Saturday, August 7, 2010

Becoming a Couponer!

Several of you have asked me where do you start, and how do you make coupons an integral part of stretching your budget. Your wish is my command!

What you have to understand about being a couponer is that it is much more than tossing down a few coupons at the check out counter every once in a while. To make couponing work, you have be committed to stockpiling all your coupons and waiting until an item goes on sale to purchase it. Buy additional papers, round up coupons from friends, print from the internet, and believe it or not, you can even buy coupon bundles on Ebay for super cheap.
The Essentials: Let's face it, there isn't going to be a coupon for everything when you need it. Meats and produce in particular often go on sale, but rarely have good coupons to go with them.
  • Produce: Buy what is in season, and go to the source! Avoid the middle-man grocery store mark up, and buy locally from a farmer's market. They are the best place for getting the biggest bang for your buck. and don't forget... they are open for haggling! Not sure what is a fair price to offer? Visit the USDA
  • Meat: Check prices on "Family Packs." The price per pound is often lower when purchasing in bulk. (This is one of the only times I recommend buying bulk packs.) Then, you can divide them up for a couple weeks worth of meals. Plan your meals around the meat on sale and what you already have. When chicken is on sale, BUY it! Also consider buying whole chickens after holidays. Remember, any grocery store with an in-house butcher will cut any piece of meat for you free of charge, so don't be afraid to buy what's on sale!

Be Patient: Part of waiting until an item goes on sale is understanding that prices fluctuate on items usually within an 8 week period. Your goal is to purchase an item when it is at its absolute lowest during that time period. So, when you see a package of cookies at its lowest price, plan on purchasing enough of that product to get you through until the next time it will be at its lowest price (That may only be 1-2 boxes or it may be 12!). Here's an example:

Regularly, you would purchase 1 pack of cookies every week at a price around: $3.50/pack

$3.50 x 8 weeks = $28.00

The price of the same pack of cookies when it's on sale and you have coupons: $1.00/pack

$1.00 x 8 packs = $8.00

Congratulations! You just saved $20.00 on one product!
The whole idea of stocking up on an item may sound crazy (afterall... who wants to be the lady in the check-out line with 10 boxes of Pop-Tarts? Oh wait, that was me.... yesterday!) But consider this: once you have a stockpile of items, your shopping trips will be limited to the items that are only on sale. (Meaning you will kiss Retail prices good-bye!)
Store Brands are NOT always the best deal: Name brand products are often the products that go on sale regularly, and usually have adequate coupon matchups! So, never assume that just because you are buying a store brand item that you are getting the best deal.
Bulk is not Better: Shopping with coupons will blow the prices of bulk store and shopper's club items out of the water.

Plan to give up your Brand loyalties: Another part of couponing is being willing to try alternative products that you can get a much better prices. (There are VERY few items to which I am brand loyal.) Be willing and accepting to try an alternative or something new.

For example, if you purchase Degree deodorant religiously, then there is nothing wrong with paying full price for it if you would like. BUT... what if Lady Speedstick was next to it on the shelf, on sale, and you know you have a $1.00 coupon for it? It comes down to purchasing the Degree at $3.29 or the Lady Speedstick on sale for $1.99 - $1.00 coupon for $0.99. I don't know about you, but I'm going with the $0.99!

I hope this helps. If there are any other specific questions that I didn't answer, don't hesitate to leave a comment below, and I will be more than happy to answer it!


  1. So question..where do you grocery shop? I know some places have better sales than others but I don't ever pay much attention. Maybe you can give me some insight on that lol

  2. I shop at Pubix 99% of the time. Their weekly sale ads feature a good list of BOGO items, and the nice thing about most Georgia Publix stores is you are not required to purchase 2 items to get the sale price. So, even without coupons, these items are already 50% off, which is awesome. Add coupons to those BOGO deals, and you are in for some great opportunities to save. Plus, the first day of every sale ad features a Mystery Penny Item. With a purchase of $10.00 or more, you will receive the mystery item for just a penny.

    Every now and then, I will make a Trek to Kroger if they are offering a Mega Sale Event.