A blog about keeping yourself and your expenses lean in Oakland County, Michigan.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Going from 0 to 60 in "Couponing" My Top Ten Smart Shopping Techniques Revisited

1. Start now! I know you forgot to buy a paper on Sunday. I know you don’t have time to clip coupons this week. It’s okay, check out my Coupon Match-ups anyway.  (Or another blog local to your area.) 60% of the coupons are available on-line and the link will be there for you to print them out. And if that doesn't work there are also highlights from Aldi's and other everyday low price stores.  Wouldn’t it be better to shop with at least 50% of your items having coupons and to save $40 instead of just $20 with your Kroger card only this week? Just start already!

2. Educate yourself. When I first started in July of 2009 I thought it would be forever before I would start posting savings of 80%. I didn’t get how people would say they ALWAYS saved 80% to 90% and the pharmacy deals seemed way too complicated and like something I could never master. But winter was coming we were still on 1 ½ incomes and I had to get it right quick. So it became a small obsession a nice hobby.  I’d learn a new concept like “stockpiling” or “overage” then I would google (or nowadays I would Swagbucks!) that and read all the articles I could. 6 months later I had put a good drop in my grocery budget, save on average 75%, and can do pharmacies quite well. So keep reading more and more. Start by reading the references I have under Coupon Lessons, Couponing 101 and Coupons - General there are many articles and tons of links to great information.

3. Use other people’s knowledge. A lot of the information and work is done for you already. I can do a few match-ups myself but I still rely a lot on experts for stores I don't frequent a lot. I may need a CVS one now and then when things are out of stock but I grab it on the way in. I do find some of my own deals by going to some store websites, but mostly I check coupon match ups sites let the masters do the work and take what I need from there.

4. Make couponing work for you. I am a newlywed with a two person family. A lot of the bloggers out there have children. Many are stay at home moms. I cut coupons starting on Sunday morning for a little bit either while I catch up on watching videos on yahoo.com or watching a movie. Then I try to finish at least cutting them by Monday night usually by watching a movie as well. (I want to have them all cut at least so I can have all the scraps in the trash by trash day Tuesday morning.) Then as I mentioned in a previous post I organize them whenever I can and when it is convenient for me. Whatever you do find your style and your pace and make it work for you and your family. You will find some conflicting tips out there (clip all coupons, don't clip all coupons! etc.) just find what works for you and can fit into your life.

5. Give up your brand loyalty. I definitely have my favorites when it comes to everything. But as I mentioned in my post on “Breaking Natural Shopping Habits” I let those go when it is not a big deal and more savings are to be had elsewhere.

6. Stockpile - A term very familiar to smart shoppers/extreme couponers. If something is at the rock bottom price buy enough of it to last you until the next sale. Yes buy what you don’t need, (don’t need right now that is) but will definitely use in the near future. Not sure why to stockpile check out this article How Stockpiling Saves You Money Even When Your Not Trying

7. Buy the smallest size possible. If the coupon has no restrictions get the trial size. This was like a light bulb went off when I heard of this. There are things you can get for free at Pharmacies, Wal-Mart, Target and any other store that has a trial section when you have the right coupons. My sister worked at Costco and my father has always had a Sam’s Card so shopping in bulk always seemed to be the better deal but if you can get 10 coupons and get a smaller size of all of them for free, why not!

8. Get as many coupons has you can. Some people achieve this by buying multiple papers. I only buy multiple papers maybe once a month when the coupons are heaviest the beginning of the month. Other than that I find it more practical to trade coupons or purchase coupons (purchase coupons at The Coupon Carryout or through ebay but be sure to get your cash back!) and get coupons by mail (Check out my post Getting Coupons in the mail.)

9. Know what coupons you have. Stay organized. To get good and really save you have to bring your coupon book with you and know what you have. That’s where you get a lot of things free additionally because it is on clearance or markdown. I clip all coupons and use the “binder method.” If you don’t clip all your coupons at least take a glance at all of them frequently to know what you have.

10. Create overage whenever possible. This is a true skill. It is easiest achieved by filling out rebates and at the pharmacies. But if you start mailing companies which usually will get you one coupon for a free product then you can do this at some grocery stores as well. For instance at Kroger if I have a coupon for a free item the cashier will pull up on the register the price to enter it. The price he enters is the normal price. If this item is on sale I will get the difference as overage. Not all grocery stores do this. Another example would be “instant coupons” given after a certain number of items are bought. Again if your coupon makes an item free then you get another amount off for buying a that item then that second amount would then be overage.

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