Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Couponing 101

Laura the Pest here with some more ways to save you money! More money saved from groceries means more kits you can buy! Woohoo!

Two years ago I had a 3 month old and a hard decision to make. I chose to leave my job that I loved, teaching, to stay at home with my son. My husband and I sat down and figured out the numbers and decided if I watched kids at my house, we could make ends meet. And so I packed up my classroom and moved it to my garage. And it worked. Sort of. But we had no extra money for Christmas, birthdays or for all the baby gap (my weakness). So I started researching clipping coupons. I've been couponing for a year now and through trial and error have a pretty decent system down. So I'll tell you how I do things!

Before I couponed, I thought I saved money by buying the off brand and checking the price per ounce. I now buy name brand at even cheaper prices!

1. Meal planning- on Friday I sit down with my little notepad and look through the recipe books for meals for the week. I am blessed with a cooking husband so I try to get things that are fast during the week and something that makes leftovers for the weekend. I go through what we need and start my weekly grocery list off this. After you coupon for awhile, the amount that you need goes down because you've stocked up on basics. Meal planning is a HUGE component of saving money!

2. I get out my weekly ads. I receive ads in my mailbox on Tuesday for 3 of the surrounding grocery stores. To cut my time at the store and driving down, I simply price match good deals at Wal Mart. I use Money Saving Queen to price match my local stores. So I log in, go to the Homeland forum and see they have Campbell's soup on sale PLUS there are coupons. On my list for the store I write down 'Campbell's soup pm (price match) HL (homeland)' and the price. Then when I check out, I tell the cashier the price. Usually they won't even check. But I do bring my ad with me.

3. I clip the coupons that go with the sales or for things that are on my 'need' list but not on sale. Your goal for couponing is not buying what you need for that week, but to get things that you will eventually need for CHEAP! A lot of things that you can get for dirt cheap won't expire anytime soon (like soup) so stock up when you can. There will be weeks that you spend quite a bit and weeks you don't spend anything.


My Binder

I collect coupons out of the mailbox and my mom and aunt save me their Sunday paper coupons. A lot of papers have it so you can buy JUST the Sunday paper. Definitely a great investment. Also, Wal Mart sells a magazine called All You that I ALWAYS buy. TONS of great coupons. So what to do with these coupons?!

There are basically two ways to coupon. One is to buy baseball card holders and page dividers, clip and organize by type. So you'd have cereal, home, etc etc etc. When I started I did this. But it became too much. I have sometimes 3 copies of one insert and that's just a LOT of coupons. So now I write the date that I got the insert on the outside, 3 hole punch it and put it in my binder by type.

There are 3 types of coupons that come in the mail or paper. Smart Source (SS), Red Plum (RP) and Procter and Gamble (pg), the PG coupons come on the first Sunday of the month and are only good for that month.

Along with my coupons, I keep a set of scissors, a cheapo calculator and a pencil case that zips. I put my coupons that I'm using that week in the pencil case and zip it up so they are all ready to go.


When You Start

At the beginning of couponing, your goal is to stock pile things you use a lot of. You will slowly stop buying for your meal planning and meal planning to use what you've already bought. A lot of people complain that couponing means you get unhealthy foods at times. And yes a lot of what is on sale is unhealthy. However, a lot of it is basic stuff people need. Cereal, peanut butter and soup always go on sale. We get a LOT when its on sale and usually dwindle down before the next sale hits us. Sometimes we go without cereal because I'm too cheap to pay more then 1.50 per box now. Also if you coupon for other basics (shampoo, windex, etc) you have more money to spend on food so still saving you money! We have so much free stuff under the bathroom sink that I am actually taking a break for awhile. This is a great way to donate to soldiers or homeless shelters in your area.


Great Places to Shop

1. CVS

I LOVE CVS. I was scared to start but I Heart CVS makes it easy! Sign up for the extra care card for free and receive bucks for buying certain items. Pair these with coupons and then use your bucks on other things that give you bucks and soon you are getting lots of great stuff FOR FREE! We have tons of toothpaste, body wash, shampoo, styling products, windex and a lot more from CVS. Its a great place for personal health stuff.


2. Target

The secret of Target is that they have Target coupons on their web site. You can combine a Target coupon and a coupon you get in the mail to get some awesome savings! I stalk Totally Target for the week's deals.


3. Wal Mart

A lot of times Wal Mart is even cheaper then the price match anyway. But they have always price matched happily for me. They usually have plenty of merchandise and I have only had 2 issues there since I've been couponing and I shop there weekly. If you have places that will double your coupon value, those are really your best bet. But with two little kids, I just can't get to Homeland all that often.

In short, we have cut our spending in half if not more. I no longer have to watch children at my house because we have saved so much by couponing. It has greatly blessed our lives and I hope it can bless yours too! If you have any questions, post them in the comments and I'd be happy to answer them. And give a shout out if you're a clipper or a bargain hunter! In these tough times, we just keep multiplying!

A great all around resource also is We Use Coupons. Click on forums when you go there to get to the good stuff. :)



4 comments:

Jenny said...

I love clipping coupons also. It's kind of like a game, trying to find great coupons and sales. And it is a great feeling to see how much money you've saved after the coupons are taken off the total. I buy the Sunday paper to get coupons. I also go to a site called The Grocery Game to print coupons: http://www.thegrocerygame.com/app/teris-coupon-center/
There are 3 different links to follow for free coupons. A lot of them are the same ones you get in the Sunday paper. But if there is a really good coupon, then you have more than 1 of it. Some of the coupons on there you are limited to only printing once. But if you have more than 1 computer in your house, you can print the same coupon from each computer to get multiple copies. For some reason I am only able to print the coupons using Internet Explorer.

They publish a list of the lowest priced products in your area on that site, but you have to subscribe to see the list. I only go there for the free coupons.

I tried clicking on all of the links in your post, but it said page not found for all 3 links.

Laura said...

Jenny- thanks for sharing that site! Hmm.. let me check out my link, probably not using this thing right :)

G-ma said...

Enjoyed the posting on collectig coupons..... when my family was younger...now they're all grown up, and it's just me...so don't collect them anyhow. And the magazine you stated that Wal-mart 'sells'...why r they selling it...should be a freebie...oh yes, we're talking about Wal-mart aren't we!

Heather said...

I am a coupon maven as well. It is like a game & I like to be good at it! I also wanted to mention as far as menu planning goes if anyone doesn't have time to m.p. or coupon E-Mealz has been a great resource for me getting started. They plan your menus for you based on what's on sale at your grocery store. Hope that helps out some other busy ladies like me out there. :)
Heather @ www.savingmoneylivinglife.com

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