Diving for Dollars


If only my arms were just a little longer … Almost there … So close …

These were my thoughts this Monday, dressed in my work clothes, leaning into a dumpster located at a neighborhood gas station, coupons just out of reach. Now, don’t feel sorry for me; don’t pity me. I’ve got a plan. And these are lengths I go to to collect my coupons. I remember when I initially began clipping, a woman I sought savings advice from offered to surrender her dumpster to me because she had found a new one.

Reveling in my first haul.
Reveling in my first haul.

Um, excuse me? I don’t think I knew what she was talking about. A dumpster? Huh? She informed me that it was a chest-high recycling dumpster containing just cardboard and newspaper. Well, I thought, I’ll give it a try. And here I am, more than nine months later and you can find me on Sundays or Mondays grabbing armloads of newspapers to sift through, saving valuable coupons from their demise at a recycling center. Now I realize what a generous gift that woman gave me.

I’m certainly not an Extreme Couponer, but I estimate that I save about 33% – 38% on the average on my grocery bills. I use a combination of methods to save: I get my own coupons from newspaper inserts, family and friends give me what they don’t want or use, and I occasionally write to companies that sell some of my favorite products to tell them how much I love their product and then request coupons. I have written honest emails to businesses to tell them that I buy their stuff often but can never seem to find coupons for my favorite products. Many times I have received nice thank you letters and coupons for free stuff! I never buy coupons, which I know some people do, and I never, ever lie to companies to say that I wasn’t satisfied with the product looking to score something for free. I find it really gross when people do this — and they do.

$80 in the bank.
$80 in the bank.

It may sound like I have a ton of time on my hands, but setting aside a half hour once or twice a week while we watch TV before bed has proven to be pretty successful for me! Now, I’m still a newbie and know that I could be doing much better than I’m doing right now. Which means that I’m looking forward to going to The Crazy Coupon Chick’s couponing class this month! I’ll never see myself as someone who creates a bomb shelter storage area dedicated to housing my Fruity Pebbles, but it’s a pretty cool feeling to know that I don’t have to buy toothpaste or my favorite conditioner for a while.

And I know that one of the big criticisms with coupons is the inability to save on healthy foods in the same ways that you can save on Cheez-Its and laundry detergent, but I am able to get lots of my healthier options too! And does anyone else visit the discounted produce section of the grocery store? I’d like to consider myself a relatively healthy eater (though I certainly partake in things of the creme-filled persuasion) and have been successful in finding organic fruits and veggies there from time to time. I’m a Stop & Shop shopper and always hit up this little area, squirreled away in the corner of the store.

So there it is. One of the ways that I have managed to rein in spending. Thanks for letting me share my love of savings with you!




11 comments on “Diving for Dollars”

  1. We have a woman who is a pretty awesome couponer who brings part of her score to our shelter every month. It’s truly amazing when she drops off $100 worth of goods that she paid less than $10 for! Rock on.

  2. I really wish I had this kind of dedication. I never use coupons and always feel guilty like I’m a bad shopper when the cashier asks, “Got any coupons today?” I love your determination! I’d love to hear about your class!

  3. I heart you and your dedication. It really takes practice and time, neither of which I seem to have to devote to this. Maybe someday.

  4. Oh and my father in law has a “bomb shelter area” – his basement is lined with shelves of everything from dish soap to toothpaste to BBQ sauce. Many times, he donates stuff or sells it to a smaller store. It’s really a game for him.

  5. My father-in-law is one of the originals. He goes to the local market at closing on Sundays and gets all the coupons out of the leftover papers. He spends hours cutting out only certain things and back in the day when triple coupons were common, he was almost banned from a few stores. He’s shown us receipts that should have been $300 and he spent $3.
    During Thanksgiving, those “you spend $300, you get a free turkey” things, he ends up with several because it counts the price you would have paid, not what you paid in the end.
    Of course, he would buy 20 bottles of mustard or 30 rolls of toilet paper, not one or 2 of a variety of things. He also is very into rebates at places like Rite Aid.
    It’s genius.
    I think couponing is great. And once you are knowledgeable about the prices of things, it becomes easier.
    As for me, I leave the couponing and grocery shopping in general to my wife. I have very little organization or patience for that.

  6. I’m really impressed by this mainly because I am SO DISORGANIZED when it comes to shopping. I cannot think enough ahead of time to plan this type of thing. The few times I’ve tried clipping multiple coupons (because something is on sale and I happen to find the coupon I need), the store has told me that there’s a coupon limit – have you ever encountered that??

    So cool! That savings is amazing!

    1. I haven’t run into that problem yet, Vivian, but I’d say you’re on the right track with maxing out the coupon limit! Woo hoo!

  7. I am SO impressed! I also love that you link to the crazy coupon chick! I met her like a year and a half ago and she loves CTWorkingMoms!! 🙂 Tell her I said hi when you take her class! And keep me posted, I’d love to hear more about couponing.

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