I find myself trying to quickly respond to these statements often. Then comes the glazed over look. I suppose verbally, I can’t sum couponing up in a quick yet understandable manner. This post is bit long, but in the amount of time it takes to read every word, you could have a grocery list full of this week’s sale items with note of which one’s have coupons and where to find them…ready and printed out next to you. How’s that for fast?
1. I don’t have the time.
I watch t.v. and clip coupons!
In the beginning you may need to spend a little more time. It’s probably the deal breaker for so many people. The thing is, once you get a basic knowledge of what’s going on, it gets easier and quicker. You don’t have to learn everything at once. Simple steps can lead you in the right direction without the headache, frustration, and with more money in your pocket. Most importantly, with the technology available to us now, it’s not your grandma’s couponing. Also important, you don’t have to “extreme coupon”. Just making a habit of using them at the grocery store or to buy personal care items and cleaning supplies.
In my opinion, couponing at places like Walgreens or CVS as a starter works best. Why? You really see the savings so much clearer. It’s what sets off the “AHA” moment which is so necessary to keep at it. Because once you get it, you’re idea of couponing changes. Once that happens, you’ll make the time! People make time to save money when buying a car, house, or other big purchases. Why not everyday needs too?
How can you make time for couponing? If you have a computer and printer along with a good website to follow via email or Facebook, you’re on your way to quick couponing. Personally, I go to my favorite website, print out the list of items on sale for the store I’m going to. I only clip what I know matches up well with a sale item (the website tells me which items match up with coupons and where to find the coupons). Then I put those coupons together with a paperclip. That’s it.
Other than the time it takes to actually clip the coupons and print out a list (which with a few commercial breaks could be less than an hour at your leisure for a shopping trip). Add another 10 minutes or so to look through the coupons and file them away on Sundays. If you file by insert. I would recommend a 3-ring binder and some folders or tabbed dividers, but you could use all sorts of organizing methods. It really doesn’t take too long.
The biggest factor in couponing is obviously, the more you put into it…the more you get out of it. I spend a little more time than the average consumer, but less time than the extreme couponer.
2. Who needs 100 tubes of toothpaste?
Certainly not the average small family. Personally, I had 20 tubes the last time I counted about two months ago. That’s more than we need in the next five years for our family of four. We would have to use two tubes of toothpaste a month for the next 4 1/2 years to use it up. Keep in mind though, that our family consists of two younger children. One of which who thinks toothpaste is a great outlet for creativity ..on our walls. Even still that’s a lot of toothpaste.
However, they will get used in other ways too. Due to the economic hardships so many are faced with, keeping up with basic needs can be a struggle. I’ve been blessed with free toothpaste! Why not share? Couponing is about more than collecting toothpaste, a lot more!
3. I don’t know where to begin.
In this order, I recommend the following: Find the biggest local paper in your area. For me, I live in NW Indiana, but the Chicago Tribune is the best paper for Sunday coupons. You can refer to a re-post of mine called, “Which Newspapers have the Best Coupon Inserts?”. Thank you Living Rich with Coupons!
Don’t subscribe yet. Visit RetailMeNot. In the search bar, type in the name of that specific paper. You may find codes that will get you the paper at half the cost. Why is this important? More savings of course. If you’re saving already, you know that small cost of the paper is worth it if you’re saving $200 a month on groceries. $200 is a car payment for some. Think about it. Once you have the code written down, either call or go online to the newspaper you’d like to subscribe from. Don’t forget to use the code. I think most places give you an option of a 13 week subscription. It shouldn’t be more than $6.00 total for the whole 13 weeks.
Now that you’re going to have the paper coming to your home, google couponing. Does that seem backwards? Maybe a little. The point behind this is to put your plan in action before you start reading too much and get overwhelmed. Now you’re invested, and will likely put forth extra effort to make it work.
Finally, a great place to start would be The Krazy Coupon Lady. Look under the beginner’s tab. Another place to start would be Couponing 101. I just want to add here that I don’t get paid for any links provided in my posts. I add them to make everything easier to find.
