I have a love/hate relationship with coupons because I love to save money, but I hate the fact that most of the foods you find a lot of coupons for are foods I would never (should never) eat. Before I started couponing, I thought I'd be saving tens of dollars per grocery trip, shaving 60% off my food bill, and maybe I did shave off a significant percentage of what I might have paid, but again, I wound up with a lot of crap that I wasn't too keen on that I wouldn't have bought had I not had a coupon. Some people save tons of money using coupons, as this woman illustrated on Good Morning America, but I am not that woman. I've realized that paying attention to the weekly circular and basing my grocery list on that is far more conducive to the way I eat than is clipping every coupon that comes my way. However, there are a few items that I will not purchase without a coupon.
Cat food: The brand my cat eats (because it's the cheapest and his litter preferences are quite fancy) always has coupons. I don't think I've bought a bag without a coupon in the last three years or longer. I usually have two or more bags of food on standby, but who cares, it doesn't go bad and the cat doesn't care.
Hair Dye: Again, this is something you need pretty infrequently, but it can add up. $8-$10 a box is certainly a bargain compared to the salon, but I would still rather pay $5. Hair dye coupons are plentiful in Sunday papers, and if you're not too picky, you can get great deals. It's all the same anyway.
Shampoo & Conditioner: I'm not a fancy girl, I buy the stuff at Target because I grew up using salon quality and my hair looked the same. I've got a gnarly mop regardless, so I might as well have extra money to spend on other things. The brands I use are the brands that frequently have coupons available. Coincidence? Actually, yes, but a lovely coincidence. If I get a lead on a good coupon, I grab as many as I can, then note the expiration date and wait for that product to go on sale. Usually it will before the coupon expires, and I load up. This also means that I never find myself in the shower with no shampoo contemplating what will happen if I use bar soap. I always have backup.
Facewash: Sensing a theme here? Since most of the food items that give out coupons frequently are so processed that they better resemble sculptures of what perfect food looks like, I use coupons most frequently for beauty products. Many stores let you stack coupons as well i.e. use more than one coupon for a discount on the same item. If you find an item, have more than one coupon and the item is on sale--that's a glorious feeling.
So, where do you get all these glorious coupons? That's the easiest part of all, they're everywhere. The Sunday paper is the first place most people go for coupons, and it's a good place to start. Often, the coupons you really want are online, but there are a couple drawbacks to using those.
- I have not, as yet, been able to figure out a way to print from my home printer using only black and white ink. Often, you have to install a coupon printer on your computer, and it overrides your settings, and prints in color whether your want it to or not. Not much savings if you're blowing the extra money on ink cartridges.
- Printing coupons wastes a lot of paper. If you're printing a number of coupons from one site, it will put up to three on a page. If you're just printing a lone coupon from a manufacturer's site, usually they fill up the bottom of the page with advertising. Cruel and wasteful, this is.
Because of these drawbacks, I'm extra careful about which coupons I print, and I make a point to not grab more than I'll use.
Also many of the blogs in my sidebar post about coupons from manufacturers and other deals. There are also sites to buy coupons and trade coupons, but I'm not into all that.
If anyone has any feedback of other good sites, let me know.