Diary of a Couponing Newbie: Paying $0.13 for Everything vs. Convenience – Making Sense of It All

by Marcy on July 14, 2011 · 2 comments

The following is a guest post written by Devin Ventre for Stretching a Buck Blog, chronicling her journey into the world of couponing. This post is part 4 in the series “Diary of a Couponing Newbie“. Learn more about “Extreme Couponing the Smart Way” in the All About Couponing Series.

Be sure to read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this series.

In most relationships, there’s a tension which keeps everything in balance and makes things interesting. In my relationship with coupons, I like to call this Confusion and Stress. The dilemma is threefold:

Problem #1

I can’t actually go to the store to shop anymore. Now that I use coupons, I’m that person at the checkout whose hungry, tired, cranky children are literally screaming and pulling magazines off the racks while I unload my cart because it took me three hours to find everything I need that corresponds to the sales and coupons I have. If I have to pay for 15 ripped magazines, that might just send me off a cliff.

The Mediocre Solution Which I Have Implemented and Why It’s Mediocre:

It turns out that some stores offer conveniences like someone to shop for you if you place your grocery order online. My local store offers this service, for the low, low price of $4.95, a fee which they often waive. (I have no idea why they would waive this, but I take advantage whenever possible.) Ordering online is also super convenient and child-free. I order staple items from Target.com, who offers free shipping on $50+ orders. (Who could possibly shop at Target and NOT spend $50?)

I was actually pretty happy with this solution because I never had to leave the house and my bills were lower. (Considering that I used to spend $300 a week on groceries, this is not really that impressive.) But then my super-dee-duper hoity-toity coupon friends (you know who you are) told me about how they never pay more than $0.09 for ANYTHING, and usually the cashier is emptying the register into their purses as they are walking out the door because they used 400 coupons, all for $6.00 off which were doubled because Mercury was in retrograde. Needless to say, I’m not as awesome as I thought I was. And that brings me to Problem #2.

Problem #2:

How the heck do I get so many coupons for STUFF I ACTUALLY NEED?! (I really tried to avoid using all caps there, but they were completely necessary. It’s frustrating, man…) I have a newspaper subscription. I cut out the coupons for things I use, but not the ones for that other stuff. I subscribe to the philosophy that if I don’t need it, then I don’t need it, even if it’s only $0.12. Where are the coupons for milk, eggs, spinach, apples, dried fruit, yogurt, cheese? Where are the coupons for the ingredients for tonight’s dinner? (And NO – it does not contain Stove Top, French fried onions or Bisquick!)

The Mediocre Solution Which I Have Implemented… Though It May Be The Only Solution There Is:

I have widened the search: newspaper coupons AND online coupons. And I try to get things that never have coupons, like produce, when they’re on sale. It’s probably the best then anyway. Some sites are stingy though… and there’s problem #3.

Problem #3:

There are the sites for coupons, which are great, but you can also find coupons on manufacturer’s sites, like Desitin, Stonyfield and Horizon Organics. The trouble is that they often give you, like, one coupon, one time. There is one site (who I won’t defame here even though they have made me swear in about 14 different languages) that actually lets you select all sorts of coupons, tells you they are printing and then prints 10 pages worth of “coupons” that say, “I’m sorry. You have reached your coupon limit.” Please excuse me while I go bang my head into this wall.

Sigh… couponing is not for the faint of heart, for the easily discouraged or those of weak constitution. It is for those who can stand up in the face of the Big Companies and their tempting coupons for things you don’t need and their mediocre coupons for the things you do, and say, “I CAN and I WILL find a loophole to save more money than you intended me to save on some couponing blog. You just wait.”

Note from Marcy: Learn more about Online Printable Coupons in my Printable Coupon 101 post.

Devin Ventre is a homeschooling mother of two living in northern Virginia who wanted a cleaning lady. She couldn’t afford one, and decided to save some money using coupons. Now she has her house cleaned twice a month. This is her story.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Shay July 15, 2011 at 8:31 AM

I love it because this is exactly how I feel. Hopefully we will master it one day soon and make it work for us. This was really refreshing to see that I am not alone…I don’t order things online but I do have a 2 1/2 year old that I have to take with me most times and its like I feel like I spend a million hours in the store making sure I have my coupons even though I spent a million hours BEFORE I left the house doing that very same thing!

2 Heather July 20, 2011 at 4:49 PM

Oh my gosh, this is SO TRUE. The thing I find is that, in order to make for a smooth shopping trip, I need to literally take HOURS to prepare at home. #1 What are the freebie deals this week, what coupons do I need and where the heck amongst my hundreds of other coupons are they? #2 What things can I get rain checks for if they are out (which, since I go to church at 9am on Sunday and am not waiting at the door of fill-in-the-blank drugstore, they probably are) #3 How can I organize so I can get in and out of the store within…oh, let’s say, an hour?! This takes time and when I can swing it is great…but since my kids aren’t school-age this definitely doesn’t happen weekly!!! I’m grateful for the deals I can get when I get them and if I miss out, it’ll have to wait till the next sale cycle!

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