I get asked a lot of questions about the 'art of couponing', so much so that I thought I would answer some of them on a post! If you have some advice or extra ideas, feel free to post a comment. I learn new things all the time and I love to hear from you!
Frequently Asked Questions
Where do you find your coupons? My 2 major sources of coupons is the Sunday paper inserts and online coupons. I probably get close to 10 newspapers each week, but I rarely pay for them. You can use your ECB's at CVS or your Register Rewards at Walgreens if you are in need of an extra paper or two. Check with your local Dollar Tree as well since some stores have the Sunday paper for $1. I also get lots of help from family & friends who don't use their coupons and are happy to help!
What is your favorite store? This is a hard one...do I have to have just one? My favorite grocery store is Kroger and my favorite drugstore is CVS. Walgreens comes in third! Kroger triples coupons up to 39¢ and doubles coupons up to 50¢ (everyday) and in my opinion, they have the best sales. CVS has a customer loyalty program called Extra Care Bucks (ECB's) and they act like cash at any CVS. Combining their ECB deals with their sales and coupons can be very cost effective & you can get tons of goodies for pennies or free! Here's an example...razors go on sale for $7.99 each - CVS offers 4 ECB's for every razor you buy (limit 1). You have a $4 off coupon for this particular razor. So you pay $3.99 for the razor ($7.99 minus the $4 coupon) and you get back 4 ECB's. One you have done this several times on different items, your ECB's start to add up and you can finally stop paying out of pocket! Instead of paying that initial $3.99 I used in my example - you just use $3.99 in ECB's and continue to "roll them". I started off my CVS adventure with a $30 gift card...and I've never had to use cash since. I do occasionally have to pay 46¢ here or there when I don't have the correct denomination of ECB's but I never spend more than $2/week (if that). Kind of hard to get your head around, so try it first. I think you will be suprised to find how easy it is and how profitable.
What's the best "deal" you have ever found? Wow. I get this one a lot and I don't know that I have a great answer. Each one is different and depends on what you need the most. I love free and I do get most of my household items for free! Here's some of my favorites:
Albertsons: Bought 7 boxes of Kellogg's cereal, 2 gallons of milk , and 2 boxes of pop tarts for $5.22 and walked away with a coupon for a free gallon of milk. I also stock up on boneless skinless chicken breasts when they are $1.68/lb...that is definitely a stock up price!
JC Penney: Last year JC Penney partnered with Seventeen magazine and offered "free panties" to anyone who came in with a copy of Seventeen magazine's homepage. Over the course of several months, I think I got 7 free pair!
CVS: Too many to name. Free shampoo (Garnier, Pantene, Head & Shoulders, Tresemme), free razors, free milk, free medicine (NyQuil, Benefiber, Bayer, Tylenol), free beauty products (tons of make-up deals in the Fall!), free toothpaste, mouth wash, soup, ice cream, free Coke, etc. All thanks to Extra Care Bucks! No, I swear - I am not on their payroll. I just love them that much!
Walgreens: Free Reynold's foil, free shampoo, free make-up, free soup, free ice cream, free toothpaste, free deoderant, free Glade products, free photos.
Krogers: I absolutely love their veggie deals. They often have free veggies if you combine the sales price with the coupons. I frequently get 29¢ toilet paper, 9¢ bags of rice, free deoderant and soap, 34¢ paper towels, etc. I stocked up on Kraft shredded cheese earlier this year for 35¢/bag. My freezer is full!
My coupon buddy and I had an all-night couponing night about 6 months ago..we bought over $400 worth of goods for less than $8 total. We hit CVS, Walgreens, JC Penney, Tom Thumb and Kroger all in one night. It was amazing. We should have taken a picture of the backseat of my car. Such fun!
Where do you find the time to coupon with a full-time job? It's a hobby..I find time for it just like I find time for gardening & reading. I enjoy it, it's not "work" to me although I will say that it does take time. As you get more into it, it becomes much easier but more challenging as you "raise the bar" on what you will or will not pay. I balk at the thought of paying 25¢ for toothpaste. I would never!
What does your husband think of this coupon craziness? He's used to it...he patiently listens when I get home with a great deal I want to share with him. He's excited about the cost savings but not so much so that he offers to go shopping with me. He very much enjoys the perks!
Do you find that you spend more now that you coupon than you did before when you shopped without coupons? Absolutely not. If I did, I wouldn't do it. I spend less than 50% of what I use to pay for food, paper goods, beauty supplies, and all other household items. I have heard that some couponers do spend more money, but I guarantee you that is not the case with me.
Do you have a budget? My weekly budget is $40. I am planning on going down to $35/week in the next month since I haven't been spending the full $40 now. Since it's just my husband and I - it's not difficult at all to stay in that budget at all. It's actually very easy & I keep to my budget 95% of the time. There is an occasion when I go over and it's usually because some kind of meat product is on sale and I stock up! My husband loves a good pot roast and Tom Thumb has them on sale occasionally for $1.99/lb so I do stock up then!
When did you start couponing? Believe it or not, September 2008. Not very long ago at all. I think couponing is one of those "skills" you can become a master in with only 2-3 months worth of experience. It's addicting & you quickly find out just how "good" you can become with a little experiene and a lot of reading!
Which stores double/triple and what day of the week? Albertsons, Tom Thumb, and Kroger all double/triple and they do it every day of the week.
Where do you store all of your goods? Everywhere! I love to give away my finds to my family - so my mom, dad, sister and nieces each have a small stockpile of their own now! My husband built some shelves in a hall closet for me and that's my current oasis. I also sneak things in my bathroom cabinets and garage. I've expanded into the drawers of my guest bedroom...I don't know where I'll go next.
Do you feel greedy seeing all the stuff you have accumulated? This isn't a question someone has actually asked me...but it's one I ask myself. I do feel materialistic when I see a stockpile of goods. Do I really need it all? If the answer is no, I give it away. If it's yes, then I ensure I do use it. It's very easy to jump at every deal that comes my way and I've learned to cherry pick...I only purchase the items that I will use or that I can give away to someone who will benefit from it. And I NEVER pay for something that I don't need - ever. And I mean that...you will not find me purchasing something I won't use or donate. I will not allow something to expire and have to throw it out. It's important to me that I "give abundantly" and I cringe at the thought of becoming "attached" to something that is a mere possession. I can't take it with me, right?
What's your advice to someone who wants to get started in couponing?
1. Start collecting your Sunday papers (I would encourage you to get 3 or more each week if you can get them without spending money on them.)
2. Check out my list of blogs (right side) and find which ones you like best. Start to read how each store works & what items you would be most interested in.
3. Make a list of what you regularly purchase & save your current receipts. You will want to compare prices in the next month or so.
4. You first several shopping trips will not be perfect - don't expect them to be. Be patient, practice makes perfect.
5. Don't use a coupon simply because you have it. Only use it if combined with a sales price & its something you want or need.
6. Set a weekly or monthly budget - your goal is to save money..not spend more of it. For the first 4-6 weeks, lower your budget by 25%. After the first 6 weeks, you should be able to HALF your spending budget and do it comfortably. If not, email me! We need to talk!