I just started couponing about a year ago, and I have come to conclusion that once you start couponing you will never go back! It is like an addiction. You are constantly thinking about coupons, looking online for new coupons, upcoming deals and browsing stores for clearance items.

Before heading to the grocery store I get my handy ziplock full of coupons I plan to use for the trip and stick to the list. If my boyfriend is with me and he tries to buy something that is not on the list I usually make a face at him and tell him that I’ll find a coupon for it and I will buy it next time.  He doesn’t understand.  I usually refuse to buy something without a coupon unless it is at a very low price.  When I enter a clothing store I go straight to the sale rack and will not buy anything full price unless I have a coupon. My all time favorite day to shop is the day after Christmas or the day after Black Friday because everything is at such a low price.  I try to get gifts for upcoming birthdays or holidays way in advance.

Couponing has even changed my mind about the places I shop because before I would just make a trip to any store, get what I needed and then leave without looking at the price tag.  Now I strategically use the weekly ads to maximize my savings by matching up the coupons with the store that will give me the most savings.  My favorite places to shop are places like Walgreens, CVS & Target because at those places you usually get rewards back for shopping and the more you shop the more coupons they give you.  At these particular stores you are able to use manufacturer coupons such as the ones in the newspaper or online AND combine them with the store coupons.  This is like heaven to my ears, DOUBLE THE SAVINGS? What more could I ask for?

A note from us at I’m In: We’ve got great coupons at Walgreens, deals at CVS, and savings at Target, too!

The way coupons have influenced my purchasing decisions is that I have begun experimenting with new brands. For example, if I have a coupon to make something dirt cheap but it is a new brand that I have never tried, then I am going to try a new brand that day.  In the past before I began couponing, I used shampoos like Pantene or Aussie which can get a bit pricey for a family of 4.  Now, I use whatever shampoo I have a coupon for and it seems to work the same.  My mini stockpile includes 10 bottles of VO5 shampoo that I got for free and about 20 packages of Colgate toothpaste that was also free! My most recent haul was 12 packages of laundry soap that I got for 80% off of the retail value.

My goal is to build a huge stockpile like the families on “Extreme Couponing” have so that if I run out of something I go to my handy stockpile and grab it instead of running to the store at 9 at night. I also hope to begin donating food and toiletries to local food pantries, churches or needy families.  Most people don’t even bother with coupons or know how to use them and it isn’t easy. There are a lot of rules for each store and if you are not prepared you will go to the cash register embarrassed when the cashier does not take your coupons. It breaks my heart when I see a newspaper in the trash because that is like throwing away money!!  I was lucky to have a brain that enjoys math because that is a big part of couponing as well you have to know how to deduct percentages, multiply, add and subtract to get the most our of your savings (a calculator can also help).  So it looks like the people behind me in line at Target are going to have to have a lot of patience because my couponing is here to stay!