Sunday, February 15, 2009

Coupon and Budget 101

STOCKPILE - When there is a spectacular deal, get as many as you can! So much of our budget goes to things that we need right now. If there isn't a deal or a coupon to be found, we pay whatever it happens to be. By creating a stockpile of regularly used goods, we then get to dictate what we will pay for things, rather than being dictated by circumstance. Don't get me wrong, you don't need to prepare for another World War! Just gather what your space will allow. Even a few things can make a difference in the long run.

BRANDS - Don't be a slave to brand loyalty. By willingness to try new things and using coupons for them, you will save so much money!! For those few items that you just can't switch on, keep your eye out for those coupons and HOARD them! Ask friends or relatives for their copies of those coupons.

NEWSPAPERS - Get yourself a Sunday subscription to the largest newspaper in your area. By getting a Sunday subscription, you will probably be saving 50% from the price in a store on Sunday morning. Buy extra papers (always buy in even numbers to maximize usefulness of BOGO and $ off 2 coupons). Most large papers will put out an early Sunday edition on Saturday. This is a good way to get your extra coupons without having to pay the higher Sunday price. It will be a smaller paper and won't have the sale ads from the retailers, but it will have the coupon inserts. You can check out sites like Hot Coupon and Coupon Clippers for ways to actually buy coupons or to get previews on upcoming Sunday coupon inserts.

QUANTITY - Larger sizes my have lower per unit costs, but when a smaller size ends up free after the coupon, that's the better deal (most times, anyway). It's all about spending as little out of pocket as possible, so pay attention to what you are getting and for how much. In addition, by purchasing multiple smaller sizes, you can use multiple coupons, which means you might be able to get the same quantity as the larger package for much less money.

ORGANIZE - Be organized. Sort your coupons by category into an inexpensive organizer. I got mine at Wal-Mart for around $3. Save your sanity by making lists for each store and then pulling coupons for each list and putting it in a separate envelope. I go online every Wednesday and view the websites for each of the 3 grocery stores in my area. I can view the ad and click on any item that I want and it will add it to a list for me. When I am done with the ad, I just hit print on the list and voila! I have a shopping list by store with pictures, quantity and price already written out for me! I then lay out my 3 lists and go through my coupons for match-ups. Then I put each list and corresponding coupons into an envelope labelled with the store name and I am ready to rock-n-roll! It makes everything go sooooo much smoother, especially when you have a toddler in tow!

KNOWLEGE - 1st and foremost, know the policy of the store at which you are shopping. Do they double coupons? Do they accept internet coupons? Will they allow overages? Using your coupons in the right place at the right time is very important. For example: a product may be less expensive at Wal-Mart than King Soopers, but when that $.50 coupon doubles to $1 at King Sooper and doesn't at Wal-Mart you may end up with it being cheaper at the grocery store! Pay attention to what you have purchased. You should have an idea of what your total should look like before checking out. Know how many coupons you have and how much should be taken off. Watch the cashier ring up your coupons. You will see if they miss one or if it doesn't double on the screen. Remember this is your money!! It is important that you watch where it is going, so DO NOT feel guilty for asking them to relook at something or take off a product because it wasn't the price you thought it was going to be. You must be an empowered consumer and that includes not being pressured to buy something just because of an uncomfortable situation.

GIVE IT SOME TIME - Allow yourself 3 months of doing this before giving up. I'll admit, when I was first fumbling my way through this, I was spending way too much time on it. But as I came to understand what I was looking for, the deals just seemed to land in my lap without much thought. Not to mention the help I got from my friend Sarah and all the other frugal bloggers out there. My first month (admittedly making errors, missing deals, and paying too much for some things) I almost cut our grocery and household goods expenditures in half. My second month, I have cut it to almost 1/3 and spent much less time doing it! We have a full pantry, meat in the freezer, and toiletries out the wazoo. I'm telling you, give this a fair shake and it will begin to be 2nd nature to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment