Thursday, October 22, 2009

Coupon Tips: Tips to Become a Successful Couponer!

Here are some of the Best Tips of the Trade!

1. Create a weekly budget & stick to it. I also recommend keeping track of all of your savings & spending!
To Create a weekly budget- start by tracking all of the money you spend. Keep all your receipts & file them in an envelope with the month written on the outside of it.Look back and try to calculate how much you normally spend on your groceries. Set a Goal & stick to it. Pretend like its a game and each week challenge yourself to spend less. Usually your goal should be about $25 to $20 a week per person in your family. Of course this will vary if you have small children who require formula or if you have pets. Some people set a grocery budget, and have a separate budget for baby or pet. You will learn to do whatever works best for your family. The goal is to set a budget & stick to it.

Start slowly (It's all about baby steps)...
For Instance if you just have 2 people and you spend $100 a week than for the 1st couple weeks try $75 a week, then try $50 a week, and then go for your goal of $40 a week or if you become an "Extreme Couponer" you can try for even lower.

*Setting a budget can help to keep you from overspending. Setting a budget can also help you to achieve your financial goals for now & for the future.When setting your budget try to be realistic, and don't forget to budget in for Fun things. Being on a budget will seem tough sometimes, and there probably will be sacrifices. But you shouldn't completely deprive yourself. If you deprive yourself you won't stay committed. You'll end splurging and ruining it, then you'll feel guilty & quit. I'm not an expert, just an average stay at home mom, so I hope that all this makes sense.

* In the beginning when you first start couponing/stockpiling you might see your grocery bills go up slightly! You could make a separate budget just for stockpiling in the beginning until you get your stockpile built up. You will start to see more savings once you have established a stockpile. Once you have a stockpile you will only have to shop for needs & basic necessities and less on stockpiling items. We will talk more about stockpiling later! Once you start to see savings you'll be able to afford or save your money for other things that you need or want!

For my Family of 5 (6 on the weekends, step son) and a Dog, we have a budget of $100 a week. Usually we spend well under this amount, and only on very rare occasions do we go over.

2.*This one is Huge! Don't be store or product brand loyal! If you want to save money, you have to be flexible & willing to try new things! Sometimes one brand is best and it is okay to be choosy but most all the time you have to be open minded & that's a Huge secret to Saving a lot of money!

3. Write a Menu Plan! This will save you money & time! You'll never again hear, what's for dinner! Usually I write my menu plan, based on what's on sale, or what I have coupon for, or by using things that I already have on hand! This saves my family a lot of money.

4. Don't buy something just because you have a coupon for it, unless it is on sale for FREE/Cheap and or you need it or will use it! With the exception of CVS or Walgreens, for a money maker to receive ECBs or RR's for things that you do need.

5. Create a Price Book - In the beginning this might be helpful for you. In a small notebook write down the cost of items that you buy frequently so that you are aware of how much they normally cost! When the item is at a Rock Bottom price you will then know that it is time to stock up so that you never have to pay full price again! After you become more accustomed with couponing & deals this will come naturally & you won't need the Price book anymore!

6. Only Buy at Rock Bottom Prices - Some of you might find this one a little tricky because when you first start couponing you don't know what the rock bottom price is. I have been couponing for over a year now and sales/coupons go in cycles depending on the time of year it is. Usually the rule of thumb is that if an item is 75% off or more from the regular price than that is the Rock Bottom Price. From my experiences, you should never have to pay for things like toothpaste, deodorant, home fragrances, make-up, lotions, razors, soaps, shampoo, candy & gum- the list goes on! Once I find a super low price, I stock up & don't pay more than that amount again. Because I stockpile, I'll have enough of that item on hand until the next huge sale comes around again. So, when you receive that coupon for $.25 off of your favorite toothpaste, don't run out right away and use it! Instead, save it for when the toothpaste goes on sale, say for $1 ea. Then you'll use that coupon at a store that doubles & you'll get a much better price on the item! The best way to get items at rock bottom prices is to simply combine the coupon with a sale, or even better with a rebate, double/triple coupons, store coupon, or a Register reward deal at Walgreens, or an ECB deal at CVS.

7.Stockpile your goods - Only stockpile items with a long shelf life. When you find an item at a Rock Bottom Price & you have multiple coupons, you'll be able to stock up so that you never have to pay full price again! When you are able to Stockpile by Getting things Free/Very Inexpensive, it also allows you to help others in need!

It always gives me great pleasure to help out my friends or family by giving them items that they need that I was able to get free or almost free.Donating to pantries and schools is also helpful right now in this economy. I would not be able to help anyone out if I didn't do Extreme Couponing because of our budget, so this makes me very happy that I can do this now that I coupon! Helping others gives you an extreme feeling of happiness inside. You can also use items in your stockpile to give as gifts, or sell at a yard sale.

