Today's Obssession

"Have you seen that show where those people get all of that stuff for free with coupons? They're probably a bunch of lazy people without jobs."

-Guy behind me in the checkout lane at Giant Eagle last week. What a douche.

P. Manolos

Post-Christmas Sale Items at Kroger

Kroger didn't disappoint me this week...

I didn't intend to go to Kroger to buy anything except a few items that had a coupon that was set to expire at the end of the month. Lots and lots of face wash if you really want to know. I had a ton of high value coupons ($2.00 off) and I didn't want them to go to waste. I always need face wash and the fact that I only had three bottles in my closet freaked me out a bit. If I have less than three of anything I get a bit freaked out......

Well, let's be honest it freaked me out a lot. So off to Krogers I went. I had no idea they would have any markdowns left. I guess I've been a really good girl this year because look at all the goodies I found:

I'm really sorry if the picture is pretty blurry, I can't seem to locate my behemoth Nikon right now and I wanted to snap these photos before I made my way to bed. The gift boxes were a fantastic find at 62 cents a pack. Yes they're green and red, but they definitely come in handy when you need to wrap a gift and you're out of boxes. Who wants to pay $2.00 for one box when you can pay less than 10 cents? There's plenty of chocolate in the picture too. $1.00 bag - $1.00/3 coupon = around 0.65 a bag. Did I mention Hershey Kisses make great Peanut Butter Kiss cookies? Mmmmmmmm!

Nutcrackers. I missed the ballet, so I guess this is the next best thing. These little guys were soo freakin cute and I've always wanted to be one of "those people" who have tons of Xmas decorations around the house and you feel like Santa is going to pop out of the bathroom with a newspaper and a quizzical look on his face as to why you're out of bed on Christmas eve. (NO ONE is to old for the Claus man!).  They were $1.00 a piece. Not bad considering they were $4.00 a piece before Xmas.

And now ladies & gents, for my absolute favorite find of the evening (cue drum roll):

A reusable plastic Starbucks cup. The cup has a ton of holiday decorations on it, but I'm completely OK with rocking Xmas all throughout the new year. I love reusable cups because they're better for the environment and are so much fun to carry around. If you went to the store on December 1, this baby would have cost you $10.00. For me, the cup was only $3.97, well over 50% off.

So if you haven't caught the drift of my post yet, let me lay it out for you straight with no chaser. If you love holiday decorations/wrapping paper/etc, buy it after Christmas. Non-perishable items will keep very well in a tightly enclosed plastic bin and you'll be able to take them out when the holiday season rolls around. Many holiday items can also be used throughout the year for other events.

Happy Holidays!

P. Manolos

P.S.- Did I mention the cashier took more than 3 coupons today??! I was ready to split everything, but he said hey don't worry about it I'll just scan them all together. Merry Christmas indeed!!

A Financial Disconnect

If you saw me four years ago...You wouldn't recognize me.

I don't remember a week back then where I didn't have something new to add to my closet, gone shopping until my wallet was sucked dry, or spent $50.00 on dinner without a blink of an eye. I guess you can say if I were a Model Penal Code mental state I would be recklessness- which for my non-legal readers out there it is when a defendant knows of a substantial and unjustifiable risk and consciously disregards that risk.

Unjustifiable and substantial risks. Financial risks are just as scary as riding around without a seatbelt on the highway or engaging in unprotected sex with a stranger. Like the aforementioned acts, you may find yourself injured and overly exposed. For example, I knew that going to Bebe or Nordstrom would inevitably lead me to the sales rack and I would spend hours shifting through clothes just to find the perfect outfit. Stupid considering the fact that many of the things I bought were so trendy, I would find myself dropping it off at the Goodwill a few weeks later when I'm sick of seeing it in the closet.

Have you ever seen those commercials and apparel items that talk about being a "Shopoholic" and how proud we as women are to walk around wearing that crap? It's like a giant neon sign that says "Hey everyone, I'm an adult who enjoys making stupid, reckless decisions with my money and gamble my entire future away on stuff... Oh and did I mention you'll eventually have to pick up the tab for my recklessness?" Remember the early 2000s when credit was so fast and loose that anyone with a pulse could get some plastic? Those days are long, long gone. Yet, is it just me or have we not learned the hard, hard truth about our money? Losing our homes to foreclosure, feeling the pressure of bill collectors, and even starving families in Surburbia still hasn't quite sunk the American "go buy it all" spirit. So when will our country learn as a whole quit trying to keep up with the Jones?

I think the greatest lesson we have learned from the recession is our disconnect from our money. Remember the days before credit cards and 24hr ATM machines? I don't because I'm only 26, but I can't help but wonder if technology has robbed us from something that is so crucial to good financial health: a connection to our pocketbooks. We can feel a dollar bill in our hands, but we certainly can't feel $500.00 coming out of a plastic card. There was a time when I felt my own disconnection with my finances and often spent for a lifestyle that frankly I couldn't keep up with. Americans as a whole would use credit to buy into the life of the rich and famous because they could just pay the minimum and still have some money in the bank.

Now there's no credit and even less money in the bank. Our country is finally getting back onto a path of fiscal conservatism and pragmatic living. Do we really need to have two cars in the garage and 120 inch plasma TV? Don't get me wrong, I still love designer clothes and going out to the mall every once in a while. I've only changed my relationship and attitude towards the hard earned money I place in the bank each week. My own personal money philosophy is as follows: if I want it, I'll save for it, if I need it I'll buy it, and if I can't afford it, I'll make sacrifices to be in a position to do so in the future. 

