Thursday, November 19, 2009

to clip or not to clip

It seems like "couponing" is all the rage these days. It's almost a game that women play to see how much they get for so little.

Growing up my mom was a huge coupon shopper. She would clip coupons match them with store sales and would sometimes get paid to take things home. And that was in the 80s and 90s.

Now in the world of blogging there are tons of money saving sites out there and I would love to be a part but I can't seem to find the time to do all that work.

Plus, (maybe this is me not knowing much about this), but it seems as though you really don't get actual fresh food and you don't really have the freedom to meal plan and do what you want. It seems like you are bound to eat whatever you get.

I don't know. Those of you who play this game share your insight, wisdom and knowledge to this woman who is probably paying too much at the register.

And check out this video. This alone makes me want to try it. I was un shock with my jaw dropped when I watched this!

BTW...I'm posting this in the "updated editor" and I'm not sure how I feel about it. Anyone else made the switch?


  1. I felt the same way about coupons when I first got started. But I kept at it, and eventually learned more as I went along.

    Basically, you learn to "stockpile" the coupons, i.e. saving them up for weeks at a time. I use on-line, newspaper and magazine clippings. Once I make my grocery list, I go through my coupons and take out the ones that will work for my shopping that week. The on-line coupons usually have the best coupons. Also signing up with websites like Betty Crocker, they usually have coupons on their websites/newsletters etc.

    I also bargain shop and compare prices. There are more and more coupons coming out for healthier food items, which is good.

  2. I have a few friends who do this (especially the CVS program) - but I think its a luxury lifestyle and here's why:
    1) you end up with a ton of things you don't really need (witness kathy's pantry as an example) just so that you can get extra care bucks or use the coupon.

    2) it takes a LOT of time to go through all the papers and online stuff and organize your life so that you can shop this way (like hours every week). If you consider your time worth money, then you should figure out how much each hour of your time is worth and that should factor into your grocery "cost"(I get paid $19 an hour at my job, so for four hours of coupon work - that's $80 of my time potentially).

    3) It costs money to have a subscription to the paper and to print all the online coupons (hidden costs that don't get counted)

    4) you have to have a ton of extra space to store the stuff you end up buying in quantity (which if you do the CVS deals then you end up with big quantities of stuff)

    For me it doesn't work. I have a 400 square foot apartment with a small kitchen and no storage in general, and I have a grad student lifestyle which doesn't leave a lot of leisure time for coupon clipping and online searching. I'd rather spend that time with my friends in my time off.

    But the friends I know that have the patience to shop that way, and that don't have other time obligations do save a lot of money.

    :) Tiff

  3. Hi, Lindsay! Yea for using coupons!

    I have just gotten into it and it has been amazing! I am a "newbie," though - so you can take what I have with a grain of salt! I think you can live in a "happy place" of using coupons. You can save tons, but $4 a week is definitely ambitious. :) I've spent less than $20 each of the last two weeks (granted, good holiday sales) and that's made enough of a difference that we can feel it.

    Because you're such a great cook, I think there are things that you will find are not on sale when you want them and you just kind of make it work for you. And - I agree that the fresh stuff is not what you're saving on (usually), but you can save on other stuff - toiletries, spices, paper goods, etc. And - pennies for those items are better than a sale price, when every penny counts!

    For me, I found a website ( that cuts out all of the time-consuming work. I'm sure there's a similar Texas one. I just print the list, find the coupons right before going shopping (not cutting them ahead of time), and I save! I even think it's good to get the free/overage things I won't use. Last week, I piled up our extras and gave them to a charity.

    As far as getting the papers, for us, the extra $2 a week isn't nearly the cost of buying the groceries without coupons. Plus - if you need extras - just find someone who throws theirs away!

    So far, it has a required the effort on the front end to figure it out, but after a couple of weeks, I don't know if I could ever go back! Good Luck - I hope y'all are doing well!

  4. I've been flirting with the idea of couponing. I do watch a few sites for coupons on "aisle groceries" I buy frequently, namely cereal. But usually my grocery cart is filled with produce. A few companies (Ivory, Fage) sent free product certificates when I got onto their websites and contacted them raving about their product. The local butcher I use has a rewards program that really pays, and they keep track of when I earn "points". Saves the drama. Shopping locally has nice perks.

  5. I've started couponing as well. I'm new and trying to learn how to do it right to where it really saves. some weeks I find it pays off and others, not so much. I know how much you love Starbucks, so on Sundays you might be lucky to find the "ads" people don't want. That's what I did last week and there were a ton of good, useful coupons. I need to find out what stores let you use multiple coupons now. I did save a good amount at CVS.

  6. Oh where do I begin! I saw this post while I was traveling last week, but knew I would have a long response, so I waited until now to post a comment.

    I am an avid couponer, and am fairly new to the money saving world called "Couponing." I use to be a skeptic like some of your readers, but now I'm a firm believer in the system. I asked my self a ton of questions before I actually got started--some of which you have noted in your blog.
    - Will I only be able to buy highly processed foods for my family?
    - How does a $0.25 coupon help me in the long run?
    - Doesn't it take hours to clip every coupon out of the paper?
    - How do I know what stores are having what deals each week?
    - I shop at Wal-Mart and they are across the board lower on their everyday prices than any other store, so why should I waste time couponing when I can get it there for the same price?

    I've answered all these questions for myself, and still feel it's worth my time to coupon.

    I think the video you have posted here is an example of an extreme couponer. These situations are rare, but you can "make it happen" for your family. When I started to hear the testimonies of how people were saving hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars each month, I thought I'd see what all the hype was about. I've been couponing since July and have a good, organized system in place that keeps me from spending HOURS a week slaving over coupons.

    My biggest savings yet was at Target. I got a $33 purchase down to $0.32. Yes, I saved 99%--all by using coupons. I have an email I can send you on ways to learn and perfect the art of couponing. I save--on average--any where between $20-$70/week on groceries and toiletries.

    I shop primarily at Kroger, Target, and CVS. By playing the CVS game you will never have to pay for toiletries or cleaning supplies again! Last week at CVS my bill was $30+ and I walked out of there paying $3.07 with $2.00 store coupon in return.

    I want to discuss some of the skepticism behind couponing:

    1) Once you set up a good system (may take a little while at first) you will be able to breeze through the ads, online promotions, etc.

    2) Don't subscribe to the paper. Just pick up a $5 "double paper" at your grocery store on Saturdays or Sundays. Trust me, the savings you'll find in the coupons will be worth the $5 you spend on the paper.

    3) The idea behind couponing is to stockpile the things you need and what your family will use by using coupons in conjunction with store sales. Only buy enough surplus to provide a cushion to your family. Kathy's pantry in the video is an extreme case of stockpiling. However, by stockpiling foods you will put your family in a position to provide to those in need, or help out the less fortunate.

    4) Be creative in finding extra space around your house to stockpile the things you need. I use a few extra shelves in our closet for our toiletries (deoderant, tampons, lotion, razors, etc.), and I have a few shelves in our garage for canned goods and paper products. We don't have a large house, but I've come up with areas that I can put a few of the "extra" items I'm able to score for a great deal.

    Once you start couponing you will notice there are coupons out there for everything. Since you LOVE to cook you would be able to score some great deals on whole wheat pastas, spaghetti sauce, seasonings, cooking oil, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, velveeta cheese, and the list goes on and on! I've been able to get Green Giant Steamers for FREE! While all of this may not be "fresh" it's still stuff I eat, or will use in several recipes I have.

    Hope this helps--and let me know if you ever want more information on how to make couponing work for you!


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