This a guest post by our reader and fellow stockpiler, Jon Nugent. Jon is a self employed restaurant management recruiter, father to his 12 year old son Jamie, and newlywed. He enjoys all sports, especially baseball and racing, geocaching and most of all, saving money.
First let me start by thanking Melissa for not only the opportunity to be a guest blogger but for everything that she does for all of us. My name is Jon. I am a business owner, husband and father. Over the last two weeks, my wife and I saved over $865 at Kroger while spending only $137, a total savings of over 86%. People ask us all the time, “How do you do that?” or say “I wish I could do that but just don’t have the time”. I wanted to share with you some of our experience with stockpiling and most recently with the Kroger Mega Sale.
“How do you do that?”
You must first walk before you can run. This holds true with life in general and couponing is no different. My wife went to one of Melissa’s couponing classes last year and learned the ins and outs of couponing. We didn’t start off saving 86%, we started with simply learning how different stores worked and the basic couponing strategies. There is so much to learn at first it can be overwhelming for some. What is a catalina? Can you use a coupon with a BOGO sale? What stores double? Be patient and don’t get frustrated. At first our savings were good, about 40-50%. The more comfortable we became with coupons, the more we were able to stockpile and the more we were able to save. Building a stockpile takes time, certainly more than a couple of months. We now order coupons from clipping services routinely and have finally begun to place orders with the stores. Most managers seem helpful with ordering although one manager we talked to acted suspicious as to why we wanted to order 50 boxes of Motrin PM. He wanted to see our coupons, photocopy it (as to think it was somehow fraudulent), and question us on where we got so many of the same coupon…..this should have been our first indication that it was not going to go smoothly. Needless to say, our Motrin came in but no one at the store could find it and then it somehow ended up on the shelf. Next time we will order from a different store.
“I wish I could do that but just don’t have the time.”
My response is how can you NOT make the time? Granted doing 9 transactions at 5 stores takes some time…..8 hours to be exact. However, we saved $865 over 8 hours, that works out to about $108/hour in savings. I don’t make $108/hour at my daytime job but if I can save that much in my part time job then I come out considerably ahead. That $865 can be spent on how we want to spend it instead of needing to spend it on groceries.
“Some people are rude where it comes to coupons”
One of the hardest parts for some people with using lots of coupons are the looks and comments made from some cashiers or other customers. Yes, believe it or not there are some cashiers that aren’t particularly fond of couponers. Maybe they are jealous that we save so much money or upset that they don’t “get it” but their job is give good customer service and honor our coupons in accordance with the rules. Where the biggest problems come in is when cashiers (and managers) don’t understand their own rules. Recently at Kroger, my wife went in to purchase 60 Gatorade. She went to pay with using 4 coupons of Buy 10 and Get 5 for free. The price of the Gatorade was .99 and the coupons says valid up to $5 and it scans at $5. The cashier didn’t give her full value of her coupon and instead of giving her $4.95 off, she only gave her $2.45 off…….her reasoning being with the Mega Sale, the price was reduced to .49. The Mega Sale is a store discount off the entire order, not a coupon lowering the price of each item. She didn’t want to fight with the cashier so she took her complaint to the customer service desk. The CSR was less then helpful and so she left the store being shorted $10. She passed this information along to me which is when I called the corporate office. The gal from corporate passed the buck back to the store and I spoke to the supervisor. The reasoning I got was “It was up to the managers discretion.” He said he would check with his boss when he returned to the store an hour later and then call me back…….I’m still waiting for that call. I understand managers discretion where it comes to limiting the quantities you purchase but not where the value of a coupon is concerned. What is more frustrating is that the night before, at the same store, we did 2 transactions of Gatorade and we were given full credit. The stores rules changed from night to day. My wife returned the product, got a refund and our coupons back. We went to a different store the next day and had no problems in receiving full value of our coupons. After a few days, I decided to call the store manager and tell him what happened……he didn’t have any clue as to what the proper usage of the coupon should be but he did apologize for our troubles and offered us a $25 gift card. My intentions were to inform the store manager what was going on within his store, not to try and get something for free. This store is the closest for us to shop at but we will not be back. For every bad experience, we have 10 good ones like the cashier on Saturday. The cashier was obviously new but very friendly. Before coupons, our total was $177…..about the time it got down to $40 he looked at us like, “Wow, that’s pretty cool.” We left with an OOP of $9.99. Moral of the story, If things don’t go your way…..walk away. There are plenty of good cashiers, managers, and stores that want your business and are knowledgeable about the proper use of coupons.
Couponing is a lifestyle…….unless it has a yellow tag it is invisible to us. Learn everything you can learn, be patient and stay the course…..soon you’ll be saving 86% as well.
Thanks so much to Jon (and Jenni) for sharing his story with us and pictures of their stockpile!