Coupons! (an overview)

I have recently written this post about why I am choosing to say "no" to couponing for awhile and quite possibly forever. I am going to leave this page reference on the blog for the people who are seeking the information since I do still stand behind what I said. It's just that sometimes things change... and people change...

Oh Coupons...

I use coupons... I use a fair amount of coupons. I am successful with my coupons because I use them the right way. The typical couponer has changed so significantly as times have changed. An older gentleman standing behind me during a checkout once even referred to me as the "New Deluxe Model Couponer" (I wish I had a badge to wear!) You don't just snip a couple coupons every Sunday afternoon and go pick up that box of Cheerios and save $.50 on it that week... if you play it right you can get tons of the food items you use weekly for a fraction of the typical price. Full-Price has become a nasty 4-letter 'F word' to me!

Now this doesn't mean that I am able to buy each and every part of my fridge and pantry using coupons. I WISH I was that awesome. For those of you who watch 'Extreme Couponing', know this: They don't show EVERYTHING. Sure these people go in there and load 6 shopping carts and rack up a $800 bill then leave only paying pennies on the dollar and that's incredible but it's hardly a weeks worth of groceries. It would be AWESOME to feed my kids on toothpaste and elbow macaroni alone, but I can't... Boo! Not only this but it has been brought to light that almost every one of these so-called 'Extreme Couponers' use their coupons fraudulently to get these amazing deals. Such as using one manufacturer coupon for an item not intended to be used with the coupon (it's like using a Fiber One cereal coupon for Cherrios, same manufacturer... different item). So DO NOT believe everything you see on the show. And these coupon fakers have ruined it for all of us... because now, personally, my local Dillons has stopped doubling coupons so where I used to be saving up to 90% (when I created my stockpile) I sometimes only get 70% every once in awhile. So my stockpile is going to start dwindling very soon. Thanks a lot 'TLC'.

I love spending that little for so much -never six shopping carts worth- but still I need things that maybe I don't have coupons for so I have to simply find the rock bottom price another way *sad face*. But when I do have coupons for something and I can get it for well over 50% off depending on the item... you better believe that I stock up and get all that I can. This is where stockpiling is the trick. If you purchase 10 boxes of that pasta today (with your coupons!) then you won't have to buy pasta for awhile. I personally have over 20 boxes on hand at anytime... a variety of noodle types of course! I just have to get a little creative for storing it all! But please be realistic. A big mistake that I made in the beginning was buying more than my family could possibly eat. I had to get creative with different ways to use boxed cereal (which became quite interesting!) because I literally had 60-something boxes of a very wide variety but we were barely eating one box a week. I ended up donating a lot of items because we never got around to eating it all (which isn't bad but it took up a LOT of room for a long time, I should have donated long before if I'd known we'd never eat it). This is something that I have been working on and it has been a challenge! ... yes, spending $.20 for a whole box of rice is amazing but will we really eat 50 boxes before they expire?

This is my main stockpile. I am fortunate enough to have an entire room dedicated to housing my deals! I still keep plenty of food in the kitchen cabinets but this is the overflow space as to not clutter the kitchen too badly! It takes time to accumulate a stockpile of this size but when it comes to replenishing what you use as the sales come up it is very easy to maintain and very convenient to have. It took me at least 6 months to fill this stockpile and I sure didn't accumulate it without spending any money or time. For those who claim their $10,000 stockpile didn't cost them more than a few hundred dollars... yeah, you're either lying or you used coupons fraudulently. I've probably spent about $500 for around $2000 worth of products and I'm proud of it! Because I know that I did it the honest way...

Where can you get coupons? Thanks to resources found on the internet we have so many more options than our mothers and grandmothers had. First and most obvious is to find coupons in the Sunday newspaper. I always try to buy three. There are a lot of people that pride themselves on digging through recycling bins to find coupons. That is not for me... at all. I'm too dainty for that kind of thing! 

Printable coupons are all the craze online. There are so many sites out there you could keep busy for hours! Problem with printing online is that they limit you by IP Address... yuck! So you can usually only print two coupons per computer. But it's better than nothing! I get around it by printing from both my laptop and Papa Woody's desktop computer (thanks babe!) so I can print a whopping 4 coupons! A lot of stores that have store cards allow you to add coupons digitally without having to print them out. Something to look into if you haven't. The not so great part of that is unfortunately you cannot use both the digital WITH a print coupon. No double dipping in the discount pool allowed!

The third way to gather coupons is to use a coupon clipping service. This way might be my favorite because you can pick and choose what coupons you want and how many. A coupon clipping service charges by the coupon (usually $.08-$.25 depending on the value). Some people think that it's just NUTS to pay for a coupon. When you buy a newspaper for the coupon inserts... what are you doing?! *Eye Roll* I'd gladly spend $.08 to save a $1 on something I know that I'll use. For me, it's as simple as that. To learn more about services near you simply Google "Coupon Clipping Services" and there are many to check out. You can even buy coupons in large quantities (lots of 10-20) on Ebay, sometimes it's a better deal, just make sure they are coupons clipped from the newspaper inserts. But be careful of 'Free Product' coupons. These are known to be counterfeit and people make lots of money selling these online. It is very rare that a manufacturer will just put free item coupons into circulation. So stick with coupons that have a dollar value. However, it has been know that if you contact a manufacturer directly and ask for coupons because you like their product that they will personally mail you coupons that are likely not in circulation - Score!

Check to see if any grocery stores near you double coupons. A lot of stores have changed policies since the up and coming of extreme couponers but some stores around the country still double the value of a coupon. Even if your store only takes coupons at face value - I still think couponing is still worth it if you shop with them the right way! 

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