5.20.2011

Learning How to Coupon

Growing up my family did not have much money so we would get food from the food bank and/or family and friends. Ocassionally, we did shop at Giant Eagle or Walmart but only when we could afford to. I can not remember my family ever using coupons and if they did it was definetly not like I do today.



This did affect me when I started college. I wanted to be able to buy things that I never could have growing up. In turn, I racked up about $2500 in debt. I tried to pay it off right away but still could not keep up even with three jobs. When I met Nathan (my husband) I noticed that he was different with his money. I knew I wanted to learn how he managed his finances.


A few years later, Nathan, his family and I went through the Crown Financial Study. It was an eye opener. By the end my debt was gone and I had money saved up for the wedding. I even was able to give more to the church. But I couldn't stop there.


The first year we were married we spent more than we should have on groceries and going out to eat. We had goals and to meet these goals we had to change. It was then I learned about couponing!


I have only been couponing for about a year now. I will say it has taken some time to learn the ins and outs. I am not a master couponer but have learned how to keep our grocery budget low.


A budget should be your #1 priority! This will help you to not only save money on groceries but in every area! Two great resources are Crown Financial Ministries and Dave Ramsey. Both are great and will help you learn to live within your means, lower debt and save for the future. We must remember that our money is God's money. He gives us what we have. When we give it to him He will provide for our every need.


I first started looking at the webiste www.southernsavers.com . My sister in law showed me how people were getting products for practically nothing. I was hooked! I started out slow; I learned the lingo first.


RP - Redplum
SS - SmartSource
PG - Procter & Gamble


I wondered where people were finding all these coupons. How they were getting so many products for free! Then I figured it out, I needed to start a collection of coupons. I used to only buy a paper every now and again but soon realized that I needed to purchase a paper almost every Sunday. Now I normally buy 2-5 papers at a time.


They differ by region so you may not always get the same coupons as others. You can get an email update about what will be in the paper by visiting www.sundaycouponpreview.com. This way you will know how many papers you will want to buy according to what coupons you will need. Also, check out what deals will be starting on Sunday. Most bloggers will have the weekly ad up for you to plan accordingly.


You can also order coupons online through ebay or clipping services. I haven't ordered any yet but I know ladies who have. Example of when you would do this: A few weeks ago Walmart, Target and Rite Aid had Men's Nivea Bodywash on sale for $3. In the Sunday paper, they had a coupon for $3 off Men's Nivea Bodywash. Some people order 10 or more coupons so they could take advantage of this amazing deal for FREE bodywash!


Once you have your coupons stocked up you tend to be able to get more deals going on.


Where to find deals:


www.moneysavingmom.com


www.hip2save.com


www.totallytarget.com


www.wildforwags.com


www.ladysavings.com --- she has lists for Giant Eagle


You can search for deal scenerios for you to use as a guideline by typing in "deal scenerios for 5 15 (or whatever week it is) at walgreens (or whatever store)". It will pull up lots of ideas for you to guide you when you are first starting out.






How do I save money?


Most people say they cannot use coupons because the do not want to buy the "cheap" stuff or that coupons are never for what they use. This of course is a lie! I used to think that if I bought the off brand that I would save so much more money but I have come to learn that this is so not true! I buy mostly NAME BRAND now! It is so amazing! I love that I can get things that are a higher quality for less or even free!






Here are some things to know when you first start to coupon:


1. Items go on sale once every 6-8 weeks. This will help you to know how much to get for your family until the next sale for those items. Example: If Mueller's Pasta is on sale for $0.50 and there are coupons to make those free, you will want to stock up on how many boxes you will need until the next sale.


2. You can use a Manufacturers Coupon and a Store coupon per item. You can get these coupons from the paper, coupon websites, company's pages, ebay, clipping services and even Facebook! I will give you a list of websites that I use to print off my coupons at the end.


3. Make sure you know the store's coupon policy before you go shopping. You may even want to print them out to have on hand with you. There are times when cashiers can give you a hard time about using coupons and what they think their coupon policy is. This helps smooth over problems that may arise.


4. Buy only what is on sale; at the rock bottom price using a coupon. There are times when you do not need a coupon for items such as meats, produce, milk, ect. Make your meals around what is on sale in your store ad and what you already have in your pantry. This will become easier when you have a stockpile started.


5. Don't just think that you only have to get your groceries at a grocery store. Walgreens, Rite Aid and CVS have great deals on food as well. Example: This week I will be purchasing Royal Gelatin ($0.25 each), Lunchables (Free after coupons), and Duncan Hines Brownie Mix at Walgreens!


6. Don't limit yourself to just one store. You will find different deals at different stores each week. I used to only shop at Walmart ; now I shop at Publix, Aldi,Target, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Whole Foods, and CVS.


7. Aldi is an awesome place to buy a lot of your fruits, veggies, dairy and meats. As well as ICE CREAM! :-D Can't forget about the ice cream! I can buy enough of the above things for 2-3 weeks for under $30... sometimes less.


8. Be patient, try new things and have fun!

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