I was paying bills yesterday and discovered a trend that began in June of last year. That was the point that I became a serious couponer and started this blog. I had previously used coupons and saved 20-30% when I shopped. When I was shredding old documents at the end of the year I came across a bunch of 2007 receipts from grocery stores which were frequently around the $150 mark. I thought I was doing well at the time. I would choke if I had to do that now.
Here's the trend: We have been able to pay off $5,000 in credit card bills in eight months. Until that point our debt had remained stagnate or slowly increased. We have not gotten a raise (thanks to the economy) and our bills are still the same or more. The only thing that has changed is the way I shop. In that time I have filled our freezer and pantry until it will not hold any more. I've learned to stockpile, stack coupons and how to use the rules of the stores to my best advantage. We eat better than before. It will be years before I need to get toothpaste, hairspray, shampoo, razors, or soap. Even then I will know how to get it for free. I now donate to charity.
My advice to anyone starting this journey, pick one store to start (like CVS). Learn their rebate/coupon system, follow the bloggers who show you their purchases and learn the rules. Once you get the hang of it, move on to the next store. Get a good collection of coupons from multiple Sunday papers and from online. If you shop at Kroger, load all the coupons on your Kroger card that you can (Cellfire, eShortcuts & P&G). Study the circulars, shop the sales with coupons and stack store coupons with manufacturer coupons. It gets easier with practice.
My sister recently said to me, once you learn how to do this, it's like being in a club of people who know and the other shoppers are clueless to their detriment. Another person online said that if you don't get strange looks when you shop, then you are doing it wrong. For 5k, I am happy to suffer the strange looks and be a member of the club! Oh, and it's really fun to do!