Coupons

What a joyful day when I discovered the wonders of coupon clipping at MOPS!  Spaghetti sauce for $0.75.  Hamburger meals for $0.80.  Granola bars for $1.  But I quickly realized that this was just a dirty little trap.   Betty and her cronies the Dough Boy and that Quaker dude give you $0.35 off of items you don’t like, don’t need, and won’t eat.  Just because it’s cheap does not mean you should buy it.

While we’re discussing traps, let me also mention this: items available at warehouse stores are not necessarily cheaper.  Unfortunately, we as shoppers have to use our fertile little minds to find the best price.  And when we’ve found it, buy it!

Here are a few of the things I’ve learned along the way…

  • Grocery store prices go in cycles.  Items are on sale roughly every 6 weeks or 3 months.  When your family’s favorites go on sale, that’s when you stock up.  If you’re buying only your weekly meal plan, you’re spending too much.   I will elaborate on this principle further as I put together 30 days for $300.
  • There are supplemental books of coupons in your Sunday newspaper.  The two most common are SmartSource and Valassis.  And from time to time you’ll even find exclusively Proctor and Gamble (P&G) coupon books.
  • Printable coupons are available online.  You can find these coupons on manufacturer websites, grocery chain websites, and coupon websites.  Since none of them are paying me, I’m going to let you do your own research for good coupons.  Don’t go shopping without doing your due diligence.  It really adds up at the end of the month… how else do you think I justify my weekly double tall white mocha?
  • Save your cash register receipt coupons.  Sometimes they will target you at the grocery store and give you coupons to match or compete with items you just purchased.  Don’t throw these away.  Some of them are really worthwhile.
  •  Professional coupon clipping is good business.  You can order multiple coupons of items you know you use and would like to stock up on.  Though they are not paying me, I will tell you that I’ve had good experience with The Coupon Clippers.
  • Use multiple coupons when items are on sale.  For big savings, save all of your coupons for a particular item and wait until an item goes on sale and stock up.  Cereal is a good example of this.  When they’re five boxes for $10, use your “$1.50 off of 3” and two “$0.75 off of 1” coupons.   You’ll get 5 boxes of cereal for $7… just $1.40/box. 
  • There are sometimes limits or restrictions imposed by the store.  Be sure to follow those to avoid frustration.  This doesn’t mean you can’t send your husband later or make an additinal trip yourself.
  • Watch out for coupon nuances.  They’ll tell you in big letters “$2 off” but when you read the fine print, you realize you have to buy 8.  Those coupons aren’t necessarily going to save you any money.
  •  Don’t buy what you don’t like, don’t need, or won’t eat!!!

I soon found that my Sunday-only subscription to the floundering big city newspaper was more of an annoyance than a benefit.  They signed me up at a promotional rate and then my price went up.  Then they called me to insist I accept their daily free papers (my husband got that call once and we wound up with dozens of wet newspapers on our front lawn).  So now, I go to the aforementioned Coupon Clippers’ calendar page to find out what is coming out in Sunday’s paper.  If there’s not at least $1.50 worth of good coupons, I don’t bother.  If there are good coupons, I go get the paper at the convenience store up the street.  If they’re really good, I buy two or three papers or I order extras online.

True confessions:  I’ve also been known to raid the recycle basket at local coffee establishments on Sunday.  I made out like a bandit one time with 3 copies of each of the 3 supplemental coupon inserts… all for free.  That week there was a $10 off home improvement store coupon… SCORE!  But my husband gets embarrassed watching me light up as I go through other people’s trash so I don’t get to do that very often.

Where I have benefitted most from coupons is on personal care items.  The $4 off coupon for razor blade refills really helps.  And the Buy One Get One (BOGO) toothbrushes work really well.  Just today, I bought $0.99 deodorant.  Frequently, the sale price less your coupon makes these items significantly less expensive than warehouse store prices.  So before you buy a 20 pack of dental floss, check your coupons.

I also really like the “free” items where you buy the item then send off for your rebate. Hang on to your receipt and UPC.  And look out for purchase dates and post mark dates.  “Free” = envelope + stamp * time.

One more thing, with the coupons that are left over and/or expired, you can send them to our military serving overseas.  Organizations like the Overseas Coupon Program are worthy of our support.  They will likely receive my support as soon as I’m not pregnant and/or breastfeeding. 

Happy clipping!  And happy garage sale-ing this weekend!  Next up… CHICKEN!!!

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6 Comments

  1. Kim said,

    April 30, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    Ok, you’ve got me curious enough to give them another try. I’ve been working on a price list of items I usually buy so I even have enough info now to know for sure if I’m getting a better deal before I go. Thanks for the encouragement.

  2. Coralie said,

    April 30, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    I love reading your blogs please write more. I am so glad you addressed the fact that coupons aren’t always worth it. I feel like I should be using them, but then just find alot of stuff I don’t really need or want to feed my family. I will deffinately keep an eye out for hygine stuff, thats something I probably spend too much on just because I don’t think about it much. I need more info on wholesale stores. I am always trying to balance which are the best deals and if I am really saving money or not. I try to compare with store adds, but its hard to be consistant.

  3. Rebekah said,

    May 2, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Looking forward to your ideas on going beyond the weekly meal plan… Wondering if you make a monthly meal schedule?

  4. Jane said,

    May 3, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Yeah! I love your blog! I’ll check back often. You might want to check out MoneySavingMom.com for great deals and a super how-to for new couponers and how to navigate the Walgreen’s stuff. Walgreens is great for stocking up on hygiene stuff at low prices. Also, I would love to see your menu plan! There is a menu plan site that you can link up to called Orgjunkie. I post my menu each week and it’s on my blog tonight if you want to see the link. Amazing stuff you’ve posted here already, keep it up!! 🙂
    Jane

  5. Laura said,

    May 5, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    hey…let’s start clipping together!

  6. Chelsie said,

    February 15, 2010 at 10:17 am

    I love saving money this way! I’m not a huge coupon nut (as in, I don’t go through other people’s trash to get free coupons :)) but I have started looking at the sale flyers for all the grocery stores in my area and comparing to save big bucks! So much fun when I spend $35 and save $27. 🙂


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