A couple of weeks ago I found myself yelling at the tv. As that normally only happens on a Sunday night while watching Dionne Warwick or Star Jones, this was unusual as it was a Wedsneday night. Yuppers, so that I could make a good assessment I sat down and watched an episode of Extreme Couponing and I gotta say: I’m done. I watched one episode and that was enough. Although I was reluctant to get into the ins and outs of the show, people have asked me so I thought I’d take a moment and write down some thoughts.
The responses have ranged from horror (“How many bags of chips does one couple need?”) to shame (“I’m letting down my family if i don’t get my bill from $1000-$50 each week.”) So I thought it would be good to write down some of my thoughts on the subject. I’m not ready for a battle, these are soley my opinions.
1) I believe it’s possible to cut your grocery bill drastically with about an hour’s preparation per week that includes looking at sales flyers, meal planning and checking what deals are going on (by using this blog) I feel like the savings you’ll see very quickly are worth it. I don’t believe you need to spend 10 hours doing it then 5 hours in the store. You will quickly get discouraged and if you’re like me feel that family time or shoe shopping are more of a priority.
2) There are not often coupons for meat, and rarely ever ones for fresh fruit and vegetables. With a little schooling most people can effectively use coupons to cut their costs on pantry items. You can get your bill down from around $150 to $50 but the problem is your cart may be full of cereal and popcorn! How are you going to afford that week’s produce?
3) Coupons can be used effectively. For those of you in double-coupons land you know that you can often get free food. But you don’t need to go crazy with 10 subscriptions to a newspaper or running out each week at midnight. Buying on eBay is my fave way to do it. Sure it’s fun to do once in a while but a weekly 2am run ain’t my idea of a good time! Those of us in no-doubles land get jealous but it does take a lot of prep work to do the deals. Sometimes it’s easier just to go to ALDI!
4) I get giddy and dream about deals one night a year. One. I don’t daydream about Crest, imagine myself clipping Stayfree coupons or let it consume me and you don’t need to either.
5) Don’t clear shelves. It just ain’t cool. Most of us have been on the end of a disappointing shopping trip that went awry because someone else had cleared shelves and we had our coupons all planned out.
6) If you’re going to do multiple transactions or use lots of coupons be considerate. Consider shopping late at night or early in the morning. After each transaction consider stepping to the end of the line so as to avoid a bad name.
7) Do use high value coupons on small items. For example a $3 off any Snuggle product can be used effectively on a small $3.59 bottle. Instead of buying the $5.59 bottle buy the small one and maximize that coupon. Also, $1 off coupons for toiletry items that don’t exclude trial items may be used to get some free stuff. Most of the big box stores carry those items.
8) If you have the knowledge: use it! I know how to coupon effectively, know how to get free items and feel it’s my responsibility to use that knowledge. Once I’ve ensured that we have enough (I’m sometimes struck by my own definition of that word and am careful to ensure we don’t have too much!) as a family, then I make sure I’m constantly cleaning out my stockpile. One great way to do that is to join us with Charity Challenge each week and use one of the 4 drop-off spots in Northwest Indiana. If you’re elsewhere your local food pantry would love some freebies!
9) Food prices have risen and to counter this I have started looking at the free items in the grocery store circulars. I coupon match most grocery stores by Thursday here on the blog. When I’m doing it I head to eBay HERE and order coupons. As I don’t get lots of newspaper subscriptions, I feel it’s worth paying about 10 cents per coupon for something we can use. A couple of weeks ago it was turkey hot dogs for $.15 per pack and BBQ sauce for $.25 per bottle after coupons. This week it’s $.10 on pasta and $.50 on pasta sauce. I’m buying between 10-20 coupons and filling our pantry. I’m just going to do it for a couple of months and stock up on some things that we need so that when I have to pay crazy prices for dairy, I at least know that we got cheap pantry food.
10) It may seem crazy to buy items you don’t need just because they’re free or better yet a moneymaker but it’s worth it and I show you why in this post.