Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bonnie and Clyde go couponing

I've finally decided to apply myself to something and learn the ways of the Coupon Jedi. My friend "Coupon Chris" has taken me under her wing to teach me the ropes and share the secrets of her success.

I'll admit, for a long time I didn't really get her coupon zeal. She's kind of crazy about it. Most psychiatrists would diagnose her as a hoarder. She has such a stockpile of toiletries and non-perishable food that should The Bomb be dropped on Chicago, I am heading straight to Chris' because she has enough stuff to keep us all fed and bathed for quite some time. She told me that it helps her feel secure, that she knows her family will never starve. I understood that to some degree. Chris scurries from store to store in all her free time, racking up the deals and paying only pennies on the dollar for everything. Actually, now she is so advanced into the Coupon Jedi Knighthood that if she doesn't make money off of the deal, she shuns it. God forbid she actually pays for food! So I finally got curious enough one day and asked her to teach me.

After reading her super secret Coupon Guild message board (her husband calls it her "Masons Board" because when you coupon hardcore like this it's kind of like a cult) and a few chats to get my bearings, Tim took me for my first excursion. It was exhilarating! It was like that Queen Latifah movie with Katie Holmes and Diane Keaton where they rob the mint and get away with it. They paid me to take the stuff! And I walked out with $20 towards my next go at it! Saving money like this is like crack. Just one hit, and I was hooked. After that first trip Thursday night, I was jonesing for my next hit before my head hit the pillow. After Tim witnessed the miracle of working the deals like a symphony, he was into it. He started singing "Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta" (from the movie "Office Space") every time we walked into a store. Friday night we went to dinner and did our regular mandatory non-deal shopping then hit a few Jewels. It still wasn't enough for me after we got home with a tired baby so I dropped the boys off and hit a couple more Jewels by myself.

This morning, we set out again. We're on a mission to get all the cocoa mix and send it to Sam, my friend that I've known since we were about 10, who lives in Guam, and pays exorbitant prices for all groceries because it's all shipped in to her glorious island home. Sam has hot cocoa for blood, she lives on the stuff. Jewel is paying me to take it out of the store, so I'm getting Sam as much cocoa as I can.

We hit every Jewel from Naperville to Elburn this morning. Tim's so cute, he came up with code names for us. He calls me Honey Bear (a reference to my honey pimping to our local co-op group) and he's Big Papa. With the little guy, it's kind of a pain to unload everybody to go see if they have the deal we want, so we were taking turns going in to scout out the shelves. He'd zip in and call me, "Honey Bear, it's Big Papa. The Eagle has landed, I repeat the Eagle has landed." And I'd be like, "Alpha Team, move in! Empty the shelf! We'll rendevous in Aisle 5!" We had a ton of fun. Naperville...all 4 stores....Aurora, St. Charles, Elburn and back. We have enough cooking oil, peanut butter and hot cocoa mix to feed a small army (and the nice boys at the Elburn Jewel offered to order me up a few more cases of cocoa...tee hee!)

I think I may have spent about $10 for the over $100 worth of stuff that now clutters my dining room table. My favorite transaction was the one where my total due was 18 cents, and the machine spit out a $10 off your next order coupon. After today's shopping I walked out with $20 in coupons to be used on my next shopping trip. So, basically I made money and even covered the gas we burned to do it. And I can't wait to do it all over again. I don't care that basically my guest room is now going to be my Stockpile of Extra Groceries Room. Tim's natural bent towards frugality makes him the perfect sidekick for my bargain hunting adventures. We had such a blast today.

I've got a new drug.

My name is Felicia, and I'm addicted to shopping for free groceries. Can I borrow your Preferred Card?

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