couponing 101: the lazy woman’s guide
I’ve gotten SO many requests for a couponing post (after bragging about myself on social media outlets) that I thought I’d share my approach with you today. If you glean anything from this post it should be this: Any amount of money you save is just that – MONEY SAVED! Don’t get overwhelmed and think you have to become the crazy coupon lady. If you save $1, pat yourself on the back. You saved!
I myself am a LAZY couponer! I (usually) don’t buy the newspaper and there are some weeks where I don’t save a single cent. Even being lazy, I save roughly $2,000 every year by couponing. I hope that by sharing my process with you today, you too can save some money for your family and take that Disney/Vegas/Paris vacation you’ve always dreamed about. (or at least take your honey out to Fuddruckers.) Here’s what I do:
How-to Guide to (lazy) Couponing
Step 1: Go to Southern Savers
Southern Savers is a FREE coupon matching site designed to make the entire process EASY and STRESS-FREE. Jenny, the founder, takes current sales ads for grocery stores/drugstores/etc and matches coupons with the items on sale. The site (southernsavers.com) also has a Coupon Database that you can use to search for any coupon that you might need. For instance, let’s say you just ran out of Cascade. You can go to the database, type in “cascade” and the site will tell you if there’s a coupon out there (either in a newspaper or hopefully, online to print).
Jenny also has some amazing resources for newbies on her site. Check these out!
Step 2: Pick a store
I have two stores where I frequently coupon – Bilo and Ingles. Southern Savers covers those ads for me. NOTE: if S.S. doesn’t offer ad matching for the stores that you frequent, you can do this on your own. It just takes more work and organization.
Step 3: Coupon Match
Once you’ve picked your store ad, go through and start making a list of the things you need. If it’s in the ad, it means it’s on sale, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should buy it. I try to make 80% of my purchases based on the idea that it’s A) ON SALE, B) has a matching coupon and C) we will use it!
Coupons can be found EVERYWHERE!
Online (coupons.com, couponnetwork.com, mambosprouts.com, redplum.com)
Catalina print-offs (at the cash register)
Coupon reward programs (Ibotta, SavingStar)
If you see a coupon for THINGS YOU NORMALLY PURCHASE, snag it! I keep my coupons in a binder and take them into the store with me (whenever I remember). I’m also signed up for Southern Savers “New Coupon Alerts” so at the end of everyday, I’m sent an email with new coupons (usually printable).
Step 4: Print/clip your coupons
I use cheap paper and black and white printing preferences. I also print double-sided when I can.
Printing FAIL! When I tried to feed the paper back into the tray (for double-sided printing), it snagged. I was still able to use the coupon since the barcode was intact.
Step 5: Go shopping!
Once armed with my shopping list and matching coupons, I head to the store.
Coupon shopping trips usually take me about 10-15 extra minutes than if I were to just go in and grab some items. I try not to take the kids but that isn’t always possible (free in-store cookies help this process.)
Purex: On sale for $2.50. Had a .50 coupon that doubled, making my purchase price $1.50 for each!
Deodorant: On sale for $2.99. Coupon for $2.00 makes it .99!
I try to buy organic when it’s on sale – this organic broccoli was only .19 more expensive than traditional. Tip: If you want to start buying more organic products, START COUPONING and use the money that you save to put towards that goal. We always buy organic milk and eggs with coupon savings.
Bilo had a great sale on pork loin (which I buy and slice into pork chops – WAY cheaper). Originally $24.15, on sale for $9.85. Matched the sale with a catalina that I’d gotten a few weeks prior and made it $7.35 for quite a bit of meat!
It’s a free couponing app that offers real money coupons in exchange for a little bit of your time (taking polls, watching 20 second videos, etc). The best part is that you can pair Ibotta coupons with other coupons (printables, catalinas) and save even more money! Angel Soft was on sale for $3.99 – I used an $1 instore coupon plus my $1.50 Ibotta coupon, making my purchase price $1.49!
Step 6: See how you did!
Aside from organic broccoli and blueberries, every single thing I bought was on sale and had a matching coupon! That’s the goal! Please notice that this shopping trip wasn’t a MEAL PLANNING trip. I went later in the week for items that we needed that for specific meals (and I made sure to check the S.S. Coupon Database before I went). The items I bought during this particular trip were more pantry/stockpile items.
By matching coupons with sale items, I was able to get $102 worth of groceries for $35 , a savings of 67%!! Well worth my time (which honestly wasn’t that much).
And actually, with my Ibotta coupons, I saved $2 more dollars.
A few more tips:
Ditch the mega stores! I used to have a Sam’s club membership but got rid of it once I compared the “club saving” price to my “coupon saving” price. I save A LOT more money when I coupon in the grocery store! You might think you’re saving money by buying in bulk but you probably aren’t.
Forget brand loyalty. Sometimes the products that you love won’t have matching coupons or they rarely go on sale. To save the most money, you might need to forget brand loyalty and go with another less expensive brand. Actually, couponing should afford you a little wiggle room to be picky – for instance, I’m loyal to Burt’s Bees products (which rarely have high value coupons) but by saving money on other items through couponing, I can afford to splurge.
Stock up! Sales are cyclical, about every 6-8 weeks. So if your favorite cereal is on sale and there’s a matching coupon, buy as many boxes as you can! (for printables, there’s often a two-print max per computer. This means that if you have multiple computers in the home, you can print multiple coupons. Make sense?) Don’t be afraid to stockpile!
Couponing is totally easy and totally worth it. Just start SMALL. Pick one store ad and see what you can do with it this week. If I can do it, you TOTALLY can!
QUESTION: Do you coupon? Love it? Hate it? What’s stopping you?