I started clipping coupons at the very end of March. I’m back to report that clipping coupons has been VERY successful! I had posted about clipping coupons on my other blog about 3 weeks ago – and was reminded when a friend (thanks Eevi!) posted on her family blog about coupons that I meant to post about it here too since I’m sure most of you never visit my scrapping blog.
My goal was to reduce our grocery bill to $200 per month. But I also challenged myself to limit myself to $200/month for all food groceries AND toiletries, health and beauty items, and household items. I was a little scared I wouldn’t be able to do it… my food grocery bill alone was around $300/month before I started clipping… but I have managed to stay UNDER my budget! In fact, I’ve been averaging about $36 per week since April 1st (I didn’t include my first week of coupon clipping – it was kind of a disaster…lol)! Go me! Add to that the fact that I get WAY more stuff now than I ever bought without coupons because part of clipping coupons is stocking up when stuff is cheap or free so you always have stuff on hand (no more running to the grocery store because you have to grab something… and it’s full price). My cupboards are overflowing. It’s crazy!
I’ve been entering all my receipts into a savings statement to keep track of how much I’m saving and spending… check it out!
Here are a few of my shopping trips:
Walgreens is my new best friend. I only picked it up last week (previously I was pretty much only shopping at Safeway) and I don’t know why I didn’t try shopping there sooner (I was lured in by the free tampons and pantyliners last week)! They have the best deals on toiletries and health and beauty items! I got John Frieda shampoo and conditioner for 33¢ each! Bic razors for 49¢ per pack! That fancy schmancy Gillette Fusion ProGlide razor was only 89¢! About a third of my total was all tax – because here we pay tax on the total before coupons (coupons are a form of payment – not a discount). Tax always sneaks up on me… I’m jealous if you don’t have sales tax in your state.
That is a crazy amount of food for about $15! Yes, there’s some junk food in there – but at 49¢ per bag I grabbed the pretzels and Cheetos. Tyrel loves having some snack food around (and likes a little treat in his lunch bag) and Allie likes pretzels. And if you claim to never eat cookies EVER… well then either you’re weird or a liar… who doesn’t enjoy a treat now and then? P.S. Go-Gurt was a brilliant idea. Allie much prefers her yogurt this way and actually finishes it off.
A good chunk of my budget goes towards produce, meat, and dairy (it’s just not really represented in these pics…lol). There are rarely coupons for that kinda stuff but I plan our meals around what produce is marked down to a great price and I buy meat in larger quantities when the price is low (then I freeze in 1 lb. portions for future meals).
Below is all the info you need to get started (mostly copied and pasted from my other post on my scrap blog):
1. Myth – But all the coupons are for junk food: FALSE! One of the first things people say when they hear about couponing is, “But I don’t buy that stuff so it wouldn’t be worth it to me.” Yes, a lot of coupons are for junk food you might never buy, but I think a lot of us buy:
- Shampoo, razors, shaving cream, toothpaste, and other toiletries
- Household cleaners, laundry detergent, dish detergents, etc.
- Ziploc bags and other storage
- Pasta and pasta sauce
- Snacks and juice for our kiddos
- Canned goods (hello, YEAR SUPPLY!)
So, that excuse doesn’t really fly with me. You can still save a ton on things you DO buy. There aren’t coupons for stuff like produce and fresh meat – but if you start shopping like a couponer, you only pick those things up when they’re on a great sale. I buy lean ground beef at no more than $1.99/lb. and buy lots – then freeze in 1 lb. portions. I don’t just buy any produce I want anymore – I try to plan our meals around what’s on sale.
2. Myth – It’s cheaper to just buy generic and not use my coupons: FALSE! I used to shop generic too. Now I get the good stuff for SOOO cheap and even FREE! I even get to shop at Safeway now instead of Walmart… I LOVE Safeway. Plus my Safeway multiplies all coupons to $1 right now – so that means that even a 25¢ coupon is like a dollar in my pocket! PLUS, you don’t just go and buy stuff anytime with that coupon, you wait until it goes on a great sale (and stock up then). Imagine how fun it is when hand soap is on sale for a dollar and you have a coupon that will be worth a dollar off?!?! It’s FREE!! You can even use a manufacturer coupon on top of a store coupon! For example – last week Ziploc brand freezer bags were $1.50 with a store coupon in the Safeway ad. I also had a manufacturer coupon for 40¢ off – which Safeway multiplied to $1 off. I got Ziploc freezer bags for 50¢!!
