Friday, March 12, 2010

when couponing gets REAL

Today's blog reading music is absurd. It fits my mood today.

nothing about this song is okay.

Today's couponing post was supposed to be about the concept of overage. Have you ever seen a feature on the local news when they follow a crazy coupon lady around the grocery store and she buys an entire cartful of groceries for like .98? These women are not magical. They are just exploiting opportunities to create coupon overage, ie having coupons for an item that exceed the actual value of the item, thereby actually paying you to take the item. If played correctly, you can use coupon overage to pay for basically the rest of your grocery bill.

I usually don't exploit coupon overage to the fullest extent, because that usually requires loading your cart up with tons of stuff you don't need like diabetes glucose meters and Ensure and unflavored gelatin and stuff. But right now there's an awesome overage at Publix I thought I'd get in on--bottles of Vitamin D for free plus $1.50 overage. Do I need 4 bottles of Vitamin D? Absolutely not. Does my Vitamin-D deficient colleague? Yes. So I feel okay about this particular overage situation.

Just like always, I planned my shopping trip meticulously. I organized all of my coupons and made my way through the store deliberately. Vitamin D, check. Strawberries and pound cake for the Ladies Party tonight, check. Sour cream, check. I made it up to the checkout with my dozen or so items, and upon seeing my stack of coupons the cashier sighed exasperatedly. He made a big show out of combing through all of the coupons and reading the fine print, moving slowly like he had giant weights tied to his arms. The person behind me in line started to tap his foot; the cashier excruciatingly picked through each coupon and scanned them one by one.

We got down to the end and I noticed one of the coupons hadn't scanned. "I hate to be like this," I ventured, "but that strawberry coupon didn't scan." The cashier looked at me like you have got to be f%&*ing kidding me and wordlessly slouched over to customer service to get the manager. "Oh, GREAT," barked the guy behind me. I could feel the redness starting to creep up my chest and into my face. The manager made her way over and pushed the coupon through. "Have a GREAT DAY!" called the cashier to me as I walked away, sarcasm dripping.

I HATE when this happens. I hate being made to feel like I'm doing something wrong just for using coupons completely within the coupon policy. I just tried to keep the blush out of my face and ignore the irritation of the people behind me in line. I mean, after all, I'm getting nearly $40 worth of groceries for less than $2 plus tax...

click the picture to see it bigger

...Wait. Something was not right. I had calculated my shopping pretty carefully and was planning to have at least $3 or $4 dollars to pay before taxes. When I got to my car, I combed back through my receipt and realized that I had completely forgotten to actually put the 4 bags of frozen broccoli in my cart, despite having given the cashier about $4 worth of coupons for them. WHOOPS. Just goes to show that the irritated cashier was just going slowly to give me a hard time--if he had actually been READING them he might have noticed that I had 6 coupons for frozen vegetables but no actual frozen vegetables.

This was my reaction:

whateva whateva

And then I was off to Kroger. I usually head over to Kroger after my weekly pillaging of the sale items at Publix, because a girl's still gotta pick up milk and bread and chicken breasts and mushrooms and whatever. I was planning to fix Sarah's Cucina Bella's lighter chicken enchiladas recipe with the chicken leftover from fixing Naked in the Stacks' balsalmic chicken penne (next post: quidquid tries her hand at these two recipes), but since I was a little low on chicken I was planning to augment the recipe with some of the mushrooms Kroger had on sale for $1.50/carton.

When I got to Kroger, still a little red-faced over the Publix incident, I found that, Venuses and Cupids lament, they were out of the sale mushrooms. Oh hell naw.

I decided that, as long as I was treading outside of my comfort zone to learn about coupon overage, I might as well keep embarrassing myself. Following a tip I once read on Southern Savers, I grabbed a carton of the more expensive portobello mushrooms, marched over to Customer Service, and asked the manager if I could have them at the sale price. Done. Voila. Say what you will about the Murder Kroger, but I love shopping there.

best Kroger EVER

FINALLY, I went to CVS and snagged a toothbrush and my favorite lip balm for free. I have not yet posted to explain the magic of Extra Care Bucks, but in the mean time Jenny can explain.

WHEW. What a trying week for couponing. Thank goodness for the promise of Ladies Party tonight--I can't wait to decimate that cheapass Strawberry Shortcake with a bunch of brilliant drunk women.

Question of the day:
Have you ever felt like a tool when you used a coupon?

PS: if you want Publix to pay you to buy vitamins, check out this post on Southern Savers. Just look for the Sundown Naturals vitamins entry. Comment here if you're confused.


  1. You are my hero, will you teach me your ways mamasan?

  2. @Vill--but of course! (Destiny??)

    @Melody Ann--thank you so much :P

  3. My Publix used to torture me about this, but I spoke to the general manager. He assured me they were more than happy to give me the overage from then on it has been much better. I still get the occasional cashier or manager that doesn't know the policy is, but when I tell them so and so (general manager) says..blah, blah, blah...they back down immediately.

