Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My Couponing tips!

This is more than a science, it is a new way of thinking. It involves extreme organization. Saving your money does take time, effort and dedication, but... you worked hard for that money and you deserve to hold on to it.
Lets begin-
To start you need to check your entire inventory inside your cabinets: in the kitchen, the bathroom, The bathroom. as well as the fridge and the freezer.
Anything that hasn’t been used take note of it as something you do not need and will no longer waste money on. And of course, plain an simple- if it is expired or no longer used, PITCH IT, or give it away. You will need to free up space for future SMART purchases.
Now take note-
  • What are your staple items? What rarely gets used that’s taking up space?
  • Plan your meals a week in advance. I know it is a pain in the ass, an your mood may change, but, it is NECESSARY if you want to save! For the most part, I can definitely plan meals around things that are on sale that week or on things that I have stocked up on
  • Take inventory on ALL your items.
1. Take a piece of paper or use an excel spreadsheet and create 4 columns.
2. Write down every staple item you use on a monthly basis.
3. Next to it you will put the price you normally pay.
4. In the next column to that put the store you normally get it from.
5. Next to that place a check mark if you have it or if it needs to be refilled. –
I can link you to downloading a free excel program.
· The next step is to do a little research at all the stores you frequent, this research is necessary.
The point - You want to find out where you find your item is listed at the cheapest.
· You may have to dedicate a day where you go to the different stores and make a mental note of what that price is on your normal staple item. You will be shocked!
· Do not buy all the items at the same store because it is convenient.
· Do NOT allow dollar stores or walmart to trick you into thinking they are the cheapest.
The mainstream grocery/pharmacies have deals/prices that can end up making it a lot cheaper to shop there instead. Also, store brands are fabulous and seem like the cheaper choice- but sometimes, let’s face it- most of the time- they SUCK. Ever ate a dollar store version of a nutragrain bar? It is HORRIBLE. My dollar store dishsoap doesn’t even bubble up LOL. And guess what, with coupons and catching the sales: a larger sized bottle of DAWN is the same price as the dollar store brand- works better AND every time you buy a dawn you donate a dollar to cleaning up oil spills on animals (shameless plug here)
· Note to self: most couponers do not shop like those on the shows - most of the show is played up for the cameras! There is no need to own 500 bottles of free advil unless you plan on donating the entire stock to a shelter. It is tacky to clear out a shelf, greedy, and a waste of product. Tact is involved with your couponing.
· You will need to carry your spreadsheet with you everywhere. It is your new bible- You will need to constantly update the price of something if you find it is cheaper at one store then the other. It only takes a moment.
· The good coupons are in the Sundays newspaper and also can be printed from online. You need to start searching and clipping every chance you get, some coupons are hidden inside the actual product.. every sunday you need to get a paper or 2 (or 3 ) and take the 20 mins to clip the coupons.
If you find multiple coupons- save them too- you will need them for stock and repeat future purchases. You will often find BOGOS AND .50 &1.00 off coupons on items you use.
You will need to check the store's you frequent circular ads (they have them in the front of some stores or deliver to your house- the object is to find the product you prefer and if it is having a good sale that is cheaper then the price you have on your spreadsheet- that is when you need to STOCK on that item.. This is your most important step. You want to use the coupons on the days that your item is on sale.
· Stock on good sales. when you stock on a good sale/price that you would normally spend more on- you are saving big bucks in the long run. big bucks. in 3 months I have freed up 300 I normally would not be able to stretch. Thats now my FUN shopping money. :)
· Space is needed to store your overflow items. That way before you go out to the grocery store you check your overflow section first. Technically it will feel like you are shopping at home first before you hit the store.
Once you are stocked on something no need to buy it until it's free or very close to it.
Exceptions would be paper towels, toilet paper, if the price is pretty low, because they will be used no matter what and they are hard to come by completely free.
I am currently well stocked on these items because I have ONLY shopped during sales an coupons- mashed potatoes- canned/frozen veggies, rice, pasta, body wash, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, lotion, face wash, GOGURTS, granola bars, lean cuisines, frozen pizza, tomato sauce, toilet paper, diapers, wipes, olive oil, butter, veggie oil,
· In order for the couponing to really work, sometimes you cannot be brand loyal. However if your lucky enough that you happen to love a brand that happens to go on sale a lot, then its ok.
