I’m sure nearly everyone has heard about couponing. The Extreme Couponing show on TLC is pretty impressive. But who really has the time to do what they do and who is really willing to do some of those things (I saw one where the host dug through a dumpster to find coupons!) I sure was not willing to do that. But after following our budget for 3 months I realized that basically the only place we had any wiggle room for possibly saving money was in what we spent on groceries. We had already removed as many non essential bills and expenses as possible, yet I was feeling like we were still not reaching our savings goals very quickly.
I started doing some research. First I found a few blogs run by local women who coupon. I checked in on them occassionally and then subscribed to the ones I felt best fit what I was looking for. I subscribe to three blogs where the women share deals they’ve found both in stores and online as well as fun cheap family events. I learned quickly that couponing is less about clipping things from newspapers and more about being aware of and knowing what is available.
I began getting the newspaper at a local news stand because I didn’t want to subscribe until I knew it was something I could commit to. Before couponing we averaged $300 per month on groceries (for me groceries includes everything needed for daily living except clothes). The first month while learning how to coupon and what to watch for we saved $25. Well worth my time I felt and it was nice to move it over to our savings and watch us get closer to our goals. I’ve been couponing for 6 months now and keep a very close eye on what we spend on groceries each month. I still budget out the $300 and anything saved during the month I move over to our savings account at the end of the month.
Currently we are averaging spending around $150 per month on groceries! So how does it work? Simply watch for sales and watch for matching coupons. Following blogs is an easy way to do this since most of the work is already done for you.
For example on my last grocery trip I found out there was a sale on canned diced tomatoes. I make my own spaghetti sauce using diced tomatoes so I knew I would use them. The cans were on sale for .52 cents. Plus if you bought 10 cans you would get an automatic $5 off at the register. That was like getting 10 cans for .20 cents! To make the deal even better there were coupons offered in the aisle for an extra .33 cents off 3 cans. This particular store allowed the overage to be applied to other items bought in the same trip. I also purchased 2 boxes of cereal, French Onion dip, 2 bottles of soda pop, a 4 pack of yogurt, and 3 fun size bags of Mars candy for upcoming trick or treating. The total came to $11.87. I saved $27.13 on the trip. Which works out to about 72% off! Granted some of these things were not items I generally use on a regular basis, like the soda pop and French Onion Dip, but the soda was my husband’s favorite and I basically got it for free. I usually make my own dip, but the dip with the sale and coupon was around .20 cents and I worked it into my dinner plans.
This brings me to a word of caution: Don’t get lured into spending money on things you won’t use just because it is a great deal. A few weeks ago there was a deal on an operation game for only $2. For many people I’m sure that is a wonderful thing, but it is a game I personally don’t want in my home (talk about noisy) and I would feel bad giving something as a gift that I wouldn’t even want, so I passed it by.