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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Start Saving Part 1: Where Do I Start in this Couponing World?

Lately more and more people are turning to couponing and deal-seeking to get the most for their money. If you're new to couponing and are having trouble figuring out where to begin, this post is for you. If you've been couponing for a while, you may be able to glean a few things from my experiences, and you can certainly add your advice/tips in the comments section below.

Where do you start?

#1 - Accumulating Coupons

The first thing I recommend is buying two newspapers every Sunday (except some holiday weekends when they don't have coupons in them). I don't buy my local paper. I buy a paper from Columbus, OH instead. They have a track record of having different/better/more coupons than our local paper offers. For example, there was a Cover Girl buy-1-get-1-free coupon in the Columbus paper last fall. When my grandma gave me her coupons from our local paper (same day), the coupon that was in the same location was only a $1 off Cover Girl. $1 off isn't bad, but buy-1-get-1 is much better. So, I'm sticking with the bigger-city paper.

Why do I buy 2 copies of the same paper? I do this so that I can have 2 coupons for any buy-1-get-1 deals. For example, Kroger has Crystal Light priced at $4.29 but is running a buy-1-get-1-free sale. I can get 2 packs for $4.29. I can also use two $2.00 off coupons. I'm going to get both of them for 29 cents.

#2 - Don't buy what you want.... Buy the best deals!

The second thing I recommend is stocking up on great deals. Keep an eye on prices, and get an idea of what a good price is for the items you buy most often. Don't be brand loyal! Just keep an eye out for overall prices. For example, $1.29 is usually a good price for spaghetti sauce in my area. My Kroger store just had their store brand (which is really good) on sale for 88 cents per jar. I bought five. Now I won't have to pay $1.29 the next five times we have pasta. By the time those five jars are gone, I'm hoping to have caught another sale and restocked my pantry.

This is a weird way to shop. I was used to making a menu and then trying to find the best deals for what I wanted to cook. Now, I stock up on what's on sale each week. Then, I make my menu around what's in my pantry. I've purchased items at rock-bottom prices, and I can spend my weekly grocery money on perishables (fresh fruit/veggies, milk, eggs, etc.) and other items that are on sale at rock-bottom prices each week.

When I shop, my grocery cart doesn't look like it's filled with items that go together to make meals! But my pantry is continually stocked with items that do go together. For example, the last time Kroger tripled coupons, I stocked up on items like flavored rice, tuna, pasta, canned veggies, salad dressing, BBQ sauce, and other items. Now, when it's time to plan a meal, I can look at my pantry. If I find BBQ sauce, canned veggies, and rice mixes, I can plan to have BBQ chicken and some side dishes. As my current stock is depleted, new items are going on sale and taking the place of what I'm using.

If you're new to couponing, stay tuned for more tips on how to get started and how to make this whole money-saving thing work!


Anonymous said...

This is great! Thanks for the tips!