I started couponing last October, and at first, the whole thing seemed so overwhelming to me. All the clipping and organizing of the coupons, looking for the deals, finding time to shop (with kids???)... was it really worth it? I mean, I was shopping at Aldi and Walmart before Crystal introduced me to couponing, and we weren't spending that much on groceries and household products.
But I have come to really appreciate the quality we are able to afford now...nicer cuts of meat (marked down, of course!), name brand items, medications, fancy cleaning products, and the cushiest TP money can buy. :) You do not even want to know how thin the TP was that we were previously using. Ouch! I have always been a tightwad. It's just my methods that have changed.
We were shopping a week to 2 weeks at a time, and by the end of those 2 weeks, the pantry and fridge were almost completely bare, unless of course we had run to Dillons for a few things during that time and completely blown our budget.
I have slowly developed a habit of thinking ahead, buying non-perishables and things to freeze, when they cost significantly less than normal or the Aldi price. This enables our little grocery budget to stretch further than I ever thought imaginable. And then when I go shopping each week, I can spend part of my money on fresh produce and the rest on the deals to be had that particular week.
Here's one example of how to stock-up this week:
Dillons/Kroger stores are advertising a sale on certain Post cereals this week for 4/$10, and $4 is automatically taken off the receipt at the end, making them 4/$6. If you have coupons for $1 off 2, you can use 2 of these per transaction, making them 4/$4.
A friend of mine recently ran across this promo that Post is running at the same time, making this an even sweeter deal. If you buy 4 of the "Healthy Classics" (Shredded Wheat, Raisin Bran, and Bran Flakes), a $3.00 catalina will print after your receipt, which you can use on anything at Dillons. This essentially makes the boxes of cereal 4/$1 or $.25 each!!!
The best part about this is that you can roll the $3.00 catalinas and use them to purchase your next set of 4 boxes, so you will only spend a dollar plus tax on each subsequent transaction.
At $.25 a box, I can afford to stock up on these kinds of cereal!
The other huge benefit for us has been having an abundance of extra food and household products to share with others. We LOVE this part of couponing! Even though I don't necessarily need more shampoo right now, if it is free or pennies, I will always choose to buy it (provided I have the money in the budget) because we know so many people we can share it with. Not everyone has the time or ability to go to more than one store each week, so why not share some of the deals we are able to find? This can be a huge blessing to others. And of course we love having plenty of food for impromptu get-togethers and entertaining friends. We like our friends, what can we say? :)
I quit my very part-time job about a month ago, and so now I am officially a stay at home mom. And I have to say, couponing helps so much when you're living on one income! I never dreamed that I would be that lady in the line forking over a huge wad of paper to the teenage cashier. But you know, when I spend $14.00 and he tells me, "You've saved $59.46 in coupons and store sales," with a bewildered look on his face, I just have to smile. That was NOT going to be me. But the Lord has a way of doing that, stretching us a little sometimes, and I am very thankful.