How to Effectively Save Money with Coupons, Part II

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1. Write a list, but also give yourself a little wriggle room. I usually spend about $45-50 each week on groceries and give myself $5 to get things not on my list. Use a calculator to keep track of how much you’re spending while you’re shopping!

2. Use multiple coupons for one item. For each item you purchase you can use 2 coupons- 1 manufacturers’ coupon and 1 store coupon. Target is a great example of applying this because they come out with new store coupons each week!

3. Buy stuff your family eats. If it sounds gross to you, don’t get it, even if you have a great coupon for it. If you pay anything and end up throwing the item away, you’ve lost money! Going along with this- the object of grocery shopping is to buy foods to make meals with, so avoid the temptation to buy all junk food and strive to find healthy items! I’ve seen people post pictures of fantastic shopping trips, but when you look closer, it contains very few items to make meals with. It is very difficult to make decent meals with Pringles, breakfast bars and M&M’s! Avoid the temptation to spend your money on purely unhealthy items!

4. Minimize distractions- don’t go grocery shopping while hungry and go by yourself. Give yourself the ability to focus on the task at hand. Be organized. I recommend taking a small tote with you to shop that contains your shopping list (with corresponding coupons in an envelope), a calculator, a pen and a bottle of water. I actually always bring ALL of my coupons with me to shop- I always seem to find a great deal on something that wasn’t on my list that I have a coupon for! Also, Grab the store circular as you walk in just in case you need to double check something.

5. Be patient when first couponing! You will not be able to cut your grocery bill in half the first month! I think making a goal of spending $40-$50 less the first month is great. The first few months I used coupons, I had a $50-60/week budget for 3 weeks, then I went to Walmart and spent $60-$70 filling in the gaps with things we needed the last week. As you continue to find great deals and build up a storage of items your family uses, you’ll find you won’t need to “fill in the gaps” nearly as much!

If you missed Part I, you can go back and read it here.

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2 thoughts on “How to Effectively Save Money with Coupons, Part II

  1. Sapphire Mommy says:

    I actually will pull up our store online as most of them let you shop ahead and pick up. Then I run through my coupons checking against current prices and the coupon value. not all sales are listed in the store ad so it’s a great way to find deals that you may normally miss. When i find a deal I write it down along with the sale price and coupon value. This saves time remembering b/c sometimes one type of that brand is on sale and another isn’t. Then I’m looking for the price and not trying to read every label or remember which one it was. It usually takes me 10-15 minutes to do this before I go but it saves so much time compared to going up and down the isles and trying to go through the stack of coupons.

  2. Miranda says:

    I started using coupons a few months ago. At first, I only used a few. With just the coupons I used, I saved almost $20. Plus, with the sale going on, I also got 2 $5 gift cards. I used the gift cards on things we run out of before my next big shopping trip, and it worked out really nice! I sent hubby shopping yesterday because I'm sick and couldn't go. I made him a VERY detailed list (including the brand, how many I needed and the coupon for the item). He got home, and spent $177.00. We have a family of 6, and I do my major shopping every two weeks. With the coupons I sent with him, he saved $40. Not too shabby for only doing this for a few months!!!

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How to Effectively Save Money with Coupons

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In the last week I've received several emails from people wondering how I save so much money with coupons. Instead of writing the same email and sending it 50 times, I thought I'd write a post on it! I have a lot of information to share, so I'm splitting it into (at least!) 2 parts.

There are several ways of couponing! Just as the contents of our grocery carts vary, so will the way we all use coupons. Buying food and household items is personal and our ways of shopping are unique. Some are brand loyal while others buy whatever’s on sale. Some of us go shopping early Saturday morning while others favor Wednesdays at 10pm. In addition, couponing takes time. As I describe how I coupon, don’t feel that you need to do exactly what I do! Try it out and make some changes until you find your own way of coupoining that best fits your personality and lifestyle.

Here are my first 5 tips… please feel free to leave comments/ suggestions/ questions too!!
  1. Plan your meals each week around what’s on sale and in season. Families usually have about 20 meals they eat often- so keep those ingredients in mind when looking over the weekly ads.
  2. Use grocerysmarts.com to help you build your grocery list! You select your store and they tell you what items are on sale that week and, using a rating scale, just how hot that sale is! Not only that, but within the online list, they tell you what coupons to combine with each sale- including a link to printable coupons, if necessary. Using this FREE service alone will drastically change the way you grocery shop!
  3. Stock up on items your family uses a lot when you find a great deal. I find buying 2-4 of a certain item is a really good idea. Have some on hand, that way, when you need it, you won’t have to pay full price. This is especially applicable to toiletry items!
  4. To do this effectively, get multiple copies of coupons. Printables are easy- press your “Back” button after printing and you’ll get another. Paper copies are more difficult, unless of course you decide to purchase several copies of the newspaper each week. You can get 4 copies of the paper delivered to your door each Sunday! (I started out getting 2 copies of the newspaper each week, but now that we have a family of 6, I get 4 and love it!) When stocking up, take into consideration a few things: a. Expiration dates, b. How much storage space you have, c. Be a courteous shopper! (Buying 2 or 3 extra to have on hand is one thing, clearing the shelf is another.), d. Remember, chances are, this great deal will come along again. Really. For instance, I normally don’t buy Yoplait YoPlus yogurt. However- my family loves yogurt, so I cut the coupon. I also cut all the other yogurt coupons as well! The reasoning behind this is that stores often have fantastic sales on brand name items. As a matter of fact, I’d say since I started couponing, I buy about 90% brand name items and about 10% store brand items- because combining a sale and a coupon makes the brand name item less expensive! Yoplait YoPlus yogurt is a great example. It’s normally priced at around $2-$2.50 for a package of 4. I regularly get it for $1, and several times I’ve gotten them for FREE!
  5. Buy stuff on markdown and use a coupon. This is how I get a majority of my free items. Most grocery stores mark items down once they approach their “best buy” date. I routinely get free yogurt this way! The “best buy” dates on the yogurt I buy is usually within 5-6 days, which isn’t a big deal for me because we eat a lot of yogurt! You can find markdowns on many items though. If the packaging on an item has changed, stores will mark down the old ones. I routinely find markdowns in the refrigerated section. Just be sure it’s something your family will eat within a few days, if you’re leery about expiration dates. Keep an eye out for the bright stickers on the packages letting you know its been marked down!

Stay tuned- I'll have the next 5 tips soon!!

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