Growing up, my mother clipped coupons. It was just how she grocery shopped. My sister and I were even put to work clipping the coupons and filing them in her coupon box.
When I started my teaching career and living on my own, I clipped coupons. In those days, I was living in Cincinnati with easy access to both a Kroger and Meijer. Plus, it was the first time I had ever had access to a store (Kroger) which doubled coupons. Living on my own, I enjoyed refining my coupon skills during these years. I found lots of great bargains and was able to keep my grocery budget around $30 a week. Grocery shopping with coupons was a fun hobby for me in my single days.
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When I got married and moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana, I still had easy access to Kroger and Meijer. Even better, I had access to a store that doubled coupons (Meijer) as well as a store that tripled (Kroger). It was very exciting and I continued to find lots of great deals!
Eventually, the tripling went to doubling and then the doubling stopped too. It was a sad day for coupon clippers everywhere. But the end of doubling conencided with the growth of digital coupons. Kroger expanded their digital coupons and Meijer rolled out Mperks.
As I moved around the country (from Texas to Ohio to Indiana), I have seen how prices – and coupons – vary. Some people have asked how and why I use coupons. This is my answer.
I use coupons because they save me money. Short, sweet and to the point. If coupons save me money, I’m going to use them!
Yes, couponing takes time but less than what you would think. I’m willing to invest an hour or so a week on coupons because it challenges me to find the best deals. I watch the sales and match up the coupons. Finally, I use coupons because it is one of the simplest ways to see immediate savings in my budget.
Here’s what has changed over the past 12 (gasp) years since I started living on my own and couponing.
I don’t use as many coupons as I used to do. Some of it is because our lifestyle has changed. Living on my own, I had no problem eating ecclectically. I ate a lot of pasta and didn’t eat much meat. My husband (and what guy doesn’t?) prefers meat with his meals. I am cooking more from scratch now so that has eliminated some coupon areas, too.
I still use coupons on non-food items. I use coupons on toiletries and paper products, as well as diapers and cleaning supplies. By using coupons and saving money in these non-food areas, I have more money available to spend on food.
I don’t buy a Sunday paper anymore. That used to be one of my first pieces of advice for others interested in couponing. Buy the Sunday paper and start clipping the coupons. Now, I print many of my coupons online, mainly at Coupons.com. I also use digital coupons quite a bit which don’t require me to clip coupons.
I still watch the sales carefully. I plan my meals based around what is on sale and that saves me a lot of money! It’s one of the most effective ways to save on your grocery budget – whether you use coupons or not.
I’ve started using couponing apps for extra savings. It’s nice to get a little something extra back on my grocery trips with coupon apps. Whether or not you have a smartphone, you can still use coupon apps!
I still use my coupons to maintain a stockpile. If I see a great deal on peanut butter, you better believe that I’m going to stock up! I use my price-list to help me (it’s free for you to print, too) and that saves me so much money. Here is more about how to start building a stockpile if you want to save money that way, too.
Do I miss the days when I could pick up multiple items for free every shopping trip? Yes. Do I still wish I could double or triple coupons? Of course! Am I going to waste time thinking about how the changes have affected my couponing? No.
Coupons are still available to save me money. While the way I use coupons has changed, as long as I can save money by using coupons, I will still use coupons.
How about you? Do you still use coupons? How do you save on your grocery budget?