Chicagolandia
I’ve read some great posts by hound-friends, Shelly and spaghetti, about why they stockpile, and their posts inspired me to tell my own tale. For some, couponing and stockpiling is second nature, for others it’s a hard lesson learned somewhere along the way. For me, it’s a bit of both.

I grew up poor, or po’ as we like to call it. I always figured once I was out on my own, it would be different. Wrong! Once I moved in with my now DH, money was tight. I figured I was frugal by shopping almost exclusively at Aldi. That’s what you did to save money, right? Little did I know then how wrong that was.

I started couponing in January of 2007. I remember my first outing so clearly, like it was only yesterday. I now chuckle at the image in my head. DH & I went to SuperTarget for toiletries. We spent nine dollars and change and saved…..(wait for it)….$6.25! I was ecstatic. I truly was. I remembering turning to DH and telling him – imagine if I could do that every time we shopped. He laughed, and shook his head, like it wasn’t even possible to do more than once. Imagine how wrong we both were.

I continued shopping at Aldi, wishing I could find a better way to feed my little family of 2. There were times when money got so tight, the grocery budget disappeared – for 2 weeks at a time. I’d hit into a small deal, but nothing was ever “enough” to last. I still didn’t get it.

I didn’t realize all the mistakes I was making until I had my gall bladder removed about 2 years ago. When my doctor read off the list of things I could and couldn’t eat, I was terrified. How could I feed myself, let alone DH, the healthy fare that was listed? On $30 a week for the two of us, it wasn’t happening. So, while I was re-cooperating at my mom’s, I went through her newspaper and took her coupons. I was surprised at how many of them were for healthy food. But we still spent over $75 in one week. Finally, I had the swift kick in the rear that I so desperately needed.

I took a gamble and went outside my comfort zone. I went to Mexican markets for tortillas, learned the wiley, cagey ways of Meijer – which I never shopped at before, started searching harder for deals – and made my mother my partner in couponing. She would go over the ads with me over the phone from the stores near her – I’d search online for coupons, and when I’d visit her, we’d hit the deals together. Over time, I started to see a difference.

My purchasing habits changed overnight. I now skipped beef all together, in favor of ground turkey – which at the time I heralded as a boom, since the price was much cheaper. I bought chicken as my basic meat, and looked to other ways to make it fun. Baked chicken twice a week wasn’t going to cut it for me. I approached it not as a new diet, but as a lifestyle change. Out went the chips, cookies, nutty bars, and “fun” food. In came yogurt, dried fruits, truck loads of applesauce, spices, marinades, and beans. Those items were much more expensive than their fatty counterparts.

I bought dried spices in abundance, grabbed some cheap marinades. I got out the crockpot and started experimenting – first using a lowfat cookbook my mother had given me, then after a few months, I struck out on my own.

At this point, I had read every label in the stores I shopped at regularly, and knew what I could and couldn’t have. I started making better food choices, something I should’ve been doing all along. I started looking at cooking as an adventure again – not as a chore to get done with as soon as possible. Taking the time to enjoy my food and appreciate all that it does, from nutritional angles as well as enjoying the fantastic flavors: I opened myself up and tried something new.

The stockpiling came naturally, as the coupons gave me additional buying power I didn’t have before. Now I could afford 5 of what I used to buy 1-2 of. Replacing beef saved oodles of money. We moved from a 2 bedroom apartment into a 3 level, 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom house – so we had space to stockpile. When gas prices skyrocketed last summer, Annie’s Market was born. I hounded voraciously, occasionally with DaMama at my side, but often solo. I learned I stay focused better when there is someone else with me, so I try to shop with someone else. I’m too embarrassed to buy junk food if I have witnesses.

Now we hound together – unless it’s a quick trip somewhere. We’ve added my sister as a fellow hound, at least when she’s in town. Over the last 2 months, we’ve garnered another hound, a friend of mine with a family of 8. Seeing the change it makes to a family, I have to admit this is priceless.
9 Responses
  1. Well, i haven't turned to the healthy part, but I've cut it out significantly. I remember way back when, we'd go grocery shopping and it looked like we were shopping for kids, with all the junk food. Now, when I put all my stuff on the belt, I take notice of the 'junk' More often then not, there's not a lot of junk, maybe one or two things....sometimes NONE! But I still have a sweet tooth, but I try to cut back as much as I can.
    GREAT POST!


  2. Helene Says:

    The stockpiling made a huge difference for me. I used to be at Jewel almost every day with no plan. I thought buying store brands on sale was a good thing.
    I've tried adding people to my hounding but most listen with that look that says you're crazy and the rest just keep spending recklessly.


  3. Thanks. It's been a long road to get here, but I think it makes me appreciate it all the more. I feel so good when I see only 1 junk item on the belt. That lets me know that I'm treating myself, but best of all - that I'm treating myself well.


  4. frugalsuz Says:

    Its so interesting to read your back story. You've certainly come a long way!


  5. Helene - I know tons of people that keep spending like their wallets are on fire. When they see what I do, I get the polite murmurs of, "I wish I could do that....but" and that's when I stop listening. I can't feel sorry for them and want to help if they won't help themselves.


  6. Frugalsuz - Thank you!!


  7. Anonymous Says:

    I agree, Chicagolandia. I have offered several people in my family lessons on how to save money. They are amazed and say "Oh teach me", but when all is said and done, they spend, spend, spend. I keep encouraging them, especially because I know their finances and I know they can't afford to spend that way. It breaks my heart to see them waste so much money.


  8. Precious Says:

    You have come a long way! Congrats!


  9. Anonymous - I'm always blown away by how much $$ people waste - they just don't get it. I wasn't as frugal as I should've been over the years, but the fragile state of the economy has taught me to be frugal, and it's a lifestyle choice I have adopted - not til thingsg et better, but for the forseeable future.

    Thanks, Precious!


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