We’ve finally arrived in Nashville! My husband, baby Matthew and I spent the day flying across the country and are now hanging out in our room at the Opryland Hotel, which is absolutely beautiful! I’m looking forward to learning tons about the business side of blogging and forging relationships with people and companies that will benefit you, our readers.
Lately I have been thinking about why I work so hard to save money and why I spend so much time using coupons. Here’s the funny thing — I don’t coupon out of necessity. My family’s budget allows for me to spend more money on our groceries and household items. But I still coupon. Why?
1. By getting our processed food and household items for free or nearly free, it frees up money in our budget to spend on high quality “real food” like meat, produce and dairy. My family currently drinks raw milk and we are hoping to move to eating only pastured meat from local farmers and New Seasons. These are expensive choices that we would not otherwise be able to make without couponing.
2. Couponing allows us to give more. Last winter, we decided that I could work a bit harder to save an additional $35 a month — enough to support a second child through Africa New Life Ministries. Love this ministry, by the way.They are doing amazing things in Rwanda. My husband and I went to Multnomah Seminary with Charles, ANLM’s president. A good man.
3. We have extra money in our budget to eat out. We really love going out to eat and couponing allows me to not cook a few more times a month.
There you go. Two noble and one selfish reason why I work to save my family money by couponing. Now I’ll throw it out to you — Why do you coupon? What motivates you to clip those pieces of paper, menu plan and hit two or three stores a week? Leave a comment!
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I first learned couponing from my Mom years ago. She managed to stay home and raise 4 kids doing it on a limited income. I currently don’t need to use coupons but like many of you I like to keep my spreadsheet to see how much I saved in a year and make it a game. My reverse gambling game – the odds are often in my favor :). Last year I was able to support several charity functions the the money saved to charities in Oregon and overseas.
My current goal is to pass this knowledge onto my daughter so she can learn the “Art of Couponing.” I certainly interested her when I offered to give her a percentage of the savings and now I find she’s looking for ways to save money and I in turn have another resource to help me find ways to save. So far I think it’s working – she looks at ads, coupon websites, and prices of items on the shelf and makes suggestions to me when we go shopping.
My long range plan is that as she progresses to college age to integrate meal planning and more preperation on her part weekly so she can learn to plan meal ahead and prepare them also when she goes off to college (ugh, don’t want to quite think about that yet though).
Thank you for preparing such an informative blog site for everyone!
Kelly Johnson says
I coupon because my husband is a full-time student a a part-time youth pastor. I work full time to put him through college. There isn’t much money in ministry, so couponing helps us with our budget. Plus, I get great deals to help some friends going thru tough times stock up their pantries and the local food bank! It is sooo worth it.
Jill Chess says
I absolutely love to coupon. My couponing allows me to not only save a lot for our family but also be able to be a blessing to other families as well. Generally, it has been the seniors in our church who provide me with all the coupons I use and I want them to see what kinds of things I have gotten couponing and also give back some to them. My hearts desire is to someday be able to start my own non-profit that can help struggling famlies through couponing and also procurement from local businesses.
I started couponing because it just made sense. I’m practical (probably to a fault) and couldn’t figure out why I would pay full price when I could get things cheaper. It just seemed like wasting money, so I started doing it.
One advantage that I didn’t expect though, was the ability to give more without affecting our finances. Getting so many things free and/or cheap, I was able to give away things that I would have not been able to afford on our budget.
And in reality, I used to think that our budget didn’t require couponing, but then I got a clearer picture of our debt and realized that we needed to make some drastic measures to clean it up, so couponing is helping us do that. Then when my husband lost his job, although we couldn’t send as much to our creditors, we didn’t have to change our lifestyle in order to eat because we were already eating “on the cheap.”
So although my reasons have evolved with life, it started because it just made sense.
I only began couponing a couple of months ago and love it. It’s so fun searching around on the blogs for the best deals and trying to figure them out myself! I only work half time, so have a little time on my hands (well, when I’m not adoring my 6 month old). Also, my husband lost his job in September and things have been rough since then, so I’m thankful for the savings. In January, we only spent 178 dollars on groceries!! And, most of those are in our garage as storage!!! Which, by the way… is a huge problem, storage!!! My husband is super stingy with his garage space, but likes the food storage idea so I get away with coming home from the store with 8 boxes of cereal that I got for $2.00. That and we’re all set for cereal for some time.
That said, as of now I coupon out of necessity, but now that I’ve started I don’t think I’d go back. I love the challenge, networking, and reward of finding a “deal”. That and I’ve introduced it to a few friends that I never would have though would enjoy it. Thank you for your blog and comments all, they are so fun to read!
