Several years ago, my sister tried to get me interested in couponing. I gave her my three standard excuses for avoiding coupons like the plague:
- I don’t have time to clip coupons, and .35-off is not worth my time anyway.
- We don’t eat the food that coupons buy.
- I don’t want to be seen as cheap or stingy.
She told me I might surprise myself. I was still skeptical, but I tucked her words away for a rainy day. A year later, the rainy days arrived. It was April, and I was a new stay-at-home-mom. We were suddenly in the deep end, living on one income. We either needed to sink into debt or swim with a tighter budget. We had built up a decent savings account, but who wants to dip into savings to buy toilet paper?
We needed to cut out about $200/month in spending from our budget. My sister’s words came back to me, and I decided to give it a shot. I figured the worst that could happen would be saving a few bucks. I jumped into the strange world of couponing. I started reading savings blogs and learning Couponese and cutting inserts and asking questions and making mistakes.
One sweaty, stressful transaction (couponing is hard work in the beginning), and I was hooked. I started dreaming about deals and doing multiple transactions a day and boring my poor husband with countless conversations that started with, “Guess how much I spent for all these items? No, really. Guess!” He’d play along, guessing some astronomical number so I could whip out my receipt and show him my savings. My husband was proud of my results but not interested in the details. Sound familiar?
Needless to say, I starting calling my mother and girlfriends instead. What is it with couponing that compels us to share our savings? A normal person does not gush about groceries; couponers, I discovered, are not normal people. Couponing will also drive you to dig through recycling bins for coupon inserts, scour deal blogs when sane folks are sleeping, open new email accounts, talk about deal scenarios at church, order coupons off e-Bay, and take surveys for product samples. Once unleashed, couponing is a crazy animal.
For me, the couponing high lasted for a surprisingly long time. Long enough that our bathroom cabinets were overflowing with free shaving cream and shampoo, and my pantry shelves were sagging with cheap tubs of oatmeal and cans of beans. Not only was I able to shave our grocery budget by $150-$200/month, but I was also able to give generously to local charities and food drives.
However, I caught myself spending time and money doing transactions for many items we did not need or use. I was bringing home bags of frozen vegetables and boxes of toaster pastries that we didn’t eat just because they were free! (And yes, I know this food can be donated to shelters.)
This led me to start educating myself about what I was feeding my family. I read books and watched programs. I cleaned out my pantry and my coupon box to only include products that I really wanted. Couponing actually led us to start eating better, not worse! (If this makes me sound like a food snob, rest assured I am not. My family still consumes our fair share of high-fructose corn syrup and can polish off a frozen pizza like nobody’s business.)
Two years later and I am now at a comfortable, feet-on-the-coffee-table stage in my relationship with couponing. I no longer dream about deals or sweat profusely in the check-out line. My husband and I haven’t had a coupon conversation in a long time. I use coupons on products I am not picky about (printer paper or dental floss or canola oil) so I can spend money on items that are more of a priority to me (eggs or milk or meat). I am more selective now, but I am still saving some serious money.
Have you noticed how couponing also makes you a smarter shopper, in general? It has helped me pay attention to growing seasons and loss leaders and good prices and sales cycles when making meal plans and shopping lists.
All of us in the Frugal Living NW community have different budgets, buying habits, and food preferences. The great thing about that is there is no need for stress (“I haven’t done a RiteAid deal in three months!”), guilt (“I paid full price for spaghetti sauce. Oh, the shame!”), jealousy (“How does she have time to stop at five stores in one afternoon?!”), or comparison (“At least we eat organic broccoli!”).
Whether you love Cap’n Crunch or eat all organic, whether you are new to the savings game or an old pro, we are all swimming in these crazy couponing waters together. Despite our differences, we all have one major strategy in common: We are choosing to save where we can so we have the freedom to give and splurge where we want. Or, pay the electric bill. Both lattes and light are good things, right?
Are you new to couponing? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Couponing for instructions, strategies, and inspiration!
