My Return to Couponing & How to Start


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Over the past month, I’ve gone back to clipping coupons. Not “let’s buy free contact solution even though no one wears contacts” couponing. Not “buried under a mountain of Sunday papers” couponing. I’m not even primarily couponing for things I need. I’m couponing for our food pantry.

A few months ago, Mr. P and I sat down and looked at our charitable giving budget. For the most part, we keep it pretty flexible. This allows us to support local drives, spur-of-the-moment fundraisers, unexpected natural disasters, the list goes on. We do, however, make it a point to gift a local food pantry, a local homeless shelter, and a literacy initiative in Mexico that stole my heart last summer each month. I also make sure to purchase one item for the food pantry each time I grocery shop.

While I’m not going to stop making a monetary gift to the food pantry, I do think that I’d like to do more with couponing and giving. I am confident that our food pantry does everything in their power to reasonably stretch their dollars and minimize their costs. But I’m also sure they’re not out couponing. It can be a bit more time consuming and it can also require trips to different stores every week. Couponing is definitely more geared towards individuals than organizations. So this individual says, “Game on.”

Last month, our food pantry expressed a need for paper goods, especially toilet paper and wipes. The organization puts out a list of requested staples that I shop from, so I made sure to add those items to my donation list. If you follow me on social media, you may have already seen my “brag,” but I was able to score two 12-roll packs of Cottonelle and two packs of Cottonelle wipes for $4 including tax. In a prior life, when I was squirreling away every deal I never needed, I would have simply found a place to stuff the TP until we needed it days weeks months from now. Now I realize that kind of stockpiling is wasteful in terms of storage space. Couponing deals cycle through, and we have more than enough toilet paper as it is for now. But you know that feeling about a deal being too good to pass up? Call me weak. Call me hooked. Couponing definitely still has its claws in me. But I think I found a really fun way to capitalize on a good deal and help a good cause at the same time.

So Tell Me…Do you coupon? How do you stretch your charitable donations?

In the event that you’d like to try your hand at couponing, The Busy Mom’s Guide to Couponing teamed up with Quill to design this fantastic infographic to help people get started.

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The Busy Mom’s Guide to Couponing
Infographic by Quill

My Return to Couponing & How to Start

11 thoughts on “My Return to Couponing & How to Start

  1. I wish I were better about couponing. Tim’s been eating a lot of cereal lately. The stuff that actually gets coupons. So I resolved to try to do, figuring I’d get a little back (10 cents through Inbox Dollars or 10 Swagbucks). But the printer doesn’t want to install correctly on my computer for some reason.

    I may see if I can get it going on my iPad. Otherwise, I’m going to find out whether the suckers can be scanned off an iPad. Even so, I’d have to already have it pulled up — and I couldn’t do more than one at a time and… sigh.

  2. What a way to put together charitable donations & couponing! This idea never occurred to me, but I think you are on to something here. Especially when they put a list of what they are looking for, it’s a challenge to find the best coupon deals around time to fulfill their needs. Great idea! 🙂

  3. I coupon casually, mostly using the ones that come in the paper or in apps I use regularly. I’ll also print them from the Target website. Even without spending a ton of time on it, the savings add up! Love that you use it for charitable giving!

  4. I definitely had the coupon phase, when I overdid it, and stuffed our little condo with massive quantities of things we may never use. On the plus side, I donated TONS to our food pantry and women’s shelters, and would often buy things expressly for that purpose. On the negative side, we ate so much junk food when we shopped that way — it was terrible for how we felt, and we eventually dropped couponing altogether. For now, I feel like it’s one thing too many to try to coupon shop for donations, but I admire you for making time for it! I could see us getting back to that once we quit our jobs. While I’m still working and traveling a ton, I try to do my part by keeping the little shampoos and soaps from hotel rooms and donating those to our local homeless shelter. 🙂

  5. We’re very specific in our couponing, and mainly pay attention to emailed coupons for a percentage off our purchase rather than a specific item. (World Market, Kohl’s, AC Moore, Old Navy) Except for World Market (source of Cheap Sumatra Coffee) we generally don’t go to these places that often because they aren’t regular needs.

    So many of the grocery coupons in the paper are for processed items I don’t want us to buy, but I probably should pay more attention to the personal care item coupons.

  6. I will use coupons that are $1 on things I regularly buy, but that’s about it. My schedule doesn’t give me a lot of time to browse the ads and do a lot of clipping. I think it is a great idea to buy items for you local food pantry. What a nice way to give back and get your shopping fix too!


  7. I am a TP hoarder. The floorspace below our king size bed is full of the stuff. Thankfully, in the last few years I’ve convinced myself and Mr. Spendy to get rid of crap we don’t need (two vacuum cleaners!?) so that we can store stuff we will actually use. No easy feat in a 1-bedroom apartment.

    I, too, like to give where and when I can and use my couponing skills for good, not eil. I used to regularly drop off stuff at a storage facility where a domestic abuse shelter would collect goods for the women and children in their care. I would stock up on all of the extreme couponing basics and get those to the collection facility every couple of months.

    When I taught as a high school teacher, my school participated in a community service day where groups of students (chaperoned by teachers) go work with a community organization or local project for a day. I was placed with the students at that very shelter I had donated to several times. Our task for the day? Organize their huge supply of health and beauty aids. It took us 6 hours and many hands.

    I learned that THEY DO NOT NEED ANY TOOTHPASTE! They had at least 500 full-sized containers that were probably close to expiring. Here that had been one of the items I donated most frequently because it’s always free. Plus, local dentists had given them travel sized ones that they probably got for free or at a discount from toothpaste companies like Crest and Colgate. I saw that they had an endless supply of crappy body wash (think White Rain or Suave), too.

    Through hours of sorting and sweat, I learned what they really needed: paper products, twin sized bedding, cleaning products, pads and tampons. Man, was I off base in my donations! I thought I was doing such a great thing but my efforts were just a bit off.

    I now follow the organization on Facebook and saw that they posted just the other day saying that they urgently needed trash bags. I headed to Sam’s Club and got a big box to drop off.

    Moral of the story? Donation is great. It’s even better to get to know the recipients and get an idea of their real needs. Use your couponing for good, not evil (shelf-clearing, overconsumption, stocking up on stuff that will just expire before you get to it).

    1. Yes! I follow two different area food banks/shelters and try to shop off their “most needed” lists. One is always asking for toothpaste…and the other almost never does! That’s an incredibly trip that you took with your students. How eye opening that must have been for them (and you!).

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