My sister in law, at a recent family dinner, said "You people are going to ruin it for the rest of us who just want to save a few dollars". And instantly I felt hurt.
YOU people? How am I going to ruin anything? Is she assuming that I am a product grabbing, shelf clearing, hoarder? Just because I carry a binder and carefully map out my weekly shopping strategy does NOT mean I am doing a single thing wrong. In fact, I think I am doing it right. I am stretching the money that the Lord provides for us as far as I can make it go. My husband works hard to earn that money. And I have trimmed the amount we spend weekly on groceries by over 50%. How is that wrong?
For the record- let me share my couponing strategy:
I purchase 4-6 newspapers per week so that I will have multiple copies of each coupon. I PURCHASE these extra papers from the newspaper company. That is good for them. And me. See?
I then sort through those inserts and clip out any coupon for a product or item my family might use. I don't clip out coupons for things we would never use. Certain things we are brand loyal (secret deodorant, free from dyes laundry soap, dove soap), other things we simply use and don't care what brand it is (toothpaste, canned tomatoes, monthly necessity items, toilet paper, spaghetti sauce, butter).
Then I put them into my binder- sorted by area (dairy, canned goods, cereal, etc). And that's that.
When I shop, I tend to look through my binder first to see if I have a coupon for an item I 'need'. You know, milk, meats, veggies, fruits, dairy items. Then I use my coupons for those items. If not- then I buy them anyway, depending on who has them at least on sale. And if it's a good sale on an item (chicken breasts, ground beef, yogurt, etc.) then I may buy a couple of extra packages. That is my regular shopping for our families necessities. I have to do this about once every two weeks. Except the milk. I buy that all the freakin' time it seems like.
Because I 'coupon'- there are rarely any other items that we 'need'. I try and stock up a little when I find an item on sale matched with a coupon that is at a price that I consider to be really good. For instance, if I normally pay $1 for chef boyardee pasta (which is a staple in our house for the kids- they love it) and it is on sale for $.75 per can. And I have a coupon for $.50 off per 4 that doubles to $1- that makes it $.50 per can, 1/2 price. That to me would be worth buying 12 cans. There are times it come even lower, perhaps I would buy 16-20 then. As long as there is plenty of the product on the shelf for others that is.
Very frequently, I am able to pick up our personal care items for free. Items like razors, body wash, shampoo, monthly womanly items, tooth paste, tooth brushes, make up. I will do this, even if we have a few of each in my cabinet. Because building a 'stockpile' is a slow process that you do by purchasing 2 of an item that is free when you can. Not 50. 'That' coupon show has folks believing that we all shop like that. But 'we' all don't. That is why I don't have a TV show and they do.
Other items that are typically matched up with sales and coupons for GREAT deals are pastas, pasta sauces, meal helpers, taco items, cereals, oatmeal, baking mixes, marinades, dipping sauces, snack bars, fruit snacks and breading type mixes (bisquick, pancakes, etc.). When these items are on sale and I have a good coupon, I will typically buy as many as I have a coupon for. Which is almost always a maximum of 6, 7 if my mom has given me her coupon inserts. Then I have plenty of that item to serve to my family for the next 2 months or so and I can trim it right out of my grocery budget.
See? Buy extra when it's on sale- save money- have plenty to provide for my family. Have plenty to share with the food bank. And other family members. THIS is how couponing works for me.
And I love it. It is a hobby that I truly enjoy- hunting down a fun deal each week. If couponing for you takes up too much time to seem worthwhile, then don't do it. It is most definately not for everyone, that is for sure.
But for me- it works. And I even enjoy sharing what I purchase here on this blog.
When I grocery shop, inevitably someone will ask me if I am 'one of THOSE extreme couponers'. I almost always answer that I am just a mom trying to save some money.