A few months ago, my husband, Kyle, asked me to try to do a better job saving money at the grocery store. We had just watched a marathon of the show, “Extreme Couponing”, and I suspect that (plus our shrinking budget!) might have inspired him… 😉
I had never made an overly huge effort to save money on groceries before, and I didn’t know where to begin. Everyone on the show seemed exhilarated by the thrill of the hunt for great deals, but I was worried and a little put out. I was used to grocery shopping without hardly even looking at prices, so the idea of scouring through coupons and trying to find rock bottom sale prices was daunting, to say the least.
Thankfully, Kyle didn’t expect me to achieve the kinds of savings they did on the show (often somewhere around 90% to 100%), or even anything close to that. He just wanted me to do “better”. I promised to make an effort, but my bad attitude remained.
Regardless of my attitude, however, based on some of the tips we’d picked up from “Extreme Couponing”, as well as some research we both did online, I was ready to get started.
Here’s a pic of part of my receipt from my first ever “extreme couponing” shopping trip:
As you can see, I saved over $100 and achieved a savings of 38% which was actually really good for a first attempt, but it wasn’t as good as I was hoping for…
Ironically, Kyle was actually really pleased, but I was upset. My pride was bruised. I hadn’t done as well as I had wanted to, and I still felt like I was spending a ton at the store, so even though my husband was happy, I wasn’t. I was only concerned with myself and my own experience. My heart still wasn’t in it, I was frustrated by my lackluster results, and I was fearful that I’d never be able to do a good enough job to make the extra effort of couponing worth it. In other words, sin in my heart was coming out all over the place!
God had given me an opportunity honor Him and my husband by being a good steward of the income He was providing for us, but my attitude was self-pitying and ungrateful… Yuck!
Thankfully, despite my sinful attitude, the Lord was so faithful to me!! After a few more frustrating shopping trips, some prayer (I knew that my attitude was bad!), and more research, God led me to an awesome website:
Jenny, from Southern Savers, lives in South Carolina, which is awesome since that’s where Kyle’s from! But, that means that her coupon and sale information really only covers the southeast part of the country. Her tutorials are still great, though, and she has some wonderful information to share. Her site really provided just the encouragement and information I needed.
One of the first things I learned was to not expect the kinds of savings seen on “Extreme Couponing”. For the show, those people buy only the very best deals that day in order to achieve amazing savings for TV, but those kinds of hauls aren’t realistic for real everyday living and eating. I suppose that’s probably obvious, but it hadn’t really occurred to me!
Another important point was that the biggest savings actually don’t come from using coupons, but rather from only buying things when they’ve finally dropped down to a rock bottom sale price. So, that means being on the lookout for an item’s price to drop below at least 40% of its original price. Then, if you can pare a coupon with that low sale price, so much the better!
What that meant was that realistically, shopping sales and couponing would probably yield savings of around 50% to 60%. Hanging on to brand loyalties would bring that percentage down a bit, and buying organic would lower it a little more.
So, after watching Jenny’s video, I realized that expecting certain savings and then not achieving anything close to that expectation was probably the biggest source of discouragement for me. Kyle and I have a few brand loyalties and prefer some organic products, so I figured I could expect to save around 40% to 50%. After a few weeks I was averaging around 40%, and I decided to give myself the goal of raising that up to 50%.
So, even though it might seem funny to say that God helped me learn to coupon, it really was an example of His faithfulness to me. Even in this small, seemingly insignificant part of daily life, He met me right where I was and helped me through it. He not only helped me realize my attitude was sinful so I could repent from it, but then He gave me the information I needed to move forward with the right heart attitude!
But, God wasn’t done with this issue yet! He also revealed another heart issue to me to be on the lookout for when couponing.