Friday, October 21, 2011

Show Us Your Life: Couponing Sites...

Although I stopped couponing a few months ago because I got crazy busy at work and wasn't shopping as much, I still appreciate a good deal as much as the next person. And I learned a ton of things when I started couponing that I'll never stop doing, no matter how little time I have. So I thought I'd link up at Kelly's Korner today to pass the torch, so to speak, to the next "generation" of couponers.

($4.65 for everything at Target)

1) Don't Be Intimidated
First, don't let the extreme couponing hype scare you away... you don't have to buy seventeen newspapers a week to save a big chunk of change. In fact, I cut my grocery bill from ~$125/week to ~$45/week by just buying one newspaper a week (which I got for an amazing $1/week in Houston) and a little time and creativity. When I was in law school and money was tight, it was more than worth the couple of hours it took each week to cut/organize the coupons and plan my shopping trips. If you get to a point at which your time is worth more than the money you're saving, then stop. But for me, $360 a month went a long way for a long time.

1) Learn the Basics
There's no sense in me reinventing the wheel here. There are people far more clever than I who have already broken this down for newbies, so go here or here to find out how to get started. In general, My Litter was my favorite couponing site because she was honest, funny, and had good regional deals - she lives in Houston and, when I lived there, provided the best local deals. I also loved Hip2Save, My Dallas Mommy, and Money Saving Mom, as well.

2) Start Clipping Coupons
Buy a paper and start a good collection of coupons. There are tons of ways to organize them, and Tiffany at My Litter suggests a few good options. But don't clip them all. The question I always asked myself was "if I could get this item for free with this coupon, would I buy it?" If I said no (as I did with a lot of things), then I didn't clip it.

3) Wait for a Sale
You shouldn't go out and use your coupons immediately just because you have them. The best approach is to keep them all organized well, wait for store sales, and pair the coupon with a great sale. This will require you to (1) figure out what stores you want to shop at {I chose Kroger/Target for groceries and CVS for toiletries because they were close and usually had the best deals} and (2) subscribe to a blog that posts grocery store sales each week and tells you which coupons to use (see below).

4) Make Your List and Let Others Do the Work
There's no need to reinvent the wheel - there are wonderful people who take the time to dig through all the sales and pair coupons for you, so just find them (Hip2Save is pretty great for all regions) and, when you're making your grocery list, look at what's on sale, and make sure to add anything that is at rock-bottom price that week. I did a menu each week, so I would plan our meals around what was on sale. If chicken and corn were super cheap, I'd seach my recipes for yummy recipes with those things in them to take advantage of the sales (here's one of my favorite chicken/corn recipes).

($3.82 for everything at Target)

5) SHOP!
Once you've got your list, go shop!  And, for non-grocery deals, make friends with Amazon.  I honestly can't tell you how much money I've saved by shopping at Amazon.  Go here to see some of my best deals (and learn about how I was a borderline shopaholic last Christmas.  Go ahead and judge. :))

Again, there are other places to get a super-detailed tutorial, but this is just how I always approached couponing. One thing to remember is that most people don't love the lady who's checking out with a huge stack of coupons to get through. So try and be courteous by having everything organized ahead of time and by being an honest, fair couponer.

Happy shopping, y'all!


LV Cyp said...

You just inspired me to start couponing! Thanks for the ideas!!! Loved your ideas on christmas shopping on amazon too! Great excuse to start shopping now!!

Coupon Crocodile said...

Great post!


Ryan said...

Thanks, Coupon Crocodile!

And I'm so excited for you, LV! It's a fun and productive hobby to pick up. You'll be shocked at how much you can save with just a little effort! :)

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