Oh my gosh! You keep asking questions that are right up my alley! :) I got married in November of 1974, age 15, right during the worst recession and we were dead broke! My grandpa retired in March of 1975, and he and my grandma had already been using coupons. I have an uncle who drove for our local daily paper and he would give my grandma (his mom) leftover "shoves" (the inserts in the Sunday paper, including coupons), and she would cut out all the good coupons, which back then, most of them had "No Expiration Dates" written on them. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case in 99% of the coupons!
I also began to use coupons and I already shopped on sale. Back then you might get .10c or .15c off a box of cereal that cost .89c-$1.23, so it wasn'tt a huge savings, but savings.
In January 1979 I went to work in a small town grocery store and I used coupons regularly by then. I know you aren't old enough to remember these, but in 1979, Reggie Jackson was a black professional baseball player who was very popular, and they made a candy bar after him (see second source below). In the coupons one Sunday there were free candy bar coupons and my grandma cut out dozens and dozens of these coupons. Unfortunately, she cut about 502 of them wrong and they were no good (she cut off the part where the address was), but I still had enough that I was able to buy 13 1/2 BOXES of these candy bars for FREE!!! There were 24 candy bars in EACH box! This was around October of 1979, so guess what we gave out for Halloween that year? (lol) Since I worked at the grocery store I just had the girl who ordered candy at the time order 14 extra boxes for me! Was that a bargain, or what? My husband and I ate a few, and we gave them out to everyone we knew! It was fun to get these!
In 1984 my uncle would drop off shoves to me as I was on his route and my grandma had passed away (1980). One time I cut out 26 coupons for $1.00 off any size of Chef Boy R Dee pizza mix. The grocery store had the single pizza boxes on sale for $1.00 and I got 26 boxes for FREE and they paid me .26c to buy them! We only had three kids, one a baby at the time, and so we gave a few away to the neighbors and we had enough pizza to last us for 6 months! FUN!
Another time I was able to get almost $19.00 worth of groceries for less than $2.00. I have routinely saved anywhere from $25.00-$40.00 off of my grocery bill weekly using coupons, and this was not because of these shoves I would get, but from the coupons I was able to use. This was back when we had 6-8 kids at home and there were 8-10 of us to buy for weekly. There are only 4 of us here now, and the coupons aren't as good, but I still cut them out and I use them.
I will NOT go shopping without my coupons! Where I shop they double coupons (since 1982) up to .99c. This means that a .75c coupon is worth $1.50 off my purchase. Just last week I was able to buy the largest bottle of French's mustard (20 ounces, 40% more in bottle special) for .50c. The mustard was on sale for $1.50 per bottle, I had two .50c coupons, and so I bought two bottles for $1.00 total for a savings of $2.00. That is a great deal! I paid 1/3 the retail price saving 2/3 the cost of the mustard ~ more when you consider it was on sale!
I buy everything I can on sale and use a coupon for everything I can. About a month ago I bought Huggies diaper wipes (80count) for .50c. It was on sale for $2.00 and I had a .75c coupon worth $1.50. I buy these as I watch my grandkids who are still in diapers. Great deal!
I have gotten canned tomatoes (Old Gold) for .09c a can, Hamburger Helper for .29c a box, and so many deals you can't even imagine! Ragu for .50c a jar, Manwich for .20c a can, and cereal for .50 a box.
These are just some of the fairly recent savings I can recall.
I no longer get the shoves from my unlce (he retired 4 years ago, and he didn't come this way anyway), but I have neighbors who save coupons for me so I always have plenty. I go through and keep what I want then pass them on to my girls who get what they want. If I get several batches, then I leave some intact for my kids.
I LOVE saving money! I also look in the "dent and ding" section and buy dented cans and battered boxes and use coupons when I can on these reduced items. I also use the store coupons that they hand out on so many products. I don't buy a lot of processed foods, but great savings on Hamburger Helper goes to the food pantry. I can afford to give to them and not feel the pinch.
You will have so much fun saving coupons! I also used to rebate when it was actually worth it and I got so many free things back in the 80's! I love to stretch our money as far as it will go and sales and coupons are the way to go. The stores here will also match each other's ads (except for produce and meat) so I can go to one store and get the sales I want and the savings! You will not be sorry to save money! Yes, you can get coupons online.