The Coupon Project- what happens after using coupons for one year?

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Did we give away the happy ending already? Damn!

I was doing a bit of ‘specific purpose’ shopping at Mike’s No Frills grocery store in Port Dover,Ontario to pick up some of their No Name Yogurt. I buy this all the time and use it mixed with fruit, or when making a smoothie with yogurt, milk and berries.

[ It is worth noting, that some consumers remain staunchly brand-loyal and even brand-dependent. They believe that no-name products are ‘not as good’ as the brand name products that they favor. In reality many no-name brands are manufactured using the same ingredients and at the same factory as the brand product, the only difference being the price and the look of the label. That being said, I’m not ready to trade in my Heinz ketchup for the no-name brand….but Aylmer is a close second. Can you taste the difference? We want to know, leave us your  Shitex comments at the bottom of this post CP ]

From the urban dictionary.

As I was about to take several tubs (5) off the shelf, I noticed a pad of tear-off coupons right above the yogurt. They were for $1.00 (Cdn) off each tub of No Name Yogurt that you purchased. Since I had 5 tubs in my tote basket, I peeled off 5 coupons. When I got to the check-out, I put the coupons on each tub and the cashier deducted $5.00 off my bill. The regular cost was $1.97 a tub, which would have made the total cost $9.85. I paid $4.85. I was very, very happy. I got the yogurt that I intended to buy, and I got a bargain. Also the empty tubs can be put in recycling bins, or used as food-savers for leftovers.

Celebrating 30 years of 'no-name' Loblaws Canada recently began repackaging its 'no-name' products in retro-vintage black on yellow.

A friend of mine, Ken, who worked in the food  industry, once told me, “Coupons are an easy way for customers to save money. The store does not loose any money, the coupons go right back to the company.”

A few years back, I decided to see if coupons did save me money. Each week I went through the newspapers, magazines, and store coupons I had collected as well as the free coupon bins in the stores. These bins are there for customers who don’t want to use their coupons, but throw them in a bin so that other customers strolling by can scoop up whatever they want to use. I used an old duo tang notebook to record my savings, a ruler, line paper, and a pen. I drew lines across the page. I also drew lines vertically down the page for categories.

The first category was NUMBER, and then ITEM PURCHASED, then COUPON PRICE, and lastly PRICE TOTAL. I found an old, very large mayonnaise jar with a lid (the kind they used in restaurants that buy in large quantities). I put a slot in the top of the lid so that it was more convenient to drop coins into the jar rather than unscrewing the cap each time.

I labeled the jar, “Coupon Money.” Every time I went to the store and used a coupon, I put the actual money I saved into the jar. It may have been only 35 cents, or 50 cents. Then I recorded the information in my duo-tang.

I decided to do this project for one year. I started in February. I never told anyone what I was doing. If my wife used a coupon, she also added the money to the jar, and recorded the information. Never did I use the proceeds from the jar during the year, but I was tempted many times. Over the months of the year, I took the change that was accumulating and transferred it into bills, starting with $5.00, then $10.00, then $20.00 bills. The idea was to use coupons on products that I normally purchased, not to get 50 cents off a product I wouldn’t normally buy.

I was very dilligent with my project that year. It was kind of a game made especially fun when I would get the jar out and look with envy at all the bills stuffed in there.

As the year anniversary was approaching, my wife started telling people about the “Coupon Project.” I heard comments like, “How silly.” “Why would you want to waste your time doing that?” “When I get coupons I throw them out.” “You won’t make any savings on them.” But at the end of the year, the jar contained $520.00. As it turned out, we needed a new couch. We purchased a brand new bed-chesterfield, including delivery, for $500.00

A week later, two friends who had thought that my “Coupon Project” was nonsense, remarked on how beautiful and expensive our couch looked. They asked, “How did you afford to buy such a beautiful couch?” I replied proudly, “coupons.”

Blair R. Yager is a writer for The Silo and is the author of Recycle, Reuse,Redistribute. “It is not how much you make, but how you spend it.” Copies are available at The Book Factory in Simcoe, Ontario. 519-426-4583 @ $7.00/book.




1 Comment to The Coupon Project- what happens after using coupons for one year?

  1. We just checked our fridge here at the satellite office- found one 1L jar No Name brand (vintage black lettering on yellow label :> ) polskie ogorki pickles with garlic. They taste pretty good- but I’m told the lid is a challenge to remove and according to the label, this is a product of India. Which is….you know…not local. Not by a long stretch. Looking forward to the upcoming 2012 local produce season.

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