Wow, that title is a mouthful. But today’s topic gets to the heart of the matter: Does coupon clipping really lead to more financial savings and a healthier eating lifestyle?
I always thought farmer’s markets were filled with hippy, enviro-loving type folks who enjoy buying and supporting products in their local community. (No offense to my friends who love going to the local farmer’s markets.) Suburban moms typically don’t fit in this stereotype, which by geographical location puts me in this category. It’s just too far from our homes to make those dedicated kinds of trips. It also can be astronomically more expensive than shopping at our local grocery stores, which is why I was an avid coupon clipping fanatic.
In fact, I used to be one of those moms who loved, and I mean loved, to use coupons stacked upon coupons to get the best deals at my local grocery store and Target brick and mortar (B&M) stores. I don’t think I would have qualified as a dumpster diving, TLC’s “Extreme Couponing” type-mom, but maybe some of my friends thought of me in this light.
Living on a single-family income means saving in places wherever and whenever possible, and I thought this was one of the areas in which we could save. When I first started to see the savings listed at the bottom of my receipt, I was elated to see my savings printed in front of my very eyes. (Today, you saved $10.72 on this receipt.) Even though I wasn’t making a traditional salary to contribute to the family income, I felt like I was making a contribution by stretching our family dollar with these savings. Slowly, like a creeping addiction, I started to make multiple runs to the same stores for the same items because I thought it would save our family money. It didn’t occur to me that we never bought or ate Kashi Go Lean cereal to go packs, though they were pretty convenient to take on the road with our little toddler. After the Kashi manufacturer coupon stacked with a Target coupon, I would get these $1.39-$1.59 to go cereal containers for free. And who doesn’t love getting things for free? But were multiple trips to Target worth the gas I spent to make those additional runs?
Well, the time came for me to put my lime green coupon file folder to rest when we moved to Cyprus last year. I knew the day would come when I would have to slow down on my religiously diligent coupon printing, clipping, and organizing methods. Moving abroad last year really put it to a complete halt. How was I going to find those online manufacturer coupons in Greek? Did they even have them in Cyprus? I knew that was going to be a tall order to accomplish.
Over time, I came to appreciate buying less groceries and learning to live on less with our limited budget. Because we changed our buying and eating habits, it didn’t feel like I needed to spend more time on coupon printing and clipping like I used to do in the U.S.
Once we returned home, we tried to continue the trend of buying less and going to the stores a little more often. This change in grocery shopping habits has worked a little better, but I’m still trying to find my rhythm back in the States that works best for our family’s health and economical needs.
Then a friend who moved into the area reignited my desire to strive for healthier eating habits. She reintroduced me to our local farmer’s market. My friend is nothing like the stereotype I imagined about the locals who go shopping at the farmer’s market. She shared with me information about some of the long-term health risks involved with eating genetically modified foods. While she did agree that shopping for locally made, organic foods and products does take more work and can cost more, she’s shown me that sometimes the prices at the farmer’s markets are competitively priced better than some of the non-organic foods on sale at the local grocery store.
I was shocked that green peppers were 3 for $1, a small basket of carrots were $2, and ½ bushel of fruit were $3-4 in season at the farmer’s market. That’s pretty comparable to the prices at my local grocery store. In addition to competitive pricing, I also noticed a positive change in our eating habits. We ate more raw fruits and vegetables. Personally, they tasted much better than some of the fruits and vegetables at our local grocery store.
To be honest with you, I have not gone back to the farmer’s market, but I have made a concerted effort to shop for a few more organic items at my local store. Although I haven’t completely given up on the idea of couponing, I still check my favorite blog couponing sites, like Freebies 4 Mom and Common Sense with Money. I even check for the latest clothing store coupons before I head out the door. I guess I am still transitioning back to life in America. Somewhere between living more economically and living a healthier lifestyle, I hope to find a peaceful balance that works best in our household.
Now, is there a direct correlation between couponing and eating poorly versus paying more for groceries and eating healthier? Well, I’ll let you be the judge of that. You can read some of these articles below to determine which works better for your household, whether it’s coupon clipping, going to the farmer’s market, or some combination of both. Then come share some of your thoughts on Hometown Betty’s Facebook page.
Also, don’t forget to come back on Monday to read the second installment of Hometown Series: Four Best Ways to Sell Your Old Things. I’ll be talking about how we’ve sold our old stuff on eBay.
Articles on Coupon Clipping:
– Confessions of an Ex-Extreme Couponer: Better Ways to Save
– Former ‘Extreme Couponer’ Admits: It’s a Waste of Time
– Research Study Shows Online Coupons Drive Incremental Business and Generate New Users
From my hometown to yours,