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Ask DSM Readers: How Did You Get Your Couponing Start?

by Tara Kuczykowski on August 19, 2010 · 44 comments

Shopping-Trip

Every week I'll pose a question for you to share your experiences and tips. If you have a question that you'd like me to post, I'd love to hear from you!

I've mentioned before that I've been a deal seeker since I was a teenager,and I've always loved the thrill of the hunt and finding a great deal. But when I was pregnant with my second son, I was laid off, and I began couponing out of necessity at that point. Today, although it's no longer a necessity, I still coupon because I love knowing that I'm getting a great deal, which gives us more to spend on family experiences and save for the future.

I'd love to hear your couponing story as well!

How did you get your couponing start? Did you start couponing out of necessity? Because you tried it and became hooked? Or do you coupon to free up your budget so you can spend more on luxuries and the things your family loves?

Join the discussion -- add your two cents to previous Ask DSM Readers questions too!

{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

1 motherof3nc (Donna) August 19, 2010 at 6:42 pm

My Mom used to coupon back in the 70's. I have always used coupons but now I find myself using more than ever. Hubby and I are in our 50's and our youngest daughter is 5, financially coupons help us to eat well on a very limited budget!

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2 Amber August 19, 2010 at 6:50 pm

I began using coupons out of necessity. My daughter was born with a rare birth defect called P.F.F.D. and we have to take her 10 hours away from our home to Baltimore MD for her doctor. She does have health insurance and it covers a large portion of her bills but still yet, it leaves us with so much. Not to mention the expenses that add up with traveling 10 hours in a durango(gas hog) sometimes more than three times a month.

Sooo...One night I was searching for ways to save money and come across the wonderful world of couponing! Now I am saving money for her medical expenses, we have more than enough of what we need and then some, and I enjoy it!

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3 Maria S. August 19, 2010 at 6:57 pm

I probably started when I was a pre-teen, just over 35 years ago (ouch!). My grandmother asked my mom to take me so we could buy extra Chex cereal when there was a coupon in the regular part of the newspaper during the week. I also remember going with my mom to get extra plain cake donuts for my Grandmother at the Weber bread store, also with a coupon and a limit per person. My mom didn't coupon, and when I started couponing when I moved from So Cal to Houston, she said coupons must have skipped a generation. Both of them are gone now, but this is just one of the many fun times I remember.
Now, sometimes when I would get things for free using a coupon I would give it to my little one and tell him to go show dada what we got for free, but I stopped that because I didn't want it to somehow start effecting him in the wrong way, especially since he refuses to go to more than one store a week now.

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4 Claudia Gomez August 19, 2010 at 6:59 pm

well i was only 18 when i started coupons and i have no kids it stared off last year when i was looking for good deals on my school suppiles for college and i saw that the sunday paper had coupons on things that i would purchues a lot of so then i started buying the double sunday paper for more coupons and more saving on thing and now i can stop its so amazing and with the blog mommy it make it even easier for me to save on alsome thing and now i help my mom save when we go shopping for food or for house hold ideams its so (fffffffffuuuuuuuunnnnnnn!!!!) and im even getting my mom and my little sister into it.

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5 Lecia August 19, 2010 at 7:05 pm

I lost my part-time job in Oct 2008 and became depressed after not being able to find a new job. My boyfriend makes enough money that my missing paycheck wasn't an issue, but I didn't feel like I was contributing enough to our household. So, I started couponing and a year and a half later I'm still going strong! We're eating better, living better and donating to charity more than we were before.

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6 Shelly :) August 19, 2010 at 7:12 pm

I started doing it because it's like free money! Why pay more for something when someone is willing to give you money off or even pay you to buy it? :)

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7 Dawn August 19, 2010 at 7:18 pm

From my DAD - 35 years ago - I still can remember his coupon box that was often repaired with duct tape!

