I think I get this from my Nannie- who has gone through more "phases" than most people do hair-do's. Ironically, her hair-do has been the same for about 30 years (hee hee, if you're related to me you'll laugh at that...). Anyhow- here's a list of prior obsessions- all of which I invest significant amounts of time, money, and effort into.
1. Cake decorating - took classes while working full time and going to college full time. And I HATE cake.
2. Scrapbooking- at least I have several albums to show for this obsession
3. Online poker. Brief, but intense.
4. Blackjack and slot machines at the casino- Overall I lost money.
5. Cheesemaking- several batches at 6 hrs each resulted in lots and lots of moldy cheese. And not the good kind of mold.
6. The dog. 1 hr MINIMUM at the dog park each day of his life for the first 1.5 yrs.
7. And now...COUPONING!!!!

I blame this all on Mike Bunch's wife, Becky, who according to Mike, went to the store and got like 5 boxes of cereal for $.18 or something crazy. I received this information about 6 months ago & it ruminated around in my brain until I mastered the art of parenting & had nothing better to do. This August, I dove deep into the world of couponing. DEEP. Hours and hours online reading blogs and websites about how this is all done. We're not talking about clipping a $.50 coupon & saving some cash. We're talking about getting hoards and hoards of stuff for FREE or darn close to it. It is like a game. Way more fun than blackjack, and WAY more profitable. In the last 6 weeks that I've "couponed" I have aquired so much stuff that I had to pull it all out yesterday & reorganize shelving in the shed and laundry room. But that is the LEAST of my efforts. Here are the things I've done in the name of saving money:
1. LOTS of shopping. This is where it actually comes in handy to live in Milwaukie. I'm within 5 miles of TONS of stores. Today, for example, I went to: walgreens (5 times- I'm not kidding), Rite Aid, Albertsons, Target, Winco, Walmart, and Fred Meyer. Phew. I did a shopping run in the morning & one in the afternoon. Jo likes to go with me in the morning, while we sip our coffee and shop for deals.
2. I buy 5 papers each Sunday, and grab discarded coupons out of the Milwaukie Newspaper Drop Box. Some might call it "dumpster diving." But really it is NOT a dumpster. It's a DROP BOX. No garbage, no flies, no climbing into it- I merely grab the inserts sitting on top.
3. I bought a printer so I can print coupons.
4. I am on my THIRD method of coupons storage. This method includes a shoulder strap (pics below).
5. Money. Have I spent more than I normally would have? probably...but I'm getting better. I can walk away from $1 shampoo or toothpaste because I know if I'm patient I'll be able to get it free. Though I did buy 2 packs of paper plates today that I don't need but "had to have" since they totalled $.60 after my coupons. But seriously- paper plates are good to have.

1. How do I get stuff for FREE?
Lots of research- read the couponing blogs & they'll tell you each week what sales are out there & what coupons to match up with. Example- Walgreens has these crackers that are $3. But when you buy them, you get a $3 coupon to use on whatever else you want to buy at Walgreens (and if you're a "couponer" you will be at walgreens frequently). BUT WAIT! It gets better! I have a $1 off coupon for those crackers. So I pay $2, get a bag of crackers, and a coupon for $3 back. NET PROFIT: $1. Boo-yeah.
2. Ok, but what can you possibly need with all this crap?
Well, I'm not quite sure. But something inside me feels a swell of satisfaction when I look at all my loot. Having 15 tubes of toothpaste makes me feel safe and secure. Also, my friends & family will benefit from this- lots of goodie bags of random free stuff going to those I love. And I've got a pile of stuff designated for a homeless shelter. Saturday I dropped off 6 bags & 6 cans of dog food I got for free at a local shelter. And this morning at Target the lady in front of me was buying a bunch of pasta sauce that I had coupons for, so I gave them to her. She was elated. In the couponers world, this is called an "RAOK" (random act of kindness). Couponers live by a very moral creed too- we don't try to misuse coupons or swindle in any way. Examples of coupon fraud include trying to use expired coupons or trying to double coupons that say "do not double." We are very careful about this.

Ok, now for the pictures...I reorganized a bunch of stuff I've accumulated over the last month, and here are some pics:
Meager beginnings- this was a few weeks ago. Notice my tiny, petite little coupon organizer:

Upgraded to a binder. Pretty dorky.

Today's big improvement- I bought a binder with a zipper...and a strap. This is the preferred method of the most advanced couponers. You hoist all your coupons over your shoulder. Convenient? Yes. So nerdy I can barely wear it without a disguise? Yes.

My pasta sauce stockpile. When I was leaving this morning Luke said, "don't forget spaghetti sauce. We're almost out." He's so funny.

Just some of the dressing & marinades...

Some of the goodies (before I organized it all)

More goodies

Just looking at this makes me tap my fingers together and cackle like Mr. Burns on the simpsons.

Cereal. We need to eat more cereal. All of these were less than $1 each. Normally cereal can be up to $5 a box! ahhh!

I am in love with couponing. And I have enough spaghetti sauce to last me three years.


Kate said...

I must say, the toothbrush you couponed for me...the best I've ever had. I am a fan of your couponing obsession!

desi1221 said...

oh michelle i forgot how funny you are i love your coupon obsession and your bag is terribly geeky! :)

K Pitty said...

oh, michelle! you made my monday morning!! :)

Becky said...

Oh yes...people will laugh, but no one can take away the joy- really the rush of getting a great deal. I personally feel honored that my name was mentioned, and I believe that you've taken it to the next level...I'm quite inspired. 5 papers- nicely done and there is never same in a little dumpster diving. I will even admit buying some coupons off of ebay. Did I need 20 $1.00 coupons for All detergent??- yes I did and they were all used...(props to myself for the "ALL used" incase you didn't notice-see couponers are hilarious too  ). And way to give back to others with your coupon sharing. I'm sure you made her day. Oh Michelle...I'm just beaming with pride and can't wait to hear your future finds. I'm sure you know, but there's a great deal at Rite Aid this week on Johnson and Johnson. I can already picture those freebies on your lovely shelf. I will say that I’m a little concerned about you using your mouthwash as a marinade, but I’m confident you’ll make it work somehow. Oh and nice binder...be careful with that little jem...I read a ladies sob story about someone stealing hers from her cart. I'm thinking if you had it monogrammed it might help prevent that...just an idea and you’ll look pretty cool as a bonus.

I'm going to be a Ropp! said...

OK, I admit it, I'm jealous.

rickandlindafamily said...

So, if I'm in Portland for the weekend and I forget my toothbrush, You're my girl?


Anonymous said...

OMG! I knew you were dappling in this coupon stuff, but yes, like Nannie, you have taken it to an obsessive level. Unlike your other useless endeavors (gambling), this is going to provide your family with lots of needed items. I am so proud of you!!!!! love mom

Amanda said...

Hey Michelle,

You should go to Klove.com they were sharing on the radio today about all sorts of freebies. I hope you find some gems.

Anonymous said...

Love it Michelle! I love couponing, but nothing to this extent. You'll have to give me lots of good tips! And I'm with Luke, I think you're running low on pasta sauce. Thanks for the laughs-as always. :) ~Sheila