No Life Rehearsals

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Non-Extreme Couponing, Free Samples, and Other Obsessions

on 18 May, 2015

scissors with grocery coupons

Couponing, great in theory, hard work in reality.  Watching even one minute of Extreme Couponing makes my head spin. I get the thrill of the “game” but when you have closets full of paper products, detergent and pasta sauce, it’s time to go to rehab!  I’m not greedy and I don’t need free, I just want to save my family a little money each week on the things we buy all the time.  Lofty goal?  It shouldn’t be, but it is.  Notwithstanding the great coupon deals on paper products and deodorants, when it comes to food, coupons mostly cover the interior of the store, not that health conscious perimeter we all should aspire to.  But is a life without Oreos really worth living?  I think not.  We need some of the interior items just to keep our sanity.  Plus, the wine and beer aisle are closer to the perimeter than the interior, and chips and soda are oftentimes dead center.   Ever think about  that?

To get those great “food” deals takes tenacity, a veritable survival of the fittest in the grocery store world.  However, with various printable coupon websites such as and the Target cartwheel app, saving has never been easier. Or harder. Because here is the truth, drum roll please, couponing is addicting. You can’t just say I’m going to do a “little couponing”  no siree Bob, it doesn’t work like that.   Once you score a great deal, you keep looking for your next big hit. You scour for coupons, sign up for loyalty programs, buy multiple Sunday papers because you know you can “save” more. Truth be told, there are worse “time sucks” our there than couponing (read Candy Crush) because at least couponing saves you money and Candy Crush might actually cost you if you give in and buy some boosters to complete a level or buy your way into the next section (not that I would know anything about that).

In my adopted state of North Carolina, couponing at Harris Teeter is an art form. From Facebook groups to spreadsheets to ad previews, these ladies spend as much time on couponing each week as I did studying to get my law degree (and I’m only half kidding).  Their dedication is astounding and I take my hat off and bow to them.   It’s a Facebook community filled with love and support.  Fellow couponers post to brag about their “score” and share their knowledge.  The exchange of information is rapid and fever pitched. If you want to get started couponing, at Harris Teeter or otherwise, a great resource for finding coupons is  You can also join closed Facebook groups for fellow couponers at your brand store.  The best one for Harris Teeter is Couponing at Harris Teeter.  You will learn all the ways of the force and a s**t ton of useless jargon/three letter acronyms unique to the couponing world.

In the couponing world the word “free” is the end all be all.  The holy grail of couponing, though that’s not technically correct, the holy grail are the “money makers,” the coupons (and stacking of coupons and deals) where the store pays you money.  For example, Walmart policy states “If coupon value exceeds the price of the item, the excess may be given to the customer as cash or applied toward the basket purchase.”  Money makers are few and far between for us average run-of-the-mill couponers.  Though scoring one (and not to overdo my drug analogy) must be like taking a big hit (of something, how should I know???).  Kind of like getting someone to pay you to sample their full-sized product.

sample grunge retro red isolated ribbon stamp

Which brings me to samples, another of my obsessions. Who doesn’t love free samples?  I wish I could tell you about a great way to get free samples.  I too have seen those advertisements that show up on my Facebook news feed, but haven’t yet clicked on any of them yet. Once I do unlock the secrets, you’ll be the first to know!

Right now my “free” sampling fix is limited to the Saturday afternoon of food I get on my weekly run to Costco.  But that does not abate my need for samples.  Samples, samples, samples.  I’m talking about my borderline unhealthy obsession/interest in beauty product samples. There must be others of my kind similarly beckoned by the mother ship also known as the subscription beauty box.  I’ve limited my subscriptions to two:  Birchbox and Ipsy.  I’m relatively new to Ipsy (Christmas gift to myself!) so can’t really comment on it yet but have been a long time Birchbox subscriber.  If you haven’t heard of Birchbox, wipe those cavewebs out of your hair and come into the light.  Birchbox is beauty product sample heaven (cue the Alleluias).

For the bargain basement price of $10 a month, who could possibly resist.  To rationalize, I make a few less trips to Starbucks and my financial universe remains in alignment.  My nine year old daughter is green with envy (or should I say pink) when the pretty pink box appears in our mailbox each month.  From anti-aging creams, to face masks, to hair spray, makeup; every month is a delight.  I’m rarely disappointed with my haul and have in fact purchased full-size products as a result of this “sampling.”  Try it out for yourself and use this link so they know who sent you. Birchbox Link.



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