Saturday, March 24, 2018

[Money Matters] Couponing 101 -- Here's What You Need to Know to Save!

If you follow me on Facebook you know I've been couponing. Couponing a LOT. lol And I've gotten a good number of questions regarding how I save so much. So I thought I'd do a post with some random info for those wanting to start couponing.

It's well worth the time and effort in my opinion. For January, yall, I purchased 407 items (130 donated). Retail that would have cost me $1254.10 if I bought it without sales/coupons.

I paid...$57.42 and 19.99 of that was taxes. It was ridiculous. One of my better months but still most months are pretty dang good these days.

But first I'll show you some of my couponing with how much I paid on what. Because a lot of people have the wrong idea about couponing as a whole and what you can get...

At foodlion. After rebates I paid 1.50 on 34.46 in produce/etc. Plus I earned $9 to spend on my next shopping trip. 

Harris Teeter during a Super Doubles Event. I paid 41.63 for 662.94 worth of groceries/supplies

Walmart paid 3.61. Retail 7.48 originally. Not a huge savings but still more than 50% saved.

Publix shopping.  I paid 34.32 for 89.48 in groceries. The vegan meats are usually 4.99 a bag

I'm also a big believer in couponing for a cause. From my monthly budget and couponing I try to have 1/3rd-1/2 of what I buy be for a donation to either the USO or the Food Pantry. This was my Feb donation. It was completely free with couponing.

Want to see more of my trips? Check out my FB album. I haven't added ALL of them yet but I'm working on it ;)

How Do You Save SO Much?!

By following this guideline of...
Matching a coupon
With a store sale
With a rebate

That's how you'll save the most money.

Ex. Say a box of cereal is $4 full price. And you have a $1 coupon.

(ha! I'm using a tea pic for an example of the sale since I couldn't find my cereal pic)

If you buy at full price with just a coupon you'll be paying $3 for the box.
A savings (yay!) but you can do better.

If you wait for a SALE of say 2 boxes for $4 (or 50% off) and use your coupon you'll now be spending $1 for that same box of cereal.

Aaaaand if you're able to match that with a rebate...

That $4 box of cereal became a $1 box of cereal and with a rebate could be a 50cent box of cereal or even completely free.

What Type of Coupons Do You Use?

Newspaper, Printable, Digital

Newspaper Inserts
These are in the Sunday paper. Usually $2-3 per paper.
This will include SmartSource, RedPlum, P&G depending on the week (it varies)

These you print right at home from manufacturer websites, coupon websites and even product newsletters
Stores usually limit the number of these you can use per trip but they're fantastic for saving.

Many grocery stores have apps you can download to your phone (or on your computer) and then you select which coupons you want to use during your trip. It's incredibly easy and takes very little time. I'd really recommend this. As well as signing up for your store's loyalty program. Many stores offer freebies or extra savings for this.

Where Do You Get Coupons?

Yall. Everywhere. There are coupons EVERYWHERE

The Sunday Paper
Product e-Newsletters
Product websites
On actual products in the store (called peelies)
Blinkie/tear pads in the store

Call/message your favorite companies and ask for them if they mail out coupons. Many DO! I'll message and tell them what I like about their product (or if I'm having trouble with one) and more often than not they'll offer to send you coupons for free.
*coupons I received from a vegan company (I was already a customer) and an ice cream company (that I contacted about wanting to try their brand)

There Are Coupons for EVERYTHING

There really are. I have so many people say "well there just aren't coupons for things I buy"

Yes there are. You just have to look for them.

I'm a vegetarian and can find plenty of coupons for vegetarian/vegan items.

There are coupons for...
dairy (milk, yogurt, cream cheese)
bathroom supplies
cleaning supplies
frozen meals, ice creams
pet supplies
baby supplies
Sauces, condiments, spices
Baking supplies
protein bars and mixes

there are coupons for freaking LENTIL chips for crying out loud. lol

Honestly. Unless you eat nothing and never clean or bathe then you'll be able to get coupons. You might not find them for every item every single time but there are so many coupons out there it's ridiculous.

Know Your Store Policy

Coupon Policy
All stores are going to be a little different. But you can coupon at dang near every grocery store chain including places like Whole Foods and Walmart.

But you need to know the store policy before you start. You'll find that on the company website. It'll tell you how many coupons you can use per store trip/or per coupon type (they often have limits), policy on type of coupon, etc.

Coupons that Double/Stack
Some stores allow for doubling/stacking of coupons.

I have one store (Harris Teeter) that doubles coupons up to 99cents daily and up to $2 once a month.

Ex of Kroger sale AND a peelie.
I got the 3.79 dressing for 49c.
I have one store (Kroger and it's affiliates) that offers a 'mega sale' every couple weeks where certain items if you buy in increments of 4 or 5 you get a dollar off each product AND you can use coupons on each. (essentially doubling your savings).

I have one store (Publix) that offers store coupons that can be used with manufacturer coupons for extra savings. This is considered "stacking".

Food Lion offers a Shop & Earn. You can use coupons on the items AND if you buy a certain amount during the month in each department you get money off your next trip. So buy $20 in produce get $4 next time. Buy $30 in the full store get $5 next time, etc. 

Look for Random Promotions!

Many stores also offer random promotions. One recently at my store was buy 4 vegan yogurts get the vegan milk free. But you could use coupons on ALL of them AND there was a rebate for the yogurt. So it went from being 3.86 for the milk and 1.25 for each yogurt to me getting ALL FOUR ITEMS FREE

Sometimes it's buy 2 pastas get 3 pastas free.

Sometimes it's buy 2 of a certain product get a coupon off your next order.

Or instant off savings.
And, yes, we could use a coupon on each of the items. The $10 counted pre coupons. So you could get all of them free or for pennies essentially. 

Never Pay Full Price!
This has basically become my rule. Every once in a while I have to pay full price but my goal is never. And this is accomplished by stock piling. You don't have to be ridiculous about it and let it take over your home, though.

The basic idea is to buy when there's a sale/coupon/rebate and the price will NOT get lower. It'll take you time to figure this out for your particular store and items. For me I know the items I WILL use constantly and make sure that when an awesome sale hits I buy as many as I can use (keeping an eye on expiration dates). 

For this cabinet I spent maybe $25 for everything shown. Actually probably a good bit less but just being very conservative on that.

I'll use ketchup CONSTANTLY and same with mustard so if I can buy 10 bottles at 14 cents each one week...I'm going to buy those 10 bottles. And not run out in a month and need to buy one at full price for 2.50. Sales cycle every six-ish weeks. But that doesn't mean there will be a coupon at that time. So if it's a rock bottom price (14 cents for name brand mustard...BUY IT) lol

Same goes for laundry and cleaning supplies. I have a ton of detergent but I paid at most 1.99 a bottle. Many of them were actually free after sale/coupon/rebate. Tide pods I wouldn't pay more than 99cents a pack, for example, anymore because I can get that price every couple months now that I know my sale cycle/coupon cycle.

Honestly if you come at me in a positive way I am more than happy to answer any questions you have. The grocery stores I have available to me and know about are Lowes, Food Lion, Publix, Kroger (and affiliates) and Harris Teeter.

I'd also suggest joining FB groups that are for couponers. Enter Coupons and Store name in the search and it will pull up a ton.

I recommend Jessie who does Couponing at (insert store). She's an awesome lady. She ALSO makes it easy for you. Each Tuesday she matches all store sales to available coupons and rebates and tells you what items will be free/cheap/etc. It makes it super easy. Her main website is

If You Have Questions!

There's endless info about coupons and I could go on and on but if you have specific questions...let me know. I can answer them in the comments and do future coupon posts.

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