Friday, January 14, 2011

I Watch TV - Part Two (or Clark & Couponing)

I found myself watching The Nate Berkus Show last week and realizing that it's not just about home decorating (You know, like how Bull Durham isn't really about baseball.). The episode I caught featured consumer advocate Clark Howard discussing how to save at warehouse clubs. Here's a few tips I learned.

  • Save money by splitting a membership with a friend. Cut your annual fees in half! Just make sure you are listing the same address for both of you. That's the key.
  • We all know a membership is not required to dine at Costco's "food court", but did you know the same also goes for the pharmacy? It's true. Bring your prescriptions and know you are paying some of the best possible prices.
  • Even warehouse stores have sales, they just don't communicate them the same way. At Sam's Club, the price will end in "1". BJ's Wholesale Club will use the word "clearance". Costco displays an asterisk "*" and list the item as "x.97"

The other show I was excited about was Extreme Couponing. The concept of clipping coupons never seemed like enough of a cost savings until I watched the profiles of four people. They all purchased basic grocery/personal care products and saved hundreds at the register. Amazing! While a great deal of time and energy is involved to generate the kind of savings they experienced, each has found a method that works for them. Joanie Demer (aka The Krazy Coupon Lady) is the person I've started following for advice.

On KCL's website they break down the various ways to save. There's a beginner's guide, sections for the major discount stores, links for all current coupons available, and even a place to brag about your shopping exploits. I'm even hoping to purchase the book in the not-so-distant future.

One term I finally caught on to after reading it so many times was Catalina. Being in Southern California, you can imagine my confusion. In grocery talk, Catalinas are coupons printed at the register after your transaction is complete. The name refers to the company that manufactures the machines. Typically, the savings are for upcoming promotions that expire in the next month or so.

The other thing KCL taught me was exactly how stacking works. The combined use of both a store *and* manufacturer coupon drives down the cost of whatever you're purchasing. The research in matching coupons to stores and sales is where it can be exhausting. The clipping of coupons can be a chore too, unless you pay for a service.

Try sharing a warehouse club membership or going to a store that accepts double coupons. Both acts can provide savings you wouldn't normally have in your pocket. That's what I think, but you don't have to take MY word for it.

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