Penny Pinching
Amy Yates-Garmatz offers tips to save money while shopping.

Couponing: The Start to Financial Freedom

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    NEWSLETTERS

    I've been meaning to sit down & explain just how much couponing has changed me. But I never seem to find the time. I'm not a creative writer by nature and writing for leisure is so much more difficult for me than writing for business reasons. I suppose its partly due to vulnerability and the personal nature of the subject at hand. But here goes...

    The title of this post is a bit much, I know. And I know exactly what you're thinking. "This girl has finally lost it...she thinks coupons are a quick fix to financial success!" Well, you're close. I don't just think, I KNOW that couponing as a method of spending/saving can certainly set you up for financial freedom. I know it, because its happened to me.

    For the first time in my adult life, I have a financial plan. And it started with couponing...one coupon at a time.

    Prior to learning about this crazy lifestyle known as fanatical couponing, I thought I was frugal. I didn't shop at grocery stores because I knew their prices were more expensive than Wal*Mart. I didn't shop at Target. Everyone knows their prices are higher, right? So while I thought I was making the best decisions when it came to spending money, I was really only saving pennies on the dollar. I think back now on what I use to spend my money on and I cringe. How could I have not known there was a better way?

    Now that I'm almost 2 years into my couponing journey, I know so much better. I know that I was wasting my money when I purchased items like shampoo, deoderant, toothpaste, razors, cleansers, and soaps. I know now that its not necessary to EVER pay for any of these items if I match my coupons with store sales. I also know that when I thought I was saving at Costco, I was really spending more. It's not that I think Costco has high prices - I actually think they are a terrific store with some terrific bargains. But everytime I shopped at Costco, I walked out the door with something I never intended to buy in the first place.

    Little by little, I recognized how much further I could stretch a dollar. I have saved thousands of dollars over the course of this last year and it all started with couponing. But that was only the tip of the iceberg.

    Slowly, I started to watch my pennies more and more. Why pay $2 for something when I could wait a few weeks and get it for free? Sounds trivial when you look at it on a per-purchase basis, but what I quickly found was that that initial $2 grew into $20, $50, and soon $100 WEEKLY.

    When I saw how much money I was saving, I started to become eager to save in other ways. Quite honestly, I stopped shopping at Costco. As it is now, I stop at Costco for dog food, a pizza, and regularly for gas.

    Then I started to look at my discretionary spending. Did I really want to spend $4 at Starbucks when I know I could buy 3 bags of groceries for that same $4? No way.

    Did I really need to buy a $40 blouse when I knew that could easily be my entire weekly budget? Not a chance.

    Why throw towels in my cart while I was at Wal*Mart when I could use a free $10/10 Kohl's card to buy them for pennies? No need to buy make-up, I have a box full at home that I got for free. A birthday coming up? Why not make up a gift basket of goodies I bought for pennies or shop from my gift closet at home?

    Slowly - and then quickly - my spending habits started to change. Over a period of months, the difference was dramatic.

    Fast forward 18 months and I have a healthy savings account for the first time in my life. And I have an annual financial plan to boot. I'm within 26% of reaching my year-end savings goal and I just may surpass it.

    Last year, I eliminated my credit card debt. I did it by couponing. I saved hundreds of dollars every month and I used that money to pay off my debt. This year, I'm focused on my savings account. Next year, I'm planning on buying a new car...and a car payment is not part of my plan.

    Coupons changed my financial life. Not because I saved hundreds of thousands of dollars on toothpaste, but because they showed me just how much value my $1 held. And now I refuse to settle for less.

     The opinions above are just that - my opinion along with some life experiences thrown in for fun. I'm not a financial advisor, nor do I aspire to be. My journey is probably similar to some of yours and quite different from others. I'd love to hear from you & how you have successfully improved your household spending habits.