Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My Latest Addiction


Couponing.

It all started with one small sample - just a little taste.  One innocent coupon in Walmart.  Once I purchased this dental floss...



for FREE!!

I was officially hooked.  (I had a $1.00-off coupon and the dental floss was $0.97).  I was so excited that I took a picture.  The kids asked if they would ever be allowed to open and actually use the dental floss.
Maybe one day.  If the dentist insists.



I know many of you are thinking - "Wow, she is really late getting to this party!" 

Which I am.  But let me explain - I have always been a smart shopper -I will not order online without a coupon code, I only buy meat that is on sale, store-brand groceries fill my buggy much of the time, and I love a bargain.  I am quite frugal and my kids had better be able to prove they have outgrown their shoes before I will even consider buying new ones.  We often use coupons for free Chick-fil-a sandwiches or pizza, but just not on groceries every time we shop. 
Until now. 
Now, I finally understand. 


The remainder of this very exhaustively blogpost is written for the non-couponers among us.  However, I would love to hear comments or suggestions from those of you who are already avid couponers. 



What made me start this latest hobby?  Well, I watched this show on television



and finally realized the KEY to couponing.  You HAVE to wait and use the coupon once the item is on SALE.   Try to never, ever use a coupon on a full-priced item (unless the coupon is expiring).  The other thing I learned watching that show is that it makes sense to stock-pile some items.  Not the bananas.  But lots of items.




 Most items go on sale about once every three or four months.  If you can have coupons ready to use the week the Softscrub is on sale, buy as many bottles of Softscrub as you can with your coupons and store the extras until you need them, hopefully some time next year. 

One friend of mine is an avid couponer.  When she discussed coupons, I figured she was just buying baby stuff or things that I don't need.  And then she suggested I watch Extreme Couponing on TLC and that I read Coupon Mom's website.    That is when the light bulb came on in my dimly lit head.


CouponMom has a great database of grocery stores and drug stores, including Target and Walmart, with each week's sale items listed.  The site shows each item for sale at your local stores and you can arrange the items by name, date of latest coupon, price, percent saved, etc.  My favorite way is by "percent saved" like this Walmart example from her site this week (look at the right hand column)...




This shows how I bought my dental floss.  Do you see how you want to buy items ON SALE and use your coupon for a bigger savings?
CouponMom has several videos you can watch here for detailed explanations, as well as articles detailing how to get the best deals at your local stores.

Here are some of the lessons I have learned in my 1 month of couponing:

1.  Patience.  You HAVE to wait for the item to go on sale.  Patience is also needed while you collect coupons (the Sunday paper is your best resource).  In addition, you need to have the patience to wait through the "coupon learning curve."




2.  There IS a learning curve.  Push through it.  Initially, several hours must be invested to figure out how to find deals, where to find deals, and when to find deals.  For instance, using a 75¢ coupon instead of a 50¢ coupon may seem smart, but not if the store doubles coupons up to 50¢ (which means the 50¢ coupon will be doubled and $1.00 will be deducted off your item).


3.  Trial and error is part of the game.  For instance, after going into Publix and finding every item I needed completely 'sold out,' I went into Ingles the next day and found the shelves empty, as well!  Apparently everyone else is an avid couponer, too.  Now I know which days the various stores re-stock their shelves.   I just run to the store the following morning.   



4.  Organization is KEY.  Find a way to organize your coupons so that you can easily shuffle through the mounds of money saving papers to find what you need when you need it.


5.  Planning is also crucial.  No one wants to wade through coupons and grocery store flyers in the middle of the produce section while your son enlightens you with the reason so-and-so is not eligible for the draft.  Do it all at home, ahead of time.



6Reading is important.  Skimming is not allowed.  Skimmers (like me) must be careful to read every word of an item's description.  Progresso Vegetable Classics soups are not the same as Progresso Rich and Hearty soups, no matter how long you argue with the checkout clerk.

7.  Persistence.  To really see savings, it cannot be an occassional thing.  Who wants to get free dental floss one day and pay full price for dog food the next?  Not me!




8.  The Family must be involved.  If The Family is throwing full-priced ice cream in the shopping cart while mom is looking for free dental floss, the coupon experience will be short lived in that household. 


(My husband and I see things from different angles.  One night as we were headed to the local Mexican restaurant, I announced to The Family that I had a coupon for $5 off a $20 tab.  My husband said "Great, that means we can get cheese dip."  WHAT?  My goal is to SAVE money, not buy more things at full price.  Night and day, I tell you.)

 
Here are some blogs that have great sales and coupon tips each day.


Cannot wait to hear your comments and ideas!  

Have a great day!



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7 comments:

Carol said...

I feel your addiction!! The first year I start serious couponing I saved all of my grocery receipts. At the end of the year I had saved...$1800.00!!! Couponmom also had a coupon database that I use on items that I must buy but are not on sale. Couponmom has an e-book that is very helpful. I especially like how she organizes her coupons. Also, I prefer the way www.grocerygame.com color codes their grocery lists. Makes it easier for visual scanners like me to know what is a great buy that week. Welcome to this crazy coupon addtiton!!!

Life At Camellia Cottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Life At Camellia Cottage said...

I am not a HUGE coupon clipper, but I do use them, but only on things I already use! I would never go buy something just because I had a coupon.

