Coupons absolutely influence my purchasing decisions. In 2008, my ex-husband was a victim of the downfall of our economy and lost his job. It took him three years to find another job and start paying child support. During that time, I had no idea how I was going to pay my bills let alone feed my two children.
One day during lunch, I was venting to my best friend and co-worker about my financial troubles. She told me about a coupon blogger who focuses on the Chicagoland area. My friend came over that night and we went on-line to check it out. At first, I was very hesitant to give this coupon thing a try. I knew I had to do something to lower my grocery bill, but I am brand loyal and was unsure if I would like other products. I decided to give it a try with the mindset I could stop if it wasn’t for me.
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I started slow as I had to build my coupon stash. I printed on-line coupons and subscribed to three copies of the Sunday paper. My thought was if I found a good deal, I could purchase one item for each off us. I bought a three ring binder, plastic baseball card holders, and dividers for different categories and started organizing my coupons. After a few weeks, I let the test begin.
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Each week I thoroughly read our local grocery store sales flyers looking for deals to match with my coupons, but never found items I wanted to purchase. Frustrated and ready to give up, I decided to go back to the couponing blog to find out what I was missing. I quickly learned I was allowing my brand loyalty to prevent me from finding good deals. Tentatively, I let the blogger tell me what to buy. I was surprised by the amount of money I saved, but still was not convinced I would be happy with the items I purchased.
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As it turns out, the laundry detergent I purchased worked just as good as the expensive brand I have used for years and the butter I purchased tasted identical to the brand I normally buy. At this point, I decided to let the blogger tell me what to buy for the next several months.
The more money I saved, the more addicted I became to couponing. I subscribed to several blogging newsletters to learn as much as I can about in-store and on-line deals. I downloaded several shopping applications to my cell phone, such as Ibotta and Checkout 51, as a way of saving even more money.
On average, I save 40 percent on each stopping trip using coupons. Occasionally my savings are greater if I stop at Target, as Target allows you to use one manufacturer and store coupon, a mobile coupon, and Target Cartwheel on the same item. If you have the Target red card, you save even more money. My most memorable shopping trip totaled $65.00, but after coupons, Target Cartwheel, and my red card, I paid $12.65. Once I got home, I scanned my receipts into Ibotta and Checkout 51 and saved an additional $3.50, bringing the total spent down to $9.15 for $65.00 worth of groceries and household items. My daughter was with me on this shopping trip and could not believe how much I saved. She now goes through my coupon binder before she heads off to the store.
Over the past six years, I have saved enough money on my grocery bill to significantly pay down my credit card debt. My goal is to pay off the credit cards then take the money I save couponing and put it in my savings account. With any luck, I will be in a position to help my children pay off their student loans when they graduate from college.