Francoise Kipfer says
I “coupon” because my mom coupons. It’s all I’ve ever known and it’s rediculous ( to me) to shop any other way! Thanks so much for all your inspiration.
And have a fabulous time! You’ve earned it! -Francoise
I always wondered if the coupon divas were into the ‘real food’ movement or not. Its nice to see that you are. I am trying to cut down on our processed food intake but the ones we do eat I do try to coupon for. This year my goal is to join some local CSAs and start buying more organic produce and meat. I’ve already switched to organic eggs and I dont think I can go back – they are so much more delicious that I actually like eggs now for breakfast.
After doing an annual budget total for last year which was demoralizing and awful – we’ve committed ourselves to becoming more aware of how we spend. Its a rough start and we are still trying to find our footing but hopefully after more practice we will get there. As they say – practice makes perfect.
I have always been cheap and tight with our money. I have always shopped 2nd hand and clearance racks. I am a stay at home mom. My husband makes enough money to support us but money was always tight. We never went out and did things. It has been exactly 1 year now since I started couponing. Money doesnt feel as tight and I feel like we can finally go and do things and not have to worry about where the money is going to come from. I use to spend $120/week for 5 of us just for groceries. I am now down to $40- $60/week. I use to NEVER spend any money on my self. Last week I went and had acrylic nails put on. Tomorrow I am going to go get a weave. This is stuff that I have NEVER done but am able to because of couponing. Now these arent things I will do regularly but an occasional thing is nice.
I have also started donating things. I made it my goal this year to donate as much as I can. Right now I have about 120 packages of pads to donate, several deodorant sticks and more I get all the time. What better feeling can you get than helping those in need. Everything I donate is under .50 cents. 99% of it is free. I am doing something I enjoy while helping others.
Twin Mom says
I coupon mostly for the challenge and don’t put as much time in it as many of you. (It’s too much work to go to the store and often not good use of my time.) For those of you who are Christian, consider checking out Margaret Kim Peterson’s book “Keeping House: A Litany of Everyday Life.” She discusses the “why” of the Christian view of housekeeping in a wonderful way.
As you can see by my website name, I am like many of you. I like to coupon to save on the things that I now know I can get for free or really cheap so I can go out to eat at one of Portland’s many great restaurants or go on vacations. I also like to know that when I am shopping at Target that I don’t have to think twice about that super cute shirt that is $17.99. Don’t laugh there was a day that would not have been possible, but now it is. I know that I have saved so much on food and household stuff that it’s ok to “reward” myself with that shirt. It’s also so fun to give. That is just as thrilling as the hunt for the perfect coupon match up.
This may sound crazy!
About two years ago I had a dream that a tragedy struck in Portland…all the stores closed down, we were not able to get anything we needed…the houses in town were unsafe because of looting. I was soon introduced to couponing and realized this is how I can stockpile and stay in our budget..we have since sold our “in town” house and are moving to the country…call me crazy but I think God led me to couponing for hard times ahead.
I coupon not out of necessity, too. I coupon to have more money in our budget for other things, to give more, and also for the thrill of the hunt! It’s just fun to find bargains and get things that we need for free or nearly free. It also seems wasteful not to coupon. The coupons are there, so why not use them?
I started out couponing for the necessity of it for our budget. Now things are not as tight and I coupon for the fun/challenge of it. If I end up getting to much of something (i.e cereal or the recent fruit snack deal at Safeway) I donate it to the local food bank.
So many interesting comments. The one thing I don’t see mentioned is that it is tax-free money! The only tax-free money we get. So my savings go to the local food bank, instead of the IRS. Silly? Maybe, but it makes me smile.
I started couponing because I was tired of having such a tight budget! We had enough money for our bills but every month was so tight that with occasional “surprises” I would have to buy some necessities with credit cards! Couponing has allowed us to save SO much money that last month all the extra money was able to be spent on new clothes for ALL of us (husband, me, 2-year old, and 12 month old) some even in preparation for next year. We now have the money for extra expenditures and we are able to live much more comfortably. I wish I had started a looooong time ago!! We have calculated that we will be completely out of debt by next February, mostly due to coupons! Thanks for all you do to help me in my endeavors!! 🙂
My husband and I see ourselves as a team, ‘though I am the fortunate team member who gets to stay home with our daughter while he works full time (and very hard), to make possible the lifestyle we have chosen. Couponing, looking for deals, and trying to stay within (or under, if possible!) budget is one way of contributing to “the team” by extending the income that he brings home. “A penny saved is a penny earned,” right?
