Today I have the pleasure of guest posting at Get Rich Slowly about common coupon myths and the truth behind them.
I was a deal seeker long before I ever became a mom. Why? Well, it began as a fun hobby. Scoring designer clothing at 90% off retail was just plain satisfying, and finding freebies in the mailbox always brightened my day.
But that all changed in 2002 when I found myself jobless and 7-1/2 months pregnant with my first child. My husband was a first year pipefitters’ apprentice earning about $9 an hour, and my high-paying job was our bread and butter. We managed for a few months on my severance and unemployment, but when we found out I was pregnant again only three months after our first boy was born, we knew that finding a job was not in the cards and that drastic measures were called for.
This was when I discovered the Grocery Game. I wish I could say it immediately transformed our finances, but I made every rookie mistake in the book. I didn’t truly understand how to use coupons, and I wound up purchasing only the cheapest items from the stores I shopped at. I was every coupon myth/misconception/excuse embodied in one. Perhaps you’re under many of the same false impressions:
Kimberley Y Davis
I have a children’s shoes website and I’m interested in featuring my coupons codes on your site. I have a great sale right now on clearance shoes.
I loved your post and got a chuckle out of reading the comments over there. So many people have so many excuses but I bet most of them complain about money at some point. I say more power to them as long as there are people willing to pay full price for everything stores and manufacturers can afford to continue running promotions (coupons and sales).
Tiffany, I agree. Some of the people were just fishing for excuses!
And the person who said they don’t buy toothbrushes since they get them free at the dentist’s office? Okay, yes, you probably go twice a year, but you’re supposed to change your toothbrush more often. Does no one in their family get sick? Don’t you usually get a new toothbrush after you’ve gotten over an illness? (Or is that just something weird my family did? :))
All that time defending why they don’t use coupons they could have clipped a few and saved some money! :)
I agree! I mean even just having an extra couple toothbrushes in the house for guests, if someone drops theirs on the floor (or worse) or if it just wears out.
And I love how many of them talk about how couponing made them buy stuff they didn’t need when that is a point dealt with in the article! Oh well.
I thought it was a great piece and I am super grateful for everyone out there who helps to find the best deals. Thanks Tara!
I was wondering if I’m the only one with the following problem: Before I started couponing, I could get my Target/grocery shopping done in about 30 minutes…Today, I saved $70 with my coupons, but I spent about 2 hours in the store matching up the coupons in my binder with the correct item on the shelf, calculating the best package size for the deal, etc. Is this something you get better at or just something I should accept that money-saving is truly not time-saving.
Sarah, I think it has a lot to do with how much prep you do before going to the store. If you use a blog that does the match-ups for you, often the size for the deal will be listed and, if the blogger has done their job, the coupon will have been verified to work with that size. Of course we’re only human and will make mistakes, but it should help you cut down some time in the store.
I agree that it’s all about how much work your do beforehand.
For me, I don’t take all my coupons to the store with me. I make a list of things that I plan to buy on the back of an envelope. I put the relevant coupons in the envelope and only take that to the store with me. That saves me a lot of time in the store by only having to look through a few coupons just to verify the size/specific variety etc. When I put an item in my basket, I generally move the relevant coupon(s) to the back of the envelope, so I have even fewer to look through for the next product.
If I’m really organized, and I know it’s going to be a big shopping trip, I try to organize my list and order of the coupons according to the layout of the store and the path that I generally take. Sometimes I’ll take multiple envelopes for different types of items – generally cold (refrigerator/freezer) food, not cold food and non-food.
It does help to know your store and it’s even more helpful to have a general idea of what the packaging for various items look like. I tend to scan more by color than by words on packaging, so if I know that I’m looking for dishwashing detergent in a green box, I can find something fairly quickly (the pictures on the coupons are a good clue. :) )
I think it is something that will also start taking less time once you have been doing it for a while. In a couple weeks you will start to know just by looking at the initial price that it isn’t a good week for pasta or you will have a stockpile of soups large enough that unless its a huge sale you don’t even need to go down the soup aisle.
If you can find a blog that does the match-ups for your stores that is the biggest help but if not just take a little time (20 minutes) and look through the sale flyer before you go. You can get a pretty good idea of what to stock up on from that and then decide to look for other unadvertised/clearance deals if you have the time at the store. And I think my biggest piece of advice is that most things go on sale again, if you miss it this week it will be back again in a few weeks.