Up until 3 years ago, I never used coupons. Coupons were for old ladies and/or people that had time for that sort of thing and I didn’t have time to waste cutting coupons and looking at ads. Or at least that is what I thought at the time. Boy was I wrong! My coupon journey started out simple; I needed printer paper. Three weeks away from the due date of my fourth child and with no money in my wallet, I decided there just had to be a way to get some free, or at the least really cheap, printer paper. A Google search for “free printer paper” brought up results for an offer Office Depot had. If you brought in an empty ink cartridge, Office Depot would give you a free ream of printer paper. A quick call to my nearest location confirmed the deal wasn’t valid any more, BUT I could still bring in a cartridge and they would give me a $3 coupon I could use in the store. Free paper here I came!
This seemingly simple search for free printer paper spurred my curiosity. What else could I get for free? My first big deal (at the time I thought it was more of a steal) came from a search I did for diaper deals. Seeing as I was about to have a baby, possessing bag after bag of diapers was priority numero uno. I found a site where members posted about deals they had found, how to get them, what coupons to use, and where to get them. I netted three months worth of Pampers, eight months worth of wipes, ten bottles of Huggies bath soap and lotion, huge packages of Bounty paper towels and Charmin toilet tissue. All of it cost me about $60. I was astounded. My husband was blown away. I was overcome with excitement and called everyone I knew to tell them about the amazing deal I had just gotten at Target.
And so it began…
After Target, I found out I could get bag after bag of stuff for next to nothing at CVS. Then I discovered Walgreens and their rebate program that gave you mounds of free or super cheap items every month (the did away with the program in 2009, so sad). Walgreens now as a Register Reward program I am learning. My next venture is Randalls (Safeway to some, Tom Thumb to others). I know you can get cheap groceries at Randalls if you know how to use the right coupons at the right time. My first and most recent trip to Randalls netted me $93 in groceries for $14 and that total included three 12 packs of Coca Cola products. My Target trip last week, I walked out with $108 in goods for $16.
I know people of Central Texas are suffering. We all thought we were immune to the economic problems seen in the rest of the country. But as we have all seen recently, our city is not invincible. More companies are laying off while prices are getting higher. Let’s stop wasting our money. Coupons are money. Those little pieces of paper are worth big bucks. $1 here, 50 cents there, $3 over here… it adds up to more money in your pocket and less of it being put in the register at the store you just left. I don’t know about you, but I like my money where it belongs, in my wallet.
What I hope to do with this blog is share with the people of Central Texas (and the rest of the nation) what knowledge I have of saving and the knowledge that others share in their blogs and their sites. There are many, many sources of information on the web to help you save. My goal is to compile it here for the folks of Austin and surrounding areas. Since a lot of the items you can get for free you may not actually use, I hope this will also bring in more donations to the Capital Area Food Bank, Nubian Queen Lola’s on 12th, ARCH, Caritas, and any and all charitable organizations in the area who are in desperate need of donations.
What I have come to learn from the last three years I have spent “wheelin’ and dealin’ ” around Austin is there are certain items people who use coupons never pay for: toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, conditioner, hair styling products, lotion, shower gel, razors, and headache medications. Even if you don’t like Herbal Essence, if you can get it for free, I am pretty certain that there is someone in need who would love to be “ewwing and awwwing” in the shower while they lather up. (I hope you saw those commercials and don’t think I was making some nasty comment. LOL) I personally don’t use men’s razors but at $9 a piece at the store, I never have any trouble finding someone more than happy to take them off my hands when I get them for free.

I stopped couponing for a while because I got overwhelmed. I started working more and I just didn’t seem to have enough time in my day. What I recently realized is that while I was working more, I was also paying more. I spent less time looking for deals and I was spending almost all the “extra” money I was making working those extra hours. How does that make sense? If I spend less time working, more time saving, and more time living a better life, well then why not?