We all fall into the same trap with those crafting goodies – the urge hits, we go to the store, we see one fabulous thing after another, plus some irresistible goodies in the clearance area, and before you know it, we have filled a basket and spent a lot. You can still do this, but from now on, you will NOT pay more than 50% of the regular price. You will NOT do without, because after you follow this plan, you will have so many crafting goodies you will scare yourself. You will be so overrun with your favorite projects, plus tools, storage items, embellishments, anything you can ever imagine you will need. At the end of ONE MONTH you will have a hoarder’s load of stuff and you won’t believe it. And you’ll have paid half of what you would have paid.
Every decision you make involves a tradeoff of time vs. money, and the discipline to follow a plan. I will show you that for about four hours a week, every week for a month, you can get what you want. You will just be required to have the discipline to manage your time, control your impulses, and be organized even just a slight little bit in order to keep on track.
Starting with the basics – the three major craft stores on the West side are Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, and JoAnns. They are located fairly close to each other. Important to note, because this will come in handy for reasons you will understand in a minute, there is a Sherwin Williams paint store on Blackstock road near the Michael’s, and there is a Harbor Freight Tools in the Burlington Coat Factory plaza on the opposite side of WO Ezell Blvd not far from Michael’s. Sounds unrelated, but you’ll understand in a minute.
Each store has its own rules about discounts and coupons. Here is a breakdown of each store:
- Michael’s will discount entire categories of the store, ranging from 30% to 70% off. Typically, the 30%, 40%, and 50% rotate among departments. 70% is usually reserved for post-holiday items, such as the Halloween items in November or the Christmas items in January. Michael’s issues a new coupon every week for 40%, 50%, or sometimes even 55% or 60% that can be used on ONE ITEM that is at regular price in the store, plus, they also issue multiple coupons each week that apply only to certain departments. Michael’s will accept only one coupon per transaction, but they are very lenient about multiple transactions. That means, if you have two different Michael’s coupons (say, one that is for bakeware and one for picture frames), you can ask the cashier to ring them up separately. I spoke to a manager at that store and he said people do that all the time, however, they ask that you NOT do that if there are people in line behind you. He said if there is a line behind you or only one register open, that you use your one coupon, then step out of line and let the others ring out, get back in line and do the next coupon. He said this is very common and no one would think you were weird if you did that. He also said you can only do one coupon of each TYPE per day, so if you had ten coupons for 50% off a bakeware item, you could only use of those a day, but there would not be a problem with you using a bakeware, framing, paper crafts, and notions coupons in the same day – you would just have to do 4 different transactions if you are using 4 different coupons. Michael’s will also accept competitors coupons from JoAnns and Hobby Lobby if they are worded similar to the Michael’s, are for an item that Michael’s carries, and you are only doing one coupon per transaction.
- Repeat everything I just said about Michael’s and apply it to JoAnn’s. Their sales cycles and coupon policies are identical except for one thing – they will not accept competitor’s coupons for fabric purchases, only their own coupons for fabric purchases.
- Hobby Lobby regularly discounts just about every department every week at least somewhat – most are discounted 30%, 40%, or 50%. The sales cycle often and hit every department about every 3 to 4 weeks, so if you miss a sale on glassware, within 3 weeks that sale will be back. Hobby Lobby, at least the local one, does not accept competitor’s coupons. They will accept their own coupon in paper form or on your smartphone.
- Sherwin Williams is a paint store, sure, but walk inside sometime and you’ll be surprised at what you find. There are many items they offer that will translate well to the crafting world – paintbrushes, safety glasses, tarps and protective sheeting, cleaning supplies, glue, tape, and many others. They also issue their own coupons, you can find them in the Sunday paper.
- Harbor Freight Tools is a tool store, but open your mind and go inside and again you’ll be surprised and what you can find that will help you. And, they offer coupons every Sunday, sometimes many, that will be useful. They also always have a free item available with any purchase, and many “super coupons” for stuff that is less than $2.00. I have again found glue, tape, scissors, paintbrushes, cleaning supplies, protective wear, tarps, everything you need for picture hanging, and many other items there, and they are always running huge deals on everyday items and the deals rotate often. Every Sunday paper has a 20% off any regular price item, and a free coupon with any purchase.
Here is where I am going to ask for your time. How many days a week do you run out of the house to run an errand? I do this probably two or three times a week, but in this case, I will only ask you for two days a week. On those days, you will spend about an hour and a half of your time each of those two days to run this plan. You will also spend about 30 minutes a week preparing for your errands. Figure out how to work this in to your schedule – leave the house earlier, bring your lunch with you and eat it in the car, whatever you need to do to carve out an hour and half and run these errands with your usual ones.
Take about 30 minutes and gather the following coupons – the latest Sherwin Williams coupon, the Harbor Freight free item and 20% coupon plus any “super coupons” for crafting supplies, three Hobby Lobby coupons, two Michael’s coupons, and two JoAnn’s coupons.