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Summer Womack says
I went to one of your couponing classes,and got a little overly excited for a small amount of time. It faded fast, as my husband wasn’t onboard (separate money, and I pay all groceries/household items, so it was of ZERO interest to him that I was having to put so much time/effort into doing this). I have found (for myself) that I ended up doing a LOOOOOT of my shopping via Amazon. I still get just a little sweaty/excited when your emails come through my inbox. I feel like a rock star with the savings you alert me to around the Holidays. I do some subscribe & Save (I love not running out of tp!!)
I still like to see what is a good deal, and if it’s worth it to me/my family, I’ll go where I need to go to find that deal. I do appreciate all you guys do, and it really does help me!
Kate from Frugal Living NW says
Thank you Summer! We appreciate the feedback and we’re excited that you can use us as a great resource to help save you money even without coupons. I love Amazon! Have you checked out their Warehouse section? Just go to Amazon and put in Amazon warehouse in their search bar. They have closeout sales on food and hosuehold items. Lots of organic stuff too. 🙂
I loved reading your story and suspect that is true for many of us. I did exactly the same thing and now have a healthier relationship with couponing. Thanks for the smile.
I appreciate all you do. I do think subscribe to papers and no family around or many friends so getting coupons is difficult. As a single mom working full time it is hard to just find time to grocery shop. I use the site for sale prices so I know stock up prices and where to get meat that week. We eat by what is on sale and usually from scratch when possible. What I found with coupons is it for items we don’t eat or shouldn’t eat. Yeah I can get 14 boxes of fruit snacks for. 25 but would prefer to get a 5pound bag of cuties for 3.00. We shop at grocery outlet and just today was able to treat my classroom to mini drumsticks for 5.00 that normally would be 10. I go to places such as Dutch bros for coffee because it’s delish but they run specials AND you can earn stamps for free drinks. We order out from Papa Johns for treats because you earn points online and then I pick up on way home and get a punch card to earn more free pizza. I stopped at Papa Murphy the other night cause I was at safeway and they were in parking lot. They wanted 14 for one pizza. I haven’t been there in years and thought their prices were quite steep, however it was 7 and they offered me pepperoni pizza for 2.50 and chicken ceasar for 3 and breads ticks for 1.50 so 12 later I have 3 pizzas, salad and breadsticks and we had dinner and lunch and some for snack plus garlic bread for 2 days later. So, I don’t use coupons but shop sales and use the extra to get dinner out or splurge on coffee when I don’t have a gift card filled punch card or a special night. So for that I am grateful for you all.
Great article! I love the philosophical ones.
I too got started on the idea of real couponing thanks to Extreme Couponing than saw a blub about your blog on the news shortly after. I was lucky in that my husband gets excited about it too. I have problems with doing housework thanks to my feminist ideals, but couponing has helped make it fun and keep me busy and mentally challenged as a SAHM with a teen who has yet to transition to full time work.
I too was so stressed and embarrassed at first. After receiving many compliments from the checkout people I no longer feel that way. I have streamlined my technique over 2.5 years on here and probably still could do better.
I have a high income but couponing helps me keep on track with spending so I can spend on other stuff like travel and sports. It also put me in a good frame of mind to run my business better.
True, True and True 🙂 And it gave me a nice laugh.
Thanks to this website-I find terrific deals-but I have ALSO improved my eating habits, as you also have a great balance to post good recipes too-that aren’t too hard & even I can do it. I now regularly make roasted marinara sauce & roasted vegetables & got a hot air popper, after the discussion on microwave popcorn.
One of my early deals was free “fruit” snacks & then I read the ingredients & as my son would eat a box in 2 days, realized, that even free-I had to cut way back on that!
Thanks for everything 🙂
Liz C says
I’m still trying to figure out how coupons could actually save me money; it’s rare for me to have more than $3 worth on any shopping trip, and that’s if I’m doing a Big Shop for the month.
We can reliably find a 50c coupon for quarts of the *one* brand of yogurt we can eat (no fillers, no chemicals, no dyes, non-gmo, regional production) and that does take it below the cost of junk-filled national brands, so that’s keen. We don’t eat most production foods, and it’s rare to find a coupon for 48c/pound carrots. There used to be good $1/off milk and cheese coupons, but not recently; I use the 35c/off milk coupons when I find them. No one will eat the nasty cheese brands that have coupons associated with them (Kr*ft? Pleh.) Allergies mean we have to have specific things in toiletries and soap/detergent, and those brands don’t do coupons. We can get store brand medications for less than brand-with-coupon-and-specials.
