I had the idea of using coupons to save on our monthly grocery bills, but did very little with it for almost a year! Last year I bought a nice, green binder that zips all the way around and has many zipped pockets to hold goodies.
Then, I went to the dollar store and purchased a few packs of baseball card holders to store my clipped coupons in. Next, I organized the holders into categories with tabs. I have about 20 different categories, ranging from dairy to oral care to boxed food and much, much more. I sat, one afternoon, and clipped all the coupons I received in the Sunday paper that week, organized them into the different holders and then sat back with a satisfied sigh…..The only problem was I didn’t use them! The coupons all expired because they sat in my folder for many, many months.
Recently, my husband’s job was looking bleaker and bleaker and it pulled me out of my blissful fog and forced me to, again, start thinking about coupons. I figured if I got serious this time and put a couple of hours a week into planning out my shopping trip, along with meal planning, I just might save money on my monthly grocery bill. I started to get excited! I found this as a challenge I wanted to conquer! So, I re-entered my dusty folder, with all the expired coupons, threw them away (well, actually, my 9 year did it for me) and started anew. My husband brought home the coupon inserts from work so I didn’t even have to buy any newspapers….an extra savings right there. Thanks to sites like, Bargains to Bounty (http://www.bargainstobounty.com/) I am able to match my coupons with the store ads because they do all the coupons/store match ups for us, which saves a ton of time! I hop on the site, see what is on sale at my local grocery stores and sort what coupons I want to use. I use a combination of coupon inserts and ecoupons from sites like coupons.com. I then mark a few envelopes with the grocery store name on the outside and slip the coupons in it for my shopping trip. With a little planning, I have ended up getting boxes of cereal from $1.50 all the way down to .99 each, protein bars and gum for free and V-8 juice for $1.24 each, to name a few things. I find that very exciting because we go through a LOT of cereal and juice in this house! I do want to be careful not to buy items that I normally wouldn’t buy, just because it’s a lower price than retail. It needs to be items we regularly use or that I can get free.
I am still learning the tricks of the trade and have to confess I have watched every episode of Extreme Couponing on Netflix (which my daughters have pulled their money together and agreed to pay for each month). I vow that I will NOT become like the guests on the show and start a three-year stockpile of baby food, especially since I don’t have a baby! It did, though, give me some good ideas on how to start couponing and how to use them to make the most of my grocery money. Since this was the first month, I was very excited to see how much I saved on my groceries for the month. I added up all the receipts and what I would have paid retail, and the total for the month was $657.70. After coupons and store deals, I paid $337.67. I saved $320.03! That is close to 50%! That’s not bad for the first month! My purchases included a variety of meats, juices, many boxes of cereal, protein bars and gum (both for free) along with the normal staple items like bread, milk, eggs, etc. As I continue to use coupons, my wish is to see even greater savings each month.
With just a bit of pre-planning and organizing, I have found one way to shave off a bit of our monthly expenses and that makes me feel very satisfied!