Confessions of a Coupon Clipper
by: Carolyn Henneforth
These days, frugality has become trendy.
I confess: I started couponing in May of 2011. I had watched the “Extreme Couponing” show on TLC and was only mildly interested, it was an entertaining show, but I figured it was just a TV program and that it didn’t have much to do with me. I didn’t give it much more thought until a friend of mine sent me some Facebook links to couponing sites. Again, only mildly interested.
My friend told me about how much money she was saving, not only on groceries, but also on laundry soap, body wash, shampoo and conditioners, razors, toothpaste, deodorant, cleaning supplies, medicines, toilet paper, and many other things. Ok, now you have my attention!
I said to myself, “You know, Carolyn, you use all of those things, so what do you have to lose?” I figured I would at least try it, it would be a nice little diversion, and something like a little hobby, right? I thought that if I saved a buck or two here or there, it would be worth it.
I realize how much money I was losing by NOT couponing! Little did I know! In four short months, I have saved over a whopping $825.00 with coupons! While that in itself is wonderful, what is even more amazing is the stockpile of items my family uses and needs that I have accumulated. Couponing requires comittement and organization. Let me explain…
I cleaned out my hall closet to make room for all of the things I have bought, most for at least 75% off the list price. I now have at least a 6 months supply of laundry soap, dishwasher soap, toothpaste, and shampoo and conditioner. I have a years worth of body wash and soap. I have more razors then my family can use in a year, and I have at least three months worth of toilet paper. Yes, you heard me.
I also have no need to worry about aspirin, ibuprofen, cold medicine, vitamins, contact lens solution and the like for a long time. The best thing is that I have spent LESS on these items than I would have if I had not started couponing. An added bonus is that my oldest daughter who has her own apartment comes over to go “shopping” in my stockpile.
I have also given away things that I have gotten cheap or for free to our local Domestic Violence shelter. Pay it forward, you know? When it comes to grocery shopping, I used to make a list every couple of weeks, go to the store, and get what my family needed for two or three weeks. I used to spend around $150 to $200 dollars a trip and it would be just enough to get us through until the next time we went to the store.
Couponing! What a change it has made in my pantry.
Here’s a breakdown: On a recent trip to my local grocery store, I picked up 12 boxes of cereal (Cheerios, Raisin Bran, Rice Krispies, Corn Chex) for one dollar apiece, 14 boxes of Hamburger Helper for 58 cents each, 4 French’s mustard for 20 cents each, 4 bottles French’s Worcestershire Sauce for 25 cents each, 8 jars of Ragu spaghetti sauce for 50 cents each, 9 boxes of StoveTop stuffing for 25 cents each, 4 rolls of Reynolds Aluminum foil for 25 cents each, and 6 jars of Skippy peanut butter for 75 cents each.
Total for all of this? $33.77 is what I paid after handing over the coupons.
Same day- on to a different grocery store. I bought 4 cans of Hunt’s spaghetti sauce for 75 cents each, 8 Knorr Dirty Rice packets for 50 cents each, 20 2 oz packages of Buddig sliced meat packages (ham, roast beef and turkey) for 6 dollars, 10 boxes of Totino’s Pizza rolls for 55 cents each, 20 frozen packages of various Hot Pockets for 40 cents each, 3 rolls of Pillsbury Grands Biscuits for 75 cents each, and 4 bottles of Ken’s Steak House Salad Dressing for 50 cents each.
Total for all of this? $30.75 is what I paid after coupons.
Total price after this haul was $64.52. Pretty good, eh? My stockpile has grown, and I paid much less than I would without coupons. I don’t know about you, but I think many of us would like to spend less and save more! I sit out on my deck with a cup of coffee on Sundays and take only a couple of hours a week clipping coupons. It’s not all that time consuming and well worth it.
The secret to this whole couponing thing is simple. It can be boiled down into a few easy steps.
1. Grab at least 3 Sunday newspapers with the coupon inserts. The two main inserts are Smartsource and Redplum. General Mills and Procter and Gamble also have occasional inserts. On holiday weekends, there will be no inserts. Ask your family and friends to give you their inserts if they aren’t going to use them. Cut out all of the coupons for items you use, or things you want to try. You want at least three of every coupon in case you find a great deal (and you will!)
2. Go to K-Mart or Walmart and buy some baseball card holder pages to hold your cut coupons (they have three holes in them so they fit neatly into a three ring binder.) Buy a binder or notebook to put the pages in (I use a Trapper Keeper -everything is nice and neat and zipped up.) I also have tabs on my pages. For example: Dairy, Meat, Paper Products, Hair Care, Laundry, Beauty, etc.
3. Cut your coupons, file them in the baseball card pages. Each week, when you are filing your new coupons, take out the expired ones.
4. Each week, look at your local ads and compare them to your coupons. Make a list of sales and coupons you have. Or you can let someone else do the work for you. The websites listed below display the matchups every week. I follow them on FB and they post the latest deals, saving me from doing the matchups myself.
5. Only use coupons if the item is on sale- This is the most important part of couponing and this is how you will build up your stockpile. If you have a coupon (or 4 or 5 of them), only use it if the item is on sale. If it isn’t, don’t use the coupon. It might come on sale in a few weeks. Coupons and sales have cycles.
Note: Don’t throw out expired coupons, they can be sent to US military families who are stationed overseas. On the bases, coupons are accepted in the military base stores for 6 months past the expiration date.
Bottom Line: If you are organized, have a little free time, the room for storage, want to save money or donate offerings to food pantries, then extreme couponing may be for you. Or, in a pinch- a few clipped coupons just might save you a few extra bucks for a rainy day.
Here are a few sites worth checking out:
Happy saving and- ENJOY!
P.S. Save me your sunday paper!