WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Cindy's couponing story!

Posted May 13, 2013


Cindy's story is the tenth couponing journey we are sharing in our weekly series about how couponing works at your house. She feeds a family of 3 and saves $100 or more every week! Wow! Here is her story and how she makes couponing work in her home.

My great thanks to Cindy for sharing her story. Her advice about not running to every store to get every deal each week is excellent. I met Cindy about 8 years ago when I taught a coupon class (at her house I think!). It's great to see that she is still so successful with her couponing.

I also want to thank everyone who has sent me their stories so far! I look forward to sharing them every week.

If you would like to share your couponing story, it's not too late. Just send me an answer to the questions below at saving@smartspendingresources.com.  We would love to read your story!  To see the previous stories, click the links in the box above. As long as you all keep sending in your personal couponing stories, I will post them on the blog for everyone to enjoy.

Here is Cindy's couponing journey:

How many people are in your household?

Three people, although with a teenage boy, you might as well say I feed four or 5 as he eats 6 meals a day. :-)

Why did you start couponing?

To save money. Be a better steward of God's resources.

How long have you been couponing?

Off and on about 20 years, but about 7 1/2 or 8 years ago I attended 1 of your classes and I have stuck with it. Your method made coupons easier to find, and just made more sense.

How much do you spend on groceries and non-food essentials per week?

$80- $90

How much do you save each week?


How much time do you spend couponing and shopping each week?

Around 2 - 2 1/2 hours although if there are triples or super doubles I spend more time with shopping and couponing.

How do you organize your coupons?

In a binder, but not in the baseball card holder. I cut all the coupons and put them in an envelope in special files in the binder and then look in there to find what I need. I used to do it that way, but with the coupon expiration dates getting shorter and shorter by the time they were filed it seemed I was pulling expired coupons.

Where do you shop for groceries and non-food essentials?

Usually Walgreens and CVS for non-groceries or at least a lot of them, and mainly for groceries, Harris Teeter, and sometimes Lowes Foods. I also have my hubby do Aldi's produce deals since he works near one.

Do you have a weekly/monthly grocery planning/shopping routine?

Not really. I purchase what is on sale (with extras), and because I have a decent stockpile of items I use what I have to plan our meals. As far as when I shop, it depends on when I am going to be near the store, especially if it is HT or Aldi's as they are quite a distance from my home, so I plan those shops when I am in the area to save on gas.

Does anyone else in your household help with couponing and saving? If so, how do they help?

My husband will do Aldi's runs and will help me if I ask, but both he and my son prefer to enjoy the fruits of my labor, and not the actual labor. :-)

What’s the worst part about couponing?

Purging expired coupons, I think it is a combination of having to go through them, and feeling like you are getting rid of 'free money'.

What’s the best part about couponing?

Saving 50% or more (usually more) on anything I buy. I just can't stand to pay full price for anything.

Do you have a stockpile? Feel free to send a photo if you would like.

Yes I have a stockpile, but it is a bit messy so no photos from me. I do know where everything is at. :-)

Do you do any meal planning? If so, do you plan weekly, monthly or at the beginning of each day?

I plan pretty much at the beginning of the day what we are going to have, based on what my family wants and what I have time to cook. I always thought that if you figured out what you were going to have at the beginning of the day it really didn't count as 'meal planning'. However this is how I have done it all my life and it seems to work, so if it isn't broke, don't fix it.

Do you have any words of wisdom for someone just getting started in couponing?

I think some people think you have to run all over town to grocery shop and get the best deals. I generally do a CVS and Walgreens quick run each week if they have stuff for free or close to it. I generally try to go to Harris Teeter every week to get their best deals and I pick up veggies (or my hubby does) at Aldi's. That is generally the extent of my grocery and toiletries shopping unless there are triples or super doubles and then I try to go to the store with the special couponing event 2 or 3 times if possible.

When people start off because they don't have a stockpile they are not going to save 50% and greater right at the start, but any savings is better than none. As people get more use to couponing and getting a stockpile then they can shop only the best deals.

I don't save like a lot of people that post on WRAL, but that is okay with me. I am glad for the savings I do get. I could save more by doing more trips, but I chose not to use my time that way, I still save quite a bit of money.

Is there anything else you want to share about your couponing journey?

Don't compare yourselves to others! Start small and work your way up, and be grateful for what you do save. Also use the tools that you have like printing off Faye's list and taking it with you shopping. (I do it ALL THE TIME!)



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  • smolder13 May 14, 2013

    My stockpile looks like a total disaster and I wouldn't share pics either! But I know where everything is, so it's ok. :)

  • bcde May 14, 2013

    I have a large notebook, and at one time I used the baseball cards for filing my coupons. Now I have plastic sleeves that are labeled for the categories such as baking, cereal, etc. I file my coupons in an envelope inside the sleeve and pull it out when I need it at the store. The baseball cards for me took too much time, since coupons now only seem to last about a month. I also clip all the coupons that come in the paper because I am not brand specific and will buy whatever is on sale for most items. Thus with the baseball card method there were a lot of coupons to file. This method takes a little longer in the store to find what I want, but a LOT less time with filing and discarding the outdated coupons.

  • wildfrenchrose May 14, 2013

    Cindy, would you mind going into more detail on your organization method? Still struggling a little to find what works best for me...

  • jdouglas13 May 13, 2013

    Cindy, thanks for sharing your story with us! When our 'adopted' nephew was a teenager (and not being moms ourselves), we could not believe the amount of food that child could pack away and still be looking for more. Truly staggering!

    I have spent a lot of time with a group of friends over the years whose motto is Identify, Don't Compare, and I always thought it was wonderful advice. I think when folks list their spending/savings amounts for the SD type events, it doesn't include things for which we don't often get coupons like meat and produce. Those numbers are just for the freebies and almost freebie items.

    I have a few grocery bags of noodles hanging in my pantry on wall hooks because I ran out of shelf space, so I'm right there with you in the slightly messy club :)

    Final words, if you have a menu for the day set up in the morning, I would definitely say it's a meal plan!

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper May 13, 2013

    corbin - I am sure you are not the only one with a less than perfct looking stockpile! My stockpile has moments of utter chaos and times of fabulous organization. Right now I am somewhere in between. :-)

  • corbin04 May 13, 2013

    Good to know i'm not the only one w/a messy stock pile lol! Enjoyed reading your story :)

  • bcde May 13, 2013

    bcde is the 'handle' and I can't believe it has been almost 8 years either. I am so grateful for the money we have saved. It has allowed us to go on trips and do other things that we otherwise could not afford to do!

  • Faye Prosser - Smart Shopper May 13, 2013

    Cindy, I still can't believe it has been 8 years since you took that class! Think of all the money we have both saved since then!!

  • ncveteranswife May 13, 2013

    Thanks for sharing.....What is your "handle" on the blog??

  • raesmom1612 May 13, 2013

    Im glad you put "don't compare yourself to others" in there Cindy, that was one of the first things I had to learn (and am still learning) not to do. You may save more than me but you may not be buying what im buying, that's what I tell myself. Thanks for sharing your story!!