Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Shine Bright Like A Diamond - My WRAL feature

I'm definitely shinnin' bright like a diamond y'all.  I'm so excited to share with you the fact that my couponing story was highlighted this week on WRAL's SmartShopper blog.

Jessica's Couponing Story

I will desperately attempt to not let all the fame go to my head...no really I will.  I also think it's cool that Faye posted a link to my blog on WRAL SmartShopper page as well.

Still only have three followers though.  I'm guessing that Bravo TV or TLC will not be calling me to do my own reality show.  I mean you'd think if those crazy folks at Myrtle Manor can get a show I darn should could.  Real Couponing Housewives of Durham?  Anyone?  Ok moving on.

Below I've included by submission to WRAL to get my story featured in case they ever take the post down in the future.  Not that they will, I'm sure they archive the posts, just don't want to loose the proof that I was for one day super cool and featured on a blog.

To make a long story short, there was an entry on the blog detailing that each week Faye would be highlighting a different couponers story and if interested, you should submit your entries to a specific email address.  I was on a total money saving high after double couponing one evening and decide what the heck, might as well send in my submission.  I was so sure that hundreds of others had done the same and there was probably a slim chance I'd get chosen.  But I was very successful at making Faye laugh out loud with my entry and she has highlighted me already (I'm the 6th feature story so far).  

Am I too excited about this?  Am I showing how lame I am right now that this is the most exciting thing that has happened to me this week?  :-)  Don't answer that.  Even if you tell me that I will tell you that you don't know what you're talking about and that I'm super awesome and that any minute I'll have my own reality tv show.  It would be call #hit Jess Says (instead of #hit my Dad says).

Bravo, TLC, if you're listening, if Honey Boo Boo, Myrtle Manor, and freakin' Teen Moms can have their own show then I think I've got a shot.  Mmm kay? 

Anyway, here's my entry for those of you that are interested....or you can read it on the WRAL SmartShopper Blog Page (link posted above).

How many people are in your household?
2 humans and 2 dogs (don't tell them they aren't human)

Why did you start couponing?
I started couponing because I couldn't figure out where the heck my money was going and how I spent $100 a week at the grocery store but never had anything to eat? Or items that matched? Peanut butter but no jelly? Cereal but no milk? Sandwich meat with no bread? I was a total nut job in the store apparently and needed to get more organized. Then my Love Muffin and I started renting a house in a new zip code and I magically began receiving coupons in the mail. I thought it was a fluke at first and that they would stop coming eventually however they kept coming one sometimes twice a week. I was just so fascinated with all the coupons I was receiving and they were for a lot of items that I actually used or wanted to use but didn't want to spend the money on them cause I'm cheap. For real.

How long have you been couponing?
Only about a year. The year has flown by and I can't believe it took me so long to get in to this. It's like a new way of life. My family and friends pick on me all the time about my couponing and stock piling.

How much do you spend on groceries and non food essentials per week?
I have a set budget of $50 a week period! That is for groceries and any other toiletry or household item we need. However I do tend to spend a little extra for my bi-weekly Costco trips (only if I have coupons) and when there is super double coupon events.

How much do you save each week?
I save 40-75% usually most weeks as long as I've done my research and matched my coupons to the best sales in the area.

How much time do you spend couponing and shopping each week?
I spend about an hour a week organizing my coupon book. Clipping and inserting new ones, throwing away the expired ones etc. And then I spend about 1 to 2 hours in the store every Saturday morning. If it's a Costco week add on an extra hour to that to make it about 3 hours total.

How do you organize your coupons?
I have a three ring binder with clear business card hold pages inside. I then took labels and wrote categories on them and tried to organize the categories in order of what is on each aisle in the store.

Where do you shop for groceries & non-food essentials?
I do 99% of my shopping at either Kroger or Harris Teeter. Mostly Harris Teeter because I like their coupon policy better. I also shop at Costco as well and for non-food essentials have found out that if you match sales to coupons that Target has great prices on toiletry items and household items if you time it right even though they don't double coupons.

