Friday, February 3, 2012
Combining Coupons, Sales and Points Programs
If you look closely at my receipts, you may wonder if this is all that we eat. The truth of the matter is that I stock up on things when they are at rock bottom prices and build up a stockpile of items in the freezer, fridge and pantry and build our menus around what we have in stock or if it is a seasonal item (like fresh produce) we will enjoy that as part of our meals. We also have a garden during the growing months which further reduces our cost. Right now our freezer is stocked with many items grown over the Summer and also venison from my son Chris, meats purchased on sale along with sale priced butter, juices, and other items. This allows us to have lots of variety in our menu and to eat healthily.
As for our pets, our dog Sasha is on a special no grain diet due to allergies and must also take enzymes and another supplement. Her food and supplements run us about $100 a month. I cut costs here by buying some of her things through Amazon.com since I "earn" about $25 a month in gift cards through Swagbucks. That credit is applied towards the purchase price of her supplements so I only pay around $6 a month out of pocket for one of them. I order her food and enzymes through Petco.com but go through their link at Mypoints.com and get points for my purchases there that I can then cash in for gift cards. I recently cashed in my points there for a $50 Home Depot that we are going to use to help offset the cost of new flooring for our kitchen. We are waiting for the flooring to go on sale so that we can save even more money and my husband, who is a former carpenter and a very handy guy, will install it himself. Getting back on track, our cats eat whatever is on sale and/or I can get at a discount with coupons. Two of them are happy with whatever they get but our old cat, Gemma, is a bit more picky but will eat it when she is hungry enough. ;) She is at least 17 years old now and still going strong.
I know that some people feel like combining coupons and sales is just too much work, but the pay off is huge! There are also lots of websites out there now that will pair up the sales with the available coupons so that takes lots of the work and time out of it for me. I have to admit though that I actually like doing this. I get a thrill out of seeing how much I can save our family and being able to help our kids and others out also. If I buy a product that I will not use (if it is free or only a few cents), I will pass it on to someone who needs it. We have been able to put together bags of shampoo, conditioner, lotions, medications, razors, toothbrushes and toothpaste along with food items to give to families that are in crisis situations. I am also able to get nice gift items for pennies on the dollar and have these in my gift closet for birthdays, weddings, baby showers, Christmas, etc.. It takes lots of stress off me knowing that I can just shop my gift closet year round.
A friend asked me once if I would continue to live and shop this way if we had more disposable income and my answer was yes. We, like so many other families, have had our share of ups and downs economically and I know that at any time illness, job loss, or some other emergency can come along and put a huge strain on our family. We have been there with no income and it was scary! I never want to have to worry about having enough food to feed my family for a month without being able to go shopping ever again. By living the way we do now, we save so much money and are able to pay down our debts so that hopefully, in a few years, we will be totally debt free. We can then bank some of the money we are now using to pay off our debt (including our mortgage) towards retirement. Plus, I think it is just good stewardship to make the most of what you are blessed with. :)