Friday, March 26, 2010

To Clip or Not to Clip

This is a photo of my coupon box...yes, you read that correctly. I have a coupon BOX, not an envelope or a small accordion file thing. It's a box. The couponing all started innocently enough and look what it has come to...

I cannot tell you how geeky this makes me feel, but there it is. I'm actually a bit surprised that I posted it. I've been debating how much you all really need to know about me...all these dark secrets.

In previous posts, I mentioned that I've only been "seriously" couponing for about 18 months. Prior to that, I'd always been frugal - we've pretty much had a grocery budget since we were married (Thanks, Dad!). The budget wasn't huge, but it was always enough.

These days we have more mouths to feed or, to use a good farm analogy, we've got more mouths lining up at the trough. The budget is pretty much the same, maybe even a bit smaller than its been at times. Praise God - it is still always enough.

Couponing really helps. I've just had to learn how to do it and, let me say, it is a learned skill.

If you cut out the coupons from your newspaper this Sunday, grab the stack and head to the store on Monday and buy the food you have coupons for, you will NOT save money. You will more than likely spend lots more than you usually do and you will end up with a large majority of your cart full of junk.

If you make out a grocery list, after deciding what you'll eat that week, what you have on hand, what is listed on sale in the store ads and match those sales to coupons, you WILL save lots of money. It's more work, especially at the start, but personally I think it is worth it.

I don't use every coupon I come across because lots them are for items we'll never eat or use. It is NEVER a good deal to use a coupon on something that you don't need. Saving $1.00 off of a box of Super Sweetie Sticky Snacks that cost $4.00 will save you a buck, yes. But if you would never buy those things anyway, you just spent $3.00 to bring home a trip to the dentist.

I also don't use coupons to buy some items, even if I know they are cheaper with a coupon. There have been times when I could have purchased instant oatmeal for less than it costs me to make it from scratch. However, I like the list of ingredients on the back of the canister of whole oats (it reads--Ingredients: oats) much more than the long list on the back of the instant packets.

Last month, I came across an interesting article about couponing in the Wall Street Journal online. The author breaks down couponing into an hourly wage which is something I've thought about but never took the time to actually compute. Check out the link below.

I have to admit - reading it makes my big ole' oddball coupon box seem more like a treasure chest.

Doing the Math on Coupons by Brent Arends

By the way, my kids are cringing right now. The whole world has seen the box.


  1. Hooray for the box! Once again, I'm amazed and inspired. I generally choose whole grains and whole foods and have kept coupons at arms' length b/c I assumed they wouldn't work for our diet - but it looks like I'm wrong! (I think I'm quite lazy, too. That's the deeper truth.) Thanks for a thought-provoking post, Wendy.

  2. Budgets are always a good starting point, but it takes determination and talent to make it work. Congratulations on BOTH.