Do you have a weekly/monthly grocery planning/shopping routine?
Yes! I first start off every Thursday night by making a menu plan for the next week. Sometimes this is based on what sounds good and sometimes this is influenced by what coupons I have that I want to use and what sales I know are going on. I am a rebel sometimes and plan against the book and sales and wing it in the store (shhh don't tell). I then go through my coupon book and get rid of any expired coupons. Add any new coupons I clipped and then match up coupons in my book to the online sales papers for my favorite stores and make my lists. I make a separate list for each store so I can stay as organized and focused as possible in the store when I'm on a mission.

Does anyone in your household help with couponing and saving? if so, how?
That's hilarious. Love Muffin wouldn't be caught dead double couponing with me. He thinks I'm a nut job as it is. That might have something to do with the fact that we have 17 boxes of cereal in our cabinet right now and I may have purchased 6 bottles of salad dressing because it was such a good deal a few weeks ago. He doesn't waste an opportunity to pick on me about this either. Every time I come home from the store he laughs at me. But I know he is proud of me when I start bragging about how much money I saved us this week!

What's the worst part about couponing?
The worst part about couponing is organizing the coupon book. It's too time consuming and I wish someone would do it for me! I classify myself as a Lazy Quasi Extreme Couponer after all. The time necessary plus the 45-50 hours a week I work are rather draining some weeks.

Whats the best part about couponing?
The saving money! Also the sense of community there is in the couponing world. I can't tell you how many great fellow couponers I've met in the store whom share coupons they aren't using, or couponing tips and experiences etc. Perfect strangers on aisle 3 chatting it up like they've known each other for years. I think that's pretty cool. That's one of the highlights of my Saturday mornings.

Do you have a stockpile? Yes. But it is kind of in shambles at the moment because we just bought a house and i had to move it. It's still kind of small but I can assure you we are not lacking salad dressing, cereal, shampoo, conditioner, razors, shaving cream or paper towels.

Do you do any meal planning?
Definitely. Meal planning is an absolute must.Every week I do this as a part of my routine. It keeps me sane. If I go in to the store without a list and menu plan for the week I end up walking around aimlessly confused not knowing what I need or what I want. Thus as mentioned earlier I end up coming home having spent $100 but have no items that go together and it's just a hot mess trust me.

Do you have any words of wisdom for someone just getting started in couponing?
Don't let it overwhelm you. Start out with clipping coupons for favorite items and then grow from there. Don't be upset if you don't walk out with everything for free or .99 like the people on Extreme Couponers. Savings of any kind should be celebrated. Pretty sure that 30% you started saving will be 50% and then 70% as you get in to your groove. It's totally worth all the planning and organizing. I can attest to this because I'm a busy working woman who is kind of lazy at this couponing thing. Or maybe I think that because Extreme Couponers highlights all those over achievers? Who knows?

Anything you want to share about your couponing journey?
I was so excited about couponing when I started that I started sharing my savings on my blog (link in box above). It became fun each week to highlight the best deals I received. It keeps me motivated to keep going even though its a time consuming process the rewards are great. In the last year I've saved almost $2,000 and paid off debt due to the savings so I think that's pretty awesome!

Funny coupon stories?
Sometimes when I'm in the store and I have a coupon for an item that I know I have no intention of buying I will give it to another shopper I see who is thinking about purchasing the item. If the recipient of said coupon gift is a fellow couponer they get very excited that I was sweet enough to offer and either take it so they have a duplicate or they take it and give me one of theirs. However most of the time when I do this the recipient is NOT a couponer and they look at me like I'm a lunatic that's up to something. Like it's too good to be true. Like I'm punking them on a hidden reality tv show. It's hilarious. So now I purposely look for a random person each trip to give a random coupon to just to see what their reaction will be. It's a game I like to play on Saturday mornings. It doesn't take much to entertain me clearly.

Until next time...

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