I love life!

Hi, I am Jo and this is my blog about my life. Here you will find entries on cooking, gardening, food safety and the interesting things happening in my search for an inexpensive and healthy way of living. My home is located in North Florida and I am relearning how to take care of myself at almost 50. This is the deep South so my garden and season may be a bit different than yours. I look forward to seeing what you have to say as time passes. Read on and have a beautiful day!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Extreme Couponing

Since starting the blog a plethora of ideas have been popping into my head.  Then I think...Really? Does anyone want to read about that (insert H.A.C.C.P. for food safety or when to prune your fig tree in SW Florida here)? Then I come crashing down to earth and realize I could write about them but it might be better to write about a topic closer to everyone's hearts and/or checkbooks. Thus today's topic of coupons!

Yes, coupons. The t.v. is covered with Extreme Couponing shows and people are rolling in cart after cart of free groceries. It looks awesome! Makes you want to run out and clip every coupon you see. In fact I did and then I realized we don't use most of the products that had coupons available. Additionally, you need a coupon stockpile to be an effective coupon officianado. Where in the blazes am I going to find space for a food stockpile and a coupon stockpile? There is a boat in the garage - no room for a food stockpile let alone stacks of newspaper inserts.  And where am I going to get all of these inserts? I work 40 hours a a week. Staying up and going dumpster diving for coupons is not going to happen. And do I really want to spend hours cutting them out- NOPE! I would like to fit in some yoga classes and other projects like curtains for the kids house or a new doll for Maddy.      

 I wanted to title this "Why Coupons Suck." but I do use them and that would be false advertising. But they do suck. They suck you in to purchasing items that you really do not need or would not normally buy because it is perceived as a good deal. Have you looked at the carts on theses t.v. shows? Ramen noodles. Sorry, ate a lot of those in college, not going to happen again. Candy, yes, candy. Only going to happen over the holidays here in this house. Name brand highly processed foods. We don't eat a lot of highly processed foods..except for ice cream. Lots of ice cream and the husband eats cold cereal. Laundry detergent- allergic to most of it thus make my own HE soap at pennies per use.

How do I save money with coupons? I only use them to purchase items we will eat. If we don't eat it it may be a great deal but it is not going in the cart. Maybe I won't save as much money but why waste my time on items we hate or will not use. It will then sit on the shelf to taunt me for having purchased it and I don't need guilt on top of wasted time.  

Target has some great coupon deals online and one can combine them with insert coupons to save 25 to 30%  with minimal effort. Again only on items that are used on a regular basis. If you print Target coupons and the item does not have a matching coupon in the following Sunday insert wait a week or two and it will show up. When that happens and the item is on sale you can get bargains. If it is a clearance item then the bargain is greater.

Sadly, no stores in SW Florida double coupons. So what is a girl to do? Screw coupons. Yes- I said it. Screw coupons. Focus on fresh, wholesome foods and minimally processed items. It is hard to find coupons for those anyway.  Your best bets are produce, grains, dried or canned beans, meats when they are on sale and dairy. Produce can come from Kroger, Sweetbay, Harris Teeter or even your local farm stand or farmers market. Grains can be rolled oats, rice, millet, barley and even flours for breads and biscuits. Home made cornbread is fast and easy-after you have made it a couple of times. Canned beans make  a quick and flavorful white bean chili or black bean soup. Meats are the ones you like ON SALE and ONLY purchased on sale. You know your budget yet what we do is purchase a lot of tougher cuts of beef or the less desirable chicken thighs and throw them in the crockpot.  Google crock pot recipes and you will be good to go! We make crock pot Italian Beef and Southern Pork BBQ.  Yum!

Lastly, one can save at the store by shopping circular sales and looking at the price per ounce or price per unit on the shelf tag. Many times store brands are ounce for ounce half as much as name brands for the same item. Use the calculator on your phone if the math is not obvious. If you are uncertain if your family will like it purchase one of whatever it is and try it without telling them it is store brand. Most of the time there is little distinguishable difference. So if you can get the store brand on sale you may just have a bargain as good as a coupon deal. Without the hassle of clipping coupons.        

If you come across a truly great deal on say meat- buy a little more than normal and build a supply in your freezer or pantry. You don't need a great deal of space and you can actually shop less once the pantry is stocked.

In a nutshell.  Buy only what you will eat.  If you use coupons use them on sale items. Buy minimally processed foods and cook them yourself. Don't be brand loyal and watch price per unit. Build a pantry and I forgot to mention eat before shopping and use a list  
Remember coupons can suck you into more than you wanted under the guise of a good deal.
Happy Shopping!!!!  


  1. Jo: Very good points. Even though I am an avid couponer and I DO stock pile I don't know if I would be such an avid couponer if my store did not double up to .99. That just doesn't seem fair!
    We do a LOT of our couponing on toiletries and the like. That is worth it to us. I agree a coupon can suck you in to a product that you do not want/like just because it is a good deal. People need to be aware of what they are buying, what is in that product and WHY they are buying it! Happy non-couponing!!!

  2. Good Morning How I Pinch Penny!
    I think if they doubled coupons here I would be more likely to use more coupons. I did some research and you, literally, need to go to the Panhandle to get double coupons.
    We don't have a stockpile like on t.v. but we do have a substantial pantry and freezer. When items are on sale we stock up.
    BTW I love the videos on your blog! I need to figure out how to do that on here.
    Keep Pinching Pennies as you are a great source of information.

  3. It seems to me that couponing is very time involved. The coupons in the newspaper each week rarely have any foods/products that we buy regularly. I have seen people save hundreds of dollars yet, I just don't feel like I have the time to commit.
    Groupon.com has seen some popularity and I have had many friends and family members say they really like it. I recently signed up for it, however, I am not real thrilled with it so far.

  4. I wholeheartedly agree. I used to be an "extreme couponer" when I lived in a small city and had easy access to lots of inserts and several stores that doubled and tripled coupons. I had shelves and shelves of (processed) food for free and nearly-free. It was horribly unhealthy stuff but we had no money at the time so it worked for us.

    Now, not so much. I don't bother with them since there's are very, very few coupons for the things I normally buy. We eat a lot healthier now -- and I'm saner for now having to chase down & keep track of all those coupons!

  5. Y'all are singin' my song...

  6. Sarah- I have been afraid to try groupon and the reviews have been mixed. I think if we were closer to a large city I might be tempted to try it out.

    SpeedKin- Like you I could easily see myself couponing more if I did not have a lot of money.
    We just don't eat many processed foods. Like Pinch a Penny we use coupons a lot for toiletries- oh and ice cream ...lol.

    Ilene- and a beautiful song it is.



Your comments are always appreciated and I love to hear what you think. Especially my overseas reader! Have a great day!