Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Coupon Crazy

Being unemployed, I wanted to participate in some way to the family household finances.  I wasn't contributing to income but I could save on what we spent each month.  I started looking at the basics - what do we HAVE to consume each month.  Mostly food and gas, a night out every now and then, medical and pet care, and time with friends.  The last three items were not going to change but the first item, especially food, could be drastically improved. 

There is a wealth of information online about couponing and deals.  It's taken me about 3 months of study, trial and error, and many shopping trips to understand the system.  Each Sunday my back porch becomes "coupon central", cutting and filing coupons from the local newspaper.  I've even "dumpster dived" in the recycling bin at Whole Foods and horrified my husband by stealing a box of newspapers from the neighbors curbside recycle bin!  A Tidy Cat Litter or a Party Mix coupon is worth diving for in my household!  During the week I print coupons from various websites online and get deals in my email inbox.

Over the last several months I've gotten the following items free:  50 photo prints, Olive Oil, Cat Treats, Dog Treats, M&M's, Allergy meds, Vitamins, Peanut Butter, Jelly, 7th Generation Dishwasher Detergent, Yogurt, Box Envelopes, Mailing Boxes, Worcester Sauce, Chinese Food, Quaker Oats, Soup, Beans, Guacamole, Candy Bars, Cereal samples, Starbucks pastries, and more.  I've gone from spending $75.00 a grocery trip to $10.00!  It's CRAZY.


I met a local couponer rummaging through her large coupon book at Harris Teeter and now we trade coupons and chat about our amazing deals!  I recently joined the Newcomers Club - Saving Money 101 group that currently has about ten members. The popularity of couponing is on the rise because of the economic downturn.

HOW TO GET STARTED:  The first step to saving is to learn your frequently visited store policies.  The "hot" stores with the best deals that are the easiest to work with are Harris Teeter, CVS, Kroger, and Publix.  We don't have a Publix here but there are a lot of published deals online.  Harris Teeter has the best coupon program for a grocery store in our area.  Teeter will "match" your coupon up to .99 AND every 6 weeks or so they have something called SUPER DOUBLES where they match coupon face values up to $1.99.  Which means if you give them a coupon for $1.50 they will take $3.00 off your item during super doubles week!  Kroger will match coupons up to .50.  No other stores in my area will match so I typically shop at Teeter and Kroger.  Did you know that if Kroger over charges you for an item, they will pay you DOUBLE the price of the item for their mistake!  If you're a senior, most stores have a discounted "senior shopping day".

With some good planning, you can structure your shopping to get the best deals and save your dollars for something more interesting than a jar of nuts!  Email me or post a comment if you need help getting started.

Watch my blog and you'll see more shopping deals and tips!

-Rebecca

Check out more deals with coupons

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