July 18, 2009

They say it's your birthday

Since my bursting at the seams cabinets and pantry didn't need any new additions this week, I decided to focus my couponing energy on purchasing other items that I found I needed (and some I didn't).

One of the things I realized we were going to have to have was cat food, and that was going to pose a bit of a challenge. For at least the last 6 months, I have never paid full price for cat treats. With two outdoor cats plus one inside, they go through those little bags of nuggets like kitties with a crack habit. Coupons for Goodlife Recipe, Feline Greenies, Friskies Party mix, Pounce, Temptations...I buy them all. But for cat food, we use Royal Canin, and I have never, ever seen a coupon for that in the Sunday paper. I knew that I could probably score a Purina coupon and grab something one day at Target, but the Royal Canin has helped some of the indoor cat's issues with weight and sensitive stomach so much that I was concerned about switching over to a less uppity brand for even the length of time it would take him to eat a small bag's worth.

So I put off buying cat food much longer than I normally would. And for once, my hesitancy paid off: Thanks to hubby's great find at couponclipper.com, I actually ended up with a coupon to PetSmart for $5.00 off a $25.00 purchase! This was exactly what I needed; Cat's giant bag of food costs $40.00, so by having this coupon, I was able to use just that and get exactly what I needed. The most difficult part of the entire thing was managing that 20lb bag of food on one hip and the 15 pound baby on the other!

I also had an unintentional challenge arise during this time: A birthday. Now, it's not like birthdays are surprises. They come every year - at the same time, even - so you've pretty much got 364 days of advance notice. But this was a special birthday: A first birthday. And I wanted a gift that was both fun for the birthday boy AND concurrent with his party's theme. And I had an idea of what I wanted, but I couldn't find it in-stock anywhere on-line. So I took my chances and waited to buy the gift.

And then I got trapped in mandatory coupon Hell.

I panicked. What can you get a one-year-old that he would actually like that you can find a coupon for?!?! Now, I know there are coupons sometimes in the Toys R Us circular, but remember, I was searching for an item to meet a theme, and anyway those coupons are usually for toys for much older kids. He wasn't going to be able to do much with a Nintendo DS game, you know? And by searching more local brick and mortar stores, I was SERIOUSLY limiting the chances that I'd find both what I was looking for AND have a coupon for it if it magically appeared.

After spending an entire afternoon with a baby on my hip at the mall, I resigned myself to the fact that I was not going to find what I was looking for and I was not going to be able to get the birthday boy his gift on time. I was so disappointed. But after searching one last store, I caught a clue: A lot of these brick and mortar stores that I'm going in DO have websites and sometimes, if you're lucky, those websites have coupons!

When we got home, I searched the few stores I had checked in person to see if I could find what I was looking for online. While a few of them carried the item, it was out of stock at every. single. store. Curses! I had no choice but to move on to Plan B, but at least now I knew I could find something in my theme. During this search period, I also remembered that you could find coupon codes at Ebates.com - where you also get a rebate of a percentage of your total! I cruised on over and what do you know: One of the stores where I had found a suitable Plan B offered 7% cash back + a coupon code for 15% off my entire order! I was SO excited! Not only was I able to finally find this little man a great birthday gift, but I was able to purchase it within the limits of the experiment AND I got a little cash back to boot! I only hope his sweet mama understands how much thought and planning went into that gift and that it wasn't just a decision based on cost!

After finally securing that gift, my birthday mojo was working at full power. I had gotten a coupon in my email for a local store that sells little pretty things, and since it was near the PetSmart, I decided to go on in and meander around a bit. Lucky, lucky day: I was able to get a cute little something for a friend's birthday that is coming up in another month or so. And maybe - since it was a coupon for 10% off my entire purchase - I grabbed a little something for myself, too. I am working very hard at this experiment, you know. A girl needs pretties. That is why you need to go online right now and search for your favorite little local shops. Many of them have email newsletters and most of those will show up in your inbox with a coupon from time to time.

I have one more birthday challenge: The husband. His birthday falls two days after the end of the mandatory coupon period. But now that I've got my birthday present mojo working, finding him a gift should be a piece of cake.

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