Sunday, November 8, 2009

Some Thoughts on Couponing

It's no secret to my friends and family that I am Crazy for Coupons.  I've always been a smart shopper, looking for bargains, stocking up on things I like when they're on sale, yada, yada.  But this couponing approach that I've been doing the last 8 or 9 months has totally changed my way of thinking about shopping.

Each week it's a little challenge. I think, "What can I get for free or for pennies this week?"  Thankfully, I am a really organized person and I probably spend an hour or two on Sunday mornings clipping my coupons, looking at the weekly deals, and getting organized for the week ahead.  That may sound like a lot of time to some of you, but I can assure you that the savings are so huge that I wonder how I could not spend this time every week. I don't know for sure, but I would estimate that my savings are at least 50% and actually probably higher than that.  We have never had more food, dog food, household products, and toiletries in the house than we do now and I spend waaaaay less than ever before.

Okay, enough about that.  What I wanted to talk about is something I think is very important, not only at this time of year with winter looming ahead, but year round.  And that is donating to your local food pantry. 

I feel very blessed to have a good job, a steady paycheck and the organizational skills to be a crazy coupon lady.  And I feel it's important to "spread the wealth" a little bit.  Sometimes people just need a helping hand to get back on their feet again.

Some info from a local food pantry:

• Some are two-income families suddenly reduced to one income or no income due to loss of work

• Or they are working but struggling to pay bills and provide food for their families. Others are trying to cope with the break-up of a family or they may be single parents receiving little or no child support.

• Many are senior citizens having to choose between buying medication, paying utility bills or purchasing food

• They are your neighbors, co-workers, friends and, perhaps even, family

On Friday, I took a few minutes to call the township office by my house and ask some questions about their food pantry program.  I had a really interesting conversation with the woman who answered my call and I asked her, "I assume you get a lot of canned goods like veggies and soup, but what would you say are some food items that you never seem to have enough of?  That people always ask for?" 

She told me there are three items that they would love to have more of.  They are tuna fish, spaghetti sauce, and peanut butter.  I asked her why she thought that was and her opinion was that because they are more expensive than canned goods.  Plus, this is my own thought here, with those three items, a little goes a long way. 

The ironic thing is that on any given week, I can get peanut butter and spaghetti sauce for pennies and sometimes free by shopping the way I do with my coupons. 

As soon as I got home, I loaded up a box with all kinds of goodies, including pb and spaghetti sauce and I am so excited to drop it off on Monday morning. 

So, I ask of you; next time you're out grocery shopping, or rummaging around in your pantry or cabinets, please take a minute or two to set aside some food staples to donate to your local food pantry.

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