A few weeks ago, I was shopping at Kroger and one of the cashiers I know checked me out. When I handed her my coupons, she said "I wish I could do what you do with coupons. I just can't figure it out."
It made me stop and think because I don't think what I do is particularly difficult. I'm not one of those "extreme couponers." My goal has always just been to save on things my family needs. If you watch the show with the couponers getting the great deals, you'll find that most of the time, they stock up on health and beauty products or paper products. I watched one episode where the lady bought almost nothing besides paper towels, sports drinks and Mentos. I'm not sure how you feed you family on THAT!
I know I can't feed my family paper towels for dinner and while it is nice to have a stockpile of paper products, for many people it's not feasible. That doesn't mean you shouldn't use coupons. You don't have to save hundreds a month or even a year to make it worth your while. You don't have to spend hours a day figuring out deals and coupons. You can quickly get yourself organized in an hour or two a week.
Every penny you save is a penny that you didn't have!
First, start reading these posts. They'll help you out. Then, here are a few tips to get going with couponing:
1. Start small. Don't think you're going to head out the first week you shop and save hundreds on your first bill. It takes a while to get the hang of things. On Sunday, pick up a couple of papers. I usually only wind up with 4-5 copies of each week's coupons and that is generally just fine for me. Go through the Sunday coupons and ONLY clip the coupons for things you know you're going to buy. Put them in a small accordion file or you can even organize them in envelopes held together by rubber bands to get started.
Write the date on the rest of the inserts and file them away. This is my box of coupons and how I organize them. No, I do NOT carry it everywhere with me either!
2. Don't get frustrated! It's easy to look at what you save and compare it to the tv show. Let's face it. It takes a lot of time and energy to get to that point and chances are you need to buy meat, vegetables and items that are very hard to get coupons for.
3. Slowly build a stockpile. When you see something you regularly buy on sale, instead of buying just 1 or 2 like you normally would, go ahead and pick up 4-5 if you can afford it. You'll probably pay close to the same price and you won't have to pick any up for a few shopping trips.
4. Watch for sale cycles. As you start watching prices and sale ads, you'll notice that certain items go on sale at certain times of year. You'll also see that items cycle around and go on sale on a regular basis. If you're building a stockpile, you only need to pick up enough to last you until the next sale.
5. Don't give up! Watch the store ads. Watch this blog. Watch for coupons and match ups. Pretty soon you'll be a coupon pro.