I fell off the wagon and got a little behind, but I have a good excuse this time. :) My mission now is to catch up!
- Chapter 1 ~Big Goals and Baby Steps
- Chapter 2 ~ Chaos, Clutter, and Debt
- Chapter 3 ~ Budgeting Challenges
- Chapter 4 ~ Plastic Excuses, and From Plastic to Cash
- Cash Observations After One Month (and then I fell off that wagon, too, but I do want to get back on… with one leg, anyway)
- Chapter 5 ~ Do You Coupon?
I gave up couponing months ago, letting my file folder wither as we prioritized time management and whole foods eating. I knew there were coupons out there that I could use, and let’s face it… our on-the-go, ballgaming lifestyle isn’t conducive to all whole foods eating, so yes, I was definitely missing out on some bargains. It just didn’t seem worth it to spend the time hunting down, clipping, and redeeming the right coupons at the right time.
This month, less than 2 weeks after having our 5th baby, I got back at it. Yes, my timing is impeccable. What was I thinking?! Well, I figured if I was going to jump back in, I may as well do it while there was a good sale going on and great deals to be had. Nothing like FREE for motivation!
This particular week my Dillons (Kroger affiliate) was having a Mega Sale. I took it easy on myself and followed Frugal Fritzie’s plan of action (I highly recommend finding a deal blogger for your particular store and letting them to all the “heavy lifting”). I didn’t have access to any coupon inserts, but printed what I could and had great success with those.
One of the key strategies to saving the most money with coupons is to only use them for sale items. I agree wholeheartedly, and that’s what I did. I missed couponing! And… it was fun to snag some deals, both on “fun foods” for ballgames and free stuff we’d use down the road. Here’s my stash.
- 2 boxes cereal ~ $1.49 each
- 4 boxes dishwasher tabs ~ $1.79 each
- 2 bags Goldfish crackers ~ 49¢ each
- 2 bags Chex Mix ~ 49¢ each
- 1 bag Huggies wipes ~ $1.00
- 4 boxes Hefty zip bags ~ FREE
All that stuff for about $14? Worth it! My favorite purchases were the zip bags and the dishwasher soap. Those are items that I have bought full price many a time because we flat out needed them. To be able to stock up at a bargain? That was great incentive to get back on the coupon bandwagon!
Yes, I saved a significant amount on this trip. I’m still not confident, though, in Crystal’s assertion in Chapter 5 of The Money Saving Mom’s Budget that “If you use coupons correctly, you’ll save $25 to $50 per hour.” Maybe I’m just slow (and easily distracted!), but between looking up the deals, printing and clipping coupons, and doing the shopping, that’s a stretch. However, I’m limited by location and coupon availability right now, and I’m sure that makes a huge difference! (It’s not the $25 to $50 I’m questioning, it’s the time factor. What does your experience say?)
Chapter 6: Advanced Couponing Techniques
Shop at more than one store.
WalMart, Dillons, and Dollar General are my options in the town where I do most of my shopping. Honestly? I prefer Dillons 80% of the time, especially if I have coupons in hand. Their sales are better, they double coupons, and their produce is superior to WalMart. If my list consists of groceries that are mostly on sale (which is how it should be if my objective is to save!) I stick to Dillons and just take a hit on the few items I need that aren’t on sale. That beats another stop at another store in the time and hassle department.
Play the Drugstore Game.
Oh, how I envy those of you who can take advantage of this saving technique! Our nearest drugstore is an hour away. Not a viable option for me, so I’ve never played the game. Feel free to make me jealous and share your successes!
Is it a Good Deal?
This is important! I’ve noticed the “clearance” signs in WalMart: Clearance Price ~ $1.95, Regular Price ~ $1.98. Ummm, notadeal! Don’t let the bright lights and red ink trick you into buying something just because it’s “on sale.” I like Crystal’s suggestion of keeping a price book on the things we buy most. It’s a quick reference to a good price when the numbers start to spin.
Also good to remember, regardless of the price: It’s not a good deal if you can’t afford it. If you can’t pay cash and stay within your budget, walk away.
Stack Coupons and Use Overage.
I’ve been using coupons for years, but just learned to be on the lookout for catalinas a few years ago. These little printouts act like cash and can be used for anything. What a great way to get a “deal” on items (produce, milk, etc.) that we rarely see coupons for.
Use Great Deals to Feed Your Family.
This may be the most important section in Chapter 6. Stocking your pantry with cheap and free food doesn’t do your family any good if you don’t know how to use those items to prepare meals. Meal planning and preparing easy, economical meals for the family could really be a chapter (or book!) of its own, and is truly a skill even more important than couponing. If you can use bargains to plan your meals, that’s even better, but learning to eat well at home will save your family time and money (not to mention the health benefits!) exponentially more than any amount of coupons.
Crystal offers a few pages of basic menu planning tips and strategies, which are helpful reminders, but if you’re a “newbie” I would strongly recommend digging around the internet for a more thorough series to help you get in the kitchen.
How do you make couponing worth it?
What strategies work best in your situation? If you’ve never clipped a coupon, what would make it worth trying?