Strange thing for a budding attorney to say huh? As the holiday season approaches, I do hope you'll consider giving out a gift that is never returned and always appreciated: fiscal sanity. He doesn't need the new car, and you damn well don't need that $800.00 purse. If you're making enough salary to buy either of those items in cash, then I tip my hat off to you. If not, just take a deep breath and place the plastic on the floor and your hands above your head where I can see them.

Merry Xmas!

P. Manolos

Today's Obsession

Thank God it's raining.

I'll take rain over snow any day.

P. Manolos

When "teh" stupid strikes- How to Avoid teh Bad Cashier

 Yea, that miss-spelling is on purpose. It didn't seem right to spell "the" properly after the experience I went through last night at Kroger.

The is one of those words no one should spell incorrectly. After all, didn't we start out with saying the naturally when we were children? Even before anyone of us stopped pooping in our diapers, we somehow knew that we couldn't get a point across with a "the".

Well, last night "teh" (pronounced "tuh" or "durrr" or durka durka if you will) cashier at Kroger hit me with a hot, steamy plate of "teh stupid". I was just running to teh store to get three things- two dozen eggs and a frozen pizza.

I had two coupons with me, one coupon was the fantastic .55/2 dozen eggs coupon from the Incredible egg website (God bless them, I was able to score two dozen eggs for .75 cents/dozen last night). I decided to go through the self check out because I wanted to just get in and get out, I mean this was no extreme couponing trip for me where I would walk out getting paid money to leave the store. I didn't even bring my binder because I just hoped in my little heart that two little measley coupons wouldn't get me in any trouble.

Well, I was wrong as hell and before you know it, teh stupid hit me like a jilted surburban housewife. I should have saw it coming, I've done a dance with this cashier before. As soon as I finished scanning my items and looked over to see who the "assisting associate" would be, I sighed. I've nicknamed her Cousin It because of her long, shaggy hair that doesn't swish from side to side, but lays against her face and entire body like those giant mats of seaweed that drift onto the beach and you try your hardest not to step in.  Last time the two of us had a dance, the exchange went like this:

Cousin It: Ummmm, excuse me ma'am, we only take 3 like coupons per trip now.
Me: Oh really, I wasn't aware of that. I was hear just a few days ago and I was able to use more than 3.
Cousin It: Well, that cashier shouldn't have done that. I can do separate transactions for every three items, but I can't accept all three for one.
Me: Nevermind then, I'll just get three hand soaps, thank you.

Man was that a clusterf*ck. I spent a lot of time that week going to Kroger 2 a day to get .18 hand soap. With a price like that you stock up as many as possible and wait until they're free again.

So you can imagine my chagrin when she came over and said one of teh dumbest things I've heard in a while from a cashier:

Cousin it: Ummmmmm durka durka durka We durka durka don't take durka durka internet coupons over $2.00 durka durka durka because they tend to be fradulent. I'll have to talk to my errr.... manager.. 
Me: Ummm, ok. (Inside I just wanted to pop off and tell her where to go with the $2.00/1 Digiorno Pizza Q).
Cousin it promptly returned and scanned both of my coupons. "You're good to go honey". Oh yea? Now you're calling me honey?

I did I post a while back on how to verify if your coupon is legit, but for now I'll just give you a few pointers on how to work with difficult cashiers like Cousin It. How to avoid "teh" stupid and get through your shopping trip without a hitch. Here's some points to keep in mind.

1. You will always know more than the cashier- We aren't in Kansas anymore and it's no longer the golden year of 1950 where people made a career out of being a cashier. With the amount they get paid per hour, the grocery chains experience high turnover and attract employees who are less than likely to educate themselves on what a proper coupon looks like or there store policy. Always keep a copy in your binder- I understand the Krogers refuses to distribute a printout policy, but you can find policies posted for other stores like Giant Eagle, CVS, Wags, etc.

2. Ask questions- If your cashier says they "don't take" a certain coupon or a number of coupons, take out your printout of the store policy and show them. If this still doesn't work out in you favor, ask for a manager. I know it feels like you're being a major douche, but this is really the only way the cashier is going to learn and perhaps make shopping easier for the next couponer.

3. If the manager doesn't allow it, you're toast- Yes. Many stores have language in their policies that state "at the manager's discretion." So if they decide they don't want to take your coupon, you can (and should IMO), leave without making the purchase. You should also call the corporate office and file a complaint about the store and describe in detail who you dealt with and which coupon you tried to use. The corporate office will usually forward your complaint to the store and you can either elect to hear from the store manager or decline to do so.

4. If you've got a good cashier, stick with them- I know this sounds strange, but if you find that a particular cashier is very nice to you, then try to plan shopping around the same time they're working. It's okay for a cashier to verify that you bought everything in your bag- that's there job. It's not okay for them to frown at you, berate you, or reject your coupon without justification based on store or the manufacturer's policy. If it's a really hot deal and you've got a few extra Qs, be sure to give your cashier a couple of them so they can score a few items.

5. Be Polite- I can't emphasize to you enough how important it is to just be polite. Unfortunately for couponers, we aren't the average shopper and we stick out like a sore thumb. Being a mean couponer sets the impression to the cashier that all couponers are bickering penny pinching psychos hell bent on making their day a living hell.

P. Manolos

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