Sunday, September 14th, 2008...1:00 pm

Couponing… One Girl’s Journey

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Creative Commons License photo figure credit: ninjapoodles

Hardcore couponers would probably accuse me of blasphemy for saying that couponing may be a waste of time but even Crystal of Biblical Womanhood and Money Saving Mom thinks it’s ok to take a break every once in awhile, see her post on it here.   As for me, I wasn’t raised by a hardcore couponer and have only recently discovered the benefits. Living with my mother-in-law for a year also helped spark my frugal side. I do feel there are a couple of problems that I have encountered over the past year or so with using coupons.

First off, MITBeta and I do not buy the newspaper. We have in the past, but found it piled up and was only good for starting the charcoal grill and filling our recycle bins. Nowadays we get all of our news online or through our local NPR affiliate WBUR.  Most of the time we are lucky enough to have our parents save the fliers from their papers, but when things get busy we may not see them for a week and then we both forget. Because of this I may end up missing a few of the sales that correspond to the current sales fliers. Another option is to stop at a coffee shop or the library on a Sunday evening and pick up a newspaper that may still have the sale fliers, but I usually don’t have time to do this, let alone remember that I can.  On occasion I have bought the paper, only to find that the filers were not included. That made me very mad, so I probably will not actually buy the paper again!

We also don’t tend to buy a lot of processed food, which makes up the bulk of the coupons in the sales fliers. I do like to take advantage of CVS’ing (see this post if you are unfamiliar with the term) and that usually does require the coupons. The nice thing is that if we do get fliers from our parents and they come a few weeks late it is usually ok for CVS since the CVS deals hardly ever line up with the current sales fliers. Also a lot of products that tend to go on sale at CVS may have coupons available to print online.

Since I started using coupons and making more frugal shopping choices in general, I feel that I do have a handle on the costs of items and try to save where I can with or without the coupons. This may mean buying in bulk if that is feasible, buying generic or waiting for the good sales.  It always means checking the unit costs in order to buy the cost effective size.  I also try to buy only seasonal produce and by menu planning I’m able to more fully utilize all the food I purchase without having food go to waste.

I’m not exactly sure how we are doing with our grocery budget, but I try to be cognizant of the total at the checkout, while at the same time choosing healthy options whenever possible. I have stopped by the local farmer’s market a few times this summer as well to pick up local produce.  I typically don’t spend over $100/week on groceries for our family of 2 + a toddler and in the past we have tried to have a $75/wk budget.  How about you? Are you a hard-core couponer or do you just try to shop wisely? What is your weekly grocery budget?

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