Not-So-Extreme Couponing

I'm guessing I'm not the only one that's been impressed by TLC's Extreme Couponing, right? If you haven't seen the show, it's worth a watch (see it Wednesday nights at 9pm, or go here for a sneak peak). It features extreme couponers who devote 60+ hours a week to saving money. They take home thousands of dollars worth of groceries for mere dollars with their coupons. In some cases, they even get a store to pay them, in credit, since their coupons are worth more than the actual price of the item. It's insane!

Now, I can't imagine couponing to such an extreme level...after all, I don't know what I'd do with 58 jars of mustard- that's what one woman took home for $0 on a recent show. I don't have the storage in my house for that kind of buying, and I don't buy a lot of the processed foods that you get coupons for in the first place. But, I'm inspired all the same. So, thank you TLC! I won't be devoting my entire life to couponing, but I've taken a few easy steps to start saving on our weekly grocery bill. And coming from somebody who saved zilch on groceries before, any savings, no matter how small, is progress!

So here's my new saving strategy:

First, I sit down and make my grocery list. (I know, not exactly revolutionary...but keep reading, it gets better.)

Then, I go to Money Saving Mom to search her Coupon Database for printable coupons for each item on my list. I came across this website with Google, and this is the only one I know of where you can search for specific items. Now we're talking!

Once I've found a few, I print them, cut them out, and then staple them to my grocery list. This way, I remember to use them when it comes time to check out. (It doesn't do me any good if they're in the bottom of Asher's diaper bag and I'm too busy/distracted to dig them out.)


I also put a little circled "c" next to the items on the list that I have coupon for. That way I won't forget to get the right brand assuming it's a true savings, which isn't always the case! (More on that below.)

So that's my new strategy, and I stuck to it for the entire month of May. How's it working? Well, considering I saved a grand total of ZERO dollars prior to doing this, I think it's working splendidly! But you be the judge...I've saved my receipts over this past month to keep track of my savings (I generally make four trips a month, one trip per week). Here are the results:

Note: My weekly grocery budget is $70. I got this number by averaging the weekly amount that I usually spend.

Receipt 1 Savings: $5.20
Receipt 2 Savings:   2.80
Receipt 3 Savings:   4.85
Receipt 4 Savings:   4.15
            TOTAL: $17.00

Okay, now that I've added this up, I've even more excited than I was before! I don't know, this might not seem like much to some of you guys...but for me, this is great! An 100% improvement. And you know what's funny? When I first started this, I wanted to buy another Best Bottom diaper, (scheming just a little), I asked Thane if I could "keep" whatever money I saved in coupons. Of course he just laughed and said that I should always be trying to save money, and without an alterior motive. He speaks the truth. But the funny thing is that a BB diaper cover is $16.95. Coincidence? I think not :)

So there you have it, with just a few easy steps, we can spend less on the every-day-mundane-essentials and have more for what we really want! Or, more for savings, as my very financially smart and savvy husband would say. Either way, I feel like it's a step in the right direction and a better approach to shopping. And after all, we're told to do all things "to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31b). So, this is one small way I can make a conscience effort to be a better steward of His money. (Which means I need to exercise a little self control and "just say no" to half of the things I want to buy.)
Anyway, the fact remains that I'm still a big time novice in the world of couponing! I've only been at this for about a month. So please, experienced savers, will you share your tips? I want to get better and better at this. Maybe for this month of June my goal will be $20 in savings... Anybody want to try it with me?

Just a Few Tried & True Tips (Some learned the hard way...)

-Keep your eyes open for coupon tables or bulletin boards at the front of your grocery store. I usually find at least one or two good ones each time I walk in. Also, save the coupons you don't use in a little baggy or envelope holder that can be kept in your purse at all times. This way you're prepared whenever the opportunity strikes!

-Just because you have a coupon, it doesn't mean you're going to save money. For instance, I had one for $.55 cents off black beans. Well, they were the most expensive organic variety that the store sold. So, even with the $.55 savings it was cheaper to stick with my usual brand.

-Don't use a coupon for something you'd normally never doesn't count as a savings if you're actually spending extra on a non-planned purchase! (I'll admit that I made this mistake and made an impulse chocolate-fudge-topping purchase with the lure of saving $.75 on it- only to find out later that it had trans fat and didn't even taste that good. The coupon-fairy taught me my lesson.)

-If you're going through a self-check-out line and one of your coupons isn't accepted, always double check it with the employee on duty. Sometimes the lady at my store gives me the credit for a coupon that wouldn't have been accepted due to some minor technicality. Other times, it's just a glitch in the computer and she'll wave her "magic card" and make it work. This happened to me just today- I saved $2 that I wouldn't have had I not asked for help.

Happy Couponing!


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