My coupon mentor might tear up at the sight of this post. She put a lot of work and training into me, and I gladly accepted. For almost 2 years I was what you might call an “extreme couponer”.
I had the binder all organized alphabetically, and I never left the house without it. I would scan coupon boards in the grocery stores, search the aisles for coupons, and spend way too much time online requesting and printing coupons off of websites. Each shopping trip was carefully planned out. Flyers were checked, coupons were matched up with sale prices, then organized into envelopes according to which store I would spend them at. I did my best to price match at the stores that would allow it. All the while the steady supply of products started to pile up in my back room.
Cleaners organized into type lined one shelf, then there was bath supplies, laundry supplies, air fresheners, dish soap, taco kits, paper towels, toilet paper, personal hygiene products – just stuff everywhere. I had what every couponer is the most proud of. A fabulous looking stockpile. And yet I was not happy with it.
I will admit something. I miss the rush. When you’re standing at the checkout watching your total going down and down, bit by bit with each little swipe of paper. When you end up saving half (or more) of what you would normally pay, that is a great feeling. All that hard work makes for a beautiful pay off.
So why stop?
I looked at my stock pile and began to wonder where the line was between extreme couponer and hoarder. Sure it was organized. Each product in place, but who in the world needs 150 air fresheners? Or 46 tubes of toothpaste. Yes I would use it up eventually, but with couponing you just keep going. Every one that I used was replaced with two more.
Also there was all the chemicals. Body wash alone is filled with toxic chemicals, and we gladly smear ourselves with it every day. Combine that with the harsh cleaners that I was using in my home, the laundry detergent and softener that was being adsorbed off my clothes and into my skin, the fluoride infected toothpaste, and the antiperspirant deodorant and you have a serious load of chemicals that the body never gets relief from. The more I thought about it, and learned about natural alternatives, the more I began to feel uneasy about the enormous amount of toxic material sitting in my so called “stockpile”.
There was also the lack of coupons for fruits and vegetables that was starting to weigh me down. Any meat coupons were for processed or packaged meat that I didn’t like buying either. I stayed away from most processed food coupons, unless they were for almond or soy milk. At the time I was under the impression that animal dairy was a “bad” food. While I still do love a good glass of almond milk, my views on food have shifted dramatically. I used coupons for condiments, eggs, and contrary to what I just said, I bought cream cheese, because well it’s cream cheese.
And then I made a choice; I started making my own. I had been making a few things here and there myself, but not much. I finally came to the conclusion that if I didn’t want to pursue couponing, there had to be other ways to cut grocery store costs. So I learned how to make mayonnaise, I learned how to make yogurt, I learned how to make cleaners, and laundry soap, and bread. I used the “no poo” hair washing system (and still would be if our water wasn’t so bad). I started shopping more at bulk food stores, and even used coupons for them – but the food was real food. I planted a garden, and had fresh zucchini, tomatoes, beans, and peas. Herbs in pots lined my window sills, and the stronger ones grew out in any garden I could stick them in. Then on April 9th 2014, we brought home our first box of tiny cheeping chicks. 17 weeks later we had our first egg, thanks to Lou. In June we brought home two half sister goat kids with the full intent of breeding them for milk. And here is the cool part: we are actually saving more money.
I spend $19.10 a month on my chickens. Last month I got 189 eggs. My local grocery store sells a dozen eggs for $3. 189 eggs work out to 15.75 dozen which would have cost me $47.25 at the grocery store price (although granted these eggs are pastured, and living in much better conditions than the regular old eggs at the grocery store. Technically the eggs we get here are worth more, but for comparisons sake, lets just compare them.). Subtracting what I spend on the chickens each month I still ended up saving $28.15 on eggs. Granted it would be very unlikely for me to buy 15 dozen eggs in a month, but it still feels good to see those savings. Plus I can make every egg recipe in the book and still have some leftover. For some reason I find real freedom in knowing I can make an angel food cake and 3 quiches in a day if I wanted too, and there would be more eggs the next day.
Now I know having chickens is not a choice everyone can make. Unless of course you want to live out an episode of Friends with a chick and a duck, but what they didn’t show you was how much those things can poop! But look for ways that you can make some of what you buy for less. For example vinegar is a fantastic cleaner. Add a couple drops of essential oil to help with the pickle smell. Or take orange peels (or any citrus fruit) and put them in a mason jar and cover with vinegar. Let sit for about a month then strain out the peels, pour into a spray bottle and fill with water, add a couple drops of tea tree essential oil (optional), and you have a powerful cleaner. Usually homemade products are cheaper and healthier for you.
I still do grocery shop, and if there is a coupon for something I know I need to buy, I’ll use it. I also use couponing apps on my phone to save whenever I can. But it is not my life anymore.
My stock pile now is my cold cellar filled with jars of food that I canned myself. My egg basket over flows with eggs from loved and pasture raised hens. Phoebe is getting ready to kid, and milking season will soon be upon this farm.
And I gotta say, that is a pretty good looking stockpile.
Shared with: Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop