Saturday, December 29, 2012
Several years ago when I started this blog, I was an Extreme Coupon Shopper. Things have changed over the years and I would no longer give myself that label. Do I still use coupons and take advantage of great deals at my local stores? Absolutely, yes!
What has changed?
1. The profitability has changed. When I started couponing, I was able to make stockpiles of many items that our family used on a regular basis. Toothpaste, shampoo, pasta, etc. I have noticed a couple of new trends developing over the last few years. Many stores have created limits and restrictions on coupons that make acquiring large quantities of cheap/free items more difficult. For example, Dollar Tree will currently only take 2 internet printable coupons per shopping trip. I have several computers in my home and am able to print multiple prints of any particular coupon, but if I have to make multiple trips to Dollar Tree just to attain the items, then it's not quite as profitable. Another trend I have noticed is an increase in price of all items at the store and a decrease in the number and value of coupons being issued.
2. Our family circumstances have changed. Through the years, we have had different family members live with us, usually in conjunction with attending the nearby university. We have had singles, couples, and even a young family live with us at various times. Couponing did provide large quantities of food to help feed all the mouths in the house. In general, our immediate family has always made very healthy food choices and couponing sometimes supported those choices. However, it is true that many of the best deals or free items were what most people would consider to be junk food. With many mouths to feed, having free junk food (sugar cereal, snacks, and treats) was helpful in making those grocery dollars stretch. Many times those who where living with us didn't share our opinion about healthy food choices and were happy to eat those free items.
3. Stress and time management has changed. I began to notice that I was clipping and organizing a large number of coupons that I never actually used. At one point in time, it seemed profitable to carry those extra coupons around with me in the store, just in case I could pair up one of those coupons with a great clearance deal. For the reasons listed in number 1 above, that is no longer the case. I also simply got tired of the amount of time spent in stores telling my children to "shush" while I calculated a coupon deal in my head. I got tired of spending so much time standing in line, arguing with cashiers, and aggravating those in line behind me. I got tired of spending so much time on the computer searching out deals while the precious moments of life danced around and right on by me.
4. Our access to the Sunday paper coupons has changed. Kum & Go gas stations used to offer a free Sunday paper every Sunday with a gas fill up. They are no longer doing this and since coupon values are significantly lower than what they used to be, it is not profitable to purchase a paper to obtain the coupons.
So, how do I use coupons and save money now, you might ask? Stay tuned for an upcoming post!