When the topic of couponing comes up among those who eat real, whole and organic foods, I usually hear this:
“Coupons just don’t work for me. They don’t make coupons for the things that I buy.”
Oh wait… that was me who said it!
I felt this way for a long time. I attempted to use coupons way back when after the birth of my first child, when I was learning to be a homemaker on an incredibly meager budget.
I became easily discouraged after trying for a short while, partly because at that time coupons were used only minimally in Canada, but mostly because I felt that the coupons were for products and foods that I simply didn’t want our family to buy or use!
Since that time, the foods that we eat and the lifestyle choices that we make have gone in the direction of being decidedly more natural, wholesome, organic, and choosy. And yet… I now use coupons more than I ever have before! So what happened?
I have learned that even though I can’t use most of the coupons out there, and I won’t choose to follow through on most of the deal scenarios that I read on other blogs, I can still use coupons to the extent that they work for me.
That’s the key. To the extent that they work for me.
If I were to break it down, I would estimate that I currently use coupons on about 5-8% of the grocery and household purchases that I make (that’s actual paper coupons, not including all of the store sales, co-op discounts, online coupon codes, etc. that I take advantage of). Piddly stuff, right?
Actually, it’s not. Even a savings of 5% per year on our monthly budget of $450 adds up. That’s almost $23 a month saved, and about $270 saved each year.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t think $270 is insignificant. I can think of a whole lot of amazing, real, nutrient-dense foods that I could buy with that much money (pastured butter, coconut oil, wild fish, raw milk!) that I potentially couldn’t afford to buy if I had to spend that money on other grocery and household basics.
I don’t expect couponing to revolutionize my whole foods budget, because the honest truth is that it can’t and it won’t. I will still be buying mounds of fresh produce, sides of grass-fed beef and whole pasture-raised chickens, huge bags of organic oats and kamut grain, and tubs of wild raw honey.
But, every little bit counts, especially for other families like ours who are trying to do the best they can with what they’ve got and who are seeking to be careful stewards of what they’ve been given.
I’ve made it my motto to do what I can do. I don’t fret about all the coupons that I consider useless. I don’t panic that I can’t make a bigger dent in my budget. I simply view this as another valuable tool in my arsenal that helps me to do better with the resources available to me.
This series, How to Start Saving, will work through many of the techniques and the ins and outs of saving on whole foods, using coupons, finding the best deals and knowing how to put it all together in a way that won’t make you pull your hair out. Promise.