Lookie what I found!

In CategoryCooking
ByDeb

A guest poster! After I talked a little trash about Extreme Couponers, Nicole left a comment saying, “…I coupon and feel that I do pretty well – I average 60-70% savings…”

Sixty to Seventy percent savings? I emailed her to elaborate. She says her grocery budget is $60 a week. Sixty dollars! For a family of four! How that is even possible, I do not know. I shop the sales and buy in bulk, but (being completely, painfully, honest here) we spend more on groceries and Walmart-y stuff than we spend on our mortgage.

I know.

I’m horrified too. I just don’t know what to do about it. But I want to do better if I can. I am a little skeptical that a food nazi like myself can really lower my food bill with couponing. I have observed that the people on Extreme Couponing buy a lot of stuff that I wouldn’t consider food. I don’t need 600 liters of off-brand orange soda, or 350 frozen pizzas, or 17 boxes of candy bars. Don’t get me wrong – before kids, we slammed down our fair share of Totinos and big-ass sodas from the corner store. But I am at a different place in my life now, a place where I want to feed my family Real Food. Minimally processed, organic if possible, mostly made from scratch, real food. Cooking 3 scratch meals for 4 people every day is a big enough pain in my butt, I can’t devote 30 hours a week to clipping coupons on top of it. Furthermore, the stores around here don’t allow coupon stacking, which seems to be an integral part of the Extreme Couponers plan.

But! Nicole was not daunted and says even with all those requirements, I can make coupons work for us. I asked her if she’d like to do a guest post on the subject, and she agreed.

Soon we’ll all be RICH! Richer than our wildest dreams!

Maybe not. But Amazon’s not getting enough of my money and I feel bad about it. If I can shave my grocery budget, I can recify that.

So here is a little introduction from Nicole:

I started couponing just over 5 years ago, when I changed jobs from early childhood to teaching elementary education.  I had made more money in the private sector and I needed a way to increase my family’s income without adding a second job. I learned by trial and error, and over the years I’ve gotten pretty good. I have a family of four, my soul mate of almost 10 years and our two sons, Bug (5) and Dash (8). My budget for the week is $60, but I like to keep it around $35/$40 to leave me room for eating out (which comes out of the same budget).

Over the next few weeks I’ll talk to you about how to understand the couponing mindset, choosing the best store, the power of coupons and how to shop smart.  I’ll share what works and what doesn’t, and try to help each of you find what works best for you.  I won’t teach you how to spend hours poring over inserts or websites to do this (although if you have that kind of time, kudos to you).  I spend no more than 1½-2 hours total a week on my couponing (not counting shopping), never more than a half hour at a time, and always while I’m doing something else. 

If you have any questions along the way, be sure to post them in the comments and I’ll try to get them all answered.  This weekend is an awesome weekend for couponing.  Depending on your region, you could get up to 6 inserts in your Sunday newspaper.  This many inserts is normally reserved for the beginning of the year and I can’t tell you how excited I am about it (wow, that’s kinda sad, really).  So I’d like each of you to go out and get a paper or two (actually, if you really want to do the couponing up right, you need to get one paper for each person in your family always in even numbers – I’ll explain why in the first post but if one is all you can do, then by all means do one.)  With my family of 4, I normally buy 4 or 6 newspapers (this week will be a 6 paper week) to get the coupons I’ll need to support my family.

Hopefully by now you’re as excited about this as I am about this.  Feel free to ask questions in the comments and I’ll get them all answered.  Our first post will be up early next week and will be on getting into the coupon mindset, I’ll also talk about how to plan ahead and organize your coupons.

Thank you, Nicole! I, for one, am very excited about this. Even if I only save 30% off what I spend now, that will still be hundreds of dollars a month.

Now to remember to get a paper on Sunday….

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11 Responses to “Lookie what I found!”

  1. Kristy Says:

    Hmmmm…I’m skeptical but intrigued. I’ll be waiting to learn more.
    Kristy´s last blog post ..The Tabernacle

  2. Christie @ Endlessly Learning Says:

    I’m super curious to read more about your coupon suggestions, especially since I too prefer “real food” and have yet to find ways to save on it besides joining a CSA (which I did for the first time this spring!). If you have any suggestions geared specifically toward “real” organic food, I’m all ears (or eyes?) 🙂
    Christie @ Endlessly Learning´s last blog post ..Menu Plan for 321 to 327

  3. Applie Says:

    I’m interested in hearing this, but I’m pretty sure it won’t work well for us. I have looked over our newspaper coupons. We get two inserts and the coupons I can use out of that, do not come anywhere near covering the cost of the paper. If I bought one newspaper for six people that would be $15.00 a week and $60.00 a month, $600 a year.

