"I can't use coupons. I eat a."
" is tedious and takes too much time."
"It's not worth the trouble to save a few pennies."
"I never find coupons for the foods I eat."
Have you ever told yourself these things? I confess, I did too. For years, I've had to keep a tight watch on my food spending. I attempted using coupons, but found them not worth the trouble. But that's because I wasn't doing it right! Now I've learned a system that allows me to spend about an hour a week but spend half what the average family spends on groceries. Not a bad return on investment. After all, money saved is money you "earned" without having to pay taxes on it!
I'd like to address some of the issues I named earlier. I'll call this article "Confessions of a Former Coupon Snob".
Confession #1: I thought coupons were only for junky food.
This one is partially true. About 80% of the coupons I find ARE for foods I won't eat. I don't care if I can get it for free, if it's junk, I don't bring it into my home!
We eat a whole foods diet around here. (If Great Grandma doesn't know what it is, I don't eat it. If I can't pronounce it, I don't eat it.) I buy my eggs, honey and milk from a local farmer whose cows and chickens are pastured. I'm also very picky about the meat I buy, so I make a once a month trip to Whole Foods for their uncured, nitrite free bacon, sausage and other meat. I prefer grass fed beef, and chickens from hens who have actually seen the light of day. This is very important to me.
Using the coupons for foods I actually DO buy at the store saves me so much that I'm able to spend a little more on higher quality meat, milk and eggs. Who doesn't use canned tomatoes, cheese, whole grain pasta, , frozen veggies (which are more nutritious than a lot of fresh produce) etc in their cooking? (Not to mention the free razors, soap, toothbrushes, etc I get from drugstore deals) I can get these items for pennies using couponing strategies.
Confession #2: I spent too much time "doing" coupons and created stress for myself.
That's because I was doing it all wrong! Now I use the "no clip" system and rely on websites that serve as a database for coupons and deals to make the process easier. Clipping and organizing coupons is for the birds!
Confession #3: I saw too little savings for the effort.
Again, I was not using a good system. Now I know that in order to really save, I have to combine double coupons with the lowest price for the item in question. And instead of stressing myself trying to figure all this out on my own, I rely on the work of others.
Confession #4: I didn't know where to find good coupons for the foods my family eats.
My youngest daughter and I have wheat intolerance, which makes buying pretty much out of the question. , boxed rice mixes, granola bars, cereals etc ALL contain wheat in some form. As I already mentioned, I also eat as close to an all natural, whole foods diet as possible. I cook from scratch and use the healthiest ingredients I can.
Now I've learned where to find coupons for unusual items like: organic yogurt, kefir, health supplements, wheat free breads, wheat free baking mixes and pastas, natural peanut butter, etc. It just took some education.
Our family budgets $650 a month for groceries, and there are 7 of us (and I'm pregnant, therefore I snack. A lot!). I've talked to families of only two or three people who spend more than that. That figure includes organic raw milk, raw honey and TRULY free range (pastured) eggs from a local farm. I'm working on getting this number even lower so that I can budget more dollars for buying more grass fed meats from local farms.
The other day I was at a dinner party, talking to a relative about our couponing and strategic shopping habits. She's also a super grocery saver. Another mom was listening in and, with her nose in the air, declared that since her family ate a healthy diet, she couldn't possibly coupon. My cousin and I just looked at each other knowingly, and stayed quiet. :-)
I still eat a healthy diet, only now I'm saving a lot more money. I challenge you to question some of your snobbish assumptions about coupons and see what possibilities open up!
Carrie (@carrielee on Twitter) is a homeschooling mom of 5 (soon to be 6), blogger and host of the popular natural family living podcast at http://www.NaturalMomsTalkRadio.com/blog. She also manages a recipe site at http://www.NaturalMomsRecipes.com