Saturday, April 9, 2011

Money Saving Tips and Ideas Part 2

If you missed Part 1 of this series of posts, you can see it HERE.

Like I said in the beginning of Part 1, please comment with your ideas & thoughts! I suspect with a title like "money saving tips and ideas" this blog may get lots of come back & read the other comments, too. You never know when something might inspire you!

Tip #2: Coupons
With the show Extreme Couponing having premiered last week, I've had several conversations with people about it both in real life and online. I think I ought to clear up the confusion right off the bat before I begin discussing the use of coupons. If you watched the show, you'll know what I am talking about.

THOSE PEOPLE ARE CRAZY! Honestly people, who needs 75 bottles of mustard? I don't care if you only paid 1 cent for the whole batch of them, you don't need 75 bottles of mustard!! Especially when your husband is standing beside you saying "I don't even like mustard!!" Come on. Quit being selfish & emptying the store shelves just because you have a bunch of coupons. When you look at your child & say "We have a coupon to get some of these for free, but do you think the 40 boxes we have at home are enough?", you make me cringe. May I answer for your child and all the rest of the mentally healthy people in the world? YES! Your 40 boxes are enough!! If you're buying that much, I would hope that at least 1/2 of it is going to a food bank or soup kitchen or SOMEWHERE because if it's just going on the shelf in your basement, garage, closet....that's just hoarding, honey. Plain & simple. Get some psychological help. Quit being selfish. There is a HUGE difference between stocking up an extra couple rolls of paper towels and creating your own mini-mart in the basement. And still going back to the store to bring home MORE.

Ok, there. I said it. Whew. Glad to get that off my chest. Moving on now.

When I was a little girl, I remember watching my mom clip coupons & put them into a little organizer thing that she took to the grocery store with her. It was a little zippered pouch that held some dividers that broke her coupons into categories--dairy, drugs, frozen items, beverages, etc. I don't remember her ever coming home to rave about a gigantic savings, but I knew she was doing her part to help our family's budget in saving money on groceries.

When I got married, I bought a little coupon organizer thing myself & used it briefly. What I found was that I only clipped coupons for items I wanted to try or for items that were usually too expensive for me to buy. With a coupon, I could "justify" spending the extra money because I was going to save 50 cents. (as if 50 cents made a huge difference for my overall food bill) Over time I realized that I really wasn't saving our family any money using coupons because I could usually buy the generic version of the same product cheaper than I could buy the name brand with a coupon. And if I was only using coupons to get products I couldn't normally afford or to try new products, I wasn't really doing us any good. So I quit using coupons entirely.

At times, I would attempt to clip a few here & there when I knew that I could get a dollar off the diapers that we would most definitely use or $3 off the formula that I knew my child would drink. But even then, my use of a coupon was rare, partly because I was out of the habit of using them and partly because I would clip them & then forget to bring them to the store.

Even as recently as 3 months ago, I didn't use coupons. A friend of mine from high school (who is now a friend on facebook -- gotta love reconnecting with facebook!) began a couponing blog where she posts some of her recent frugal finds. I enjoyed reading about her savings, but could not fathom spending time driving all over town to different stores to get all these deals and I had already figured out that I couldn't successfully use coupons, so I just shrugged off the idea of following in her footsteps. One day when our finances were tight, I posted a question to my facebook page asking friends for their favorite money saving tips. Several ladies (including my friend with the couponing blog) mentioned using coupons. I laughed and pointed out to them all the reasons why I didn't use coupons at all. Several of them tried to convince me to think otherwise, but I still blew them off.

Sidenote: I found THIS blog this past week & have loved browsing all around the site. This particular article (link below) is about why the author thinks EVERYONE should use coupons. All her excuses for why not to use coupons were the very things I was thinking. She really hits the nail on the head & has some great advice if you have time or desire to read it.

A precious, amazing friend of mine emailed me one day about using coupons. She was not the least bit ugly or snippy about it (this was after I had blown everyone off on facebook), but offered me the things she had learned about couponing in the past few months & why she felt like it was helping her family's budget. Tara, have I told you lately that I love you? Seriously, you have a way with words on every topic (not just couponing!) that sounds like grace & love dripping with Jesus & holiness and a touch of sugar. I can't express how thankful I am that you're in my life. For SO many reasons. God is so good. So anyway, my sweet friend Tara told me about couponing in a way that got my curiosity up & made me want to give it a try again.

That week when my awesome mom handed down her Sunday paper (she's been doing this for years---gotta love a free Sunday paper. Thank you mom!), I grabbed the coupons & started clipping based on the advice Tara had given me.
  • Don't just clip coupons for things you need right now.
  • Don't just clip coupons for products you might want to try that are new to the market.
  • Don't just clip coupons that look like good savings.
  • Basically....clip *every* coupon for *every* product that you know your family will ever use.
Tara's words of wisdom that are still running through my mind? Everything goes on sale eventually and that's when you buy it with a coupon! The idea is that you clip tons of coupons & hang onto them. Then, every week when sale ads come in the mail, you pull out your stash of coupons & compare what's on sale. After you've been clipping for a while, there's a good chance you'll have a coupon for a sale item. When you stack the sale price plus the coupon, you're going to get some real savings!

I will likely never be one of those people who can claim to have saved 75%-90% of her grocery bill in coupons, but I do find it a fun challenge to see how much I can save every week. I never dreamed that I'd get geeked out when the sale ads come in the mail! We get them on Tuesday. By Wednesday, I've got things circled that I want to get the sale price on. By Thursday I've got our menu for the following week planned based on the sales/coupons. And by Friday night when I get to the grocery store, I've got a stack of coupons paperclipped to my list, ready to go!

I am still learning the couponing process myself, still finding new ways to save using coupons, still stretching what feels like "normal", but I know I've been bitten by the coupon bug. You know why? Last night in Walmart when I was buying my groceries, I happened to see that the people in line behind me were buy a bag of Pedigree dog food. I had one in my cart too. All I could think was "I bet you don't have the $3 off coupon for that dog food!"


Tara and Ryan said...

AWW! LIZ! Ya know, I almost called you today to have a coupon talk. Isn't that weird? You are so sweet and I really really really do love your thoughts. I am blessed to call you friend. I think we should get our coupons together for some stores together and go shop. How fun would that be?

Jennifer said...

awww... thanks for the shout out!! I do love coupons but not to the extreme. That is just crazy!! I am glad that you have jumped on the band wagon! :) Funny that you mention Money Saving Mom. She was the first frugal blog I read and where I learned about the drugstore game which is what I am the most addicted too (that and getting free stuff at Target!) I love her blog and I love that she is a Dave Ramsey fan!