Why I Coupon

Many of us are changing our spending habits with the economy. I had been reading blogs like Moneysavingmom.com and hearing testimonies from friends, so I decided to make a new resolution for the new year (2011) that included becoming a coupon-er. My first trip to the store was with a handful of coupons. It took 2 hours to buy $75 worth of groceries, but I saved $15! I was hooked. Over the year, I've saved over $1,000 between store sales and coupons. I coupon because it's fun. I coupon because I save money, and I coupon because I've learned how to do it effectively.

I am by no means what you see on TV. I buy what I need for the most part, and then spend a little extra stock-piling. I save, on average only 20-60 % of my bill. I do try to keep my coupons organized, so I do get funny looks while going grocery shopping (I mean, who carries two notebooks while shopping, honestly?). But I usually only shop at one store, with the occasional Wal-mart, Costco, or Target. I honestly get upset when I see shows like Extreme Couponing because it gives the responsible and ethical coupners a bad reputation. Plus, what are they going to do with the 1,000 tubes of toothpaste? Unless they're giving it away to charities, why even bother?

There are a lot of myths with coupons.

First, is that coupons is actually what saves you money. No, this is far from true. The store sales save you the most money. Then, when you have a coupon for the item that is on sale, you get an extra savings. Extreme couponing (at least the way they show it on TV) is a lie. First, who has 20-40 hours to spend clipping, budgeting, planning, and shopping? If you have this much time, then please, by all means, show me where you got it. Show me what you are NOT doing because you are spending all this time clipping. Also remember that most coupons value from 35cents to 1.50 at most (and some stores double up to 50, 60, or 99 cents). Occasionally, you will find higher value coupons.

Second, you can walk out of the store with everything you need for pennies on the dollar. No, this is also a myth more often due to the "Extreme Shows" as well. Yes, you can get the occasional items for overage (if the stores allow it), free, or for a few cents (but do you really need 50 boxes of facial tissues that you got for 10 cents?). However, most of the time, as stated before, I only save between 20-60%. Most of the time the couponers that you see on TV call the stores ahead of time and make agreements so that certain items are in stock, certain coupons can be doubled which can't normally be doubled, etc., so the store and the person can get more publicity.

Third, couponing takes a lot of extra time. No, I spend one to two hours a week couponing most of the time. I have 9 Sunday papers delivered to my house. I sort, stack, and staple all like coupons before clipping them. Then I file them according to what aisle they go in. For sale match-ups, I use three websites to do the work for me: moneysavingmom.com southernsavers.com and time2saveworkshops.com . I like southernsavers the best for coupon match-ups, but I occasionally use the other sites as well (on a side note, moneysavingmom is a favorite of mine because she also blogs about other things).

If you are interested in couponing, I suggest taking it slow. I will probably post later on how to get started and what I've learned along the way.

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