One friend accepts those free vacations and listens to the timeshare spiel. She gives them exactly the amount of time they require and then walks away without an iota of guilt. An aunt wins free stuff all the time on the radio. She knows exactly when to push the redial button to get through and be the 15th caller.
Neither of these options work for me. As one who has worked in sales, I refuse to waste someone's time, and I don't have the patience to stand with my finger poised over the button all day. It looked as if coupons were my only hope. But which route would save me the most money?
Extreme stands for insane. Don't get me wrong. I admire these women for doing what they have to to cut their bills. But I will never, NEVER, go through a line six times so I can use the cash register coupon generated by the previous order to get my products for a steal.
Not to mention the stockpiling. Stockpiling is for bomb shelters. Perhaps I'm an optimist, but I believe a good deal will come around again, and maybe even before I'm through with my previously purchase toilet paper.
Newspaper Print Coupons
I refuse to purchase the paper, and that's the price you have to pay for paper coupons, but since I don't use most of the products they include anyway, it's not such a loss.
Grocery Store Web Sites
I'm fortunate enough to be surrounded by a Vons, Ralphs, and Albertsons. That's Safeway, Jewel, and Dominic's for those in other parts of the country. I have customer reward cards to all of them, and with the promise of special deals, I checked each one of them out. Note that you need a sign in to get onto the sites. Here are my results:
All three sites have the ability to load your coupons onto your savings card. This means you don't have to carry a coupon sorter around, and if you forget your card, you can give the cashier your phone number and still get the deals.
They couldn't locate my store. Apparently they need this information to give you the deals. The site wanted me to live in San Diego, which I would love to do, so I agreed. I didn't find an option to sort by category and I didn't feel like going through all the coupons. Though my Albertsons occasionally has good deals, it's is usually pricey, so no big loss. I found the whole site kind of annoying.
Here you can sort by Popularity, Expiration Date, Most Recent, Value, and Category. So many choices! I like choosing categories, because I don't need baby items etc. and I can skip over what I don't want.
I saved the best for last.
Vons has this very cool feature called Just for U. This means they track your shopping habits (do I care who knows I like Scooby Snacks?) and then offer you those items at a cheaper price than the member price!
So if Scooby Snacks are on sale for members at 1.99, I might get them for 1.89.
And I like that Vons shows you what the Wal-mart price is on items. I know I often wonder if it would be cheaper to go to the superstore, even without coupons.
I load the coupons onto my card, even if there's only the remotest chance that I'll buy it, since I don't have to sort and carry paper coupons.
One cool thing that Vons offers (I found out when I was at the store) is a computer terminal in the store. If you spot a savings that you forgot to load on your card, you can login on their computer and add it on!
Ralphs and Vons also have gas deals. Once you earn 100 or 200 points (accrued based on your spending) then you will get 10 or 20 cents off per gallon of gas. Ralphs is affiliated with Shell. 10 cents off at Shell is the normal price everywhere else around here, so not a great deal for me. Vons is affiliated with Chevron, which is a pretty good deal. If Albertsons starts a program with Mobil, I'll be in business.
Whichever site you use, I recommend printing off the savings list once and a while. It's a good reference.
I'm not organized enough to track my savings. I know they tell you how much you saved "this trip" on the bottom of your receipt, but I'd love a summary.
I may not win my family a free vacation, but I do feel that I'm contributing to the household in my small, electronic way.