I've become a couponer. (Or dough stretcher.)
I've intermittently used coupons in the past, but now I'm serious. I created a 3-ring binder with baseball card sheets and homemade dividers.
I take it with me on every outing, like a fashion accessory.
I got the couponing bug from my friend Jessica, who is a coupon whiz. She created a program that lays out the best strategies for saving, and once I tried it, I felt like a bozo for not seriously using coupons earlier in my adult life. (CLICK HERE to check out Jessica's program)
It's appalling the money I've unconsciously doled out over the years.
Coupons are FREE money. I simply didn't give them much attention.
Until the housing market went down the toilet. And then, gas prices rose. And then, our grocery bill began to climb. And all we eat are vegetables and peanut butter. (Not really, but it feels like it.)
Then, our home insurance sky-rocketed. It rose 63%!!! Can you believe it? I get irritated just typing that.
I'm not complaining. We are blessed in many ways, and certainly have more than we need. But we can do better.
So I did some research, enlisted my daughter's help, and now we have fun every Sunday snipping the morning paper to shreds in search of deals.
Compared to seasoned couponers, we're rookies. But I've now seen the light. And the wisdom of buying things only when you get a discounted price. It really is possible.
My hubby cleared out the guest room closet yesterday, so we can begin to stockpile. 'Stockpile' is a word I never thought much about either (or maybe even used) until I began couponing. But couponers do need a place to store the excess. Stuff they won't need this week, but will need next month, or for months to come.
Here are five things I've learned about couponing so far:
1. You don't have to "drive all over town to save two dollars."
Most non-couponers think you do. It's simply not true. I regularly shop at two grocery stores and two drug stores, and I'm only taking advantage of deals/sales/coupons at those stores. You can drive all over tarnation if you want to (and you'd save more than two dollars, by the way), but you can still save by shopping at the stores you normally frequent.
2. "Stacking" (one store coupon and one manufacturer's coupon on the same item) is the ultimate savings. Especially if the item is on sale to begin with. Whoo-eeee! I love stacking. It makes me feel like I'm smarter than the average bear.
3. In your Sunday paper, regarding the "deals of the week" flyers - you need to visit those stores on Monday.
Because by Tuesday or Wednesday, the road-runners have cleared the shelves. The slugs who saunter in on Thursday or Friday are going to miss out. It's not important how I know this.
4. Couponing encourages and promotes long-term thinking.
This is my favorite part. Because, I love long-term thinking. For example, I always choose maintenance over "wait 'til it falls apart, then toss it, and buy a new one" thinking. I'm a plan-ahead person. Which can frustrate my husband at times, because he prefers to live in the here and now. I guess you could say we're a good balance, but mostly it makes us just disagree on where to put extra money.
Did I just say "extra" money? I must have had too much wine at lunch.
5. On-going couponing enables you to donate extra goods to those less fortunate.
This is the feel-good part. To date (I've only been doing this for six weeks, and it takes some time to build a stockpile), I've been able to share some items with a friend who struggled this year, but I'm excited to do more. Extreme couponing can turn into hoarding, and then you have to go to 12-step meetings to learn to let go of your surplus of Cheerios. I want to avoid that.
I'll touch on couponing now and then, as I become more savvy. It's really quite the adventure.
Here is our dough stretcher of the week:
Regularly 98 cents. We got it for 23 cents! HA!!! You can't even buy a huge gum ball for 23 cents. Costs you at least a quarter.
I don't know why I get a kick out of this, but I do.