Monday, October 17, 2011

Coupon Update

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 I sometimes consult, 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?


Susan R said...

Oh my goodness, you're addicted. Coupons drive me round the bend and I'm often very frustrated because I get stuck behind the person in line that has three carts. Two are over flowing with their groceries and the third is overflowing with their coupons. To take it even further, if one single item doesn't ring up on sale, or they aren't getting a discount for it, then they open up an enormous filing cabinet right there in the check out and say, "I know I'm sure I have a coupon for that." Lord have mercy! I feel like offering them $50.00 to just forget about saving $1.00 on a $1.10 bottle of pop and move on. By the time they're finished, I could have run home, started a load of laundry, fixed my dinner done my taxes and stopped off at the pharmacy to pick up my hypertention pills and been back in line to pay for my single can of Diet Coke.
I'm joking of course (only a little). All of this rant just hides a deeper feeling of resentment and envy that I have no patience to be able to do coupons and save money like you.

Britt said...

You're so good! I've given couponing a half-hearted effort, but I've never gotten a good system down. That's a great tip about going to the store on Friday after everything is restocked!

Savannah said...

You inspire me! I've couponed on and off for the past year or so, but would love to focus and really save some money ... and score some good deals! I'm loving your blog!

The Cooking Photographer said...

Wow. I'm proud of you Morgan! This is a huge amount of work. I need to be more like this.


Captain J said...

I used to use coupons more than I do now. I need to resubscribe to the Sunday newspaper to start collecting coupons again. Good luck with your savings!

The Cooking Photographer said...

Morgan I totally forgot to do the Halloween book drawing on time, but even late you won! Yay. Will you send me your address and I'll get it in the mail.

laura at


Kara said...

So jealous!! I need to learn!

Mrs. Chic said...

its so cool to hear more about your coupon shopping! :) I signed up for a coupon class a few weeks ago, but sadly couldn't attend, I had family come in to town, so next time i'm for sure going. I need to work on getting my system down like you have