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! =)