Thursday, August 27, 2009

Couponing Part I: An Intro

Hello, friends!

I have enjoyed reading your emails and comments regarding couponing, and am excited that many of you are giving it a try. For those of you interested in how I obtain and use coupons to my advantage, this post should help you...

Admittedly, when I first began clipping coupons, I sort of thought there was this stigma attached to, you know, being that woman in the grocery store. The one holding up the check-out line while the manager was summoned to clarify a coupon combo that seemed way too good to be true (it wasn't). Or the one toting a coupon binder through the aisles, pausing to sort through her wares to match up a sale with a coupon (who cares?).

I'll just put it out there. I was kind of embarrassed. Looking back, I'm not sure what I was embarrassed of - saving money? leaving a store paying less than half of what the total bill should have been? stickin' it to The Man?

I guess I thought that if anyone I knew saw me walking through the aisles of Kroger holding coupons- gasp - they would think less of me. Like I couldn't afford gorceries at regular price. Well, truth be told, I've run into many acquaintances at the grocery store since (hello, I'm a teacher), and never once heard a snicker over my purple zippered binder. I doubt they even notice it. And, it's kind of empowering to be able to spend so little on so much. Like, I sometimes leave the store wanting to do a fist-pump/high-kick combo and sing out Cha-ching! as I'm pushing my cart through the sliding doors.

So, what I'm getting at here, was the long-winded way of saying leave your pride at the door. There's nothing embarrassing about saving money. Nothing at all.

Anyway, stepping off of my soapbox...

Many of you asked where I obtain my coupons from. I'll list my main sources below:
  1. The Sunday Paper. If I find that the coupons are extra good (i.e. offering high dollar coupons on items I regularly use), I'll buy a second paper.
  2. I exchange coupon inserts with others (i.e. coworkers, neighbors, mom). We all get the coupons we need and then give the inserts to the other person so they can do the same. This is how I obtained multiple copies of the $2 off Rimmel Mascara coupons that I used at Target the other day. The mascara was regularly $2.24, so that made each mascara only 24 cents before tax! I'm a mascara fiend, so this was a great buy for me.
  3. I visit Smartsource and on a weekly basis and print coupons from home that differ from those in the paper. If you print online, here's some things you need to know: a) you can usually only print a coupon twice before a print-limit is reached b)set your printer settings to economy print or fastdraft or black/white to save on ink c) not all stores accept printables, so verify with your retailer before going through the hassle (I have yet to find a store that doesn't accept them). d) if you see something you want, print it immediately! don't wait because good coupons often have a global print limit and once it is reached, no one can print it any more.
  4. If you have a favorite brand, join their website or sign up for an email newsletter. It is best to set up an email account specifically for fielding emails from these type of places because you will get LOTS of junkmail. After joining, you'll usually be privy to sales or coupons that you can print.
  5. Follow Money Saving Mom! She's my personal coupon guru, and just by her ability to key me into the latest deals, I've saved hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars. I love her and her faith-based site.
  6. If you can sign up for something free (i.e. samples!), DO IT! Usually, when you sign up for a free sample, the company will also send along some great coupons. You have to enter your home address, and I can honestly report that I've not received any more junk {snail} mail than I usually would.
  7. If you are a Target shopper (and who isn't?), you must, must, must print Target coupons. This is because they allow you to pair a store coupon with a mfc (manufacturer coupons). This can make for some great deals (i.e. The PopTarts I bought at Target the other day were priced at $1.52 a box, but when I combined a TC (75 cents off) with a mfc ($1 off of 2), the total came to only 65 cents a box. Not bad!) Other stores also offer store coupons, like Walgreens and Meijer.

I'll end this first post with this: if you want to coupon, you really have to be committed to it. It takes some work every week to not only clip coupons, but to also match up the best deals. I'm not trying to turn this into a money-saving-blog, and am certainly not the first person to ever do a post like this, but I'm excited to share some of my strategies and hope that they can shave a couple dollars off of your weekly grocery budget.

I will post a menu-grocery shopping match-up next week (probably Tuesday-ish), so that you can see what we eat on $50 a week :)

I'll also show you my coupon binder and where I go to find good deals in a subsequent post.

I'll also continue to post about sweet precious and how I actually got to cruise around in a real, live mini-van for 48 hours this week. And I didn't take pictures. Oh, and Baby B is sick. Darn those Kinder critters and their germs. Grrr.

Happy night, BFFs!

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