Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ways to Save Money...

The Coupon Clippers

~ Ways to Save Money ~  
Part One
Coupons, shopping the sales and how to make it all come together!

    If you're like me -- new to this whole coupon and shopping the sale business -- then there are times you feel overwhelmed.  There are many websites and blogs to read on the topic of saving and being more frugal.  So much so that sometimes I think there is too much information out there that can make you feel frustrated. 

     Today I'm going to share a few tips that I hope will help lessen your frustration and help you in your quest to live well and spend less on a budget.

     When my husband and I married six months ago, moved into our new home, and  began unpacking all our wedding gifts -- (mainly kitchen items but we are certainly overflowing with towels ;) -- I realized how bare our cabinets were of food! 

     My first trip to the grocery store produced a large sum and little to show for it.  Needless to say, I was shocked at what I had spent for what I have bought.  It wasn't long before I realized we would be on a tight budget and shopping trips like these just weren't going to work.   I quickly began searching ways to save us money on groceries and household products. 

     I had heard of using coupons before -- after all, who hasn't?  -- but I have never really given them a go myself.  The more I searched, the more I found topics on how and where to use coupons.  An entire new world had opened itself up to me and I am still eating it up!

A few tips to get your started...

  • Do not be loyal to any one store 
    • I have always considered myself a Wal-Mart Shopper.  They do have some good prices on off brands and such.  But I quickly discovered, where I could save $0.35 with a coupon on Dawn dish washing liquid at Wal-Mart, I could save $0.70 at Kroger!  
    • Research stores in your area to see if they accept coupons, if there is a limit, if they double, etc.  Kroger will usually double up to $0.50, one of my local grocery stores will double coupons up to $0.60, and another store will not double at all. 

  • Check your local Sale Flier
    •  Every Wednesday I get sale fliers in the mail for Kroger, Save-A-Lot, and N's (my local grocery store).  I look at what is on sale, see which coupons I have and try to match them. Or, when I see an excellent price on something (like beef or chicken) I try and stock up.  
    • Stock up Example: This week Chicken is on sale for $1.58 lb - I will stock up on chicken this week because this is the first time I've seen chicken drop below $1.99 lb.  So, I'm going to purchase 3 - 2.5 lbs bags of chicken @ $3.95 each for $11.85 (which will last us three weeks or more!).  Chicken is usually over $2 lb so I end up paying over $7 for 2.5 lbs.  I'll be saving well over $14.00.
    • Coupon + Sale Example: Kroger is holding a 10 items for $10 sale this week.  I will purchase 5 bottles of Mustard and 5 bottles of Ketchup = $10.00.  Then I will use 5 MQ's (Manufacturers Coupons) worth $0.50 off of the Mustard which will be doubled to $1.00 and my total in all will be $5.00 for both the mustard and ketchup.  I will basically be getting the mustard for free.  This is a great deal considering usually just one bottle of each would be close to or more than $5.00
    • Do not wait until you get in the store to decided what sales to buy, which coupons to use with them, etc.  This will be incredibly frustrating, take you forever to figure out in the store, and leave you feeling like it's not worth it.  Do your research on the sales (if you do not get sales fliers mailed to you, you can look them up online through the stores website), make a list of what you are going to buy, match coupons if you are going to use them, and put them where you can easily access them when making your purchase. 
    • I usually put the coupons I know I am going to use in a separate envelope so I can get to them easily and I pull them out and hold them as I pick up the items so I make sure to get them all and have the correct coupons handy when it's time to check out.
  •  Start Small...
    • When I first started on my quest towards a more frugal lifestyle, I didn't begin clipping coupons right away.  First, I would look at my sales ads and simply shop the sales.  I did this at Kroger and in two trips without coupons I saved over $40.00.  I have slowly added coupons into the picture. You can see my last few trips to Kroger here where I saved over $100 with coupons and stocked up on enough mixes, baking supplies, and cereal to last us several months!
    • Introduce new stores slowly.  I usually shops anywhere from 3-4 stores every two weeks - sometimes only 2.  It depends on where the best deals are.  Don't run all over town (all four of my stores are within a two mile radius) trying to shop the best sales - you'll end up running yourself ragged, and remember to think about gas when going farther to shop sales.  Sometimes it just isn't worth it.
    • Getting a Nice Stash of Coupons...
      • I've only been getting in to coupons since around June - only a few short months.  I usually buy a paper every week for $2.00.  But, sometimes I forget!  I've found several places online that are reasonably prices and provide quality service where you can purchase coupons.  I have done this twice (last time I spent $4.00 on coupons and saved over $100!) and I'll tell you what I like best about it: I can pick and chose which coupons I want to buy.  If I see a sale on soap for 10 for $10 and I can purchase $0.35 (which will be doubled to $0.70) coupons on said soap - I buy ten of them!   Here are a couple of coupon sites that I recommend:

     The Coupon Clippers

      • There are also several sites where you can print coupons:  
    Okay, so there are a few ideas and helpful tips to get you started on your journey towards saving more!   If you have any questions feel free to shoot me an email at SouthSavings {at} gmail {dot} com.  Just remember to start out slow and if you start getting frustrated to take a break.  It will all be worth it in the end when you see the savings starting to add up!
    Happy shopping!

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