During a free trial of netflix, I stumbled upon the show "Extreme Couponing". Maybe you've heard of it? There's a buzz of controversy about it these days - primarily about the extreme part.
The show was fun to watch, but I'm not the extreme type. I'm not interested in having giant stockpiles of deodorant. I'm not diving into stinky dumpsters hoping to score a few extra coupons. I'm not buying loads of cat food when I don't have a cat because buying-it-gives-me-points-that-lead-to-free-stuff.
What I do have time for, is smart couponing to save money on groceries and other necessities. Woohoo! With my husband out of work for several months, it has helped tremendously.
Tips for couponingI've learned so much about making the most out of couponing since I started. Myfrugaladventures.com and Thecrazycouponlady.com are great sources of information.
Here are a few valuable things I've learned that might help you stretch your dollar too!
Tip 1: Where to get coupons
- Sunday Newspaper inserts (Red Plum, Proctor & Gamble, Smart Source, some in Parade)
- Weekly local newspapers (Red Plum inserts. Check your area)
- Ask family and friends to save them for you!!
- Some libraries give out the Sunday paper for free (Check your area)
- Community recycle bins (I wouldn't recommend dumpster diving)
- Print coupons online i.e. coupons.com, myfrugaladventures.com, thecrazycouponlady.com, "like" companies on facebook, and sign up through their websites
- Look through the grocery store for manufacturer coupons next to products
Tip 2: Find coupon match-ups
Look for sites who match-up coupons with current store sales: Myfrugaladventures.com, Thecrazycouponlady.com. Or for those of us in the Seattle area: http://www.thriftynorthwestmom.com, http://www.frugallivingnw.com, http://queenbeecoupons.com; and match up your own (they don't always catch them all).
Tip 3: Match up your coupons with rock bottom prices
Paying attention to the sale cycles (see tip 4) will help you make the most of your coupons. For example, saving $1.00 on $4.00 toothpaste is good, but what if you could save $1.00 on toothpaste when it's on sale for $1.99? When you match up great coupons with great sales, you get great savings! Be sure to look in clearance sections for even hotter deals.
Tip 4: Learn store sale cycles
Did you know store sales operate on a 6-8 week cycle? At some point during that cycle certain products will hit their rock bottom price. Once you identify that, stock up and don't buy again for 6-8 weeks. If you have coupons in addition to the rock bottom prices - SCORE! *Meats are also on a cycle which rotates every 3 weeks or so (beef, poultry, pork).
Tip 5: Stack manufacture coupons with store coupons
The best scenerio? Your store has a coupon for a product AND you have a manufacture coupon for it and what if it's even on sale?! Check your store's coupon policies to see if you can stack or double coupons. In Seattle's east side suburban area, Albertsons is the only store I've found that doubles coupons. QFC, Fred Meyer & Safeway let you stack.
Tip 6: Create meal plans around whats on sale
Instead of looking through recipes and creating a weekly plan, I look through grocery circulars and coupon match-ups and create my meals and shopping trips around what's on sale and what coupons I have. It actually makes shopping and meal planning a lot easier!
Tip 7: Organize your coupons and shopping trips
Some use notebooks with baseball card page organizers, others (like me) use small plastic expandable folders. Use the method that works for you to organize and tote your coupons along for each trip. For an optimal couponing experience, separate each shopping trip into its own envelope with coupons and lists for each store. It has also helped me to count the number of coupons I'll be using, and have an estimate of what I'll be spending so I can tell right away if something's out of whack. Watching the register is important to make sure everything's scanning correctly!
Couponing does take time and preparation (and a stink-eye or two from impatient customers behind you), but when you end up saving 50%-80% on each shopping trip, it's worth it!
Here are a few of my favorite couponing deals so far:
$50.00 free groceries! Transferred a prescription and got a $50 credit
Paid only .50 cents for a premium package of sausage! Used a $1.00 off coupon for sausage that was on sale for $3.50 + a manager's special $2.00 off. Best sausage we've ever eaten! The better the deal, the better it tastes!
Saved over 80% on Ocean Spray bottled Juice! Paid .69 each (regularly $3.69) after sale, store promo and manufacture coupons
Paid only .70-.80 for cereal! With store deals, manufacture coupons and doubling coupons we saved big and stocked up on cereal normally priced at $4-$5 each.
Since starting my couponing adventures I've learned to look at what we eat and buy in a whole new way and it makes me feel good to know I'm saving us money.
Between getting our free Sunday paper, having my sister and mom set their ads aside for us, checking community recycle bins and printing them off online, we've got more than enough coupons to help us save.
Now does anyone have a coupon for printer paper? ;)
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