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8 Corrina August 19, 2010 at 7:18 pm

I like deals. When I was younger, I hated shopping the clearance rack, but my mom made me. When I started working and earning my own money, I quickly learned my mom had the right idea.
I started following Deal Seeking Mom a couple years ago, can't remember how I found this site. I didn't get into couponing at that point, I still thought they were a waste of time. In March, I finally realized how much you can really save. At the time I did it for the "thrill." Now it's more out of necessity.
I've already told my husband I can't imagine stopping couponing even when the time comes that we can "afford" things. I love getting such amazing deals, and that will leave money to save for other more important things, like retirement =)

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9 Karen August 19, 2010 at 7:45 pm

A coworker told me about a lady she saw on tv that saved a ton of money on groceries using coupons. Money was super tight and I had been thinking about getting a part time job. Instead I started googling coupon deals and found your website and several others. I was able to cut $100 (20%) off our grocery bill the first month. My husband has since gotten a different position that pays more, but I refuse to go back to paying more for things I can get cheap or free.

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10 casey August 19, 2010 at 7:54 pm

i seen a show on the news about a couponer that went to the grocery store and saved way over half on her bill with coupons. I said "there is no way anyone can save that much." so i challenged myself. i said i will do it for 3 months just to see what i save. and lets just say i still coupon almost a year now. i have gotten 6 people couponing and we all love it. it is very addictive. and now i think it is just silly not to coupon

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11 kirsten August 19, 2010 at 8:26 pm

I started couponing 5 months ago when my husband & i bought our first house. As a stay - at -home mom I was looking for a way to help save some money and couponing seemed like the best solution. Another thing I have stopped doing is paying full price for clothes. I now either shop clearance sections at stores or buy clothes second hand at salvation army or goodwill. By spending less money we are saving more and by adding to our savings gives us reassurance that if an emergency should come up with the house we can pull from our savings account rather than using credit cards.

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12 Maria August 19, 2010 at 9:02 pm

It started heavily for me 2+ years ago. It was out of necessity and is still is. Dh and I had to close our business(mortgage) and I was preggo with #2 and last. I enjoy knowing that I am saving tons of money and have fun at the same time. Right now, I am a SAHM and love it!! The things I get free and almost free goes to family, friends and donation to our church. This week I donated about 50 cans of chef boyardee(have more than several computers left from our business so I am able to print tons of coupons). I tell my family that if we ever win the lottery...I will still coupon - it won't hurt at all!!:-) Thanks!

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13 Mari August 19, 2010 at 9:19 pm

I am fairly new to couponing and started in January 2010. I started couponing because we were living on one income and were in debt. I had used coupons maybe about 15 years ago but not like I use them today. I am an extreme couponer now and love the deals and free stuff! My next goal is to build my food stockpile gradually so that I can dramatically reduce what we spend per week on groceries. So far, I have stockpiled sodas, Cheerios, Bisquick mix, and baked beans.

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14 Dee J August 19, 2010 at 9:22 pm

My first experience in the frugal world began when I was 6 and collected Kool-Aid points to get a glow in the dark frisbee...apparently I caught the saving bug & was never cured. I was a coupon and refund guru as a teenager, even making my mom a sorted by categories coupon box. I collected money from my refunding for spending money. At my sorority bridal shower, one of my guests gifted me with my own fully-organized coupon box too. Still couponing after all these years, and raising the next generation to do so...my two sons know the value of a coupon and are bashful about using them!

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15 Jennifer Simon August 19, 2010 at 9:33 pm

I started as a teenage as well. I can remember finding a day old bread store and thought this was the best thing ever. Then when I started working and making my own money I learned the value of a dollar and knew I wanted to keep as many of dollars as possible so when I saw a coupon I would use. Then one year my step dad lost his job and my mom and I would make a lot of things homemade like bread and cakes just to ensure we had some food for the day. When did got another job we would stockpile the things that we needed as in case this happened again we would always have food.

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16 Rachel August 19, 2010 at 9:52 pm

My husband and I lived in China for a year. After work, we had all our afternoons free. There was only so much to explore in the area we were in and the city was nicknamed 'The Boiling Pot' so it was often too hot to go outside.

Soooo...we spent A LOT of time on the internet. I googled everything you could possible googled. One time I even got to a page that stated, 'You have reached the end of the internet' :). Anyway, I always have liked finding good deals so I started researching everything under the topic.

When we got back to the U.S. I was armed with a TON of knowledge on coupons. My husband went back to school and we needed to save money so this worked out perfectly. Many couples in our college community were having the same issues, so I have been able to pass on the knowledge to many others!

