June 4, 2009

A Very Good Place to Start

When I quit my job in December of 2008 just prior to my daughter's birth, I decided that since I would not be bringing income into the household, that it was now my job to make sure that I let as little as possible go OUT of the household budget. I had seen news story after news story and blog after blog about those "coupon ladies," the "Stay-at-Home/Work-At Home Moms" who - with fancy coupon binder in hand - can buy two grocery carts of groceries for thirty-five cents and have so much extra dry goods stored up hither and thither that they could pretty much serve as fall-out shelters in the case of a national emergency/natural disaster. To me, this was all well and good but I was not looking to be able to feed a city with my free Rice-A-Roni, I just wanted to make sure that when I went to the grocery store I got the best deal on the foods I needed/wanted that I could possibly get.

Since getting a ninety-eight cent Sunday newspaper and all it's glorious ads and coupon inserts is my only investment into the process, I started playing the "Coupon vs. Grocery Circular" game on a regular basis about a month ago. The first time I saw my "total savings" hit over $40.00, I knew I was hooked. I've yet to hit the magic number of "$0.00" for a cart full of staples, but that's due in part to the fact that I am pretty brand loyal, I try to buy organic foods when possible, and I don't buy stuff that I know my husband and I won't eat.

So where does this blog and this experiment fit into my newly found past-time, you ask? Well, about 10 days ago, I found myself wondering if a person could live solely on what they could buy with coupons. At first I thought, "Oh, no problem!" but then I started to see some flaws in the plan. How often do you find coupons for fresh meat or produce? Rarely. And of those, how often is it for organic items? And then there is the trouble of buying anything beyond food or cleaning supplies, since items like gas and clothing are even less likely to have a coupon attached to them.

When I raised the question of possibly doing this with my husband, he thought it was an interesting idea. Of course, he would think that, because he travels for his business and wouldn't really have to participate out of necessity. But he helped me flesh out what I thought should be the "rules" for the experiment, so to speak. And here they are:
  1. I begin the 30 days with a full tank of gas. This is the only "prep" I'm allowing myself to do.
  2. The one item I can buy without a coupon is the Sunday paper, because that's where coupons live.
This experiment raises interesting questions that I look forward to answering. One thing I will be keeping close tabs on is how much money I spend/save. This comes into play especially when using coupons that require a multiple item purchase to use the coupon. I will keep a record of what I buy and how much it costs versus how much I might have spent buying only one of the item without the coupon/buying the store brand of that same item. Another thing I am watching for is the healthfulness (healthiness?) of foods that put out coupons. It would be nice not to have to live off of pasta and cereal for the month, but we'll see!

So please stay tuned to see how my adventure pans out. As a breastfeeding mother, I have to at least eat well enough to keep my milk production up! And I would definitely prefer, as a person who has some baby pounds left to lose, if I didn't derail all the work I've done so far to get close to my pre-pregnancy weight!


KuryKidsMommy said...

OH, this is an exciting experiment! I look forward to seeing how everything turns out. Don't forget about all the BOGO items, too. They count!

Anonymous said...

Where do you usually shop? I ask because Kroger sends us great coupons in the mail...they have really started paying attention to what I buy with my Kroger Plus card and reward me accordingly. I get coupons for organic milk, Kroger brand frozen vegetables, the occasional FREE dozen eggs, $1.50 off a $5 or greater purchase of fresh produce, and so on. Since the coupons come to me in the mail, unsolicited, they wouldn't violate the terms of your experiment...would they?
Good luck with this! It will be interesting to read how it works out for you.

Callie said...

Ok- so are you using other things besides the Sunday paper? I use the ones I get in the mail- Clipper Magazine, Valupac and other stuff like that. There is another little magazine that comes too. I don't know if I'll get them at my new place, but I'm sure you get them.They have restaurants and services- so maybe you can throw in a mani/pedi! Since you have the Bean, don't forget about all of the ones in Upstate Parent.
And - are you going online for all of them? I got a free candy bar (snickers, m&ms or others I can choose from) from signing up for it at realchocolate.com . I think WalMart matches other store's circular ads.

I am sure I am telling you all of these things that you already know!

Oh- and Coke rewards points- all of those Coke Zero caps and 12 packs- I can get free coke zero 20 oz. all day long!!

Callie said...

Also- If you need movie, Biltmore, carowinds or six flags tickets- we sell them at work for a great discount!

Whitney Bouknight said...

Do you have a Rite Aid near you? They have crest toothpaste and skin clinic wart remover for FREE this week with their rebate program (which you can do online without even using a stamp!). And Suave deodorant is only $0.49.