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When you hear the word “couponing,” what do you think of?
Hey y’all, Tiffany here.
For me, I remember my mother sitting every Sunday evening at the kitchen table, intently pouring over the weekly ads and clipping the newspaper coupons. She spent hours each week preparing and executing each shopping trip, only to save a few dollars. (Although, a couple of dollars was quite a lot of money back in…..well, let’s just say that when I was kid, it was quite a few years ago!)
This image is what came to my mind two years ago when, at a church activity focused on emergency preparedness, a woman in our church raised her hand and stated she used couponing to help build an emergency supply of food to have on hand in her home. I started to tune her out until she said, “I haven’t paid more than $.50 for a box of Cheerios in years, and I always get my toothpaste and shampoo for free.”
After that meeting, several of us surrounded her and begged her to teach us her ways. At the time, I had been deciding to go from being a full-time math teacher to staying at home with our first child. This decision was being forced on me a bit. I had always planned to be a SAHM when I started having children, but this was definitely a surprise pregnancy. It was our first year of marriage, my husband was in his last year of undergrad, and I was going to be the breadwinner!
All of our plans were falling apart: in addition to a difficult pregnancy, I had spent the year before in and out of the hospital with severe health problems. Instead being excited to stay home with my daughter, I was feeling nervous. We were going from two incomes to one, and we now had expensive medical bills to pay off.
I was looking for ways to shrink our budget, by any means necessary. I braced myself for hours of work, repeating that it would be worth it. Imagine my surprise when our first meeting with her took less than 30 minutes, and I ended up saving over 50% on my groceries that week!
Now it’s been two years, and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’ve saved! But what I can tell you is that I’ve discovered a trend with some types of items. Every few months, a sale and a coupon will coincide and these items will be free (or close to it). Now, it’s impossible for me to tell you when that will happen, so it’s important to check our weekly coupon matchups (where we match each item in ads with corresponding coupons) to see what the deals are for that week.
But in the meantime, here is a list of items that I rarely pay anything for, along with the store I purchased the pictured items at. Every single item on this list I have gotten for free (or very close to it) multiple times, with different brands. To learn how, check out our couponing post here (or here for a child-friendly post)
Toothpaste and toothbrushes
Feminine care pads and tampons
Shampoo and conditioner
Hair gel and styling products
Cereal (not just Cheerios)
Goldfish (and other similar snacks/cookies, like Oreos or Nutter Butters)
Sunscreen, cleaning supplies, and hand soap
Baby wipes (the diapers I get for less than $2 per bag)
An earlier version of this post was originally published on The Crazy Shopping Cart