Ok, so maybe you’ve heard about these crazy couponers and wonder what is wrong with them? Seriously, spending all that time cutting coupons and checking out sales, just to save a few cents? Totally not worth your time, right? Well, I’m here to tell you, if you learn how to do it right, you would be amazed at the money you save!
It can seriously be over-whelming when you start browsing all the information out there. And I’ll admit in the beginning it took some time to get myself set up and into the groove. Now I spend about an hour a week clipping, organizing, and making my lists. Usually this is Sunday night when we’re just relaxing. I go through and clip ALL the coupons even if I might not use them (I’ll tell you the why of this later). I put the ones I’m pretty sure I’ll use in a separate pile then grab my 3 ring binder. In the binder I have various sheet protectors, like the ones for baseball cards and bigger ones for photos. I got them at Staples but they are much cheaper on amazon.com. In the binder they are organized by category. Fresh Produce and meat, then dairy, then cereal and crackers, etc.
After I’m done with that, I have a pretty good idea what coupons I have, so I check out the sale flyers. My usual stores are Price Chopper, Rite Aid, Walgreens, and Target. Then I make a list of what I want at each store. I shop either Mondays or Thursdays depending on my schedule for the week. I also try to make a meal plan for the week at the same time. Now, there are a lot of different parts to couponing but I won’t overwhelm you with them just yet. Getting your binder set up takes some time so focusing on that is the easiest way to start. I recommend the binder be the kind with a zipper close. Trust me, the first time you pick up one of the hard binders upside down and your coupons slide out, you’ll wish you had one. I actually just got one yesterday at Big Lots for $7. There is definitely a fine line between smart couponing and crazy couponing! After all it’s hard to pass up a good deal, sometimes a FREE deal! But first rule of smart couponing? If you won’t use it or don’t have a place for it, DON’T BUY IT! I mean, do you really need 47 Glade Candles? Not unless you live next to the village landfill! I never buy something that I won’t use or that I don’t have a spot for. Though, there is something to be said for stockpiling things you are going to use up and use up at a decent pace. Things I stockpile include, shampoo/conditioner, dove soap, toothpaste, razors, shaving cream, rice, meat, cereal, etc. Only when the price is right though! Things I buy with coupons but only a couple at a time are lotions, nail polish, perishable food, etc. So right now I have about 6 tubes of toothpaste (all of which i got for free with coupons) and I won’t buy anymore until I’m down to 1 or 2 tubes. You can stockpile but I really don’t want to be watching you on the show Hoarders, ok?
I’ve decided to keep track of my spending and coupon savings this year and found a great excel spreadsheet at Saving the Family Money. This is simple and perfect. You can use a different one for each store or put it all on one if you don’t shop much. And as our first bit of shopping this year was done yesterday I entered all my totals to see how much I was saving. We went for groceries at Price Chopper, Big Lots for Storage Containers, and Gap (just because I had a 40% off coupon!). Here is what we spend and saved.
$ Saved with Coupons: $32.89
Out of Pocket (OOP) Total: $133.75
And from what I remember since I’ve been couponing this is about an average savings for me for the week (and remember I DO NOT buy things we don’t use or need). But from now on I will share my ACTUAL numbers with you and we’ll see just how much I can save this year! Plus I, of course, I got another $.10 of a gallon gas for my Price Chopper purchases which is another $2.00 savings for 20 gallons. Oh, and here is the Big Lots 20% off coupon good until the end of the week!
So that is why I personally love couponing. But I will be writing MUCH more on this subject as we move on. And please feel free to ask any questions you need me to address. A great place for getting started is at The Coupon Goddess.