Real Life: Couponing 101
I consider myself a money-saving, penny-pinching mama. There are so many ways to save money, but one of the ways I save the most is by using coupons.
I know what you’re thinking, “Coupons? That’s something my mother did!” Well mine did too, and though couponing might have gone by the wayside years ago, it’s back and in a BIG way.
Thanks to shows like Extreme Couponing on TLC, there is a whole new generation of couponers trying to save money at the grocery store.
If you thinking couponing is too difficult, too time-consuming or too much of a hassle, think again! It’s really quite easy once you get the hang of it and you can save thousands of dollars a year at the cash register. And who wouldn’t want thousands more dollars in their bank account? Yup, that’s what I thought.
Here are some simple ways to get started in couponing.
1. Start cutting: The majority of coupons are available in inserts in the Sunday newspaper. Some Saturday papers also have Sunday’s coupons. Every Saturday, I head to my local dollar store and buy three copies of the paper at $1 each. I take the coupon inserts and the flyers out. I stack the inserts and cut the coupons that I would use if I could get that product for cheap or free using coupons (yes, I said free).
2. Get organized: The easiest way for me to keep my coupons organized is using a coupon binder. I have a two-inch three-ring binder with baseball card organizers to store my coupons. I bought the plastic organizers from eBay, but you could also find them on Amazon, at a sporting goods’ store or perhaps a store like Walmart or Target. I bought two sets of subject dividers to keep my coupons organized by different categories. Some categories are baby, hair, body, frozen food, snacks, drinks, etc. I bring it with me whenever I shop so I can find my coupons easily. I empty out the expired coupons and put the new ones in as soon as I’m done clipping them.
3. Buy on sale: Whenever an item goes on sale, stock up! That doesn’t mean you have to buy 45 jars of pickles, but DO buy as many as you can with however many coupons you have. Of course, if you need something NOW, buy it. But even if you don’t need it immediately but find a great deal on it, buy it and save it for when you do need it.
4. Stockpile: This doesn’t mean you have to have enough of everything to last through 2017, but set aside a shelf, closet or a small spare space in your house to keep what you buy so you don’t have to run to the store as soon as you run out of something. Don’t buy too many that you won’t use them before they expire. We bought a deep freezer last year to store frozen breast milk. Now that I’m no longer nursing, it’s stocked with frozen items, meat, bread and other foods.
5. Use store coupons: Many stores issue store coupons that you can stack with a manufacturer coupon (from the newspaper or online) to increase your savings. Use both a store and manufacturer coupon when an item goes on sale and often you can get something for free or for just pennies. Target updates their website with store coupons every Sunday. I often get free or very cheap clothes at Target with their coupons. Score! CVS has coupons you can print daily from their “Magic Coupon Machine” and Walgreens has a monthly store coupon booklet with their flyers as you walk into their stores. My favorite local grocery store also has coupons frequently in their sale flyer.
6. Print coupons: There are many ways to print coupons from the Internet in addition to finding coupons in the newspaper. The general rule is that you can print two coupons per computer. Many companies will allow you to print high value coupons if you “like” them on Facebook.
7. Do your research: There are oodles of websites such as www.hiptosave.com and www.krazycouponlady.com that do the work for you and find the best deals at popular stores. They’ll tell you how much an item is on sale for, what coupon to use and where to find it, and how much you’ll end up paying. They update their sites with new deals several times a day.
Once you get the hang of it, couponing can be really easy and FUN. You’ll see the savings pile up (and the stockpile too).
Sharpen your scissors, clear off your dining room table and get cutting – happy saving!