I have a love/hate relationship with coupons. Sometimes, like this week, I take the time to sit down, read coupon blogs and make a shopping list with matching coupons. I save a ton of money and feel really good about myself. Other times, I am just too busy to coupon shop. Yes, it sounds lazy. No, it doesn’t make sense. If I am saving tons of money, why don’t I make the time to coupon? I really don’t have an answer other than, as a working mom with three kids, I only have so many hours in my day.

This week I was finishing up some Christmas shopping and did so online. The first place I went to was the Personalization Mall. During the checkout process, it asked me for a coupon code. I didn’t have one, but I decided to look for one. It took me 15 seconds to Google it and copy and paste it. I saved $12.00, which was the shipping cost. I decided to try it again with Sports Authority. I found a 15% off coupon, saving me $17.00. I went on to find coupon codes for Target, Macy’s and Best Buy, but they were not for items I needed.

I always find myself at Walgreens during the week – usually we are out of milk – so I read the coupon blogs to find the sales. I can’t tell you how many times I have walked out of there with free stuff and this week was no exception. Not only did I get free dish washing soap and free aspirin, the cold medicine I bought was less than $2.00. For the items below, I spent $11.73 and they gave me $10.00 back in Walgreens Register Rewards. This is Walgreens cash that you can spend in the store on other purchases. Thanks. I am sure I will use it next week.

I did well at the grocery store, too. I saved $109.00 in coupons and store deals. I carried in $32.00 worth of coupons that I cut out of the paper. Now, I am not one of those people that walk out of the store with a full cart for $1.87. I still spent $112.00, but I saved almost half the cost! Here is just a sample of what I got:
Betty Crocker Brownie Mix – free after coupon
Betty Crocker Cake Mix – free after coupon
Betty Crocker Frosting – free after coupon
Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate packages – free after coupon
Sierra Mist (2 liter bottles) – free after coupon
Scope (33oz bottle) – 50 cents after coupon
Kleenix – 28 cents per box after coupon
Peter Pan Peanut Butter – 50 cents after coupon
Eagle Condensed Milk – 94 cents after coupon
Pam Spray – 99 cents after coupon
Quaker Granola bars – $1.49 (no coupons, but this is half price!)
Arm and Hammer Cat Litter 14lbs – $2.00 after coupon

I, of course, bought as many of these as I had coupons for. A lot these products will be donated. With the help of coupons, I can donate a lot more food/necessities.

I also bought 10 Kelloggs products for $25.00. I used $2.00 worth of coupons. I will send the receipt in for a $10 rebate, plus I got a coupon that printed out for 2 free movie tickets and a $10 voucher for the concessions. Not a bad deal!

So how long did it take me to gather all this information before I went shopping? I did it over a couple of days while drinking my coffee or eating lunch. It was probably 2 hours total. So see what I mean? I don’t always have 2 extra hours in addition to shopping time. When I am not busy, I justify those two hours by saying, I saved over $120.00 in two hours. Do I make $60.00 an hour at my day job? I wish! To cut down on time, I try not to go to several stores. Walgreens and Jewel are usually it for me. However, I read about all the local deals because you never know.

If you are a local, here are the coupon sites I read:
Super Couponing
Mashup Mom
Common Sense with Money
Saving Addiction
I also read Hip2save which is based out of North Carolina.
Many of these sites list more than grocery deals. I found an Amazon deal for a yearly magazine subscription for $5.00. Who could pass that up?

I was talking about my coupon success at a party last summer when one of the guys started to make fun of it and got everyone laughing. This is the same man whose wife told me that the restaurant we picked for dinner was too expensive. I told him that if they used coupons, they could afford to eat out at a nice place once in awhile. The laughter quickly stopped. If we are all buying the same things, why laugh at someone who is getting a better deal? I should be laughing at them for paying full price!

So that’s my plug for coupons. Give it a try.