Sunday, March 24, 2013

Moderate Couponing

My parents showed up this weekend for some secular spring fun involving candy, egg dyeing, and ham. LB and her grandparents were mutually delighted, and all three were exhausted by the conclusion of festivities.  My parents always arrive bearing gifts.  This time, among other things, they brought 10lbs of King Arthur Flour, 10lbs of Jasmine Rice, and a vat of laundry detergent.  That is the family I come from.

Growing up, like all the other kids, I wore hand-me-down clothes and bread bags on my feet over my socks and under my boots.  Our New England, whether rich or poor, tended to be thrifty.  My parents were occasionally profligate.  They always bought the biggest package of school pictures and my father sent in a check to pay for school lunch, which among my peers was similar to being dropped off at school in a chauffeured limo with tinted windows.

Financially, we've been managing my underemployment reasonably well, despite extravagances like two meals out while grandparents offered free babysitting.

With the extra time I have been granted by the gods of underemployment, I've been doing a little couponing (I say COO-poning, not CUE-poning like they say on tv).  My previous couponing stints left me feeling that I bought too much unhealthy food and bought too many items with tons of packaging.  This time around, I'm just doing the Extra Care Bucks (ECB)  program at CVS.  There are a bunch of websites that give all the details of the ECB program.  I like the Money Saving Mom site (conservative Christian) found here.  Basically, if you buy certain products at CVS, which you can find in the CVS weekly flier, you get coupons (EBCs) that you can use for any items in the store for your next transaction.

I have some rules for using ECB that conflict with those I read on more extreme couponing sites.  My rules are as follows
  • I don't buy stuff I don't need (in the perverse economy of coupons, you sometimes get better deals if you are willing to buy stuff you don't need or want)
  • I go to a well stocked CVS to avoid frustration
  • I don't double count my ECBs (If I spend $20 at CVS and get $10 in ECBs for next time, I spent $20, not $10)
My example from this week.  CVS offered $10 in ECBs if you bought $30 worth of certain Scott and Kleenex products.  I bought 8 boxes of tissues and 3 packs of toilet paper.  At full price they would have been about $45, but on sale they were $30.  I applied $12 in ECBs that I got a couple weeks ago.  So I paid $18 for my tissues and toilet paper, and got $10 to use next time.  Not bad.  Now, if we had a car it might make more sense for us to just go to Costco, but if I add the cost of a zipcar to any big box store trip, CVS comes out ahead for us.

I am my parents' daughter.

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