My Coupon Crisis: Part One

This personal "Coupon Crisis" has been going on for quite some time. And I've been struggling about whether to share because of my many frugal friends out there.  But I'm dedicated to keeping it real so here goes...

Since early 2007, I've been a "couponer", meaning I religiously bought the Sunday paper, clipped and filed my coupons, shopped the sales stacked with coupons, stocked up on toiletries at CVS and other drug stores, etc.  I carried my big ole' notebook stocked with baseball card pages filled with coupons and took it everywhere.  

But ever since Lucy was born I have found it more and more difficult to keep up with the couponing. Not just the clipping and filing part, I mean, let's face it, lugging four children around to 4 different places every week is quite time consuming and often frustrating.  Homeschooling now consumes most of my daylight hours so grocery shopping has been relegated to Saturday mornings.  Worst day to shop in my humble opinion!  And that of course meant that my ONE day to get things done around the house was eaten up with grocery shopping and errands.  Bleh.  I've been doing it, but disliking every moment. For months I plugged on feeling that I just had to be supermom and get it done though!  

I have to admit though that due to the holidays and recent sicknesses, my coupon usage has been almost non-existent for the past two months. And I have felt so guilty.  Then last month, for the first time in five years, I bought a tube of toothpaste at Walmart.  It was like a shock wave went through my system.  "How could I do this???  I'm being a terrible steward of finances!!"  I just couldn't quit beating myself up about it. I felt like a complete and utter failure....over a tube of toothpaste!  Like I had just broken some unwritten law in the "frugal mama's handbook."  (Looking back, I see that it really was quite ridiculous to feel that way!)  

Basically what my hubby and I have decided is that right now, in this season, saving more money on groceries is not worth the stress.  I seriously didn't realize how difficult it would be to step back though since I've been "wired" this way for years!  Will I ever use coupons?  Yes.  We still need shampoo, and dog food and razors and such, but I am dialing waaay back.  

The bottom line is that my family wants a happy mama.  And a stressed out, "running around like a chicken with her head cut off to save a few dollars mama" doesn't make anyone happy.  That old saying that "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" is really true, you know? =)

And then there's the health aspect, which is just as big of a deal as the time/stress issue. When I look back to the years prior to couponing, I can see that we ate really, really healthy. (It's no wonder we were thinner!) I always used whole foods and quality ingredients. Meals were simple, yet nourishing. 

 But then as I began to use coupons, more and more processed foods started to creep into our home.  Cake, brownie and muffin mixes, granola bars, cereals, sugary yogurts, etc....it was way too easy to bring them into our home because it cost so little!  We began eating food I would NEVER pay full price for, yet we have consumed it because it could be bought for a few pennies? Not very logical, I know.

Eating simply with mostly whole foods and as much organic as we can afford is our goal.  I've already seen some major changes in my own health since we made this decision and it's so worth it!  

So this is how it stands right now...I have (mostly) quit using coupons in order to be less stressed and more healthy.  

Tomorrow I'm going to share how I plan to still feed my family frugally (with less stress!), and save time on grocery shopping.  (Go here to read about that.) I'm really excited about it and I hope this will be a help to any ladies out there who have been struggling with this same thing.  Stay tuned!

Are you a "couponer?"  If you have small children, how do you fit it into your schedule?  And have any of you been struggling with these same issues?  What solutions have you found?  I'm all ears! =)


  1. Hey Laine,
    I also used to coupon and gave it up to pursue healthier whole/real/organic foods. I also discovered Aldi where I can get GREAT deals on veggies, fruits, fair trade coffee, nuts, frozen veggies, cheeses, eggs, etc. Generally I can fill up a cart for around $100-120--where at my local store it would be pushing if not over $200. I also make the hourish drive to Trader Joes once every few months. Healthy and a great deal.And I found coupons also brought food(like brownie mixes, etc) into our house because they were free or pennies on the dollar! We also have great farmers markets around here and a great butcher in town for good meats. Good on you, Laine, for choosing to do what is best for your family! No guilt over no coupons--didn't you just have a no-low spending month? That definitely points to someone who is a good steward! Blessings to you, Liz in PA

    1. Thank you Liz for your sweet and encouraging comment! Yes,I do a ton of shopping at Aldi and am always so pleased with them. I love that they are starting to get organic foods as well. And glad to know there's someone else who will make an hour drive to Trader Joe's like I do! ;) That place is amazing. I so hope we get one in our area soon! We grow a garden in the summer time so that helps ALOT with produce and things. I can and freeze it so we'll have it during the fall and winter as well.

      Again, thank you for you kind words, I truly appreciate it! And blessed to know there's another mom who's found success in eating better without coupons! =)

  2. We also stopped couponing and doing the walgreens thing after our fourth child. ( Still hate buying toothpaste too :). Don't feel bad about it. It's just a season of life that requires simplification and focus on what's really important. I plan to coupon again when my oldest is 16. Then I can send her to the store to do it for me :) lol!

