Print Your Coupons Here!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Warning: Couponing can become addicting!

I have recently started getting more serious about clipping and using coupons. I've been learning how to use them to maximize savings by using them on the best sales. It is crazy when you hear about people spending less money on loads of stuff for their family, but how do you get started?

The first step is simple: Save your Sunday coupons! Even if it is for a brand that you wouldn't normally buy because it is too expensive, save it just in case. There may be a rebate on that item at Walgreens, and you might be willing to buy it if it is only 25 cents instead of $4. Now I don't save EVERY coupon....I don't have any pets and I don't wear contacts, so I don't save coupons for pet items or contact lens solution. However, I don't normally buy a certain brand of margarine, but I did save those coupons and then they went on sale at my grocery store, and with a doubled coupon I was able to get 2 tubs for free. We do use margarine, so I was willing to try a different brand for free!

The second step is to print more coupons! There are LOTS of internet coupons that you can print off that really help in our quest to spend less and get more. After you have your coupons, you need to know the best place to use them. Go here for a list of sites to print off coupons and for some "shopping blogs" that can alert you to sales and match up your coupons for you.

The third step is organize! Now you have all these coupons, what are you going to do with them? Since I have been printing more coupons from the internet, I started busting out of my previous coupon accordion file that I got for $1 at Target a few years ago. I found a frugal solution to my coupon problem by using things we already had in the basement, namely a photo album with inserts to hold 4x6 photos. I added a pocket on the front to hold ads and things and put in dividers for the various categories of coupons. I like that I can add more pages and can easily see my coupons. So far it is working great for me, and it was free! I take my coupon binder with me when I shop at stores, in case I find a sale I wasn't planning on and have a coupon for it.

The fourth step is knowing a real sale when you see one. Stores have sale cycles every 6 weeks or so. On any given week, some of those sales are what I call "fake sales" and some of those are the REAL sales, the loss leaders or the doorbusters. For example, in a 4 week cycle, the price of ground beef may be $2.99 lb, $1.89 lb, $2.19 lb, and $1.79 lb. The regular price is $2.99 lb, so the store can advertise the other three prices as sales. However, the $1.79 lb price is what you would wait for and then stock up.

The fifth step is stockpiling! Now you may not understand the concept of buying multiples of something just to store it, but the point is to build up your stockpile with things that are on sale to tide you over until those items go on sale again so that you never have to pay full price for that item. Another bonus to stockpiling is that you are able to share with others. Let's say you found a crazy deal and stocked up on toothpaste because it was free after coupons. You look at your stash and see that you have enough toothpaste to last you to the end of the year, so what do you do? Consider donating it to a local shelter! What was free for you can be a big blessing to someone else! Another idea is to stock up on items that can go into shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. I blogged about that here and here.

The sixth step is buying only what is on sale or what you have a coupon for. This takes a little practice and can be accomplished once you have started on your stockpile. Because I have shopped the previous weeks' sales and have put food in my freezer and have enough diapers and wipes for awhile, I can shop the ads. I buy only what is on sale (REAL sale!) or perishable items that my family needs for the week (fruit, milk, etc.) and I pass on the rest, telling myself that it might be on sale next week or the week after. This takes discipline, because the stores are counting on the fact that you will buy some of their sale items but then fill your cart with several higher priced items.

My last step is to go through my pantry and freezer stockpile and make menus based on the foods we have. Now you know menu planning is not my forte, but I now have this stockpile of ground beef, chicken, pasta, salad dressing, and other things that I need to USE so that it doesn't go to waste. If it languishes in my freezer or goes bad in my pantry, then I haven't saved money at all and have defeated my purpose of being frugal.

Hopefully this will inspire you to spend less and get more for your money! It's thrilling to see your subtotal go down by $30 with coupons (and that's after the sale prices)! If you have any other questions, ideas, or comments, let me know.

Warning: Couponing can become addicting!
Coupon at your own risk--although it will probably be a risk that will pay off!


3 comments:

Jennie said...

Also, Pick 'n Save had double coupon days on Wednesdays last summer for coupons up to $1. Many stores in other areas offer that.

If you REALLY want to save money, you look at all the local ads each week, decide what is the best deal, and take the ads with you to Wal-Mart. They will match any currently advertised price by any local competitor. It's a stylin' deal. Use your coupons on top of that, and you can save a ton. And it saves you from going from store to store to get the best prices.

TheTrain0 said...

Jessica,

Megan Huerta got me hooked on super-couponing this summer. For storing coupons, she recommended a 3 ring binder with baseball card sleeves. You can get 9 coupons per page that way. It has really worked well for me.

Jan

Jessica said...

From Laurie:
"Hi Jessica,
My one and only question is this...
what is your system for getting rid of the coupons that expire....
with homeschooling and all of the "organizing" I have to do and
the planning it all takes.....
how do you keep up/or track of expiration dates?
laurie"

I go through mine at the end of the month--just a quick look through. If I miss any, I get them when I am pulling out coupons throughout the month and notice they are expired.

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