Saving money with coupons

by Erika Torres

Eric and I stumbled upon TLC’s Extreme Couponing and we saw some guy purchase $5,000 worth of groceries for about $250. His garage was converted into a mini grocery store with stock piles enough to last more than a lifetime.

It was like my mom multiplied by a 1000. I grew up with my mom using coupons and cutting her grocery bill by more than half. Even now, she has a stockpile of shampoos, conditioners, soaps, toothpastes and more in two huge cabinets. I occasionally steal swipe items when she’s not looking but shh, don’t tell her.

I’ve tried in the past to use coupons, but realized Eric and I don’t really eat a lot of the processed foods that the coupons are usually for (with rare exception–Cocoa Pebbles? yes, please!). But this past week, with two week’s worth of coupons from the Sunday papers, I cut out coupons for the items we usually buy anyway. Then I matched them up with those week’s sales at our local grocery store. These were my best deals:

Swiffer Wet Wipes normally $10.99, on sale for $6.99, had a coupon for “buy one, get one free”

So I got each one for $3.50 a piece!

Saved: $6.50 Spent: $7

Charmin Bath Tissue 12 double roll, normally $8.99 (I think), on sale for $5.99, had a $3 off e-coupon,

Saved: $5 Spent: $2.99

3-pack Scotch Brite Dish Sponges, normally $3.99, on sale $1.99, had a $1 off coupon when you buy two packs

Saved: $5 Spent: $3


It’s a great feeling to save more money than you spend. $13 for 5 items is not bad, in my very humble opinion.

Do you clip coupons? Are you pro or anti-coupon? What was your best deal?

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Kim March 16, 2011 - 9:29 am

Ditto about the processed foods and cleaning products. So we made a big discovery – we went to the grocery store Food Star near my house. Most won’t go there because immigrants frequent it. But you know what? The produce and meat is TONS cheaper (though not packaged food), and their butcher shop actually descales/fillets their fish (unlike Giant – they don’t do anything in their butcher shop). Ethnic grocery stores are where it’s at! At Giant the produce is so darn ripe that it rots within a day or two.

Jessica07 March 15, 2011 - 7:11 pm

I love coupons, but I have the same problem you do, in that so many are for processed foods. Between our garden and the produce isle, we don’t buy a whole lot of what has a coupon. I do love the cleaning product coupons, though!

Does your husband use coupons? I can never get mine to actually hand them to the clerk when he goes through the line. Is there some sort of stigma attached to their use that I don’t know about? I love him, but the man really can drive me nutz sometimes. LOL

Teacher Girl March 14, 2011 - 8:20 pm

I saw that show too! It was insane. The other day at Target I saw an extreme couponer checking out. She had 6 carts and two family members acting as assistants. My biggest issue is that I would never have the space to store all that stuff and I feel like things would expire before I used them.

My mother is a couponer too, though not to the extreme. I think you did a great job with your coupons this week! I try to use coupons but most of the time I end up just looking for what is on sale at the store.

Stevie March 14, 2011 - 5:32 pm

Most of the coupons I find aren’t for things we normally buy, and even if we do buy those items, I can get the generic brand for even cheaper than the coupon price anyway.

A few exceptions: Target usually has some great coupons on both brand names and Target brand items. Costco coupons are great – we drink a lot of Pellegrino and there is almost always a coupon for a few bucks off a case.

Serendipity March 14, 2011 - 3:04 pm

I have a love hate relationship with couponing. I hardly can find coupons for products we use but when I do, I usually am quite content. I’m especially happy when I get a good deal. But, I could never food hoard like a lot of people on that show do. That food would go bad before Rambo and I could eat it.I definately could pasta hoard though. :0

Reply March 14, 2011 - 1:08 pm

Remember two things:

1) You’re only “saving” if you were going to buy those items regardless.

2) Don’t spend so much time searching for coupons that you miss out on other ways to earn income OR fun things to do with your life.

Amanda March 14, 2011 - 11:07 am

I love couponing! My mom always used them growing up, but she never really stockpiled. When I got laid off in October I needed to find ways to save money, so I started clipping. Now it’s become a game to see how much I can save!

Jackie March 14, 2011 - 8:37 am

You’re right – it’s hard to coupon on healthy foods sometimes. There is usually a deal on cheese though. This week, I plan on getting a pound of Sargento shredded pepper jack cheese for free! The other product that I don’t ever buy without a coupon is cereal. There is usually something on sale that I can tack a coupon on top of, to ease the $4/box price! What I don’t do is get the Sunday paper coupons – I rely almost exclusively on the internet.

Serena March 14, 2011 - 8:19 am

I have the same problem with coupons as you come across. We don’t really eat much of the food products they offer coupons for, so we stick to cleaning and tolietry items.

I usually grab the Sunday paper weekly (especially because our grocery store sells it for only a buck), but I’m bummed because it slipped my mind ths weekend…

Since I can’t build a time machine and go back, I chose to live through your coupon success this week- nice job!

The Fabulous Life of a Coach's Wife March 14, 2011 - 6:51 am

I saw that episode too! I thought he was a bit too extreme… who needs 3 dozens bottles of salad dressing? They’ll go bad before you can use them all! I agree with you on coupons, we don’t eat that much packaged food, or name brands so coupons don’t do a lot for us. Soup and pasta are usually the only packaged foods we buy. I might have to start using them for cleaning supplies/toilet paper like you did though.. I hadn’t really thought of that before!

jobo March 14, 2011 - 6:19 am

I rarely do the coupon thing either, but sometimes I’ll use the ones you get at the checkout, or at CVS here, save $4 when you spend $15 or something, where you aren’t forced to buy stuff you don’t normally buy. But those are great deals! Especially Swiffer, since I use those a lot!

Randa March 14, 2011 - 5:57 am

I coupon – like you, it started after seeing extreme coupons. I actually just wrote a post about it a couple of days ago. Before a couple of a years ago, I was actually a big anti-coupon person because I thought it was a waste of time but now that I’ve started doing it, I realize it’s totally worth my time. We’ve saved up to 60% on our grocery budget since we started – 60%! I have two best deals: I have yet to pay anything for yogurt [yay!] and we got 12 1-lb boxes of pasta for $2.40. It was a-mazing.

Good luck with your couponing!

Niki March 14, 2011 - 5:05 am

I use coupons sparingly. I will only use them if it is something we were going to buy anyway. I love, tons of printable coupons and shows deals at stores.
I also use our kids old homework to print on, we never seem to run out of it.


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