Friday, April 9, 2010

Confessions of a Former Coupon Snob (Guest Post)

"I can't use coupons. I eat a healthy diet."
"Couponing 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, brown rice, 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 processed foods pretty much out of the question. Canned soups, 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 She also manages a whole foods recipe site at


JenMarie said...

Just found your blog through a comment over on MSM's blog.
You're a stamper, me too!

April said...

Great blog. I'm slowly learning the coupon game and love it.

Rachel said...

haha... I am still a coupon skeptic. I guess it comes down to the bottom line. For me we spent more the few months I tried coupons, when I went back to making everything from scratch and meal planning our budget thrived (we spend roughly 400$ a month for a family of 5/soon to be 6... all food/diapers/laundry supplies, etc - anything that is not a bill or gas comes out of that). Maybe I just did coupons the wrong way... I'd love to be able to save more.

Gina said...

I guess I fall into the coupon snob category! I use coupons at CVS but otherwise I try to grow as much food as I can. I try to stay out of the grocery store as much as possible, just for my sanity with young children. I admire those who save so much money but every time I talk about couponing to my husband, he discourages me. He doesn't want me trying to do extra shopping with four little ones, even if it could save us some cash. Maybe some day in another stage of life! In the mean time I'll just admire all of you couponers!

Carrie Lauth said...

@Gina - I recently stopped taking the kids with me shopping. They're well behaved and generally don't give me a problem, but with a big belly it's just very fatiguing for me. Grocery shopping alone is like a date with myself. LOL


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