Back in April, I shared how my coupon journey had been going since I took a coupon class in February. I was still hoping to learn more about how couponing worked and what I could do to save more. Since then, I feel like I've really got my system down and I'm in the swing of things. I thought I would share what I've learned so far and what I do to save on the grocery bill.
First of all, I am not a perfectionist. I do think that I am a passionate person and I am passionate about saving money on our grocery bill, but I am also lazy and I refuse to dedicate more than an hour per week to planning my trip to the supermarket. For a typical week, I spend 30 minutes preparing to go to the store. In these 30 minutes I:
* Peruse the website I use for coupon matchups and make my list of what I want/need from the store.
* Print out associated coupons.
* Search through my collection of coupons from the paper/what's been mailed to me/what I've picked up from the store
* Cut out and place coupons in my green coupon holder.
At this point I'm ready to go to the store. And when I go I know exactly what I'm getting and how many of each item I will be purchasing. This does not mean I won't buy something extra at the store once I get there, but I don't make a habit of doing that as it kind of defeats the purpose. I also bring along coupons for things I use often and really like (but didn't see in the sale ad) so that if they are on clearance I can scoop them up and get a good deal.
Now on to the specifics of what I do. I certainly don't believe that my approach will work for everybody and I don't think I am an expert on couponing by any means (definitely not!), but this has been so beneficial for me and perhaps it will work for you.
I suppose I should start by sharing that I am not a person who can walk into a store and grab 400 dollars worth of food for $6. That is not what I do, haha. When I go to the store, my goal is to save more than I spend. If I can save 50% or more, I call it a success. Now my favorite store is Publix. I don't know if they have them all over the states or if they are just in the south, but this is the store that I save the most money at. They have BOGO deals every week which are great and they also do a lot of 2/$4 and 2/$5 deals. For my store the sales change over every Wednesday. However, I do NOT go to the store on Wednesday -- I did this one time and by the time I got there, everything I had planned to buy was sold out.... What works for me now is to go on Friday because by this time the items I'm looking for are re-stocked. Even if there is an item that is still sold out, I will ask for a rain check and then just pick it up the next time I'm in the store once it's re-stocked.
The site that I use to find the best deals and coupons is www.iheartpublix.com. I sometimes consult www.southernsavers.com, which is also a great site. Both of these sites have information about using coupons that is very helpful and they answer questions that visitors have.
On I Heart Publix, the ad preview for the week is posted every Monday. So on Mondays I go through the preview and create my shopping list for the trip I will take on Friday. On the preview certain items have green checkmarks and this means that they are a great price so usually I only write things on my list that have a checkmark so I can get the best prices possible. The BOGO items are listed first on the preview and these are usually the best deals. As I go through I write the item I want, the price and any associated coupons (so I know what the price will be when I check out at the store). I print my coupons out as I go through the ad and at the end I cut out the coupons and put them in my green coupon holder (it's from Target's dollar section and is accordion-style on the inside so I can put coupons into different sections).
This helps keep my coupons from flying everywhere as I go through the store. When I pick the items that I want to buy at the store, I'm looking for several things:
* Things that I need for work days - bread, snacks, breakfast foods
* Things I need for putting together dinners - pasta, pasta sauce, frozen veggies, etc
* Everyday stuff - oils, spices, flour, sugar, soy milk, etc
When I see something that I use often at a good price, it goes on the list and I plan to buy several containers of it. If there's something we use often that's on the sale ad and doesn't have a checkmark by it, I will still get it if I need it and try to find a coupon for it.
As I actually go through the store, I start on one side and work my way to the other. As I pick up the things on my list, I'll put associated coupons in a pile in the cart and then once I get to the register I hand the stack of coupons to the cashier. While in the store I keep an eye out for clearance items because as I said before I will bring extra coupons and try to get a good deal on things we need.
And that's basically it! I would say that choosing to coupon is a sacrifice because I don't buy exactly what I want to have. I let the sales rule me, but I am ok with that because for me the pros outweigh the cons. I'll be writing another post to show what I bought in a week and the meals I put together out of it. =)
Do you coupon? Do you have any tips?