I love free stuff. Plop me at the International Plowing Match or a good Trade Show for a day and I`ll float home with half a dozen new cloth bags filled a joyous array of new pens, post-its, and sample size products to try, usually with coupons attached. It`s fun!
When it comes to snagging FPCs (free product coupons) through facebook offers, I`ll play along and “sell my soul”* for a FREE pack of bacon or full size bottle of body wash. If I can match a sale to a $1 or $2 OFF coupon and get a product for FREE, I`ll do it, even if it means driving a bit out of the way (within economic sense) or spending a few extra minutes at the checkout while the cashier scrutinizes the coupon and the flyer I`m price-matching with. It`s rewarding!
We don`t NEED to coupon in our family. I could easily return to my professional career as a teacher trainer but we`ve decided to adjust our spending habits and make-do on one and a half incomes so I can be here with the kids before and after school. And so, I spend at least a couple of hours each week ordering, clipping and organizing coupons and carefully planning my shopping trips, consistently saving 50-80% on our grocery bills and maintaining a small stockpile of dry goods and household products so that we`re never caught having to pay full-price. This is the 25% necessity for me, and even at that, it`s still a lifestyle choice for our family.
My heart bled today when reading Jennifer Pinarski`s post on the Today`s Parent blog about The emotional truth of grocery shopping on a budget.
The pent-up emotions of having to make difficult decisions at the grocery store, plus envisioning the disappointed faces of my children when I come home without their favourite snacks, breaks my heart.
My children have never wanted for anything (except a trip to Disney. We`re reminded weekly that time is running out since 8 year olds don`t likely care about seeing the Princesses). They don`t get everything they want, though, and just recently we`ve started to hear requests like “Can you get this cereal when it`s on sale?” or “Do you have a coupon for those yogurt drinks?”. I`m pleased that our children (5+7) have a sense that we choose the timing of certain items, especially seasonal fruit, and that we try not to waste money by buying things that will be less expensive on a later trip.
I was blown away by the raw and naked emotions that the author shared in her article and more than ever, am determined to keep spreading the Save-at-Home-Mom story, keeping in mind that couponing, savvy shopping, and frugal living are not necessarily hobbies for everyone who might be reading.
That, and dropping more items that I get for FREE into the food bank bins at the grocery store: items that will reassure families who are peeking in not knowing “whether or not our meal next month will come from that bin.”
Thanks for sharing your story, Jennifer – we all needed to hear it.
*selling one`s soul on facebook: 1) like the page 2) give permission for the brand to access your friends list 3) allow the brand to post on your behalf. The latter borders on `deal-breaker` for me, but I always change my settings to Only Me so no-one will ever see the spammy auto post should the brand ever decide to act on their new permission to “be me”.