Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

In defense of couponing


I started couponing a little over a year ago. I took a little class with some friends on how to do it effectively. I go in fits and spurts with it. When my stockpile gets full or I get sick of buying 3 Sunday papers, I stop for a couple of months. Then when there is a really good sale or my stockpile gets low, I start buying papers and get back into it again.

It isn’t a quick and easy thing. It takes time to put together your list – matching up sales and coupons and getting everything organized. Fortunately, there are a lot of sites out there that help with the match ups but you still have to locate and organize your coupons. At the store, you have to pay attention so that you buy the exact size and number of the items or you aren’t maximizing your savings. Add in 2 toddlers and it is downright difficult.

I’m not a coupon queen. I don’t come home with 2 carts full of groceries for $1.19. I still have a few brand loyalties which I am supposed to give up completely in the name of couponing (if a brand I don’t use is a good deal, I buy it and donate it to the food bank). But if I can save 50% or more, I’m pretty happy. I tell you all of this not because I’m an expert but because I still get attitude from some folks who insist that you if you use coupons you must buy a bunch of junk for your family. No, you don’t find coupons on produce or fresh items often but my savings on staples allow me to spend more on produce. And yes, sometimes you have to go to multiple stores. I don’t know if I could do this if I worked outside the house. I feel like part of my job in being a stay at home mom is saving money where we can so some of my time is working at couponing. And yes, the savings can be a little addictive…I get a little rush when I see how much I saved on a good trip. Why yes, I am a dork.

I had a good trip to Publix this week so I thought I would show off that you don’t have to buy crap in order to use coupons. Here is what I bought (this was a just a stockpile trip – I didn’t need milk or butter or produce):

(Can’t believe I took the time to lay out my groceries to take a photo.) Okay, the Chef Boyardee ravioli kind of falls in the crap category but Steve loves it for lunches (he does eat the 99% fat free so it isn’t as bad as the regular). But other than that, it is all canned veggies, canned beans, bread crumbs, chicken broth, canned diced tomatoes, frozen veggies, fresh pasta, a Macaroni Grill frozen family dinner, and dishwasher detergent. Before tax, my total was $29.68 (after it was 33.80 – we don’t pay personal income taxes so our sales tax is sky high). I saved $65.36. I saved around 65% and not one of those items is something I wouldn’t normally buy except the Macaroni Grill entree and that is because it is normally too expensive and I don’t know if it is worth the money. I simple bought quantities I wouldn’t normally buy. But stockpiling allows me to wait to buy things again until they are on sale. I also picked up some dishwasher detergent at Target this week – one box was free and the other was $.50 after coupons so between the 2 trips, I won’t need to buy it again for several months.

Nothing wrong with deciding your time is worth more than you can save with coupons but don’t assume that people who are doing it are feeding their families ho-hos and frozen pizza. Mmmmm…ho-hos.

posted under Shopping
9 Comments to

“In defense of couponing”

  1. On February 23rd, 2011 at 12:17 pm Laura Says:

    Totally agree, Michelle. I’m not a coupon queen either, and with five kids, can’t even pretend. ….but I sure love it when my percentage saved is above 50% and I don’t store brand stuff for a lot of my items.

  2. On February 23rd, 2011 at 1:34 pm mamak Says:

    Yup. I coupon too. There are even coupons for organic and “natural” brands now which I appreciate.
    But it is still true that there are more deals on convience foods and more processed junk.
    I too try to save where I can and use the savings to buy produce and the better stuff.

    I run and hot and cold with it. It is time consuming and sometimes the deals are just not exciting. But sometimes they are too awesome to not do it at all. 🙂 (why hello there 20 cent boxes of whole wheat pasta!)

  3. On February 23rd, 2011 at 2:34 pm Cathy Says:

    mmm . . . hohos and pizza . . . and a lovely clean kitchen floor . . . you got it going on, girl. 😉 i want to be exactly the kind of couponer you are – i like how you’ve laid it all out and it makes perfect sense. that little savings high is a nice bonus too!

  4. On February 23rd, 2011 at 3:24 pm Bobbi Says:

    Like you, I go in spurts, but I can save a ton and get all excited. That’s about the time Joe starts mumbling about me needing to get out more!!

  5. On February 23rd, 2011 at 5:47 pm Kim Says:

    We do it weekly. I use a site to point out the savings at 3 local stores. We haven’t paid for toothpaste or my husband’s body wash in a long time. We also don’t pay more than $1 for shampoo or conditioner (yes we are brand loyal with that), deodorant, shaving cream, body wash, or lotion. We also get a lot of razors for free or $1. We’re lucky in that we buy one paper, one of the guys my husband works with brings in a paper to work and gives the coupons to my husband since the guy won’t use them, and my parents and grandparents give me their coupons that they don’t use. I love getting stuff for free. It’s really helped our budget since I decided to be a stay at home mom.

  6. On February 24th, 2011 at 9:30 am Priscilla Says:

    I do a mini version of this – I hate going grocery shopping, so I started reading store circulars online to make shopping a challenge. I thought it might make shopping more exciting if I was trying to beat the man, so to speak. Are coupons in the paper worth a lot of extra savings? I read the paper online, too, but would get a Sunday paper if it’s worth it.

  7. On February 24th, 2011 at 6:41 pm Steph Says:

    I got into the coupon craze a couple years ago. I used to buy several papers a week and just HAD to get every deal, but that was just too exhausting (and, I do work full time outside of the home). But, I definitely still coupon, just not as fanatically!

  8. On February 25th, 2011 at 5:32 pm Alleen Says:

    I love the coupon game too! It’s addictive.

    My Publix haul looked very similar to yours this week!! Did you see the frozen deal at Target this week?? Buy any 7 items and get a $5 Target gift card. Many veggies are on sale for around $1 and there are some coupons for some.

  9. On March 2nd, 2011 at 8:46 am Burgh Baby Says:

    I spend about 15 minutes a week finding and printing coupons online, which ends up translating to about $30 off of our grocery bill in the end. I only print coupons for things I would buy anyway, so it really is 15 minutes well spent. I get cranky when I have to buy something that I know I should have a coupon for, so I try to stock up on the essentials whenever prices are right.