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Friday, June 26, 2009

My Journey Into the World of Frugal Shopping

It all began about a year ago. I was in line at Walmart on my lunch break. I can't remember what I was buying, but I had one coupon for 25 cents off one of the items in my cart. I had pulled the coupon from the little spiral bound coupon booklet I had in my purse. The woman in front of me was checking out, and her total before coupons was around $100. I didn't think a thing of that. It was rare for me to get out of Walmart for less than $100. What did get my attention was the fact that she only paid about $30 for all of it.


Looking back now, I realize that I should have stopped her and asked her how she did it. But I'm an introvert by nature, and the thought of approaching a total stranger to ask how she saved money at Walmart was just not on my radar. Being the Internet junkie that I am, I hopped online and started to search for ways that I could save like that woman saved. I found a whole world of money-saving tips there for the taking! The world of frugal blogs drew me in, and I began to follow the advice that I found there.

I realized that my little coupon book was not even scratching the surface of what was available out there. Printable coupons? How great! Buying multiple papers from bigger cities? What a wealth of coupons waiting to be clipped! My coupon binder is now HUGE compared to the original purse-sized one I carried, but it's a gold mine.

I used to spend at least $100 to $150 at Walmart every two weeks when we got paid. That was in addition to the $200+ at the grocery store. Oh my! When I think back about that now, it almost makes me sick. My husband and I often wonder what we could have done with the extra cash if we had been living and shopping like this years ago. I still shop at Walmart from time to time, but I might only spend $25 or $30. My grocery bill is closer to $65 each week, and there are weeks that I don't even step foot in Kroger. My pantry stockpile and what's in my freezer offer plenty of options for meals on any given week. So grocery shopping has become somewhat optional at times.

To be very honest, couponing and bargain shopping does require a time investment. There is time spent gathering and organizing coupons, scanning ads, and reading blogs to find the best deals. But the time is so well-spent. We spend so much less now! And I actually enjoy deal-hunting and saving my family money. I'm hoping that our daughter will learn this skill as we involve her more in our household shopping. Maybe she can start off with a more frugal mindset and reap the rewards down the road.