Christi the Coupon Coach is a mom of four who has figured out the couponing game and has shared her wisdom and insight with us in her book, Couponing Made Simple. The 64-page e-book I received is divided into ten chapters, starting with the very basic lingo of the couponing world. She then coaches her readers in setting up a filing system for your coupons, how to find coupons, and ultimately how to use them. Throughout the book, Christi shares photos of some of her shopping victories to inspire us to do the same. Supplementing her book is her "Christi's Favorites" page, which lists websites to help us get started, especially with coupon matching.
But as great as couponing is, Christi is even more passionate about Jesus. She reminds us that the greatest deal on the planet is no match to the salvation we have in Christ. And even if we score big on the shopping scene, it is not simply to hoard but to wisely steward the resources God gives us and even share generously with those around us. I loved that reminder.
Price: $4.99 for the e-book I received. If you are using a computer to print your coupons, make sure you have paper and ink!
Before starting, I would recommend asking yourself one question: Do you have some time to invest to buy, print out, sort, match up coupons and possibly shop at several different stores? Yes, I can potentially save a lot of money, but even with the most straight-forward and detailed instructions, I still need to invest the time to do those things. If you do have the time, then this book is for you!
I would suggest first of all, read the book all the way through. Christi then goes through the step by step process of creating organizers for your coupon fliers, files for the coupons you use in the store, and how to use your computer and printer to print out even more coupons. Before collecting any, it helps to create a place to house these little slips of paper, which can easily get lost (don't ask me how I know this).
I must confess, however, that this part is where I felt rather overwhelmed and a few questions came up. The first one was: Do I have to purchase a Sunday newspaper simply to get the coupons in it? Our L.A. Times is $2 per Sunday paper at the rack. According to the book, I would need to purchase at least two copies and ideally six copies for our family of 6. That's a minimum of $4, up to $12 per week, $16-48 per month! From the examples in the book, I know that couponing well can make it up, but to me that is a lot to pay just for coupons. We're not big newspaper readers. Not only that, did I really want all that newspaper in my house?
We could get a subscription, but that would mean making a commitment to longer-term couponing than I was ready to make. Otherwise, it sounded like I would need to be prepared to get up early to snag the paper before they all disappeared, or take the time to hunt them down later in the day. It wasn't really the way I wanted to spend my Sunday.
So my next question is, Where else can I get coupons without having to spend that much? Coupon clipping services and coupons from the website are also options. However, with the services, you will need to account for shipping fees and a bit of lag time. Coupons from your printer are limited to two per household computer, plus printer ink. When I tried couponing before, I certainly did not save as Christi did, but I did not spend any money on coupons either. It seems like serious couponing will require time (and some money) to find said coupons and then organize them so that they are ready when the deals roll around.
My last question was, How do I know if something is at its rock-bottom price? I heard that items in the store hit that price every 3 months. However, I am not always good at recognizing these deals. Because I don't have a stockpile of coupons (because I don't have a Sunday paper or time to search for coupons on the internet), I don't have coupons for them either. So it seems like you need to be able to recognize a deal when it shows up plus be prepared to take advantage of the sale.
And then there is the actual time spent shopping. I really don't like grocery shopping. I try to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible. To have to spend time at several stores just to get the good deals takes up a lot more time than I can afford in this season of my life. The closest store is 5 minutes away, the others are 10-15 minutes away...and I live in suburban Los Angeles! To do this would conceivably take me at least a couple of hours.
I guess you can best describe me as a frustrated couponer. I see its value. I know the potential it can have to bless my family and serve others. But I also know that to put money in my pocketbook, whether it be through earning my wages or learning how to cut corners wisely, is work. And work takes time. To be honest, in this, our first year of adoption, I am thankful that I can get food on the table, even if I did pay a lot more for it than Christi did. I felt a bit discouraged because I knew that I could save a lot if I really wanted to, using Christi's tips. They are simple and easy to follow. I am sure that if I did follow her steps and guidance, I could net a lot of groceries for a few bucks too.
But the other factor for me right now is time. The savings appeals to me, but I really don't know when I would be able to squeeze in the time to do it. I guess I was hoping that there was some way to get around it, but it doesn't seem like it! I just can't put that much time into couponing right now, even if I asked my kids to get involved. I have had to just accept the fact that at this point, this year, I will be spending more than I would like. I have been able to look out for blinkies and peelies and stocking up on what looks like I good deal when I can. And maybe one day, I will be able to rock the coupons like Christi does. For me, it may just be being able to cut a few dollars off my bill instead of paying full price. It's not something I would take a picture of, but it's one step in the right direction.
Thanks, Christi, for offering your wisdom and guidance in your book. Even if I didn't get very far in applying its principles, I know I have a better idea of how to get started and what to look for when I can. I learned many tips and hints that I did not know, which I thought were worth the value of the book. Most of all, I have been reminded of the bigger picture of why couponing is such a good idea. It is not about it being a phase or fad. Instead, I appreciated the vision of being able to bless others with my groceries and one day, I hope to be able to do so.
Now, if only I could buy time...