One of the best ways to save money is by using coupons when you shop, building a "stockpile" and rarely having to pay full price for anything after a while. The process can be a little bit intimidating after seeing shows like Extreme Couponers, but it doesn't have to be. I would like to touch on the very basics of couponing. Once you start, most of it becomes second nature and the actual shopping and saving money bit becomes an addiction. There is nothing like walking out of a store with $200 in product for $15. That is my kind of adrenaline rush!
Gather those Coupons! You have some options here.
Inserts: You can find these in the Sunday newspaper. You will find inserts of coupons from names like Red Plum, Smart Source and Proctor and Gamble. Ask your neighbors, family and friends that get the paper for their coupon inserts if they won't be using them. I had great success asking on Facebook, a few friends and neighbors just started dropping them off to me on Sunday mornings. My general rule of thumb is one insert per person in your household, but you can do more or less depending on your needs.
Printable Coupons: You can print these from your home computer. There is usually a 2 coupon limit per product per computer. Coupons.com is an awesome site for printable coupons.
Catalinas: Coupons that print up with your receipt at the grocery store.
Peelies: Sticking on the product at the store.
Blinkies: Little blinking black boxes that dispense coupons.
Tear Pad: Coupons in a tear pad next to the product.
Find the Deals
Find a "deal site" such as: The Grocery Game, Southern Savers or Coupon Mom. You can also just pop "coupon match ups for (the name of your grocery store of choice)" into Google and get some more options. These sites are usually free or super cheap and save you loads and loads of money and TIME by doing all of the coupon matching to store sale legwork for you.
|To clip or not to clip, that is the question.|
The binder method: With the binder method you are going to sit down and clip ALL of your coupons at once. If you are getting a lot of inserts (I would say 10 or more), I would invest in a paper cutter. After they are all clipped you sort the coupons by category (dairy, beverages, personal care, canned etc.) into baseball card holder sheets. Next, you are going to put the sheets in a binder of your choice. I have seen some pretty fancy decorated ones that have made me consider going the binder method route. It is time intensive, for sure, but getting to carry your coupons with you everywhere will pay off quickly. Seeing a lipstick on clearance for $2 and having a coupon for $2 off will make all of those countless hours spent cursing your scissors and cramped up hands worth it.
The filing method: This is what I have been doing for the past 8 years or so that I have been couponing. You are basically clipping the coupons "as you go", rather than all at once. You get your inserts, write the date across the front of each one with a Sharpie and place all of the inserts from that week into a folder also marked with the date. Easy peasy! After you get your coupon match ups
for the week, just go ahead and put your folders out and clip away.
Admittedly, I have missed some epic deals by not having my coupons with me, but sitting down and clipping all at once is just not for me (I have tried!). Whichever method you decide on, you will be saving a lot more money than not using coupons at all, so don't sweat too much over missed deals.
Choose one or the other, or do a little of both. They are both tried and true methods that work fantastically.
|Kroger had some amazing deals on medicine that could have been even better if I carried my coupons around with me. But , I still saved a boatload so I won't beat myself up too much. ;)|
Make Some Room for YOUR Stockpile!
As you coupon, you are going to amass a lot of products. I especially like to stock up on personal care items and over the counter medicine. Cross my heart I am not a doomsday prepper, I just like to be prepared. All of that lovely product is going to save you from running out at two in the morning for children's Tylenol or using the restroom after your child only to be staring into the mocking face of an empty, soulless toilet paper roll. The last roll in the house. Your stockpile is part of your family, it's nicer to you than your kids and talks back a lot less. So, give it a proper home. Where do you have some extra space, or some space to be made? A closet, your basement, garage? There is nothing wrong with using a little creativity here. Who said you can't keep paper products and toiletries under the bed in the guest room? I am not one of those "pretty pantry" people with color coded bins, I am all about utility.
Please share any couponing tips or tricks in the comments, I'd love to hear from you! Stay tuned for more in depth guides on couponing and budgeting!