Couponing can be a very overwhelming skill to learn overnight. I cannot tell you the amount of times I have been told “I just don’t have the time for that” or “I tried, but it was not worth it”. Well I am here to get you over that mind set!
What If I told you that even an hour of preparing before a grocery shopping trip could easily save you $50 or more?!?
That is like earning $50 an hour at a job!
So let me get down to the basics of couponing for anyone who needs a refresher or if you are starting from scratch.
1.) Where do you get coupons?
- The majority of coupons will come out in the Sunday’s paper. There are 3 different sources of coupon inserts. You have Smartsource, Proctor and Gamble (P&G) and Redplum. Each insert source will give you different brand names of products. For instance, P&G will have coupons for products such as Crest, Pampers and Tide.
- You can also get many coupons right off your computer! Many brands will have coupons available directly through their website or Facebook page. My favorite website is coupons.com.
- Coupons can also be found directly on the product itself in the grocery store.
2.) How do you organize all those coupons?
- Each couponer has their own way of keeping their coupons organized. One of the most common ways is to have a coupon binder and divide your binder into different sections. I personally have two 5-inch coupon binders. One binder is only for food products. Within that binder I have it broken down into sections such as snacks, beverages, cereal, etc… My 2nd binder contains all other items such as personal hygiene, household essentials, baby and medicine.
- Some couponers who do not want to cut all coupons will have a filing system and file each insert with the date. When a sale comes out to match with a previous coupon they will find that insert that has that coupon and cut when needed.
- Since you never know what is going to be on sale in the coming weeks I would encourage you to save all coupons on items that you will buy in the future.
3.) How can I use coupons to save money on the things I need?
- The average person may or may not make a list before going grocery shopping. Most grocery items are spur of the moment decisions, or let’s be honest…whatever your toddler throws in the cart!
- I am going to challenge you to change your way of thinking when it comes to grocery shopping. The easiest way to save money with coupons is to match your coupons with a sale.
- For example: you have peanut butter on your weekly grocery shopping list. This week it is the regular price of $2.99. You use a .55 cent coupon. You will pay $2.44 out of pocket. The following week the same peanut butter is on sale for 2 for $3.00 ($1.50/each). You use the same .55 cent coupon and pay .95 cents out of pocket. See the difference?!? You could buy 2 jars for the price you would have paid for one while it was not on sale. It pays to wait until there is a sale to use your coupons!
- Changing your way of shopping is going to take time so do not be discouraged when the first few months of trips have a higher out of pocket cost than you would like. It takes time to be able to match coupons with different sale items each week to get your grocery items at rock bottom prices!
4.) What if I don’t have a coupon for a brand that I buy?
- I know many of you are brand loyal which is completely fine, but what if I told you that you could save 50 percent more on a different brand with the same quality? The awesome thing about couponing is that most of the time you can get very high quality brands for pennies on the dollar. Think brands such as Tide and Dove! The one thing all of my family knows is that we use what is on sale or what I am able to get at least 50 percent off.
5.) What if I do not have room to store all the items I get from couponing?
- No need to worry! I have ran across many couponers who live in apartments, single bedroom homes and even college dorm rooms and they all seem to make it work! The key is to get the items you will need at stock up prices and to get enough of the item to last you until the next sale. Each sale cycle for items usually run about 6-8 weeks until the item goes back on sale. You do not have to have 50 deodorants stored in your home, unless you want to of course!
6.) Am I going to be able to get the things I need?
- What if I told you that I NEVER pay for deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo or conditioner?!? That’s right. Every day essentials that almost everyone uses I do not even pay a penny for.
7.) Can I make money from couponing?
- The answer to that is yes and no. Most stores do not give overage (in the form of cash) for items when you use a coupon, but many stores will apply overage towards other items. For instance, if you have a $3.00 coupon for an item that is on sale for $2.00, then some stores will allow you to use the $1.00 overage towards other items in your cart.
8.) Does couponing take too much time?
- I am not going to tell you that couponing does not take much time because it does. I would like to challenge you to dedicate yourself to at least a few months before deciding that the time is not worth it. Also, staying organized and scheduling time out of the week to do certain tasks will make the process a lot easier.
- When you first start, it will take time to significantly lower your monthly grocery budget. Once you are able to build a decent stockpile of essential items then you will not have to pick up those items at full retail price each time you run out.
- Building a decent stockpile will take time to get many of the essential items at rock bottom prices. This is why you buy multiple of items such as shampoo when it is .50 cents or below so when you run out you simply grab another bottle from your stockpile instead of running to the store to spend $4.00-$5.00 each time.
9.) How can I save money on items besides groceries?
- Couponing or frugal shopping can be used on many other items besides groceries. Many stores offer coupons off a certain price or a percentage off your total purchase. I have made myself get in the habit to check on my phone before I checkout at any store to make sure that I am saving all that I can. Common stores that will offer coupons through the mail and/or internet are places such as Kohls, Target, JCPenney, Ulta and many more!
- The most common way that I personally save money on items other than groceries is to shop clearance… in fact it is my favorite hobby! For example, Target will mark down all holiday (Christmas, Halloween, Easter and July 4th) items 90% off a couple weeks after the specific holiday. I know what you are thinking “I don’t need any more Christmas ornaments”, but it is not just specific to the decorations. Any items that are related to the season will be marked down 90%. This past holiday mark downs I have found items such as lotion, sunscreen, yard decorations, childrens toys, baskets and more for 90% off!
10.) Do I need extra money to coupon?
- I would set aside a small budget for your weekly shopping trips. If possible I would set aside $5.00-$10.00 depending on your budget to be able to stock up on items that are at rock bottom price that week. If you have a weekly budget of $50.00 then, if possible, set aside an additional $10.00; for a total of $60.00/week. The additional $10.00 will help you stock up on items for the future so you will not have to pay full price a couple weeks later. After you have built your stockpile then you can cut back on your budget.