I have been sharing that I am learning to be a Couponista in order to save even more on my grocery bill for a while now. Some of you have told me I am getting off the subject of frugal canning. I also wanted this blog to focus on being frugal so until I begin canning again you will have to tolerate my ramblings.
Working with coupons is beginning to pay off. Now I caution you that it does take a bit of effort but the payoff is worth it.
I sat down with the Sunday paper advertisements and the weekly grocery store ads that come in the mail. I cut out only the coupons for items that I would use. I am not interested in cleaning products, hair care concoctions, make up, frozen dinners (except Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese), soda, pet food, (Mister T is treated specially like the King of Everything that he is), diapers and so on.
Next I wrote out my grocery list. Then I visited the local bloggers that spell out how to save the most on this weeks specials. If you have not found those very valuable people in your neighborhood begin Googling coupon blogs and insert your town or area. The ones I use are:
These people have a secret network of super duper Couponistas whose goal in life is to beat the system. They find every coupon that can be used in combinations with other coupons to get the rock bottom price. Often they might use 3 or more coupons and end up with a receipt that states they get dollars off on their next purchase! That means the food was free! I have seen them get receipts with only a few cents out of pocket and several bags full of food.
Now they are also into having a supply of things in their pantry. I call it the Costo pantry method. There is nothing wrong with this if you have the space to store extra food storage. I am a firm believer in storing food and supplies in advance of an unknown situation whether it be financial or emergency based. I also advocate for every family to have a minimum of one month’s worth of food at all times and to be working on stockpiling a years worth of food and supplies. I mean everything from soup to nuts to shoe strings to toilet paper. What if you were unable to shop for an extended period of time? How would your family fare?
Back to the coupons. I brought my little neighbor Haylee with me to go on the treasure hunt (telling her it was a treasure hunt meant I had someone to help find all the goods I had coupons for while having fun). As we reached an aisle I would hand her the coupon and we would hunt for the item. I would match the size and quantity and in the basket it would go. I had all the coupons clipped together by store and the clips were then attached to a clipboard. I rested the clipboard on my purse as a shelf and had a good working area.
I noticed a few people looking at our system. Some had coupons in their hands and some were looking down their nose at us. Of course we were getting some attention because Haylee was wearing a brand new pair of Sketchers sneakers she got for her birthday that are decorated with bright neon colors, jewels and very bright lights that flash when she walked. They are actually fantastic and I wish they came in my size.
I had also found two grocery store gift cards in an old wallet and brought them along. I did not know if they were still redeemable. Turns out one was worth $8.67. Again I was thrilled because I had almost thrown them out when I found them. Think how many of these things get tossed every year and the store makes out like a bandit. I have a few more cards I will be checking the status on.
I had one Catalina coupon from two weeks ago worth $4.00 off my next purchase. So going in I was already getting $12.67 worth of things for free. I had 6 double coupons that could be used for any item for which I had a manufacturer’s coupon. I added six items to my list that I had $1 off coupons for that could be incorporated into my month’s menus and that were not too expensive to begin with. I ended up paying $39.66 for $70.23 worth groceries and saved $39.57 (I did shop at two stores and combined the receipts). I received one more Catalina for $1 off my next purchase and a coupon for $10 off a $25 purchase at a clothing store! I cut my bill in half!!!!!
I figure I put about an hour of planning into this trip and saved $39.57. Do you make $39.57 an hour? I promise not to beat a dead horse and write each week about my Couponista adventures but I wanted to inspire those of you who have never tried to use coupons and may have a real need to save on grocery bills.
Yes, you have to be willing to try new brands.
Yes, you have to be willing to do some basic homework and be organized.
Yes, you will not find coupons for the fresh items on your list.
Yes, you have to be willing sometimes to stockpile some items to get the best deal.
Yes, there are coupons for organic items and for shopping at Whole Foods. Yes, you might have to eat some processed foods and would be more challenged if you only ate an organic, non gluten, vegetarian, local diet of sustainable foods and never used any paper or cleaning products. I suspect the average household is not as disciplined as this and could save on coupons enabling them to either save the money to chip down their debt or buy some extras for food storage and preparedness plans.
I am learning to shop and buy local foods, buy sustainable products, eat more healthy foods, eat less prepared foods, make more foods from scratch but until I am perfect I will be using coupons on other items. I have stopped buying cleaning products and now use baking soda, vinegar and salt. I am cutting up old towels and tee shirts for cleaning rags and once the stockpile of paper towels is gone I will not replace them. I do use handkerchiefs or bandanas for my nose (living alone this is ok). I have made my own bath powder and deodorant from baking powder, corn starch and coconut oil. I do have a large garden in season and I can anything not moving. I have a grain grinder and hand operated kitchen tools but am still using electricity at this point. I also have more than a years worth of long term storage food and my everyday pantry is full all the time. My life is simple and frugal and I am proud of my accomplishments. I have come a long way baby and acknowledge I have further to go on my journey.
I do have a goal to shop at least once and not have to pay more than a few cents for my purchases because I used all coupons. That is the holy grail of being a Couponista. When that happens you will hear me yelling from the mountain top!