The Coupon Investing Experiment

I recently decided I was a fool. Yes, I admit it! I am a fool, I would go to the store every week for groceries, yet I didn’t take a single coupon, not even the ones I could log in and clip electronically! Since I don’t like being a fool, I  thought “what can I do to better my financial situation?” Since investing has been my new financial goal, I needed to find a way to improve my investments. At age 35, I will barely have over $100,000 by the time I retire if all I invest is the pitiful $150 a month I have been investing.  but I realized something, when I was couponing I wasn’t eating out, I always had food in the house, I was saving on my grocery bills and I was earning extra money for the price of a news paper. So it occurred to me, if I take the money I save in coupons, I could invest that money to buffer my honey pot with something extra and it wouldn’t cost me a dime more.

Could this be possible? Could I actually find a way to double my investments? I began with my YNAB budget. I looked at my expenses in restaurants and groceries and did a little trimming. First, I cut my restaurant category in half. I won’t be eating out if I’m going to the store every week. I took that restaurant money and I added it to my buffer category. If you have read my post on YNAB, you will know one of the rules is to create a buffer so you are no longer living paycheck to paycheck. At the time of my experiment, I have only been buffering at a rate of about $50 a month, give our take, so I wanted to bump this up. Admittedly, my restaurant category was morosely over funded, so switching this around will better my financial situation by paycheck one. I then turned my attention to my grocery category which I purposely have been over-funding so that I would be motivated to shop for groceries instead of restaurants. As of now, I am going to leave this category the same until I get in the swing of things.

Shopping multiple stores and sales papers seems to be my best bet for the best deals, but if you don’t have time for this, find a store (like Publix or Walmart) that take competitor coupons, ad match, or stack coupons. Matching coupons and sales papers is going to be a great way to start, but don’t be afraid to sign up with your grocery store for in-store deals and coupons. I also like to follow some coupon sights and follow them on facebook, I like hotcouponworld.com, southernsavers.com, krazycouponlady.com, and I sometimes use the service couponclippin4you.com, when I want multiple coupons of something or when I buy a paper with the coupons stolen out of them (which happens here more often than I like).

I won’t go into details on how to coupon, there are plenty of tutorials on these sights, and even on YouTube, but I will share with you some of my latest receipt information. I do have a spreadsheet that I made up for my grocery list, a price list, the coupon price, if they double, and the final price so that I can go back and check my receipt against my spreadsheet to see store savings vs. coupon savings. Sometimes when you look at your receipt, it will say something like “You saved $36.49 this trip”. I don’t count that toward my investment money because I would be paying the sales price with or without the coupons; however, if I have extra in my grocery category at the end of the pay-period, I’ll send that money over to my “Betterment-Lending Club” category, which is my investing category. This week, I have shopped at Kroger and CVS. My Kroger OOP (out of pocket) was $74.98, I saved a total of $46.99 with store savings and coupons, but I am only looking for the MFG CPN on the receipt. This is the manufacturer coupon savings. I had $11.85 in coupons.

When I shopped at CVS, my OOP was $75.87, but my total coupon savings was $51.12, I also had Extra Care Bucks (ECBs) that totaled $39.00, which is like having cash in your hand. I can use these $39 to pay for some of my OOP expenses and even stack them with coupons, to buy more groceries, but I won’t be adding the $39.00 to my investment category because even if I had not used coupons, I would still earn ECBs.  In total, I used $62.97 coupons to pay for things I was paying for OOP! See what I mean? FOOL!!! Since the money was already budgeted for grocery expenditure without coupons, I don’t have to raise my grocery category to cover the cost of the investments.

I am not an extreme couponer, but I do stock up 2-4 items at a time, because it will only go on sale every 12 weeks or so. So this week, I bought enough shampoo, deodorant, laundry detergent, dish washing detergent, toothbrushes, and toothpaste to last the year, so I won’t have to buy them again, unless I have really good coupons that will make something free or $1, because I give Cotton balls for Christmas to family members. I have several other staples such as frozen veggies, rice and cereal. So next week I will really be focusing on perishable such as meat, eggs, butter and milk (which all freeze!!!) I only have about $100 left in my grocery category for next week, so I probably won’t have too much going toward the investing category, but I do have coupons for all of these items, so I may end up investing another $10. Since I get paid bi-weekly, that means I will have about $72 extra to invest this paycheck.

If I can keep this rate up, I could double my investments, but only time will tell. I would like to say I am on my way to becoming a Mustachian (if any of you read mrmoneymustache.com), but I’m not there yet. Maybe my mustache can be pencil thin at least! So far, it feels a little wrong taking money out of my grocery category knowing that I could use it on more groceries, but when I look at the long-term goal of better investments and consider I was foolishly throwing this money out anyway before I was using coupons, it is worth it!

I hope to give you an update by the end of the month.

 

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