Monday, June 9, 2008

To Coupon or Not to Coupon...

....that is my question.

A while back I mentioned that couponing doesn't work for me. Anytime I have tried to use coupons I found that I was a) spending more money, b)getting things I didn't need, or c) all of the above. However, with food prices getting way out of hand I decided that I need to do something to keep our food budget from going crazy.

The first thing I needed to do was swallow my pride. See, I hear people talk about how much money they spend on groceries and I sit back over here, rather smugly, thinking about how much less I spend. When I heard about a family of 5 spending $700 every two weeks on groceries and toiletries I about hit the floor. But then I read blogs about people spending $200/month on their family of 5 and I quickly discount them for crazy. After all, if I can't get our budget down to that then these people certainly must be crazy. Or maybe they are doing something that I need to learn and figure out.....

So after I swallowed my pride and started looking/asking for help on trimming my budget I'm still confused. On the one hand, Amy at the Tightwad Gazette doesn't use coupons and has found the same experience that I have had. On the other hand, Crystal at the Money Saving Mom has an amazing system for couponing and seemingly saves a lot of money.

This is where my black and white personality goes to war. It says that they can't both be right and there has to be one best way to do things. One way will save the most money. The other, will not.

I realize that at this point someone will comment that I just have to do what works best for my family. Does going out every few days to CVS work best for me? Shopping at Aldi's? Only eating every other day?

Enough rambling for now. I have decided to really try this coupon thing. I signed up for the Sunday paper and will be searching for coupons all over the place. I'll give this until the end of the newspaper subscription (26 weeks) and then I'll decide if I'm saving a lot of money or not. I guess the scary thing for me is that this is new and not in my comfort zone. I'm worried that I'll end up spending more money and completely blow the budget. But I'll give it a try. Any tips?

7 comments:

Tiffany said...

I'm with you. We tried couponing and really, it did not work for us. With rising gas prices, it doesn't seem to me like it would be worth saving a dollar to drive to several different stores with three little kids and a paper coupon that might have already expired :). But, I do see it working for others. Many of the items in the paper were items I never bought anyway as most of them were brand name convenience foods. Meal planning, using a strict shopping list, using at least two vegetarian meals a week, making as much as possible from scratch... are a few things that have kept our grocery list under the 200 a month mark.

Sanders said...

kim,
you should check out two websites...the key to couponing.
thegrocerygame.come (you can get a free month trial), and mygrocerydeals.com. They explain how grocery stores cycle on thier deals and when to use the coupons. i have saved tons of money using this system (and we weren't spending a whole lot anyway).

Tami said...

I recently went back to couponing after years of not using them. What got me back into it was the realization of how much of our "grocery" money was going to toiletries, OTC meds, makeup, and vitamins. Kelly has some health issues which require things like vitamins and fiber supplements. Plus the amount of shampoo and mainly conditioner we by is staggering. Add in contact solution, medications, etc. and we are talking a good chuck o' change.

So I started couponing and buying stuff like that, diapers, batteries, paper products like pads, paper towels, q-tips, etc. at CVS. On Sunday I bought 4 bottles of shaving gel and a container of Benefiber for $1.87. While the coupons have made a small dent in the amount of food items I buy, it has drastically lowered what I spend on the other items which were taking up so much of our grocery money.

So don't give up! If you have a CVS nearby, give it a couple of months (it may take that long to build up enough coupons to be able to take advantage of all the deals).

Faerylandmom said...

I don't enough to say anything other than "Don't clip a coupon if it's not for something you already buy." *shrugs* Who knows though...I'm still working on getting mine down to $500 a month for us 6. It's going to be hard with us switching to raw milk soon...(Levi's lactose intolerant - and this is the first thing we're trying.)

Sigh...

Dorinda said...

Organize your coupons by category. Go through them once a month and throw out the expired ones. Decide before you go to the store which ones you will be using and put them in a separate place from the rest. This saves time at checkout. Compare prices of store brands and brand names minus coupons to make sure you are getting the best price. If possible do this without kids along or have someone with you who can occupy the kids while you are comparing prices. After a while, it won't be as much work as you will know what the best prices are at a glance.

FindSavings said...

I've always had the same problem with grocery coupons. Never seem to be able to find coupons for the stuff that I want when I want it. I was buying stuff just because I had a coupon. Big Mistake! It's take some time, but I've developed the discipline and only use about two or three coupons per week. Saves a few bucks each trip.

For non-grocery purchases, I'm a big fan of online coupons as I definitely don't fall into the trap of buying stuff I don't want. Check out FindSavings.com for up-to-date coupon codes. I've saved quite a bit with them.

frugaliving said...

I've tried "The Grocery Game", but found I was buying things that I didn't need or actually want, and since I've done a total diet and simplicity overhaul, found that there are no coupon for anything that I buy.

I purchase most of my groceries off the grid. I buy bulk from a wholesale company, have my produce delivered weekly, and get my milk and eggs from a local supplier. This has allowed me to spend my money on things that I value: local organic produce, supporting small farms who use sustainable practices, and eliminating temptations at store that eat up my bill and hinder my health. Check Localharvest.org to see what local farms are around you that you can support...often through them and the people who support them, you will find buying clubs that will help you locate other foods (like meats and dairy) from farmers who use practices you can feel good about supporting.