It’s Week 14 of the 52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge, here’s our challenge for this week:
Week 14: A Talent you Have
I remember the day I started couponing. I had been reading about it for months, and I was excited to take the next plunge in my journey toward frugality by learning how to be a successful couponer. Believe it or not, I haven’t been couponing that long. In fact, I will have been couponing for only about two years in August. In those two years, I learned so much about couponing and kept working harder and harder to figure out how to get things for free, and when to stock up on a particular deal.
Before I started couponing, our weekly grocery bill fell somewhere in the range of $100-$150 depending on what we were in the mood for that week. My meal planning didn’t take into consideration what things were on sale, and I shopped at one store for everything. When we were out of toilet paper, I just went to the store to pick it up. If we wanted to have my homemade cauliflower wings, I picked up a head of cauliflower and all the ingredients to make it.
Our food budget has always been one of the most difficult areas of our budget. If we weren’t spending too much at the grocery store, we were spending too much eating out. Couponing transformed our food budget, because it allowed us to get the same things we were already buying, but for much less. When I first started couponing, I was terrible at spotting a good deal. I couldn’t quite get the hang of matching up the coupons with the ads, and we were only shaving a few cents off our total bill.
I became so frustrated with trying to coupon, that I actually gave up at one point. I thought this was just something I couldn’t get the hang of, and it was costing us money. It was in this desperation that I learned about stockpiling and the power of drugstore rewards programs. I learned my way around store policies and what things our household uses regularly so I could stock up on the item when it hit the lowest price.
However, not all of my stockpile adventures ended in gold mines. I was so anxious to start my stockpile, that I got caught up on every single deal. I would spend $50 or so dollars at CVS on a deal that ended up being not so great. I had no idea what the rock bottom price was on some items, and I overspent because of it. It wasn’t until we had a full stockpile of items that I actually took the time to learn the correct way to coupon.
Without the pressure of running out of something, I was able to wait for the best deal to come along. I was able to then seek out deals on one or two items at a time, rather than running all over trying to stock up on everything. A few weeks ago, we were down to one container of laundry detergent. This was something I hadn’t expected to run out of as quickly as it did, but I knew there were hundreds of great deals out there just waiting for me. So I waited too.
First, I figured out what my stock up price would be. I told myself that I wouldn’t spend more than $2 on each container of laundry detergent, and over the next few weeks I searched the five stores I regularly shop at for deals. By expanding my search area and only focusing on one item to stock up on, it made my search so much easier! I was able to find great deals on laundry detergent, and over the course of a few weeks I managed to fully rebuild our stockpile.
Whether I’m on the hunt for a great deal on ice cream or a moneymaker item, I’ve come to love couponing. I’m good at it, and it’s a skill our family depends on to get through tough times. If I was unable to continue my couponing for a while, our current stockpile would last us for quite some time. If there are no good deals in the weekly ad, I could easily put together a fair amount of meals just by using what we have in our stockpile. Couponing has given us the freedom to spend our money on something besides food, and our savings has gone toward so many awesome things. I’m so grateful that I decided to give couponing a try, because I don’t think I’d ever want to go back.