Leslie's story is the 12th couponing journey we are sharing in our weekly series about how couponing works at your house. She grew up in NC and now uses her couponing skills to save money for her family of 4 at Harris Teeter and Kroger stores in Charlottesville, VA. Here is her story and how she makes couponing work in her home.
My great thanks to Leslie for sharing her story. She has good advice about being frugal in all aspects of her life, not just grocery shopping.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 Leslie's couponing journey:
"I grew up in Warren County, NC but have lived in Charlottesville, VA ever since graduation form UNC-CH in 1999. My family still resides in NC and a friend saw your blog post on WRAL.com and sent me the article. And so, I’m submitting this to you now.
My name is Leslie and I’m 36 yrs old.
How many people are in your household? 4: myself, my husband (38 yrs old), my daughters (7 and 5 yrs old)
Why did you start couponing? To SAVE money!! My husband is a contractor, home builder and the down turn in the economy and his lack of business in 2009 caused me to look closer at our spending and budget and what we needed to cut and how we could save.
How long have you been couponing? I took a get started class at a local library back in Aug 2009. It was taught by two ladies who at the time wrote their own couponing/deal saving blog
How much do you spend on groceries and non-food essentials per week? My budget and goal is $75, though there are weeks where I go over this amt.
How much do you save each week? On avg, 60% weekly…one of my best trips was a 85% savings!
How much time do you spend couponing and shopping each week? Probably 1 1/2 hrs total pulling out old coupons and sorting/organizing new ones and probably 30 mins to prepare for a trip. I do a lot of it at night after my kids have gone to bed and while I’m watching TV (I like to feel productive!)
How do you organize your coupons? I have a large binder filled with baseball card inserts. When I took the class, got this as a part of it. Part of this problem is that you may not be able to see all of the coupons if you have to put some behind others. But for the most part, I can see what I have and the expiration dates. I keep the binder in the car and that way if I need to stop somewhere for a quick trip, I have it with me at all times.
Where do you shop for groceries and non-food essentials? My favorite store is Harris Teeter…simply b/c of the super doubles they often run! I also like Kroger b/c of the fuel points (the more I spend, the more points I get which adds up to money off of my gas). My favorite drug store which I shop weekly is CVS. I have done Walgreens and Rite Aid but I always come back to CVS because they have the better and more frequent deals.
Do you have a weekly/monthly grocery planning/shopping routine? I usually go to the grocery store once a week…depending on who is running the better sale. Sometimes I may hit up more than one if I have time and there is a good sale on something I need. I also usually go to CVS once a week on Sundays or Mondays.
Does anyone else in your household help with couponing and saving? If so, how do they help? My husband cuts the coupons every Sunday. We get the local paper which comes with a set of inserts. I’ve asked my neighbors to save me theirs as well, so we’ll get 2-3 sets. They get different papers, so some of their inserts have some different coupons or the same coupons with higher values.
What’s the worst part about couponing? The time spent organizing myself
What’s the best part about couponing? The savings! Not paying for items like toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo…every day needs that I can get for free buy watching the sales and combing it with coupons and other rewards (ECBs at CVS)
Do you have a stockpile? Feel free to send a photo if you would like. My toiletries is my biggest stockpile. But for the past couple of yrs I’ve been taking a large part of it and donating it. Twice a year my church does a collection of these items for a local homeless shelter and I donate items to that (we don’t need 10 tubes of toothpaste at any one time). So now I look for free items and deals and will purposely buy those just so I can donate them to those in need.
Do you do any meal planning? If so, do you plan weekly, monthly or at the beginning of each day? Yes, I meal plan. I started doing this after about a year of couponing. I realized that what good is it to save and buy all of this food if I can’t use it. So now I plan my menu based on what’s on sale and what I have on hand. I do my planning weekly.
Do you have any words of wisdom for someone just getting started in couponing? Start out small….try one store at a time, follow the blogs and ask plenty of questions, even the managers at the stores will help in answering your questions. But don’t give up, even after 4 yrs of doing this I still make “mistakes”.
Is there anything else you want to share about your couponing journey? Once I began using coupons for my food and toiletry items, the deal finding carried over into other areas…shopping for gifts, looking for freebies and deals in the community. I love saving money and sharing with others what I know."