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17 Erica Hall August 19, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Absolutely out of necessity. My husband and I lost our Real Estate business and both our incomes. We had to stretch our savings as far as it could go. We had the basics but any extras were out of the question. I was so frustrated about not being able to spend an hour at Target for retail therapy and had never seen another time in my life that I couldn't just buy what I wanted. Bringing home an extra box of cereal lead to a huge fight because tensions were so high. I discoved CouponCravings.com by accident and was amazed when the deal she posted about worked. My husband no longer freaks out when I say I am going shopping. The worst damage I do these days is about 10 bucks and usually only if there is a rebate involved.

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18 Conni August 19, 2010 at 11:11 pm

I started couponing 30 years ago, along with rebating (you know, when you had to save every part of the package because you never knew what the mfg rebate would ask for to get your dollar back!! I had boxes of stuff, but I was ready. LOL!! I'm a bargain hunter, and love to find good deals to share with my family, friends, and charities. I've raised 2 kids to use coupons, and to shop around before buying, and am now training my 4 year old granddaughter to shop wisely as well!

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19 Samantha August 19, 2010 at 11:29 pm

I also started as a kid collecting Koolaid and Betty Crocker points, sending in rebates from cereal boxes and ordering items from the Free Stuff for Kids books. I couponed for years and occasional sent in a Try Me Free rebate and participated in the Walgreens Easy Saver program back in the day and the Rite Aid Single Check Rebate Program.

Around April of 2009, I ran across engineeradebtfreelife.com while looking for bulk cooking recipes. I soon found several frugal blogs ( like this one) and became hooked with the weekly deal scenarios. I had never shopped at CVS at the time and it is now my favorite store. I stay at home with my daughter and work part-time from home but feel that my saving money has been a huge contribution to our family. I also help out my friends and family and even teach couponing workshops now which provide additional income and help other save like me!

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20 Jenna August 19, 2010 at 11:35 pm

I started couponing when I was 11. I was on my own and trying to make ends meet. My grandmother had introduced me to a few things when I was younger so I clearly remember her explaining that you could use a walgreen's coupon and a manufc. coupon I was hooked. I moved in with a girlfriends family and tried desperately to pull my own as I had rent to pay and other obligations for food as they could not afford me.Coupons were my way to meet my obligations. I began extreme couponing in 2002 when my children became teens and seemed like bottomless pits! Plus, I was trying to save for college funds and retirement all at the same time and feed several growing teens. Through the recession extreme couponing has saved us on many occassion. I will continue to coupon perhaps not as extreme as I have had to in the past however, I will still coupon.

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21 sheri August 19, 2010 at 11:47 pm

I started couponing a year ago when we bought our first home and money became very tight since I am a stay at home mom. I just recently started getting very serious about it. Once I saw that I could usually get at least 50% off by shopping the sales matched with coupons, I became addicted to it. The first time I grocery shopped like this, I was thinking, there is no way this is legit, are they going to let me walk out of the store? I use to think that I could never figure out how people got their groceries so cheap but it turns out, I can and its easy!

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22 Tonya August 19, 2010 at 11:54 pm

I quit my job 3 years ago after our first child was born and went to a one paycheck income (husband). I began using deal websites to purchase clothing, shoes, etc for pennies on the dollar. The website I use most frequently also has a brick & mortar forum which I began perusing one evening. I read fascinating stories about all of the good deals using coupons! I just had to try this! This was a year and a half ago and I'm now one of those crazy coupon binder ladies you see in the store. We have more than enough of everything and I give away to family and also have a monthly sale from my garage to make a few extra bucks! I was also approached by a CVS store manager last week about conducting quarterly coupon classes in store that I would be paid for! I LOVE coupons!

