My couponing transformation has shocked a few of my friends and family because I'm not known to be what you'd call 'thrifty'. As one of my bff's said, "aren't you the girl who spent more on a dress for my wedding at that Japanese boutique in NYC than I did on my wedding dress?" But as I say time and time again, 'I'm a shell of my former self'. For instance, this morning I got up extra early to hang around Facebook waiting on a Bounty coupon. Pathetic.
Saving a lot of money by couponing is a great goal if you live in the suburbs, but if you live in a rural community, on a farm or ranch, then its a little harder to do.
And here's why
1. Small town grocery stores are much more expensive that large super market chains. I'm a big believer in shopping local, especially when your local grocery store contributes so much to the community and hires alot of local people, but items at our local grocery store are at least $1.00 per expensive than at stores in larger communities. If you use your coupons you may end up paying the same price as you would at a large store so it's still worth it to use coupons. I generally save about $10 on small shopping trips.
2. It is a long way to cheap. My nearest Walmart, Target or large supermarket chain is 3 hours away from the ranch so I have to figure in the high cost of gas into the savings equation. Carpooling with a girlfriend is your best bet.
And that is why I love Dollar General. I know, I know, some of you are shaking your heads, but in my little town we have the Neiman Marcus of all Dollar Generals. And I did a price comparison with WalMart the last time I was in the city, and Dollar General is cheaper. (on the items I purchased at least) Granted, you can't find everything there, but that is where I buy all of my household cleaning supplies, paper products, cereal and diapers.
3. If you don't cook alot of processed or convenience food then you're not going to find alot of coupons. I have yet to find many coupons for flour, sugar, eggs and other basic necessities. And meat! Not alot of meat coupons. We're blessed to have free beef on the ranch, but I also like to cook chicken and pork and pork.
There's a ton of deli coupons for sausage, hot dogs and sandwich meat, but if you stay away from foods with alot of nitrates then you're out of luck. And forget about finding healthy, organic alternatives from brands like Natures Path, etc. (if I"m wrong and you have info on alternative brands that I should know about please, please correct me b/c I'd love to know)
4. Unless you have access to large volume newspapers, coupons are hard to come by. That is why I print most of mine, which means you have to sign up for every internet offer, website and facebook page. You also have to factor in the cost of printing in to your savings equation. Therefore, I have found my favorite source for coupons is :
Please visit their site. You can pick and choose from their large data base of coupons and they will clip them for you and mail them to you at a rate of about .08 per coupon. So instead of saving $1.00 you might only save .92 but still! It beats paying and average of $6.00 a week for Sunday papers to find coupons. And you can order multiple coupons for the same items.
How to start
Get a coupon organizer. I bought this one from Target the last time I was in the city.
|it's hard to get a decent photo of anything without my silly kitty sticking her nose in it|
Get a group of girls together to carpool with and maybe swap coupons when you have too many of one kind of coupon.
Join sites such as http://www.coupons.com/ (they have a great toolbar that prints coupons), http://www.thecouponclippers.com/, http://www.commonsensewithmoney.com/, http://www.shopathome.com/, http://www.mommysavers.com/, http://www.couponcabin.com/ and I know there are many more. Alot of these sites have the same coupons but sometimes you get lucky. And sign up on your favorite manufacturers sites.
If you cloth diaper, make everything from scratch and use only natural cleaning products, God Bless you! but you are not going to get alot out of couponing. In fact, one thing I noticed from watching Extreme Couponing is the amount of junk people bought. One lady bought like 24 cases of soft drinks and 50 bags of chips and candy. Well, who cares if you save $200 if it ends up killing you!
Here are a couple of tips
Don't try to use your coupons on a shopping trip with your kids because its very frustrating to flip through your coupon book, double check your prices and keep an eye on your little ones at the same time.
Resist the urge to buy stuff you don't need or would never use just because you have a coupon for it. I'm still wondering what I'm going to do with the 4 bottles of chocolate syrup I bought last week.
But you could also use this as a great ministry for your community, church or local food bank. Maybe you don't have kids in diapers, but since diaper coupons are readily available you could stockpile diapers and donate them.
Couponing is labor intensive to a degree, but anytime I can save money on a grocery bill it's a good day. The last time I drove 3 hours to the nearest city with my massive, well planned grocery list I ended up saving $60 on top of factoring in what it would have cost me to shop at our local store. After I factored in gas and the price of coupons, I saved quite a bit of money. Next time I plan on carpooling with friends and saving even more.
So if you're even remotely interested in couponing, but you don't know where to start and the long dirt road seems endless, I say go for it! The worst that could happen is you're stuck with a coupon book and a case of chocolate syrup.