Stretch Your Food Budget
Lately, it seems that couponing has been receiving a little bit of attention with television shows like ‘Extreme Couponing’ coming on the air. I’m not sure if they are showing couponers in negative or positive light. For me personally,the stories of these people who are saving hundreds of dollars are interesting and a little bit motivating, but I have not taken my couponing to those lengths. However, I have been able to substantially decrease my monthly grocery bill and provide well for my family at the same time.
Who doesn’t want to save a few bucks and at the same time get quality brand name products?
The fact of the matter is that anyone can do it, it just isn’t very hard to save a great deal of money using coupons. You simply spend a little bit of time each week cutting out coupons, organizing them and then looking for sales. It is basically that simple. There are a few key points to mention, that is you will have to buy in multiples and cannot be too brand loyal in order to get the most from your coupons.
The steps are basically as follows:
- Subscribe to a local paper or find a website that allows you to get multiple copies of coupons. We have a subscription to receive five newspapers every Sunday. You can find websites that will send you coupons, but you have to pay them for shipping and preparation. You will have to calculate if it will work for you. In any case, you need to find a source where you can get multiple coupons for the same item.
- Organize your coupons. In following the advice of long-time couponers and modifying where necessary I have found that keeping two separate binders has worked well. You can fill these binders with generic plastic card holders. I found mine at a sports card collection store but, I imagine that you can find them at places Walmart too.
- Track sales at your local grocery store retailers, you can do this either online or by way of following their flyers. One excellent website is www.savvyshopperdeals.com. This website is an excellent resource for those of you in either Utah or Georgia. It provides a list of sale items in the local grocery stores. It includes stores such as Smiths, Allen’s, Walmart, Kmart, Target. I highly recommend that you use this site or one like it to help track sales.
- Find sales items that you also have coupons for, this is a cinch with a site such as savvyshopperdeals.com but may take a little more work if you don’t have this type of resource for your particular area. If you cut out your coupons weekly you will find that you can notice what the best bargains are without too much trouble.
That is pretty much it, four fairly simple steps. It sounds easy, and it really is. I believe that the keys for me have been organization, attention to detail and planning ahead. I have found it vital to have my coupons organized so that it is easy to me find them. Often I will be glancing through a grocery flyer and notice some product on sale, and then I’ll recall that I saw a coupon for it. Because I’ve taken the time to organize all of the coupons it is easy for me to check and see if I do indeed have one. Then it is very important to make sure that they apply to the item that I am buying. It is easy to make a mistake which will wreck all of your well laid plans. Finally, I try to plan my shopping trip ahead, as much as possible. I take my two boys with me and invariably they are anxious to get out of the store – my strategy is to spend as little time there as possible.
A few tips to save yourself extra time are to:
- Use a craft paper cutter, this will allow you to cut your coupons accurately and quickly.
- Cut more than one coupon at a time, that is you can stack the pages of coupons and if necessary staple them so that you cut five at one time.
- Involve others when you can. I have heard of couponing get-togethers or parties but I just involve my boys in cutting out coupons. They don’t always like to do it but, I think it helps them to understand the value of money and it is time I can spend with them when they aren’t playing on the computer or their iPod – plus it really helps to have extra hands to get the job done.
Couponing is an important part of our household budget and I hope it helps you as much as it has us. Typically, we will save between 65% to 85% on our grocery bill, and I’ve even had the amazing experience of getting money back from the store – though that is extremely rare. So, happy hunting and good luck couponing!