Monday, July 10, 2006

To Couponing & Back Again

Years ago I read an article in a woman’s magazine and it featured a woman who purchased a whole shopping cart filled of food and after coupons and rebates walked out paying about a dollar or so for everything. She was a stay at home mom and she made it seem that by clipping coupons one could make this a reality. That’ what I wanted! I wanted to stay at home, watch my kids grow, be all fussy with the house and the cooking. What a dream! Did this ever happen for me? NO!

When I married my first husband I wanted to prove to him that I could save so much money and live so frugally so that I could stay home and he could work. He had a very good job with great benefits. The problem was that he felt I should have a job and my pay should go for everything from food, to rent, to utilities, and he would be responsible for his car, his gym membership, and his nights out with his friends.

I started out pretty naively. I would get good deals and try to show my husband that we could afford for me to be a full-time mom with just a little more budget cutting. This conversation had the reverse effect as my husband felt that there was even more disposable income for him to burn through. I would skimp and go without but those words were not in his vocabulary.

Still I was proud of how mmuch I was saving and I used to write my parents and my sister and brag about the good deals until one day my sister made a comment about how she doesn’t use coupons anymore because her husband makes enough where she doesn’t have to anymore. The not so subtle message was that her husband was more successful than mine.

It was a lonely hobby and it wasn’t paying off the way my other hobby was which was doing radio contests. With that hobby my ex-husband and I went to concerts all the time and won albums, t-shirts, movie premiers, sporting events, and more. These were the times that we would actually go out as a couple and it was almost like we were dating again.

A marriage does not work if only one person is committed to it. I was desperately in love with my husband and was willing to sacrifice anything and everything to make him happy. When there was abuse, I blamed myself. When he belittled me, I vowed to do better.

Then one day I went into the hospital to deliver my youngest son and the next day my husband moved in with his mistress. He cleared out the bank account and left us with nothing. I was forced to go on welfare.

It was at that point I took account of my situation, returned to college and got a degree in education. The dream I had once held of being a stay-at-home mom was now the hope of making it alone without a husband. I had been so beaten down I wondered if I had my doubts.

I tried again after I graduated from college and started again this time with two young sons. I did much better then. I was able to stock pile free or nearly free laundry detergent, toothpaste, deodorant, etc. I would send away for some of the premiums and after all those years on welfare it felt good to be using all name brand items and buying them far cheaper than the store brand. This time I was way more organized than before. I would go to stores that offered double and even triple coupons and mail away for rebates. I began to start saving up the little checks here and there and depositing them into my account and even opened an account for my sons.

By the time I moved to Newport News I had saving down to a system. I had quit buying all my clothes at the second hand stores. Now I bought everything brand spanking new and not at Walmart. I shopped at Dillards and Hechts where there weren’t children running through the store screaming. I’d buy $60 dollar dresses for $10. I’d buy Mike a $100 coat for $15. They were all name brands even my darn shoes which I’d buy at 90% off. What a hoot.

Groceries were great at Harris Teeter. I’d buy what was on sale, especially if it was buy one get one free. If I had a coupon even better. They would print out extra coupons for you to use on your next visit. I’d buy our dog food at Pet Smart by going to the back of the store looking for bags that had been marked down sometimes up to40% because there were tears in the bags and then I’d use a coupon.

Then after years of being alone, I married my husband and I moved to Georgia.  My husband didn't see a need for me to do any couponing because he felt it was just nickle and diming things.  He just told me to watch what I spent without specifics.  That is until I spent $100 buying a bunch of cleaning supplies which included a new broom, a new mop, etc., bleach, etc., etc.  I guess it's back to couponing I go. 

Then yesterday I happened upon a coupon site by going to the Sweepsheet site. I’m glad I subscribed to this site. Three is some chat there but most of it is about sweeping not about political, anti-religious, sex, drug use, etc. I still love my other site but this was just a different avenue for me to do more snails. After all I used to do snails and I would win things. I even won a bike for Mike years ago. It was so great to be able to give him a bike. I have only won a couple of things that were only mentioned on that site. One was a Reeses t-shirt and the other was a $40 gift card that went to Mike. I’m keeping my fingers crossed though. I do win lots more on I’ve won lots of stuff from that including 2 of our vacations for the next year.

Well that’s when I took a look at the link for coupons. I used to subscribe to the magazine Refundable Bundle. I remember looking through it years ago for things I would use I let my subscription lapse all those years ago and didn’t renew.

Couponing used to be such a solitary hobby. Wow have things changed. I clicked on to the link and people were actually taking pictures of all the stuff they got for free and had ideas that I hadn’t thought of or hadn’t tried. Things like buying things really cheap or free and selling them at a yard sale.

So I said what the heck. I’ve been kind of doing money saving stuff by looking for red coke caps and plugging them in to get merchandise as gifts for my boys. I started doing my points. Doing the surveys. Heck. Maybe I still have it in me.