Monday, November 21, 2011

Why I Coupon, Sweep and Sign Up for Freebies

Three and a half years ago we had just brought our son home from Russia at the age of 21 months. I was home with him for six weeks before I was expected back to work. The six weeks were unpaid and after the expenses of the adoption, I was looking for ways to earn a little money on the side, or at least start saving some money. Shortly after starting back to work full-time, both my husband and I felt that I was needed at home more so I transitioned to part-time work, which meant a part-time check.

Before then I had never bothered to cut coupons, never bought a newspaper, and just bought what we wanted and needed. Now with a toddler in tow who needed surgery and medical bills piling up, I knew we needed to find other ways to make or save money.

A friend and fellow adoptive mother introduced me to the world of couponing. I started reading other frugal blogs. I saw how some were playing the drugstores games (like working CVS Extra Care Bucks) and how some were listing items they could get free at many local stores by using coupons. I was introduced to internet printable coupons, survey sites, points programs and I was thrilled. I could do this stuff, while being at home and with a 2-3 hour nap time (I know – I was lucky) I could read deals and learn to come up with my own!

I posted my first frugal adventure into CVS on my family/adoption blog here as part of another post, but because I was so proud of myself I had to get it posted somewhere. I came out of CVS with way more than the one bottle of conditioner I had to buy, for less than the actual price of the bottle itself! I couldn’t believe it when the cashier gave me my total.

The rest is history.

I started this blog, started shopping with coupons, requesting free samples of products, and saving money. Since then I don’t think I’ve once actually paid out of pocket for a tube of toothpaste, razors, shampoo, conditioner, etc.

While I tend to stick to only a few stores, CVS, Kroger, and Target mainly, I’ve found that just by matching coupons with sales, stacking coupons (where allowed) and making smaller shopping trips, has saved us a ton. I've completely cut out our toiletries budget!

I make most of my trips quick by laying out my deal and coupons ahead of time and only going in after those items. My husband supports me a great deal and can never believe the deals I come home with. In fact, every Sunday he lets me venture out on my own to shop CVS by myself. He knows even though I have the deal laid out, that sometimes it takes me a bit longer than necessary ;) especially since I love listening to books on CD in the car!

The most valuable lesson I have learned is that coupons ARE cash. Isn’t it fun to watch your total tick down?! I always ask the cashier, if the screen doesn’t show it, to subtotal the items so I can watch the coupons at work. When it’s done I think about how much extra cash I would have to pull out of my pocket to pay for the items had I not used the coupons. They really do work like cash!

Remember to start small (if you are new to the couponing world) and even keep it small (I still generally do one transaction deals and only shop a few stores). You don't have to buy multiple Sunday newspapers, travel a hundred miles to a store you don't have near you, or go out and get every single deal.

Do what you can, in the time you have and never let couponing take away from your family! Have fun and remeber you can share your deals with me or let me know of a good deal by leaving a comment or emailing me with the link on the right side of the screen.