Sunday, April 1, 2012

Couponing 101

I have been "couponing" for almost three years.  By no means am I an extreme couponer...someone who gets carts-full of groceries for pennies.  But I do average saving about 30% on my grocery bills.  Over the past three years I have drifted in and out of couponing.  When I'm diligent about couponing, I'm amazed at how much I can save.

Don't be scared to start couponing.  I'm not super organized and I don't have much extra time on my hands.  I only spend about one hour per week couponing.  On Sundays, I clip coupons from the paper.  I have two subscriptions to the paper so I can get double the coupons.  For awhile, I was crazy about printing all kinds of printable coupons and finding e-coupons, but I don't do that as much anymore.

I also used to cut almost every coupon, even if I didn't really like the product.  For example, I would clip a Tabasco coupon, knowing that we rarely use Tabasco.  I didn't want to miss a "deal." What's a deal?   If Tabasco went on sale and I could use my coupon in addition to the sale to get it for pennies, that would be a deal.  Now, I only clip coupons for products we actually like and use.  Why would I want 10 bottles of Tabasco, even if they were only 5 cents each?

Once my coupons are cut, I organize them in my coupon binder.  This is the most time-consuming part of couponing.

My coupon binder is an old three-ring binder filled with translucent sleeves that I stuff the coupons into.  It's nothing fancy.

The sections of my binder are:

Cleaning supplies/household items
Personal care items
Baking supplies
Frozen foods

Each week when I organize my binder, I also throw away any coupons that are expired.  American military members living abroad are able to use expired coupons at the stores on their bases.  So, I would send my expired coupons to my friend whose husband was stationed in Germany.  But, they have since moved back to the US.  I think this is a great use for all of those expired coupons!

Did you know there are TONS of couponing websites that match up coupons with sales that are happening at your local grocery store, Target, CVS or Walgreen's? 

Becentsable is a great website that can help you locate the deals at your local stores.

Each week before I go shopping, I check my local couponing website to find the deals at my store.  I try to plan meals around what's on sale.  I usually leave my couponing binder in the car, so I have it whenever I make impromptu stops at the store.  If I'm pressed for time, I don't look at the couponing website, but I always have my binder with me in the store.  So, if I see yogurt on sale, I'll be able to quickly check if I have a coupon to make the sale even sweeter.  I use coupons on items that aren't on sale too.  If I know we need salsa or pasta, I almost always have a coupon to use.

Some of the best stores for couponing are Target and Walgreen's because they let you "stack" coupons.  This means that you can use a "store" coupon plus a "manufacturer" coupon.  If an item is on sale and then you "stack" coupons, you can usually get it for a great price.

This weekend I made two trips to Target.  Here are my receipts.

As you can see, I spent $93.64 and saved $60.44.  I also have a Target Red Card.  The card lets you save 5% on every transaction plus gives you free shipping on online purchases.

I forgot a few things, so I ran back.  Here's my second receipt.

On this trip, I spent about $7 out-of-pocket and saved $24.90!!!  Seeing receipts like these make me want to stay diligent about couponing.

While couponing is not glamourous or exciting, I LOVE to see how much I've saved and to have that money available to buy fun things.  Please feel free to ask me any questions about couponing.  I love a deal and I love to help my friends get a great deal too!

Speaking of fun purchases, I just received a 9x12 jute rug from West Elm in the mail this week.  It had been on backorder for almost a month, so I was pretty excited to unroll it in my living room.  Look what I found:

It has at least 5 places where the jute is unraveling.  I sent West Elm an email today, but I'm not sure if they will take the rug back.  It's also kind of a hassle to ship back a 9x12 rug!

I'll keep you updated.


Andrea @ Life in Dawleywood said...

I would love to star couponing, but it has always seemed overwhelming. What is stacking coupons?

Katie said...

I've been dying to do couponing, but didn't really understand how to do it. Good to know you can still save quite a bit of money without spending hours preparing. Bummer about the rug! I hope they take care of it!

Homestyling101 said...

Thanks for inspiring me to get my couponing on again! About the West Elm rug- they have very good customer service and since it is damaged..they should be very accommodating! Before you send that back- check the shedding....I ordered a West Elm Jute Rug for a client and it shed like crazy...they took it back no problem and after a month or so! Good luck!

My Crafty Home Life said...

Great job with the couponing. I have tried...I do some, but find shopping the sales and a few coupons are the best I can do. I usually save 30%, too. About the rug, let them know you have a blog and are telling your readers about this. So, you can't wait to tell everyone how great this works out!

Jessamie Vincent said...

Girl, i LOVE couponing! It's strangely addictive, just warning yall!

Lisa - A Room with A View said...

Thank you for sharing all that couponing info and the website. I have started in a small way and my 10-year-old loves to cut them out for me so that is one less thing for me to do. It is a shame about the WE rug; their items are always of great quality, what happened to their quality control! They should arrange a replacement with pick-up of the damaged one.

Aubrey {All Things Bright and Beautiful} said...

UGH! What a pain about the rug! It's such a bummer when you've been waiting and waiting for something and then you find *that*! Shame on you, West Elm )c:

Holly said...

Did anything ever come about with the rug? That isn't right and they should either refund you or send you a replacement free of charge. What a bummer.