I am a not-so-extreme extreme couponer. What that means is I use coupons to get many items for free or almost free but I am not like anything that you have seen on the t.v. show. I do not have years worth of toilet paper or laundry soap or mustard hoarded in my closets. What I do have is a generous amount of these items, as well as most all other items that my family uses on a daily basis. (You don’t have to worry about finding yourself in a predicament while visiting my bathroom! )
I didn’t always use coupons. It still is rather a new concept for me since I have only been doing it about a year now. It all started when we relocated upstate for my husband’s job. Before moving, we were both working parents with our child in half-day pre-school and babysitters in the afternoons. When the decision was finally made that we would in fact be moving, we had another decision to make. Would I continue to work or would I stay home and be a full-time mom? We weighed these options carefully and based upon my husband’s pay increase and the amount of money that we would be saving in child-care as well as his commuting expenses, we decided that I would be able to not work and we would still live in the quality of life that we were used to!
One thing we didn’t take in account was the cost of living being higher and all of the added expenses of a child being full-time in school. We soon found that out within the 1st few weeks of us being in our new home and new environment!
Our first few grocery shops were atrocious! We were starting from complete scratch since we had thrown most stuff away or given it away prior to moving. (such as the frozen ham i pawned off to my sister!!) But even as the weeks passed by, we were still spending about $200 a week in groceries and not even really having food to eat. (Not to mention it was back to school time and we needed clothes, shoes, and supplies for Jasmine to start kindergarten!) This went on for about 2 months when I had my wake up call. My checking account was dwindling down fast and my last few paychecks were just about used up. I was a stay at home mom and I no longer had my own income and would have to rely solely on my husband for money. Wow, what can I do to make this situation work better for us and to help out our monetary situation? I really needed to figure something out.
That, was when I began my coupon addiction. (and yes, it IS an addiction!!)
My first attempt, I jumped straight into it. I bought a Sunday paper and made my list and a few days later I went off on my first shopping adventure. Boy, it did not turn out as I had expected. I ended up paying just about the same amount, only it took me even longer to shop because I had to match my coupons to the products and pay attention to the fine print. This was not worth it and NOT all what everyone made it out to be. I knew I must have been doing something wrong. People brag about what savings they get and they made a whole show about people getting groceries for free so obviously, I was missing something. So… I turned to the internet for answers. (Thank God for Google!) I found all kinds of blogs dedicated purely to couponing and teaching “newbies” the ropes. I was in coupon blog heaven! There was one in particular that was like “Couponing for Dummies” and it walked me through like a step by step guide on how to do it and tips and tricks for starting out!
Well, I took all this new-found knowledge, did a little research and started out with a small trip. The result was amazing!! My grand total for the trip was $1.02!! (And that included a game for my “Christmas closet”) I was elated! I could not wait to try and expand my horizons and go for the gold!!
I began to feel better about our budget and financial security and I felt that I was doing my part for our family. I was no longer worried that I would wake up and find myself as one of the “Real Housewives of…” characters. By my working hard to save us money, I was taking some of the burden off of my husband.
And that, was how that addiction was born and how I slowly became the coupon-a-maniac that I am today.