This week's tip is for beginning couponers. Veteran couponers, feel free to give advice as well!
With the success of TLC's "Extreme Couponing" (which reairs on January 15th at 10:00 pm EST and January 16th at 1:00 am EST, and will become a twelve-episode series in the spring), there is a lot of interest from those who haven't previously used coupons, wondering how they can get such high savings.
Getting to 95% or more savings on all of your groceries, I'm afraid to say, is going to take some time and a lot of learning, if it's possible at all in your area (due to taxes on food items and specific stores' coupon policies). But getting to somewhere around 75% savings on many of your groceries is entirely possible and not that difficult.
Here's what to do:
- Choose a store to shop at. Your store should *not* be a store which advertises everyday low prices, because that store will rarely have items on sale. Instead, it should be a higher-end (but not the highest) store in your area, where the shelf prices might be higher priced, but will also have a sales flyer full of sales each week.
- Check with your store to see if they will accept two coupons when you buy two items in a buy one, get one free (BOGO) sale. If they do not, try another store.
- Start collecting the coupons that are inserted in your Sunday paper. Purchase two copies of each paper per week. Dollar stores often have the Sunday paper available for $1.00. Generally there is a RedPlum insert and a SmartSource insert each week; occasionally you will see a Procter & Gamble insert, a General Mills insert, or a local store insert.
- Put the coupons in a file drawer or accordion file, and file by date. The date of the insert is located on its spine.
- Do an internet search for "[your store's name]" coupon matchup". You should find many blogs that cover the sales at your store, and list which coupons are available that "match up" with the sale.
- Each week, read the blog entry about the store's coupon matchups and look for the items that are listed as BOGO (buy one, get one free). By purchasing these items, even without a coupon, you'll already save 50%.
- The blogger will list the coupons that match by date and type of insert (SS = Smartsource, RP = RedPlum, P&G = Procter & Gamble, GM = General Mills, etc.). Find and cut out the appropriate coupon. Sometimes your insert may not have the coupon listed; this is due to regional variations. When you first start out, you might not have the insert called for, but after a few weeks your stock will improve. If the coupon calls for purchasing two of an item, you'll only need one coupon.
- Or, the blogger might give a link to an online coupon. Follow the link and the directions to print out one coupon. Then, hit your browser's back button to print a second coupon. (If that doesn't work, try reloading the page with the coupon and printing it again.) Again, if the coupon calls for purchasing two of an item, you'll only need one coupon.
- Go to the store, pick out two of the items with the BOGO sale, and present the coupon(s).
Good luck with your couponing!
Check out these sites for other frugal ideas:
- Frugal Friday @ Life as MOM
- Making Dollars out of Change @ Madame Deals
- Penny Pinching Party @ The Thrifty Home
- Works For Me Wednesday @ We Are That Family
- Thrifty Thursday @ Coupon Teacher
- Fantastic Frugal Fridays at Frugality Is Free and Being Frugal and Making It Work
- Money Saving Monday @ Homebody
- Simple Lives Thursday @ GNOWFGLINS