Couponing Versus Bargain-Sniffing

As I have confided in my blog before, I suck at couponing.  I have never been one to shy away from using vouchers for this, that and the other so in Scotland I was considered pretty thrifty with the way I could save money using vouchers and deals.  Here in the US, however, so many people have managed to make couponing a hobby / talent / extreme sport that I am very much in the dunce corner of the remedial group when it comes to saving money using vouchers.  This annoys me because I absolutely love being thrifty.  I am no Ebenezer Scrooge but I definitely experience a thrill knowing I have saved money.

My difficulty here is that the vast majority of coupons – and I am referring to the thick wodge of paper that is deposited in my mailbox once a week – are completely irrelevant to me as they are for products I would just never purchase.  It seems to be that the companies who run these promotions are the ones who sell junk, snacks or processed foods.  I, therefore, use the few coupons that are for food products I use or for household cleaning products and then I shop the in-store deals to drive my grocery bill down.  I do pretty well despite the pile of coupons that just go in the recycling bins each week.  In an average week I can shave almost a quarter off my week’s grocery bill.  Not bad.  Certainly better than I could achieve back in Scotland.

However, I am then reminded what a “loser” couponer I am when I am behind someone in the checkout queue who has managed to reduce their bill from $83 to $32.  My jaw was literally agape last week when that exact thing happened.  Sure I had the supercilious glow of knowing my trolley was a whopping deal healthier and more nutritious than the shopper in front of me but my goodness the thrifty side of me felt like such an also ran.

So here’s the thing that prompted today’s blog entry.  My husband is used to wearing business smart for work.  Back when he worked in London and then when he worked in Scotland, his uniform was a suit, shirt and tie.  Sometimes the shirt was so formal it required cufflinks.  Here in the US he is working somewhere that requires smart casual attire.  In his suits, he feels too formal.  He, therefore, needs a whole new wardrobe of work clothes that fall somewhere between his two usual modes of business smart and at home casual (which sometimes veers on the slobby but hey ho).  That is a whole load of clothes to buy in one go so, of course, it was the perfect challenge for Little Miss Thrifty.

I found the website of a store that sells brand name clothes at reduced prices.  I headed to the clearance section for men’s clothes and I scoured each page weighing up the options, adding things to the virtual basket, occasionally editing the basket as I went on and found a similar item for even less.  Some of the items were as much as 75% off the original price so I was picking up some really good deals, the type that make me feel accomplished.  One jumper (here they are sweaters) was reduced from $45 to $9 so I decided to go into futures at that point and buy several of them.  Once I had created a virtual wardrobe of shirts, jumpers and trousers I set about reducing the total even further by inputting the perfect combination of voucher codes and I had a code for free shipping to boot.  In the end, once I divided the total up, the average came out to $13 per garment.  That is eight pounds sterling, people.  For brand name clothes.

I felt so super-thrifty I had to do a little happy dance and then text my husband to show off.

So I do absolutely bite at couponing but I am still an ace at bargain-sniffing.

9 thoughts on “Couponing Versus Bargain-Sniffing

  1. Hello! I couldn’t agree with you with the manufacture coupons that are food are mostly unhealthy and simply junk food! However, there are many great deals on cleaning, beauty, oral, hair and etc! On our blog we have a breakdown of what coupons to use and the link to the coupon! Maybe that would help you? 🙂 Let me know if you have any questions!

    • Fair enough, Shelby. As I wrote in my blog, I am new to this – an entry-level couponer – so my experience is no doubt not indicative of the norm. I have also not sought out coupons so only sift through the ones that are delivered to my door. I did explain that I disregard the ones that are not relevant to me too and since I don’t eat red meat that eliminates a lot of the coupons right away. I definitely use the ones for cleaning products and shampoos etc though and even some of the ones for unhealthy stuff if it is for a treat. I am always in search of ways to be thrifty and aspire to be a more competent couponer (and I have lots of room for improvement) so I will definitely have a look at your blog. Thanks for drawing it to my attention. 🙂

  2. We have a regular Target that has only recently begun stocking fresh produce. We don’t take any newspapers so I’ve just been looking at the coupons that end up in our mailbox. I need to find time to explore all the online coupons and the ones linked to apps. I need to add educating myself on couponing to my To Do list.

  3. great job. I love bargain shopping for clothes, etc. That is the thing about most coupons, they are for processed crap, which I don’t eat. Like you this means I use coupons mostly for cleaning supplies. I maintain my philosophy that no matter how cheap, if it isn’t something I normally use, it isn’t saving money no matter how cheap it is.

  4. I’m not a big coupon person either and you’re right that they’re generally for products that I would not buy. Getting a good deal on something of quality that you need is far more of a rush! 🙂

  5. I’m no good at couponing either, so you’re in good company lol I found the exact same issue with it – they are mostly for items I don’t use (would never use really), junk food, chemicals, etc. I console myself when I see friends posting how they reduced their food bill from $100 to $8 with the fact that they’re increasing their future medical expenses by the same percentage because of all the crap they’re putting into their bodies now 😉

    I also agree with Sheila who posted above me about getting something of quality for a deal… too true!

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