Monday, April 29, 2013

Couponing or Not?!?

So, do I have any die hard couponers out there?!  I know I used to be one myself (not the clear the shelf couponer who left nothing for anybody else, but rather the couponer who used a coupon for EVERYTHING), but I have since scaled back.  I know, I know you may be wondering why on earth someone who tries to be as frugal as possible would actually scale back on coupon usage?!  Well there are many reasons & our season of life has changed again...

One of the biggest reasons I have strayed from couponing is that we have had to eat gluten free, which has actually been a mixed blessing in many ways (more on that in a future post), so the items most coupons are meant for are not things we can eat any longer.  They do have limited coupons for gluten free items, but w/a growing family they are still pretty unrealistic as we'd need to use at least an entire package of something if not 2 or to 3 packages so we could all have some, which would then blow our budget.  Gluten free bread is absolutely exorbitant in price, especially those that are yummy & don't just fall apart, so we either don't eat bread or make it at home.  GF bread ranges from $4-7 PER loaf, which by the way, is FAR smaller than traditional bread... buns & rolls run $1- $2 PER bun or roll, which is just not realistic for my family. 

With that said, I have actually had to start making pretty much everything from scratch.  I do buy some packaged GF items, but I usually save those items for time when I may make a treat to bring to a potluck, etc.  Gluten free baking & cooking can be hit or miss at times (especially for someone still learning the ropes) so when baking/cooking for others I like to stick to things that usually have consistent results or that I feel hopeful will turn out, like rice cereal treats (which I use to make traditional krispy treats or even a "cake" out of them & then I decorate it like a cake) or peanut butter bars, both of which I use some packaged products for (i.e. peanut butter, krispy cereal, marshmallows, etc.).  I have made some fabulous tasting GF desserts, that LOOKED horrible... even when I made them for us at home & they were near perfect in looks & taste previously, it just doesn't seem to fail that when baking for others said dessert, etc. will be a flop... so THOSE are the times I pull out my trusty coupons for packaged GF ingredients.... I sure don't want to bring something saying it is GF & have it taste (or even look) bad... people already cringe enough when we mention something is GF... then they almost always TASTE it, smile, & say they can't believe it is GF.

Another reason I have scaled back on couponing is that we now garden & it requires all hands on deck... I would rather spend my time doing what I can to ensure maximum yield of food that we simply can't afford to buy in the store (grown organic) than lugging my crew to a store.  The fresh air, sunshine (& natural D3 from it), our hands & feet in the dirt, the giggles, & family time outside are priceless... and they make the gardening mean even more.

We do buy some organics, but it isn't in our budget to buy all organic produce.  I honestly try to avoid anything on the "Dirty Dozen List" for being the highest in pesticides.  One of the 12 is strawberries (which we love), so we are able to enjoy backyard strawberries for a bit & then we typically don't eat them the rest of the year, unless we are at a party, potluck, etc. where they have strawberries.  Organic strawberries typically run $5 for a tiny container of them, & I'd rather take that money to buy an entire BAG of something else organic instead.

Last but not least, the time required for die hard couponing is just not something I have right now... I try to clip some coupons & even stack them w/store coupons when I am able to plan ahead of time, but I typically wing my shopping trips now so it isn't always possible. 

Since I have quit super couponing I have not given up on finding the best deals, I am just not usually clipping coupons to do so.  I have also changed our shopping routine up a lot, & we only buy a few items at a handful of box stores (usually only a few times a month between all of them), now shop @ two club stores, & we buy online.  I have been able to stretch our budget to meet the demands of a growing family, as well as the need to eat with food sensitivities. 

Back in my super couponing days I was mainly buying cosmetics when I found a deal on the brands we used that I found to be the safest we could afford, packaged mixes (cakes, desserts, etc.), a handful of snack-size frozen pizzas each month, ice cream (the relatively "healthy" brand w/out all of the other additives), etc... for the most part I used couponing as a means to be able to afford some of the better brands of things that were as healthy as we could buy in our budget, for being packaged items. 

Don't get me wrong, I still seek out deals when I can & try to use coupons as well, but I have found that just by stocking up on certain items when they are on super sale (I watch the ads for the specific stores), we save so much money even on items there are no coupons for (like store brand items), and usually the food quality we can buy is now better than what we could get with coupons previously.

If couponing is working for you, awesome!!  If it isn't don't lose hope... you can find other ways to get what you need for less too!!

Do YOU coupon??  Do you SUPER coupon??  What do you do w/the items you get from your adventure??  I used to use some for us, donate, & even swap items with others... do YOU swap or donate things you don't need?? 

I actually know of someone making a living by couponing & selling the items purchased via couponing for a bit higher than what they are paying for the items.  It not only helps them to pay their bills, but it helps those who buy the items at reduced prices to save not only money, but time they themselves don't have to spend couponing (and, no, they aren't clearing store shelves to sell the items ;0).