Recently I started using coupons quite a bit more than I used to. I've always appreciated the value of coupons, but lacked the knowledge or time to really put them to their best use. These days it is so much easier to get the good deals because there are a variety of bloggers out there doing the dirty work for me. I don't have to spend hours comparing sale ads to available coupons, I just check out a site like www.savingwithshellie.com or www.frugalcouponliving.com and it's all done for me.
I have saved quite a bit of money using those sites. On average, I save 70% per shopping trip. Thanks to the bloggers, all I have to do is review their lists, cut or print coupons, make a shopping list and I'm off to the races. I now have a small 'stockpile' in our basement. For the most part, it consists of cereal, soda, soup, crackers and other items with a long shelf life. As stockpiles are concerned, I suppose mine is so small as to not even qualify for the term. But, it works for me. I don't need to have enough food down there to last through the end of days or zombie apocalypse, whichever comes first.
With The Chef's hours still down at work, every dollar I don't have to spend matters. I got excited recently when I realized I could buy Kraft cheese slices for 28 cents a package. They're normally $2-$3 and since The Girl loves grilled cheese, it's a great deal for us. I printed out two coupons, since I figured that would last until I could get them on sale again.
But here's where I get irritated. When something is a really good deal, free even, I have to go to the store the moment the sale starts or else. For example, a month ago Dominicks had fruit snacks for free after coupons. I had two coupons to use which would get me four boxes for free (Four boxes of fruit snacks would last us about 6 months). I went to the store and there wasn't a single box left of any variety on the shelf. This tells me that some couponers went to the store with a whole heck of a lot more than 2 coupons. I get that free food is exciting, but it is irresponsible and rude to clear the shelves and leave nothing for those of us looking to take advantage of a deal in a tasteful way.
This is where shows like TLC's Extreme Couponing drive me nuts. I watched it when it premiered a while back and was alternating between excitement and disgust. I can't deny that it is awesome to watch someone pay $10 for $200 worth of groceries. However, when that shopper is buying 15 tubes of toothpaste or 20 bottles of shampoo it really aggravates me. They are taking all of the items off the shelves and leaving the rest of us with nothing. Not only that, what are the odds they will use those 15 tubes of toothpaste before they expire, especially considering they probably already had some stockpiled at home?
All of the people featured on the show had massive stockpiles of food, enough to last them over a year and yet they were still out there adding to their hoard. Only one person was buying things with the intention of donating to a food bank. I remember one man commenting that he had insured his stockpile for $30,000! Why on earth would anyone need $30,000 worth of food/household items on hand? That is disgusting and abnormal. If I could get that much stuff for free I would feel morally obligated to pass some of it along to shelters or food banks for people who are genuinely in need.
That being said, I would strongly suggest that each of you think seriously about using coupons. They really can save money with just a small investment of time. These days money is tight and money not spent can be even better than money earned. Just make sure to leave a few items on the shelf for the rest of us would you!