    I am looking forward to reading the post, though.
    Applie´s last blog post ..Hairy Yellow-Marked Beetle

  4. SarahB Says:

    Looking forward to it! We too are organic-ish healthy eaters, and I’ve never been able to figure out how to make couponing for us. I think we spend about 600 a month (GASP!)for a family of four.

  5. Charlotte Says:

    I have to agree with Nicole. It’s eaier than it sounds. I started couponing out of necessity when my husband was laid off his job and we started our own business. We have 5 in our household, and, like you, I am very much into real, as-organic-as-I-can-get-it kind of food. So, coupons are the way I can stretch my budget while still being able to purchase the kinds of food I want to feed my family. I’ve only been truly couponing for a couple of months, but for the past month, I have saved more at the grocery store than I’ve spent. I’ve been averaging about 60% savings. It’s starting slow, and ANY discount is better than none at all!

    Don’t worry that you’ll turn into one of those weird extreme coupon kind of people. Just use coupons to purchase items that you would buy normally.

    xo, Charlotte

  6. John Myste Says:

    Just use coupons to purchase items that you would buy normally.

    It sounds simple. Frankly, I don’t know where to find Crown Royal coupons.
    John Myste´s last blog post ..Let There Be Light

  7. Fairly Odd Mother Says:

    I’m interested in this—we already get two newspapers a week—though I am skeptical. I also refuse to grocery shop at Walmart (it’s too far away for one. . .), but I have two supermarkets and a Target within 2 miles. . .

    My biggest objection to extreme couponing is it often looks like food hoarding to me. Who needs 95 bottles of ketchup? And most of the food I buy isn’t what I see in coupons.

    But, my food bill is SO HIGH. I spent $500 in two weeks on food this month—sure, that’ll last me a while, but still. . .ugh! Even if I cut 20% off my bill, that’d be a huge savings.

  8. Michelle Says:

    I’ll be interested in this. I haven’t been make able to make it work here since our stores don’t double coupons, and the coupons in our Sunday paper aren’t usually for items I use. We make most food items from scratch (gluten-free, casein-free), so we can’t use most of the food coupons. I used to use the ones for household items if I could make it worth it when it came out cheaper to buy on sale with the coupon than to buy the store brand. Now I even make most of our cleaning supplies from scratch, so I think we use coupons on . .. toothpaste and deoderant. But I really would like to be able to find more or find easier ways to match up those coupons with the cyclical sales most stores seem to have.
    Michelle´s last blog post ..HSV Garden Challenge- Month 2

  9. Nicole Says:

    Hi All,

    Nicole here…

    #1 For all of my organic/scratch families out there…many “processed food” manufacturers are not making organic versions of their food and as long as the coupon wording reads “any…product” than you can use it on the organic version. You will have to be extra viligent in looking at your coupons and your shopping lists.

    #2 Organic food often times costs more, plain and simple. While I like to think that I’m feeding my family well rounded meals that aren’t full of processed foods I have been known on a snow day to crack open a can of whole grain spaghetti o’s 🙂 You may find that using coupons for food doesn’t work for you, that’s fine…look at using them for cleaning and health and beauty items.

    #3 @ John…I’ve never seen coupons for Crown Royal but I have seen coupons on items like Crown Royal for money back or to use on fresh meat. My suggestion is to write Crown Royal and ask if they have coupons…you never know:)

    #4 in regards to Extreme Couponing…I agree-I think they are hoarders also. I don’t advocate 93 bottles of anything but I do try to get enough of a product to last me until the next sales cycle (often every 3 months).

  10. Care Says:

    Oh, how I wish I could so this. I’ve yet to find anyone to give me any hints – even the “super couponing” people can’t help, I’m in CANADA! But all the same, I watch, and I’ll eventually pick up something, right? ‘Cause $300-$400/week for a family of four just ain’t right. x.x;;

  11. Kirsten is Comfortably Domestic Says:

    I am definitely intrigued. We are 90% whole foods/preferably organic house. I do virtually all of my shopping in the outer ring of the grocery store, where all the fresh food is located. I feel like I spend $60 just pulling into the parking lot of the store, so I can’t imagine being able to buy a weeks worth of food for that. I don’t clip coupons because they don’t seem to be for stuff that I buy, other than health & beauty items.

    That said, I am *very* open to any ideas that can help my trim our food budget. Heck, when you spend as much as your mortgage on food, I’d settle for even a 6% savings.

    Looking forward to Nicole’s posts.
    Kirsten is Comfortably Domestic´s last blog post ..Comfortably Royal