3. I don’t have time to clip coupons: I do not spend that much time prepping for a shopping trip… I was actually quite surprised when I started clipping coupons. I subscribe to blogs like The Krazy Coupon Lady, Wild for Wags (Walgreens deals), and I am part of Coupon$ense. I don’t have to track down the deals myself… they tell me when stuff is on sale and what coupons match up and where to find them. So I just decide what deals I like, go clip my coupons, print out my shopping list (Coupon$ense makes it really easy for me) then GO! I know exactly what I’m getting before I go into the store and this saves me time at the grocery store. No standing and debating which brand of food to buy because I already know what to get and how much it is going to cost me. Ask my husband – he doesn’t mind dropping by the store anymore because I’ll only be there for like 10 minutes tops (I used to take at least a half hour). Subscribing to Coupon$ense isn’t really a necessity for anyone, I just like that it saves me time, plus I’m in a non-delivery zone for the newspaper (ahhhhh the joys of living in the middle of nowhere) and they send me coupons by mail cheaper than I could buy them online each week.
Some couponers do spend a lot of time by going to multiple stores for different deals. I don’t do this. I only have a Safeway, Basha’s, Walmart, and Walgreens anyway (small town). If you hit up every store for every deal – yeah, you’ll spend a lot of time and energy on it. BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO! I pretty much only shop at Safeway and Walgreens and score plenty of amazing deals!
4. Coupon sources:
- The Sunday paper: You need the weekly coupons from the Sunday newspaper and you need to get multiple copies – at least 3 copies, but I like having 4 (debating going to 6). See if you can find a discounted rate for buying multiple copies. For Arizonans, if you subscribe to Coupon$ense, they can offer you a subscription to the Arizona Republic for a great rate – $2 for the first Sunday paper and $1 for each additional. If you have family, friends, or church buddies who get the Sunday paper – ask them if you can have their inserts. Tons of people just throw out their inserts or only use a few of the coupons (so sad…lol). Some dollar stores also sell the newspaper – but make sure you check that the inserts are inside before you buy them. NOTE on multiple coupons: some stores – including my Safeway – go by the “like 3″ rule. They will only accept 3 copies of the same coupon in a single transaction (or will only double/triple/quadruple the first 3 and take the others at face value). You can use your other copies in a different transaction or different shopping trip.
- Load e-coupons to your store card: You can load coupons directly onto your Safeway/Fry’s card (or others) at Safeway, Cellfire, and Shortcuts. What’s really magical about these is that you can use them IN ADDITION to a manufacturer coupon. Yeah. Awesome. They will automatically come off your card when you swipe it at the register and if you had more than one “copy” of the same coupon loaded, they will both come off (sometimes the same coupon is listed on two of those sites and you can load both of them and they will BOTH come off even if you didn’t buy 2 items – at least at Safeway – heard it doesn’t happen at other stores). Oh, and a little tip – you must use your actual CARD and not just your telephone number that is linked to the card. I learned that the hard way. lol
- Internet printables: There are tons of coupons to print online. KCL and C$ tell me where they are so I don’t even have to hunt them down! These are considered manufacturer coupons as well (can’t be stacked with a paper coupon). You can usually print each coupon 2x per computer (after the first prints, hit the back button on your browser and it will print again). I have 2 computers – so sometimes I’ll print 4 copies! You cannot scan/copy these coupons to get more – that is fraud! If you need more copies and you don’t have more than one computer, hop on over to a friend/family member’s house if they’ll let you!
5. Catalinas make shopping even sweeter: Catalinas (or “Register Rewards” at Walgreens) are coupons that print at the register when you buy participating products. These are like cash toward your next purchase. Most Catalinas are for $$ off your next shopping order and can usually be used to purchase ANYTHING. For example, today I bought 4 boxes of Kellogg’s cereal (which were on sale and I also had coupons for, of course) and earned a $3 Catalina at checkout. I can use that $3 on anything on my next shopping order and I can use it on top of using other coupons. At Safeway, you can “roll” those Catalinas (use the Catalina to purchase the same items a second time in a different transaction and then earn yet another Catalina). On KCL they always keep an updated list of the current Catalinas for specific stores. Click on the store you’re interested, then click on Catalinas and you’ll find them. But they usually make it easier on you and list the Catalinas corresponding to coupon matchups from the stores weekly ad. Easy peasy! Walgreens’ Register Rewards are a little trickier than Catalinas from Safeway. Read up on it here. You just need to learn how to work their system.
Want more info for beginners?! I think that The Krazy Coupon Lady has it all broken down in an easy to understand format (with lots more info). So visit her 10 Days to Become a KCL posts to read up more!