Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Why I Started Couponing . . . .

In January 2010 I started couponing out of pure necessity. My husband's employment contract had expired and he couldn't find a job in or around the city we lived in. He continued to pursue jobs even outside our home city and received not one but two job offers in the Portland Metro area, which meant we had to relocate.

Anyone who is familiar with the housing market knows it can be tricky to sell if you owe more than your home is worth which was exactly the problem we were having. Paying rent in Portland along with our mortgage and other expenses left us with almost nothing to live on.

I decided to get creative to avoid putting grocery bills on credit cards and started using online blogs like Frugal Living NW and Coupon Connections NW. We spent about $25-$30 a week on groceries and all our other household items for several months, I mainly focused on what freebies I could get each week and spent our weekly budget on milk, meat, and produce. I also learned how to play the drugstore game at Walgreens from Frugal Chic Livings Walgreen Wednesdays posts and usually just spent the change out of my purse for all of our personal hygiene items, some groceries, vitamins, and meds.

Things are a little more stable for us now and our $250/month goal for food and household items feels like a blessing. Our home is off the market and we have renters which helps offset our mortgage cost. We also moved and pay less for rent each month and canceled our cable bill. Plus our car payment is now non existant, we set a budget and stuck to it last year plus used our tax refund which made it possible for us to pay off our truck ahead of schedule.

Even though we have more wiggle room financially I can't imagine not using coupons to lower our spending. It does take time, energy, and gas each week but we plan to keep setting and reaching financial goals like start a college savings fund for our daughter and pay off our other debt. Saving money by matching sales with coupons, eating in season, and throwing in a few vegetarian meals to cut down on meat costs is going to help us reach them. So far this year I've saved $1,300 (49%), this is a combined savings of sales and coupons.

So why did I start this blog? I felt like I had stumbled upon something pretty extraordinary and I wanted to share with friends and family how they too could lower their monthly spending. I never imagined couponing would make it possible to live off of $30/week.

How do I get my coupons? I buy a few Sunday papers each week, the amount depends on how many I think I'll use from coupon previews. Its typically just 2. I also get inserts from an aunt and my mother in-law occasionally sends some my way. I do not buy coupons off ebay or use a clipping service. And I should mention the free Tuesday Food Day always has a Smart Source in it. And of coarse I print tons of online coupons.

Do I stockpile? Yes and No. I buy two months of bread at a time and freeze it. Canned goods and other pantry staples I keep between 1-3 extras on hand when I find a rock bottom price, otherwise I just buy as needed. Except cereal. There is always a great deal on cereal and toothpaste and it sort of ends up stockpiling itself.

Do I use a coupon for everything I purchase? Absolutely not but I try :)

Have I seen Extreme Couponing? Not a single episode, although I have read quite a bit about it from other bloggers.

Stay tuned next week for a post called Positive Couponing Support. 

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