I do try to watch specials to stock up on “free” donations for local humanitarian efforts, but in our household, coupons have not changed our buying habits, nor saved any significant money in the budget. I’d love for it to be different!
Have you tried writing/sending an email/Facebook message to those companies of products you use and ask about coupons? I have done that a few times and have been either sent coupons or sent in the direction to find a coupon. I like to purchase the Chinook Book each year as they have coupons for products I prefer to buy. I also check mambosprouts.com for some other coupons on natural products. I also have to decide which products are important for me to be “brand specific” or “nutrition specific” on. It’s not always easy!
Great post! It sounds so much like my journey with couponing too! I like where I am with it right now- having a much better idea of what is a good price for something, knowing what is in season, and not buying something just because it’s super cheap. I sometimes feel a little stressed when I pay full price for something I know I can get cheaper with coupons, but I’ve relaxed a lot and feel better knowing that others have gone through this process as well!
I love this site… I will admit I got into couponing after seeing the Extreme Couponers show…but it drove me crazy…I couldn’t get the same results…I soon learned to buy what I needed, when I needed it…Then last year, I discovered FLNW….you took away ‘hours’ of looking for those great deals…you showed us the deals, where to get the coupons and any extras we needed to know (I feel like I owe you finder’s fee)..I check this site everyday and try to add comments whenever I find a great deal (I like to share)…thank you FLNW…
Kate from Frugal Living NW says
You’re welcome 🙂 We’re so glad you found us.
I’m new to couponing myself and your website has truly enriched my knowledge (and skills). I have a budget every month for groceries but then sometimes I go over the budget because I’m stocking up. What is your take on this? How do I stay on the budget without losing a good sale?
Thanks and God bless you!!!
If it’s something that you only see on sale once a year, then it’s probably okay to go over budget for that specific item. But if it’s something like cereal or pasta, we generally see those sales every 3-6 months. If you can pass until the next sale, don’t worry about breaking the budget to stock up.
Thank goodness! I was an avid couponer. Often I would buy hundreds of dollars worth of groceries and products for under 50 dollars and my cabinets were stocked full. Problem is (and because text makes it difficult to get tone, I am NOT trying to be judgmental in any way as it happens to me a lot too) it was junk. Sugary cereals that my family was eating three bowls at a time (along with the milk that there are rarely coupons for). Cookies, cake mixes, frozen pizzas (okay, I will still get those on a deal sometimes), but generally not for the things that I feel my family should be eating. We are not super healthy eaters. I want that to be clear. We do try though to limit empty calories and eat more fresh foods (or frozen veggies as no one can tell me that they are less nutritious as long as they don’t have added butter and such) and we eat far less meat, usually 1/4 a breast of chicken a person when it is on sale, or a thigh OR a leg as opposed to the whole quarter of chicken. Now if I could just get them to eat more beans! Seriously, I get the work that goes into it, but finally, at one point, I figured out that all that time and money (buying Sunday papers, I can’t find them in recycling bins anymore) I really wasn’t saving as much as I thought. It is nice to hear someone say in a very nice way that it is not bad or less frugal to not do super couponing. Thank you.
