So, tonight I opened my Couponizer. In case you don't follow me on facebook, you might not know that I joined Swagbucks, which is the most awesome thing since sliced bread (as mom would say.) I have been a Swagbucks member for about, oh, one-two months and have already earned $30 in Amazon gift cards. I used some of those gift cards to order my Nordic Naturals Fish Oil (Omega-D) which I order from Amazon because it is cheaper than the local health food store, and also cheaper than ordering direct from the company's website. (That's the brand I choose because it is recommended by my midwife, and because I met several of the company's reps at the Chicago Green Festival. They are the only fish oil that comes from the Nordic waters and is third party tested and therefore contains low levels of things that could be especially harmful to a pregnant or nursing mother/baby... like Mercury.) Sorry for that Ramble. But because you have to spend $25 to get free shipping, I also used Amazon gift cards to order the Couponizer, which was something that I have wanted for a LONG time but just haven't justified the cost. But hey, if it's for FREE (thank you swagbucks!) and it will help us save MORE money, then it's a good thing!
So, anyway, I got my couponizer opened up, and I was actually pretty impressed. I don't know WHY, but when you buy a product like that, all they show you is the cover. And then you hear vague promises like "The Revolutionary Way To Organize and Shop with Coupons and Discounts" and you think, what in the F*%# does that really mean? What are you selling me? What does the inside look like? What does it provide me with? And I hate things like that. I feel that there are one of two things going on here... #1, It doesn't really work and if you saw what's inside you would be disappointed and wouldn't buy it -or- #2, It does work, but it's like a trade secret and if you looked inside, they'd have to kill you (or perhaps you would recreate the same system for much less than $20, and then they wouldn't be able to sell you one.)
Right off the bat, I can tell you that the coupon sorting mat was completely different than the one I saw in online photos. I am not so sure that it's better. In fact, I instantly disliked the shape of it, but I got along okay and I liked that the categories on the mat were in the same alphabetical order as the book itself, so once I started putting my sorted coupons into the binder, it was a cinch. What I DID like was the clear plastic cover to the binder, and the elastic cord that keeps it shut. What I also liked were the little round nosed scissors, and the perfect little clear plastic bag, which will also allow me to keep my WIC coupons and information right along with my coupons, which is where I like to keep them. It's a little less "tacky" then my gallon freezer bag. LOL. I also liked that there were two coupon "pages/pockets" that were facing each other, one for "coupons to be used this shopping trip" and another for "Coupons to use at checkout." Yeah. Finally someone who understands that even though you may have set them aside to use this shopping trip, doesn't mean that you actually use it... (might be something cheaper on sale, or perhaps you change your mind, or perhaps it's not in stock at the store you are at.) and therefore this really eliminates (I hope) some of that "coupon-losing, hair pulling, head exploding drama" that I get when I am trying to sort out coupons and keep everything straight when there is no horizontal surface in a store or in your slotted wire shopping cart in which things can be sorted. Grrr. Especially with 4 little sticky hands and 2 paper-eating drooling mouths.
Something that would make it better? a neat little place to store that coupon sorter, within the binder, so I don't loose it (because I will. I can already feel it.)
Okay, now let's talk about coupons in general. I love them. I really do. But the key to actually saving money with coupons, I believe, is only using coupons on things you were going to buy/use anyway. It is difficult for me (and I know that is the reason that manufacturers PRINT coupons) to not buy something just because it's a "good deal" or because it's a "lower price." It's difficult for me to say "yeah, but we don't NEED (insert name of particular brand of food that is too expensive and convenient and that I was raised NOT to expect)" And therefore, I am often torn between my NEED to coupon and my DESIRE to coupon. And then, here it comes, the problem with brand versus generic. Yep. I said it. I am a generic girl. I was raised to adore the yellow can of pop that said one word on it in black letters. "Cola." I was raised on mayonnaise and therefore hate miracle whip. I had potato buds and dislike real mashed potatoes (I am not kidding here.) and I prefer generics of several foods to the actual brand name product. And as an adult, when it came time to make my own decisions, I have found a few brand name products that I prefer. It took me years to find a generic Shells and Cheese that is every bit as good as Velveeta. Centrella Brand has it all the way. That is the ONLY store brand shells and cheese that I can bring myself to buy. And when it comes to Pop, it's 7-up and Coke. I was raised on generic, and that is just something I like to have. I don't buy generic doritoes or cheap oreos. I generally like expensive chips, unless they are plain old rippled chips or cheesy poofs (which I prefer generic.) I prefer generic strawberry frosted pop tarts. I don't prefer generic unwrapped cheese slices. but other cheese doesn't bother me no matter what brand it is.
So. A lifetime of discovering my own preferences, and preferences of my family. And a lifetime of discovering the HUNDREDS of dollars that I can save if I buy all the generics I can handle. Light bulbs. Paper Plates. Napkins. Paper Towels. Suave Shampoo. Equate Detangler and Generic Alleve. Until I started using Ziplocs for freezing things, I would always use the cheap ones. But now that Wal-Mart has revamped their "sams choice" line to "Great Value" they have done something worse to their zipper storage bags and I returned several boxes of them to buy ziploc brand, because there is nothing worse than having 10 pounds of precooked ground chuck get freezer burned because I was too cheap to buy a bag made to withstand the abuse of freezing.
So, where am I going with this? Well, how do you save money with coupons if there are no coupons available for generic items, and you tend to buy generic? How do you save money with coupons when the a name-brand product is priced so much higher than the generic, that with the coupon, the price is then equal to or greater than the generic price is every day? I spent all that time collecting, clipping, sorting, and using a coupon just so that I could have a name brand items instead of a generic? That's okay if you really LIKE and WANT that name brand item, but what if you don't? I am happy to have coupons for Pillsbury Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls, because the generic cinnamon rolls just aren't the same. But a situation like this isn't something that I run into often. And then I run into the problem that the name-brand Items I DO like and intent to purchase, I can NOT find coupons for!?! I don't see coupons for Coke or 7-up. Rarely I find coupons for Quilted Northern. Don't find them for our dog food. Don't find them for our toothpaste. Sometimes when I am on the ball, I will make a habit of checking all the coupon sites, and the inserts from the papers at our MOPS meetings, and start online searches for specific products that I know I am going to buy. But I rarely find coupons for the items that are name brand that i actually want to buy.
I love to look at my receipt and see how much I saved. but it doesn't help me to save $10-20 if I spent 20-30 more than I normally would buying products that I normally wouldn't even use or give a second look to. Whew. Anyone have any thoughts on this? I love to shop Aldi like we did as kids.... and there aren't coupons for those items. I do like to buy Centrella or Great Value brands, and Equate, and often store brands.... and so I don't know exactly HOW I can save money and still buy generic. I wish that there were store coupons for generic items.
Okay. So those are my thoughts on the Couponizer, and I can't wait to use it!