This is the final post of our Couponing 101 blog series. Start over at Part 1.
Now that you’re ready to start couponing, here are some tips and pieces of advice to remember along the way.
You won’t be able to jump in head first right away. It takes time to build a stock of coupons. You’ll definitely be able to find some deals with just a few weeks’ of inserts and the Internet, but try to build up a 6-week stock of inserts.
Don’t search everywhere on the Internet for match-ups. I wouldn’t recommend using more than two sites, because most of the deals will overlap. I personally only use one site. If you’re scouring all the deal sites to find every single deal, you’re wasting your time. You may end up with a free salad dressing you wouldn’t have otherwise known about, but is that really worth an extra hour of your time?
Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a great deal. You can’t get them all every time – but remember, if it’s a good deal now, it’ll be a good deal again a few weeks down the road.
You don’t always have to use coupons. Sometimes I just don’t have the extra hour or two to do match-ups, and that’s okay. I do hate paying full price for groceries, but I don’t feel too guilty when I spend more than usual because I’m saving the rest of the time. Paying full price does, however, make me thankful for coupons – so I’m happy to make time for them the next week.
Likewise, it’s easy to burn out on couponing. You may not feel like getting papers, printing coupons, or finding the match-ups. That’s okay too. It’s healthy to take a break from it now and then.
It’s okay to splurge. If you’re only spending $20 for $50 worth of groceries, and you really want something that’s not on sale – it’s okay to buy it now and then because you’re saving so much.
You don’t have to have 12 bottles of ketchup or enough toilet paper to last 3 years. Remember that sales cycles are usually about 6 weeks, so just try to get enough to last until the next big sale. True, if I get toilet paper for $2 or boxes of rice for free, I buy more than a 6 week supply – but I also have room to store it. If that’s the case for you, go for it – but only if you’ll end up using it. (In fact, back in July there were such good sales on toilet paper that I really stocked up. I still have 3 rolls of that left. I don’t remember exactly what I paid, but I know it was well under $15 for a five-monthly supply of TP!)
Forget brand loyalty if you’re couponing. You’ll be buying tons of different brands and trying many products you might not have otherwise tried.
Above all else, remember that just like anything else, couponing takes time to learn. You probably won’t save 80% off your grocery bill the first time you go, but aim to save as much as possible. You’ll get better at it as you go along, you’ll learn the ins and outs of the coupon policy at your grocery store, and you’ll be very happy with the amount of money you start to save at checkout.
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