My husband thinks I am obsessed with extreme couponing. I admit that I never actually saw the Extreme Couponing show. Nevertheless, I have been a crazy coupon lady, clipping grocery coupons and getting the best deals on groceries that I can find.
I’ve always believed in coupons, but my dedication to using them had fallen off and become sporadic. I needed the focus of getting out of debt to really step up my game in order to reduce our grocery bill even more and to get out of debt. My goal is to actually come under the amount that we budgeted for groceries and sweep that extra money over into paying off debt. I think that is a good goal, but it has been an interesting ride.
In the last few weeks, I’ve had some major successes, such as the grocery receipt that shows more than $100 worth of groceries for which I paid only $3.94. But I’ve also had some negative experiences, such as nearly being in tears when the second grocery store that we hit had been completely cleaned out of the deals. The shelves were swept bare by other extreme couponers. Someone had gotten there first, and I saw all of my hard work, the hours spent putting the coupons and deals together wasted.
That was this past week, and it was a hard one. After the third trip to a store without any shopping, I took a deep breath, reconfigured my deals and moved on. I didn’t get the extreme couponing savings I might have gotten otherwise, but I still saved more than 50 percent off of the grocery bill. Plus I did get one rain check for later.
My husband tried to put things in perspective and bring me back down to reality. Was it worth it if I got an overwhelming sense of anxiety when I prepared for a shopping trip? Was I compromising our health? We hadn’t bought any meat for a month, and while we survived on the meat we had in the freezer plus beans for protein, I knew we couldn’t keep it up forever. The actual amount of fresh fruit that was coming into the house was pathetic. The point was to be purposeful with our money. Get bargains, yes, but if it took a little more money to feed us, so be it.
The extreme couponing has its place, and I’ll continue to clip coupons and do store match ups. But I’ll also make sure that there is a little extra wiggle room in the budget for fresh produce until the CSA kicks in and whatever meat is on sale.
I know these beans and rice days won’t last forever and that it is okay if I indulge in buying yogurt (although the store brand) for myself. Extreme couponing can say, in check, but the guilt at not getting groceries for pennies has got to go.