Sunday, March 15, 2009

How I Do It....

I am not a pro.

Let me repeat that....


But, I am learning pretty quickly. Everyone keeps asking me how I do it or they are just simply amazed at the amount I am saving. I had help so I am passing that info along to those of you who want it. In an effort to put all the information together right where you can find it, I am going to do a basic tutorial of what I know (which isn't a lot, mind you!).

  1. How to get started:
First of all, the best way to jump on in is just to do it! The second way to get started is to read, read, read, read. Read what? Blogs. Specifically here (Southern Savers) and here (The Saving Momma)

2. Where do you get coupons?
The Sunday paper! Each Sunday there are coupon inserts (Red Plum, Smart Source, Procter & Gamble). Not all three are in every week's paper. I buy multiple papers so I can have multiples of the coupons.
You can also find coupons online at, coolsavings, a full cup, Mommy Saves Big, and Smart Source. These printable coupons, make sure you hit the back button and print as many as you can! The more you have, the more you can use!
You also get coupons called "peelies" on the actual products.
You can get coupons from little coupon printers near the products in the stores. I've never noticed these before but I started looking for them and found 8 or 10 of them in Publix. You can pull several of them. Use them on that purchase or use them later.
Also, at Publix, right when you walk in, there is a stand where you can pick up the weekly ad and their little coupon books.
Last but not least, go to Walmart and pick up your copy of All You magazine. Seriously. Best $2.49 you'll ever spend.

3. How to Organize Your Coupons:
Several different ways to do this. Expandable mini file system. Binder with dividers and baseball card holders. Ziplock baggies. Index Card Box (recipe box). The best, most informative thing I have found that explains all these systems (with pros and cons) is at Southern Savers' Extreme Couponing 101 section. Click here.
Which one do I use? Well I started out with the little file system thing. Printing as many coupons as I do and clipping coupons from multiple little file thing has basically exploded. This weekend I've put together the binder method. We'll try it and see how it works out. I haven't gotten all my coupons transferred over yet, but so far I think I'll like it. I don't take ALL of my coupons with me to the stores. I have ziplock bags labeled for each of the stores I go to. When I make my plans for each store, I put the coupons for those stores in those baggies. When I go to a specific store, I only take my coupons for that store and my plan for that store. I leave the rest of it at home.

4. How to "Match Up" Coupons:
First of all, look at the sales ads. See what is on sale. I do this on Sundays. You will immediately notice (if you clip your coupons first, then look at the ads) that you've just clipped coupons for things that are on sale. SCORE! It often works that way. Always, always, always shop from the Sales Ads. Save your coupons for when the item is on sale. Then you can maximize your savings. If you can luck up and have a store coupon (has the name of the store on it) and a manufactorer's coupon (printable or from the paper) you can "stack them" and use both on an item that is on sale and get it for pennies! Also, items that are B1G1 can use a coupon on the item you are buying and the one you are getting free!!!! Good thing to use to your advantage when you want to stock up.
Sound like a little too much work? Probably so. Each week, go to Fiddledeedee and she will give you the Publix sales ad with links to printable coupons. She also does match ups for Albertsons, Target, Walmart, and Winn Dixie. Another amazing place to go is to Southern Savers. She has tabs for Amazon, Bi-Lo, CVS, Food Lion, Kroger, Publix, Rite Aid, and Walgreen's. Basically, she tells you what to buy and which coupons to use with it.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

5. Supermarket Savings
Southern Savers gives the advice that you should cut all coupons, STOCKPILE when things are on sale, especially when they are on sale and you have coupons, base your weekly menu on the Sales Ads, try not to be such a brand snob (which I am still struggling with), know that the "store brands" are not usually the cheapest, and don't be fooled into thinking that Sam's, BJ's, Costco will save you more money. To get all the dirt on these items, click on the link.
Know your supermarket's coupon policy. You can find this on their website or just get some guts and call the store and ask. Ask questions like "Do you double any coupons?" "Do you accept other stores' coupons?" "Do you have to buy both items to get the sales price on B1G1 free items?" Know these answers ahead of time and you can be prepared. Also, if you are checking out and they won't accept your coupons for that item and that makes you not want it, don't feel obligated to buy it! Seriously. It is not that big of a deal.

6. Shopping at Drugstores
I cannot believe how much money I am saving by buying things at drugstores. Let me begin this by saying that I have NEVER been a "drugstore" kind of girl unless I needed medication. That has all changed. I am learning that by using the store's policies to your advantage, you can get all kinds of the everyday things you need for free or basically free. Again, don't be a brand snob. I'm still working on this, but fortunately for me, the brands that I will use have been on sale.
One of the biggest things that will save you money is using the store's "in-store-money" to your advantage. Walgreens calls their money Register Rewards (RR) and no, you don't need any kind of card for those. CVS calls their money Extra Care Bucks (ECB's). You do need the CVS Extra Care card for those. How do you get the in-store-money? Buy the products that produce them. How do you know which ones do that? The Sales Ad. Too much work? Go to the Southern Savers blog and let her do the work for you! Sweet lady!
The next thing to save you the most money out of pocket (OOP) is to do multiple transactions. Buy one thing that gives you RR or ECB's (usually the one that will give you the most). Use that in-store-money on your next transaction. Try to buy things that will produce in-store-money that you also have coupons for. That lowers your OOP cost. When you do your multiple transactions, make sure you let people go ahead of you between transactions, warn the cashier if you are the only one in line, or try to check out at the beauty counter. I'm still not so amazing at the multiple transactions thing so I take a list with me that tells me exactly what I am going to buy for each transaction and what coupons or in-store-money I will use for that or the next transaction. I follow my list.

Last but not least....

Keep up with your savings! Why do all this work and not figure out how much you've saved yourself? Yall know I'm not a numbers girl and if I can do it, anyone can. In fact, I've set up (with help from the master of all numbers, Hubs) a pretty basic spread sheet that keeps up with what I'm spending each week at each store...what I'm saving each week at each store, and what I would have spent at each store. If you want a copy of my spreadsheet to use for yourself, comment below (which sends me an email) and I'll email you a copy of it.

I've been told that you can go subscribe (it costs some money) to The Grocery Game and it "does all this work for you." You are MORE than welcome to go do that. I am not. Why? 1-Because I have the time to do this, 2-Why pay someone to do something that isn't that difficult?, 3-I'd miss out on all the fun.

Yes! Fun! It is so exciting each week to see what is on sale and what you have coupons for and the rock-bottom price you are going to be spending! In fact, I'm not going to is addicting. It is such a wonderful feeling to know that you are getting your family everything they need at such a reduced cost! Plus, it will make your hubs smile and be proud of you. Especially if you stay at home (like I do). Anthony often tells me how glad he is that I'm doing this. It makes me feel good to know that I'm stretching his hard earned dollars as far as they can go.

Why did I start couponing?
Well aside from that whole "saving money" thing...I started doing it because I was seeing friends I know from college...REAL LIVE PEOPLE I KNOW who were doing it and it was working. Not only were they saving, but saving big time. A sweet friend, Jessalee (The Saving Mommy), had a post on her blog that I saw one time where she saved a kagillion dollars. Ok, really, these are her facts from that week: before coupons and savings it was $315.83, she paid $43.38 out of pocket for a savings of $272.45 which is 86%. I started wondering why I am paying that extra $300 a week when I don't need to. I knew if she was really doing it, it was possible. So I asked for help. I started reading and ......DUN, DUN, DUN, DUN...

I started saving moolah. Lots of it.


No comments: