It’s the first week of a new year and I am super excited to get started on one of my top New Year’s Resolutions – to save money!! The other night I cleaned out my binder and it. is. Empty! Good thing this week we are getting four inserts in our Sunday paper. I took a look at Sunday Coupon Preview and there are some really great, high value coupons that will pair well with this weeks upcoming ads.
I have had so many people ask me .. HOW do you do this? It seems so complicated. I don’t understand and this can’t be worth my time. I’ve been couponing for over four years and I can tell you – YES – it is definitely worth your time.
Traditionally we make our store lists based on how empty our cabinets are. We make a list of what we need and go to the store and start shopping. If you want to be a successful couponer and save the MOST money possible, you must first leave that notion at the door.
One thing to understand is that each item in the store is tied to a 6-8 week sales cycle. During this cycle, the product, we’ll say orange juice, goes from it’s most expensive price to the rock bottom price. THIS is the price we want to buy it at. Pair this rock bottom price with an in-store catalina or a store reward and you’ve got yourself a hot deal!
As the graphic above shows, you can save a little bit of money using a coupon or you could maximize that with matching your sales cycles to coupons and store offers.
“How do I know if the current price is the lowest it will go?” A fellow couponer once told me her rule – she said you can either track the price, week to week (um, no), and see how the cycle runs, OR, you can simply ask yourself, is this half? If you regularly buy cereal and it is normally $4.99 a box, I wait to purchase that box when it goes on sale for $2.50. Then I’ll pair that sale price with a coupon – say, $1 off one box and presto – you just got a $5 box of cereal for $1.50 – that’s more than a 50% savings! When the magic really happens is when that $2.50 sale price is combined with a store deal like “Buy 5 get $5 off” which brings it down another $1! You can realistically purchase that $5 box of cereal for $.50. When you find a deal like this, stock up! Buy enough for your family to sustain you until that sales cycle comes around again. You just started your own little stockpile!
Here are some other great tips to get you motivated and ready to save:
SUBSCRIBE TO YOUR LOCAL PAPERS. The quickest way to get started is to subscribe to your local newspapers. One tip that I learned years ago was to have as many inserts as family members. There are four of us in my household, so I made sure I had four sets of inserts each week. At the very least, have two sets so you can maximize any BOGO sales.
GET THE WORD OUT. Tell a few friends, family and coworkers that you’re going to start using coupons, and ask if they’d like to join in. You can build a valuable buddy system and share coupons with one another.
GET ORGANIZED. Maximizing the benefits of couponing means staying organized, like using a three-ring binder, envelopes in a shoebox, or paper clips. Whatever you choose to use, make sure it works for you and stick with it.
I use a large Trapper-Keeper-like binder and a smaller one from the dollar-store that will fit in my purse. My large binder has all of my coupons stored in baseball card sleeves and arranged in specific categories. Before I go to the store, I will pull the coupons I need from my large binder and store in my store-specific smaller one. This way, when I get to the check-out counter I’m not fumbling for loose coupons and I’m able to complete my transaction quickly.
A word of advice, buy a large, cute tote bag and always take your large binder with you. Nothing is worse than spotting a surprise deal and not having your coupon!
PRINT AND SAVE. Browse the web for great savings on coupons and sign up for manufacturer’s emails (which often include a coupon). Worried about spam? Get a free email account that you’ll use exclusively for couponing. When printing your coupons, change your ink setting to black and white. You’ll save on your ink and the coupon barcode will scan just fine.
PLAN AHEAD. Expert coupon users rarely run out of items because they plan ahead. Make sure you look at your stores weekly sales flyers to see what is on sale. There are also quite a few websites out there that are great to follow like Hip2Save.com, TotallyTarget.com and KrazyCouponLady.com – not to mention this one!!
STOCK UP. Stockpiling doesn’t need to take up a lot of space. Find an empty shelf or cabinet and begin filling it with items that you get for free or at a deep discount. This works particularly well for toiletries and household cleaners.
COUPON COURTESY. The first few times that you use coupons, it may seem like a hassle, but with a positive attitude, you can fly through the check-out with ease. If you have a lot of coupons, let the clerk know, and ask if they would like for you to organize your items in a particular way.
With just a little bit of effort, patience and humor, you can easily start saving 50% out of your family’s budget. Stay tuned for more tips and feel free to contact me with any questions you might have!!