Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Extreme or Centsible couponing: Response to a reader’s comment!

centsible couponing button 

Part 1 of my series posted yesterday - “Know when to use your coupons.”  

Heather from Fields of Heather left a comment on that post which I thought brought up some excellent points -

My questions on this post would be, assuming I bought things like cereal or granola bars (I do not) where would I get 6 coupons for them? And should I really save 6 coupons for an item I don't normally buy, just in case it went on sale to make it a great deal?”

First, where could she get 6 coupons?  I will touch on this later, but most people should buy/acquire more than 1 paper or set of coupon inserts, if they plan to coupon heavily.  Try to find ways you can get more coupons for FREE - from friends/family who don’t use them, library/coffee shop newspapers, recycle bins, buy them online at a coupon clipper site, or find a FREE newspaper in your area that has coupons (like I do!)

Now, maybe you have 4 sets of coupon inserts giving you 4 of the same coupon.  The same coupons or coupons for the same product are also sometimes available online to print (2 per computer) giving you at least 2 more coupons.  (I have a laptop and a desktop computer, so I can usually print 4 copies of each printable coupon.)

And yes, I do suggest saving all coupons just in case of a sale.  I just don’t suggest cutting all of them until or if you use them.  (I will detail that method in my organizing your coupons post.)

Heather also proceeded to write a more detailed rebuttal with even more questions/points on her blog.  No arguing, just trying to understand couponing and if it would work for her family! 

Which is GREAT

That is exactly what I am wanting to accomplish in this series.  Get you to ask yourself, Is couponing (centsible NOT extreme couponing) right for me? 

Since I know many of you are asking the the same questions, I am going to do an short explanation post now (and will continue to explain further in future weeks.)

Here is an excerpt from her post…

“We have 4 teens.  I don't buy cereal, because they would eat 4 boxes of it for breakfast, along with a gallon of milk, and still be hungry… We have our own hens, so eggs are cheap...  and we get our milk at the dairy price, straight from the family owned dairy where my son works.  That effects our breakfast prices.”

Since I have no experience with 4 hungry teenagers, I am going to totally take her word for it that they eat a lot! :)  And cereal for their family might not work right now!  Having her own hens/eggs and getting milk straight from the dairy is saving her family a ton of money!  She referenced the cereal in my picture (which was an organic/natural granola $0.89/bag after coupon).  I don’t always buy cereal either, BUT for that price (and actually even less since I had overage that helped pay for it), I am enjoying having yogurt parfaits for breakfast this week!

She also said, “…where I could really use coupons are on bacon, sausage, cheese, and bagels, & whole wheat tortillas.  Maybe bread too..”

For the last 2 years, I have rarely paid over $0.50/package for cheese by using coupons!  :)  I stock up on as much as I can during those sales and freeze what I don’t think I can use before it expires.  Occasionally there are coupons out for bacon and sausage too.  I have gotten Thomas frozen bagels free at Publix in the past using a Publix store coupon.  I usually purchase my tortillas at Aldi (although not whole wheat), but have also purchased whole wheat ones at the grocery store without coupons.

DSC_1640Then she references my shopping trip picture (I paid $0.12 for everything above) and says… “none of that is on her shopping list.” :)  But then she also admits“In other words, we could use all of these items, yes, but for the most part, they are not something you'd  find on my grocery list.  I guess I'm struggling with the practical aspect of collecting a ton of coupons, spending a lot of time matching them up with sales, running to stores out of my way that I don't normally shop at, just to get a pile of free items that I didn't actually really want to begin with, just because I "could" use them, and they are free.  Especially when we're trying to make healthier choices...  and these items are definitely not healthier.”

In the above shopping trip- the yogurt and pasta were the only things that were totally free after coupon.  Everything else was around $0.50 after coupon.  So how did I only pay $0.12??  Look at the noodles again … (my husband has long grown tired of eating these, but they make excellent college kids and food pantry donations!) Each box gave me $0.56 overage (they were $0.44, but I had a $0.50 coupon that doubled to $1.00.)  And I also had a $3.00 off a $25 purchase coupon.  Buying the noodles and kids yogurt (which I didn’t really want for my family) helped get my total up to $25 so I could use my $3 coupon AND it also gave me overage to help pay for the other things I was going to buy.  I could have bought anything (meat, organic products, bread, milk) and had that $8 in overage help pay for it.  I just chose to buy the above items because we use pickles, ziploc bags, napkins, and cereal (when it is super cheap) and they were at their lowest price last week.

I understand that she might not use napkins or ziploc bags but most people do.  (BTW, the kids yogurt pictured was all given to my nieces, I prefer the Yo-plus for my husband and I.)  And I completely understand not wanting to waste a bunch of time (and money!) compiling coupons to buy things she really didn’t want to buy to begin with!  :)  That is not saving money at all! 

But think outside the box, even if you don’t normally use/buy a product, if you could get if FREE or for pennies, would you use it?  If you could get FREE ziploc bags would you use them?  If you could get FREE yogurt, would you eat it?  If they answer is yes, then why not buy it?

We strive to eat as healthy as possible right now (with me still working outside the home which limits my time), although I know we can do better and plan to in the future.  Notice you don’t normally see twinkies, microwave dinners, boxed prepared meals, etc. in my shopping trips.  I cook most meals from scratch (or semi-homemade) and if we eat sweets or baked goods, I bake them at home, mostly from scratch!

Bottom line, you need to do what is right for your family.  If you are trying to go all organic, or eat all whole-grains/no processed food/raw sugars, etc. you might not be able save $50 off each shopping trip.  BUT, you can still save!  We NEVER eat white bread, we eat whole grains 75% of the time, I cook from scratch most of the time, and I still save a lot!      

I hope I can show Heather and you even more ways to save in the coming weeks!

(Thanks, Heather for your post and comment! :)  Hope you keep reading along and can find ways to save your family money!)

What questions do you have? 

Post them in the comments on this post and any other post in this series, and I will try to answer them as best as possible at the end or throughout the series.


  1. How do I save money on coupons when the majority of them aren't for things I normally buy and don't seem to be saving much? For instance, a coupon for .55 off two packs of yogurt. Or .50 off three packages of Pillsbury croissants or cinnamon rolls? When the cost comes out to over $5 just to purchase, it just doesn't seem worth it to me. And that's all it seems the Sunday paper has nowadays..low price coupons for money off ONLY if you buy muliples of the item.

  2. I just wanted to address Heather since I have four children, although currently only two are teens.

    First I want to commend you on feeding your children great breakfasts of eggs and I imagine meat too!

    Second is I understand the cereal situation I truly do. I don't buy it unless it is $.50 or less not only because it goes so fast, but because I normally buy non-homogenized and non-ultra-pasteurized milk which comes to about $8/gal(!).

    With that said, I bought extra this past week because my daughter needed to make crispies for her cake creation, plus I had a $1 off any fruit for every 2 kellogg's I bought,free bananas and grapes!

    My favorite cereal to buy? Oatmeal! During certain months after coupons it's free or close to free, uses little milk, filling and a healthy option.

    Other than that, I basically agree with the blog entry. I've been doing this since the fall of 2008 and have found what works well for us. I no longer buy something just because it's free if either we don't use it or already have a nice stockpile. I do buy things we don't use if it is a moneymaker and gets me the items my family does use.

    My largest couponed items are condiments including corn syrup free ketchup,pasta and sauce,vegetables,HBA and cleaning supplies. What I spend the most on or without using coupons in my area is fresh fruit,fresh vegetables, farm eggs, grass fed beef and milk.


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