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Have you heard the one about the homeschooling family that lives on less than $22K a year in an area that costs above 100% (116%) of the National CoL Index?

I haven't quite figured out why so many people still persist in perpetuating the myth that living on a single income and homeschooling on a dime aren't possible. I can only suppose these are people who can't imagine life without a daily trip to Starbucks and dinner out several times a week. The people who actually shop at malls (*shudder*) and think "Brand Name = Best". The people who really live by the "Keeping up with the Joneses" mentality.

That? Would not be us!

Welcome to our world. We cook from scratch. Buy from thrift stores. Find 95% of our homeschool materials for free. This is my blog and this is how we do it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Coupons? No, not so much.

Several weeks ago there was an article in the Orlando Sentinel detailing how a woman saved "lots" of money just by using coupons when she shopped. (I don't actually subscribe to the paper; I just read this article at a friend's house after she called my attention to it. It is possible it was part of a series. I'm not sure.)

This woman was a member of some group with a paid subscription service that somehow helped her find all her coupons and she swore it was well worth the price.

Before couponing, she'd been spending $120 a week for her family of four. (Yikes!) After she began her clipping adventure, she was able to reduce that to $80. Now, yes, a $40 deduction is great and $80 is certainly far better than $120, but really, it's not that impressive for a final amount and I don't think it warranted a feature news story!

When I tell people that we only spend $40 - $50 dollars a week for groceries, they usually make the same few assumptions; that we're eating junk, that I live on a farm and grow my own produce, and/or that I'm some sort of "Coupon Queen."

So, for the record:

No, we don't eat a lot of junk. Yes, we had grilled hamburgers for lunch today because we had a cook-out with friends, but you aren't going to find canned soup and boxed "Meal Helpers" on my shelf.

I live behind a farm, but not on one. The only things growing in my yard are some rather sorry looking sunflowers we planted before we were hit by a drought. Not even the grass is growing at this point. I do have some fresh herbs in the kitchen window, but that's it. Could I save more if I gardened? Probably so. But we have very poor soil - in fact, it isn't soil at all, but red clay - so I'd need to spend a good deal of money up front to either combat that fact or build up a container-style garden. And then I'd be paying a significantly higher water bill to keep my veggies growing. I may in the future decide to try growing some of my own produce, but for now, we don't.

And I don't use coupons except on very rare occasions.

I am aware that people can clip coupons and use them to purchase name-brand products for less than the store-brand. But that's immaterial to me. It doesn't matter if the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is .15 cents less with a coupon than the Wal-Mart version. I don't buy boxed macaroni and cheese at all. Often coupons are for just that - convenience foods. Yes, sometimes they actually are for staple items and they sometimes even work to make a national brand the cheapest buy, but more often than not, coupons aren't of much help for me.

I don't subscribe to the newspaper, either. There's no point. Thanks to the internet, I have my news before the paper would even be delivered every morning. I do sometimes scope out sites online to see if any coupons I can use are available, since I'm not getting the pages of them that come with the Sunday paper, but overall, I just don't bother.

If you're a couponer and it's working out for you, great. If it's working out so well for you, you can even beat me at my own game and you spend less than I do for your weekly purchases, even better! I'd love to hear from you.

In any case, the real issue is to wean yourself/family off the convenience foods, which can be, well, inconvenient, I know. But you'll find your most significant reduction in food expenses right here and, most importantly, no coupons are required!

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Blogger Dana Hanley said...

Great tips. I remember the first time someone was going on about some shopping saving program or other. They were so enthusiastic and I was curious. After all the program description they finally got to how much they saved...more than my weekly food allowance is! I thought, "What on earth are you eating?" I had never spent that much. We spend about $80 - $100 per week, and all I do is check the competitor ads WalMart posts at the front of the store to see if anything we are purchasing is on it. But that money is everything we buy in a week (not just food).

It includes diapers (which we mainly only use overnight or when out), school supplies, an occasional pair of shoes, tooth paste, dog food, etc.

June 7, 2007 at 9:39 AM  

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