Two Letters Re: Extreme Coupon Prepping

Mister Rawles;
Someone recently mentioned that some people buy too much stuff with coupons that they can’t possibly use up.  Also there was someone who usually buys “cheap” products like V05 shampoo, etc.  I have been couponing for four years.  My husband is a pastor and we took a lesser-paying church about the time the economy went South.  Then we added a family member.  I prayed and asked the Lord what to do.  We were spending $500-to-$600 each month on groceries with me trying to buy less expensive stuff, cheaper cuts of meat, etc.  I have always lived a frugal life.

The Lord helped me.  I met a lady having a “grocery garage sale”.  She gave me two pieces of advice.  Check out and combine coupons with sales and rebates. I was using coupons at Wal-mart with little results.  But when I started reading the info on, it changed our financial life.

That site and many more will show you how to match the coupons in the Sun. paper with the sales and rebates that week.  You must do your homework about each stores coupon rules.  The pharmacies are the best places to shop.  CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid are the ones in my town.  They all have a “rebate” system.  My local CVS pharmacy will double coupons that are 50 cents or less.  If you can combine sales, with your coupon on an item that has a store “rebate” or even a manufacturer rebate, many times it is free or very inexpensive. Sometimes if the coupon goes over the amount of the sale price minus the rebate, you actually profit.

Again, you must do your homework on the store policies.  Ingles is a great grocery store.  They double coupons.  Also, if you have to bring an item back because it was overpriced, they will give you your money back.  It’ free.

All of this can be very confusing, but God can help you learn like He did me.  I always pray before I leave the house that He will guide me in the decisions I make, to not let me make mistakes, and to show me what to do. 

Be very careful filling out manufacturer rebates to ensure each thing they ask for is done and on time.  The store rebates are easier.  But you must be sure to use of these “vouchers”, etc. or they will expire.  The way I do it is to paper clip them and keep them in my purse so that I never forget them at home. Most cashiers are gracious to you if you are nice to them on a weekly basis.  Build a relationship with them.  Do your homework.  Don’t give them expired coupons.  Ask for help when you aren’t sure of something.  Get rain checks if they are sold out of stock. Most stores will allow you to come right back in and correct a mistake.  One time in the beginning, I forgot to use my coupons and it was a lot of difference in price.  So, I humbly asked the cashier if we could do anything.  She graciously let me “fix” it. Always check your receipt before you leave the store. It can be confusing at first, it does take some time.  Now I go to three pharmacies each week in about 2 to 2-1/2 hours.  Combine that with my weekly trip to Ingles and I save about half on my grocery bill.

One more thing, all that overage you end up buying – sell it on occasion at a yard sale. Charge less than Wal-Mart.  Make sure nothing is expired.  Medicines run out fast.  It helps you and the people who don’t know what you know. Blessings, – Georgia Girl

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I read your blog regularly and especially enjoy the links to news stories that truly matter.  I don’t generally contribute, but I felt the need to share my couponing success after the mixed reviews of couponing as a stockpiling strategy.  I have been couponing since way before it was trendy.  I have seen the TLC coupon show (once). I cook from scratch for my family and many others, and as a homeschooling single-income family we do everything on a budget.

In my experience, the TLC show is unrealistic and silly.  Those are truly extraordinary circumstances when they walk away from a store with so much for mere pennies.  Questions have been raised whether the participants are even couponing ethically. Coupon fraud is a crime and I wonder if TLC’s sequel will be “Coupon Junkies” and filmed at a rehab clinic or correctional facility. 

I save around 50% off my total grocery bill with coupons, and not on TV dinners and snack cakes either! It is as much work as a part-time job, you must enjoy bargain hunting, and shopping trips with coupons take hours. I regularly score items including barbeque sauce, razors, shampoo, real meat (not bologna and hot dogs), baby wipes, dog food, cosmetics, detergent, socks and underwear, canning supplies, feminine hygiene products, over the counter meds, pasta, toilet paper, and even organic produce for free or pennies on the dollar and sometimes stores even pay me to walk out with the items.

I contact the manufacturers of the items I like using. Earthbound Farms will send you coupons on their organic produce if you email or call them, including coupons for free products.  Two weeks ago I cashed mine in for two giant clamshell containers of baby mixed greens, saving myself $12 while I awaited my own salad ingredients that had just germinated. Kashi is another company to contact for great coupons on healthier food, or call the 1-800 number on your favorite grocery items’ packaging and ask if they will send you coupons.  You may be surprised by what turns up in your mailbox.

Target is indispensable to my coupon shopping strategy because they offer free printable store coupons on their web site that you can combine with manufacturer’s coupons for the same item.  If the author of the previous letter does not want his $1.50 off a scented candle coupon I will gladly take it.  Twice every year Target pays me fifty cents each to leave with Glade scented candles after store coupon, manufacturer’s coupon, and free gift card offer. I have quite the stash of them despite sharing them with others and giving them as gifts or tucking them in gift baskets. They are just as useful as any other candle in a lights-out situation.

Coupons are hard work, and don’t apply to everything I need to purchase.  They certainly don’t cause me to purchase items I won’t or shouldn’t use unless the item is free and I can donate it.  I also save by buying my wheat and grains at the local grain elevator and grinding them myself, watching for grocery deals on Amazon (they include free shipping and I have added greatly to my coffee, peanut butter, and cereal stashes with some great deals I didn’t have to leave my driveway for), and growing a large garden and preserving things myself.  We have also purchased whole hogs and cattle and paid for processing. If you have the freezer space or desire to jerk and can a ton of meat this can feed your family T-Bones for hamburger prices.  You can also see how your dinner was grown.  I grow my own chickens and eggs for the same reasons.

In closing, there is a difference between stockpiling and hoarding.  If you can honestly and ethically acquire 272 toothbrushes or 98 bottles of mustard, then find a worthy cause and donate some! Sales and coupons run in cycles and you will most likely be able to come by some more. True hoarding is wasteful and selfish. Stockpiling is responsible and prudent and I believe God smiles on us for it and thank Him regularly for making it possible.  I hope my experience can be helpful to others.

Sincerely, – Minnesota Rose