Dive into Discounts

Go on a shopping spree with AAPC.

By Danielle Montgomery

There are many benefits to being a member of AAPC. One of the least known is our affinity program. Admittedly, I knew that the program offered excellent savings on a number of items but didn’t know about all of them. For instance, you can get 10 percent off items from Target when shopping online, 15 percent off online orders over $100 through Kohl’s, up to 50 percent off certain online items through Office Depot, and 25 percent off an online order of $50 or more through Hot Topic (This one is best used while biting your tongue, buying that studded belt and heavy metal CD for teenagers who haven’t discovered who they are, yet.).

AAPC member benefits range from discounts on code books to trips to Disneyland. If you think about it, you can save more than the amount of your membership dues per year by taking advantage of the discounts AAPC offers.

Convenient Online Savings

I wanted to see exactly what member benefits we offer, so I decided to poke around online a little. I was surprised by what I found. At www.aapc.com/resources/member-benefits.aspx there are many companies offering discounts on items and services ranging from travel and recreation services to movies and entertainment; jewelry and gifts to office supplies and flowers. All services are offered for online shopping; and, if you’re like me, you’re busy working long hours, taking kids to piano lessons and baseball practice, running errands as fast as you can before businesses close, and somehow throwing dinner in the mix. Who has time to shop? The convenience of online shopping is something that many of us have come to love.

One section on the Member Savings Benefits webpage that I am especially thrilled about is the AAPC Savings Connec-tion, where you can find an abundance of grocery coupons. There are three things you need to know about me: I have two kids (a bottomless pit of an 8-year-old son and an ever-growing 1-year-old daughter), I’m trying to lose weight (I’m claiming it’s still baby weight—a year later), and I’m on a tight budget.

I’ve never coupon clipped before. I was intrigued, however, by the concept and decided to try it out. While browsing through the coupons AAPC offered, I found

a number of things beneficial to my family—and my never ending quest to fit back into my jeans. There were coupons for cereal, yogurt, healthy granola bars, infant formula, diapers, dinner items, dessert items (these were hard to avoid), miscellaneous household items like Combat, Glade Plug-Ins and lotion, frozen vegetables, juice, cleaning supplies, snacks, coffee and many, many others. I printed my selected coupons, cut them out, and sped to the store.

Let’s Shop

While shopping, I purposely avoided all in-store coupons to discover exactly how much I could save with just the coupons I printed through the AAPC Savings Connection.

As a picky eater, grocery shopping is normally hard for me because I don’t like a lot of things that my son and husband enjoy. I was doubtful I could find anything I liked with the coupons I had; however, I was delighted to find many items I liked and that my son and husband would eat as well. This gave me the motivation to purchase healthier items (again, the “baby weight”) that weren’t too expensive—plus, the additional savings I received.

Another concern on my list was that the store I went to—an exclusively suburban grocery store right down the street—would not have a lot of the coupon items. I was pleasantly surprised to find most of the items for which I had coupons.

While walking through the grocery store, my cart slowly but surely filled. Excited, I couldn’t wait to get to the checkout line to see how much I saved!

I got a workout pushing and navigating the cart through the aisles to the checkout counter. I started piling my items on the counter and told the cashier, “You’re going to hate me. I have all of this stuff and a TON of coupons!” Because I’d never clipped coupons before, I didn’t know how it worked. The cashier scanned all of my items and then I handed her my stack of coupons. She took them, scanned them one by one, and it was done in 30 seconds. I didn’t have to deal with the embarrassment of holding up a line of customers while the cashier begrudgingly entered my coupons in. They were easily printed, cut, and scanned.

Cha-ching!

It was nice to see the total amount due continually shrinking with each coupon scanned. When done, the receipt said I saved $35.45, or 15 percent.

While a savings of 15 percent is excellent, keep in mind that I also had to buy items for which I didn’t have coupons be-cause I hadn’t been grocery shopping in probably a month and a half prior. If I’d gone solely for items that I had coupons for, I would have walked away with a pantry full of food with even more savings.

Look to AAPC’s Savings Connection coupons to bolster the amount of money in your checking account. This combined with in-store coupons and smart shopping will save you even more.

Besides the money I saved, there are four things I learned from this experiment:

1. I’ll take advantage of this member benefit again.

2. I’ll be sure to organize the large amount of coupons by section to significantly cut down the in-store shopping time.

3. You don’t lose 10 pounds by making one trip to the grocery store.

4. I’ll make my husband watch the kids every time I grocery shop.

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