Day 1: http://marcusandkara.blogspot.com/2011/06/our-journey-towards-living-on-less.html
Day 2: http://marcusandkara.blogspot.com/2011/06/so-i-want-to-make-budget-but-where-do-i.html
Day 3: http://marcusandkara.blogspot.com/2011/06/our-cash-envelope-system-budgeting-week.html
Day 4: http://marcusandkara.blogspot.com/2011/06/budgeting-week-post-4-steps-to-freedom.html
Day 5: http://marcusandkara.blogspot.com/2011/06/budgeting-week-post-5-so-why-does-it.html
I've been promising to post a few tips for getting started to coupon before wrapping up this series of posts. I first started couponing about a year and a half ago. My friend Trina started getting some AMAZING deals and using coupons in a way I had never heard of before.
Maybe you're like me and what I used to think. "I can buy the store brand for cheaper than I can buy a brand item at Wal-Mart using my coupons". Boy was I wrong!
The secret is in learning how to stack coupons and then apply them to items that are already on sale.
Step 1: Start stockpiling coupons! My first mistake was buying our local Sunday paper. Unfortunately, this paper was often missing coupon inserts, missing pages, and didn't include all the available coupons. We started buying the biggest regional paper in our area (The Charlotte Observer) on our way to church each week. The problem with that was that it could at times be very difficult to find one! Especially on a good coupon week, all the local stores would be sold out of papers before we could get there. I got SO tired of running from place to place trying to find a paper! We ended up hearing about a special that the Charlotte Observer is running where you can get multiple copies of the Sunday paper (only- no weekly papers) delivered to your home for $1.00 each. I have four delivered each week and all I have to do is to walk out to the driveway and pick them up. So simple! And it's cheaper than buying them at the store. Call your regional newspaper and ask them for a similar deal. It can't hurt to ask, right?!
Step 2: Come up with an organizational system that works for you. I have tried almost every system out there! The big bulky binder where each coupon is organized by type:
A small box with individually labeled sections for types of items
A large box for individually labeled sections
STEP 3: Utilize the resources out there! My favorite site hands down is www.southernsavers.com . It is an AMAZING site full of all the information you could ever want to know! All you do is go to her site, click on the store where you plan to shop, and then you'll see the list that she has written for you including every single item that is on sale, if it has a coupon available, where to find that coupon, and the price you will pay. I'm serious. Can you believe it? The only work required is finding the coupon listed and pulling it out of your binder or file folder and putting it into your envelope for your shopping trip. She has videos, step by step instructions, online coupon database- everything you could need!
Some things to remember when getting started couponing:
*Just because you have a coupon for an item does NOT mean that you need to go use it! Wait for a sale price and look for a store coupon that could go along with your manufacturer coupon.
*Sale cycles run about every 6-8 weeks. Therefore, the way to save money couponing is to buy enough of the item when it's at an all-time low price that you don't have to buy it again for 6-8 weeks. Buy enough to last you the whole cycle!. This is why you need multiple papers- if there are great sales, you are going to want to get more than 1 of the item and you'll need more than 1 coupon!~
*Many stores double coupons. Some stores even offer weeks where they will triple coupons. That means they'll take a .75 cents off coupon and they will triple the value which gives you $2.25 off one item! Pretty good deal! Some stores offer other programs that help our in other areas such as a Gas Rewards program. This is calculated using your pre-coupon total, so you can really rack up some free gas without spending much money on your food!
*Drugstores offer FABULOUS deals on toiletries, medicines, and paper products. Also look for diapers and sometimes food. I will never again pay for toothpaste, razors, floss, barbecue sauce, hot sauce, or soap because I can get it FREE.
*Never pay to subscribe to a coupon information service. There are WAY too many free resources available!
*Swap coupons with friends. Find some ladies that are wanting to save their families money as well, and team up!
Here are some sites you need to know:
A warning- Couponing can become a FULL-TIME job if you will let it! I don't agree with neglecting my kids or my home for long enough to be an 'extreme' couponer, nor do I agree with the TLC show by the same name. Here's a link for those of y'all wanting to get started.
I currently only use the coupon accordion file system because I just don't have the time needed to go through and clip and organize each and every coupon. I keep all the inserts in the folder labeled with the date and then I print out the list each week from Southern Savers that shows what all coupons are inside. I probably miss out on a few deals this way but for me, saving several hours worth of work each week is worth it!
Hope this helps those of you who want to get started couponing. Please feel free to send me any questions you have and I'll try to answer them for you! You can find our page on Facebook and post your question there or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org