Monday, May 23, 2011

The Power of a Piece of Paper!

Disclaimer: This was written by Mr. Coupon (Nathan Engels)

A coupon is an amazing thing. Most people look at them and think something along the lines of 'a waste of time or too much effort.' But I look at this little piece of paper as life giving!! I'm a pretty simple person, I like what I like and I stick to my routines, but I am constantly amazed at the power of a coupon to change my life and those around me!! I started couponing in 2007 because I had to do something. My finances were in shambles and I needed to change the way I looked at money. This little piece of paper called a coupon radically changed the way, not only I looked at money, but the value of the products I was buying.

My mentality about spending and saving was altered because I came to understand a basic principle: why pay for something later when I can get it for free now? Coupons are a great way to really effectively lower your grocery budget, but you've really got to understand how to use them!! The mentality of most people when they walk into the grocery store is simple....I'm going to buy only what I need for this week. If something is on sale, I may buy a little extra but most won't go overboard.

Couponing the way my grandma did is great and can really save dollars every week. But 'extreme' couponing as some would call it will allow you to save THOUSANDS every year. I set out on a mission to really change the way I shop. People see me in the store buying 20 tubes of toothpaste or 80 packets of tuna and wonder, "Why is he doing that?" Well it's very simple. My family uses toothpaste, and we actually use around 20 each year (I did the math! lol) Currently it's free with a coupon, so I am going to strategically buy enough toothpaste to last me for a long time. Tuna happens to literally be paying me to take it off their shelves. I don't know a single person that would not buy tuna if the store was paying them to take it!! Now what happens when I do this? Am I hoarding toothpaste? No, I'm being smart because I'm purchasing something I will use, stocking up on that item and then effectively taking that item off my grocery list for a year.

So why is it important to take items off your grocery list? Each week the majority of Americans go to the supermarket with a list. They walk down the aisle and purchase various products, regardless of price because they are in need of those specific products each week! What I am putting forward is simple: no longer go to the store weekly with a giant grocery list!! I only buy 5-10 items each week that are core essentials on my list. Sometimes it's toilet paper, sometimes it's frozen vegetables. Whatever it is, I stock up on the items that are extremely cheap, free or even paying me to buy them and yes it does happen! lol Stocking up on toilet paper when it's free means I don't have to pay for it week in and week out! When was the last time you purchased toilet paper, and do you remember you much you spent? I don't pay for toilet paper anymore, unlike the majority of the country because I find it free and buy enough to last me for a long long time.

My grocery list now consists of the following:

Fresh Fruit/Veggies
5-10 Items I buy in large quantities.

That's it! Each week I'm buying something different or I replenish my supply of something I have in my pantry. It's a simple concept that if followed, will literally save you thousands every year. So how do you start? READ. That's my best advice. There are hundreds of articles here on WeUseCoupons about how to use coupons. There are coupon classes around the country, find one and go to it!! When I started doing this I was like a sponge. I wanted to figure it all out, but it takes time. My garage didn't start off with thousands of items, it started with 7!! Literally I still remember buying 7 bottles of shampoo and thinking to myself, this is crazy. But after not having to buy shampoo for years, I see that this system works!!!

Another great reason to coupon this way is unintended benefits. If your neighbors or friends lose their jobs or if they are really hurting, could you make a difference in their lives? My wife and I don't earn a lot of money. It would be a big sacrifice to give $50 to someone, week after week. But ask me to give you $200 in groceries and that I can do over and over again. My personal giving goal this year is something I would have never even dreamed of a couple years ago!! My wife and I are going to attempt to give away more than we made last year. Now that's a strange concept!!! We want to give back to our community and we may not have thousands of physical dollars to donate, but we have tens of thousand of dollars in product that we can give away that will make a huge different in the lives around us. This little piece of paper called a coupon will literally change your financial life, it will change your community and it will forever change the way you shop!!!

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