Years ago I was the veritable coupon queen. I was that crazy lady in the store with a trapper keeper open in the front of my cart, with baseball card sleeves filled with coupons. My husband said coupons were my crystal meth. There were times I would get the deals. I once left a Publix store with 3 apple juice, 3 apple sauce, and $1.20 in my pocket. In other words Publix paid me to take those items. It was sweet. I was in love with coupons. My pantry shelves were stocked with boxes of cake mix, cookie mix, cereal, toothpaste, hamburger helpers, instant potatoes, etc. Then I started to buy Sunday papers and the coupon inserts were missing. I would purchase at another store only to find them missing there too. Returning the papers for a refund was a headache, but I did it for a while. Calling the newspaper distributor was useless because once I finally received the inserts, a sale was missed. I suppose I should thank the individual who was stealing inserts out of the papers. That person allowed me time to open my eyes about real savings at the grocery store. What follows are the reasons for my epiphany.
1) Look at the above list of items I was getting cheap. These are highly processed foods, filled with additives, and preservatives. Rubic is allergic to High Frustose Corn Syrup. Really he is allergic to all corn products, but HFCS was the worst reaction and quickest. He would break out in hives. This allergy diagnosis was my start to mainly scratch baking. Scratch baking was the best way to keep that stuff away from him.
2) Storage space at our house is limited. I started to notice that even though I had 16 boxes of cookie mix that I bought for .25 each (totaling $4), in that same space I could place 6 5lb bags of flour (totaling then $6). I can get many more cookies (48 batches for that matter)with that flour than I would with those boxed cookie mixes ( for less than .25). Ever notice even with the mix you still have to add the oil or butter, egg, and water? Are there really steps save then? I would rather have the space.
3) Ever notice that the deals you get with coupons are the same deals alllllll the time. I ended up with all these boxes of cake mix, cereal, etc because that was what was on sale each time. Not a lot of variety. Only during the holidays would you find coupons for baking items. Then I was thrilled, but those deals were short lived and many times were for items I still rejected for the store brand or the Sam's brand.
4) I too used to read the articles about women that went to the store and bought $500 worth of groceries for $0.32. Those shopping trips are rare and take a while to plan. Many of the deals those women get come from coupons directly from the manufacturer as a refund or to replace a defective item. They don't come from the Sunday paper. And though she walked away with only paying $0.32, she invested a lot of time and money to acquire those coupons, That investment is never factored in the final grocery tally.
5) Coupons aren't what they used to be. They are worth less, expire sooner, and are more complicated to use.
Don't get me wrong, couponing is fun. The feeling of "sticking it to the grocery man" is sweet, but just remember, they aren't losing money on those transactions. And I'm not saying don't use coupons. I only sharing why I don't. If I get a coupon at the store or on a receipt,and i'm buying that item anyway, I will use it. I won't, however, buy an item just because I have the coupon. And I won't purchase a coupon in either a paper or online in order to use it. I do better buying the basics for items we consume, i.e flour, sugar, oil, etc. It takes the same amount of time to prepare the recipes with the basics as with the pre-made items. I believe I save more money doing it this way, and my family eats better. My grocery list no longer requires a degree in higher math. My grocery list remains the same every month because all I need are basics. When they go on sale I stock up. Removing coupon use from my grocery list has removed any drama associated with their use. I have never looked back.