I Tried That! Extreme Couponing

When my husband deployed to Afghanistan for a year, I was busy, overwhelmed, and lonely. I had a 7-year-old and a 4-year-old who demanded most of my attention, I was just finishing up my bachelors degree online (back when it was ALL writing papers), and we had a new puppy that needed potty training. Again, it was a very busy and yet lonely time.  I needed a hobby – something to focus on at night besides the fact that one of the toothbrush holder holes was empty and that hubbs’ pillow no longer smelled like him (because after holding out as long as I could, I finally broke down and washed my sheets).

My cousin had raved and raved about how great and easy couponing was. She loved to talk about her couponing “scores”  and would even share pictures of her hauls. So when she invited me to a coupon party where a trained coupon expert (yes, apparently this is a real thing) teaches you how to coupon, I thought…why not? It’ll give me something to do until Hubbs gets home.

The “coupon expert” it turned out, was a newspaper peddler. I’m not sure if she made a commission or not, but she did offer us a subscription to the paper at a discounted rate. Which was cool because one of the things you will quickly notice in extreme couponing is…YOU MUST HAVE ACCESS TO THE SUNDAY NEWSPAPER TO BE SUCCESSFUL. And here’s why:

  • To coupon (as taught in this class anyway), you go to a website called GrocerySmarts, you select your state, and then you can either see all deals or filter by whatever store you are shopping at. Here is a snippet of deals in Utah this week (I chose Utah because there is where I learned to coupon, and because Oklahoma doesn’t have many extreme coupon opportunities – more on that later):

GrocerySmarts

The first column denotes how good the savings are, the second column is what the product is, the third is the original price, the fourth column is the coupons required, and the final column is the final price paid.

  • Now this is where access to the paper, or at least access to the coupons that come in the Sunday paper, are necessary. Notice the line for Arm and Hammer Laundry Detergent (3rd entry), at the end of the 4th column it states “SS-2/5.”  This means Smart Saver February 5th. Unless you get Smart Saver as a mailer (we don’t where I live in Oklahoma) you need to get it from the Sunday paper.

After my couponing class I did sign up for the Sunday paper, much to my husband’s irritation, and by the time my hubbs got home from his deployment, I had so much toothpaste, tampons, maxi-pads, floss, pencils, notebook paper, etc. (that I either got for FREE or seriously cheap) that I ended up storing it in the tops of kitchen cabinets! My husband would go to get a dinner plate and a box of Playtex would fall out from the top of the cupboard…ha! But, to get to that point is very time-consuming so I didn’t stick with it after that year. Here is what I learned about extreme couponing:

  • You must have the Sunday newspaper (or at least access to the coupons in that paper) to really be successful.
  • It is extremely time-consuming.
  • You must keep your coupons organized. RP (Red Plums) by date, SS (Smart Saver) by date, Proctor & Gamble by date, etc. And if you want to look really cool, you need a fancy binder complete with baseball card type pocket pages for your coupons.
  • Getting the weekly mailers helps – we don’t get the coupons in the mail in Oklahoma. I don’t know why, but it is a bummer.
  • Following the site krazycouponlady is helpful for more than just grocery shopping. They post about online deals too and I’ve used more than a handful of their promo codes during the holidays.
    • Bradsdeals is helpful too, especially during the holidays.
  • Not every state is as “couponer-friendly” as the other. Utah has a lot of stores that favor couponers while Oklahoma doesn’t seem to have as many.
  • Several stores will allow you to stack coupons, meaning you can use a store coupon and a manufacturers coupon for double the savings. For instance, Target might have a store coupon for Country Crock Margarine and Country Crock may also have a coupon out there. Every store is different so you have to read each store’s policy.
  • It is really easy to start buying crap you don’t need just because it is “almost free.” I found myself buying birthday gifts for my kids’ fictional future friends, just because the stuff was cheap. Most of it was either sold during a yard sale when we moved or donated to Goodwill.
  • It becomes more of a game to see what you can get and for how cheap, than actual grocery shopping.

 

Does anybody else have any tips about couponing???

 

I Tried That! My Experience as a Test Juror.

I realized today that I find it so easy to express my thoughts about negative experiences I’ve had, and too often I neglect to share about positive experiences. So for today at least, I’m sharing a surprisingly positive experience that I recently had as, who would have guessed, a TEST JUROR!

Since becoming a stay-at-home-mom (or SAHM as seems to be the common lingo) I’ve kept my eyes peeled for ways to earn some coin from home because:

1- My kids (diabetic, celiac, thyroid problems, etc.) have a zillion doctor’s appointments and scheduling them around a new, part-time job would be hectic.

2- Since becoming a SAHM I’ve become even more of an introvert and honestly, prefer to be in my house. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’m clinically agoraphobic or anything, but my anxiety certainly kicks up a notch once I back out of my driveway.

3- I can get so much crap done during the week now that I couldn’t while I was working (obviously). No longer do we spend our weekends cleaning and doing laundry; I take care of that during the week so the weekends are for fun and relaxing.

With all that said, I read on some blog about being an online test juror so off I went to “know-it-all Google” to read up on it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find many positive reviews about it. I can’t even remember where I read about JuryTest, but that is one that I chose to sign up with. You can find the link here JuryTest

I created an account and never really expected to hear anything from them because like I said, reviews online about being a test juror are so finicky. So I just kind of forgot about it. Then about a month and a half ago (about 6 months after I signed up) I received an email saying they had a case in my area and asked if I was interested in participating. The original email said I would be compensated  $40 for 2 hours of my time. I replied that I was interested and 2 days later received the email letting me know that I could log in and that the case was available for my review. The email stated that “the case involves listening to two sides of a legal case…and answering all of the questions,” and that the payment would be $60.

Before I give you the real scoop, you should know that I love law and order. Not the TV show, but I thoroughly enjoy rules, regulations, and the consequences that go with not following them. I’m not saying all rules, guidelines, etc. are perfect, but I believe that if you don’t like them, there is typically a process in place to change them. The only TV shows I care to watch are true crime shows (and the occasional crime-based drama), I enjoy reading murder mysteries, and the only part of People Magazine I care to read is the section on crime (if it’s there).  I like facts and logic. Being a test juror is right up my alley.

My Alley.jpg

So here is what you really need to know:

  • You sign a confidentiality agreement when you sign-up to be a juror. Unfortunately so much time has passed between then and when you get your first case that who knows what the heck it said. I’ll assume it was similar to the one signed in Fifty Shades of Grey and I just won’t discuss any intimate details of the case 🙂
  • I had to listen (it was audio with some slides) to the plaintiff’s attorney present their case for about 40 minutes.
  • I then had to listen (again, audio with some slides) to the defendant’s attorney present their case for about 30 minutes.
  • Then I had to answer about 100 questions. The majority of these questions were multiple choice but there were some that required feedback. I enjoyed giving my real opinion so I didn’t mind much but it was time-consuming.
  • When all was said and done I think it took me about 2.5 hours to listen to the arguments and answer the questions.
  • I actually got paid $60 to my pay-pal account!  The payment took about 3 weeks but the email said it could take up to that long.

Overall, I would say it was a great experience for someone like me and I would definitely do it again. Could I make a living off of it? No. But when you go from making $40/hour to being a SAHM, that $60 in your pay-pal account seems like a lot of pennies.

Has anyone else had experience as a test juror???