How to use coupons and save on groceries
Coupons make a difference
After our second child was born with a disability, I became a stay at home mom/caretaker. Moving from two to one income, plus the added expenses of medical bills, therapies and medication, was to say the least, daunting. Coupons have become my way of contributing to our finances, and I have saved our family thousands on groceries, clothing, toys, and anything else I can find for a deal.
The concepts behind couponing are simple, but they are also time consuming. You have to be organized, and able to the spend time pouring over sales papers and finding all those coupons you need.
Saving Money at the Grocery Store
Where to find coupons
Coupons are everywhere. Smartsource, Red Plum and P&G offer coupon circulars in most Sunday papers. Coupon websites such as Coupons.com, smartsource, redplum and product websites offer coupons. There are webistes that clip coupons for you and will mail you exactly what you need. These are handy when the coupons you need are not offered in your area. Facebook is also a great source, simply search the products facebook page and print available offers. When you sign up for product newsletters, you can receive emailed coupons not offered anywhere else. Grocery stores offer their own coupons good for products in their store, and sometimes accepted at competing locations.
Coupons and Sales go hand in hand
How to use coupons
Now you have found the coupons, how do you use them? I keep two shopping lists, one of items we need now, most of these I won't be able to find coupons for ( and yes, this kills me!) and another list of items that are on sale that I will stock up on. If I play my coupons right, I will have a stockpile at home that will last my family around two to three months. Grocery stores have sale cycles, so when an item goes on sale it is about two to three months before it will go on sale again. Buy enough to get your family to the next sale.
First, check your grocery stores coupon policy. These differ from region to region and store to store, so always be sure what they allow. Most stores accept coupons at face value only, but some allow them to be doubled up to a certain amount. For example, when I shop at Bi-Lo, they allow me to double my coupons that are worth .60 and below. That .60 becomes $1.20. Talk about a bonus! Some stores will also allow to you stack coupons. Stacking coupons is using a manufacturers coupons with a store coupon. My local Bi-Lo allows me to use store coupons from other local grocery stores, so this is a big money saver.
Compare your coupons to the sales flyers. When an item is on sale at the store and you have a coupon, you are maximizing your saving. These are the items to stock up on. When comparing, you can find coupon matchup sites that help make this easier. One of my favorite sites is hotcouponworld.com. They compare coupons to most stores in every region to help you find the best deals. Be sure to do your own comparisons as well, they do miss some good deals now and then.
How many of you use coupons on a regular basis
Coupons can save you thousands a year
Making your dollars stretch is the bottom line in couponing. Don't go into this thinking you will get everything for free. That is just unrealistic. If I save my family a dollar, I consider it a win! I hope this helps you get started in saving with coupons. I am sure you will find it as satisfying as I do. Good luck and happy shopping!