There are misconceptions among the noncouponing crowd that all couponers must primarily eat junk food, or that couponers have houses filled wall to wall with groceries. Here are some reader emails that invite me to rebut these myths.
Q: How do you save on groceries when there are so many coupons for snacks? We like snacks, but I’d really like a coupon for a roast now and then!
Q: I would love to use coupons, however, I often find that there are not many coupons for the way my family eats. We choose organic and natural foods when we can, and I often find that the products we usually get do not run coupons in the paper. Do you have any suggestions?
A: When I first dove into the couponing arena, I went in with the intention of buying the same kinds of items I was already buying for my family. I didn’t want to change our eating habits too much. While we enjoy snacks just as much as anyone else, we eat a lot of organics, meats and produce — some of which are a little more difficult for which to coupon.
I’ve never been the kind of person who is motivated to buy something simply because I happen to have a coupon. For me, anything I buy has got to be the “right” price for me to purchase it, whether that price is due to a coupon, a sale or a coupon and a sale together.
While I like to try new things, our household also has a few food rules to which we adhere. I won’t give my children artificial sweetener or high-fructose corn syrup, which means I bypass some beverage and snack deals due to ingredients, regardless of price. We eat fresh produce, but we eat a good deal of canned and frozen produce, too, both for which there are plenty of coupons. I use coupons for meats fairly often, but they’re usually coupons I’ve found in the meat department of the stores in which I shop.
As far as finding coupons for organic and natural foods, they are out there, but they’ll require a little more digging than simply looking in your newspaper. Manufacturers of these products tend not to put coupons in the inserts as they appeal to a niche audience. To find coupons for organics, visit the websites of your favorite brands and look for printable offers. Other websites, like www.mambo sprouts.com, aggregate printable coupons for organic and natural products from a variety of brands.
Wrapping up for today, here’s a letter from a reader frustrated with coupons that require shoppers to buy multiple items.
Q: So many of the coupons require the purchase of two, three or more items. Since my husband and I are both retired and getting on in years, we don’t purchase in large quantities any longer. Is there any way to use these coupons for the purchase of just one item?
A: Unfortunately, the answer is no. A coupon for $1.50 off 3 functions as three separate 50-cent discounts at the register, and the register looks for the presence of all three items before it applies the discount. While I understand not wanting to buy more than one at a time, buying two or three isn’t necessarily an overabundance of products. Lately, I’ve seen more $1-off-2 toothpaste coupons than I used to, but are two tubes of toothpaste too much? Its expiration date is typically more than a year away. It’s highly likely we’ll use at least two tubes of toothpaste this year, so if it’s a good deal, why not?
Smart Living Tip: With regards to coupons that require you to purchase multiple items, I can understand not wanting to take a chance on a product that you haven’t tried before. If you buy something and don’t like it, certainly you don’t want to be stuck with two more that you won’t use.
Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, www.jillcataldo.com.