Couponing

I wrote a few years ago about some of my grocery shopping tips that I follow, and I still use most of them (I hardly buy meat anymore, so that saves money). I'm proud of the fact that even with four people in our family eating almost every meal at home I keep our food budget under four-hundred dollars a month. Lately 'couponing' has become the big thing and I keep hearing people talk about how wonderful it is. My sister told me about her friend who spends hours each week dumpster diving for multiple newspaper copies, clipping coupons, and running multiple transactions at the grocery store stocking up on cheap food. I just don't have that time or energy. But, I have actually been using coupons during the last few months and getting some good deals so I thought I'd share a few more of my new shopping tips for making couponing work for you:

1. Plan your shopping trips well in advance. Using coupons isn't usually a great deal unless you strategically pair them with a sale. Organize your coupons and then look over the sale fliers to get a good idea of what you want to buy and how much you want to get. This is actually becoming trickier for me since we have so many grocery stores here right now. There are many good 'couponing' websites out there that will give you a heads up on the best deals. This one is the one I like most, but you can look around and find one that fits you the best.

2. Don't go with your kids. When I'm with my kids, I can't think straight. Unless I have a very specific list it usually doesn't work. I've learned to do my big shopping trips when my husband or a friend can watch the kids. I actually enjoy shopping this way!

3. Coupons won't save you money if you buy what you don't like or won't use. I actually don't use very many of the available coupons out there. I mostly use those for cereal, pasta, yogurt, diapers, and some toiletries. I don't eat a lot of processed foods, even if I can get them cheap (we did have hot dogs last week when WinCo was giving them away free). I'm also picky about toiletry brands so I don't always get the cheapest deals on those things.

4. Don't buy anything without looking for a deal on it. The internet is a great resource for comparing prices, finding coupons, and researching products. I have a 'junk' email address that I use to sign up for offers and newsletters. If you have favorite products, go to their website and see if they have a newsletter. Most companies do these days and they will send you free samples and coupons. I love getting free samples because it lets me have some variety in my life and I get to try things before I buy them. For big-ticket items I've learned to always look at craigslist, E-Bay, or other online sellers before I buy them in the store.

I just thought I'd share a few of my new shopping tips with everyone. Mr. Fob keeps teasing me for bring home bags full of cereal boxes (we have a nice supply in our storage room), but I love getting good deals. During the last few weeks I've been stocking up on diapers at Rite-Aid and it feels great to know that I not only have a three-month supply (at least), but that I got them for a very low price. One other small bonus of having a stocked pantry: when there are donation drives for the food pantry or homeless shelter I always have enough to share.

Comments

Earth Sign Mama said…
You know, that last bit--having enough to share---is reason enough to use coupons and bargain shopping tips.You've inspired me to plan a shopping trip with coupons and get stocked up on things I don't usually cook with anymore, but are excellent foodbank donations. There's a serious need here in our city for help and that is a very good way to do it.
Desmama said…
Your mom is right--and I think I'm going to try a little harder to do just that--save a little more to give away. Thanks for the tips and websites on couponing. I'm usually too tired to make a real concerted effort with coupons, but if it's fairly easy and consolidated into one avenue, I'm game to try.

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