Although we normally do guest posts on the weekends… we can’t keep all this awesome information from you for 5 days. It is written by Christine. Learn more about her at the end of this jaw dropping post. Note: If you are completely unfamiliar with couponing, like I am, this post might give you a bit of a headache. However, familiarize yourself with the details and I will explain how she helped me save 90% on my grocery bill! Details and all.
Crazy Coupon Girl. That’s what my Walgreens cashiers calls me. We swap tips and thanks to them I have become a coupon queen. I started couponing May 1, 2011. The first week I saved over $400. I was hooked! In the past few weeks I have “purchased” around $4200 worth of products while actually spending around $300. The more into it I got, the more coupons I found. Coupons for everything from haircuts to free kids meals when we eat out. Concentrating on spending less money rather than making more has been a huge stress reliever and affords me and my children a well stocked pantry and household supplies for next to nothing.
I always had an interest in couponing and did it lightly when my children were babies to cover my diaper expenses. They are 8 and 6 now. When I separated from my husband almost eighteen months ago, I started buying only sale items and proclaiming that I had no time to run from store to store and chase down coupons. Then my business slowed down. It was then that I saw a local free couponing class advertised on Facebook, wow, I immediately signed up! In that class I learned the basics. None of the large stores near me in Florida double coupons. So you have to make the most out of sales and using store and manufacturer coupons at the same time. It was confusing for me at first so I decided to approach couponing as a job. I researched several sites, learned store policies and practice “ethical couponing”. I tend to save on average 80-100%. Most of the time at Walgreens, I only pay the tax. If I can’t save at least 80% I won’t even buy it. Committing to couponing is a lifestyle. I will never look at shopping the same ever again.
Right now, I am shopping at several stores and picking up deals when I spot them only to build my stockpile since my home has been devoid of most household items for some time. Poor mister bubbles was out of food the other day then luckily publix had a sale on his cat food and I had both a store and manufacturer coupons and picked up 12 bags for free! So its safe to say he is quite happy! Here is a general breakdown of how I coupon big:
Every Saturday night I check my two coupon matching sites truecouponing.com and southernsavers.com for coupon matches for walgreens and cvs. I make a list of what coupons to clip or print and where to find them. I collect the coupons I have on hand and then sunday mornings I pick up 10 bradenton heralds and 10 St Petersburg times. My neighbors also give me all of their inserts. I pull the inserts, separate and collate them. I clip the necessary coupons for my Sunday trips. I file the remaining coupons. It takes about two hours to do all of this prep. I also pull the ads for other stores like Target and Kmart. I always double check publix against my new coupons as well. I recently purchased 24 bottles of laundry soap for $8 at kmart. The sole purpose of my trip was to pick that up so its always worth a glance. Once I’ve gathered my coupons and my list I head to CVS and Walgreens. If I found a worthy deal I will stop by win Dixie or publix as well on Sunday but that is not my norm. My best Walgreens day was this past Sunday. My total was $480 and I paid $16.05… just tax.
Every Tuesday night I preview the upcoming Winn Dixie and Publix ads and check the coupon matching sites. I begin to pull coupons and make a list of what I will purchase at both stores. The bonus is that Publix and Winn Dixie will take certain competitors coupons so I always check all of those competitors coupons as well. On Weds, I shop winn Dixie and publix with my small organizer of coupons. I keep my binders in the car just in case I come across something interesting. My best day at Publix was last week. My total was $142 and I paid $2.41 out of pocket.
Organize. Organize. Organize! I keep my stock of coupons organized in a way to maximize efficiency in locating a coupon. It takes a bit more time on the back end but makes preparing for a shop quick and easy. I have a binder that I organize clipped coupons by categories such as pet, laundry, cleaning supplies, pantry, random, about to expire, bath & body, kitchen, pantry, publix, walgreens etc. In here I keep all my loose coupons. Then I have a large accordian file where each pocket is labeled with the date and each type of insert. I keep the collated insert pages here stapled together. When I need a coupon I go to the date and pull the pages and only clip the coupons I am going to use. I organize my pulled coupons by store and keep them in a small coupon file I keep in my purse. That and my list is all that I take to the store with me. Being prepared is what saves me time and money.
Is it really worth it? You betcha! I’ve gotten razors, bandaids, laundry detergent, food items, cat food, dog treats, deodorant, body wash, vitamins, hair care and toilet paper for next to nothing or free. Is it addicting? You betcha! I have self imposed “no couponing” days upon myself so I can focus on my kids, business and home. Its easy to get carried away which is why I donate a portion of my shopping trips to charity.
To get started simply buy 10 Sunday papers and pull the inserts. Next pick one grocery store and one drug store and thoroughly educate yourself about their coupon policies and any reward programs they have. Go to those stores and pick up any monthly coupon booklets or magazines they have available. Visit their websites to familiarize yourself with their online store coupons and weekly ads. Log onto a local coupon matching site for your area and look up your two stores. Start collecting coupons and prepare a very small trip to each store. The key to couponing big is starting small. It can be very overwhelming and dissapointing is you are not prepared. Don’t worry about getting it down to zero or buying only items with overages. Start looking for items that you need around the house. The art of couponing is not using a coupon immediately, it is holding onto it until the item is being sold at its lowest possible price then combining store and manufacturer coupons together and buying enough of that product to last you 6-8 weeks until it goes on sale again…..all before the coupon expires. It is a bit of work but I find the rewards well worth my time.
Christine Nordstrom lives in Florida with her two children, miss biscuit her dog and mister bubbles her Siamese cat. Couponing is a happy medium in which she satifies her desire to shop and obsession with getting things for free. She owns a small bakery and loves to life a life by design.
Do you have any questions for Christine? Leave a comment below!