  4. I love stories about crazy couponing ladies. I am jealous of the 500 sq ft freezers they all seem to have in their houses for all the shit they buy. They must be able to afford them with all the money they've saved.

    I hear it's not true that gelatin causes your nails to grow, but if I had coupons so that I could buy up a nice supply to try an experiment, I would totally buy the store out in unflavored gelatin.

    Good for you for paying attention as he scanned your items and coupons. I can't tell you how many times I purposely buy something b/c it is in on sale or I have a coupon, only to come home and realize that I didn't get my discount. If it is b/c I used a coupon and the cashier took it, I usually don't can't argue if I were to go back.

    O.K. That cashier was a DICK. You should write a letter to the manager about his shitty 'tude. I bet they'd send you a bunch of coupons! His behavior was totally uncalled for and if he wants any kind of career in public service, he needs some fixing.

    I want you to school me on CVSing. I've read Jenny's instructions, but I'd like to hear how you got started so that I can try it.

    Next time, I won't have such a retardedly long comment.

  5. @Prudent Patron--the irritating thing is that he wasn't actually taking issue with the coupons I was using. He was just irritated that he had to deal with me at all. I realize it's probably a minor inconvenience but um HELLO you're a cashier at a grocery store, it's your job.

    @Meghan--you make a good point. I have a gelatin coupon that's fixin to expire, perhaps I should go ahead and start stockpiling for our experiment. :P I need to do a CVS post soon but CVS has kind of sucked the last few weeks, so I'm waiting for a good week to be my exemplar.

  6. I must say that I love your sense of humor! Very funny! Great job on the awesome savings and great job on standing up for yourself! I hate cashiers who make it a point to torture couponers. I am an extreme couponer so I am always looking for overage items (yes, I have like 100 boxes of Gelatin breeding in the pantry) but I'm always inspired by other couponers! Great job!

  7. Love your post. I am a first time visitor to your site and find it very entertaining and informative. I go through that in my hick town of Covington all day long. I usually pass my Publix 3 miles from my house to spend money at another store in a different county because I can't be bothered sometimes.

    It is also true that the harder they try to "catch you using your coupons the wrong way" because most of them do not understand how we do what we do so well, they in turn mess up.

    Keep up the good work hon.

  8. @Bethany--I just surfed over to your blog and it took me about 4 seconds to melt over your beautiful daughter. She is adorable!! I just followed you and added you to my blogroll, and I hope you'll do the same! Thanks for reading :)

  9. @Tamara--Your blog is OMG so impressive! I can't believe you've saved almost $1000 using coupons just in the last 10 weeks or so! I just followed you and added you to my blogroll--I think I have a lot to learn from you! Thank you so much for the sweet compliment and thanks for reading :)

  10. Kates, I am fascinated to learn of your new obsession with extreme couponing. Amber and I plan to look more into this once I finish school (next week!) and we can get our new house in some semblance of order.

    We have always been coupon clippers and like many others, occasionally leave the coupons in our pockets after checkout. It's frustrating after all that work..and while I don't have much experience @ Publix, at least @ Kroger they are generally very willing to let you walk over or come back to Customer Service, and be like, um, I forgot to give the cashier my coupons, and just hand you a pile of cash (even if you didn't pay with cash). We heart our Nipper's Corner Kroger.

    And if you are a Kroger shopper, consider the Kroger Rewards Mastercard ( Not only do you accumulate points for whatever purchases (Kroger or not), you get double points for $ spent @ Kroger and triple points for Kroger-branded items. Plus 15 cents off gas. For every 1000 points, you get $10 in Kroger gift cards. Compared to airline cards (the best we could find was 35,000 points for a roundtrip US ticket), it's a much better deal. 35,000 points gets you $350 in Kroger gift cards, pretty much the value of a US roundtrip ticket. Plus the gift cards are in your pocket quarterly and you've earned the points faster through the double/triple arrangement. And, for the coupon lover in you, they frequently send you very valuable coupons that are personalized to what you buy, and that you can't find online. When you do the math, it's definitely something to consider.

    btw lovelovelove the new blog. Keep on inspiring us!


  11. OMG NOOPY! I am so glad to know that you are among my readers. Thanks for the great tip--Nick and I are kind of overwhelmed with the choices of reward programs with credit cards. Sounds like this is definitely one to consider!!

    Thank you soooo much for reading!!

  12. O.K. I thought the unflavored gelatin was a random item you pulled out of your butt, but apparently, some of you have actually gotten 12-packs of Knox for free. I am WAY JEALOUS! We do not have Publix here!

  13. yessss Knox is the big moneymaker right now. There is a $4 coupon out and Knox gelatin is like $1.29

  14. Dangit! I am going to have to hit one of my co-workers up for the 2/14 red plum insert! I was too busy doing wedding shiz that weekend!

  15. your price-per-purchase infographic made me swoon.