One frugal tip that I always scoffed at was cutting coupons. I had plenty of reason to scoff: it takes too long, I never buy name brand anyways, it’s all for processed foods we don’t eat, I’d never remember to take them to the store. Reality was that I’d never really looked into the art of using coupons and maybe that was a good thing.
Turns out that couponing or Qing is quite an elaborate system thanks to people’s obsessive natures to save a few dimes (or many dimes) and the wonderful community building aspect of the internet. A friend told me how much money she saves and all the free products she gets and I made the mistake of looking into the sport of using coupons, a mistake that cost me about 5 hours of my time so far. I looked it over, read everything over and over again (maybe I’m dense, but this stuff can be confusing), and finally think this is something I could get into on a small scale.
There are a two things going for coupons that has me interested: I already subscribe to the daily paper and I need to save money. That seems like simple enough motivation. I still feel like coupons are often for items that I typically don’t buy and this is where the wonderful world of FREE comes in. Now, I’m not someone that has to get something because it’s free, but I do like taking advantage of opportunities when I find them. While I usually don’t buy items like cereal bars or frozen meals, I would bring them home if they were free or darn close to it. The partner can use them for snacks and meals at work and it’s often nice to have a dinner alternative around for those night when no one feels like cooking — plus any food with a $0.00 cost is a budget bonus right now. Another reason to try it out is that with all the internet sites out there supporting the coupon habit, I don’t think it will take much time in my extremely busy schedule. I don’t have to actually clip any coupons unless I need to. Coupons get filed away by date, intact with the insert they came in, and I wait until a handy dandy coupon database tells me there is an awesome sale that is too good to pass up. When such sales come along, the database tells me where to find the coupons I need, so I clip only when it’s worthwhile.
I admit that there is still a lot for me to scoff at, but I’m going to hold back on my coupon-clipping-criticism for a couple months and give it a try. My first adventure into playing the coupon game will be a trip to CVS to pick up some free items and start the ball rolling. I’ll try to update with how things go, but don’t hold your breath, you might have notice the intense lack of posting over the past two years.