Lazy Budget Chef: Do You Coupon?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Do You Coupon?

Husband calls me The Big Game Bargain Huntress because I always comparison shop. I learned early on that I could not be brand loyal and expect to save money at the grocery store.

I used to coupon in my Early Marriage Days. I thought I was saving money.  I doubt I was because I’d often buy something just because I had a coupon. Other times, even with the coupon, the store brand was much cheaper. Of course, I didn’t know about stacking a coupon with an in store sale to get something even cheaper or free. Even when I did try it, the coupon was expired more often than not.

When I left my coupon holder in my cart at the store, I didn’t go back for it. I quit couponing.


I found Aldi, Trader Joe’s, and a host of mom and pop international markets with their much cheaper than conventional grocery store prices. Husband and I started cooking more from scratch. My food bill went down, the quality of food we were eating went up (due to cheaper and more interesting ingredients from the international markets), and our health improved.

I watched Extreme Couponing on TLC last night. On the one hand, I'm impressed by what these folks could get free or nearly free using coupons and deals. Sadly, the show barely mentioned that all of the people featured regularly donate from their stash to local food pantries. I also know from reading blogs and post show interviews that all of the people featured were encouraged to do an unusually large and extreme shopping trip for the show. The show notified the stores in advance what the couponers would be buying so they could stock extra. The shoppers were encouraged to amp up clearing shelves manically by production to make good TV. So while these folks make couponing work for them, the results for every shopping trip aren't always as extreme as they showed on TV.

Still the extreme couponers stockpiles were massive and impressive. It certainly helped one of the families when they went through a spell of unemployment. They could eat off the stockpile for months.

However, I thought it was ironic that TLC kept showing promos for the show Hoarding: Buried Alive during the Extreme Couponing commercial breaks. I wonder what makes a shopping addict an addict, a hoarder, or a smart couponer? I know someone who has a very real shopping addiction. I wonder if channeling her addiction into couponing would be a possible better release for her or not.

I’m not trying to imply that couponers are hoarders or full blown shopping addicts buying or collecting useless junk because they can get it for free or nearly free. I just find it odd that TLC chose to promote the Hoarding show so heavily during the Extreme Couponing show. The people featured in the couponing show had for the most part, neat and organized stockpiles.Although one woman admitted to skipping important events to go shopping and her husband grumbled over her stocking up on a pasta deal when he claimed they already had a bunch of stockpiled pasta. Hmm...

I mentioned couponing to Husband while we watched the show. He said he wasn’t interested because it seems to involve shopping. every. single. day. He’s not such a fan of our bi weekly 2 store shopping trips as it is. I don’t think he’d stand being dragged or me dragging stuff home every other day from multiple stores.

I understand the coupon bargain rush. I got a bunch of coupons from events a while ago and bought a big bag of groceries for seventeen cents (tax)! That trip took a lot of discipline because I went to a store I don’t normally shop at and was tempted by things I can’t get at my regular grocery stores. I also ended up buying items I wouldn't normally buy which was a nice treat. I don't think I could do that all the time though.

I find that I’m dipping a toe back into the coupon waters.  The environmentally friendly products I prefer are a little more expensive and if a coupon is available, I’ll use it. I still do it wrong by not stacking sales and coupons and stocking up on 3 months worth of product at a time. I don’t have a lot of extra storage space in my tiny condo for a huge stockpile. The best deals for free stuff are for products I don’t, won’t, or can’t use. *sigh*

What about you? Do you coupon? Do you have a large stockpile? How do you manage it?

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6 comments:

frugalredneck said...

I am a couponer and stockpiler. I have 7 children so it really helps. I have built up my stockpile so that I only have to really shop sales now except for perishables. I tred lightly at Walgreens. You can get really caught up in the Walgreens RR's and unless you are a coupon pro and have acess to multiple Walgreens getting $100 of stuff for $1 is really really hard or impossible. I do this. If I find stuff that is a great deal at Walgreen's and I want it. I find the things that are free that week-meaning free with coupon and RR's. I purchase those. Then I go back and get the things I want with my coupons and pay for it with the RR's. I am getting the things I want and getting an extra product to pay for those with the RR's. I was very leary of the TLC show, I have been coupoing a long time and I do really well. But those were not typical trips by any stretch of the imagination. I am doing a coupon class here in my town this month and I think my biggest hurdle will be getting them to realize that coupoing can cut your bill by 20%-50%. Good Luck with couponing Michelle frugalredneck.blogspot.com

Jennae @ Green Your Decor said...

I'm an occasional couponer. My biggest issue echoes what you said: "The best deals for free stuff are for products I don’t, won’t, or can’t use." We've been buying more and more produce and less packaged foods, and most coupons are for pre-prepared packaged foods.

When I can find coupons on individual ingredients, I'll use them, and definitely when I find coupons for non-toxic personal care or cleaning products. And I'm still learning about stacking and doubling to make the whole process more worth my while.

Condo Blues said...

Frugalredneck - WOW! I've read about how people make the Walgreens and CVS points really work for them. Let's face it, health and beauty items are some of the most expensive stuff at the store.

Jennae - I'm more with you although I can't wait to buy a couple of extras of environmentally friendly products during the April Earth Day sales.

If you're looking for coupons on Earth Friendlier products I have two on the Lazy Budget Chef side bar for Purex Crystals and White Cloud toilet paper. I use both and reviewed them on Condo Blues.

'Becca said...

We subscribe to the newspaper on Sundays only, when there is a coupon supplement. (We also read the paper, of course.) I clip coupons only for things we use, and then I save them until we need the item or it's on sale; if that doesn't happen when the coupon is near expiration, I take it on my next grocery run and see if it reduces the price to a bargain. If not, I leave the coupon on the shelf so another customer could use it.

When I'm planning to go to Target, I go to target.com and see what printable coupons are offered. Sometimes they give a substantial discount even on store-brand products.

I stockpile, not so much with coupons as at sales and Big Lots. We put a shelving unit in our basement at the foot of the stairs, and that's our pantry. Before I go shopping, I check to see what we already have a lot of. I stockpiled a little even when I lived in a 7'x13' room; I kept extras under the bed and in the back of the closet!

Condo Blues said...

Becca - I stockpile a little too. I used to buy stuff like toothpaste every time I had a coupon/saw a sale because I figured we use it up quickly. Weeeell after a clean out I saw that I had a bunch of toothpaste that we didn't go through as quickly as I thought. I wrote the date I opened a new toothpaste/cleaner/etc to see how long it lasted. Which meant I didn't need to buy the stuff every time it went on sale because my small family didn't plow through stuff like I thought.

I generally keep one spare on hand and some of that is from Big Lots too. Recently they had Toms of Maine toothpaste 1/2 off the regular price. I bought 4 tubes which will last us a while.

Diana said...

I canned so much over the summer, and froze, so I haven't had much use for coupons. We do use the almond milk coupons when we can find it, but only if it's the brand we like. With the kids in college, we don't do as much stockpiling.

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