Ask the readers: How did you begin couponing?

by Jess on September 21, 2010

I’ve only briefly talked about how & why I coupon, but thought today it might be fun to share my story and also hear yours!

Back in late 2006, my (now-ex) boyfriend and I moved up to a tiny town in Northern California wine country, also known fondly as the land of no double coupons. Outside of my job, I didn’t really have many friends up there and was extremely homesick and would spend a lot of my free time driving out to Napa to shop at Target. How lame, right?

To me, all Target stores are pretty much laid out the same way and I found great comfort in walking around Target and imagining I was back at home in Southern California. Even though I’ve always been a frugal shopper, I never came home empty-handed and those “comfort” trips really started to add up!

So, I began to look for ways to save money and cut costs. Living with a guy is expensive, and although we shared the bills, men don’t really think about buying things like laundry detergent and toilet paper.

Back in 2006 there weren’t very many coupon blogs like mine, and I stumbled upon The site offers weekly coupon match-ups for various stores, but for a price. These days purchasing a subscription from them is a total rip off because you can get all that info for FREE on blogs like mine.

Anyway, there I found a wonderful forum where people were sharing stories about the awesome items they scored by using coupons at my favorite store, Target! I never imagined you could get so many cool things for free/cheap just by using coupons. From that point on, I was hooked and found great joy in being able to fill my pantry at my favorite comfort store for practically free, and also donate a lot of the goodies to the local food bank.

These days I’m back in Southern California and what started out as a fun hobby I now do as a necessity. Like the millions of unemployed around the country, after being laid off from my job last Fall, I still find myself spending hours everyday looking for a job with no luck. It’s been an extremely stressful year, but being able to utilize my couponing skills during this rough time and share my love for coupons with others has turned a crummy situation into something so profound.

I would love to hear your story of how you began couponing!
Is it something you began as a fun hobby? Or is it something you do out of necessity or to allow some wiggle room in your budget? Please feel free to share in the comments below!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura September 21, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Hi Jess,
I live in Camp Pendleton, California and I began couponing in January of 2009. I was working at the time, and I wasn't looking for ways to save any money actually. I never thought of using coupons, and I had totally wrong views of coupons. One idea I had was that coupons could only be used at certain stores. I feared the use of coupons, It just made me a little nervous. I used to buy all of our groceries for my little boy, who's now 3 and my husband, for close to $130 a week. I began to notice that prices at the Commissary (base grocery store) were cheaper than going out in town. I then started noticing that the Commissary would practically hand out coupons. Yes, they would set up a little table, and it would have a bunch of coupons already cut out. I started doing the "coupon" thing, (which is totally wrong), I began to fill my cart, then head on over to the table with coupons. Thats how I started couponing. From there, sparked a little something in my brain, and I just started researching, finding others who did it, and just plain educating myself on anything that had to do with couponing. I enjoyed every minute of looking at videos, tutorials, and just everything about it. I now am way better at my shopping. And as some may not know, couponing is much more than getting a newspaper, cutting out coupons and redeeming them at checkout. Its an entire change of behavior, and mental thinking that takes place. From making menu planning, to knowing the unit price of an item, its just a lifestyle change that happened to me, and I love it.


Kim Kemp September 22, 2010 at 2:52 am

I was a casual couponer at first and just clipped a few when I saw them that were for items we regularly used. Then I found out about the big coupons for old navy and started winning those and hanging out on some of the deal threads that talked about them. That eventually turned into me frequenting Target deal threads and once I discovered you could get free/super cheap items I really got into it. Now I am hooked on CVS and Target and really enjoy coming up with scenarios and hunting down coupons! I just wish I would have discovered this hobby back when we were really broke lol!


Laura September 22, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Does anyone ever wonder if CVS or Target ever thinks about all the free stuff we get, Thats my ultimate fear.LOL a little funny that I worry that way, but I just think, Did they not imagine there are really smart people out there, that could find these amazing deals. Just wondering if you guys ever think that.


Anonymous September 22, 2010 at 3:47 pm

My family has always used coupons. When I was a kid my little sister loved to clip the coupons out of the Sunday paper. She couldn't say "coupon" so she called them "poo-cons" and we called her the Poo-con Queen.

Although I wasn't as big into using coupons I was really into frugality and used a lot of tips from "The tightwad gazette" and other frugal experts. One year when I was single I saved my grocery receipts and at the end of the year I figured out that I spent an average of $40 a month for my groceries.

I got into couponing because a co-worker showed me a blog and my deal alert went off. My sister and I call each other all the time with our best deals, we have a lot of fun comparing bargains.


Jess @ This Frugal Life September 22, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Laura: I would so love to shop with coupons at the commissary! I completely agree with you about couponing being a lifestyle change, it's painful to pay full price and I don't think I can ever go back.

With more and more people jumping on the couponing bandwagon I also fear one day CVS & Target will catch on to all the amazing deals they give us. When I first started couponing Target had unlimited prints on their store coupons, now as you know they have a ton of restrictions on them yet we still are able to score amazing deals. To them, the whole point of these store promotions & coupons is to get us in the door so they can distract us with other pretty things to buy. Unfortunately that tactic doesn't work with us super-couponers, but it does work on huge percentage of their shoppers so I doubt they'll ever make any drastic changes to it so I think we're safe :)

Kim: I think whether you're broke, rich, or comfortable, couponing is an essential skill to practice! Thanks for sharing your story :) (Oh and I miss those big Old Navy coupons…wish they would come back)

Anonymous: "The Tightwad Gazette" is such a great book! I love that you and your sister are both into bargain hunting :) I bet it's so energizing when you hear about a great find she scored! Thanks for sharing your story :)


Donna September 23, 2010 at 3:12 am

I love your site, I too live in Ventura County. My mom was a couponer and so am I, but not to the extent I've taken it to this year. My husband is self employed and by the end of 2009 we were really struggling to make ends meet, to top it off our oldest daughter moved home for a few months and again we became a family of 5. I decided that I could control our grocery bill better than I had been. I started looking for all the coupon sites I could find, and blogs too. They truely are a life saver with the match ups. I used to be happy if I saved $5 off my bill, now I save an average of 50% if not more. Thank God for coupons and wonderful people like you with sites like these.


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