I’ve gotten quite a few new folks finding my site lately, and many questions about how exactly all this couponing stuff “works.”
Tonight, I thought I’d attempt to break down the basic principles of what’s happening when you hear of someone saving 70% or more on their grocery bill.
:: Combine coupons with sales. The secret to yielding the biggest savings is simply this: use your coupons on the best sale prices you can find. Suppose you have a $1 off rice manufacturer’s coupon. Because the savings is being issued by the manufacturer, you can redeem it at ANY store in your area that accepts manufacturer’s coupons. Let’s further suppose four stores in my area carried this item:
Store A. Rice Box $3
Store B. Rice Box $4.50
Store C. Rice Box $2
Store D. Rice Box $3
In this simple example, Store C would be your best bet. You’d pay just $1 after coupon vs $2 at Stores A & D or $3.50 at Store B.
Would you be surprised to learn that 60% of my savings comes from JUST paying attention to what’s on sale at the stores? The coupons are the icing on the cake, driving down my out of pocket cost. But just using coupons may not actually yield you significant savings!
:: Pay attention to store sales cycles. Did you know December is a good time to batteries? Or that January is National Oatmeal month and a good time to find deals on oatmeal? How about frozen food in March? Stores offer certain items at low prices at certain times of the year. Some of them will cycle around frequently (for instance cereal comes on sale every few weeks it would seem), where other items may cycle only once or twice a year. Pay attention to these cycles and you’ll have better success in determining when the items you want to have on hand will be their cheapest. The manufacturers generally oblige with matching coupons and you’ve got a win-win! You can download a FREE pdf I assembled of store cycles. Some of these are specific to the PNW. I update this list every year.
:: Stock up when you find a deal. When you’ve identified a great deal on items your family needs or uses, stock up. Please note that stockpiling is not synonymous with hoarding. Here’s the difference:
Stockpiling is aquiring items your family needs in quantities you can reasonably store and use before they expire. Hoarding is acquiring items regardless of whether or not your family will use them and in quantities you won’t reasonably be able to use before they go bad. (Quote: Angela Russell – that’s me).
Please note this may look different family to family. If you have a family of eight and go through 4 boxes of cereal per week, 32 boxes would be stockpiling. If you have a family of 2 and only rarely eat cereal, 32 boxes would verge on hoarding.
:: Gather multiple Sunday paper inserts. If you’re new, your first question is likely “where do I get coupons?” My primary source of coupons is the Sunday newspaper. I get four copies of the Tacoma News Tribune delivered to my door (I’ve got a great deal if you’re looking for one!). Four copies means I’m able to do the deal quadrupled over.
Let’s consider the example of the rice above. Suppose instead of just one $1 off coupon, I had four $1 off coupons. With rare exception, the coupon’s fine print indicate there is one coupon per purchase. Please note this is not the same as a transaction. Each item is considered to be a purchase. Therefore, I could do this:
Buy (4) boxes of Rice for $2 each
Present the cashier with (4) $1 off 1 Rice coupons
Pay: $4 total
I now will have four boxes of rice to take back home and put in my pantry. Grow your stockpile slowly over time like this, and you’ll find not only you’ve saved money, you’ve saved time because you won’t have to go shopping nearly as often.
I really want this to work for you, because it has for me. I launched this blog after only three months of couponing because that’s how fast I saw the savings come! I knew it was doable and I wanted other people to get the quick success I’d found too.
If you’re new, I have a few posts I’d love for you to take a look at.
Getting to know your Sunday paper. What do inserts look like, anyway? What am I looking for?
Common Sense stockpiling (webcast). In this recorded webcast (video), I share more on how to appropriately stockpile goods and how this is not the same as hoarding.
Starting a stockpile from the ground up. Got nothing in the pantry? Wondering how to start? This post is for you.
How to find coupons (webcast). In this recorded webcast, I’ll share some secrets on how to find and identify coupons.
How I organize my coupons (webcast). In this webcast, I share how I keep the coupons organized.
Making sense of coupon matchup posts. Did you know that every week, I help match coupons to store deals and save you time? This post tells you how to read these posts.
(PS see the picture above? I actually made a PROFIT of $7 on everything pictured there. Read how. You CAN do this.)