Monday, April 4, 2011

Crazy Coupon Lady!

A few years ago I got quite heavily into the whole coupon/sale craze. I loved the thrill of getting items for free or nearly free, of saving my family money, and of seeing my pantry and bathroom cabinets stocked. When my body began revolting on me I quit couponing. I didn't have the strength to do it anymore. I hated watching our dollars disappear, I hated telling our children they couldn't have this or that treat because we couldn't justify the expense. My kids never hurt for anything, we were never without food, but they didn't always get a lot of choices in food either. I couldn't justify buying oatmeal when this type of cereal was so much cheaper. It meant the difference between eating Macaroni towards the end of the pay period and eating meatloaf. As food prices rose the choices went down. Buying stuff to make cookies became a rare treat rather than a family event on the weekend. Sandwiches for dinner became more frequent than a night where we didn't have time to cook a full meal. Our grocery budget rose $80 every two weeks from $120 (where we had money to spare and treats and fun food in the house) to $200 (where every penny had to be accounted for). I thought about couponing again but I didn't even have the ability to clip coupons.

After I healed from my wrist fusion surgeries I thought about it more and more. The clincher came when we ran out of shampoo. We literally had not bought shampoo in 4 years because my stockpile was so large. We ran out of shampoo and I refused to buy more shampoo because I knew I could get it free or nearly free. I used the kids babywash, and those little samples you get and Chris called me ridiculous and bought shampoo. I loathed that bottle of shampoo, lol. It represented all the wasted dollars we've spent over the past two years. All the money we could have been using to take the kids bowling, or to the movies. Even taking the kids to McDonalds has gone way up in price. When your family is as large as ours nothing is cheap. McDonalds easily costs us about $30.

I started researching deals again and buying the newspaper for the coupons. Even the newspaper went up in price since I last did this. When I was couponing years ago the paper was $1.50, it is now $2.50. To justify the $5 (I buy two papers a week) I spent on papers my savings had to be greater than that in coupons. I was doing okay, but my stockpile was weak and I wasn't really saving much. I didn't have the hours in the week to research deals as well as go shopping at multiple stores, cut coupons, and do all the other mommy and wife stuff (and hopefully get an hour or two for myself!) that is needed to keep this household running.

I had heard of "The Grocery Game" years ago and I SCOFFED at the idea of PAYING someone to do what I could do myself. I mean, wasn't the whole point to save money? I decided to look at the website again just to see if it was really going to save me more money, and decrease the time spent needing to clip, buy, and research. They used to have a 4 week trial for the price of $1. Now their 4 week trial is completely free. Well, free is good, right? I don't like entering my credit card info for "free trials" because inevitably I will forget I did it and be charged. But I was desperate so I did. I didn't have months of coupons saved up so I wasn't expecting major savings just yet. I was wrong. The first few weeks I used "The Grocery Game" I saved, on average, 50%. Before them I saved about 25% to 30%. In one trip to the store I more than paid for their fee and all the newspapers for that month.

I've been using them for 2 months or so now. My savings is generally 80% or better at CVS and Walgreens, and about 50% to 75% at Bakers and HyVee. My pantry is bursting, as are my non-food item shelves. I literally have 2 open containers of laundry detergent and 17 unopened bottles plus 4 bags of Tide Stain Release. I have 22 boxes of spaghetti noodles, 14 tubes of toothpaste, 23 deodorants (plus 2 open), 12 cans of kidney beans, 17 boxes of cereal, and the list goes on and on. Just in 2 months.

Some people say, "there is a lot of processed foods in coupons and I won't use those!" Well, neither do I! I buy a lot of healthy foods (and now can buy treats for my kids. I have 4 bags of morsel chips of some variety waiting to be made into cookies), and I still save. My List shows what produce is at it's cheapest and where. I bought 4 lbs of strawberries this weekend for $4. Also, just in non-food items you can save a major amount. Who doesn't need laundry detergent? My husband insists on using Charmin Toilet Paper which is ridiculously expensive. I use cloth most of the time and the kids couldn't care less. I have 50+ rolls stocked away of his favorite bath tissue. There were some months where I had to buy the cheap stuff and Chris waited until he was at work to use the bathroom. I haven't yet had to pay for a tube of toothpaste.

I firmly believe in giving back whenever, and however you can. I donate a lot every year to the local food pantries. If an item goes on a very good sale, that I know we would never eat or use, I'll buy it and donate it. We went from having to be very very careful with our grocery budget to being able to donate to others.

If you'd like to check out the website its If you decide to sign up I'd love to have your referral!

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