8.Know your store's coupon policy's. Many stores allow you to Stack coupons to maximize your savings! Kroger's has e-coupons or electronic coupons, and many stores double coupons. Once you know your stores' coupon policies you will able to be a better Couponer! If you are not sure what the store's policy is than ask a manager or contact Corporate!

9. Unadvertised sales - Make sure to always be on the lookout for sales that are not advertised! You can sometimes find really good deals this way too!

10. Shop as Early as you can! Chances are that there are a lot of other couponers in your area too. Make sure to get to the stores as early as possible so that you can take advantage of the deals, before they are gone!

11. Bigger is Better is a Myth! An example:(these prices are just a guess, for a simple example)
1 Roll of Bounty paper towels are $1 each. A six pack is $4. There is a coupon for $.25 off. You are using it at a store that doubles coupons. So do you buy 1 roll for 50 cents, or do you buy the 6 pack for $3.50? Well actually you'd buy the single roll for 50 cents. Check it out- You actually have (6) of those 25 cent off coupons because you bought 6 newspapers last week. So with buying 6 single rolls of paper towels & using 6 coupons, you'll only pay $3 for the six rolls of paper towels instead of $3.50. Yeah it's only 50 cents different but every penny counts, and this is just one quick example, in real life the savings usually add up big time by buying several small packages instead of 1 of the bigger one! Also, If a coupon states $1 off ANY, you can even use it to get the trial size for free or almost free. Therefore, bigger is not better in most cases!

12. Make sure to Get those Rain checks - Many stores offer rain checks when a deal/product is sold out. Make sure to ask for these! They will buy you some extra time to get more coupons, and you can go back at a time more convenient to you. You don't have to go back to a store several times to see if they have restocked the shelves! Save yourself some time & ask for a Rain check!

13. Leave the Kids at Home! You'll be able to concentrate on the deals & coupons if you shop alone! Whenever the kids or Hubs are with you, you'll probably end up spending more, or you'll be more likely to make a mistake! Trust me, I've made lots of mistakes!

14. Try to pick out the friendliest looking cashier when you are checking out! Then watch the cashier as you are checking out. Make sure that everything scans at the correct price, and that the cashier scans all of the coupons. Sometimes small coupons get lost in the pile, or sometimes coupons stick together.

*Also, Be kind to the Cashiers - They are doing extra work when they have to do coupons. Usually if you are nice to them, they will be nice to you too! It makes checkout time go a lot more smoothly!

15. After you check out always check your receipt before you leave the store! If you forgot to give a coupon go straight to the customer service desk & they will give you cash back for the coupon in most cases. Sometimes things are scanned at the wrong price or scanned multiple times. Sometimes a cashier doesn't ring up a coupon correct! Checking your receipt will guarantee that you are receiving the savings that you deserve! If you leave and come back later, chances are you might not get the problem fixed. Yes, I've been there - done that too! You live and learn, Huh!

16. Give it Some Time - Couponing is not Rocket Science, it is not hard to do. Trust me, If I can do it, so can you! I am a very average person, and my math skills are not the best (seriously, ask anyone that knows me)! I have only become a Coupon Expert because I have worked at it. I usually have a goal to save more than I spend, and I usually try for at least 75% savings. It doesn't always happen- trust me, but I always try my best! Usually when I spend over my goal I am hard on myself & that just challenges me to do better next time. If you are interested in saving hundreds of dollars a month you can do it! Research shows that for most people it takes about 3-6 weeks to develop a habit. Try to stick with "Extreme Couponing" for at least 6 weeks before you throw in the towel (quit). If you try for 6 weeks & your still not addicted than something went wrong! Seriously, you'll be addicted!

*In my opinion, anyone can do anything that you set your mind to do! You actually have to reprogram your brain. If you change your mind set & constantly remind yourself that you can do it then you will. It does take time, dedication, desire, sacrifice and motivation. But you can do it! You just have to really want to do it, and if you keep making excuses than you won't succeed!

Some Great Resources to Help You Save More:
*For Cincinnati area readers - Call 513-731-1200 to request a Door Store to be delivered to your door. It contains weekly ads for Kroger, Meijer, Remke- Biggs, and sometimes other stores (Ad's vary by location). I never know when I'll get mine, sometimes I don't get it at all, but I always Pray to get it on Saturday!

*Hot Coupon World - This site shares ad previews for CVS & Walgreens, They also have a coupon database that I find very convenient to use. Just type in the product name of the coupon you are looking for & it will tell you where you can find if there is a coupon available!

Do you have any questions, or would you like to share any Tips? I enjoy hearing feedback from my readers, so please do not hesitate to leave a comment! Thanks for reading!

*For more great tips, please read Coupon Tips every couponer needs to know!

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for all your tips! I am eager to get started! When you talk about "doubled coupons", do you mean that stores automatically give you $1 off an item with a 50% off coupon? We live in an area with Safeway and Walmart being the only large grocery they double? Thank you for your help!


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