This is why I *want* to coupon. I’m just learning, and just beginning. Thanks for the help, FLNW!
first off I want to say, “have a great time and what an exciting oppportunity for you!” I can’t wait to hear how your trip went and what you learned.
I coupon b/c I enjoy saving money and setting limits and boundaries for my family. I wasn’t a frugal person growing up and never used coupons until about 2 years ago. I didn’t realize how amazing and freeing it is to set a budget, and save on groceries/household items when you use coupons. Like you we love to get Quality and Organic food, so couponing allows us to do that. Also, we enjoy going out for dinner as a family, with friends, and together. So saving BIG on groceries gives us that opportunity.
When I first got married, we use to go grocery shopping and spend about $100 on one shopping trip and leave with only 2 bags. We would get home and ask ourselves, “what did we even buy?” So, needless to say my husband was/is happy that I shop with coupons.
Glad you posted this and what a great ministry to share about your child you support in Africa. It is a blessing to have the financial freedom to give to others in need.
I started because my husband (nicely) asked me to consider it. More than once. I resisted the idea for several months. Then I “happened” to be studying Proverbs 31 and the part where it talks about her going a long way away in order to get a good deal on fabric (or whatever it was) really convicted me. I’m a stay at home mom and don’t earn an income- which is fine. But I realized that my job then, is to be the best steward of what we do have. And I wasn’t doing that. I have put hours and hours into learning how to do this and I have found that I LOVE it. I have always been a bargin shopper and getting a lot of stuff for really cheap is thrilling. Plus now, like everyone has said, it does enable us to give the things that we don’t need or want to those who do need it. And even though I’ve only been at this for a few months, I’ve been asked to “teach” a class on how to do it to a group of women at church…so now I get to give back in that way as well.
My family budget does not require me to use coupons either. However, “where much is given, much is expected.” I coupon so that I have extra money left to help others. When I get free food items, they can go to the food bank or to a friend having a hard time. It gives me more money to give to Haiti relief efforts. It allows me to have an emergency fund. It allows me to save money for college for my six children. It allows me to pay for my son to be a missionary for two years. Couponing isn’t just about saving money so that I can just have things. It helps me to realize that with all of my blessings, blessings feel best when I can share them with others.
amber bustanoby says
Because we have too 🙂 I have always been frugal and can’t pay full price for anything, but couponing has giving our family so much more! We also no longer feel the burden of entertaining friends (because we love to do that)! Last weekend I fed 20+ people for under 5$! All people brought were salads! I think that is pretty darn good 🙂 What did we have? Hamburgers! Safeway last week did a 5lb ground beef special for $1.88! Plus I love it! I feel like I am playing a live game of Settlers of Catan (if you haven’t played that you must!
For me, when I did coupon on a very regular basis, it was really about the excitement of getting as much as possible for nothing. My husband would say, “It isn’t a good deal for you unless they are paying you to take it.” The funny thing is that it really wasn’t saving us much money as we weren’t following a budget and I wanted to do as many deals as possible – often bringing home things I never would have purchased if not for coupons. We spend less now just by following a budget (which is good as we have children now)! At that time though we did donate a lot of items, especially medications.
I really don’t coupon anymore, though I love the thrill/challenge of a great deal – I still glance at this site a few times a week! I know that you can save a lot of money through couponing but as we’ve become more interested in whole, local, sustainable foods, we’ve found that by joining a local co op we can still keep our food budget at $250/mo and eat local, pastured meats, raw milk, and local, organic produce. For us, spending less on food allows us to give away more of God’s money!
Why? Because my mother modeled couponing when I was young, I have never thought to not coupon! I cringe when I purchase products without a coupon! Definitely, couponing is a big part of why I have been able to stay home with my kids the past 18 years!
Great post! Like you our budget does not require me to coupon. After thinking about it I came up with 3 main reasons that I coupon.
1. I love to get good deals. I have been like this since I was a little kid. Shopping at garage sales, finding used furniture or appliances on Craig’slist when we need them, shopping clearance sales, etc. is like play to me. I would spend a full day at some great garage sales than a day on vacation. Before couponing grocery shopping was a chore but now it is my weekly night out and I look forward to it.
2. We started using Dave Ramsey’s materials about two years ago. Although we had no debt (other than our house) we have been challenged to save up a six month emergency fund and then work on paying off our house. After I started couponing we were able to take our grocery budget and our misc./household items budget and spend less on them together than I used to spend on groceries alone. This frees up more money to put away in our large emergency fund.
3. Although we can afford for me to shop without couponing we have many dear friends that are very tight financially. Since learning to coupon I have been able to bring several of my friends grocery shopping with me and they have started couponing on their own which has been a help to their budget. I also love picking up extra deals to give to family and friends.
