How to Save Money on Your Grocery Bill - Step 3 - Coupons
Feel Happy About using Coupons!
Before we begin, I just want you to think about what a great thing you are doing when you use coupons. If you are using a manufacturer's coupon, the store is getting reimbursed the face-value of the coupon, PLUS 8¢. So if I use 10 coupons a week at Walmart, not only do they get reimbursed face-value, but they will also make an extra $41.60 off me each year. Just think of how many people use 10 coupons per week at Walmart, and just try to fathom how much money they are making just off of coupon redemption !
Where to get coupons
- Sunday newspaper. If you don't get the Sunday paper, try Dollar General on Monday. They usually carry it for $1 (I've seen this in several areas, not just here in Iowa).
- Internet - there are so many great coupons to be found on the internet. I like to take my completed shopping list and Google the items I need to find extra coupons.
- Peelies - you've seen them on products at the store!
- Hangtags - you can find these usually on bottles at the store
- Winetags - head over to the spirits section and find these special hangtags on bottles of wine and other beverages. Lots of times they are high-dollar amounts for meat, produce, and cheeses
- Your mama - or some other person who loves you and will share coupons with you! Even better - ask a neighbor if they coupon. If they do, have them give you their extras. You can see what coupons they already clipped, and help them out with their stash as well!
- ebay - sometimes it is smart to buy coupons. Here's an example: Best Life just had a coupon for $1 off their products, including their spray butter. We use spray butter at each meal and buy it every week for $1.73. I invested a whole $1.69 in buying 20 of these coupons, which gives me a savings of $18.31!
How to clip coupons
I'll admit, the first couple years I was really into coupons, I clipped them all. And I would use them if I found I could get an item for free - even if it was an item I would never use. I figured I could give it to someone.
I outgrew that!
My advice is to clip out anything you absolutely use, and then to clip out the ones you may use. If you don't have pets, do not clip pet coupons. Same for anything else you won't use.
As far as hangtag & peelie etiquette, I feel perfectly justified in peeling a few and taking them with me, if I am going to use them. If I see peelies for, say, Old el Paso, at HyVee, I will peel off a few and take them with me. When I see the Old el Paso products on sale somewhere, I will use them.
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Where do I store my coupons?
I've seen a lot of different systems for coupon storage. I think the most popular system is the binder-system for coupon storage. Basically categorize your coupons in a binder with picture holders. Categorize by product type, and then by expiration date.
I prefer to use an accordion file. I like the ones that accordion from the bottom and not from the top. Those do not hold enough coupons for me.
I file mine by product type. Since I only keep coupons that I would actually use, It's not too bulky. It's too bulky for a purse, but I can carry it into the store with my ads and my reusable bags.
Heck yeah free stuff!
- Free stuff when there is a sale for "Buy one, Get one free" and you have a "Buy one, Get one free" coupon! Yes, you can use the two together (because they get reimbursed by the manufacturer, remember?) and end up with two free! I did this a while back with big bags of Lifesavers candies. I think I ended up with 50 free bags (but only 11 free pounds of extra weight gain!).
- Free stuff when you have a "$1 off the price of..." and the item costs, well, $1! That's free, baby! That is how I have 40 bottles of Gain dishwashing liquid in my basement. Is it my favorite dish soap? No. Was it free? HECK YEAH! It works, and it smells great, so if I have to use a little extra to compensate for that Dawn Ultra I used to use, it's okay!
- Free stuff when it's on clearance and you have coupons for it!
- Free stuff when you have a store coupon and a manufacturer's coupon for the same item, and the combined savings is the same or greater than the price of the item. My family was so sick of those Ritz chips when they came out, because there was a coupon for $1 off, and then Target had a store coupon for $1 off. The chips were on sale for $1.98 or something like that.
- Free stuff when you use your Extra Care Bucks at CVS, but that will be its own hub to come later!
Have list, will coupon...
So you made your menu and your shopping list. You have your ads in hand and have done a little comparison shopping at home to get ready for price matching. Now it's time to root through all those coupons and see what you have that will match up to your good sales.
And you're doing a great job. And you're saving money. And then all of a sudden...
you see an ad for cereal, and you just had a coupon in your hand for said cereal. It makes the cereal cheap. It is a cereal your family will eat. Aw, go ahead and get it. HOWEVER, if it's a cereal your family DOESN'T eat, resist the urge! Even if it is dirt cheap! Just ask those boxes of Post Toasties that live in my basement. I have finally started grinding them up a little as a time to coat fried chicken. Yes, that is their fate. Because that cereal is kind of gross. But I had coupons....
The other things not to stray to far from normal brands are: shampoo, deodorant, and anything your family members are picky about - like Chocolate Sauce. I was able to coupon my way into a BUNCH of Wilton's Gluten Free Sugar Free Calorie Free Whatever Free Yuck infused chocolate sauce. RIP expired bottles of funky stuff!
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