I am a stay-at-home mom and a former elementary school teacher. I have been married to my best friend for 15 years, and we have two adorable, funny children who keep me very busy.
Shopping comes naturally. I love to shop, to try new things, and to have the latest gadgets, fashions, books, etc. However, couponing and being frugal did not come as naturally. As I have shared with you previously, I come from a long line of frugal, coupon-clipping women. It started with my Grandma. She raised six children on one income, so being frugal was a necessity.
Couponing is something that has always been a mainstay in our family. When we all got together for Christmas, birthdays, or any occasion, Grandma would pull out her envelope of coupons. She always clipped all of her coupons so that she could share them with anyone who might need the ones she didn’t use. Mom and my aunts would pass around the envelope and snag the coupons they needed. If a relative happened to miss a party, Grandma would send whatever was left in the envelope to that person so they could look through the coupons too!
You would think being raised around so many shining examples of frugality would mean that I was clipping coupons from birth, but, of course, being a young wife I thought I knew better! In the tradition of Grandma, Mom brought me envelopes of coupons to look through every time she visited. I would obligingly take a coupon or two for a product I always bought, but in general I thought coupons were more trouble than they were worth. Over the years, we had more mouths to feed so I took a few more coupons out of that stack. I probably saved $10 – $30 in a given week. I thought I was doing pretty well.
Everything changed for me several years ago when gas prices went through the roof. Not only did I have to spend more than $100 every time I filled up my tank, but suddenly everything else was going up too. My grocery bill that was usually around $100 a week was going up each and every week: $125, $140, $175! I had to do something fast or we were going to be in trouble. That is when I finally came around to couponing. I ordered my Sunday paper, I started reading those grocery circulars, and I began pouring over website after website to find the best deals I could. Slowly but surely, my grocery bill came down.
Once I got my grocery bill down, I decided to tackle the drugstores. I knew there were ways to get free household goods from Walgreens and CVS, but I did not understand how it worked, and they always intimidated me. One day I finally took the leap and did my first CVS deal, and the next week I dove into Walgreens Register Rewards. From those two weeks alone, I had bags full of free products, and the more I shopped, the better I did. I was hooked! In just a few months, I went from spending about $1,000 a month on groceries and drugstore items to about $200 a month! What’s more, I was buying more than I ever had before. I probably have a year’s supply of toothpaste, tooth brushes, bath tissue, paper towels, razors, shampoo, and more!
I hope and pray that the economy turns around. So many of us are really struggling, and whether or not we want to be clipping coupons, we are trying to stretch that dollar as far as we can. I hope I can help you spend less and save more money each week. Regardless of improvements in the economy it is still important not to be wasteful with your money, and to try and make the most out of what you have. For me this is not temporary. It took me a while to finally catch on, but I am proud to stand in the long line of coupon-clipping women in my family, and I hope that I am providing a strong financial role model for my own children.