Once upon a time, in a cold and bitter land, there lived a lady with a husband, four kids, and a dog; she didn't spend hours clipping coupons.
Okay, so the "cold and bitter" were just added for sheer emphasis. It is a ridiculously cold spring here, and I am rather bitter about that, but still. Mostly just there for effect! :)
This is really the story of an observation I've made over the last couple of years, but it's come into clearer focus in recent days. It always surprises me the myriad of pursuits that so easily become trendy, for lack of a better word. Whether it's the latest book with a little shock value, a particular hair style or accessory, or even clipping coupons, we are just creatures who like to have a trend to get in on!! And I'm not casting aspersions on that...it's just an observation. I realized I must be right about the couponing trend, when I recently saw an advertisement for a weekly show on the TLC network called "Insane Couponing"; one woman said she spends 5 HOURS A DAY doing it!!! If a whole show is devoted to it, it must really be the next new thing.
When it comes to "couponing", I definitely say "more power to ya" if you have all the energy, time, and willpower that it takes to feed that obsession! No hard feelings, and you may just want to skip this post! :) This is more for the other ladies lurking around blog/facebook world who have (like myself) felt guilty at times when they see the passionate mission of other moms to save a buck. We women are good at that whole measuring ourselves against each other thing. That's just another observation that I threw in for free. Have blogged about that in the past too.
I love a bargain as much as the next gal. I really do. And I NEED to save money. I really do. Times are tough around here...and sometimes groceries feel more like a luxury than a necessity. I have ventured into the world of couponing, but in spite of our financial needs, I quickly came to the conclusion that the grief and headache involved just truly Was. Not. Worth. It.
That being said, I am learning to do my part to stretch the dollar and try to feed the fam at the same time. I'm no expert BY ANY MEANS, and I know my insights are not new or necessarily blog-worthy. But I'll share them just the same. Remember, I'm trying to make all of us non-couponers feel better about ourselves. :)
1. So, if a coupon crosses my path and makes itself readily available and easy to use, I'm ALL OVER IT. That's the first thing. Like the digital coupons that can be uploaded directly to your frequent shopper card. Oh yeah, baby. That's couponing I can live with. No clipping, no cutting, no filling up my purse with more paper! :) QUICK NOTE: about non-grocery couponing: Kohls is a FAB-YOO-LUSS place for making sales, couponing, etc., feel like a worthy endeavor. Shop during power hours, earn Kohl's cash, sign up for special email discounts, and you can rack up some serious savings. Around Christmas time, I purchased nearly $500 worth of merchandise and spent $109. That was a happy night, dear readers. *tears* But Kohls made it EASY.
2. I try to be aware of the sales that are happening at the grocery stores, particularly for items that I can stock up on. This is something I'm really trying to do a lot better about. For example, our Kroger often has sales on Perdue fresh, all natural chicken breasts. Like .99/lb. That is a GREEEAAT time to stock up on chicken to freeze. Yay for chicken!
3. Also, when you're aware of what's on sale, it just makes sense to plan your menus for the week around what you can buy for less. DUH. You knew that already. Bears mentionin' now and then, though.
4. Look for the Manager's Specials in the meat department; items that have to be sold or frozen in the next day or so. I have stocked up on good lean ground beef and sirloin tip roasts, etc., for really great prices. Take 'em home and freeze 'em.
5. If there is a particular product that you really like but it's just beyond your budget, you can contact the manufacturer and tell them how much you like their product (butter them up, ya know) and ask if they could send you any coupons. I have even done this with prescription meds...don't even have to butter them up....just call and say "my doc prescribed this for me. Do you have any discounts or savings I could get in on?" This has proven VERY helpful with several meds. I had a prescription where my co-pay was $40/month and the manufacturer sent me a discount card good for up to $45 off my RX for a WHOLE YEAR. I got that RX free for a year. Yay! So it never hurts to try...
That's about all I've got for now. Told ya I wasn't an expert. But if I can look at my receipt and know that I saved money, real money...then I'm good with that. The trade-off for the "insane" kind of couponing just wasn't worth it for me. That's my confession. Maybe I'm a bad person. But I'm wagering there are others of you out there. I'd love to hear your stories and favorite tips for saving money and staying sane!
Come out of the shadows and be free!
hee hee...I amuse myself....:))
4/14 UPDATE: First, I just learned that the show is actually called "Extreme Couponing"; sorry for that mix up. Secondly, I had the chance to watch a couple of episodes of it. I'm more convinced than EVER that I'm not going that way! In fact, I was really struck by how it goes way beyond "trend" with these folks featured and it's a full-blown addiction. I think they need serious help and intervention. My hearts go out to their children...one lady referred to herself as a "supermom" for her couponing skills. I just couldn't help but think what a shame that her kids are deprived a "normal" mom, and instead have one who is addicted and obsessed to the point of valuing her "STOCKPILE" as much as her family. She actually said she finds it as beautiful as her family!!!! NO THANK YOU!!