The Evolution of Couponing And My Frugal Life

Evolution of Couponing

Well, there you have it!  Right front and center in the title.  I haven’t couponded in well over a year and trust me, it wasn’t by choice. Couponing as we know has changed.  I’m sure you all know why (fill in the blank with) and even though I don’t usually touch on it, it’s just like everything else in the world…things change.  We can accept it and keep moving forward or we can resist.   I choose to go with the flow.  My blog has changed over the past year as well (thank you to those of you that allowed this change and embraced the change).  Las Vegas receives their coupons very differently across the entire valley.  Sometimes it’s frustrating to know someone just across the street could receive them, when you do not. It’s just the way it is here (someone truly needs to change this)  The following are a few ways you might receive your coupons if you live in the Vegas valley:

Red Plum – Included in the Review Journal on Tuesdays.  S ome neighborhoods receive them in their mailbox (for a short period of time this is how I received Red Plum)

Smart Source – Included in the Review Journal on Tuesdays

P&G – Included in the Review Journal on Tuesdays once a month

Or by subscription 🙂

The aforementioned varies and is unreliable for someone who has just moved.  I know, it was a challenge to keep coupon-ing when we lived in a neighborhood that received Red Plum and then move to a neighborhood that didn’t.

The Question…

I needed to figure out a cost effective way of feeding our family and still be able to stash money away in savings.

It’s taken me almost a year to figure out the best route for our family and doing so in the midst of purchasing a home and of course moving thereafter.  It  has been a very long 2012 us.

Below are all the things I looked when making a list for our family that could affect how we purchase our weekly/bi-weekly groceries.

  1. Time factor – how much time was I spending looking for and cutting coupons?
  2. Lifestyle – am I purchasing what I need to keep my family healthy or just what advertisers say I should be buying?
  3. Budget – thinking smart…what can I do to save money, eat healthy and NOT clip coupons…wowzers…here lies the challenge.

I discovered along this journey that we like to buy weekly.  Why?  Sounds expensive right?  It could be but what we were doing was purchasing fresh veggies, fruits and meat. I noticed that we used our freezer less because we were purchasing things we can prepare and eat throughout the week.  Our freezer housed items like ice pops, some fish, ice cream, kids ice packs and maybe a frozen veggie bag or two.

The Fix…

Our fix none the less and may not be the solution for everyone but it could be for some.  My family and I shopped at Fresh & Easy weekly when I stopped receiving coupons and we were actually spending less.

Now…before I begin to get all the emails about the spending less comment above, I want to say that with using coupons you CAN get tons of free items. TONS!!  My stockpile was great to have and if my lifestyle permitted holding that much product to stock and share…I would do it.  It’s just not my lifestyle right now.  I want enough of the below items to last my family 6 months out.  Here’s what I might order coupons for:

  • Laundry GoodsSoap
    • Softener
    • Bleach
    • Etc..
  • Paper Goods
    • Paper Towels
    • Bath Tissue
    • Cotton Balls & Tips
  • Personal Hygiene
    • Deodorant
    • Lotion
    • Body Soap
    • First Aid items
    • etc

These are the items that are usually free or super cheap with coupons. I will order those when I know sales are up and coming.  Do you remember my retail sales cycle post?  If not here’s the list I posted.  I use it….allot.

Retail Sales Cycles

This is what I focused on as core staples in our home that could be purchased with coupons.  The basic food staples were as follows:

  • Milk
  • Water
  • Bread
  • Cheese
  • Meats/Fishes
  • Condiments
  • Potatoes
  • Grains

As needed items:

  • Seasonal fruits & veggies
  • Treats
    • Ice Cream
    • Cookies
    • Chips
    • Gum

Once we identified what items stay in the pantry, what items can be purchased with or without coupons it was evident what we needed to do.

The Result & Budget | for our family

We shop once a week at Fresh & Easy.  Yes, that’s why you only see Fresh and Easy posts on my site. I really do shop there every week.  Going every week has cut our bill to about $50 – $60 per week for our family of 4 (depending of the season).   We buy what is priced right and use their reward points and in-store coupons.  Fresh & Easy does not accept manufacture coupons. The whole concept around Fresh & Easy Neighborhood markets are to get you into the store more frequently to buy fresh food items.  Thinking differently on how we do lunches was a bit of a struggle.  Since school started I’ve replaced a lot of things that I normally place in our kids lunchbox.  Normally, we put fruit chews (which they call JuJu bees) and replaced them with carrots, cucumbers and raisins.  Now, I normally pack this in their lunches anyway but now I’ve eliminated the need to cut coupons to get the traditional mainstream snack types of foods.  In order for me to save our family money I needed to think differently.  Treats….are not always needed.  Not needed for the body or our budget.  Now, I know that’s hard to explain to a child so what I’ve done is transition them over the summer.  The healthier foods are what they crave now.  Of course we will still have treats but they do not need to be in lunch boxes.

Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets are only located in CA, NV and AZ.  But this type of thinking can be adapted to fit any location and any budget.

Photo by my cowboy while in Montana

New Lifestyle | enjoying life

Our kids are getting older and I want them to experience life more.  More travel, different types of foods by dining out (this is my favorite and I’m always ready to save to eat out) .  Budgeting and spending time with my family out twice a month is what I look forward to.  I look forward to more road trips and seeing life through my kids life.  Changing our way of shopping has given us a new lifestyle.  A lifestyle that’s everyday living for this everyday family!

How do you live on less and enjoy everyday..?  Always love to hear 🙂