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23 zuly August 20, 2010 at 12:31 am

I've used coupons here in there through out the years. I didn't how lost I was until I found deal seeking mom. What made me be a loyal coupon user was having to buy diapers for two babies. About 5 months ago, a friend of mine mentioned "deal seeking mom". My main purpose was saving on diapers. I had just started buying Target diapers and wipes and thought I was getting a good deal. I could not believe my eyes when I started buying Huggies and Pampers brand and paying pennies for them. In the beginning it was little overwhelming because it took so time consuming. I then realized I had to get a little organized and started putting ever sunday's coupons by date on different folders. I started to explore "deal seeking mom" a little more and found out the awsome option of coupon database and made things so much easier when looking for a particular coupon. I have not purchased generic household things since then. Never in my life had I used Tide because I thought it was too expensive. Now, I even get it for free when combining it with other great deals. I have been able to donate things I don't need and will be able to save in things we normally buy when my in laws come visit from Morocco. I love deal seeking mom. I am so addicted to saving! Thanks Tara. :)

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24 victoria August 20, 2010 at 2:53 am

i started coupons last year when i became pregnant with twins. I knew we would need lots of things for the twins so i started cutting diaper coupons and stocked up before babies were even here. i stocked up on baby supplies so much thst when the twins came we didn't need to buy anything until now. they are 15 months and only now am i needing things again. i love the deals and i love how it feels to save money. i even do coupons for friends and family and at work everyone knows what i do so when they are looking for a deal they always ask me if i have a coupon.

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25 Maura August 20, 2010 at 7:01 am

I started when I was a poor college student and loved grocery shopping with my housemates to find the best deals. But then I quit for awhile after college when I was single and living by myself in tiny apartments and didn't have space to store items when you use coupons. When my husband and I got married, we also spent a year in a tiny one-bedroom apt. that offered zero storage space. We were both working and I just didn't take the time to attempt to make our grocery bill smaller. I told him though that once we have a baby and I stay home, I knew I could shrink the grocery bill. Now that I am a SAHM with a one year old, and a house with LOTS of storage, I stock up and save all the time. And I have time to go to a few different stores a month for the best deals. It truly makes my day when I come home with a great deal!!!

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26 Ueen August 20, 2010 at 7:17 am

I came from a country where using of coupons didn't exist. When I got here, the first coupons that I use was that the 1 cent item that you can get at pathmark. I then buy the Sunday paper but I didn't know what to do. I thought it was a waste of time. So i stopped.

Seven years later (that was 8 months ago), I was behind a man who pays 80% off of his grocery purchases because of coupons. I was jealous. :) I told myself, wow, if that man can do it, I should be able to. When I got home I started researching and I found your site. (your site was the very first site I opened) The rest is history. I am loving it.

Thank you for being an instrument for savings.

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27 Megan August 20, 2010 at 7:54 am

I was laid off in October 2008 and found out a week later I was pregnant with my second child so in between panicing, I started couponing. Now I'm a SAHM with more than enough to share thanks to sites like this!

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28 Krystle August 20, 2010 at 8:45 am

I kind of stumbled on the world of couponing...I clipped a few coupons and would just throw them in my wallet and if I remember to use it geat if not oh well...Well I was in walmart on day and I needed some Thousand Island Dressing..and I remember I had a coupon! It was on sale for $1.12 and I had a $1 off coupon...12 cents for dressing..I was sooo excitied I think I have bought 4 to 6 newspapers since then:)

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29 Debbye August 20, 2010 at 9:05 am

I've always used coupons half-heartedly - I would make out my grocery list and if there happened to be a coupon in the paper I would use it. About a year ago my husband and I decided that we should try to pay off all of our debt (House, 1 car, 2 credit cards and the dreaded medical bills). We have two incomes and no kids so it should be pretty easy, right? We cut back on our spending and started applying all extra money to our bills. It was so great to see those balances coming down. Well, a few months ago, we found out that my husband would be taking a 30% pay-cut! I was upset that we would have to cut back on the amount that we were paying towards our debt - I mean we just knew that we were on track to pay off everything in 18 months! Over the next couple of weeks I started noticing all of the people around me at church, at work and in stores that were talking about coupons and how much money they were saving. So after finding out that one of my close friends had been doing this for a while and scolding her for not letting me in on the secret, I sat down at my computer and started doing some research! (When in doubt...GOOGLE!!!) What an amazing world I discovered!!! I've now been doing some serious couponing for about 2 months, and in the last two months we have been able to pay even more toward our debt than we started out paying!!! I love coupons......