HomesteadMom2 Many says
I have Fibromyalgia… and what the Lyrica commercials dont tell you is that you don’t only hurt… you live in a “fog” making it hard to “think”, concentrate, and function as a person somedays… I dont coupon for foods as much as more toiletries for the family and the occasional organics that we cant grow… but I do it to keep my mind busy and “working”… putting together a deal. I have to have some ‘sanity time’ for me… lol I shop one day a week in a town 40 miles away we live so rural… I make a day of it with one of my shopping partners as I can never be truly alone (as I also suffer from a panic/anxiety disorder that surfaced with PTSD diagnosed not too long after the fibro)… and we “shop” and have lunch… when I had to go on disability for the PTSD and Fibro… we had lost a large part of our income (My income was large) and then DH took furloughs, and in two years we went from triple figures to losing 65% of our income and our home… so what began as necessity has led to just a “new way of life”… DH just changed positions at work for the first time in 8 years… and he has become my new shopping partner some days… and he likes watching “the old” me once a week… my mind whirling and putting deals together and saving money… money we dont have anymore anyway, so we get what we want without paying what we used to… 🙂 and he always likes it when I have to have him grab a candy bar to make a deal work because my balance is in the “store owes me”… 🙂
I am usually down the next day hurting and fatigued beyond what a normal person should feel… but feeling “normal” in thinking capacity and pushing myself to move and walk and go… is worth it once a week knowing this disease will just make my life harder and harder as we age… I consider couponing a form of fibromyalgia therapy, and I will continue until I just cant go anymore…
I’ve been couponing for almost 30 years. We’ve raised 5 kids on one income, and am still couponing so we can spoil our 8 (almost 9) grandkids.
Over twenty five years ago, when we bought our home, the loan officer asked if I worked outside the home. I told him that my job was to raise our kids. He then asked me if I had any kind of an income through babysitting, etc. I told him that the only way I make or save money was by couponing. (He couldn’t believe that we only budgeted $65 to$75 each week for our family of 6) He asked if I could prove how much I saved. It so happened that I had two weeks worth of grocery receipts in my purse which showed that I spent about $75 but saved over $40 each week. The savings on those receipts are what qualified us for our home loan! We still live in the same house…bought partly with my coupon savings!
I’m three years in! I can relate with most of your story. The highs, the lows, the stress, not making all I could out of it. The empty shelves, feeling I missed out on a deal and will never recover. Boring my husband whose eyes go dead when I talk about how much “this cost”. And I’ve come out the other end still shopping at Costco now and again, yet still grabbing a few free things here and there. I found a happy medium and no longer feel like a failure.
Emily, I couldn’t agree more with this article! I feel the same…and I can’t wait to show my husband the line about sharing the deals! He is impressed now with all my savings! (Although now he guesses too low, so I’m trying to train him to guess high, so he will be even more impressed!!!)
I agree Emily! I did hard-core couponing for several months to figure out what it was all about and got some great stuff for free. Then I took a step back to analyze how much time I was spending and what things we were saving money on. We made some important decisions about the quality and types of food we eat, and I realized I had enough stockpile of other items easily gotten free or cheap with coupons that I took quite a while off. Now, I still use coupons, but much more selectively and, in my opinion, much more wisely with respect to my time and my family’s preferred food choices. I do think it was totally worth the first few months of hard-core couponing, though, to learn the ropes and how things work as well as make myself more aware of our purchasing choices!
I also LOVE this article. I too started out kind of hard core and would get so mad at myself if I messed up a deal and would by things I wouldn’t normaly buy. After about a year of hard core coupon shopping I often take a month or more off. I know where to find the coupons for the things I eat (mambo sprouts!) and I’m generally feeling good about it all. Thanks for sharing this story, it’s nice to know there are some middle of the road couponers out there.
I have evolved in my use of couponing too.
I still score freebies, but I’ve also learned to put a value on my time. Is it worth an hour of my time to save 80% on food for our tummies? You bet! Is it worth an hour for another free razor or bottle of shampoo? Maybe, maybe not….I do enjoy being able to donate extra items, but I also love that I no longer feel like I must do every deal.
Love this piece! Thanks for the humor and the honesty.
I have been couponing for years. A couple of years ago, I got into it like an addiction. But it has been wounderful! Our food cupboards are well stocked; our food pantry is full; our bathroom cupboards are well stocked; and three charity donation places get a regular delivery of food, toiletry items, and baby things. It really makes me feel so good. Before I ” really” got into couponing, I only donated to the food bank once a year. Now I am able to donate to them once a month and to a womens shelter one to two time a month and school supplies to the local schools about two to three times a year. My husband went with me on a shopping trip to RiteAid two weeks ago and watched me purchase about $50 worth of his favorite candy(which he picked out) and pay $2.40. As much as he hates listening to the stories, he LOVES it. He even tells all his friends. Before the Christmas sales start, I’m usually 3/4 of the way done with shopping for everyone because of coupons, sales and couponing blogs. I start all of my baking early because of the sweet deals I’m able to score on sugar (canning season sales) and other baking items throughout the year. My husband also loves this because he is my taste- tester. I LOVE couponing and thank you for this site!!!!!
