Monday, May 24, 2010

The first step is admitting you have a problem.

I am always the first person to admit when I have an addiction.

I am addicted to Facebook, warm and sunny days, Netflix, TiVo and Walt Disney World. (I used to be addicted to Reality TV, but that vice is starting to fade quickly.)

So it is no wonder that over the past week I have developed an addiction to coupons.

Yes, coupons.

I know that coupons sometimes get a bad rep, but if you do it right, you can really save a lot of money.

According to Wikipedia (the best place on the Internet to go to for information) the very first coupon was introduced in 1887 by the Coca-Cola Company. Coke had just joined forces with Asa Candler, a business tycoon who got his start as a drugstore owner.

Candler was responsible for taking the soft drink (or pop as we folks from Southwestern Pennsylvania call it) from a tonic to a drugstore soda fountain staple.

He did this by sending out free Coke coupons to potential customers and placed some coupons in magazines.

In order to help soda fountains across the country deal with the flood of free Coke coupons, the company gave the fountains free syrup to help offset the cost.

Because of Candler's creative coupon campaign, between 1894 and 1913, one in nine Americans had tried the fizzy beverage, free of charge, which added up to 8.5 million free drinks distributed.

By 1895, Candler announced to Coca-Cola shareholders that the beverage was being sold in every state in the United States.

It was not until 1909, when coupons first saw widespread news.

Cereal Mogul, C.W. Post, (who's brand has created some of my favorite cereals like Fruity Pebbles, Honey Bunches of Oats and Raisin Bran) used coupons to help sell his breakfast cereals and other products.

Like they say, the rest is history.

Today, 2,800 different companies offer coupons for many of their products.

Annually, consumers save $2.6 billion on manufacturers' coupons alone.

When my husband and I got married almost three years ago, I was big on clipping coupons. I had grown-up in a "clipping" household, so it was natural for me to continue to do so.

I had found a great website called Coupon Mom which had a great amount of tips on how to get the most bang for your buck with coupons and shopping sales.

I kept it up for awhile, but it just seemed overwhelming and I could not get the hang of the interface of the Website, so I just gave up and stopped using coupons.

We would shop for groceries at both Aldi's and Shop N' Save and just buy what we needed. If it was on sale, great, if not, well then we would pay full price. And the same would go for other items like household cleaners, beauty and paper products. Essentially, we were throwing money down the drain, because I did not take a little time out of my day to spend some time with a pair of scissors.

This all changed the other day when I happened to see a link that someone had posted on Facebook about how to save tons of money with coupons.

I clicked on the link, which was a Youtube video, and all of the memories of saving money with coupons came back.

I "googled" coupons and found this amazing site called Hip2Save.

The woman, Collin, who created the site has done an amazing job! She explains so much about how to use coupons properly, how to create your very own coupon binder and she even explains some of the different rewards programs at some popular chain retailers.

Collin also updates the site several times a day to list any great deals that she hears about.

My favorite part of Hip2Save is watching the Follow Me Monday videos. Collin, and her trusty camera girl, go to different stores and show you how she shops with coupons, sales and rewards programs. Considering the whole couponing experience can be a little tricky, the videos really help to illustrate the process and answer a lot of questions.

Being completely inspired by Collin and her savings, I decided to try my hand again at coupon shopping.

With my mom in tow, I headed out to Target with a few coupons I had gotten off the Internet and a list of items I would try and land for a good price.

On my first trip, I scored two tubes of toothpaste, body lotion, four bottles of Suave Professional Haircare products, a package of band aids and really cute blue clutch purse. My bill came up as $13.68 with a savings of $19.83. For my first trip "back in the saddle," not to shabby!

I went home later that day and scored coupons from my in-laws, found more on the Internet and got some out of the All For You magazine.

I clipped and clipped until my fingers were cramping up from scissor usage and I had run out of coupons. I wanted to go out Saturday morning, back to Target, to get some great deals.

When Saturday came, my husband and I went out for a Breakfast date and then up to Target.

(I just want to take this moment to thank my wonderful husband. He was so sweet and so patient as he stood there waiting for me to go through 15 unmarked envelopes to find the $.25 off Sensodine coupon.)

Target was having some great sales and I had some great coupons! With our cart almost filled to the brim, we made our way to the checkout.

There was a lot of confusion with the coupons and it required a lot of patience, but I knew that might happen.

When everything finally went from conveyor belt to bag, my grand total was $119.31. For a brief moment I started to panic. I thought, "What did I get myself into! That is a ton of money. I thought I could do this, but maybe I was wrong. Well, at least we will get some Disney points from our credit card!"

But, after all of the coupons went through, the grand total came out to $36.31 for 31 items, we had saved $83 on everything! Was elated, and proud! I had done it.

The items we had purchased had included some pretty pricey things like cat food, two Air Wicks imotion start kits, a Febreeze noticeable starter kit, Air Wicks aqua spray and some other items. (Everything we bought is pictured at the right.)

My suggestion is to give coupon clipping a try because you can really save a lot of money which adds up in the long run.

My suggestion is to go to Hip2Clip to get started.

Check out her coupon organization page. It will really help you get organized.

Also, to see some tips for newbies go to here.

My words of advice for you, are to give it a try. You will be surprised at how much a little bit of elbow grease and planning can save you in the end.

Happy clipping!

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