Couponing for Beginners
We’d recently moved to a new state where I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t have a job. The plan was for my husband to continue working and for me to blog and freelance. Going from one income to two so quickly wasn’t the best idea when I had zero business network in our new town.
It was hard to find work, we had debt from grad school, big bills coming in, and an emergency fund that was quickly dwindling.
We needed financial relief.
We’d paired down our expenses already (cut cable, didn’t use the A/C, etc.) when I started to look at the grocery budget. It was the only flexible budget item.
That’s when I started clipping coupons.
I researched the best and most efficient way to coupon and how I could save the most money – and get the most groceries for my money.
There are a lot of different coupon theories:
- Go to stores that double or triple coupons
- Shop at drug stores and use their money back dollars or points
- Use a binder system to catalog your coupons
- Search websites (these are my two favorite – SouthernSavers and CouponMom) for the best weekly deals
- Shop at multiple stores
The first thing I did was get organized.
I got a binder, saved and labeled all the newspaper coupons, made lists, and began my couponing journey. I stayed on top of seasonal trends (ex: sugar goes on sale during the holidays when people are baking), and saved my family a lot of money in the process.
It was a lot of work.
Couponing takes time, dedication, and organization. If you do it right, you can save a lot of money. Tons of money, actually. There are families that only spend $50 a week on groceries because they use coupons.
But there’s one secret I learned that helped me the most.
Don’t shop for things when you need them.
Buy items when you DON’T need them.
You read that correctly. It’s about stocking up when items are on sale. If you buy something because you need it, you’re wasting money.
Let’s talk about a real world example: toothpaste. I don’t pay more than $1.00 for a tube of toothpaste. Drug stores like CVS run sales on toothpaste and when I couple the sale price with a brand coupon I never have to pay more than a buck for an entire tube. Whenever there is a sale on toothpaste I look for a coupon and buy a box. I keep extras in our bathroom closet so I never run out.
If I do run out and have to buy toothpaste because I need it, then I’m going to overpay. This is true with all kind of items: laundry detergent, dish soap, bath soap, toilet paper, sugar, canned goods, cereal, even meat. If you have a good freezer you can buy meat on sale and stock up until the next sale.
Here’s the thing about grocery and drug store sales — they run in cycles of about six weeks. As long as you buy enough of the sales item until the next time there is a sale you’ll be saving money.
Couponing saved my family a lot of money during a time we needed it most. I actually even enjoyed the process. I made it a challenge to get the most I could with the least amount of money. Using the buy before you need it principle I’ve been able to save money, and keep peace of mind knowing I’ll never run out of certain necessities.
And, that peace of mind is what kept me going through our tough financial time.