I probably get more questions about our grocery budget than any other part of our budget. People seem perplexed that I’m able to feed the six of us for $175 or less per month (including toiletries and cleaning products!). One of the common questions people ask is:
So are you one of those extreme couponers then?
The answer is that I don’t coupons AT ALL. Ever. Not even a little bit.
So why not?
Everybody knows you can get a TON of free food with coupons… right? Surely coupons are the only way to spend so little.
I used to coupon relentlessly. I would spend hours every week scouring the internet for deals and coupons, printing and clipping coupons, organizing them, and then using them at the store. I even had a large coupon binder that I used to make myself a more effective coupon shopper.
Here are the reasons why I quit, after so much time practicing and honing my craft.
1. The deals weren’t so good any more.
After the introduction of shows like Extreme Couponing, more and more people jumped on the couponing bandwagon. Companies started lowering the value and frequency of their coupons to compensate for people taking more than their fair share.
Even when I was at my extreme, I never cleared shelves. Yes, I would frequently stack coupons and get items for free, but I would get 2 or 3 tubes of toothpaste. Not 20. I didn’t pay for shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, pasta, and many items for years. I’m actually STILL using up my lotion stash (does that mean I need to moisturize more often?)
But unfortunately, seeing photos of people’s basements packed to the gills with ridiculous stockpiles has ruined the deals for the rest of us.
2. It was really time consuming.
When I was at my couponing peak, I had 2-4 small children, and I was only homeschooling one of them. As my children have grown, so have their outside commitments. Now I have four kids who are heavily involved in more than a dozen extra-curriculars. That and the fact that I now have four students in different grades who need my attention in their schoolwork. I also spend 8-10 hours a week on blogging. I simply don’t have time to search for the coupon deals anymore.
In addition to all that, popping into Gordon Food Service to buy my groceries in bulk is so much faster and simpler than trying to shop with coupons. I spend under 20 minutes a week getting groceries now. It used to take 1½-2 hours! I can tell you, kids are FAR less cranky after 20 minutes than after 2 hours.
3. We transitioned to a healthier lifestyle.
While there is the occasional coupon for healthier items, the vast majority of coupons out there are for expensive, packaged items that I simply don’t buy any more. Instead of finding coupons for Bisquick mix, I make my own. I do the same with brownie mix, deodorant, dishwasher detergent, and a myriad of other food, toiletry, and cleaning items.
Not only do we save money by making things from scratch, they are also considerably healthier. From-scratch recipes aren’t packed with chemicals and preservatives like packaged items. They also aren’t loaded with unnecessary added sugar or salt, or other items that you might not necessarily want in your body. There is a great peace that comes with knowing exactly what you are putting into your body.
So those are my reasons! I’m curious to hear, do YOU clip coupons?