Wednesday, October 19, 2011

To the Extreme

So...I have a tiny confession to make. I'm kind of an extreme couponer.

Let me give you a little background before you stamp me as a hoarder. Because I really am not. No, seriously. I am not.

It started in California, among the chaos of organizing a massive cross country move...etc. I saw the TLC show. I was intrigued. I'm good a math. I am good at shopping. And the impending price tags on the move and salary cuts we were about to make prompted me to really think this through. My husband was about to take a 60% pay cut and I was essentially doing the same. We were moving to an area where the cost of living is most certainly lower, but so are the salaries. I was saving money like a squirrel hiding acorns for winter.

I started buying the Sunday paper and printing coupons online. The first big trip I planned....I saved over 73%. In CALIFORNIA WITHOUT DOUBLE COUPONS. That was it for me. I was hooked. I had and have no intentions of having 30k stockpiles in my house, but I see no reason that I cannot get my groceries for rock bottom prices or for free. I free. If anyone says they won't take something that is for free, they are a LIAR.

After the move, our food budget was sliced in half. And then sliced again once we actually figured out how much (or how little) money we were going to bringing in for the first year of grad school after a 12k move (yes it was $12,000 by the time all was said and done, most of it paid in cash thank you very much!). I did a few smaller trips, saving about 45-55%. And then I really got into the swing of it.

I get the Sunday paper, and so does my grandma...and so does my mom. They save the coupons for me. And my once skeptical husband who watches me leave the house with $50 and come home with almost $300 in groceries saves inserts from his job for me (they are closed on Sunday but the paper is there on Monday morning when he comes into work).

You know what? It's not hard. Once you clip the coupons for stuff you use and have them saved, all you do is wait for it to go on sale. I am pretty sure (or at least I hope) everyone uses detergent and toilet paper and juice. And you know what? You can get those for free. WITHOUT STEALING.

Examples? 2 weeks ago, my grocery store was having a buy 10 for $10 and get an 11th item free sale. And it was mix and match. They also double coupons. One of the products was Angel Soft bathroom tissue. It was $1. I had a coupon for $0.50 of any size that the store doubles. Actually I had 4. I got 16 free rolls of toilet paper. Also included in the sale were those scalloped potatoes that Isaac loves. I had a coupon for 0.50 off 2, and a store coupon for the same. My coupon (I actually had 3) doubled. So I got 6. 6 boxes of potatoes that normally cost me about $2 a piece, I got for $2.50 total. And that was 10 items. So I got an 11th item for free. It got about 4 groups of products like this.

Another example: Isaac's shampoo was on sale for 3/$5. I had 2 Buy one get one free coupons. So I got 4. And then I had 2 0.50 coupons off 2 that doubled to $1 each. That ended up making 2 shampoos that normally cost $1.98 each about $0.34 each.

I haven't bought 300 candy bars or 600 gatorades. I buy stuff that we use, and the saving allow me to buy healthy things as well. I am able to stretch out our budget as much as possible. I am buy meat in bulk and freeze it in our deep freezer. I have built up a great stockpile that will get us through a few months without buying anything but milk and bread.

I don't just coupon with groceries. I just got a winter coat on sale, from $138.00 marked down to $78. With a 20% off coupon and $20 giftcard, I spent about $40 on the coat when all was said and shipped.

Sooooo...yeah. I'm a couponer. I'm good at it. I am going to keep doing it. Not to hoard, but to balance out our dip in income without sacrificing our eating habits.

(I realize that I have been MIA from the blogosphere for the past month....I am still trying to find my new balance. I am NOT spending every spare second couponing. I have a plan to get back to this space.)