First, stop at Harbor Freight Tools. If there are any super coupons for a crafting item, such as scissors or glue, get that. Also, get something that is really low price (electrical tape for $0.79, artist’s paint brush set for $1.00, you will see several things) that will cost $1.00 or less. Take your one or two items (no more than that – just the super coupon item and low regular price one) and at the counter, hand the cashier your coupons plus the free item coupon. You will walk out of there with two or three items for less than $2 – the super coupon item (if there is one related to crafting), the cheap regular price one with the 20% off coupon, and the free item of the week. It will take discipline not to go crazy and buy 20 things, but stay focused, only get two or three.
Second, stop at Sherwin Williams with your Sherwin Williams coupons and see if there is anything there that is cheaper than the crafting stores and that you would use with your crafts. Buy only ONE item, use your coupon, and if you do not see something you can use and that you can get cheap, walk out of the store without buying anything. ONLY buy something if you can use the coupon and if it is something that is at a better price than the craft stores. You will walk out of the store with either one or no items.
Third, go to Michael’s, see if there are any departments at 50% or more. If so, you have my permission to buy extras from those departments, but ONLY the 50% or more departments. Discipline! Stay focused! OK, after you have shopped the 50% off categories, go to the regular price categories and pick out THREE things at regular price – only THREE, no more than three! Less is okay but no more than three. So now, in your basket, you have the clearance/50% off items of your choice, and no more than three regular price items. When you go to the checkout counter, you will have to be courteous of the other customers if there is anyone waiting in line, but get your three regular price items with one Michael’s coupon, one Hobby Lobby coupon, and one JoAnn’s coupon for 50% off each. You may have to do three separate transactions and you might even have to step out of line and let others go ahead of you to finish your transactions. Again, time vs. money, this is what it takes. You will feel the thrill when you do head back out to your car – everything in your bag was 50% off or better! When was the last time you could say THAT?
Fourth, go to JoAnns. Follow a similar plan. See if there are any departments at 50% off or more, and go crazy if you feel like it. ONLY buy from the 50% off or more departments. Then, check the other departments, and pick out THREE regular price items you will use. One or two is okay, but no more than three regular price items. Again, be kind at the checkout counter, and be ready to step out of line and let everyone go ahead of you in case they need to do more than one transaction. But when you leave, again, you will have used your competitor’s coupons, your JoAnns coupons, followed all their rules, and saved 50% on everything.
Fifth, go to Hobby Lobby. Check the 50% off departments and see if there is anything you might need. Then, select ONE regular price item – only one, stick to the plan. Check out with your Hobby Lobby coupon, your 50% off sale items, and your one regular price item with the 50% off coupon.
The pile of bags in your trunk or hatchback is now starting to pile up … we are done for the day, get on with whatever else you have to do.
Repeat this entire plan for the second errand day of your week.
You will do this twice a week for one month. Stay focused, stay disciplined, organize before you go, don’t miss an opportunity, and stick with the plan. At the end of one month, having picked up 7 or 8 things each trip (or more if you see a lot of 50% off stuff), and running errands twice a week, and spending some time planning and executing your plan, you will have over 60 craft items. Yes, SIXTY. Like I said, you will scare yourself with what you can stockpile when you get a plan and stay disciplined. And everything in your haul was 50% off. You paid full price for NOTHING and you have more crafting stuff than you can possibly use.
Skip a couple of weeks after that if you feel you have what you want … but don’t neglect the after holiday sales, that’s the best time to catch up on goodies you can use another time.
If you can spend a little more time and organization, here are a few more tips I find that helps:
- Sometimes I feel a little twinge when I have to pick out only one, or two, or three items. I might see five or six I want. What I do is have a little notebook in my purse and I write down the things I want that I didn’t get. That way, I know exactly what to attack on my very next errand day. Even if there are TEN things I want, in two weeks, I’d have them all, at half price!!
- I keep not only paper coupons because they are a nice tangible reminder of what stops I have to make that day, but I also pull up the coupons on my smartphone. All the cashiers are used to that and it’s really easy to do. Ask me if you need help doing that.
- The freebie at Harbor Freight might not be what you want, but think outside of the box a little bit. It’s FREE, and someone wants it. In my house, I have a “present drawer”, it is a dresser drawer that is full of just goodies that are brand new, in the original package, ready to be wrapped, and that I might not keep for myself. Recently, the freebie at Harbor Freight was a basic screwdriver set. Well, if you know do-it-yourselfers, they are always setting screwdrivers down somewhere and can’t find it and are always buying an entire set just to get one particular size. Those free screwdriver sets went in my present drawer, I ended up with six of them, and they were all Christmas presents for the handy people I know in my life that would use them. Do NOT turn down free stuff!
- You ALWAYS need glue … scissors … thread … similar things. I keep a list of my constantly renewable stuff. Don’t skip a stop, and don’t miss an opportunity, just because you don’t need something “right now”. Waiting until you need it is the WORST way to buy things. Do not buy things when you need them – buy things when they are at the lowest price, then you will already HAVE them when you need them! Follow the plan, do not skip a stop, and buy the basics that you will always use if you do not see anything that jumps out at you right then and there. Focus, stay disciplined, you will be rewarded.