A desperate wannabee.
It all started last fall when we participated in 3 canned food drives. Ok. Wait. That’s a lie. It started back in my college days when I was too proud to ask my parents for money to eat (because there’d be strings attached). I was working two jobs and trying to live on my own because I couldn’t handle the craziness that was home. I’d hunt the paper for coupons and stock up on soups and the prepared food stuff that I wrinkle my nose at now. Or coupons for fast food places. Wendy’s was my best friend back in college. I remember days when I’d clip a coupon for the all-you-can-eat salad bar and then bring my backpack filled with text books. I’d camp out and eat a late lunch at about 2pm, study while I ate and then eat an early dinner at 4pm. I can’t believe no one ever kicked me out. Not a proud time for me, for sure.
But I digress.
I’ve couponed on and off in my life but I got bitten by the bug again last fall. As I mentioned, we participated in 3 canned food drives, all within weeks of each other. By the second one, my pantry was bare. I don’t purchase many canned goods. I’m a buy-fresh-and-local (when I can) kind of cook. I prefer not to cook from a can if I can help it. Oh sure, I cheat with canned tomatoes or cream of mushroom soup or canned beans from time to time. But again, I’m digressing. (Stick to the story, Jane. Too much caffeine this morning? Jeez.)
I clipped some coupons from the paper and purchased a boatload of canned goods for the 2nd drive. Wow. It wasn’t as expensive as I thought it would be.
The next drive? I was prepared. I clipped coupons AND checked out the three major grocery chains near me for sales. I had to go to two stores to make it happen but since they were both on my way home from the boy’s school it wasn’t hard to navigate. I easily saved about 50% on my grocery bill. I was intrigued.
Since then, I’ve watched Extreme Couponers a handful of times. Many of the women are like me – got into couponing out of necessity. This recession (that’s over but isn’t) has hit many of us so hard. And while we’re doing OK, there are some things I just don’t want to give up. Like baseball and swim team for the kids or my favorite shampoo. We’ve trimmed our budget in every way we can think of. Watching the extreme couponers has shown me we could trim a little bit more.
But I still can’t seem to get the results they seem to achieve.
There are three things stopping me.
1. Time. I don’t spend 35+ hours a week clipping coupons, studying sale circulars and taking that 7 hour trip to one store.
2. I’m not going to purchase the 50 newspapers a week I’d need to collect a substantial amount of coupons and I refuse to dumpster dive like one featured woman does. (And she brings her kids with her when she does it!)
3. I don’t use many of the products that coupons advertise. I’m happy with my favorite dishwashing detergent or glass cleaner. I allow a little wiggle room but quite honestly, I’m a little set in my ways.
Taking advantage of Publix Buy-One-Get-One specials has helped quite a bit. I have about $80 worth of extra virgin olive oil that I paid about $30 for (with the help of coupons, of course.) My stock pile is building. Everything you see in the picture below was at least 50% off or free. Most of it, free. My daughter claims I’m preparing for the apocalypse. I don’t mind. Call me crazy, if you dare, but I’m saving us quite a bit at the grocery store. I’ve been able to purchase new baseball cleats, a new team swim suit and a fancy graduation dress with the savings.
But I want one of those big payouts. You know the ones. Where the bill is $1029 and they end up paying $6.82 for it. Or, even better, the bill comes to $534 and the grocery store pays you $1.13 to take it off their hands.
1. I have my baseball card notebook with coupons filed in categories according to the layout of my favorite grocery store.
2. I buy two, maybe three, Sunday papers a week and spend about 2-3 hours clipping, filing, scanning and planning a shopping trip or two.
3. Employing these methods, I save, on average, around 40%.
And that’s enough for now.
I just have to keep reminding myself.