Coupons Continued

In CategoryNavel Gazing

Okay, shoppers. This week I finally clipped the coupons out of the papers I have been collecting for the last three weeks and tried to make a grocery list.

I don’t mind telling you, I was COMPLETELY OVERWHELMED when I was making my list. I didn’t know what to do first – make the list, check the sale ads, or go through my coupons. Sunday night I wanted to throw in the towel and I hadn’t even started.

Eventually, I decided to not deal with grocery items at all, but rather focus on toiletries and WalMart-y type items. After all, I don’t really care what kind of shampoo or razors or laundry soap I use, and thought it might be easier to navigate the coupon world if I wasn’t tempted by discounts on ice cream and cookies. My number one goal in couponing is to save money – but to do it buying only things I would have bought anyway. I do not want couponing to interfere with my ongoing food goal of eating healthier. That would be a step back, and one not worth the money.

I hit Target early yesterday morning. The store was practically empty, and when I checked out, I was grateful to have time to hand over my coupons and watch the register without someone behind me sighing pointedly. My shopping trip took longer than it would have, but that was probably because I did not organize my coupons very well. I discovered in the middle of the toothpaste aisle that merely having an envelope called “toiletries” was not the most efficient system.

At Target, I saved $21.76 using coupons. Twenty-one dollars! My total was $115 before coupons and I got it down to $93. That’s almost 20%!

The only thing I bought that wasn’t on the list was a bag of Pepperidge Farm cookies – they were on sale and I had a coupon. I would’ve been a fool not to buy them. Anyone can see that.

Encouraged, I continued on to the grocery store, where coupons shaved $11 off my bill. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but that is coupon only savings – since I normally shop the sales anyway, I need a clear picture of exactly how much the coupons themselves are saving me. I saved another $43 on sales, for a total of 20%.

In conclusion, coupons only saved me almost thirty-three dollars yesterday. 

I realize that is not some jaw-dropping amount. However, I kept my lists really small and I’m sure my savings will grow as I get more experience. Even if I only save $35 twice a month, that adds up to almost a thousand dollars a year. If I spend an hour a week clipping and an extra hour a week shopping, and I’m making almost $20 an hour for my efforts.

I am encouraged to give this a real try over the next few months.

And now, for the next installment of Nicole’s series on couponing:

I hope some of you have found some coupons in your Sunday papers that you can put toward you coupon stockpile.  I have been thinking hard about those of you that are working hard to provide your family with an organic diet and to those of you that do not use manufactured shampoo, cleaners or soap.  I have a friend that uses items from her stockpile (razors, shampoo etc.) to barter at her farmer’s market.  I have never tried this but it’s just a thought.

Today I want to talk to you about probably the most important aspect of couponing for a frugal living and that is store choice.  Where you shop makes a huge difference in the types of discounts you can take advantage of and how low your OOP or Out Of Pocket total can be.  This week for homework I’d like you to list all of the stores in your shopping area. Include drug stores like CVS and Rite-Aid, as well as supercenters (Target and Walmart) and grocery stores (Hy-Vee, Kroger).

Each store’s chain will have a different coupon policy.  To find out the store’s policy, check their website, ask for a copy at the store, or call the corporate office to have one mailed to you.  Once you have the policies for all of the stores in the area, look at them to see which stores are going to be the best stores for you. 

Key areas I look for are:

  • Does the store double coupons?  If so how much? Do they only double on certain days?
  • Does the store take internet printables?
  • Do I need a discount card to get savings?  How do I sign up for the card?
  • What do the stores do with the overage? (Overage is the “money” left over from the coupon.  For example, bath soap is on sale for $1.60 and I have a $2.00 coupon. Most stores will apply the .40 to the rest of your order; if that is the only item you are buying, you forfeit the money.  Walmart will give you the .40 back in cash.)

After you determine which stores have the best deals, you need to turn your attention to matching up the stores sales with your coupons.  For most stores these matchups are already done, you just have to find the coupon blog that will point you in the right direction.  Start with this link Grocery Store Database and see if your store is listed.  If it’s not, leave a note in the comment section and I’ll do some digging for you. 

Happy Couponing!