My biggie is stocking up! Each year we usually get a few dollars back from the IRS for overpayment. You know, a refund! Anyway, when we get our refund, I start the process. I go to a local meat market and order one or two 'freezer specials' that has ground beef, pork chops, chicken, stew beef, ribs, steaks, etc. You get a lot more for your money this way. Plus, they wrap it up for you, first in plastic wrap and then in freezer paper, and label each package. I have yet to have a piece of meat get freezer burn in one of their packages. So, I stock up the freezer.

Plus, my local Kroger usually has a 'caseload' sale some time in late Feb. through March, so I buy cases of things we use a lot. Canned tomatoes, corn, beans, peas, tomato sauce, etc. We have shelves in our garage specifically for this purpose. I also buy a LOT of rice, sugar (50# for a year, but most of it is made into hummingbird nectar and iced tea), coffee, tea bags, 3 gallons of canola oil, and any other basics that will keep a year or more. I also buy up a good stock of margarine and store it in the freezer. I keep the rice in the freezer, too, to keep bugs out.

But the real biggie is my trip to BJ's. (Before I go to BJ's I go online and see what kind of coupons they have, then check out their in store coupons before I start shopping.) There I try to get enough laundry detergent, fabric softener, dish detergent, paper plates and cups, trash bags, etc. to last for a year. I do not buy paper towels or TP for a year because I just don't have the storage apace, but I do stock up as much as my space will allow!

This drastically cuts down on my week to week groceries! Most weeks we get milk, bread, fresh produce and juices, and maybe some snacky things, but we don't buy a lot of those.

Oh, and one other thing you might look into - our town in north GA has a poultry plant, and we can go to their store and buy a 20# box of boneless skinless chicken breasts, frozen in 4 resealable bags of 5# each for market price. And that is usually $25 - $30 per box. That's $1.50 or less per pound for boneless skinless chicken breasts! Many areas that have high poultry production have similar stores. {If you are ever coming north of Atlanta, let me know and I'll take you there! :o) }

Anyway, this will be our 4th or 5th year of doing the big stocking up, and it really, REALLY works for us! A couple of years ago we even bought a 2nd freezer so we could stock up on more items. Buying in bulk, buying on sale, and shopping with coupons really do work!

And now I'll get off my soap box, but thanks for asking! :o) Becky G. in GA

Life At Camellia Cottage said...

I am not a HUGE coupon clipper, but I do use them, but only on things I already use! I would never go buy something just because I had a coupon.

My biggie is stocking up! Each year we usually get a few dollars back from the IRS for overpayment. You know, a refund! Anyway, when we get our refund, I start the process. I go to a local meat market and order one or two 'freezer specials' that has ground beef, pork chops, chicken, stew beef, ribs, steaks, etc. You get a lot more for your money this way. Plus, they wrap it up for you, first in plastic wrap and then in freezer paper, and label each package. I have yet to have a piece of meat get freezer burn in one of their packages. So, I stock up the freezer.

Plus, my local Kroger usually has a 'caseload' sale some time in late Feb. through March, so I buy cases of things we use a lot. Canned tomatoes, corn, beans, peas, tomato sauce, etc. We have shelves in our garage specifically for this purpose. I also buy a LOT of rice, sugar (50# for a year, but most of it is made into hummingbird nectar and iced tea), coffee, tea bags, 3 gallons of canola oil, and any other basics that will keep a year or more. I also buy up a good stock of margarine and store it in the freezer. I keep the rice in the freezer, too, to keep bugs out.

But the real biggie is my trip to BJ's. (Before I go to BJ's I go online and see what kind of coupons they have, then check out their in store coupons before I start shopping.) There I try to get enough laundry detergent, fabric softener, dish detergent, paper plates and cups, trash bags, etc. to last for a year. I do not buy paper towels or TP for a year because I just don't have the storage apace, but I do stock up as much as my space will allow!

This drastically cuts down on my week to week groceries! Most weeks we get milk, bread, fresh produce and juices, and maybe some snacky things, but we don't buy a lot of those.

Oh, and one other thing you might look into - our town in north GA has a poultry plant, and we can go to their store and buy a 20# box of boneless skinless chicken breasts, frozen in 4 resealable bags of 5# each for market price. And that is usually $25 - $30 per box. That's $1.50 or less per pound for boneless skinless chicken breasts! Many areas that have high poultry production have similar stores. {If you are ever coming north of Atlanta, let me know and I'll take you there! :o) }

Anyway, this will be our 4th or 5th year of doing the big stocking up, and it really, REALLY works for us! A couple of years ago we even bought a 2nd freezer so we could stock up on more items. Buying in bulk, buying on sale, and shopping with coupons really do work!

And now I'll get off my soap box, but thanks for asking! :o) Becky G. in GA

Low Tide High Style said...

Wow, what a great informative post! I've always hated couponing but I used to do it when my kids were little because you could save so much money on diapers and baby food! I think you may have convinced me that I need to revisit this money saving practice!

Kat :)

Mommy Mouse: said...

Wow, I'm famous! I feel so important. Thanks for the shout-out!

Don't forget www.southernsavers.com

That's my favorite website for groceries.

I don't have any more tips, you hit them all! Especially the "Get the Family involved"- although I like to call it, "I shop alone, unless you're under 5."

Sarah said...

My family also tries to use coupons and save money. The best way we've found to save is on personal care/hygiene items (we haven't paid for a hygiene product in years). We do this by combining deals and coupons at CVS stores, last year my mom saved over $3500 at CVS while only spending a couple hundred. My mom has even started a blog about shopping at CVS. If you're interested you can find it @ Simply CVS.

 
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