I had to read the paragraph about sharing our deals with our husbands to my husband. I just started couponing and it’s all too familiar to him. 🙂
Sia Hills says
I love this article, felt like I wrote it – only it was written too well (couldn’t have been me)! Described my relationship with couponing as well. Great read.
Hi, my name is Chip and I am a coupon-aholic. Thanks for the article. I absolutely loved the “couponese” part. It made me laugh…and I realized that I am not alone in the way I feel about couponing. I am fairly new to this…been doing it for about six months. I especially feel odd about this being a guy…so in my case I am the one quizzing my wife to see if she can figure out how much I have spent on a tableful of groceries. I think at first she just humored me…”there he goes again, embarking on another hair brained past time.” Little by little she is coming around. I think it is because she has finally seen the results. The checkers all know me by name and she teases me about that…saying I flirt with them just so they will push through the coupons that “beep”. I am sure that my co-workers are tired of my stories about my adventures in couponing and I fear that some of their wives may hate me because I keep preaching that there is a proven way to save money each month at the grocery and drug store. I can’t remember the last time that I had so much fun and saved money doing it. I hope that I am not the only one whose kitchen table is covered with inserts and loose internet coupons. If you happen to be in a store soon and you hear the checkout lady say “here comes that coupon guy”, stop and say hello. It helps to know that I am not alone.
Thank you so much for your article! I loved reading it and it sounded familiar! The husband thing! I still get nervous at the check out line and dream of deals as well as feel like I am getting a high from couponing! Who would have thought! I have been doing it for almost a year now and I am going to start watching what I spend a little bit just to see if I am spending more for a super deal vs buying just what we need. I love donating to the Troops, Homeless and giving to Friends, Family and schools!
Thank you so much for everything you do. I love your site, I am on it daily!
I so relate to this post! Thank you! I think the thing that rings most true is that it has completely, radically changed the way that I look at money and the way I look at what my family eats. Amazing! We are more healthy now than we ever have been, and we are spending SO, SO, SO much less! Yay for couponing!
I have been couponing in full swing for about 2 years now. I kinda dabbled before that, but I didn’t understand how people were getting FREE things!!! I still get frustrated at not having enough time to do all I want to do with it. But, this year, I am staying home so I can focus on my college and family for the next 3-4 years and I am finding more and more time to sit on my computer and sign up for free things. I have revamped an effort to spend more of my money on fresh fruits and vegetables, and spend less on junk food (Halloween is ok though). I buy dog food even though I don’t have a dog, I do buy (sorta, they’re free) brands I don’t use so I can donate them to the food shelter during food drives or the pet shelter. One thing the rest of my family gets out of it is that my kids are learning the value of couponing too, so when they have their own families, they can use the many skills they’ve learned to stay out of debt. I love your post because it reminds me of when I started my nutty journey on the road to coupon craziness.
