Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Christi the Coupon Coach {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

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I often see bloggers talking about how much money they saved at either the grocery store or the drug store. I look at their piles of merchandise in amazement. Then I stop to think. Often I see foods that we don't eat because of food allergy reasons or products that we don't use. I think about the time the shopper must have invested in hunting for coupons, keeping track of them, and then shopping at multiple stores to get the best deals. I felt guilty about not using coupons, but I didn't know how to make it work for me.

 photo christithecouponcoachbook_zpsfd7911d1.jpgChristi the Coupon Coach makes couponing doable for all of us that don't have the time (or the desire) to be an extreme couponer. I read her Couponing Made Simple book and was immediately able to start saving money.

It doesn't feel right to share all of her great ideas in a book review so I'll focus on answering some of the biggest concerns I had about couponing.

How much time does it take?
On average, I spent an extra hour or so looking for deals online, printing coupons, and gathering up the coupons I already had at home. Honestly, I feared that serious couponing would take more time than it actually did.

Will it work if I usually shop at the military Commissary (which doesn't have double coupon days or a lot of advertised sales)?
Although it's true that I could find really awesome deals if I combine coupons with special offers at civilian grocery stores, I still found lots of good deals at the Commissary. After reading Christi's book, I was also inspired to figure out the Commissary's new rewards program which ended up saving me quite a bit.

I still think the overall bottom line is that I'm getting a better deal at the Commissary. Our family eats a lot of meat-based meals, and I rarely find deals on meat that are better than what I'm paying at the Commissary. I think I would have to shop at multiple grocery stores each week to be able to see significant savings over the Commissary when it comes to our family's food bill.

Will it work if I'm buying specific foods that are suitable for the food allergy restrictions in our family?
For a long time, I've used food allergies as an excuse not to bother with using many coupons. When I tried Christi's tips for several weeks, I found that there are indeed some coupons available for our allergy-friendly favorites. Not necessarily a lot of coupons, but there are some. One of the best things I can find at the Commissary lately are the $1 off any 2 Enjoy Life Foods products (chocolate chips, granola bars, granola, etc).

Even if I can't find coupons for some items, I am thankful for ways that I can reduce the other expenses on our grocery bill. When I find big coupons for regular ice-cream, it means that I can afford to pay more for the teeny tiny cartons of safe ice cream or sorbet for Lauren. If I'm having a great day and get lots of toiletries for only pennies, then I don't cringe quite so much when I buy the container of Lauren-safe yogurt that costs $1.75.

And, finally, how much money can I save?
Over the past month, I've had at least $20 worth of coupons redeemed during my big shopping trips to the Commissary. I've found, however, that it's really, really hard to get an exact figure on how much money I saved. My receipts have a total coupon amount on the bottom of them, but I don't think it tells the whole story. I sometimes use a coupon that makes a more expensive item a little bit cheaper than my normal brand, but I wouldn't say that I save the full amount of the coupon. Similarly, I've used some coupons on items simply because the item was free. Getting a free item is nice, but I don't consider that a true savings either.

I also had a really good deal that I found using my CVS loyalty card. They had overnight pull-ups on sale for the price that I normally pay, and I earned $12 in Bonus Bucks when I stocked up by buying three packages at one time.

Was Couponing Made Simple worth reading?
Yes, definitely. I no longer make excuses about why I can't coupon. I know that I won't always be able to invest the time needed to get the greatest deals, but I have the tools I need to be able to see some savings on a regular basis. I was also inspired to search out a few good back-to-school deals so that my typical stockpile cost less this year.

Couponing Made Simple can be purchased as a paperback book for $18 or as a Kindle edition for $4.99.


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  1. I sat out this one because we the only coupons we really ever use are the 25-cents-off Domino sugar. (How's that for irony?), and I would spend more in gas than I'd save at the register running around from store to store. I may have to at least reconsider paying more attention CVS (heaven knows we are there enough!).

    1. CVS can have some great deals. I figure that if I can get a lot of toiletries, cleaning stuff, and paper products for free, then I have more money to spend on the rest of the food.



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