Since today is usually my day to go grocery shopping, I thought I would share a couple of tips that save me money. I don't talk about this too much, but I love couponing! That's right, I am a coupon clipper. I guess I don't talk about it too freely because of the crazy reputation that some of the couponers have as "food hoarders". So before I go any farther, I want to let you guys know that I am not anywhere near being close to people on the show Extreme Couponing. I do have a very small food stash (that fits into my pantry), but honestly don't have the room in my house to have a stockpile of food. So I get what I need and sometimes a little bit extra, but that's it! All of my "skills" that I've learned have been gained through trial and error, friends, and online coupon research.
Here are a couple of tips that I've learned along the way:
- Keep in mind that the shopping trips that you see on the show Extreme Couponing are exaggerated! The people who go on that show plan and gather coupons for months before their shopping trips. The purpose of their shopping trip is usually to purchase as much as they can by spending the least amount possible. Have you ever noticed that they rarely buy fresh produce or meats?? (I said rarely, not never). On the show, it's less about buying what you need, and more about buying what will provide you with the biggest discount. The purchases made on that show is more about the "wow" factor than anything else. So don't feel bad when your purchase is more than $25!!
- Clip as many coupons as you can! One of the biggest resources for coupons are newspapers. They have different inserts - Smart Source, P&G, and Red Plum. When you come across several coupons in a paper that you find useful, buy another paper or two. That way you can buy several of those items in the coupons at a discounted price (or you can buy the coupon inserts without the newspaper online). You can also find coupons online on websites like Coupons.com, print them out, and use them at the stores. Also stores like Kroger offer digital coupons that you can download and use in their stores when you belong to their rewards program.
- Keep your coupons organized! When using coupons, it's important to be able to keep track of them and find them quickly and easily. There are different ways to organize them. Some people use boxes, some people use binders, there are many ways. I use a three ringed binder with baseball card holders to keep my coupons and organize them by isle.
- Join a rewards programs. There are so many stores that have rewards programs - Kroger stores, Albertsons, Walgreens, CVS, the list goes on. Join the rewards program at the grocery store that you shop at, or consider shopping at a store that has a rewards program. I shop at Smiths, which is a Kroger store. Their rewards program mails coupons to me after every quarter to use exclusively at their store. I also get rewards for using their pharmacy and I get discounts at certain gas stations when I shop at Smiths as well!
- Wait for the items to go on sale before using your coupons! I hear this argument all the time "Well, I've realized that even when I clip the coupons, it's always cheaper to buy the generic brand." Wrong! The key is to wait until that item goes on sale and then use the corresponding coupon for the item. This way you get double the discounts! And don't just buy one (unless it's all you have room for)! Buy a couple of them if you have more than one coupon for the item!
- Plan your shopping trip. Before you go on your grocery shopping trip, it's very very important to make a list of everything you plan on buying, otherwise you will end up a disorganized mess, and won't save nearly as much money. I use the app Grocery IQ on either my iPad or my cell phone. It allows me to make a list, add quantities, check off items, and make notes. Wonderful. I'm sure that some people think I'm crazy when I walk around the grocery store carrying an iPad, but I'm not so worried about that. :)
- A couple of online resources - There are so many of online resources to help you get started saving money and using coupons. These tips are just a couple of ways. Here are a couple of websites that I find useful. Coupon Divas, Hip2Save, and Couponing101. There are plenty more. Just try a google search for "how to coupon" and you will get a wealth of information.