*Note: It does sometimes take a week or two for your paper to start getting delivered. Until then, feel free to pick up a Sunday paper at the store. I hear Dollar General sells the Sunday paper for $1.00.
4. Isn’t it just cheaper to buy the store brand?
In certain situations, yes. The funny thing is, according to this article Store-brand food prices rising, it may not be for long. This excerpt from the above article in particular, is a great example of why it makes sense to coupon and buy name brand items. “Many generic products are made by the same companies that produce the national brands, such as H.J. Heinz, Tyson Foods and Kimberly-Clark, the Journal says.” Go ahead, re-read it.
Some of you may scratch your head and say, “so!”. If store brand prices are rising, and there isn’t an array of coupons for those, but there is an array of coupons for name band items that makes their prices well below the store brand price…why would you pay more for store brand? Of course, if you like a brand better because the opposing brand doesn’t suit your needs, that’s understandable. Going by cost alone though, why would you pay more?
A quick example how coupons compare: Jewel-Osco currently has this sale going on. Ken’s dressing, $.99 each when you buy two with in-ad store coupon Thurs-Sat only. Use two $1.00/1 from the 3/11 SS to make these FREE. (2 coupons each taking a dollar off each item) 3/11 is the date the insert came in the paper. The insert the coupon came from was SS or SmartSource. These two items are truly free with the coupons. I don’t know of any store brands that do that.
I’ve paid as much as $3.99 for a bottle of dressing in the past. Never again. I don’t mean I’m going to clear out all the local Jewel stores. I’ll buy 2, but this sale will end and in 3-6 months it will come around again or will happen at another local grocery store. What if you don’t like Ken’s dressing? Don’t worry, eventually it will be Wishbone or Kraft. All of these sales are on cycles. Once you figure out the cycle you learn to buy what your family will use and that’s how much you stock up on. There’s no need to buy two cases of dressing cause it’s on sale. It will go on sale again. I buy what will last my family about 3 months.
5. Coupons always expire before I use them.
Simple solutions for this. Spend about $6.00 every 13 weeks to get the best Sunday paper around. See #3 for more information on that. Within a month of receiving the paper, you’ll have plenty of coupons. I get two copies of the same paper delivered to my door. There is no way I’m using EVERY coupon. Lots will expire, but I know by watching my grocery budget drop that the $12.00 ($6.00×2 papers) I spend on the paper (coupons) is well worth it.
Use a couponing website (they’re mostly all free-see my blogroll for many good options) to print a list for your favorite store. Cut the coupons for items on that list. Paperclip the coupons together and attach them to the list or buy a cheap purse-sized organizer ($1.00 or so) to put any extra coupons in that you think you might use if the price is good and take it with you when you go to the store. If you get further into couponing, you will want a binder or a bigger method of organizing. Especially if you’re driven to keep from missing out on a great deal. For an average shopper using coupons, you could probably stick with the purse-sized organizer for quite a while.
6. You’ll have to show me “someday”.
This one makes me a little sad. Someday usually means the interest isn’t really there or it is there, but one or more of the five other things on this list get in the way. It makes me sad because I know money is tight for a lot of people and taking the time and effort to give it a real shot can make a huge difference in a budget. I’m not a telemarketer. This isn’t a Ponzi scheme. I’m just passing on great knowledge.
Good story… Recently, on a trip to CVS, I was gathering my items and noticed a young couple at the cash register. The cashier says to the girl that she had just earned $14.00 in ExtraBucks. I hear the girl ask what she means. The cashier explains that she can take those ExtraBucks and use them like cash at CVS at anytime before they expire. The girls says, like right now, and the cashiers says yes. So, the couple starts wandering back through the store again. They were so excited and the girl was raving about how cool it was and they had just stumbled onto it. I was excited for them too. My husband and I married young and we had plenty of rough times that had nothing to do with a recession. I guess I saw us in them that night. I hope she goes back to do it again and possibly with coupons in hand next time.
Couponing can be difficult to wrap your head around when you don’t understand it. That’s why I offer my interested friends and family to go with me on a quick trip and see it in action. If you’re interested in learning, talk to a couponing friend about riding along. Most likely, they’ll be more than happy to show you the ropes!