The 2011 Coupon Challenge

18 Jan

Several weeks ago, I forced my husband to watch the documentary “Extreme Couponing” on TLC. After it was over, my husband looked at me and asked if it was something we could try for a month. Since I’m always up for a new and exciting challenge, I agreed. But I had to get my head around how to actually coupon.

I’m not an avid couponer. Coupons actually intimidate the crap out of me. I use them for clothes, movies, restaurants, etc. but when it comes to doing it for groceries and toiletries, I run. Far, far away.  I tend to find that they are most often for items or foods that my family doesn’t use/eat, and, as a result, I don’t use them at all. However, after doing some research, I realized that maybe, just maybe, there are coupons that are practical and relevant to our life. It’s just a matter of searching and finding them. (And having the time to devote to finding them. I’ll discuss these topics in my next post).

Since I agreed to try couponing, I had to figure out what would work the best for me. So, much like I did with the Aldi experiment, I devised a purpose for this coupon challenge (there are actually 3):

  1. To save money
  2. To build a small stockpile
  3. To refine my couponing skills

Since couponing is so overwhelming, I also had to come up with rules to help me narrow my focus (I have an inexplicable need to take on more than I can handle and I also have an inexplicable need to do it “right” the first time. This would not allow me to be successful in any way):

  1. Coupons will only be used for items I would normally buy. This means that even if something is deemed a “money maker” by the professional couponers like the Krazy Coupon Lady, if it is not something that we will use, I will not buy it.
  2. The stockpile that I build can be no larger than 6 months worth of nonfood items. Not only do I not have the room for more than that, I find it impractical to have any more than that. As far as food items, I do not have the room for any more than 3 months worth of a stockpile.
  3. I will only devote one day to shopping, and I will not go to any more than 3 stores on that day. This is more of a time issue than anything else. However, there is a drug store thisclose to my new office which will be very helpful during this challenge. 
  4. Unless it is an extenuating circumstance, I must not exceed our current budget for each of the areas where I will be using coupons: groceries, toiletries and household items.
  5. If there is an excellent coupon deal, I cannot exclude buying what we actually need just to build the stockpile. For instance, if there is an excellent deal on soap, but we need razors and deodorant, I must buy what we need rather than spending the money on the good deal. If we have the money to do both, then I will do that.
  6. Following up on #5, if there is something that we need, I must buy it even if there is no coupon.

So that’s it. That’s how The Empty Kitchen’s 2011 Coupon Challenge will work. I’m hoping that it’s as successful as the Aldi experiment. Even if it’s not, at the very least I’ll become less frightened of coupons and save some money!


6 Responses to “The 2011 Coupon Challenge”

  1. redwagon January 19, 2011 at 8:51 am #

    This is pretty much the rulebook I’m following as well. I understand you can donate moneymakers you don’t need, but just doesn’t seem worth the time and effort to figure out those deals. Even minimal savings would be nice! Good luck on your challenge!

    • theemptykitchen January 19, 2011 at 8:55 am #

      i agree…i don’t need to search out every single deal that there is, including those that might make me money (which i still don’t fully understand). i just want to save money on the stuff i need and use!

  2. run4joy59 January 19, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

    Like you, I don’t want to buy things I wouldn’t normally buy just because it’s a great deal…I do think it’s a good idea to have a stockpile of food and household necessities…you just never know what the future holds. Good luck~

    • theemptykitchen January 21, 2011 at 8:36 am #

      thanks! i think having a small stockpile of necessities is always a good idea, no matter what your circumstances. it’s like a emergency fund of goods.


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