I am not an extreme coupon-er. I do however, put effort into saving money for my family. And that means using coupons. I'm always surprised to hear people's responses when I tell them I do coupons. They range from....."I don't have time for that" to "Oh, I eat healthy. Coupons are only for processed foods" to "In the end, they don't really save you money. You end up buying more or buying things you don't need." Really? I don't have more time than others; I work, I volunteer, and spend time with friends and family. We also eat healthy, don't buy junk food, and don't have closets full of useless items. And we save about two thousand dollars a year using coupons and sales. That's right folks, thousands.
Here's how I do coupons. It does take me about 1-2 hours more per week. Since I usually save over $100 per week, I think that is time well spent. And let's face it- most of us watch at least that much TV each week that we could cut out if needed.
I use a website that helps me make my lists of what to buy. GroceryGame and CouponSense are a few websites out there, however there are others as well. You pay a small fee, usually $10-$15 a month for the website service. The website matches items on sale in a store, with store promotions, and then with manufacturer coupons as well. That way you are saving the most money on items because you are receiving discounts from all of possible sources. And, I don't have to figure it out. The websites show you exactly what coupon to cut out, and what the final price will be of the item after using the coupon. They even usually tell you whether it is a great buy, or if you might want to wait and buy it at a different time because the price is just "okay". The key is to buy in multiples when an item is on sale and you have a coupon. That way you are stocking up when it is super cheap, and won't run out and have to buy it later when it is more expensive. The websites also track fresh produce, meats, and other items that are a great deal to buy that week, but don't necessarily have a coupon to go with it.
Another benefit of using the websites is that you don't have to cut all the coupons out or worry about organizing your coupons. I simply pull the coupon inserts out of the Sunday newspaper, and file the inserts in an accordion file by week. The websites tell you which week the coupon you are wanting to use is in, and then I simply pull that coupon insert out and only cut out the coupon I need. This is a huge time-saver. I also limit myself to a few stores each week, even though some of the websites will give you lists from 5-10 stores, depending on the area you live.
Since the key is to try to buy in multiples when you can, you will want to have multiples of the same coupon. I order 2 Sunday papers to be delivered to my home. That way when an item is free, or very cheap I can get at least 2 of them and stock up. The websites usually recommend 3 papers each week. Often you can receive a discount on ordering the paper through the websites or when you order multiple Sunday papers, so it is much cheaper to do home delivery instead of buying the paper at the store.
Here's an example of a shopping trip I had at one store this week......
CVS Shopping Trip:
3 Jumbo Packages of Huggies Diapers - Regularly priced $11.50, on sale for $8.99. I had 2 $3 and 1 $1.50 manufacturers coupons from today's paper. Then, I had two CVS store coupons for $1 off Huggies, $3 CVS ExtraCare Bucks, and a CVS store coupon for $3 off a baby purchase of $15 or more. So far, my savings are $7.50 in store sales, $8 in store coupons, and $7.50 in manufacturing coupons.
Then, there was a store promotion to receive a $10 gas gift card when you purchased $30 of eligible items. These promotions are usually for a total price before you apply your coupons. So, 3 Jumbo packs of diapers brought my total to $26.97. I added an Airwick Freshmatic starter kit that I had a $4 off manufacturer coupon, bringing me above the $30 I needed to be able to receive the $10 gas gift card.
Although it sounds complicated to read it, the website I use told me exactly what to do and what coupons to use. Plus, I already knew what CVS store coupons I had.
At the end, this is what my savings looked like:
$15 in store discount savings
$8 in store coupons
$11.50 in manufacturer coupons
$34.50 in total savings
Subtotal - $14.46
That included a $10 free gas card. So you could also look at it like I got all of the items for $4.46 after paying for $10 worth of gas. Pretty good for about 100 diapers and an automatic air freshener.
I only purchased things I would use, none of the items involved processed foods, and it only took me about 45 minutes make my list, cut my coupons, go to the store, and come home. Happy shopping!