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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Couponing

I started couponing in the fall.  It’s been a very interesting journey and I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned:

1.  It’s not how much you spend, it’s how much you save.  Wrong.  The temptation was strong to buy ANYTHING just because it was on super sale.  This meant that one week I ended up with three packages of Klondike bars.  Not a problem for everyone, but I ended up eating them all myself.  And that is a problem.  Solution:  I don’t clip ALL coupons anymore.  I only cut ones that are things I normally buy and will use.

2.  I’ll just get one for now.  Wrong.  If it’s really that great of a deal, buy ’em up.  (Unless it’s a perishable item, of course!)  Solution: The way to do this is by ordering multiple newspapers to be delivered.  At this moment I’m getting six (that cost me $1.15 per week total).  To be honest, it’s probably too many simply because so many coupons are for buying two (meaning I’d get 12 of the items).  But I’ll plan to keep getting at least four each Sunday.  And for me in SD, the LA Times is totally the way to go since it gets all the inserts (Smart Source, Red Plum & PG&E periodicals).

3.  It’s easy.  Wrong.  It might be simple, but it’s not easy.  Not only does it take forever to cut the coupons and put them in my binder, but the process of making my list from the blog I use (Southern Calif Saver), pulling the coupons back up and transferring them to my mini-file, and then shopping (usually 1.5-2 hrs) is very VERY time consuming.  I have a big binder filled with plastic baseball card pages and the coupons go in there.  I have them loosely organized as dry/bottled/canned foods, dairy/refrig/freezer items, paper/household goods.  I also have a section for the organic or “Sprouts-like” items because many of those items I can’t find at my local Albertson’s.  A big problem is when you’ve missed the expiration date.  This happens to me a lot closer to payday if I’ve run out of grocery money.  Solution needed:  I need to figure out a better way to know what is almost out of date instead of having to look at each coupon individually.

4.  It can all fit in your kitchen.  Wrong.  Solution:  I’m very lucky to have a pantry in the garage.  I’ve taken it over with my couponing treasures.  The funny thing is that it’s very organized.  Kind of hysterically so given the way the rest of my house usually looks.  But after my last big grocery trip where I spent $287 and saved $293 (which, btw, means they have to call a manager to override the sale — I know I’ve done GOOD if that happens!) I realized that we are SO ready for some crazy disaster.  We could live out of our house for easily a month. And much longer if all we needed to do was shower.  Granted, it would be a lot of pasta and soup, but hey — I’ve never complained about those foods!

5.  You can shop with your kids.  Wrong.  I have had people recommend that I send the kids off to find the different coupon items, but they just aren’t old enough yet.  I have taken them with me to Target a few times to coupon and we’ve been lucky to all escape alive, I tell ya.  Solution:  I’ve actually started going to the grocery store late at night (10pm last weekend) because I have the whole place to myself and I don’t feel guilty about Brent stuck home with the kids, etc.

6.  Buy if it’s on sale.  Wrong.  For me, I am not interested in “Extreme Couponing” where you have 100 tubes of toothpaste and you give them away to homeless people or whatever.  That’s nice for people who are into that, but it’s not my goal.  I have had a couple of situations (shampoo) where I just kept buying and buying and realized, heck, it’ll take us more than a year to use all this shampoo.  Solution:  That, to me, is a point where I need to stop.  The up side is that now I can just ignore all the shampoo coupons and shorten my clipping time.

7.  Organic couponing.  Rough.  There are definitely a lot of organic/natural companies who offer coupons for their items, but it’s very time-consuming to track them down.  You’ve got to go to each website individually and print their coupons each month.  There are a few places who specialize in organic couponing (Mambo Sprouts), but it’s not like there is an “organic foods insert” in your weekly newspaper.  So, it can definitely be done, but it’s harder work.  Solution:  Around here, Sprouts offers both sets of their weekly specials each Wednesday (the overlap day).  So that’s a great day to shop at Sprouts and take the few coupons you’ve been able to collect for those kinds of foods.

8.  Smaller food budget.  Wrong.  Or at least, so far.  There is no question I’m saving a TON, but it seems each time I go I find more great sales and so end up spending about the same amount of money.  What I am finding though is that with the full pantry, I’m able to start taking a week off of shopping entirely.  And if I go to the farmer’s market for all my fresh produce, I don’t need any staples — because they are already in the pantry!  Also, I know I’ve been spending a lot less on toiletry items because I now have enough of them to last us well into the summer.

Will add to this list as I think of more things, but that’s it for now.

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Tuesday was Free-Pancake-Day at IHOP.  One of the things we missed most in Okinawa were big breakfast places!  Was super fun to take the kiddos and nosh a bit!

Then we headed off to Resident Free Tuesday at Balboa Park.  Natural History Museum on this day.  We met Evonne and Alma there with their kids — something we are trying to do more regularly!!  They are currently having a Snakes & Lizards exhibit.  Saw some great stuff including this HUGE water monitor:

Kira swinging with L, who is just a few weeks older.

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