I am totally addicted to Extreme Couponing.
So much so that, I am ashamed to admit this, I actually DVR'd the show when I was out for the night.
Yeah, I don't think that is what DVR was invented for. (And doesn't the whole concept of DVR - paying more for something that could be quite cheap, go against the whole idea of Extreme Couponing?)
But, whatever. . . . I am completely addicted.
I have always been a sales/coupon freak. Half my college wardrobe came from Goodwill and other thrift stores - and I looked good, too. It was all name-brand, no-holes, fits-perfectly stuff. I just got fantastic deals on it. The other half of my wardrobe came from New York & Company or The Gap, when they had coupons for "Buy $75, get $25 off". And I would buy $75 dollars worth. . . of sale items. My total savings was always astronomical!
Or so I thought.
I mean, I really thought I was good at couponing and sales. After all, I had a closet full of great clothing for a third of the price.
Then I got pregnant with Bjorn, and as the budget reins tightened, I saw how it easy it was to save even more through groceries and household items.
Before, I had cut coupons, but used them haphazardly, and never after looking at the sales flyers. I began my new saving by shopping all sales, regardless of if I needed something or not; getting toothpaste and toilet paper and dish washing soap. For free! (In fact, in the last three years, I don't think I have ever bought toothpaste or dish soap. After coupons, it is always free. Free, people!!) Then I meal-planned according to what was on sale that week. Finally, I went to three/four/five different stores in order to get the best freakin' possible deal I could.
But my grocery bill was stuck at $150 a week. Which seems to be waaaay too much when there are only two and a half of us to feed.
How could I get that to go down? It was like my weight - once it was where it wanted to be, nothing could make it go any lower.
So, the first few times I watched Extreme Couponing, I was determined to learn something. Something I could put into action.
I learned that you can make your food bill be less than $4. . . but you can't have any fresh fruit or vegetables. In fact, no produce at all. All fruits and vegetables, if any, must be canned or frozen.
I learned that all meats you buy have "meat by-product" in them or are some un-recognizable mixed form of turkey, pork, beef, chicken and other "products". No real meats allowed.
I learned that some people actually have 300 bottles of Excedrin and 50 packages of Depends, even though they have never had a problem with migraines or incontinence.
I learned that kids shouldn't be expected to build forts under their beds, or store their toys in their closets, because those spaces are meant to be filled with 653 rolls of toilet paper and 92 bottles of Bleach and Windex.
And I learned that it is selfish - so incredibly selfish - to take all 65 bottles - every single last one - of Guldens Brown Mustard off the shelf just because you have a coupon that makes it free. Because the next person that needs that Guldens for a backyard family BBQ that started ten minutes ago, but just realized that they have no mustard, so had to run to the store to get some - will have to go to yet another store and take more time away from their fun, relaxing day. Because you decided it was more important for you to hoard 714 bottles of something that will expire in one year than to be a good, contributing member of society and share.
That being said, my total before discounts at the grocery store yesterday was $122.90. I saved $64.51 after coupons and store cards, with my total coming to a whopping $58.39. For the week! That's like a savings of 55% or something. I walked away with a cart full of milk, fresh bread, fresh vegetables and fruit, 2 dozen large eggs, 3 Snuggle fabric softeners ($2 each after coupons!!), 2 packages of Hebrew National hot dogs ($2 each!), 8 large yogurts ($.77 after coupon!), 3 packages of coffee - Tully's and Seattle's Best (less than $5 each), pasta, pasta sauces, a 24 roll of the good 3-ply extra strong Toilet Paper ($4 after coupon!) and much, much more.
I feel like I did good - especially when last night's dinner (spicy sausage and rice stuffed bell peppers) turned out fantastic, and tonight's dinner (Taco Thursday!) sounds delish as well. You can save without sacrificing.
Take that, Extreme Couponers. You may spend only $8 a week on groceries, but I eat oh so much better. And I leave a few mustards for others. Go back to kindergarten and share!