Yes, my hubby rolls his eyes, but YES my best friend gets excited as we score deals and my other friends OFTEN ask for help! And I LOVE to give it. After a year of couponing, I have settled down though too. We’ve changed some eating habits and I rarely “run” to the store. My favorite scores are household items, especially my husbands razors as he is SO DARN STUBBORN to change from his favorites. In the beginning, I bought him all the different disposables that I could for FREE. Well, free doesn’t matter if he won’t use it! So, I conceded, and after a couple months of shopping around, found the best way to get him what he wants 🙂 And the best part of it, is that a year ago, I hated his razors because they were expensive, now, I don’t blink an eye because I’m saving in other areas. I’ve also figured out where, even WITH coupons, we were spending too much money, say CEREAL!! Now, a box of Bisquick lasts a month and I make pancakes almost every morning, my kids LOVE it and I like feeding them a hot breakfast instead of cereal. I’m also learning to combine my coupons with menu planning. Only week 3 now, but life is way less stressful when I know at 9:00 in the morning whats for dinner that night. I try to hit Safeway at least once a week for meat markdowns and put them in the deep freeze. Then, when its time to shop, I go the freezer first, then create meals around my coupons and whats on sale. I quit shopping every day of the week and dragging my kids, just so I could get deals. Now, I shop maybe twice a week, but do the bulk of it on Friday when the paychecks come in and the envelopes get refilled 🙂
I’m a SAHM. I start couponing after I kept on listening to my friend share her deals with me. Went with her to the store a couple of times and was fascinated by her paying next to nothing for a ton of stuff. Then with her help and many blogs later I started couponing in June of this year. At first, getting ready to check out would make me feel nervous especially when they would beep or I was holding up the line. And couple of times I just dropped everything and left until the store wasn’t as busy. Then came back to try again. At the beginning I was spending way too much then the rebates, rewards, samples, free stuff came rolling in. I now have a mini store in my closet. Love that I’m not running to the store when I need a new toothbrush or more TP. It’s still tough…with all the policies changes recently with walgreens and safeway, I stick with a couple of stores. We’ve been able to cut our budget by more than half and have given things away to relatives. People give gifts and I give gifts of toiletries with some snacks included…lol. No one seems to mind anymore because they see the savings stack up.
I thought I was the only one who dreamed scenarios and now because of it, I started my own for fun blog on the best deals of the week. My kid watches barney while I’m updating my blog….lol. I just love it.
I’ve always loved a good deal, but I fell in love with couponing this summer. Somehow it’s really seemed to streamline my shopping and weekly routine and I love that!
Our family has some pretty serious dietary allergies, so I don’t coupon shop for food, but I do for all of our household products and it has saved me a bundle and has really helped to balance out the budget since we tend to spend a bit more on food needs. In order to really simplify, I do all of my couponing at ONE store. So, I just focus on their weekly ad, and plan accordingly to buy only the household items we normally use.
In just two months our bathroom closets, pantry, and nursery closet seem to be filling up quickly with shampoo, deoterant, diapers, toothpaste, saline solution, dish soap, etc. And what’s been so wonderful is again, due to allergies, we have always bought 7th generation products, Tom’s products, etc.which tend to be more expensive, but I’ve really been able to score amazing deals on these products! I feel like I buy everything for pennies. So yes, I would have to be considered a more “picky coupon shopper” just by necessity, but even still couponing truly works for us and has become a seriously fun hobby!! I love preparing for my weekly deals/transactions and I love gushing to my husband about the deals I scored. 🙂 And I’m blessed to have two girlfriends who love it all as much as I do, so that we squeal over silly scores together too.
I’ve learned to be a better couponer over the past year thanks to blogs 🙂 It is a trade off – buying cheap on one thing or being brand nonspecific – in order to spend on other things.
I also love buying much needed things for a food pantry and not being out a lot of $ on my end. I combined Similac coupons with Similac checks and bought 6 bottles of RTF formula for $1.02 last night.
This post is SO well written, hilariously tongue in cheek, but spot on for how most of feel (I bet). I too started off with a bang, driving all over town to several stores, dragging my poor kiddo around (before he was old enough to protest), stocking up on free stuff that our family probably didn’t need. After realizing that I had over thirty boxes of cereal in the pantry, and we are not even big cereal eaters, I took a long hard look at my couponing ways.
I have since scaled back to two stores (mostly) and two kids later, only do minimal shopping. I ignore the deals that are for things we don’t or won’t use. Two or three times a year, I go through and donate the heck out of our stockpile. I keep a “donation” bag for items that I pick up at Rite AId that have helped me get other useful items for free (like diapers). They just go straight in to the bag, I don’t even pretend we will use them and put them in the pantry.
I am now a crazy blogger, but a “feet on the coffee table” couponer. 🙂 I feel so much wiser and a better steward of our money since starting this journey, this trails into all aspects of my life. We eat better as I now have wiggle room in our budget for fresh items.
Awesome article, thanks for posting!
Krista S. says
I too put a bag in our closet of “donation” stuff. I realized we need diapers, tampons, baby wipes, razors, and such, but not necessarily fourteen different kinds of cold medicines, nose sprays and the like. By putting those items directly into the donation bag, I feel much better about “purchasing” them and my bathroom is better stocked with items we actually use!