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30 amy jeffreys August 20, 2010 at 9:19 am

I love finding deals. I first started using coupons a few years ago an gave up. But then a friend at our church was talking about all these grocery deals she kept finding. Then, we added a third child to the our family and moved out of state where I had no job. Just the hubby's income, and he is a pastor so we must be frugal! lol! Anyway, I researched and found all these awesome blogs on deals and became even more "hooked!" The people at church call me "Coupon Queen!"

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31 Kristin August 20, 2010 at 9:51 am

I was super board at work and reading anything and everything on the web about saving money (I knew we could save more), came across a certain coupon website and saw how easy it was and taadaa, here I am a big couponer and deal seeker.

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32 Jean August 20, 2010 at 10:02 am

I love finding deals too! My husband and my 4 sons always ask me if there's a new deal today. There usually is. I started couponing a couple years ago when my 91 yr. old grandma gave me an article she read in the newspaper. I went to the blog in the article which then led me to this blog and others. I was hooked. I save so much and have fun doing it. My husband makes enough money - I don't have to do this - but why spend it if I don't have to? I have had some people ask me if I'm embarrassed to hand over all my coupons and then pay so little for my purchases. No - never - but they should be embarrassed to pay so much! Today I'm going to take a bunch of cheap or free food and cleaning supplies to my 93 yr. old grandma when I visit.

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33 Amanda L August 20, 2010 at 10:20 am

I married a seriously frugal man. He hates to spend money on anything...even necessities like food and toilet paper. Strange, I know. I have dabbled in coupons a few times, but now I am addicted. In just a few months I have created a large stockpile of many things for us while cutting our budget by more than half. I love getting things for free and recently had to start a "Do Not Buy" list for some things.

I am looking for a job and saving us money on just about everything is a big help. Food, personal items, eating out, and big purchases are all areas we aim to save. I am still learning, but I hope to continue to save more, donate more, and live on less.

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34 Tara Kuczykowski August 20, 2010 at 11:23 am

Thanks so much to all of you that have shared your stories -- I absolutely LOVE reading them, so keep them coming! There's absolutely no shame in using coupons. I love Jean's comment about how other people should be ashamed at overpaying so much for everything.

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35 Terri August 20, 2010 at 1:22 pm

I've always been about "the deal," whether garage sales, consignment stores, travel rewards, or anyplace else that you can get something good for nothing or nearly nothing. Couponing was a natural segwe about 6-7 years ago when I got into Rite Aid rebating. Coupons brought those prices down so far I was making money! That expanded into couponing for just about everything else. This frugalista lifestyle and couponing helped me survive two long-term layoffs and the loss of a life's savings in a ponzi scheme. I've since taught my techniques to another family "on the edge" and it has literally changed their lives. I'm able to donate my extras regularly to the local homeless and animal shelters. Couponing is a win-win for everyone. I just LOVE it!

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36 Justin August 20, 2010 at 3:33 pm

I think I started couponing when I was a junior or senior in college... you know how poor we can be. I just graduated this past May so I'm still pretty new at it. I suppose I became interested because of where I work. I'm currently an assistant at a nursing home and every Sunday we receive about 50 newspapers. Well most of the residents don't really do any shopping, so its not uncommon for me to walk out of there with five sets of inserts =). I had heard of matching up the sales with coupons, but I never thought of saving the inserts for weeks or for looking for additional coupons online. I stumbled upon Deal Seeking Mom and the rest is history, this is THE best site in my opinion for matching up the sales and other great bargains. Everyone's mouth always drops when I tell them how much I paid for the mountain of stuff I bring home. I also frequent Slickdeals but that's not really couponing. Its just another perk that Tara's only about 45 minutes away from where I live, so most of the sales she posts almost always apply to where I live too, in Dayton. Good luck everyone!

