Since I refuse to come up with anything new or witty during a) the weekend or b) the week before the show, here’s a guest post that I wrote for Britt back in August.
Everything remains true: I still like saving money. I’m still an organization freak. And it’s still not ok to hoard. But yes, that first picture IS my stockpile of FREE goodies, only now it’s BIGGER! It’s not hoarding if you’re going to use it, right? (swear I just heard that exact phrase spoken by a crazy lady on TLC last week).
***Disclaimer: Contrary to popular belief, I am NOT a couponing expert. In fact, I’m somewhat new to the couponing scene. I started last year, out of necessity, and haven’t paid full price for ANYTHING since! The tips I’ll share are what work for ME and MY FAMILY. The way you coupon might be completely different. And that’s ok.
The spectrum is wide: you can stockpile cans of tuna fish until your stash grows so big that it topples out of your daughter’s closet. OR you can clip a coupon per week and be done. Do what works for YOU!! (But please don’t complain to me when your family gets Mercury poisoning).***
Knowing HOW TO START might be the biggest deterrent for many new couponers. I think my best piece of advice is: BUY WHAT YOU NEED!! Buy only what your family will eat or what you can get for free and give away!! Don’t clip coupons for junk food if you only eat organic. Ask yourself this simple question: Would I buy this item if I didn’t have a coupon? You aren’t saving any money and you’re wasting your precious time if the answer is no. Buy what you’ll use and leave the dog food for those who actually have. a. dog. Also, when you find an item on sale, you’ll want to buy enough of it to last for 6 weeks. That’s roughly the amount of time before the item will go back on sale.
Your GOAL: Only buy items that are ON SALE, and have a matching coupon!!
After you’ve determined what you’ll use and how much you need, you can make a grocery list. And that’s where online help comes to the rescue.
Check out online couponing sites
I’m what you might call a “lazy” couponer. I get most of my tips from an amazing site, Southern Savers. Jenny, the founder, takes all the guess work out of couponing and makes it easy for lazy housewives like me. There are a handful of other sites that are similarly set up – KrazyCouponLady, CouponMom. Here’s how Southern Savers works. Jenny takes the store ad that comes out each week and pairs current coupons out (newspaper, online, catalinas) with the store sales. Each week, you can go to S.S., make your shopping list, print or clip your coupons, and head to the store.
But where do I get coupons?
Here’s just a few, of MANY, places…
Newspapers: I personally buy 2 Sunday newspapers a week. We’ve just made it a habit of swinging by Bilo on our way home from church each Sunday. There are anywhere from 1-3 coupon inserts each week, but if a coupon is a high value one, you’ll wish you could get your hands on more. So that’s why I buy two.
Online printables: Sites like Coupons.com, SmartSource, and Redplum are all great places to start. For organic foods, try Mambo Sprouts. I also use Southern Savers coupon database. You just type in the product you need a coupon for and the database will search for it! You’ll need a decent printer and ink cartridge if you want to print a lot.
Catalinas: These are the little guys that come out at the cash register after you’ve paid. They’ll have the grocery store’s logo on them, but if you’ll look closely, many say “Manufacturer’s Coupon, meaning you can use it at any store.
Facebook: Companies will “buy” your friendship. No, seriously. “Like” as many companies as your little heart desires. Most have coupon tabs where you can go print coupons.
Samples: Startsampling.com, Walmart, and AllYou are great places to sign up for free product samples. A lot of times, companies will also send along a coupon or two with the sample. Double score!!
Birthday clubs: Sign up for as many “Birthday Clubs” as you can find. Franchises will often send you a coupon for discounted or sometimes free items, just for being in their club.
Now on to organization…
This part comes naturally to me because I like to be an organized control freak. Some others (cough…my sister..cough) have a huge pile of coupons just laying out on their dining room table. Again, do what works for you. But I’d dare to say that a lot of my readers are pressed for time, so organizing your coupons could be a small way of giving yourself just a little sanity!
I use TWO forms of organization: an accordion file and a small coupon binder.
Accordion file: After I buy my two Sunday papers, I take out all the inserts and file them away by date. Once Jenny posts the sales ads for the week, I can see where she has mentioned a coupon and go find it. There’s no need to clip all the coupons out of the insert. File it away and use the saved time to take a bubble bath. Or, organize your tuna cans. Whatever.
Small coupon binder: I use this binder on a daily basis. Printable coupons, catalinas, older insert coupons…they all get filed in this binder. I like to take my binder INTO the grocery store with me. That way, if I see something I just have to have (aka chocolate), I can look in my binder and see if I have a corresponding coupon. I organize this binder into sub-categories so finding a coupon while in the grocery store is quite easy.
And that’s it – a crash course in beginner’s couponing. Couponing has proven itself to be a great hobby for me – I’ve easily saved over $1500 by couponing and shopping for the best deal! That’s money we can use towards a trip to Europe Henry and Clara’s college funds.
I’ll see you all tomorrow with a recap of Saturday’s race and a neat little GIVEAWAY (all my giveaways are on Mondays – just noticed that).
DO YOU COUPON?? What are some ways you save money? – Travis and I cash budget, meaning you get out x amount of cash at the start of the week. When the cash is gone, you’re done spending money. Works wonders!!