Couponing 101

I am addicted to saving a ridiculous amount of money on everything I buy for our home: groceries, toiletries, cleaning supplies, office supplies, clothes and even remodeling "stuff" (think Lowes - and we may just be their number one customer two years running now).

Now I know what you are thinking:

"Goodness gracious!  She is one of THOSE women who hold up the grocery line in the evening when I just run in to the store to grab a few items for dinner!  It takes fifteen minutes to check her out AND... she saved like a whopping $1.35 off her total receipt.  Gee, remind me to burn the coupons that come in my newspaper next time." 

Let me stop you there and clear just a few things up:
  • I do not save pennies- I save HUNDREDS of dollars!  Often between 60%-100% off my total grocery bill.  Yes, that is correct.  100% off.  As in... FREE!  
  • I almost never go shopping at prime busy store hours.  I usually wake up at 5am Sunday morning or go late in the evening to do my "couponing".
  • I often let people go in front of me if I do have more than a couple coupons for my transaction.
So let me ask you this.  If you were walking through Macys, and saw a rack of Lucky Brand clothing with a sign reading 60% off, you would wander on over and take a look, right? Don't lie.  You would.  

Now, lets say the sign said 75% off.  You wouldn't walk over... you would probably have a little skip in your step, huh?  Yes, please!  Lucky Brand skinny jeans at 75% off gets my heart beating a little faster.  

Okay, so what if the sign said 100% off?  You would stop, drop everything.. and run.  Fast. With your elbows out.  Free Lucky tanks.. score!  Who doesn't love free?!   

My point exactly.  Everyone loves free.  Especially when it comes to stuff you have to buy- case in point... food for your family.  Yes, you can get free groceries using coupons!  Literally... free food!  Chips, yogurt, milk, cookies, spices, condiments, produce, brownies, soda... is your heart beating a little faster yet?  I haven't even mentioned free toothpaste yet  ; )

When I first started couponing, I used to joke, "It is like Christmas morning every Sunday when I go outside and get my newspapers to see what new coupons I got!"  I even admitted to my very non-couponing (we might have to add that word to your dictionary too) friend, Kim, that I had started to go to bed early on Saturday nights, just so Sunday morning would come faster.  Haha- she just shook her head and frowned, "Oh, Michala." was all she could manage.  

I get six Sunday newspapers each week.  I take out the coupon inserts and give my neighbors each a newspaper!  Want to be our new neighbor?  :)

I will admit that I don't go to bed early on Saturday nights now just because I am so excited to see my coupons come Sunday morning (haha- I go to bed at 7:30 on Saturday nights now because I am an exhausted mama).  Couponing has just become a way of life for me now.  Once I saw just how much money I could save my family,  I could never go back to spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars each month at the grocery store.  I just can't do it.  Plain and simple.  It is a conscious decision I have made.  

I look at it like this: you are either going to spend time (cutting, organizing, planning with coupons) or money.  I choose to spend an hour or two each week to save my family hundreds of dollars each month.  

My trusty coupon binder.  I sewed a fabric cover so I can carry it over my shoulder.  It could almost pass as a purse- that is until I stroll down the aisles browsing through the pages.  Then it is pretty obvious that this is no purse.

I use dividers to help organize my coupons into categories.  I know.. just when you thought I couldn't get any cooler  :)

 But to many, it is simply not worth it (which I can totally understand).  In the beginning, I was SO embarassed to parade through the store with a giant binder filled with baseball collector card sheets and coupons coming out my ears.  I would get either bewildered stares or comments like, "Wow!  You must have a lot of time on your hands!  That is some serious dedication to penny pinching!"  Eh- if they saw my receipts- they would know I am laughing.. all the way to the bank. 

A recent trip to my favorite Albies.  Yup, that would be a savings of 100%!  My whole transaction was free.  I just had to pay sales tax!  Yes, I am seriously dedicated, thank you very much.

So I hate to break it to you, but you can't always get 100% savings.  These are examples of a shopping trip in which I saved 87% and another where I saved 89% by matching coupons to sale prices.

Another huge benefit to couponing is building a "stockpile" (P.S. I can't stand this word for some reason.  It sounds ridiculous- like I am hoarding or something.  I know,  silliness, but bare with me).  I call it "shopping out of my pantry".  When I can get something for super cheap, or even free, I buy a bunch of it.  For example: refried beans.  We eat a ton of Mexican food in our house, so when I was able to get them for free awhile back by matching coupons to a sale... I bought 36 cans.  (Oh dear, when my best friend Mal saw this, I thought she might give herself a heart attack from  laughing so hard.  She is definitely not the couponing type).  But I am happy as a clam, because the way I see it, I just saved about $40 (beans are about $1.15/can x 36) that I can  keep in my savings account (or these days, spend on diapers!  But for you maybe... think Lucky Jeans!) 

By the time we run out of refried beans and I need to buy some again, it will probably cycle through another sale at the store.  In the meantime, bring on enchilladas, burritos and tacos!  (Ha- perfect,  I just scored ten packages of free Mission tortillas last week at Albertsons! Yay for a deep chest freezer- a must have if you are going to shop sales and "coupon".  Nowadays, the word coupon itself can be used as a noun, verb or adjective.  I told you this whole couponing thing was magic!)

I will explain more about couponing and my grocery shopping in later posts.  I promise we don't just eat refried beans.  You can build your stockpile, and over time you really will have a mini grocery store of items you can build a varied menu for your family with!  

At the end of the day, I do admit that couponing is a part-time job.  I am okay with this, because it allows us to save so much money we would otherwise spend at the store each month.  For me, it is just one more step on our road to economic freedom! 

Follow my posts under the label "Coupon Trips" and I will walk you through the shopping transactions I go through each week when using coupons.  Get ready to become seriously addicted to shopping... without spending hardly anything out of your pocket!  It is pretty much the best way to shop.  You will never look at groceries, toiletries baby items, and even makeup the same again.  Ever. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow your couponing sounds amazing!I never understood how you can do it though if you only like certain brands of food. I would love some tips on that. Great post!