A few times in the last couple of months I’ve posted pictures on social media of a particularly successful grocery trips using coupons. Every time I post these pictures, there are those who ask for tips and those who swear they don’t have time for it. I decided the easiest way to share my process with those who asked was to post on it. I will be sharing a series of blog posts outlining how I approach couponing in a way that is successful and beneficial to me.
For starters, I am not an extreme couponer. I do not have a room with floor to ceiling walls of items I’ve stockpiled but will most likely never use. Nor do I spend much time on the couponing process. I do not have a lot of spare time so spending hours is just not something I’m going to do.
I am a single woman and I don’t have a husband or millions of children to feed. So why do this at all?
I like to avoid the tyranny of the urgent. I don’t know about you, but it never fails that I run out of essential things all at once. You know the week that you run out of dishwashing liquid, laundry detergent, deodorant, razors, soap and contact solution. All of which are essential, none of which are inexpensive. For me this always happened at the end of a budget month when I was least able to absorb the costs. Couponing has really helped me eliminate this issue. I have a small stockpile of these items. For example, in my laundry room I have a few extra bottles of laundry detergent. I don’t buy it every time it goes on sale, but when I know I’m down to my last bottle I start watching to refill my stock.
When you buy as you need an item, the store wins and you lose. Think about the last several times you bought an essential home or personal item when you needed it. Chances are really great that you paid full price for it. I have sensitive skin- so my deodorant, soap and laundry detergent options are very limited. I would never run out of these items when All or Dove were on sale so I would always pay full price. That’s not a win for me, but it was for Target and the manufacturers! In that same example of laundry detergent the bottles I have stockpiled cost me $2 each for All Free & Clear. That is normally $6+ a bottle. Because I buy it when the price is right I’m in control, not the store.
I am cheap and refuse to pay full price for anything. If you were to come over to my house I could show you the one or two items in my closet I paid full price for. I hate it. I want the best deal I can get on anything, and am usually willing to walk away if the price isn’t right. When you buy things as you need them, you pay full price. I prefer saving $4+ per bottle of laundry detergent over full price any day!
I am single, work in education, and pay a mortgage payment in student loans every month. Let’s be real. I went to a private school and got a great education that I am still paying for almost a decade later. I also work in education so I get paid significantly less than the value of what I contribute (I get lots of non-monetary rewards, which is worth it. Or so I tell myself.) I have to cut corners somewhere if I am ever going to get ahead of my debt issue or afford a hair cut. Since Sallie Mae doesn’t take coupons and “you get what you pay for” is extremely true in hair cuts, my grocery bill will have to be the place where corners are cut.
It is not as time-consuming or scary as everyone makes it seem. Yes, to be successful at couponing requires some organization and time. But you don’t have to give up an entire day to make it work. You don’t have to drive all over town knowing just how to stack coupons at what store to save significant money. That picture above took me just a few hours on a Sunday afternoon including the grocery trip itself. It also involves one store.
I want to be a good steward. As a Christian I believe that everything I have comes from God. I want to steward his financial gifts well. I just don’t think paying an extra $4 for laundry detergent because I wanted to be lazy is good stewardship.
If you agreed with or saw yourself in any of my reasons why, then the time is now to start your couponing story. In coming posts I’ll cover the following to help you get started:
If you want to start couponing, I hope you’ll read these coming posts and/or share them with your friends and family!