Couponing, I’m not certain if it’s a word, but I’m sure using it all over this post.
Last night I had a rousing conversation with girlfriends from church about the art of using coupons. We were at a college baseball game and got louder discussing saving money versus cheering for our respective teams.
People are more budget conscience, Extreme Couponing is airing on TLC (they used the term too!) and so I feel compelled to share my couponing method, tips and tricks.
My Couponing Method
In my Google Reader, I have a folder designated for coupon and bargain websites labeled Deals. Every day I scan headlines in this folder for coupons to print, deals and freebies. Using a feed reader is an easy way to be notified of new posts, without having to visit each individual website. I can quickly sort through articles and click through to ones I might be interested in.
These are sites I subscribe to:
I also look here:
In addition to online coupons, the Sunday newspaper coupon inserts are different and can be worth the cost of the paper. We don’t subscribe to the newspaper, but our families are happy to save the coupons for us and share.
Armed with my lists and coupon holder I stick to shopping at Kroger, Target and on occasion, CVS. I’ve routinely saved $20-$40 each trip since getting serious with coupons. Knowing there is money to be saved it becomes an addictive game, well worth the planning and effort.
Write a list
Before going to the store I plan meals around what’s already in our kitchen, the coupons I have and what’s on sale. Then I make a list of items to buy and pull out coupons I know I’ll use. These steps allow me to speed through the store, make quick decisions and bypass unnecessary items. It pays to be organized, or in this case, saves!
Carry coupons with you
My coupon holder is pictured above. It’s dear to my heart. I carry it in my purse at all times. A coupon can’t save you money, if you don’t have it when you need it.
Always be on the lookout
Coupons are in strange places. I’ve found them printed on the inside of cracker boxes, in magazines, discarded at the store, online, facebook and printed on receipts. You can sign up to have special Target coupons sent directly to your mobile phone. Kroger offers e-coupons which you can load directly to your Kroger card online.
Buy something just because you have a coupon
Stick to buying what you need and items you regularly purchase. Otherwise you might find yourself buying unnecessary items to achieve the “high” of using a coupon and “saving” money. (Even though it is a sweet feeling.) You don’t save money if you buy stuff you don’t need!
Make repeat trips
Driving around like mad to multiple stores, multiple days burns a lot of gas and therefore wastes money, not to mention time. I make one trip to the grocery store (Kroger) on the weekend, a run to Target every couple weeks, and CVS once in awhile. Make a list (see above) and avoid extraneous trips for one sale item.
Get caught up
On one occasion I drove around to three CVS stores to take advantage of sale. They were having a Extra Bucks deal on Kashi products, and I had multiple Kashi manufacturer coupons for a particular cereal. It would have been a great deal (free Kashi cereal!), but none of the stores carried the cereal flavor I had coupons for. Getting caught up in the hunt to score free products ended up costing me gas, time and a bit of my sanity!
Eating Well on $1 a Day
This guy’s personal challenge really fascinated me and it’s how I learned about CVS Extra Bucks. The deals he scored are impressive and there are detailed posts explaining the process. He also has posts on: