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

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Guest Post: S.P.R.I.N.G. into Couponing! Courtesy of Savvy Spending

I was in my local Meijer the other day, and as often happens, I ran into a couple who had attended one of my coupon classes. I asked them how their couponing was going, and they replied that they hadn't really even started yet!

This got me thinking last night as I was preparing for my next class in one week. WHY would some people who learn how to coupon and see how beneficial it can be decide not to dive right in? I mean, Yes, I understand that couponing isn't for everyone, but this couple had asked lots of questions in my class and seemed genuinely interested in slashing their grocery bills in half with coupons!
So, I came up with a few pointers for people who want to get started couponing-- some tips for beginning this new style of shopping so that you don't give up before you really see the difference it can make!
I'm calling it "S.P.R.I.N.G. into Couponing!"

S- Start Small. Don't think that you have to completely, 180 degrees, change the way you shop on the first day! Try to clip a few coupons and use them when the item is at a rock bottom price. Or, just tackle one store at a time to learn the ropes. Maybe begin by couponing just at a drugstore, like CVS, or at your favorite grocery store. Remember, big changes- in anything- take gradual steps to reach completion!

P- Policy, Policy, Policy! I've talked to many newbies who have gotten frustrated because they didn't know the "tricks" of a certain store. Whichever store you choose to begin with, read and understand their coupon policy! You can find these on AFullCup.com as well as on my right sidebar. Some stores will double coupons; many will not. Some stores are funny about Internet coupons; some stores want them to be printed in color. Some stores will ask that you use a loyalty card to get the best price. Whatever "it" is- each store is different. Once you practice and get a few shopping trips under your belt, I promise it will all become easy to you!

R-Read all about it! There are so many great resources on the Internet to help you along the way. There are hundreds of blogs (like mine! wink!) that offer tips, coupon/store matchups, free samples, ways to make money, and helpful advice. There are coupon forums, like AFullCup and WeUseCoupons where friendly couponers will ask and answer questions. You can literally find every store in the US listed on these sites! Find a few sites and/or blogs that you like and check them once in a while. For example, here at Savvy Spending, I will list every Sunday what you can for free/cheap at Meijer, CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid. Blogs in other parts of the country cover stores local to them. Most bloggers are loyal couponers who really desire to share the best deals with their readers! So take advantage of what they are offering!

I-Invest in a stockpile! Stockpiling will save you a TON of money in your grocery bills. The reason I say "invest" is that some couponers feel that they are actually spending more when they start stockpiling, and this may be true.... but it is totally worth it! About 2 years ago, I spent about $10-15 on Garnier shampoo, conditioner, and styling products. Now, this $10-15 may not have been in my budget for the month, but I haven't paid for shampoo, conditioner, or styling products since then-- not once in 2 years! Just think if you apply that to all your grocery needs! I may not need 5 boxes of pancake mix right now, but if it is only $0.50 as opposed to $3 and it won't go bad in the next 6-12 months, than it makes sense to buy a lot when it is at rock bottom prices. If I can get it from my stockpile when I need it and avoid paying $3 at the store on the day I run out of it, I've saved money!

N- Never give up! Couponing is what you make of it. If you have the time, energy, and desire to spend hours each week scouring the sales ads, clipping coupons, reading the blogs, and going to different stores- than that's great! If you don't (and you really don't need to spend hours), than do what you can! But, don't give up before you've really tried! Like any new skill, couponing is something that you'll get better at as you practice. Each and every coupon you use equals money kept in your pocket, so stick with it!

G- Give yourself a pat on the back! Look back at your grocery budget and see what you've saved once you began couponing! Look at your pantry and cupboards- do you have more food than you had before but have spent less money on it? Give yourself credit for making a choice to stretch your money by using coupons and changing the way you shop!
If you are new to couponing, I hope these tips will encourage you stick with it and keep practicing!
If you are new and need help understanding some of the "couponing lingo", see my post here.

My thoughts: For all you non-type A perfectionist semi-obsessive compulsive people not like me this post is for you! It is true start some where because it does help. 
Thanks Savvy Spending!

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