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A Coupon Newbie's Guide for Saving a Few Bucks
I’m busy, as in I don’t have time to pee-during-the-day-busy. I wake up at about 6am, get the kids school stuff together, get my husband out the door to work, get myself ready, get the kids ready, get them off to school, and then head into the office. After the office, I get home, make sure homework is done, and start shuttling children to various activities – oh, and coordinate kids eating schedules with my husband. The last thing that I want to do is spend hours cutting coupons, comparing prices, and running all over town (especially since we live in the country and town is a 45 minute drive away).
On the flip side, we need to save money. Groceries have gotten more expensive more quickly than we thought. Gas prices are rising, and frankly, we are spending more in daily living expenses than we had hoped (electricity costs, anyone?). I decided that we needed to save wherever we could, and dive head first into the world of coupons. And you know, it wasn’t as scary as I thought!
First, I scoured the internet – Mommysavers, Coupon Cabin, Coupon Billy – any place I could find for tips on cutting coupons and saving money. Next, I got a three ring binder and some of those baseball card holders (the binder came from the discard closet at the office, and the card holders I got from a friend whose son didn’t need his anymore). Hey, I’m saving money already! This really isn’t so hard.
Second, I started printing coupons from the internet, but ONLY for items that I actually use. That kept my ‘stash’ manageable.
Third, I would buy one (okay, maybe two) papers each Sunday. I cut ONLY the coupons that I KNOW I would use, file them, and look at the weekly ads. Disclaimer – I pay my kids a penny a coupon to cut them out for me. They earn a few cents, and I don’t have to cut them out… it’s a win-win situation!
Finally, I create my lists and decide which day of the week (during my lunch hour) I would do my shopping, since I’m in town anyway. I would look at sites like Target Savers and see what coupon match ups I could use. I started to understand the world of ‘stacking’ coupons, where you can use a manufacturer coupon PLUS a target-specific coupon for extra savings. I only buy things on sale (except for produce, meat, and milk). I have a small stock of long shelf life items when I find a really good sale and have coupons. I am not married to shopping only at grocery stores. I can often find better bargains, using coupon stacking at stores like Target and CVS.
So far, I have managed to save about 50% on my grocery bill each month, bringing it to under $500/month for a family of 4. It’s not a lot, but every little bit helps.
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