Everyone knows about couponing. We have all seen ‘Extreme Couponing’ and the pictures of people coming home with huge hauls of free or super cheap food. While these shows and pictures are inspiring, it’s probably not realistic for most families. Coupons can, however, be very useful when you are trying to save money or live on a tight paycheck. Here is how I coupon realistically. Getting deals for my family without sacrificing all of my time trying to find them.
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Couponing for the Busy Family
Match your couponing to Sales
I base my weekly menus around what is on sale that week. Don’t just run out and buy something because you have a coupon for it. Odds are you could have saved more money buying something on sale instead. The best course of action is to save that coupon and use it once the item goes on sale.
Coupons are typically good for several weeks and while not all items will go on sale before a coupon expires a good portion of them will and buying an items just because you have a coupon for it isn’t really saving money, sure your getting the item cheaper but if you wouldn’t have bought that item in the first place your still spending extra. the only exception I make to this rule is for items I have to buy… like dish soap. If I have to buy dish soap and nothing is on sale I’ll use a coupon anyways. I’m still saving money because I had to buy the item regardless.
Build up a couponing Stockpile
It takes a couple of months to really have enough coupons to take advantage of sales if your not saving a whole lot of money at the very beginning don’t give up on it. You can find coupons in most Sunday papers and online. Print out coupons for items your family uses regularly and save them in a safe spot. Some people like to separate them into categories to make it easier to find the ones you’re looking for. I have found those clear page protectors for three-ring binders work very well for this. You can even use a dry erase marker to make notes on the front of them as needed.
Save and write the date on the coupon booklets from your newspaper. Dating the coupon booklets is very important, later on, when you want to track down a coupon from Redplum that was given out on April the 30th you will be very happy you did so otherwise you will be sitting there at your table going through your entire stockpile trying to find the right booklet. It is also wise to buy your newspapers in pairs, especially if your local grocery stores have Buy One Get One free deal’s (BOGO), that way you can use two coupons for a BOGO and get the item for a very low (sometimes even free) price.
Use online Couponing Resources
There is no need to slave away over your kitchen table, pouring through sales flyers and coupon books trying to find the right deals. In the age of the internet, there are people out there who already this for you. A simple google search will bring you facebook groups, blogs, and websites who exist simply to match up coupons with sales. Search for one that includes the grocery stores in your area and has a set up you like, don’t pay for this service – there are more than enough free sites out there for you to use.
Here are a couple I like to use
It is also wise to search for the Sunday Coupon Preview before buying your newspapers, or at least look up a coupon schedule. Nothing worse than buying the paper only to find no coupons inside. This typically happens near holidays and it’s very frustrating if you’re just starting out and unaware – like I was.
If you are a member of Swagbucks or Inbox Dollars it is also worthwhile to look for coupons through those sites. Both of those sites will offer you points or cash back for using coupons printed from their links. It is not a lot but if you’re already working on earning through them then its just extra back for you with very little effort.
Know your Store’s Couponing Policies
Every grocery store is different and sometimes they work in your favor when it comes to couponing. Most stores will allow you to use both a manufacturer’s coupon and a store coupon on the same item if your stores publish a coupon book then it is worth picking them up to try and add them to your savings. Store coupons usually expire faster than manufacturer coupons so you can’t normally save them in the same way but when you do find a matchup it’s really worth it.
Some stores will double coupons, they tend not to advertise it, you rarely see it at the bottom of a flyer or on a sign at the store, but it is typically found in their coupon policies. A store in my area will double coupons under .50 cents every Wednesday and I wouldn’t have known this if I hadn’t looked up their policy. The policy’s of most stores can be found on the store’s website.
It is also important to know the store’s limits, some stores set a limit on how many of the same coupon you can use per transaction or per day. This is important if you want to stock up on a lot of items, there is nothing worse then getting to the register and having to put things back or recalculate your entire trip.
Use your Shopping list
I highly recommend using a list when your shopping. You can even download my free family meal planner which includes a shopping list – Here. Or if you are a Keto family I have a pre-made shopping list you can download for free – Here
Shopping lists cut down on impulse buying and make sure you won’t forget key items for next weeks meals. On your shopping list, you should include the coupons you plan on using for each item (be specific and list sizes/types and anything else the coupon limits) and the number of items you plan on picking up. It is very time-consuming to stand in the aisle and dig through your coupons to make sure you’re getting the right item in the right size or flavor or to count them and remember just how many of said item you need to pick up.
Check your receipts
There is a store in my area that gives me a printable $5 off coupon for my next shopping trip if I input a code and fill out a brief survey about my shopping experience. It takes all of ten minutes and I save $5 next time I get groceries. Other stores offer the chance for gift cards or raffles for shopping sprees. Either way, they only take a few moments and there’s a chance you might win.
I know it might seem like a lot to do, but it saves my family a good bit of money for a reasonable exchange of time. I can spend one afternoon building my list and few moments here and there throughout the week printing coupons or picking up newspapers and we are good to go! You will be too!