Spend your money wisely

A few years ago my family and I were struggling to save money.  Everything and anything we could do to save a buck was on the table.  We were one of those families who lived almost exclusively on generic brand foods.  We figured it’s pretty much the same thing just without all the fancy packaging.  It tasted the same for the most part and it really was no big deal.  Unfortunately, we were still spending what we considered a lot for a family of four at the grocery store: about $80-110 per week.  I don’t know if that’s average, low or too much, all I know is it was still high for our budget.  Every once in a while we used coupons for ‘luxury items’, but that only saved a few cents and in the grand scheme of things didn’t even put a dent in the bill.

One day, however, something clicked in my wife’s head A Beautiful Mind style and she became a coupon fanatic.  Some call her an extreme couponer, but it’s not like we’re buying a hundred tubes of toothpaste or anything, we just buy normal groceries.

Using coupons in isolation is pretty much useless in the scheme of an overall budget.  Their real value comes in using many and multiple at a time.

Close enough

Our weekly grocery bill has dropped nearly 50% on average (and many times as high as 70% when she’s on her game).  When we do spend what we used to, we get two to three times as much food for the price.  Our average savings coordinating sales and using coupons is between $40-70 per week.  Tonight for example, we filled two grocery carts to the brim and spent $105.  The pre-coupon and member card savings total was over $200.  That’s real money, cash-in-pocket.  What’s more is we are stocked full of name brand foods.  Once every couple weeks we donate to one of the local food banks — not because we have hearts of gold, rather it’s to make room for a new wave of groceries.  Two birds with one stone really.

The reason I decided to veer from my regular subject matter is because we just put into perspective how much we actually save.

We moved to the opposite end of town about five months ago, and so we use a new super market.  So far in only the five months, we have saved an entire month’s mortgage payment.  That means on average over the course of a year, a full two and a half mortgage payments are in our pockets rather than the supermarket’s — and we have twice as much food at our disposal as when we shopped only generic.

It doesn’t stop there.  If we include toiletries: soap, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toilet paper, deodorant  razors, shaving cream et al, we save roughly another $2500-3000 annually.  Combining coupons with sales and other discounts at CVS, we haven’t paid for these things at all since my wife began her endeavor.

I don’t share all this to brag (well, maybe a little), it’s more of a wake up and save your money!  It is so much simpler than anyone would think.  I believe too many people think it is too complex and time consuming.  There also seems to be the misconception that it’s only a few cents (remember, that’s only in isolation), but they’re wrong.

If you aren’t coordinating your grocery shopping, you must have money to burn.

What could you do with an extra $6500 a year?


  1. My wife was never a coupon “freak”, though we use coupons for a local restaurant we patronize once per week (it’s our family treat which I’d like to reduce to every other week). However, since we’ve recently decided to step up our debt reduction program, I will have her take a look at your story. I’ve heard tales like yours before, and I know that coupons can be had in a variety of ways, including internet sites.

    • Oh yeah Marshall. Internet, Sunday papers, restaurants, clothing stores. We don’t buy anything without a coupon. There’s a local radio station that has deals with local restaurants all over the state that sells gift certificates at half-price or more. $25 certs for 12, etc. There’s no limitation because its a gift certificate.

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