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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Blogger Spotlight - Crystal

This week's Blogger Spotlight is Crystal from Surviving  a Teachers Salary. Head on over to "Blogger Spotlight" for more info on being featured on Student Saving Bucks.
My name is Crystal, and I host Surviving a Teachers Salary- a fun educational blog for parents & teachers! 
Ok, so I admit-I am was coupon obsessed for a while. Can you actually "coupon" too much? Yes (don't shoot me!), I think you can! Keep reading to hear my story!
After the birth of my second son we just couldn't pay all of our bills. Our insurance isn't the best and I had had a c-section. I had to start looking for a job away from home. That's when I learned how to coupon. Between couponing and watching another child during the day, that is the absolute only reason that I am able to stay home with my children. When I first learned how to coupon, I went nuts. How in the world had I not known how to do this before?! LOOK AT ALL THAT FREE STUFF just BEGGING me to take it!!! :) I hit up Walgreens, CVS, Target, & Publix every week like clockwork, but after a few months I was SO sick of drugstores and shopping- even if it was free! I felt like I was at the grocery & drugstores more than I was home! I had certainly learned how to stretch my budget very quickly, but I had also learned how to overspend when I shouldn't have- just because it was cheap!
One of my best shopping trips at Publix I spent $13.52 & saved $268.62. That's a 95% savings on my grocery bill! (Although as you will notice this was definitely an 'extras' week!) Here is what I bought: ‎12 tubs of butter, 16 jars baby food, apples, bananas, milk, 2 Emory boards, envelope, 5 boxes sugar packets, 6 boxes gelatin, bread, oreos, formula, 24 pk water, 2 mega packs GoodNites (this by itself would have cost $30!!), 22 bags cat food (not all pictured), 4 tubs Huggies wipes, 4 boxes Kotex, chips, pretzels. And check out that receipt!!! I was SO proud of it! It was almost from ceiling to floor! My husband was so proud he actually hung it up at work in his teacher's lounge where I had offered a coupon class for the employees!
I would come home elated, and exhausted! I knew how much I spent at the grocery store every week, but when I started going to the drugstores especially because I was so busy squeezing in trips I wouldn't remember how much I spent where. So I decided to have a cash envelope in my house for a few weeks and whenever that money was gone during the week it was gone. I started to realize very quickly that getting that great deal at Target, or at Walgreens/CVS added up! Putting $5 here to get that gift card deal, then rolling it later in the week with another new deal, and heading over to get my register rewards with a couple dollars out of pocket, but then paying the tax later to roll it over....it soon went from a great deal to money overspent that we didn't have! Soon I started buying fillers that weren't so cheap, and the tax for "free" products became $8 a week! (Our grocery budget for a while was $20 a week, so $8 was A LOT!) Most of the stuff I was buying I really didn't need- I just had the "freebie bug"! When I started realizing that I had a lot less money for groceries because I was rolling all these free or cheap products everywhere else, I had to take a step back and think about what I really needed. I had so much deodorant I was set for a couple years- and if I did happen to run out and not catch a sale, my world would not come crashing down because I had to buy a stick of deodorant! I started learning how to be more choosy. Just because it's free- I don't get it anymore. I have friends that coupon, that get so much free stuff they have to keep buying new deep freezers and shelving systems. All the money they saved they have bought 8 new bookshelves with! Does a small family REALLY need quite that much? Is it really saving money if you have to spend money to make your house more storage-friendly? (to a certain degree yes, but be careful of extremes!)
In fact, I hardly ever go anywhere other than my grocery store to be honest! Occasionally once or twice a year when my toothpaste/deodorant/shampoo stock pile runs low I start the rolling rewards madness, but I have saved a lot more money and enjoyed the time staying home with my kids more than getting up early every week to run out and get that great deal! (although I can't always pass up Black Fridays!) Now I'm certainly NOT saying don't grab a good deal- but take a step back and look at just how much you are really spending every week-both time, gas, & energy- to go out shopping. I have realized that the deals will always be there-some more than others. To me, it wasn't worth being exhausted just to go out and get the free stuff that was always free to couponers anyways. :)
So the next time you start feeling run down and stressed out because you can't find a coupon or that the store might be out of stock if you don't go right this second- step back and take a breather! Couponing is supposed to be fun and help you save money-not stress you out! :)
This is a great spotlight post by Crystal. She mentions the topic of overindulgent spending. I, myself, have been and still am guilty of this. After we lose our "newbie couponer" stash and become "regulars" we tend to try and out-do our last shopping trip. Sure, baby wipes are $0.25 a box, but I DON'T have kids, many deals come up that seem to good to pass up. However, when you take into consideration the tax, gas and effort you made just to get those cheap items, you spent more than you wanted. This is the reason why a lot of my shopping trips don't compare to the ones I had back in June/July when I was starting out.

What are your opinions on over-spending while couponing? Are you guilty too?

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