Couponing: I can totally do that
I started couponing at the end of 2010 a few months after we got married. We were broke. My husband had lost his job shortly before our wedding, so we decided that it was finally time for him to be the full-time student he wanted to be. Taking one class each semester takes forever. I was working full time and had just started graduate school. I have always been frugal, thanks to my thrifty parents, but we found ourselves suddenly facing a single income with temporary unemployment insurance payments. We knew we had to make major adjustments to our budget to get ready for the unemployment insurance to run out, and we had to adjust to the life of two students on a single income. Luckily, my parents helped me out with school tuition, I won a scholarship, and my husband was able to cover his tuition with subsidized student loans plus whatever we could throw at it. But we had to eat, pay rent and keep the lights on. Plus, we had debt to pay.
In December 2010, I saw the pilot episode of TLC's “Extreme Couponing.” Silly, yes, but a lightbulb went off in my head. I could totally do that. I could work the system and get groceries for next to nothing. I could get our budget under control by saving on our grocery expenses substantially by couponing. It was possible to live well on less!
I immediately spent hours online researching couponing, reading articles on the Krazy Coupon Lady website, and even bought the KCL book. I began to gather my coupons from my local paper, asked my parents who lived nearby to save me their coupon inserts, and got a coupon binder. I soon experienced the thrill of bringing home shampoo and toothpaste for pennies. I started ordering coupons online and saving them for a good deal, one time bringing home about 50 Powerade bottles that I paid about a nickel each for and which my husband really needed since he played semi-pro football. We were able to keep our fridge full, and I even had to buy a pantry addition in order to hold all the extra food we got for our stockpile. Our grocery budget stayed the same for a bit while I stocked up, but then I watched it plummet as we lived off our stockpile. Every time I came home from the store I bragged to my husband about how much I had saved, and he encouraged me, as long as I brought home food instead of more makeup and skincare items. (I can’t resist free makeup!)
Finding more ways to save
In 2011, I became obsessed with saving money through couponing and was so proud of my deals that I would brag about it on Facebook and to my friends. I learned ways to save on everything I could. Sure, my friends thought I was crazy always using coupons and bragging about my deals, but I was able to pay our bills and was even able to start paying down debt. More and more of my friends started asking me how to save money on groceries and other items. I was glad to help and started looking for other ways to make extra money to supplement our income and pay debt and found mystery shopping as an easy way to make a few hundred extra dollars a month.
How I coupon now
In 2013, we moved to Louisiana, and I brought my coupons with me. Boy, was I sad when I learned that there weren’t double coupons in Louisiana like there were in DC! I learned how to coupon at my new local grocery stores and re-built our stockpile anyway. Now couponing allows us to live off of $350 a month in groceries. Sure, some people spend way more and others spend way less, but that works for us and for our budget. I still work full time, and my husband is still a full-time student. I spend less time couponing now than I did a few years ago and spend a couple hours a week looking for deals online and clipping coupons. That fits with our schedule and continues to save us money. I always get comments at the grocery store while I stroll the aisles with my coupon binder, and people are impressed with how much money I save. Sure, sometimes I am a bit embarrassed at my dorky hobby, but I am proud of the money I have saved and the contribution that I make to my family. I am not a stereotype. I am a couponer, and I am proud.
This article was written by one of our regular contributors, Alice. If you’re interested in sharing your couponing story, please send your article to Contributors@TheKrazyCouponLady.com