Have you been watching TLC’s new hit series Extreme Couponing? It’s fascinating to see women (and men) pay next to nothing for hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars in groceries. Does it really work? Can anyone truly get groceries for free? Yes, and it’s pretty easy to do. Two weeks ago I purchased $116 worth of groceries at Publix and paid only $42. I have come to realize there is no reason for me to pay for toothpaste, shampoo, body wash, and floss again. Couponing is a way to shop wisely, bless others, and cut costs.
A few things to keep in mind when starting to coupon:
* Hoarding is a sin.
Ecclesiastes 5:13 says “I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer called hoarding an idol in The Cost of Discipleship. One disturbing reality of the TV series is how each of the coupon mavens profess their love for their stockpile. I heard one lady say she loved her stockpile as much as her family. Our provider is the Lord, God Almighty–not a stockpile of food! When it is more than your family needs, items your family does not use, or becomes an obsession, something is wrong. It is wasteful to spend even pennies for items you will not use nor give away out of fear for an unknown future. That is straight out sin.
* Keep a clear head.
It’s easy to become obessed with couponing. As the TV series shows, some people spend hours daily searching for coupons, organizing, and preparing for shopping trips. Food is not our god and does not deserve our every waking moment. It does take preparation to get the full benefit of couponing, but it does not require your life. If it does, it’s not worth it.
* Maintain Integrity
When purchasing newspapers it is stealing to take coupon inserts from other papers. As couponing has grown in popularity this is becoming an increasing problem. Also, read coupon details to avoid problems at check-out. On my shopping list I write down any size requirements for coupon usage.
* If It’s Free, Why Not!
When I have coupons for products my family does not use at greatly reduced or free pricing, I get them anyway. These products are given away to family and friends who do use them. Just last month I purchased five boxes of Fix-O-Dent denture cleaner for less that $3–and gave it all with joy to my grandmother. Another time I purchased three of the new Kraft Cooking Cremes for free after coupons. Not something my family will eat, a friend was thrilled to try them out. Just last week I was able to snag six tubes of trail size toothpaste for $1 to fill Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes come November.
* Websites to Get Started
I have used CouponMom.com for years. It is a free site that matches weekly store sale flyers to coupon inserts. It allows shopping lists to be created and printed out for convenience. Stores are listed for all fifty states and include major retailers such as Target, WalMart, Walgreens, and grocery store chains. Simply choose your state and the store. It does require a password to be set up for login.
My favorite tool at CouponMom is the Extreme Deals list. Here you will find a compiled list of all stores (discount, drugstore, grocery) who have deals when matched with coupons exceeding 80% off, most being free.
SouthernSavers.com and Billy.com will alerts readers to new coupons around the web and upcoming sales.
RedPlum.com is a free site to print manufacturer coupons.
Target.com and Walmart.com are worth checking out too. Target offers online coupons while Walmart offers free samples of a variety of products (changes daily).
Visit the websites of favorite products to find coupons to print. I was able to get a free tube of Aquafresh toothpaste simply by visiting their website and printing out a coupon.
I have found that much of the food deals available are not healthy. While I may be able to get multiple boxes of cookies at a great price, I know my kids will eat it all within days if I’m not careful. This time of year consider visiting local farmers markets for fresh vegetables and fruits that can be frozen for winter months. This is just as important as weekly couponing because in the winter those fresh items will be much higher in cost. Another way I save that is cheaper than couponing is visiting the local Flowers Bread store in my area. Here I can purchase Nature’s Own and SunBeam breads for 99 cents–cheaper than with coupons or buy one get one free sales.
Couponing can save families a few dollars to a few hundred dollars a week. Whatever level couponing is incorporated, it can be a blessing.
What are your coupon or money-saving tips?