Monday, August 15, 2011

Coupon Mania

I've been told by multiple people that this book is proof that I am certifiably insane. Yes, I got bit by the "Extreme Couponing" bug. I have always been a fan of coupons but I have never taken it this far.

The picture above is a 3 inch binder full of coupons. It is filled with over 75 pages of baseball card sheet protectors. At first, I just got coupons from our Sunday paper. When I realized that in order to really take advantage of good deals, I would need multiples of the good coupons, I started looking around. It made no sense for me to spend money to get coupons if I didn't have to. First, I found a recycle bin at a Starbucks near my office on a Monday where they discarded the Sunday papers that were not sold on the previous Sunday. Score! There were at least 5 sets of coupons that I picked up. Each Monday since, I have woken up early just so I can stop by the Starbucks on my way to the office. Second, one morning when I happen to be up really early, I ran into the man delivering our newspaper. I chatted him up and asked what he did with the extra coupon inserts and he told me they destroyed them. I told him that if he ever had any extras, I would not mind getting them. That very day, a few extra copies were dropped off at my door step. Some weeks I would get a few sets and some weeks I did not. It is all good. I appreciate

Since I started building my collection of coupons, I started to realize a big change in me. One, I had no filter. I started asking the most random people what kind of products they used so that I could tell them whether or not I had a coupon for it. I emailed people that I am acquainted with and eagerly wanted to know what brand toothpaste they used so that I could pick up tube for them on my next shopping trip. My good friend Jason just moved into an apartment by himself and I found myself asking him, "Can I use one of your closets for my stockpile?"

Second, I haven't slept in on the weekends since I got started. On Saturday mornings, when the coupon inserts get delivered to our door, I wake up excited at 7am so that I can make my cup of coffee and flip through the coupon pages. On Sundays, I get up and haul my 50lb binder to the supermarket to stroll through the aisles when it is least crowded to see what kind of deals I can get.

Is this healthy? Probably not. People have suggested that I try out for Extreme Couponing but it is not going to happen. I don't have the time to sit and plan out each shopping trip with the detail that is required to get all those items for free and I don't have the storage room to stockpile the products. Also, I'm a food snob and wouldn't buy most of the food products that manufacturers provide coupons for. On the other hand, I've been able to save a lot of money on things such as shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes, face wash, lotion, cleaning products, toilet paper, paper towels, etc. I've stocked up enough items that I probably won't have to do any shopping (other than for food) for another 4 months.

So this weekend, I've packed up all the coupons I would not use and even some that have expired so that I can ship them to military families overseas. I first heard about it from Extreme Couponing and then Couponomics posted a message on twitter that gave a link to a non-profit that arranges for these coupons to be sent overseas. Families overseas can use expired coupons up to six months old. This non-profit requests that any coupons sent to them not be more than one month old so that they can be sure that the coupons will be good when they reach the families overseas. It feels great to know that all the coupons I don't use won't crowd up my binder and will also get used to help those in the military.

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