Several of the blogs I read have posted recently about couponing and whether or not it's worth it. I think it IS... to a point. I don't buy everything with coupons, but I definitely look for good deals!
First of all, I do not go to a bunch of stores to buy all my different products...
1) I don't have that option, because of where we live,
2) gas is expensive and often would not make it worth any "savings", and
3) My time is worth a lot to me and the driving around town (countryside now) takes too much of the precious daylight time I have with my kiddos. :)
Next, I like to buy fresh foods. Unfortunately, rarely is there a coupon for money off fruit and veggies. (I do like Frozen veggies, too... especially when Green Giant has coupons!) So, with that I have to just suck it up and pay a fortune. We live in a small town and have a very limited selection of fruits and veggies as it is. I often purchase the fruit of the week at the grocery store or buy things at Walmart (like this weekend I picked up some nectarines & plums, our local stores NEVER have these fruits so it was a treat!).
How I coupon
1. I only "clip" coupons out of the newspaper if it's a product I use. If I don't use it, then why have the coupon?
2. I keep all my coupons in a little file in my purse at ALL times. I have found that if I keep it in the car or the house I don't use the coupons, because I don't have them with me. Now that I have kids, I am not running out to the car to get them.
3. I make a list of what I need to pick up at the store and mark if I have a coupon. I clip the coupon to the list so that I can check it when buying products (for size, etc.)
4. I usually buy the smaller size of whatever it is to maximize my coupon's value, plus most of the stuff I buy has a coupon come out every month or two and I can usually get the product again at a good price.
5. I order the P & G coupon books when they offer them. I use a lot of P&G products (Bounty, Pampers, Charmin, Crest, Tide)- these are $1 off a product coupons for the most part... that makes a dent FAST!
6. Buy with coupons when the product is ON SALE... this maximizes your coupon and savings! I often stock up on toilet paper and paper towels because I have coupons and we will ALWAYS use them eventually!
7. I keep all my "store" coupons with me, too. I never buy anything at Kohl's without my coupons! I don't clip out of the newspaper unless I know I am going there that week, but keep the generic 20% off , etc.
- I like to shop at certain stores when they have their clearance sales. Example: Gymboree has a sale going on now where it's % off of the clearance price AND you can use your 20% (or 30% if you are lucky)- this adds up fast!
- I shop for my kids' clothing for the next year at the end of the season. I have gotten so many PJs, pants, shirts this way- when I buy them at Kohls with my 15% off (or 30% off if you are lucky)- which makes it another GREAT deal!
8. I shop at Target for lots of stuff... here's why...
- Target lets you use a Manufacture coupon AND Target coupons. (you can find the Target coupons here.)
- You can get the coupons online & they send them to you in the mail if you sign up for a Target.com account AND they have mobile coupons, too!
- Often Target has a product on sale and you can use all your coupons... makes for a great deal!!
- Target also often offers buy 2 of certain products- get a $5 gift card. When they offer this you can use coupons on EACH item and get it so cheap! I have done this a bunch of times with toliet paper and diapers.
- Target offers coupons for $$$ off their store brand. It's really a great generic priced less than name brands and with the coupon, you can't beat it. The key here is that the quality has to be good- which for what I like to buy, it is.
- If you open a Target card you get 5% off your ENTIRE purchase- for me this is Tax on non-food items. That's just money in my pocket. I also budget to know I will be paying this card OFF EACH MONTH!
One trip to Target I saved $76 and got $15 in gift cards (which I used on my next order). This is a great savings and it's ALL stuff we use everyday!!
9. Online Couponing
If I know we are making a big trip to the store I use online coupons (or if I am looking for something specific). I am trying to keep my printing to a minimum, because this does ADD to the cost of your shopping trip, indirectly. I subscribe to a couple of online sites and follow a couple of people on Facebook ( Who Said Nothing in Life is Free? and Couponing to Disney). I like this, because I can see quickly what they are posting in my Facebook feed, but I can ignore it when I am not interested.I also get emails for Groupons and Living Social coupons. I have gotten 2 good deals for Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble. $10 for a $20 gift card- but I only did it, because I SHOP at these stores. Again, coupons are only as good as if you would use them and you aren't buying stuff you won't use. :)
Tips and Tricks
- Only clip coupons for stuff you use... don't be suckered into buying something just because of a coupon if you aren't going to use it.
- Keep your coupons with you
- Decide how much time you are going to spend couponing... it could be come a job and who wants another one of those?
- Decide how much a coupon has to be worth to clip it... 25cents or do you need it to be $1? I personally clip things I KNOW I buy, so a quarter is a quarter in my pocket, a couple of scissor snips is worth it to me- but that's very individualized.
- Check out sites before making your big trip.
- Look for deals and then use your coupons.
Do I save tons and tons of money couponing? No. Do I save enough to make it worthwhile? Sure do. I'm not funding any trips with the coupons I clip, but I think that I am helping our little family be a little bit frugal. Or at least free up a few dollars here and there to buy the more expensive fresh fruits and vegetables we like.