Couponers love to brag. In fact, there are entire databases and websites set up to allow couponers to share their triumphs. Rightfully so, because couponing can help people score major deals. I’m not talking about 50% savings. Couponing brags usually include drastically discounted items, freebies, and moneymakers. Still, I’ve been in the couponing world long enough now to know that sometimes the math just doesn’t add up.
Case in point? Last month, on my noble quest to slash my grocery budget to $200, I bought frozen pizzas. This purchase was partly because they were on sale for a great price and partly because I needed to convince my husband not to abandon ship. In two years of marriage, I’ve learned not to mess with his food, and I knew that the prospect of slashing the grocery budget was making him awfully nervous. So, I set out to pick up four peace offerings to stash in the freezer for some days when cooking just isn’t on the menu.
The DiGiorno pizzas were on sale 2/$10. If I spent $20, I would get an immediate $5 taken off my bill. Four pizzas for $15 was too good to pass up, so I scooped them up and headed for the checkout. As I shuffled out of the checkout line, the cashier called me back for a coupon.
The thing is, it wasn’t any old coupon. It was an unadvertised Catalina. A Catalina is a coupon issued by a manufacturer that gets triggered when your purchase reaches a certain total. Sometimes the Catalina special is advertised, some it’s not. This particular coupon was good for $3 off my next purchase of any item in the store – no minimum, no brand requirements, nothing. It’s a pretty sweet deal. And in couponing world, a brag would state that the pizzas were 4 for $12.
Wrong. I paid $15 for 4 pizzas. The next time I shop at Jewel, I’ll save $3 from that purchase. However, most couponers operate under the mentality that they spent $12 and will also share that they saved $3 less on their next purchase. For months, deep in the throes of extreme couponing, I was stumped as to why my budget never matched the brags I saw online. This math mistake is partly to blame. So if you’ve ever come across a couponing brag online that seemed too good to be true, there’s a chance it just might be.