This article is right on the money! (Literally!) I’m new to couponing in earnest (I used to use only the ones that come in the store’s weekly ad). I check this site each and every day. My hardest challenge has been pairing up the coupons I have with what’s on sale. It’s sometimes tough to remember what I have in my coupon box. But, reading your blog and others each day, I can see exactly how you combined your coupons (and where they came from!) to get the best deal. It really helps me to be able to follow along with you and all the other nw moms as you go through shopping each week. Your blog and others makes it possible for everyone to get these great deals. So, thanks so much for having this site. It’s so helpful to newbies like me!
Wow! It’s almost like you’re telling my story. My sister told me about your site about a year and a half ago and again a year ago. I checked it out but it seemed like too much work. 2 months ago I was visiting at her house and saw her stockpile of canned soup, cereal, peanut butter, etc. and asked her about it. She told me again and this time I listened. I can’t believe I didn’t listen sooner. I’m still kind of in that insane stage but calming down. I think I’m stocked up okay for a bit but still check the site every day. It’s such a rush to get to the register with $30 worth of items and pay only $2 and get $ back in +UP Rewards. Rite Aid is awesome!! I never shopped there before but now it’s my favorite store. I could talk about coupons all day and I share my stories with my co-workers (my husband rolls his eyes too.) but some of them have started couponing. It’s fun to hear other stories. Thank you so much for your site!!
Kelleigh @ Kelleigh Ratzlaff Designs says
Oh, I totally could have written this article! Your experience is exactly like mine!! Now that I have a nice stockpile due to insane couponing, I can just sit back and relax. I’m feeding my family healthier meals, too! I still LOVE that coupon high, though, and I’m so glad I found this hobby!
I started having interest in couponing a year ago, after I lost my job (I was the income earner) and my husband was in school. But, I didn’t know about websites like this and I didn’t REALLY learn how to fully use couponing to save big bucks until April/May of this year. Since then, I am hooked! It is like a game: what can I get for free or nearly free this week? (And yes, my husband SO doesn’t CARE to hear about my deals! haha)
Over the last couple months, my vigor has settled down a bit as I find myself already stockpiled on everything from detergent to toilet paper, toothpaste to razors. Still, I keep following these blogs and jump on any items that are useful to me. (Example: Last night I bought myself a new coat from Old Navy for $30 plus shipping thanks to the 50% off coupon provided by fellow bloggers… amazing considering the reg price was $90 just a few weeks ago!)
Couponing has also changed where I shop, and although I used to avoid Rite Aid like it was swine flu, now I shop there all the time and save 70% or more with each trip.
As far as my family, we are enjoying perks of extra cash around, as well as extra “stuff” (no more running to the store because we are out of toothpaste or deodorant) available when needed. It also calms the guilt about shopping, because I know I am spending less anyway. So, shopping is finally FUN AGAIN!
I’ve been couponing for about a year and half now. In the beginning, I went a little crazy–try not to miss the deals and brought home tons of stuff we don’t really use. Now I’m settled. Now I only buy things we need.
The best part of couponing for me was that now I pay close attention to the weekly ads from the stores. I was amazed at how different the prices are depending on the week and on the store.
Also, before the couponing, I tended to stick to one brand for no reason and just bought them on sale or not. Coupons let me try other brands and now I have brand preferences for reasons.
I should add that my mail (snail mail) is much more fun these days than before.
This post is exactly how I started couponing and where I am right now. I’m still using the health and beauty stockpile I started with 3 years ago when I had gone off the deep end with couponing. After awhile I settled down and now I just don’t even shop much anymore. I stockpile canned stuff, cereal, oatmeal, and baking goods, when the right season rolls around and the stars align with coupons and sales. We buy produce and milk, and massive amounts of organic meat from New Seasons when it hits rock bottom a few times a year. That’s about it, and I love it. I’m so glad I’ve got the couponing thing down and we eat relatively healthy and smell good for pretty darn cheap thanks to coupons. 🙂
Jodi D says
I have always enjoyed thrift stores and yard sales, and I used a coupon here and there but not full on. My Grandma used to scour through the newspaper and use a coupon for pretty much everything. She always knew what store had the best price for any random thing. I remember saying something like I am almost out of toothpaste and she would say ok I will wait for a coupon to come out for it then and get some more. She told me once she spends a dollar a person for dinner. I am still trying to figure out how to do that lol.