Karrie at Fistfulofcoupons says
The challenge of it is so fun..I love the coupon high you get when you walk out of a store with a cart full of items and pay next to nothing for it. But I also agree that I love to be able to give back, and go out to eat like you too. And I dont worry so much now when one of my kids wastes a whole tube of toothpaste all over the bathroom sink… (I didnt pay for that toothpaste). The money I save frees me financially to splurge in other ways of life too..
I have also always clipped coupons but until I found this and some other couponing blogs, I didn’t realize how much I could get free or for almost nothing. I am also a stay at home mom. I love seeing just how much I can get for my money.
Stephanie W says
My darling husband says I get a thrill out of retailing. Personally, I don’t see why I should. As a stay at home mom, the two places I go consistently each week are to the market, and church. We are required to be diligent in managing our blessings well that God has given. So, yes, I do get a thrill out of pursuing the biggest bang for our single income buck! Is that wrong…no way…I am a Proverbs 31 woman!
Thank you FLNW for your desire to serve. You are sharing your gifts with many… specifically six people from the White Family!
Kelly Welch says
As my family grew bigger, our wages didn’t! And as a Stay At Home Mom for 15 years, it became necessary for me to tighten tighten and tighten some more that belt around our financial waist (cuz now I’ve got a teenage boy, oh…my…stars……!). It is so much fun to do, I have learned so much from you and the other blogs that I read…..and I’m finally in a place where I have so much to give. I’m helping other moms now get into couponing, and I always send them straight to your blog. When you posted that Portland Foursquare was taking donations for Haiti, I packed up my stash of peanut butter and hygiene products and drove it down. The attendant was so thrilled with how much I brought, and amazed that I drove in from Damascus. When he asked how I heard about it, I told him about your blog, and he goes, “Oh, yeah, she’s a really neat lady, a really neat lady!” I’ve never been able to give like this before!
Last night I went to Safeway, and came home with SO MUCH FOOD (God waters the generous, totally replenished all that I gave!) that I sent pictures to all my “couponing beginner babies”. When they saw they I got $120.00 worth of groceries for only $40.00, they are all excited to learn, too. (Hey, I’m not as good as you are yet, but I was pretty thrilled! The cashier was going, “Yeah, there was this lady who came in earlier, had $70.00 worth of groceries, and by the time she was done with coupons, she didn’t pay ANYTHING”…..and I thot, I bet that was one of the Frugal girls! Love your blog, love your ministry!
We support Africa New Life as well and it IS a wonderful organization. We give more to our church and to friends and neighbors. I love being able to take a box of cereal with me wherever I go and give it to the next friend I see! We coupon to allow for things we could never do before; Vacation, weekend fun and as you said, better meat and produce.
Thanks for all you do!
I used to clip out some of the items that I knew we bought. I’ve always had to shop at Winco, which is OK, I’m thankful for the savings. But after circumstances with my husband losing his job after a car accident forced us to use food stamps (which was and continues to be a humbling experience – though I’m so thankful for that provision), I wanted to be the best steward of my finances (and the state’s) that I could be. You and friends of mine, have changed how I look at coupons and I’m so appreciative of the scenarios that you put together. I have $20.00 in Wags RR and only ended up spending $2.04 out of pocket after using other RR. I’m gearing up for diaper shopping on the 7th! Plus, the ability to give my free items away to people that my current financial status would not afford me.
Well, I DO need to save money. I am trying to be consistent with a $100 reduction/month in our food bill…so far, 2 months good, 1 not….don’t know what happened! Anyway, once I can do that consistently, I will be able to buy more organic meat, produce, etc AND be able to comfortably pay for preschool for my soon to be 3 year old.
However, I think I enjoy it so much b/c it is like a game. And it’s addicting…I’m supposed to be doing A&P homework and I’m looking at your blog 🙂 I LOVE IT HERE!
Krista Motsinger says
My dear Friend Amybeth and I were just talking the other day about why we Coupon…and we also agreed that it allowed us to buy more healthy things for our families because we are getting so much free stuff and cheap stuff. Thank you so much for your site. U have taught me so much and I appreciate it!!!!!!!!!!
I coupon for the pure challenge of it. Our budget doesn’t require couponing either and I refused the coupon craze all my friends were diving into because I could afford our groceries just fine. Then, I started following FLNW and became obsessed with getting as much free stuff as I could. To me it is a game that I get to play each day. All my children are in school so I have a lot of time. My husband says I could have found a worse hobby. BUT, with the extra money I’m saving, I give more, both food and money. After all, everything I have belongs to God in the first place. I love being able to tythe more . Thanks for making this so much fun!!