofen was 77-cents and the lemon counter wipes were $1.17.
Surely amazing savings that merits a picture.
So, why then, am I disappointed?
Because I want more.
I want to live closer to a Super Target. I’d stalk the freezer section and fill my cart with frozen vegetables, bags of berries and cans of frozen concentrated juice. I’d have gone every day this week, using one day’s $5 gift cards on the next day’s trip, and filling my freezer with some nutritional fare. Then I’d post pictures of all of it, proving that one can, indeed, get healthy food on a budget.
Instead I have to be satisfied with my 21 Weight Watcher meals, cheap vitamins and free deodorant.
Another thing most avid couponers have in common?
One good sale is never enough.
We want another.