Tuesday, April 2, 2013

coupon organizing day and first quarter statistics.

by far the most difficult part of couponing is keeping everything organized so that you know what you have and how many and when they expire (at least in my case, i suppose this part comes naturally for some). since i started doing this less than a year ago, ive gone through many different methods, and now that im getting several copies of each sunday paper insert ive had to re-think EVERYTHING. 

right now i have one copy of each coupon in a coupon book i got at an office store a couple years ago, and all the "extras" paper clipped together by type in a small accordion file, and its mostly working, if somewhat bulky to use while shopping. but im sure ill figure out something more efficient someday. 

i used to check for expired coupons every week as i added my new ones, but that meant that EVERY week i had to meticulously sort through every single coupon to maybe throw out a handful, but i lost patience and decided that i would just add in the new coupons and sort out the expired ones once a month. this ended up being a big mistake since adding an entire months coupons (many of which expired through the month) to my book without taking any out basically exploded to book. seriously, it wasnt even close to closing. then i realized that most (though not all) coupons expire the end of the month, with most of the others expiring somewhere around the 15th. so now i clean them out twice a month, which has turned out to be much more manageable. 

this week turned out very nicely and my book is slimmer and more organized than ever. since it was a holiday weekend and there was only one small insert with a few coupons i even wanted, AND it was the end of the month and i was able to throw out this giant pile:

as good as that felt, that wasnt even the best part. this year i challenged myself to keep track of how much money i spent on couponing as well as how much money i saved, since after a few months i noticed that all the newspapers and printer ink was starting to add up. so i decided on a few different metrics to track monthly (total paper coupons used, total club card/redcard savings, total savings, average % saved, and the cumulative total profit after all coupon-related expenses), as well as at the end of the year. (i also decided that i would only keep track of purchases at vons and target, since those stores account for virtually all household purchases) i realize this is an INCREDIBLY nerdy thing to do, but i just HAD to find out if couponing was a mathematically worthwhile hobby, since it really is more time consuming than you would think. (also i secretly love calculating statistics since thats about the only kind of math i can do well, but dont tell anyone)

i really had no idea how this was going to go, but the end of march marked the first quarter of collected data, and i was so excited about the results that i just HAD to share them. 

my total (cumulative) savings at the end of march (all vons club, coupons, redcard, sales etc.) was $775.72. (and thats after spending $75 on newspapers and printer ink, so really weve saved $850.72) . now, i know youre thinking "well OBVIOUSLY you must have to spend a TON of money to have saved that much", and i would like to take a second to point out that we have a strict grocery budget of $50 a week at vons, and about $35 a week at target, and thats for EVERYTHING, from food to toiletries and even diapers. so, no we do NOT spend alot of money on groceries. for further reference our average savings per transaction is around 40%.  

unfortunately, we arent exactly in the financial position for this to be an extra $775 in our pockets, its more like $775 of groceries that we would have otherwise had to do without, but someday, if i keep up with this, we will get to enjoy this "extra" money. anyways, long story short, i have, in fact, mathematically concluded that couponing is, indeed, a worthwhile pastime. 

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