Recently, I’ve spotted articles all over the blogosphere and in the news about how coupons cause you to spend money on things you wouldn’t normally buy, or in places you wouldn’t normally shop. So, I stopped to think about that today, since I use a LOT of coupons. My pantry and freezer are completely full of things I wouldn’t have bought if I didn’t have a coupon for them. My bathroom cabinets are stocked with brands of shampoos, conditioners, soaps, toothbrushes, and toilet paper that I wouldn’t have bought without coupons.
How much extra money has this cost me? Well… 7 bottles of shampoo were FREE after my coupons. 4 bottles of conditioner were a different brand than my usual, but when my brand was “on sale” for 6.99 a bottle, and I got this conditioner on sale for $.99 a bottle… I decided to give it a try. I love it and it works GREAT. Now, not only do I have plenty of toiletries that I don’t have to shop for in the next 6 months, but it cost me next to nothing to begin with.
I have always been primarily a generic brand shopper. There are few exceptions to this rule. In the past, I’ve only paid for name brands when on sale as a Loss Leader, and ignored the rest.
Now that I only shop with coupons, my freezer has 6 loaves of Sara Lee whole wheat bread that I received for free with coupons. It has 14 bags of Green Giant frozen veggies … $.45 each, with coupons. It’s got really fabulous seafood frozen meals that Mark eats for lunches. In the past, I wouldn’t have ever considered buying these things, but Mark gets pretty weary of eating leftovers for lunch every day because he works from home. So, keeping these (normally $7 meals) on hand at $2 each, I think I come out far ahead… even further if having shrimp scampi at home keeps him from heading down the street to the local Mexican restaurant for lunch because he doesn’t want a sandwich or leftovers.
This week, I bought 8 – half gallon bottles of V-8 Splash for $.49 each, which I would NEVER buy at $2.99 a bottle (full price). I’d have picked up a $.99 frozen can of OJ in the frozen foods section. I also picked up 6 cans of Deviled Ham … something that Mark has missed a great deal but that I refuse to spend $1.49 a can for. At $.19 a can… absolutely!
Shopping with coupons WILL make you buy things you wouldn’t otherwise buy, especially if you’re a cheapskate like me. I have slashed our food and household supplies spending by more than 2/3, provided more varied and nutritious foods, tried new products that I wouldn’t have been willing to try, provided my children with special treats that I wouldn’t normally have spent the money on (Yogos for $.32 a box!), and even given away a bunch of free stuff that we won’t use to family members who are struggling financially (baby soaps, formula, coupons, cat food, etc). Once in a while, it’s even nice to say “Go ahead and pick up those steaks at full price, honey. This week’s grocery shopping was $70 under budget.”
Coupons for non-grocery items are always handy to have around. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken my car in for an oil change a few days after I threw away coupons for Meineke. I’ve thrown away fast food coupons because we eat at home most of the time, and the day after been caught out of the house with the family until 8 PM and stopping at the same fast food restaurant for dinner. If you get coupons for Bed Bath and Beyond, and need towels anyway… why not use it?
If coupons aren’t your thing, they’re never going to be … and that’s ok. Using coupons to shop isn’t going to cost you any more money than normal, as long as you apply sound comparison shopping principles and are always on the lookout for the best deal. Using coupons just because you have a coupon is what breaks the bank.