I happen to like a1 steak sauce and ONLY a1 steak sauce. i will not get another kind. But see, with toilet paper, I had to suck it up because quilted northern almost never has coupons. But charmin does!
With hair care, my hair is so picky i had to actually *pay* for my stockpile of shampoos and conditioners. of course i paid very very little per bottle. but again i had to buy brands i had never used before (like dove) instead of only buying my favorite (nexus). Most of the time you just gotta suck it up. but other times i would suggest stocking up on a great deal of your favorite stuff
Hopefully, in 2 weeks, you have found a big stack of usable coupons after scavenging- uh- I mean after collecting newspapers and GOOGLING each one of your favorite brand/item online. They are out there, you just have to find them!
Many websites out there have great coupons,
Here are ones I use
www.passionforsavings.com
www.dealseekingmoms.com
www.forthemommas.com
www.mamabargains.com
www.babysteals.com
You will need to visit the grocery store website, walmart website, rite aid, CVS, all your favorite brand website, sign up for their email list- dedicate a whole separate email just for these subscriptions so you don’t clutter your personal email. I signed up for nutragrain bar website and Capri sun website, and I get some great deals from them! J
Here is another secret of mine. My PNC bank sends me discounts and I am involved in a point system where every dollar I spend I earn a point and I redeem them and get Gift Certificates or Visa Spending cards, In 4 month I accumulated enough to get a $100 Visa reward card. That is free money! If your bank has a point system, activate it! Don’t let free money pass you buy!
You need the store savings card for every store you frequent to get special store savings and coupons…. This is a must and we should all know this by default. Even clothing stores give you coupons (express)
Never shy away at the small 20 cent off coupons- It may not seem like much, but when you have 20 of them trust me it all adds up
Create a Coupon inventory spreadsheet: Categorize according to the brand name. Expiration date, and what the deal is. I have sent my example. J
Carry all your coupons with your staple inventory list and your coupon inventory list- some people carry a binder, other feel only a large envelope is needed and staple the inventory lists on the outside, Separate the coupons with paper clips, I sort all my coupons by by type (toiletries/groceries/etc) And then sort it by the date expired . By this method you are actually able to calculate how much you are about to spend before you even step foot in there.
Wait till after the clerk has rung up all your items to give your coupons. Watch carefully as sometimes they do not apply them correctly. You will sometimes need to get a manager involved as some clerks on not keen on what the terms of the coupon means. I watch like a HAWK that all my coupons go through.
You will learn that Wednesdays is when the new sales come out on the store circulars. You schedule your shopping according to dates your coupons will expire. Otherwise at the end of the month, when you throw out your stack of expired coupons, you might as well throw some money out as well!
Before you step foot into the grocery store, you check your spreadsheet and what you are out of or getting low on, and HIGHLIGHT which ones have a coupon. if you have done your searching well- soon EVERY item you need should have a coupon. (okay most!)
spend less time in stores than you ever did before because if u have a plan and a budget- you will learn to stick to it (i used to just wander around aimlessly looking at things)..
Organization is the key to this!.. and the same goes for a strict discipline.. i didn’t normally have much discipline but ever since I started couponing I’ve found that a few small slips don’t matter much anymore.. Before i started couponing, because i had less extra cash, a single tiny slip was HORRIBLE and a really big deal. all because i know that the majority of the things I would have spent money on are FREE. so the small amount of discipline i have in my normal shopping allows me a little wiggle room I didn’t have before in everything else.
Here is what I didrecentl y. I just saved $30 going to CVS.
Their body wash was on a store sale $1 off then usual, and I had a 1.00 off coupon, and also a Buy one get one free coupon (old spice for the MR.) I spent $2 for 2 LARGE body washes which normally would have cost me 3.50 each.
Their covergirl products were on a store sale of buy one get one 50% off. I had a manufacturer coupon where covergirl was Buy 2 get $5 off. I paid $5 for 2 items that normally would have cost me $17 for both.
I had 2 different coupons for $1 off for Neutrogena face wash- they were on a store sale buy 2 for $10.
Instead of $7 each u normally pay, I paid $7 for both using the sale and 2 coupons.
See how it starts adding up? Part of your experience is SHARING sales with a circle of other couponers, if you share with them, they share with you. also, trading unloved coupons with someone who would love to use them!

Update me on your ventures.

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