Sunday, February 22, 2009

Couponing

I've had several friends ask me how I coupon and save money. I am new to this and still learning, but here it is in a nutshell:

1. Visit couponmom.com and read up on her system. If you need a specific item, you can look in her coupon database to see if there is a coupon that exists for what you need.

2. Buy 2-4 copies of the Sunday paper each Sunday there are coupons in it for the coupons. Publix and Walmart sell two papers combined for $2.50. Set-up a filing system. Remove the coupons and mark the Sunday date on them with a sharpie. Don't even bother looking or cutting them, just file them away. You want multiple copies of the paper and thus coupons so that you can stock up on items that are a good deal.

3. Visit www.southernsavers.com for coupon matching for your grocery store. She matches coupons with grocery and pharmacy sales for multiple stores. Fiddleedeedee is also a good resource for Publix. Coupon matching is when she takes for example, Publix's buy one, get one free deals for the week and matches them with manufacturer and competitor coupons. You can read their sites for the nitty gritty of the coupon matching and codes and things, but basically when you see RP 2/08 after the coupon mentioned, that means that coupon can be found in the Red Plum insert from February 8th. You would simply pull out that insert from your file, find it and clip it. You are not clipping coupons unless you need them. (All of the newspaper inserts have names, like Smart Source (SS), Red Plum (RP) or Proctor and Gamble (PG).)

So, here's an example: If Ragu is regularly $3.00, but is BOGO free this week, it is really $1.50 -- a good deal. Then, there is a 50 cent coupon in the coupons you have collected from the Sunday papers or online (she will give you the link to print it). This doubles to $1.00 at Publix because they double manufacturer coupons up to 5o cents. Now the Ragu is 50 cents. If by some chance Food Lion or another competitor has a coupon out for it (she will also give you a link to print the competitor coupon), Publix will also honor that. So, let's say Food Lion has one for Ragu for 5o cents. Now, your Ragu is free. If the Food Lion coupon was for $1.oo, you just made 50 cents and got the Ragu for free. Publix won't give you cash back, but you'd get 50 cents off something else in your order. This is how I am able to get stuff for free.

At Publix, you can use or "stack" a store coupon, manufacturer, and some of them will even let you use a competitor and store coupon and manufacturer. Check with your grocery store on their coupon policy. Every store and chain is different.

The key, and what I'm working on is stockpiling your pantry with things you'll use that you can get next to nothing, like the Ragu example. Then, you meal plan from your stock. I've read it can take a few months to get your stock up and see your grocery bill go down which is what I'm experiencing. I am still buying things I need right now, because I don't have a huge stock yet. I don't buy things I won't use unless they are free.

You get multiple copies of the paper so you can stock up on multiple jars of Ragu for example at a really good price, so you don't have to pay full price when you need it before they go on sale again. I've read that things go on sale in cycles. So you may not see the Ragu go on sale for another 6-8 weeks or something like that.

Here is an example of what I did to build my stock today. I want to buy organic baby food for Grant. Even though he is a couple months away from it, I am starting to stock up on it because it will keep and I can get it at a good price NOW.

Publix has Earth's Best baby food on sale this week buy one get one free for the 6 months and up jars. It is normally $1.09, so it is 55 cents this week. I got a coupon for $1.00 off 10 jars from Earth's Best (prompted by southernsavers.com -- she gave the link), and she (SS) also told me of a competitor coupon from Food Lion for $1.00 of 6 jars of Earth's Best. I used these coupons and was able to get each jar for about 30 cents or so. 10 jars would normally cost me $11.00, but I got 10 jars for $3.00. I saved $8.00.

I also got some of those Gerber Puffs they eat for 66 cents a piece. They are on sale this week, and I had a competitor coupon.

Also, watch out for competitor coupons like Rite Aid recently put out. They had one for $10 off a $30 purchase. Publix honored this for me. This is a huge savings and is partly how I got $50 worth of groceries for $8.70. Again, southernsavers.com prompted me to this. These sites do all the work for you.

As you can see, it takes a little while to get your stock built up and you may not see your grocery bill go down immediately, because you are still buying things you need right now in the mean time, but in the long run, it pays off!

So, in a nutshell:
  • Visit the sites I mentioned and read up. They do a much better job of explaining!
  • Buy 2-4 copies of the Sunday paper if there is a coupon insert. Southern Savers has a list of the Sundays there are coupon inserts.
  • Buy things you will use based on the store's weekly sales and coupon matching (from the newspaper coupons and internet coupons) to build your stockpile.
  • Meal plan from your stockpile.
Oh! For you Publix people, gather all the flyers in the foyer when you walk in the store. They are filled with Publix coupons and are valuable. Southernsavers.com will tell you when to use these too. Remember you can use store coupons with manufacturer ones and sometimes even competitors! Last week, Publix had a coupon in their foyer flyers which made nail clippers and tweezers free. Then, I had manufacturer coupons, so I "made" money!

It truly is so much fun to save money and once you get your system in place, it really shouldn't take too much time because these websites are doing all the work for you.

Start saving!

P.S. I am still learning the CVS pharmacy game. Maybe when I get good at it, I'll post about it. :-) But if you're interested in learning, southernsavers.com has a great tutorial on it.

9 comments:

sara said...

Hey there! What brand of formula or diapers are you using? I could send you some if you want :-)

sara said...

We could be coupon sharing buddies! Your son is adorable...I can't believe how fast they're growing!

Kristen said...

wow. you are amazing!!!

Amber said...

You rock! Thanks for the "how-to" info. We'll be implementing this ASAP. I can't believe you got $50 worth of groceries for $8.70. That has inspired me to get my coupon groove on!

The Walkup's said...

WOW! Thank you for the info, I need to get my coupon on too! Thats awesome!

sjefferson said...

I love couponmom.com!

sara said...

I have tons of huggies if you want. I use pampers and similac. Just email me you address and they're yours! It's on my blog of course :-)

Beth said...

Thanks for sharing this Becca. Coupon mom is great! I didn't realize I could search for things I needed specifically so thanks for posting that!

lwclark0724 said...

Does anyone know what has happened to the Southern Savers website? I can't get it to pull up anymore.

Thanks,