Not So Extreme Couponing

Let’s face it; it’s hard to raise a family these days, especially if you are living on one income.  As such, I have taken to watching random “helpful” shows like Clean House (for motivation to declutter and for ideas on storage), Supernanny (for ways to deal with the crazy moments that come with parenting and to make me feel better about my own children), and Yummy Mummy (for cheap ways to make my old self reappear every now and then when I feel like the role of “mommy” has completely taken over). 

Lately, though, my newest obsession is Extreme Couponing.  How do those people do it?!  The sane and practical part of me thinks they must have way too much time on their hands.  They collect massive amounts of coupons, sit and browse through all of them, then clip, organize, plan their lists and research which stores have the best deals, shop and finally spend hours in checkout lines just to hoard a ton of things they don’t even really need.  However, the more frugal side of me is amazed by how they are able to save so much money!  So, I decided to see how successful I could be at couponing.

I quickly learned that the real problem is finding coupons for things you actually need/can use.  And, if you are lucky enough to find an applicable coupon, it really needs to be a good one to make any kind of difference (I’m talking to you coupon for $.50 off a purchase of 3 boxes of $4.00 cereal – I find more change in my pockets when I’m doing laundry).  Then, once you find a “good” coupon, you have to pray that the item is also on sale somewhere and/or that you also have a store coupon to use with it.  Some of the extremests on tv live in states where stores do double and triple coupon days, thus making their couponing efforts much easier.  But alas, I live in Florida where, of course, they do not allow this.

So, after 2 weeks of pouring over the Sunday circulars and coupons we recently accumulated through the mail, I was pretty disappointed.  Other than an overwhelming number of deodorant deals (sidenote – HOW STINKY DO THEY THINK WE ARE?), there really were no coupons of any consequence.  Then, suddenly and out of the blue, we were inundated with booklets of coupons from Gerber, Pampers, Huggies and Target, all in one day’s worth of mail.  Yes, they were all for baby items, but since we spend more money on baby stuff than we do on anything else it was quite a blessing.  And, Target was having a baby sale at the same time!  What luck!  I sat down and organized the coupons from Target and the manufacturers so that I could figure out which combinations would give us the best deals (meaning 2-3 times the normal discount), made a list of the precise items we needed, and headed over to Target on a voyage to achieve coupon supremacy.

I was so proud of myself as I walked to the checkout lane with all of my items, coupons, and my surprisingly well-behaved children who had come with me as my personal assistants.  I was able to get 2 packs of diapers, a large refill of wipes, a regular box of wipes, a travel size pack of wipes, 12 packs of baby food, a box of baby snacks, a large can of formula, Bandaids, 2 deodorants (guess we are stinky after all), and a large pack of Qtips for $48!  (My total savings using the coupons was $42, if that helps prove my tiny triumph – and how much baby stuff costs without coupons.  This isn’t even mentioning the store savings just from the regular sale which ended up making my entire purchase approximately 50% off).

I didn’t make it out of the store with anything free or having spent $3.14 for $100+ worth of stuff, so it really wasn’t extreme couponing; more moderate couponing, I guess.  But, for a novice with very little spare time to research or plan, I think I did pretty well!  And, I have more coupons left for baby sales in the future!  We’ll just have to wait and see if I get this lucky again!

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