  3. I can SO relate with your struggle, only mine hit when we moved to Canada in '05 and I found that couponing was WAY different here than in the USA. Coupons here are not impressive at all, and are actually rather rare. In the States I had begun to buy things simply because they were cheap or basically free. And I realized that I was buying things I didn't really want or need...reality check!
    Now I don't use coupons unless they actually show up at my door AND they are for something that I regularly buy and need.
    I'm all about organic and whole foods, but food is VERY expensive here, so I've made gradual changes and I have a "no-fudge" list of what I will only buy organic. (I've actually been working on a blog post about organic eating!) Our family stays very healthy for the most part and I'm convinced it's because of the small changes I've made. As the budget allows, I add more things into my "no-fudge" list. I'm not a fanatic about it- I try to stay real and of course I can only get what is available.
    No need for guilt- just do what is best for your family and God will bless you greatly!!!

  4. I had the same moment in regards to the time factor. I just couldn't do it all! Did you know that Trader Joe's and Aldi's are owned by the same company? Supposedly, their food is the same just packaged differently.

  5. I used to spend 10+ hrs a week couponing as well. Then we moved to Utah and only have wal-mart and one small grocery store. Not a CVS Walgreens or double coupon place within a 2hr drive. So that was the end of my couponing. I was a little bummed but I got used to it. God used the couponing at that point in my life and then moved me to a different place and we are still well fed and kept in toothpaste even tho we have to actually pay for it! When we moved here I had enough toiletries where we didn't buy shampoo or soap or toothpaste for 9 months. It was a sad day for me as well when I had to go pay for something I used to get for free. Not having a stressed out mom I think is worth the extra money. :)

  6. I didn't really even think about coupons until after Sam was born and by then having 3 under 4 years of age didn't make it easy to try to learn the system (always confused me)let alone travel to different stores with the 3 in tow! Honestly I ALWAYS felt like somewhat of a failure cause I didn't coupon like others I knew were but Jerry always said that we needed to do what we could with our family situation. Now that we have 5 I still am not couponing!! Every now and then I feel like maybe I should be doing it (especially when I see ladies in the stores with their binders open and coupons in hand) but it's not something that I have any time for. Aldi is working great for us and we also will start a garden again this year. The Bible tells us that there is a time for everything...I think maybe God means couponing as well!! :) Always enjoy your posts Laine!

  7. Great post! With four children and homeschooling, plus moving out of town, I too stopped couponing and we eat better than ever. With buying more bulk/natural ingredients (from azurestandard), whole/real foods, we're not spending all that much more. Sometimes I miss the 'high' from CVS freebies, and do stress when having to pay full price for shampoo, but don't know that we'd go back to boxed and processed stuff even if I had the time to coupon again. You offer a great perspective.

  8. I can relate to your couponing dilemma. I have since decided to use coupons when available for the healthy items but not stress out about them. I also do all may shopping at Wal-Mart and price match using other stores ads like Aldi's, etc.. That way I still get good deals but without all of the cutting. :0) That is where my family has found a happy way to shop. It actually feels good to not get the paper and cut, cut, cut!

  9. I have met few women who budget their money and time as wisely as you do! Looking forward to reading about how you will take the stress and expense out of eating healthy! I need lots of advice there - lol! Love you!


  10. I can too relate to your story. I used to coupon and keep quite a stockpile, but that was before I started homeschooling my girls. I don't buy the paper very often anymore, but I do still use some coupons. I basically just order some coupons from Coupon Dede for the things we use and use quite a bit. They come already cut. When I do get a newspaper or someone gives me the inserts, I cut out just what we use or will make a good deal, but it doesn't mean I will use it. I do still print some coupons too. There are more and more coupons for organics and fruit now. I don't stress over it though. You can only do what you can do right now. If I have the time I do it, if not that's just the way it is.
    I price match at Walmart. We don't have Aldi or anything like that, but I sure wish we did. I often shop Kroger for their sales when I am near one.
    I too am incorporating more healthy, natural and organic foods into our diet. It's a challenge, but it will be worth it and I know we will all feel better.
    You are doing such a great thing for your family. Time spent with them and with less stress is so much more important (as well as a healthier family) and you will look back and be thankful you gave up the major couponing. Of course we all have to save where we can, but you just find different ways. Maybe cut from another bill (phones, satellite) so we can increase our grocery bill.
    I look forward to reading more about what you do!

  11. I came to the same conclusion when we moved to NYC. The deals are more rare and its hard to find the sale items in stock. There are only a couple of stores that accept coupons. With only one car, no parking lots, and two little ones, it was more worth it for me to pay full price than go through the headache of shopping at multiple stores. I find other ways to save money now - homemade cleaners, cooking from scratch, and freebies in the mail. It's not as much, but its as much as I can do in this season of life...especially with twins on the way!

  12. Reading these comments there seems to be a common link with having four kids and falling off the coupon wagon. I have already been there - all of last year I slunk around, buying grocery items at full price and hating my lack of stewardship. :) I worked some things out and I have climbed back on the wagon, but it is a lot more relaxing ride this year. Having all that time off really helped me. I have changed my coupon strategy, and I am currently happier with it. I can still save money without clipping every coupon in the paper. Don't feel bad. You have a very full plate, and sometimes something just has to give. You can pick it up later if you want to, but in the meantime, catch your breath and enjoy your life! Looking forward to seeing your menu planning/freezer cooking posts!


I love to hear from my readers! Thanks for taking the time to comment!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...