Since today is our shopping day, and it will be the first large shopping trip with coupons that we’re attempting since I started back, I figured it would also be a good day to post part 2 of my coupon series. So here’s how I actually plan to use all those coupons I’ve been collecting to get some really good deals!
Ok, after you have your coupons organized in whichever way works best for you, it’s time to start using them. Before you start making lists and checking them twice, however, you may need to change your viewpoints on a few things. For instance, when using coupons to get the absolute lowest price possible, you have to get rid of your brand loyalties. You can still have a couple, but for the most part, brand loyalties will make getting the really good deals a lot harder as you will be passing on them because you don’t buy that brand. So don’t just stick with Quilted Northern. Charmin and Cottonelle are just as good, and you can get some pretty good deals on them. Next you need to change the way you actually shop. Do away with making a list of what you need and only using the coupons for those things. The problem with this is if you only buy stuff when you need it you will be limited to whatever price that item is at that time. Instead stock up on items when they are at their lowest price. This will require you to shop not for what you currently need, but for what is on sale. Of course you will still need to buy staples such as milk, eggs, cheese, and other perishables, but stock up on the stuff that lasts. If you have a large freezer (like we don’t) then you can even stock up on meats and other perishables that can be frozen when they are on sale. Otherwise stick with the stuff that lasts, and do the best you can with the others.
Now, as to the process in getting these good deals, it starts with getting the weekly ad for each store you shop at. To begin with, it may be best to stick with one or two stores as you are learning, and then expand from there as you get better at it. When you get the ads (from newspapers, stores, or the store’s website), sit down and look through them a few times to get an idea of what is on sale. You can also check southernsavers.com, shoppingtipsandtricks.com, kellyscouponaddiction.com or any other site like this to view the weekly ads with their coupon matchups. Using their websites is much easier than doing it on your own, but you also need to pay attention to regional differences. That’s why I would recommend checking the ads for your local stores yourself, and use their websites as an extra resource. After you find items that look like they are on sale at a good price, start looking to see if you have coupons to match up with those sales. What you really want to do is match store coupons with manufacturer coupons (you can use one of each on every item you buy at most stores). This will allow you to get the best price possible. Also be sure to take advantage of stores that double coupons (up to $.50) and ones that accept competitor’s coupons.
For example, I will use an item Publix had on sale a week ago. Keep in mind when you see Buy One Get One Free (BOGO) deals at Kroger & Publix, you don’t have to actually buy two of the item to get the deal. It’s basically a 50% off sale, which is a pretty good sale even without coupons!
2 x Finish Quantum Dish Detergent – BOGO at $6.99 (roughly $3.50 each)
2 x Manufacturer’s Coupon – $1.75 off
Total Price = $3.50 (Normally $14.00)
See how that works? The item is on sale, in this case it’s 50% off already. I have a coupon that then cuts that total in half again, allowing me to save a grand total of 75% on two packs of dish detergent. This is how you want to start looking at the things you buy. First find the sales, then add your coupons, and stock up! That’s why you buy so many papers and print so many copies of each coupon. If I had been able to get four coupons for the detergent instead of just two, I definitely would have bought four boxes ($7 for $28 worth).
I will add that when you first get started, don’t expect to save 75% on everything you buy immediately. You need to get your coupon stash built up first, and that could take a few weeks or even a month or two. Don’t let that discourage you though. When you start couponing you are learning a totally new way to shop, and it will take some time, patience and practice. You will make mistakes, and you will get some awesome deals, but with each trip you take, you will get better. So what are you waiting for? Go get some coupons today and get started on your journey to save drastic amounts of money on your grocery bills!