I've finally made peace with couponing. (Haven't read my brief history of couponing, or don't know what couponing is? Click here.)
We all know the drawbacks: Most coupons are for overly processed, often unhealthy food. Couponing and shopping at many stores to get the best deals is quite time-consuming. Buying the Sunday paper and printing out all of those online coupons kills a lot of trees. And couponing and buying excessively is darn close to hoarding.
But on the other hand... Couponing saves a lot of money. Sometimes a LOOOOOOOOOOOOT of money. (And it's even okay if you pronounced that "loot," because that's true too.) Saving a lot (or a loot) of money is fun, and the thrill of the chase is fun. And couponing gives us an opportunity to give to others.
So what is a reasonable person to do who enjoys couponing but doesn't want to eat only processed food and doesn't have space in her 1000 square foot condo to stockpile things?
Answer: She coupons for charity.
See, virtually every week there are free deals at the stores for things like toothpaste, deodorant mouthwash and feminine products. And while I may not want or need a bunch of packs of Stayfree, and I may not be that into Lady Speedstick, I know those nice, deserving ladies down at the women's shelter sure might want this stuff that I can get for free.
So, my friends, I have been stockpiling. But I've been doing it for the residents of OPCC Daybreak, not for myself or Mark.
And the great news is you can do it too! It's easy!
Example from this week's CVS flyer:
Sure, you could argue that paying $3.29 and getting a $3.29 credit for your next purchase is not actually free (more like free with an asterisk), but it's close enough in my book. So if you go buy two tubes of toothpaste at CVS this week, you'll get your money back. (And bonus: If you clipped the PG coupons from last Sunday's paper, you can get $.75 off each tube, and even make a little money. Note the limit of two per card, so you don't end up disappointed.)
Here's a similar deal, also from this week's CVS flyer, but requiring a coupon to get the free deal:
The $3 coupon was in Sunday's paper, I clipped it, but when I went to CVS, they were out of the toothbrush the deal applies to. So I tried this little trick... I looked in the kids oral care section, and sure enough, they had a few of these toothbrushes, although they happened to look like Cinderella. Oh well... I'm sure someone will get a laugh out of brushing with a shaking Cinderella.
(Don't have a CVS near you? Worry not. All the major chains offer similar deals.)
So, you say, "I don't have time to read all the sales flyers and compare them against the coupons. And I don't even get the paper because I'm not, like, 70 years old." Fair enough. There are about a bajillion blogs devoted to coupon deals (my favorite is The Krazy Coupon Lady), and most will show a deal and even link right to the online printable coupon that will work with the deal. Pretty awesome.
In my first month of couponing, here's what I collected for free that I plan to donate:
Eight tubes of toothpaste (one with a free toothbrush)
Two packages of dental floss
Two packages of maxi pads
Four packages of pantiliners
One package of facial wipes
One bottle of contact solution
Two bottles of shampoo
One bottle of spray gel
Then I added in some of the excess mini bottles I've collected from hotels, and which I know shelters love to get...
And then I got even more toothpaste, a few more packages of pantiliners, and a bunch of shampoos, bodywashes and moisturizers (and the Cinderella battery-powered toothbrush), all of which were free or under a dollar with a combination of coupons, rewards credits and mail-in rebates, and now it's too much stuff for one big bag.
Awesome, right? I may not use some of these brands, and we certainly don't need this much stuff, but if the stores and manufacturers want to give it away, I say we should help them, and we should pass it on to those less fortunate.
Who's with me??
I'm doing this now with food too, which we'll be sharing with my beloved LA Regional Foodbank, so I'm sure I'll post about that at some point in the future. :-)
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