I hate coupons. I consider myself frugal, and I love saving money, but grocery coupons just don’t do it for me. I’ve tried. About every 10 or 12 months, I forget that I hate coupons and decide that I could shave some money off our grocery bill if I just applied myself to couponing.
So off I go, looking through the various flyers that show up weekly, unbidden, in my mail box. I start scrolling through online couponing websites that are clearly run by women who really, really like scoring 7 boxes of Rice-A-Roni for 49 cents (not each, total). I start off looking for a good basic primer on how to just save a little money on the stuff I do buy, and very quickly I realize – again – that they don’t make coupons for the stuff I buy.
The vast majority of coupons are for food that I just don’t consider to be, um, food. Sorry to be quite obnoxiously elitist about the whole thing, but, Fruit Roll-Ups? Not food. Gatorage? Not food. Fritos? Not food, and they smell like wet dogs. Oreo-cookie flavored breakfast cereal? God help us all, definitely not food.
I’m not trying to be a buzz-kill about this, or suggest that one should never indulge in a big bowl full of Oreo-Os doused with Gatorade (okay, actually, I am saying you should never do that), but I’ve yet to see a manufacturer’s coupon for chard or beef or oranges. Perhaps this is because no one really manufactures chard or beef or oranges?
The YuppieHippie Coupons and the Chinook Book coupons are better, but even these are usually for products that I either don’t buy, make from scratch instead of buying, or buy in large bulk quantities.
Part of the problem is that the way I shop is not conducive to couponing. I buy my meat in bulk from a wholesaler so I “shop” for that from my freezer. I grow pretty much all our veggies, so I shop for that from my backyard. I grow some of our fruit, so that’s a backyard thing too, in season, and now I’m buying more of our “outside” fruit from an Eastern Washington farmer directly.
Couponing for real seems to necessitate that you really enjoy shopping – the going to multiple stores, the comparing of prices, the cross checking of coupons and sales and more coupons to get multiple value from your coupon currency. I totally understand the drive to score a deal, but faced with all that work, I’d just rather not buy whatever it is, even if it’d be practically free with enough coupons.
For me, and for my money and time, it’s just more fun to grow real food than work coupon alchemy to conjure up a whole cart full of practically free Not Food.
But I’ll never, ever go to the fabric store without a coupon. That’s completely different.
Are coupons an essential part of your money-saving strategy when grocery shopping, or do you also find limited use for them?