Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Some Stellar Couponing tips and tricks!

First of all please do not think that I am one of those super-crazy coupon extremists. Quite honestly I think that show will be linked to Hoarders and Intervention very soon. They will have a fun time running that as a marathon don't you think? I simply want to make the most of our hard-working dollars and be able for Sean and I to provide for our family and have money for some extracurriculars too if you know what I mean! We need funds for necessities like NCSU tickets, birthday and Christmas presents, and boots for Fall as seen in the last episode of my blog. 

So where do I get the Coupons from?
We all know that my last attempt to get the News and Observer delivered on Sundays was a complete FAIL. However, I am lucky enough to have an early-riser for a husband who doesn't mind going to get one for me on Sundays before 7. If you don't go early, or send your hubby, you probably will not get one. I don't even want to say all the places to get one in Roxboro for my fear that I will have more competition :) 

As an added BONUS this past week, the good ole' Courier Times inserted the monthly Proctor and Gamble coupons which was like Christmas at my house. Cha-Ching! After you get your coupons, you must find a way to organize. 
I made this trusty little zipper pouch for storage until I can get them filed in my mini filing system. Or, I will paper clip them together after sorting and put back in here for a particular shopping trip. I have also found that for CVS, Rite Aid, and Food Lion it is easy to check out the weekly sales papers online and create a shopping list on each site that you can print out and paperclip your coupons to. Food Lion sometimes adds in extra coupons on your shopping list as an added bonus. Also, some sites will automatically add them to your store rewards card. I don't like that as much as having something tangible. I am the organizational type and out of sight means out of mind. And we all know that we cannot always depend on technology!

 When using coupons to SAVE money you have to consider these things: 

1. Will I really use this item?
Only clip coupons for things you know you will eat or use in your home. Do not purchase things that will go to waste or will run out of date before you use them. Coupons are a way for retailers to advertise new products. Do not let that entice you in shopping. An easy way to make sure you are not wasting money is to plan meals in advance and definitely take note of all the  "sell-by" and "use-by" dates.  A large portion of coupons are for processed foods. I am not a huge fan of processed foods so I make a rule that if we eat packaged, processed foods that we only eat them 2-3 times per week. I also pair them with a meat and a vegetable from my garden or freezer.  Also, choose the whole grain and baked options when buying chips, rice, and pastas for an even healthier option. I use coupons for a lot of the things that Sean takes to work for lunch everyday. That can get expensive so coupons come in real handy!!

2. Where do I use the coupon?
 The major retailers where I use coupons locally is CVS, Rite Aid, Food Lion, and Lowes Foods. I will also hit the Harris Teeter in Durham or Raleigh for triple coupons when they have them. Here is a little breakdown on how I find the best deals: 

- research a couponing site such as www.southernsavers.com These sites easily categorize and organize coupons and deals every day based on what is on sale from each retailer. I use that as a starting point but mostly I use each stores online sales ad to create a shopping list as described above. Since Roxboro is limited on shopping venues, it doesn't take long to figure out where to shop based on who has what on sale. 

- after organizing my coupons I will check out all the sales ads for who has the best deal on the items I need. 
- If a store has BOGO (Buy one get one FREE) on items I need, I will go there first. In most stores you can use 2 coupons for a BOGO free sale which drastically reduces the cost. For example, if Lowes Foods has Tide on Sale, BOGO and it is 4.99 this would be my final cost: 

$4.99 (for 1 32 oz. TIDE) + FREE for another Tide + 2 coupons for $.50 off 1 (=$1.00)
$3.99 for 2 bottles of tide. PLUS, the only grocery in Roxboro that doubles coupons is LOWES FOODS. They will double any manufacturers coupon up to $.99. If I had those same coupons it would double to .50 + .50 = $1.00 X 2 = $2.00  Final cost would be $2.99 for 2 bottles of Tide! Easy enough? Totally worth the effort to save a little cash! 

That is just one example of how I use grocery coupons. I also use many coupons at Food Lion with their awesome BOGO free sales. You can use 2 of the same coupons there if you are getting 2 items of a BOGO free deal. Also remember that if you don't want two of the BOGO items, the 1 that you purchase will ring up 1/2 price when you only buy 1. Then, you can just use 1 coupon for additional savings.

Last week, I gave a brief run-down on how I out-smart CVS. But seriously, I think CVS is one of the best places to save. Check out the info in my post last week here. At CVS you also get Extra Bucks on certain items each week for future purchases plus you can use the coupon scanner when you enter the store for additional savings!

Remember that the items that go on sale on a regular basis rotate on a 4-6 week cycle. If it's not on sale and you have enough to last, save your coupon until the next week or so when it is on sale. If you have enough space and coupons to buy in bulk, you can save more money by stocking up and waiting for the next sale. Some of the easiest things to stock up and save on are cereal, laundry detergent, bathroom tissue, paper towels, beauty products, and snack items like cereal bars. 

Overall, use your weekly sales papers to match up your coupons for the best savings! Also, cruise through the stores for items on clearance and you may be lucky enough to have coupons for those items. I have ended up with some FREE stuff that way! Again, CVS is a great place to make that happen! Most importantly, if you come up with a good system for saving, give yourself a limit for what you will keep in stock. I never stock up on anything in quantities more than 6. I don't want to get crazy like those coupon extremists!

Spend wisely and never pay full price if you don't have to!

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Thank you for reading and following my blog. I would love to hear what you have to say! Love, Amber