Sunday, January 4, 2009

Saving money with coupons...

Many people are concerned about saving money these days. A great way to do that is to clip coupons! If you've never done this before we'll go through the steps for you.




First, you'll need access to the Wednesday and Sunday papers, if possible. This doesn't mean that you have to subscribe to the paper. You probably have a neighbor or relative that throws this stuff away. Just ask around. You can find most coupons in Sundays paper, but Wednesday has the grocery store sale papers and you may find more coupons in those. You can also use the sale papers to find good deals that will use many of Sunday's coupons!

Second, you need to try to avoid "brand loyalty". That is where you become so loyal to one product that you refuse to use any other. Sometimes you make this purchase because your mother or grandmother always purchased that brand. It's important to note that in their day there weren't as many brands and they didn't have store brands. MANY of the store brands on shelves are manufactured by the same companies you normally buy; they just slap on a different label. If this is very important to you, try to wean yourself off by first comparing ingredients of items. Take home items with similar ingredients and do taste tests. (The great thing about the taste tests is that sometimes you find better ingredients than you originally used!)

Third, have some way to organize your coupons and sales information. You can set up a computer program that you plug all of the data into. You can write notes on scrap pieces of paper. They have coupon "wallets" available at stores. Some have cute designs. I would recommend a thick plastic one if you go this route, as the paper ones wear out faster. You can normally find the plastic ones at a dollar store - which makes this an even better decision. Recently, I've seen several ladies with 3-ring binders loaded to the gils. Whatever works for you.

Fourth, be sure to sign up for each stores customer savings card. It may be called "Important Customer" card, "Extra Savings" card, you get the point...Most major stores have them now and the savings you'll receive is well worth letting them track your spending. (Yes, they do that!) The combination of coupons and these savings cards will amaze you.

A tip for storing those store cards: Keep them on a seperate key chain designated especially for those cards, that way they don't clutter up your regular keys. If you don't receive a key chain ready card, you can punch a hole in your regular sized card or you can keep all of the regular sized cards together in a small zipper bag. The seperate bag will keep them from bulking up your wallet and you can stash them in your glove box!

Fifth, get to know your store. Some stores offer double coupons, but have regulations - up to $.50, up to $.99. Some stores regulary offer triple coupons. Again, get to know the regulations. This is a terrific time to stock up and most stores will do the triple coupons about the same week each year, so you can plan around it.

Sixth, always take a calculator with you. You never know when you'll need it. Occasionally, you'll find that you'll save more by buying another brand, even with a coupon or sale.

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On Wednesday, I grab some scrap paper, one for each store, and note items of interest on each, along with the sale price. As I flip through each store flyer, I compare my notes on the previous store. Many weeks you'll find that stores will have the same items on sale, but some have drastically different prices! Watch the sales flyers for additional "this store only" coupons.

Sunday, I sit down with my scrap paper notes and flip through the new coupons. I clip any coupons I might need in the near future, paying special attention to those that I may want to utilize this week. After clipping the coupons out, I immediately paper clip the ones to be used this week to each stores notes, according to where I'll get the best deal. This will save you precious time at each store especially if you're going to multiple.

When shopping, always remember to take your other coupons along. Sometimes stores will have unadvertised specials that you can cash in on while picking up the necessities! Don't be afraid to stock up on common household items that have long shelf lives, such as toilet paper, dish detergent, toothpaste, etc. You know you'll use them one day and a good deal is a good deal even if it's 6 months until you use it.

NEVER pay for groceries with a credit card, unless you pay your card in full each month. Paying with a credit card will wipe out any savings you receive initially. If you are in a situation where this is your only alternative, perhaps you should seek asisstance from a local food bank or other charity. Don't be embarassed about seeking asisstance, either. Things happen. That's life and that's why these organizations are there, because there was a need.

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There are companies that will compile these lists for you. One that was featured last year on the local news was The Grocery Game. For a fee, these people will provide a detailed list of coupons available and what stores to use them at. They even state that they have listings on the unadvertised deals. You can get a list for one store or multiple stores. Charges vary depending on which service you pick. It may be worth the fee if you don't have the time or wish to work out a list on your own.




I also found a link for another site that is supposed to be similar, but it's FREE. That's CouponMom. It looks like this site also offers free sample links and free coupons online. BUT, be careful about printing online coupons. Check with your stores to make sure they accept these before wasting your time. Many large chains don't accept them due to fraud. Apparently, people were making their own coupons with PhotoShop type programs.




Other links that you may like:










A post on another blog gave me this idea. If you have other ideas for her, please leave her a comment on the original post!

1 comment:

The Southern Housewife said...

Oh my goodness- this post is amazing! There's so much info, it's making my head spin! ;) I'll have to just take it all in chunks. Thanks soooo much for taking the time to post it.
The Southern Housewife