From the time I moved out of my parents' house until about 10 years ago, I used coupons regularly to save money on groceries and other much needed items. Then I read an article by Mary Pride about her beliefs concerning the coupon craze. I felt convicted and discontinued using them for the most part.
I find myself today living in the most depressed state in the country. Our income is low, as is most of our neighbors'. We are supporting seven people in this household on a below average income and it's impossible to hang on without using every resource available to us. I've come back to the coupon clipping days. I think it's responsible and supports my efforts to become a Proverbs 31 woman.
Look at it this way: I have to feed my family and it's my desire to feed them well with nourishing foods, not the staple of chips that my husband brings home. I don't believe the health magazines. In my experience, it truly is more expensive to eat healthy. For instance, at our grocery stores milk is running somewhere in the $4.00 a gallon range...oh, did I fail to mention that this is for 2%? If you want skim you have to pay an average of $0.50 more a gallon.
We all know that organic foods are more expensive so I won't even touch on that. I wanted to buy a pineapple today at Wal-Mart, but it was $3.97 so I skipped it.Bananas are going for AT LEAST $0.50 a pound, so I only get one bunch when I do splurge for them. Whole wheat bread? Forget it. Even the the wheat bread (i.e. white bread with a dab of wheat flour tossed in) is more expensive than white bread. And they're all expensive unless I can find some at the day old bread store, and then I have to get there early in the morning or they're sold out.
I went grocery shopping today and I brought in a handful of coupons. I hit only three stores: Wal-Mart, Sarah Lee day old store, and Glen's. Glen's was having a buy one, get one free sale, which they rarely do. They're the most expensive grocery store in town so I don't usually go there other than to hit their sales. I ended up with 93% lean ground beef (which is normally an untouchable - I usually have to buy 80% lean or worse) for $2 a pound. I got two bottles of salad dressing for $1.99 and four bags of Sargento shredded cheese (8 oz. ea) for $5.90. I also bought a few loaves of wheat bread for Jeff - he hates the whole wheat - for $4. When I checked out, the receipt said I saved $26.12. I also got another receipt to use for $0.15 off a gallon of gas.
At Wal-Mart I used my stack of coupons and saved $6.00. I know that doesn't sound like much, but it beats the $0.00 I usually get because I don't use coupons.
At the bread store I got the whole wheat bread - Sarah Lee- for $0.99 a loaf. I bought as many as I had enough cash for and put them in the freezer when I got home.
So here are my new thoughts on coupons. Prices have gone up and up and income has gone down and down. My not using coupons has not affected prices; they continue to rise. I don't believe any more that if I don't use coupons producers will keep their prices low.
I'm not the only one feeling the crunch these days. While in the canned fruit & veggie aisle at Wal-Mart today, I was standing there debating on which can of pineapple I should buy. An old man stopped his cart beside mine and shook his head. "It's getting so a person can't afford to eat," he said in just about the saddest voice I've heard. He just shook his head and stood there for a long time. His cart was nearly empty. All I could say was, "I know what you mean."
Proverbs 31 women: we have to do what it takes to take care of our families. For some, this might mean growing gardens and canning/freezing/dehydrating food for later use. It might mean making our own bread and creating more home-cooked meals than not. It might mean using coupons and accepting samples and special offers. It DEFINITELY means to be on the the lookout for the best prices. It means being diligent and working hard. And it means trusting the Lord to bring us through the difficult times.