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Friday, September 27, 2013

Why I coupon and My Basics of Couponing

          I started couponing to save my family money, because really, I Had to.  Money was extremely tight and the ends weren't quite meeting.  So it was either figure out a way to spend less, or give up staying at home with my three Princes.  After a lot of thought, and figuring that by the time I paid for daycare and or babysitting my income would still not really be enough, I decided to give couponing a try.
          I started couponing in July 2013.  I was very overwhelmed at first.  It's a lot to take in in the beginning, but I am hoping that my blog will help you with the process.  So try to bear with me as I explain how I got started, and what I think would be the best way for you to get started.  
          So when I first started I thought " Yeah, I will buy some newspapers, clip out the coupons, put them in envelopes and go to the store and get freebies".  It soo didn't happen that way.  Yep, my dream was very quickly deflated.  Yes I did save a little money, but it was nothing like what I had expected.
          The next week, I decided I needed a better plan of action.  I needed a better way to organize my coupons so that it wouldn't take me 15 minutes to find each coupon I was looking for.  I did some research on the various ways other people organize their coupons.  I decided on a binder, although mine is much more organized than most of the ones I read about. (More on my binder, including pictures in my next post.)
          Once I had my binder together and all of my coupons organized into it, it was time to look at my local sales ads.  I got out my highlighter and put a star on everything that was on sale for a good price and then a "C" on everything I had a coupon for.  I then took an ink pen and noted in the ad how much my coupon was for: ie: $1.00/2 or $0.50/1.  
          The next step was planning out my trip for what I actually wanted to purchase.  If you're anything like me, you are going to want a very detailed plan.  I wrote out a paper for each store I was planning on going to, what I was going to purchase there, totals for each item and how much I thought my grand total was going to be.  I later found out that in Ohio, the tax is applied before coupons, so I had to adjust a little, but otherwise my plan worked well.
           I can't stress this enough:  Learn Your Local Drugstores!  I get my best deals on Baby Care, Health, Beauty,Oral and Personal Care at drugstores.  Here in Marion, we have two CVS stores, two Rite Aid stores, and two Walgreens stores.  And I visit at least two of them every week.
          We do stockpile, but I wouldn't consider myself extreme.  I do get extras if they are free or extremely cheap, but for the most part I stick to a stock of three months supply.  Most sales run on a twelve week cycle, so in about three months you will be able to get the same great prices on your items.  
          With that being said, you really need to have a plan for where you are going to put everything when you get home from the store.  There's nothing more frustrating than coming home with 20 bags full of items you got for an awesome price, and having nowhere to put it all.  You don't want grocery bags taking up every inch of floor space you have.
          My next big tip is to learn your local stores' coupon policies!  This is very important.  If at all possible it is best to carry a copy with you while you shop, for your personal reference, as well as your cashier's.  You would be shocked at how many employees do not know their own store's policy when it comes to coupons.  You can usually find them on the stores website.  If it isn't there, I would highly recommend contacting that store's manager and requesting a printed copy.
          In my first three months, I have saved my family over $600.00.  It isn't the best number, but I didn't think that was too bad for someone just starting out.  Especially with my first couple trips doing the envelope shuffle.... Oh, How I LOVE my binder system!!!
          Stay tuned for my next post:  A Detailed Description with Pictures of My Binder and how I use it!
          Have a Great Day!!! And of course:  Happy Couponing!

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