When I initially started couponing- a little over a year ago now- I was obsessed (and overwhelmed) with all of the 'deals' that I was seeing. I had tons of blogs that I read and made lists of every.single.deal (most of which turned out to be free) and felt like I had to chase them all. Which is totally exhausting.
I've become a bit more lax in how I shop now. I have 4 (basically- plus Target which will ALWAYS be my true first love of a place to shop) stores that I compare sales to coupons each week (and yes- I still use blogs to track special deals and sales), I make my list and sometime during that sale cycle I try to get there to pick up what I wanted.
There are lots of things that I KNOW I can obtain for free or very little, and I would think that for the rest of my life I will not pay for those items (side eye to toothpaste and contact lens solution- oh and pony tail holders, you too!) By following the sales and using coupons- I have eliminated most all personal care items completely from our budget.
But as for 'regular' old shopping. My goal is to save as much as I spend. That's all. If my total is $56, I want to see that I saved at least that much from the store sales and my coupons. And for the most part, I do. Meat is always a tricky item that will jack up a grocery total- so when stocking up on that my savings are usually a bit less. But since I stock up on it when it is on sale- then typically the savings are still there.
Now that I am in a good 'rhythm' of couponing- we have a good supply of most items. I have plenty of drink mixes, cake/brownie mixes, canned and frozen veggies, frozen meat 'treat' items like fish sticks and such, pasta & sauce, all cleaning items, all toiletry items, etc. All I really NEED on any given week would be our perishables- milk, eggs, bread, fresh produce, etc. When I find a great price on an item- then I add that to my list and stock up on it.
I am obsessed with these couponing shows. O B S E S S E D. But I must say- they probably confuse a lot of folks who think that every week these crazy gals go out and buy $1000 in mustard, sports drinks and hot sauce for $11. They don't. They probably do exactly what I'm doing. But for the show- their big giant debut- they bought up extra coupons, saved up all free product coupons, saved catalinas, and went overboard when an item was a money maker. After all- it was their one chance in the light- their day to shine. Saving $40 on a $80 order wouldn't have excited anyone.
But I'm afraid that all the new folks that are trying out couponing, because of the show, are completely confused. And now they feel like they need to buy every.single.jar of mustard on the shelf, because it is free.
You don't. Buy a couple- how much mustard could you really use anyway? Don't clear the shelf, don't hoard your stuff, and for crying out loud- don't dedicate a whole room to your products. Although you can bet your boots that if we had any single extra square of room in this house I would have already ordered my shelving units (I could play grocery store at home!) Ahem.
Couponing is a way of life- and I personally LOVE it. But I do think we have to be careful about going way crazy and overbuying for stuff we don't need/can't use. (Like the lady on the show who has $8000 in razors just because she got them for free).
Anywho- keep your eyes peeled at Target folks! The jars of Classico Pasta Sauce (which is REALLY good by the way) still have hang tags on them- buy two cream sauces get a red sauce free. My local target isn't a grocery so they don't have the cream sauce- so I went to an actual grocery target in order to actually FIND the cream sauces. I bought six jars- 4 cream and 2 red. Used 2 hang tag coupons as well as 3 $1 off 2 jars coupons from the insert a few weeks ago. Each jar was $1.99- after my coupons the cost was just $4.96 for 6 jars of sauce. That is a good price to me. Plus they had crystal lite on clearance for $1.77- I used the buy 2 get 1 free coupons, two $1 off coupons (printed off internet), plus $1 off 3 target coupons(printed off target.com), which made it $.54 for all three.
See- coupons don't always mean free mustard. They can mean cheap sauce for your free pasta!