My grocery bill to-date for the month of February should have been $511.62. But that’s not what I paid. Coupons saved me $166.91, store sales saved me another $160.44, and I’ll be receiving $32.61 in rebates. My bottom line: $151.66 or 70% saved. With that $151.66, I bought a lot of good stuff – meat, produce, cleaning products, diapers, canned goods, toiletries, cosmetics, and more – all of which my family uses. Most of what I purchased was brand name, too.
The best part about all of this is the fact that I’m new to couponing. In fact, I only just started clipping coupons in November of last year.There are many “old pros” out there that have been doing this for years – but I’m not one of them. The truth is you don’t need an abundance of skill or time when it comes to using coupons. You just need to be motivated to save a lot of money.
My goal in creating this blog is to share with you what I learn as I learn it. So whether you’ve used coupons periodically in the past or never clipped a coupon in your life, I invite you to join me in my coupon project.
Without further ado, let me give you a quick rundown of what I’m doing:
- Clipping the coupons. I’m gathering the majority of coupons from my Sunday paper. I generally get two copies, and sometimes more if the coupons are particularly good. Once clipped, I file them away in a couple binders. (For getting started, you might simply sort them into envelopes labeled with categories – baking goods, breakfast foods, snacks, and so on.)
- Finding the sales.I generally peruse the circulars of a few of my local grocery stores first and see what’s on sale that week. The goal is to match up my coupons with the sales to get the best possible price. This is where your big savings come! It will take a few weeks before you build up a good coupon base, so be patient. There are many wonderful websites and blogs that will help you make sense of the sales as well (I’ll be adding these to a soon-to-come blogroll). I aim to make this blog one of them. Using these resources will help save you time and increase your understanding of how to use coupons.
- Building a stockpile. Once you find that terrific sale, buy, buy, buy! The goal is to buy items when they are at their lowest price as opposed to waiting until you need them and paying full price at the supermarket. I frequently tell friends and family my goal is to “create a store at home.” The idea is when I need something, I will “shop” from my own pantry and not from the store! So when the oatmeal (which is normally $3.99 a box) goes on sale for $.50, you’d buy as much as your budget could allow.
- Tracking my success. I’m a bit of an Excel geek, so I created a basic spreadsheet to track my stats. Not only is it encouraging to see my success in terms of a “bottom line,” it also gives me benchmarks to improve upon. For instance, the last couple months, I’ve been running around an average savings rate of 65-70%. For the months of March and April, I might work to achieve a rate of closer to 75%, and so on.
- Sharing my success. If I find a good deal, I share it with friends and family. A number of my girlfriends have also become “heavy coupon users” and they do the same with me. We meet regularly and exchange tips and coupons. Wading through the world of couponing with a friend makes it more fun. I highly recommend you do the same.
I don’t have to tell you times are tight. But I can tell you the time has never been better to try new ways to make your money stretch. And tackling your grocery costs may be one of the smartest moves you can make because it is likely one of the largest variable expenses in your budget. So why not give it a try yourself? I promise to do my best to support you in your money-saving adventures!
Grab a pair of scissors, a Sunday newspaper, and get ready to slash your grocery bill with me!