Sunday, October 7, 2012

How I Coupon and Actually Save a Few $$

You've seen them on TV. Those crazy people who are all "OMG I bought 52 tubes of toothpaste and 47 packs of disposable razors and only spent $0.13!!!!!" Yay! Good for you! Now you'll have fresh breath and hairless legs in the event of a zombie apocalypse! I want you on my team! Not.

Too many people watch these women on TV and get to thinking that if they use coupons they can seriously decrease their monthly grocery bills with the use of a few coupons. Yes and no. Unless you're an extreme couponer and have a serious need for 52 tubes of toothpaste, you really shouldn't expect to save more than a few bucks each shopping trip.

Here's the thing...I save between $3 and $5 each shopping trip with coupons. (If I ever have a week where I save $7-$10 I feel like I've won the lottery. It's the small things people.) I shop once per week, so that adds up to about $208 per year. Give or take a little obviously. I know you're thinking that $200 isn't that much money but would you turn your nose up if someone handed you a check for $200? Didn't think so.

What you do have to be careful of with coupons is spending money on things you don't need. That's where a lot of people get into trouble. They end up spending more than they originally intended because they "had a coupon." Thus negating the point of couponing in the first place. Don't buy 6 packs of yogurt because you have a coupon if you don't like yogurt. No matter how much you swear you'll eat it because it was on sale, you won't.

So here are my rules of engagement when it comes to couponing:

  • DON'T spend a ridiculous amount of time cutting coupons. If you spend hours each week pouring over coupons, you're probably not even covering the cost of your time.
  • DO use free coupon websites like coupons.com and redplum.com. A lot of store websites now even have special coupons on their website.
  • DO NOT buy things you don't need with coupons. My policy is that if I wasn't going to buy it anyway, I don't need to buy it with a coupon.
  • Don't expect couponing to seriously impact your monthly budget. If I save $20/month with coupons I am thrilled.
  • DO pair coupons with weekly store specials! (I am terrible at doing this, I don't have enough patience.)

There you have it. My $0.02 on how to actually save a few $$ with coupons. :)

5 comments:

  1. These are such great tips! I'm so bad at remembering I have coupons to use. Especially for cat food. :)

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    1. Thanks Jess! I take the ones I need out of my coupon wallet before heading to the store and put them in my wallet.

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  2. "DO pair coupons with weekly store specials!"

    This is how I save the most money. I typically save about $50 or more each week by pairing my coupons and sales. Granted, you know how I get super OCD about certain things and can hyperfocus--couponing & grocery planning is, oddly enough, one of those things!

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    1. That's awesome! I SO don't have the patience (hee) for that.

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    2. I do what Amber does, just not quite as intensely. I think I typically save somewhere between $5-$15 a week with coupons, sales, and the combination of the two. I make my menu plan based on what's on sale and if I have a coupon and the item is on sale, I buy it, even if I don't need it. That way when I need toothpaste and it's not on sale nor do I have a coupon, I can just use what's in my stockpile. Unfortunately, that's also how you end up with 6 tubes of toothpaste...

      Most of my coupons are for dairy, breakfast items, toiletries, and cleaning products. I only buy them when I have a coupon and (hopefully) it's on sale. That's why it's important to have a small stockpile. Because I use coupons on those items, I don't feel as bad paying more for produce or organic meat.

      FYI, my grocery budget is $50 a week for 1.5 people, and that includes toiletries and cleaning supplies.

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