There are several ways of couponing! Just as the contents of our grocery carts vary, so will the way we all use coupons. Buying food and household items is personal and our ways of shopping are unique. Some are brand loyal while others buy whatever’s on sale. Some of us go shopping early Saturday morning while others favor Wednesdays at 10pm. In addition, couponing takes time. As I describe how I coupon, don’t feel that you need to do exactly what I do! Try it out and make some changes until you find your own way of coupoining that best fits your personality and lifestyle.
Here are my first 5 tips... please feel free to leave comments/ suggestions/ questions too!!
- Plan your meals each week around what’s on sale and in season. Families usually have about 20 meals they eat often- so keep those ingredients in mind when looking over the weekly ads.
- Use grocerysmarts.com to help you build your grocery list! You select your store and they tell you what items are on sale that week and, using a rating scale, just how hot that sale is! Not only that, but within the online list, they tell you what coupons to combine with each sale- including a link to printable coupons, if necessary. Using this FREE service alone will drastically change the way you grocery shop!
- Stock up on items your family uses a lot when you find a great deal. I find buying 2-4 of a certain item is a really good idea. Have some on hand, that way, when you need it, you won’t have to pay full price. This is especially applicable to toiletry items!
- To do this effectively, get multiple copies of coupons. Printables are easy- press your “Back” button after printing and you’ll get another. Paper copies are more difficult, unless of course you decide to purchase several copies of the newspaper each week. You can get 4 copies of the paper delivered to your door each Sunday! (I started out getting 2 copies of the newspaper each week, but now that we have a family of 6, I get 4 and love it!) When stocking up, take into consideration a few things: a. Expiration dates, b. How much storage space you have, c. Be a courteous shopper! (Buying 2 or 3 extra to have on hand is one thing, clearing the shelf is another.), d. Remember, chances are, this great deal will come along again. Really. For instance, I normally don’t buy Yoplait YoPlus yogurt. However- my family loves yogurt, so I cut the coupon. I also cut all the other yogurt coupons as well! The reasoning behind this is that stores often have fantastic sales on brand name items. As a matter of fact, I’d say since I started couponing, I buy about 90% brand name items and about 10% store brand items- because combining a sale and a coupon makes the brand name item less expensive! Yoplait YoPlus yogurt is a great example. It’s normally priced at around $2-$2.50 for a package of 4. I regularly get it for $1, and several times I’ve gotten them for FREE!
- Buy stuff on markdown and use a coupon. This is how I get a majority of my free items. Most grocery stores mark items down once they approach their “best buy” date. I routinely get free yogurt this way! The “best buy” dates on the yogurt I buy is usually within 5-6 days, which isn’t a big deal for me because we eat a lot of yogurt! You can find markdowns on many items though. If the packaging on an item has changed, stores will mark down the old ones. I routinely find markdowns in the refrigerated section. Just be sure it’s something your family will eat within a few days, if you’re leery about expiration dates. Keep an eye out for the bright stickers on the packages letting you know its been marked down!