I had a discussion with a friend of mine today who shook her head and thought I was crazy when I pulled out my huge coupon binder. She said she uses coupons sometimes when she sees one in the newspaper, but that she thinks it's a bit "over the top" to have a binder like that and to clip them like I do.
I smiled, laughed to myself and asked her wouldn't she like to have a pantry full of foods she paid little or nothing for? Specifically that yogurt I saw her son eat 3 of in the last couple of days. She said sure, but it was too much trouble and it made you look crazy to walk in a store with all that stuff. Plus she really didn't have the "time" to do it.
Well, all I can say is that the time I spend is worth it when I have the money to do something more fun with my kids later. Next week, I am taking 7 people to a local pizza and game place that is going to cost us about $75 (after coupons). This is a special treat for the kids for their Spring Break and birthdays combined. I wouldn't be able to come close to affording that kind of splurge if I didn't save money in other ways.
I know that couponing or extreme couponing are not ways of life for everyone. I don't take things to extremes like some do. I don't have the time, money nor space to do it. But I do spend a regular amount of time online and sitting in my office floor with coupons and scissors and sale papers. And it's worth it to me.
This year alone, I've saved hundreds of dollars on groceries and managed to stockpile a lot of items in my pantry so that when a "rainy day" comes, I have a supply. We may "want" different items and thus go to the grocery store regularly, but I guarantee I could feed my family of 3 and occasionally 6 (get rest of kids every couple of weeks) for at LEAST a month on "just" what I have in my pantry now. We wouldn't go hungry and we'd have plenty of variety.
One rule of thumb for me is to never buy/get something with a coupon that I wouldn't normally purchase for my family anyway.
If it's not a brand we like or use, I just won't get it. There are even some items (such as Claussen pickles) that we love so much that we won't buy any other brand, no matter how much cheaper the other brand may be. We aren't limited. We are just frugal for the most part so those kind of splurges don't hurt as much.
But also, there is a lot to be said about working with coupons to help others. One thing I've gotten for mere pennies or free the past few months is feminine hygiene products. Between coupons and sale prices, I managed to get 7 boxes of tampons, 3 packs of pantiliners and 4 packs of pads for under $5 total. For ALL. I've kept some in stock for my personal use and then distributed the rest to family members who could use them too. Odd gift? Sure, I suppose so, but when you think about little items like that you HAVE to purchase throughout the year, it adds up quickly. That $5 box of tampons I got for free can help them save more toward a vacation, a date night out, or even paying off credit card debt.
Every little bit, every single penny and dime helps. It all adds up eventually. Don't laugh at those who use coupons for cents off the dollar, those cents WILL add up to dollars quickly!
No matter what your income is and no matter what your priorities are, you can almost always benefit from using coupons. Even doing it on a very small scale helps save hundreds of dollars a year.
I plan on taking more time in the coming months and focusing on particular items for my pantry, as well as the household supply cupboards. And next time I see soap, deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo and the like on sale under 25 cents an item or for free, I'm going to stock up. Even if it's NOT the brand we like or use. You know why? Because there are a lot of people in the local area that don't have the money for those things and that go regularly to our local shelters and food pantry to get them. Me getting it for free and taking by there as a donation, is just one more way to give back to the community and show others the love of Jesus.
Don't scoff at us coupon crazies as some call us. Maybe our huge stockpile isn't only for selfish reasons. Maybe we share with family, friends and those less fortunate. Think about it. Next time you say you don't have the extra money to give to a charity, make a Christmas box or to give to the less fortunate, think about grabbing some coupons, spending some time learning how to take advantage of the sales and getting free items to do that with.
If you have questions about how to coupon and how to make the most of your grocery/household budget, feel free to ask me or visit any one of the blogs in my "Favorite Savers" box on the right. You can even clip coupons directly from my blog and not even have to go to another site by using the Coupons.com box right under that "Favorite Savers" box.
Don't forget to sign up for my Giveaway! Low Entries and ends on March 25th!