Monday, August 20, 2012

Coupons...Are They Worth the Trouble?

I have been asked several times if I clip coupons, and if it is worth while.  My answer is yes, and yes!  I was never a coupon fanatic until I had my son and became a stay at home mom.  Now, I consider clipping to be a part of my job, and I have saved a considerable amount of money with my efforts.

 It's not a completely painless process, I spend about 10 minutes clipping and filing each week, and another 5-10 minutes going through the coupons before heading to the store.  But, I save on average $15-$20 per week on groceries. My personal best is a whopping $45.60 saved, but that's not the norm!  Note that I did not say I get all of my groceries for free, this is not "Extreme Couponing"...this is being thrifty with style!

So here is how I do it.

I started by getting a small accordion file to organize my coupons.  I keep this in the car, that way I'm less likely to forget it! 

I basically have 4 main categories:  General Food Items, Toiletries, Cleaning Supplies, and Baby.  I added a couple of store specific coupon slots, for coupons you can only use in a specific store, and one for Dept stores as well.

There are an infinite number of places where you can get coupons, but to keep things simple for myself, I usually stick to cutting coupons from the newspaper inserts which appear on Sundays and Wednesdays.  Occasionally, I will also print online coupons from store specific websites, or from P&G as well.

So it's all pretty cut and dried, nothing too complicated, but I do have 3 big tips:

The first, is to always read your coupon, do not just rely on the picture to determine what the coupon is for.  Case in point, in the picture above, the coupon has a Target brand loaf of bread picture (not too clearly, sorry) and you might assume that that is the only kind of bread that qualifies.  But on closer inspection, you see that it is actually a coupon for ANY brand of bread! 

The second tip is to check the top of your coupon.  Just because it has a specific store's logo on it doesn't mean that that is the only store it can be used in.

Look at the very top of the coupon, if it says manufacturer coupon that means you should be able to use it anywhere!  Tricky tricky, I know! 

And the third and final tip is to watch for double coupons.  For example, when a specific store offers a coupon for something, they will usually also accept a regular manufacturer coupon as well.  For example, in the picture above one of the coupons was issued through a specific store and the other wasn't so both can be used on one item! 

So grab your personal shoppers and go get thrifty!

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