As I sit down at my computer attempting my first post visions of Carrie Bradshaw from “Sex in the City” dance around in my head. Do single men coupon? That is until my three year old dives into my lap and I hear the free pasta boiling over on the stove. Well it was fun while it lasted. I’m thrilled to have this opportunity. I can’t talk about coupons enough.
Coupons have completely turned my life around. But I am getting ahead of myself in all my excitement. Let me start from the beginning of my journey, so get out your violin. I will make this part short because it is rather brutal and I always get emotional. I have a family that depends on my income and I got super sick and didn’t bring in any money for about 4 months and my husband got laid off at the same time. The bills began to pile up and I almost lost everything. I have a ton of student loans and maxed out credit cards galore. We always just made it by and now there was no getting by. I was a fool to think that there would never be a rainy day and here I was in the middle of a horrendous downpour with no umbrella. With bare cabinets and a sob story for all my creditors I did my best and thought there has got to be a better way. Looking for a solution I stumbled upon a coupon…aaaaahhhhhh and then a light shone down on the coupon and the birds chirped and I skipped down to the store and all was well. Ha Ha no I was more like big whoop 50 cents. I know I am so ashamed to admit it now, but we’ve all been there right? I thought of every excuse in the book. We’ve all heard them from the doubters behind us in line. My three favorites: “You really don’t save that much.” or “It takes too much time.” And “You can only find coupons on things nobody buys.”
Although my journey through the storm has been bumpy I went from a coupon doubter to a coupon cutie. I have managed to cut my grocery and household monthly bill from $1,360 to about $280 a month for a family of four while acquiring a famous stockpile that takes up a whole room in my house. I have also managed to significantly pay down my credit card debt and help some family members that are struggling with financial hardships. None of this would have been possible without coupons. I want everyone to tap into that coupon gold and turn it into financial security.
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Last week, I ran into a friend at the grocery store. Of course, I stopped to say hello and chat for a few minutes. I noticed that, just like me, she had her grocery list and a stack of coupons in hand for her weekly trip.
Under the stack, I saw she had a weekly circular from another store across the street. That store tends to be a little bit pricier but has great coupons for meat, poultry, pork and seafood. And, the best coupon is the $5 off $50 purchase coupon that is usually valid over the weekend.
When I mentioned that she brought that circular with her by mistake, she told me the greatest thing I had ever heard. The store at which we shop takes competitors’ coupons! I had no idea. Suddenly I was like a kid in a candy store. I was giddy with excitement.
My friend is such a good “couponer.” She lays out the circulars, compares them with her coupons, plans her week’s meals and makes a list. She is so good. But, the most important thing she does is to stick to that list.
I do my best at couponing and get great deals every so often. I am a novice at it but I try each week to see how well I can do. Since I am a stay at home mom, I need to get the most out of every dollar to help our family’s budget.
Couponing is definitely a science. It is so much more than having a stack of coupons in an envelope at the store. Couponing is gathering circulars, coupons, the Internet, a pen and paper in order to come up with a plan. It is stocking up when I have coupons for items on sale that my family uses daily.
To figure out the weekly list and menu based on what deals I get with the coupons I have requires preparation, time, and lots of patience. But, if done correctly, the instant gratification at the check out is huge. To see my total come up to $48.44 and know that I just bought $85 worth of groceries is a job well done. I do my part to stretch out our money each month and feel good when I know I did a good job.
A couple of weeks ago, I was at CVS when I noticed huge bottles of my shampoo and conditioner on sale 2 for $7.00. As luck would have it, I had a couple of BOGO coupons in my coupon organizer. I was so excited. I opened up my organizer and went straight to the personal hygiene pocket to get these coveted coupons (by the way, I paid only $1.75/bottle with the coupons).
My coupon organizer is a good one. The pockets are divided into sections according to product categories. In each pocket, I put the coupons for that section in chronological order according to the closest expiration date. I think it works well enough except when I see something that I missed in the circular or a sale at another store at which I happened to be. At that point, I have to sift through the pile of coupons to find the ones I need. It becomes a little cumbersome.
I have googled coupon organizers quite a bit and found much better ones. They look like big notebooks with business card holders so that each coupon is visible and easy to access. The trouble with those is that the holders are huge. Carrying it into the store is like carrying a notebook to class.
Looking back at my organizer, while coupons are easily accessed prior grocery trips, they are not too accessible while at the store. On the other hand, the organizer fits in my pocket book very easily so I don’t have to carry a big book on top of my groceries.
There has to be a better organizer out there that can combine both systems. It is so nice to see all of the coupons in front of me but I don’t want to add one more thing to the 10 bags I have to get to my car. Maybe the best thing to do is make my own organizer and have the one I want.
Now, to find the time to create this perfect organizer……………