Hey guys! A couple of people have *requested* that I blog about couponing, both getting started and scoring great deals. So, I’m writing a blog series on how to do just that, and hopefully with these tips, some of you will be able to get started and save some money. These blogs will be about saving money at the grocery store.
This may see overwhelming, but trust me, getting started IS the hard part. Once you know which blogs match coupons to your local stores’ sales and have your coupons organized, it gets easier after a few weeks and becomes a routine. Stick with it for at least a month or two- it gets easier!
Couponing lets me save money to do races (I budget running- contrary to popular belief, it’s not a cheap sport), cruise excursions (cruise fares are cheap, but offshore activities are not), and give to charities (if you can get something free, why not donate).
Many who coupon do so out of necessity- they truly *have* to coupon to make ends me. Being debt free and well paid (for my area and field of study in college), I don’t have to coupon- I choose to. I could just conveniently shop sales at one store, without shopping around, and we wouldn’t starve or be completely broke. But… I can put a *little* extra time into couponing, save a *lot* of money, and have the freedom to do more things I want or budget that money elsewhere.
With that said, I don’t consider myself an extreme couponer (you will never see me with a cart full of Vitamin Water or Hamburger helper) nor a couponing expert. As always, follow your store’s couponing policy and be nice to other customers- don’t clear the shelves. Trust me, you don’t need 5613938 toothbrushes.
1.) Find and follow couponing blogs.
Some people dedicate entire blogs to couponing and frugal living (this would burn me out, but I guess they say the same thing about running bloggers). Your best bet is to find a few of these blogs where the bloggers live in your area and write posts that “match up” coupons with the deals at your grocery store. Grocery stores, coupon inserts, and prices vary by region.
I follow two blogs based out of South Carolina, Southern Savers (Midlands SC) and Coupon Keri (who lives close to my town). I also follow Money Saving Mom, who has a lot of great posts about living simply, decluttering your home, etc. I highly recommend these blogs if you live my area, and Money Saving Mom regardless of where you live.
If you’d like to find couponing blogs local to you, check out Bargain Briana’s Frugal Map (select your state to find a couponing blog).
You can follow blogs in Google Reader, which I *highly* suggest. In fact, I suggest it for following ALL blogs, including this one. If you have a Google account (you know you do!), you already have it anyway. I follow my couponing and frugal living blogs there, but I also follow running blogs, friends’ blogs, professional writing blogs, etc. With Google Reader, you don’t miss posts.
Of course, once you set up blogs to follow in Google Reader, you need to actually check it at least once a day to see what bloggers have written. Blogs post the grocery store ads the day before the sale actually starts, so you see what’s on sale before others and can clip coupons or plan for what you need. Most of these blogs also have comprehensive Getting Started guides you can check out.
2.) Get coupons!
The easiest source to get coupons is the Sunday newspaper (Plus, you get sales ads and funnies, so it’s win-win, right?).
*Don’t miss your Sunday Paper*. You wouldn’t believe how much I hear “Oh, I don’t have coupons, I overslept on Sunday and didn’t get a paper”. Make a habit to pick up a Sunday paper before or after your long run, on your way to church, or on your way to breakfast or brunch. If you love sleeping in, most local newspapers let you subscribe to Sunday only, or you can go to Wal-Mart (they typically have the Sunday paper for a few days).
Also, check out Southern Savers’ list of Weekly Inserts to learn how many coupon inserts will be in the paper. Usually Sunday papers do not contain inserts on holidays, so I don’t buy a paper that day. If a paper has 3-4 inserts, I may get several papers (this is usually the case). I also get the coupon inserts from my parents’ Sunday paper- they give them to me in exchange for me doing some of their shopping using those coupons.
You can also print coupons- most blogs have links to printable coupons, or, if you use Swagbucks (click here to sign up), you can print coupons there and earn 10 Swagbucks per coupon redeemed. Then you can redeem Swagbucks for gift cards and save even more.
And, don’t forget about coupons in the grocery store, or those that come on the boxes or packages. If you sign up for a free sample in the mail, the box usually contains a high-value coupon.
3.) Take a class
I’ll admit, I’ve never actually taken a couponing class, but some of my friends have, so I’ll include this tip. Lots of local couponing bloggers teach classes at community centers, coffee shops, churches (you usually do not have to attend the church to attend the class), or to local businesses. If you’re new to couponing and there’s a class near you- TAKE IT. Generally they cost $10-20, but you can ask questions, meet others, and exchange ideas. Plus, the savings from one grocery store trip may pay off the cost of the class.
That’s it for now. Next time, I’ll talk about how to organize your coupons and the best stores for couponing.
Q1.) How do you subscribe to blogs (e-mail, RSS, Google reader, something else)? I love my Google Reader.
Q2.) What kinds of fun things do you budget for? I definitely splurge on races, running gear, and vacations. I also splurge on Sweet cupcakes and eating from local restaurants because I’d rather pay a little more to support them and get a better product.
Q3.) Is there anything you don’t splurge on? Well, I rarely go to coffee shops. I love coffee, but I take the Keurig route and only do Starbucks or Dunkin on special occasions.
I also avoid fast food restaurants like the plague, unless I have to go in to use the bathroom or something (and after almost missing the start of my last 10K, I don’t think I’ll be stopping at the Burger King bathroom anytime soon).