Look at me just checkin’ things off of my 30 before 30 list…3 down now! 🙂
I’ve gotta admit, when I chose “learn to coupon / price match” as a to-do on my list, I knew it was something I was definitely about to be tackling. As a “summer housewife,” I knew if I didn’t figure out something that would work for me over the summer and work it out, there was no way I would carry it over into the crazy busy school year.
Since couponing is kind of a craze right now, let me start by telling you what I don’t do…
*I don’t “extreme coupon.” No bulk surplus of diapers and toothpaste in my garage. (Although Chris does talk from time to time about stockpiling stuff in case of the zombie apocalypse…)
*Along those lines, I don’t buy things that we don’t normally use or things that we don’t necessarily need at that point in time.
*I don’t have a binder, or a tub, or any type of extreme organization when it comes to my coupons. They are in plastic baggies. Literally. (Not to say that one day I won’t feel the need to be more organized about it…but right now I haven’t found a way that is effective considering the time I would spend and the money I would save.)
Here’s what I started doing, but don’t do anymore…
*Signing up for bazillions of internet coupon sites. (Now I get bazillions of annoying e-mail everyday. It’s actually really annoying.) Couponing sites are just too overwhelming for me.
*Price matching…I really thought this was going to be a gold mine. A friend of mine was sweet enough to let me check out a price match report that she subscribes to, and I tried it out a couple of times. It did save me some money when I was shopping at Wal-Mart, just took quite a bit of prep time up front and extreme concentration while in the store. Once I started shopping at HEB, I found that their prices were equal or occasionally less than the price-match price if I were to wait and buy the items at Wal-Mart. Don’t get me wrong – there are people who are pro’s at price-matching and they save a lot of money doing it…I’m just not one of those people at this point.
And here’s the things I have found that actually work for me…
*I buy the Fort Worth Star Telegram every couple of Sunday’s and spend a few hours cutting out coupons. I’ve taken some to school to try and get a coupon swap going (which I need to update by the way!) and have mailed some in for military families to use. As I said earlier, the coupons go in one of two baggies…”now” or “maybe later.”
*When I’m working on my grocery list (I’ve blogged about that before I think…I meal plan for about 15 meals when I shop, and try to make a very specific, detailed shopping list to keep me on track.) I will go to store-specific internet sites to look for printable coupons. It’s quick and easy, and as an fyi, Target usually has some pretty good coupons if you plan on shopping there.
*Once I’ve got my coupons together and my grocery list forming, I actually type it up in a table w/ 3 columns (and with specific sections dedicated to different types of food.) The items I need go in the first column, if I’m using a coupon I’ll put that savings amount in the second column, and any “need to knows” go in the third column.
In case that’s confusing, here’s an example:
Paper towels $1.00 Coupon Must be a set of 6 rolls
For me, this part of my “couponing” is very important, for a couple of reasons. 1) Many coupons are specific on the quantity, size, etc. to be valid. 2) Sometimes the generic will still be cheaper than the name brand with a coupon, so if I’ve got the information handy I can make quick decisions about what brand to go with.
*Which leads me to my next tip…shop generics! 🙂 I’m not always good at this, but I’m working on getting better and figuring out what we can go generic on and what we can stay name brand. If you are willing to switch up your laundry detergent based on what you have a coupon for then you’ll be able to save money here and there.
*At HEB there are coupons and special combinations available right next to items on the shelves…score! I’ve gotten many items for free using their combo’s, and I’ve been able to bump my coupon savings up a notch by using some of their in-store coupons.
So…that’s what I do. (Sorry if it’s confusing…I tried to be as clear with my method as possible. Unfortunately, sometimes just the madness comes through.)
Since I started in mid-summer, I’ve saved an average of $30 per grocery trip. Doesn’t sound like much, but it helps me stay within my cash budget and over time has already saved us around $250. I’ll definitely keep doing it, and I’m sure my method will keep evolving.
What about you? Any couponing tips for moi?!
KEEP CALM & GIVE COUPONING A TRY!