This is Part 1 in our Couponing 101 series.
There are several major, unavoidable expenses we’ll have to face over our lifetimes – housing, healthcare, transportation, food. While it’s impossible not to spend money on food, many people spend way more than necessary at the grocery store. I’m here to teach you how to save.
Coupons became very popular after the TV show “Extreme Couponing” aired. Shoppers on the show buy hundreds of dollars of items for pennies on the dollar – or even free. This has sparked an interest in couponing for some people, but for others, it reinforced the opinion that couponing is a waste of time. After all, the people on TV buy 30 bottles of mustard or, in one case, a non-diabetic bought 60 diabetic monitors just because they were free. These are extreme examples – but in reality, coupons really can save you hundreds of dollars on items you will use.
I’ll be introducing you to the world of couponing over the next several blog posts. I’ll be discussing misconceptions about coupons, where to find coupons, how to price-match to get the lowest price, and even how to score free items. I’ll walk you through everything you need to know to get started saving money on your grocery bill. It’s not an easy process at first (in fact, it’s often counter-intuitive until you understand it better), but as you read each blog in the series you’ll have a better understanding of how coupons work. I’ll be glad to answer any questions you may have along the way, so please leave comments!
To begin, I would like to share my coupon story to show you that I’m relatively new to couponing myself, but it’s easy to pick up on and anyone can save. My oldest brother was a grocery manager at a supermarket for several years, so he quickly learned how to save using coupons. After triple coupon events (where the face value of the coupon is tripled – for example, coupons worth $0.50 off are worth $1.50 off during triples) he would bring my mom bags of groceries he got for free or nearly free. He taught my mom how to do it, and she’s taught each of my other siblings how to coupon as well.
I’ll admit I was reluctant to start. I had made a few trips to the store with my mom, and had even been with her when she paid something like $0.02 total for ten cans of pineapple (yes, we ate them all!). But it took several more years for me to decide to try couponing on my own. I understood the basics of how it worked, but it seemed like so much effort to clip and organize all those coupons. But once I finally committed to it, I found that I was pretty good at it. I’ve gotten much better with practice, and now it doesn’t take me long to make my shopping list, find my coupons, and hit the store. Recently, I had my best score yet -- $34.98 worth of groceries for a mere $0.57. (Yes, I have a photo of the receipt, and no, we didn’t waste any of the food!)
Now here’s your first assignment: get coupons! Inserts come in the Sunday paper (they are labeled RedPlum, SmartSource, and sometimes P&G Brandsaver), and in some areas they come in the mail. Buy a Sunday paper or two, ask your neighbors for their coupons, whatever you can do to get as many copies as possible of the inserts (trust me, you’ll want multiples). Don’t clip them – just get the inserts and put them in a notebook or on the shelf, and get ready to start couponing!
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