/> a mother's heart » Blog Archive » “we’re couponed,” right?


One of the few comics I still read is One Big Happy, by Rick Detorie.  The kids, Joe & Ruthie, never grow up and never lose their innocence.  Their parents are average parents of average means, trying to instill their values and manners in their kids.  Who doesn’t do that anymore (or at least, tries to)?

Anyhow, this cartoon depicts much of my life – I have such a limited grocery budget for my family, and coupons are a vital part of it.  I’d love more cash for groceries, but honestly, even if I had it, I’d still use coupons.  I clip on a weekly basis and it takes me about 30 minutes to get everything clipped (trimmed) and put in their appropriate sections of my organizer.

There are lots of objections to coupons which all seem to be recycled a bit.  None are original and very few are true or accurate.  Some people say “my time is too valuable to clip coupons.”  When I can make an equivalent hourly wage of $50 via savings, coupon-use, and rebates, I think my time is too valuable NOT to clip coupons.  Below are a few objections and how I approach the subject.

1) First off does coupon clipping really save anymore than if you buy store brands?

A B S O L U T E L Y. I hope I’m not overstating the case, but I kind of mean to do exactly that. Here’s the deal: store brands are often made by companies that do the bottling/canning/packaging for name brand companies – on the same lines, in different boxes, and often with different quality of product. The stores pay less and then mark them up to *marginally* less than the national brand.  Regardless, take a mfg coupon for $.50 that gets doubled – already you’re saving $1 off of a product. Pair that with that item being on sale (I watch the ads and shop for the pantry so I have what I need when I need it and am not held captive by the whim of the stores). A can of seasoned tomatoes, for example, might be on sale for $1.29 (29 oz can), with a $.70 reduction due to a doubled ($.35) coupon. for a total cost of $.59. The store brand of the same product is marked at $1.19. Is that $.60 worth saving? If you have unlimited income, probably not. But for my family? Absolutely.

2) Also, don’t you find that you buy stuff you really don’t need, just because you have a coupon?

Nope. I’m nothing if not disciplined. Comes from having to feed a family on a particularly tight budget. Lists, coupons, deals, and nothing else.

3) Where would someone lay their hands on enough coupons to make a huge impact on their bill?

The local paper, organized and categorized.  One store by us doubles $1 coupons every. single. day. Do I save my $1 coupons for a trip up there? Heck yeah! And do I pair it with products that are already on sale up there? You betcha. 70% isn’t unheard of in that scenario for me – but often (most often), I see that kind of savings (and more) at CVS with my deals over there.

4) Lastly, in regards to food shopping, it seems that you mainly see coupons for the highly processed, unnatural foods. Do you find that to be true?

This is actually one of the biggest fallacies about couponing – and it’s been around forever. Do I see coupons for Doritos and other processed foods? Very, very rarely. Do I see them for dairy products, salad products, cereal products, cooking products, baking goods, etc.? Every. single. week. I almost never see coupons for soda, chips, and other things – I always see them for staples that are in my pantry and freezer (canned beans, seasoned tomatoes, frozen vegetables, etc.).

You don’t have to start big if you want to try couponing, but I could not make ends meet on our meager budget w/o doing it. As a single-income family who doesn’t even see the half-way mark on the “median income” in our area, it’s mandatory. We eat well, very healthy, and no one leaves the table hungry. And if that’s not a good enough reason to start using coupons, I don’t know what is.  😉


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