About 4 months ago we had a really terrible financial crunch. Almost half of our income was gone. I decided this is a good time to learn. I would get into coupons eventually so might as well start now. I visit your blog every day now among a couple of others. I enjoy your blog because of the local deals. I always tell people coupons don’t save money exactly for me. I mean that isn’t how I look at it. I get more for my money. I spend the same, but I get everything on my list and don’t have to sacrifice as much. I am more aware of prices and sales and I don’t just get whatever I want/need I am more careful.
We can have treats more. Meaning nice meals, and a dessert 🙂 But one thing I noticed is I am more grateful for my groceries. I don’t take them for granted as much. I feel I worked for them and so I appreciate it when I use them. Also it’s awesome when you have a coupon for something that is half price because of a sale and the coupon makes it even cheaper 🙂 I know at Safeway the other day I got salad for the get 3 save 3 dollars sale and the stock boy said if you buy 3 you save money because it’s on sale!! I said I know I have coupons too. He said wow you are going to save a lot of money then!! I said yep lol.
When I first got into coupons my best friend he said I am going to get really tired of hearing the word coupon I see lol!! He tells me though I am doing a good job and to keep at it. I even inspired someone else! She said some months she can only get necessary items. And she wants to be able to afford to get something for herself as a treat some times. She has two kids. So I am excited she gave me permission to say hey there is a sale on this and a coupon for that blah blah blah 🙂
I’ve been couponing for over a year now and I still love it! It’s fun to teach some of my friends that are wanting to learn and see how excited they get when they score some great deals. I think most of us will swing back and forth on the pendulum before finding the right place of balance for our family. I’m much pickier about what I get with my coupons now. I don’t want to bring junk into my home because it was free. We have our share of indulgences, but I think we have healthier items because I’ve been able to save money in other areas. I’ve been able to try nicer brands of things (food and non-food) because of coupon deals. Whereas I would always buy the generic or cheapest option on the shelf before, I now have the ability to buy the more expensive brands of things to try them out because I’m getting them cheaper than the generic option. I’ve also been able to give a lot away, which is a huge blessing to me. We’ve been on the receiving end of people’s generosity during hard times and now it’s so fun to be the ones to give. I’m able to get items for free that I know my friend uses and give them to her, or give a box of groceries to a poor college student friend or help a family with food that recently had hospital bills. Couponing has become my new hobby, but it has so many benefits for our family and others around us.
I coupon for a different reason than most people. One night after work, I stopped by the bar with a couple of co-workers. I played the video poker machine and won 500 dollars. From that moment I was hooked. I spent about 200-300 dollars a week gambling. One day, I said enough was enough. I needed a new hobby and so I learned how to coupon. I LOVE it!!!! It feels so good to save money rather than spend it all in those stupid machines. My husband is much happier with me, and yes he listens to every story I have about my coupons. I am a coupon junkie and am proud of it!!!
Thanks for sharing your story, Wendy.
Oh thank you for this post. I am a new SAHM and I am trying to be better at coupons for the same reasons you mentioned. But, I find that I am having a hard time getting the hang of it. I can’t really go to multiple stores and it just seems like a lot of work for not very much in savings.
Thanks for the encouragement and reassurance that it is okay to be a reluctant couponer. And, on a recent trip I did save 10 whole dollars by saving coupons. I must admit it did make me pretty excited so maybe I will get the couponing bug afterall…
I love this article!! I too have been couponing for years and feel like I am a smarter, more seasoned shopper. I still sometimes dream of finding FREE stuff,waking up in a panic attack when there are no FREE things left for me..(lol) !
Plus I still feel the high when I am scoring big! Couponing just rocks.
I just started thanks to this websight. I did not know I could stack coupons before you…last night I ended up paying almost nothing for my Halloween Candy. I saved $8 just in coupons alone on a $30 purchase.
So I want to thank you