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37 Laura August 20, 2010 at 4:38 pm

I started couponing out of necessity over 2 years ago. The situation has improved slightly, but in this recession still need to make our dollar stretch as far as possible and there is not much room for any extras. I recently had the pleasure of grocery shopping with my MIL (a non-couponer) and was able to tell/show her all of the good deals you can get by using coupons. She was amazed. I am hooked and love the challenge of seeing how much I can save each week! Thanks to DSM for making me this way :)

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38 Tracy August 20, 2010 at 11:55 pm

I only dabbled in coupons here and there over the years. If I had a coupon I used it. No planning or thought. I've seen on TV those people who buy a ton of groceries for a few dollars and thought that was crazy and impossible. Someone posted on Facebook about a year or so ago how much they saved on a grocery trip and it peaked my interest. She didn't even double coupons. She did recommend a coupon blog that she used to help plan her coupon use. So I googled for a coupon blog that worked with my local stores. Hi Deal Seeking Mom! This and another blog have been such a HUGE help. I still only save about $20 per shopping trip, but that surely adds up. I have a fun time doing it too. I don't see myself stopping at this point. It's a money saving/making hobbie.

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39 Jennifer August 21, 2010 at 12:49 pm

I used to use coupons randomly, they usually expired before I remembered to use them. I just didn't understand the concept of combining store and mfr coupons with sales and shopping at more than one store. And I used to work for a food manufacturing company in the marketing department where I designed coupons and wrote coupon code. How dumb was I???!!!
I thought I was saving money by buying store brands and shopping at Costco.
About a month ago I saw an article on MSN Money about back to school sales and found a link to Deal Seeking Mom. The light bulb went on, finally! I am starting to stockpile items that can be expensive at full price but that I've gotten great deals on. It feels really good to save so much. I want to do a little dance at the checkout whenever I've paid so little for so many items! :-) Thank you Tara for sharing your knowledge and that of other women who have the knack for finding ways to save!
My next step is to scale back my grocery budget, organize my coupons and start shopping different stores each week. I am inspired by all the comments I read on this site from other people who are so successful at making this work for them!

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40 Telisa August 21, 2010 at 10:37 pm

We started using coupons out of necessity. My husband got a 30% paycheck last year and I'm disabled and can not work, it caused us to have to rely on Food Banks just to get food. while the food banks are great, they also don't always give you the healthiest food. I seen an episode on the Tyra banks show about coupons and people saving so much money. I decided to google it and found alot of ways to save money. Now we are able to buy our own food even though things are still very tight for us.

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41 Catherine August 22, 2010 at 7:22 pm

I've used coupons in the past just saving a dollar here and there. But I really started June 2010. I stay home and watch my baby while my mom worked two jobs. She saves and saves and I made sure that I asked as little as possible...but diapers are a huge expense. So I looked on the internet for a couponing website and I found dealseekingmom.com. Then I read where to get the coupons and how to use them effectively. Two months into it and I have got the budget for household needs and groceries down to $160 a month for us three. And I refuse to pay full price for anything.
The best part is I get to try things I would never buy because things cost so much. We have a full pantry and this time of the year I am collecting on school supplies and thinking of donating. The most important thing is making sure I don't spend a whole lot from my mom's hard worked money. Also price hunting is fun and we LOVE free stuff.

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42 Lisa July 4, 2011 at 4:30 pm

I coupon a few years ago, but recently got back into it since I have two little ones and a stay @ home mom. I think me couponing is not only helping us save money, but then I feel like I am contributing to the household. Daily I try to find new ways to save.

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43 Heather October 24, 2011 at 6:39 pm

I began couponing about 9 months ago. I am going to college and have two kids. My boyfriend has the only income. We had applied for assistance and was just over the amount. We kept having to borrow money and I even started working at night. while going to college all day then working all night. I had maybe two hours sleep. I worked myself sick. I needed a break. My uncle told me about couponing. I began slowly and still going it has helped immensily. I am not yet to where I would like to be but I can say that I am very greatfull for couponing cuz if I didn't have it I don't know what I would have done.

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44 Brenda January 24, 2013 at 12:54 pm

I began couponing 4 weeks ago. My husband works on commission, and we never know what he is bringing home. I am a stay-at-home mom with a one year old girl, and didn't know what to do. Every pay period we would have to choose between food for the family or gas to for him to get to work. New Years was coming up, and my new year's resolution was to find a way to save money. I started reading how other people saved money on their grocery bills. When I learned how the system works. I paid 85.82 and saved over 200 on my last trip. I am also grateful for couponing, because we are a happier family.

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