I have not blogged much lately about my couponing due to several reasons. One, I get so tired of everyone telling me to "share that stuff" and "get me those deals". To that I say, I worked hard to find that deal. I put in the time, money and effort to make it happen. It's not like I just clipped a coupon, walked into the store and BAM! Deal made...it's not that easy. The show "Extreme Couponing" has made using coupons very difficult. It is not realistic to think you can walk into a store and do what is done on that show. I have had some GREAT deals, don't get me wrong, but nothing at all like they portray. It's just not possible.
The second reason for not blogging about it as much is I simply have not had a lot of time. I have made some great deals, but I have had to revamp the entire way I think and do it. I second guess every purchase before I buy it. I ask myself these questions: 1. Will I or someone else use this? 2. Can I use it before the expiration date. 3. Is it truly a deal? By all of those questions my meaning is simple. Is it something my family can use? If not, if it's free or a heck of a deal can someone or a charity use it? I am known for never passing up a free item. I don't care if I don't need it, someone will need it! Right? Not always, so I think a little more about it before I buy it. And the problem I have had lately, all of the really good deals seem to be items that will expire soon. So, if I can't use them before that time, I have just wasted my money, time and effort. And lastly, is it really a deal? I mean some stores will make something sound so incredible that by the time you are finished with your entire purchase, you bought things you might not really need to just to get a deal on something else.
I was once new to couponing and had to learn mostly on my own. But by no means did I rock the boat to ruin the couponing system in my area. Of course I made mistakes, held up lines and pissed off store managers, (I still do the last 2!), but by no means am I out there taking coupons from people who paid for them. That has been the latest thing. Heck, some are evening stolen out of driveways. There is nothing worse than buying your papers only to get home and realize someone has removed the inserts already. At that point you are screwed. You don't get refunds for that. I have gone as far as to check recycling bins for discarded inserts, and that right there is illegal I guess, lol. They do post to not "enter" the bin. :)
I am not trying to create a stockpile to last through the zombie apocalypse, the next world war or a great famine. I am just trying to get great deals on things that my family uses and donate things from time to time to the community. It's like a game or puzzle to me. I have to figure out how to make a great deal work and I get better at it all time. It's all about reading the fine print, searching for the coupons and scouring the ads, internet and stores for what we need. It's hard work, it doesn't always work out and we occasionally get a deal good enough to brag about. I will admit that it has slightly addictive qualities. I do get that nervous feeling when I see any of my cleaning products level running low, lol. I have paid no more than mere pennies for dish soap for the longest time. And I know it will hurt if and when I have to pay more for it. There is a rush I get when I find a surprise deal or one that works out better than expected.
My point is, I enjoy couponing. To be honest, the money and time I spend on it did replace something big in my life. I have been smoke free for 2 years. I started couponing about the time I quit. It gave me an outlet to keep my mind off of smoking and my cigarette money went to good use. I turned an ugly habit into a good one. But there are some people who are making couponing ugly. I will admit that I have probably gotten some better deals than they were intended to be due a nice cashier. Sometimes I don't realize it until I am home and looking over my receipts. But I try to keep as honest as possible.
So, just a few words to the wise if you know someone who likes to coupon...first and most important: DON'T tell them to share their great deals. That's like saying, "Give me one of those $20 bills from your wallet". They have worked hard for what they have couponed and it's like you just want to give away your money, right? Besides, most of them that I know offer up stuff all of the time. And as for me, I give extra away all the time. I sometimes even buy them for the purpose of donation. Couponers are not stingy if they don't share with you.
Not all couponers are hoarders. In fact, most are just people who trying to save money where ever they can. If they buy 3 months worth of laundry soap for a great price now doesn't mean they are hoarding, it just means they won't have to go out and buy it as often or at full price. It's just being smart. Who can't appreciate a great deal? I personally have over 40 rolls of paper towels right now. It wasn't on purpose to be that many, but the deals presented to me and I took them. I use paper towels like crazy at my house. Plus they can be recycled, bonus! My youngest one's school loves to get them and so does the women and children's shelter we donate to.
The Extreme Couponing show makes it look like those people buy all of their groceries for next to nothing. It's NOT true! If you notice it's usually large quantities of items such as bottled drinks and such. And most of the time it's the same brands. Gee, can we say A-D-V-E-R-T-I-S-I-N-G? Those companies are putting their name out there, same with the store. If everyone watching the show lives near there, they are more likely to shop there with the mindset that they too can get those deals. Most of that show is STAGED...trust me. One a good note, you can learn some lessons from the couponers on there, but don't live with the expectations that you can duplicate what they have done.
Realistically, you cannot go to the store for all of your families needs and save 95%. On average I save about 30-40%, more so the lower end. Some weeks I may only save around 10%. It's unpredictable, a lot of work and worth it. The longer you do it, the better you get, the less time it takes. You have to be dovated, some what organized, (the more organized the better!), and pay attention to detail. The details are what make or break you. It's NOT a full time job, I have one of those, lol.
With that being said, if you are still thinking about couponing just start small. Find your nitch, your groove or whatever works for you. Just because it works well this way for one doesn't mean it'll work that well for you. It's easier to start if someone gives your pointers. Look for local classes at community centers, libraries and such. Search the internet for tips, just be careful to not believe everything you find on the good ol' web. And if you want, send me a message with your questions. I will be happy to lead you in the right direction.
Couponing isn't for everyone, but don't give up without giving it a fair shot. You have to have some patience. Try it for a couple of months, you will notice it gets easier and that is enough time to start to find your groove with organizing your coupon system. Learn the rules of your store, read your fine print and happy saving! :)