Friday, April 9, 2010

Coupons Part II

Welcome back Guest Blogger Amanda! Amanda saves 60-90% every time she shops. We are on week 2 of learning to coupon. Enjoy and THANK YOU AMANDA!!! You are a huge blessing to so many of us moms trying to be good stewards of our money.

Well, I'm back for week 2 of this couponing bonanza series! I hope everyone has had a chance to review the first post and get started. By now you should have made a budget, made a buy-price list, started menu planning, picked up the inserts out of the Sunday paper, checked out a few coupon blogs, and printed a few coupons online. If you have...then you're ready for this week's new stuff. If you haven't, that's ok too! The beauty is, you can pick this up at any time.

Now that you've got a few coupons in your hand, you're probably trying to set-up some sort of organization system. It is very important to ORGANIZE YOUR COUPONS. If you don't, you'll have some in your purse, some in the car, some in your pocket, some still inside the newspaper, and some in a drawer and you'll decide it's just not worth it and throw your hands up and say "fuhgetaboutit".

There are a few different ways to organize your coupons, but I'll just tell you the way I do it. Once you really get into this, you may come up with a way that is much better for you, but this is what works best for me...



When I get the inserts out of my Sunday paper (I buy 4 each week) I date the front page with a black marker and I put it away...I do NOT clip coupons until I need them. I bought 4 plastic paper trays and have them stacked up on my desk in our home office. In one tray, I have my Smart Source inserts (SS is how it's abbreviate online), in another tray I have my Proctor & Gamble inserts (PG), in another tray I have my Red Plum inserts (RP) and in the top one I have my All You Magazines, Weekly Kroger coupon booklets that come in the mail, and monthly Walgreen's store coupon booklet. I highly recommend getting a subscription to All You. They are sold at Wal-Mart exclusively, but you can get a subscription online. They vary in price depending on which deals they have going on, but I got a 2-year subscription for $14 a few months ago. Each magazine has over $80 in coupons and there is an alphabetical index in the front of the magazine telling you were to find all of the coupons. If you are not receiving weekly coupon booklets in the mail from Kroger, you need to go to www.kroger.com and register there. Not only will they send you "themed" coupon booklets (game-day, grilling out, breakfast, cinco de mayo, etc.) but once a month they'll send you personalized coupons based on what you normally buy...and they'll usually include a coupon for something free. These
rock!

I do carry an index box with me to the store, but this only has my most common food purchases and the coupons I have printed off of the internet inside because I make my list before I leave the house, grab the coupons I need, and then head to the store (more on this later)...and this really prevents me from impulse buying because I can't stand to buy something I don't have a coupon for. Because I actively read my blogs, I know exactly what's on sale and even what is on close-out. The only surprises I see at the store each week is what is on clearance over by the U-Scan area. If I find a particularly good deal and it's something I know I want to buy multiples of, I'll just run back home after I check out, grab my coupons and come back. Now, the thought of this might drive you CRAZY. If that is the case, feel free to cut all your coupons and keep them in your box, envelopes, or binder...whatever works best for you. The key here is to ORGANIZE them in some way.
I clean out expired coupons the first of every month since so many coupons expire on the last day of the month. This keeps my box from getting to fat and heavy.

Now that your paper coupons are organized, it's time to LEARN ABOUT ELECTRONIC COUPONS or e-coupons. I only discovered these babies a few months ago and they make me very happy!! These are coupons that are loaded to your Kroger Plus card and come off automatically when you buy the qualifying product...but here's the beauty of this....you can STACK a paper coupon with the e-coupon!!!! This means that if you have an e-coupon for $.40 off of Betty Crocker potatoes, you can stack a paper coupon for $.40 off of Betty Crocker potatoes (which Kroger will DOUBLE to $.80 off) and you will end up saving $1.20 on one box of Betty Crocker potatoes. You will want to go to www.shortcuts.com and www.cellfire.com and www.kroger.com to load these coupons to your card. You will have to set-up accounts for these, but it will take less than a minute to add your Kroger card. Cellfire loads their new coupons on the 9th and 23rd of each month and Shortcuts and Kroger do it whenever they feel like. The good news is...the coupon blogs will tell you when new coupons have been loaded, so if you're reading them regularly, you'll know when to go load new coupons. The coupons will expire (usually 1-2 months out) and sometimes you'll get multiples of a certain item, so it's possible you'll have 2-3 coupons for the same item on the card. This is good. It's important to note: Each e-coupon is good for one item one time. Once you use it on that one item, the coupon will disappear from your card. The good news is, you may have 2 potato coupons on Cellfire, 2 on Shortcuts, and 2 on Kroger.com. That means you can get 6 boxes of potatoes if they're on special and save 6 times! It's also important to note that these e-coupons don't stack on top of each other. For example, if you buy 1 box of potatoes and have 6 e-coupons, all 6 e-coupons will NOT come off...just one coupon per item. This is just another way to enhance your savings. And you will notice a pattern with these coupons...they are almost exclusively General Mills products (Betty Crocker, Yoplait, Pillsbury, Old El Paso, etc.)

UTILIZE THE CATALINA PROMOTIONS that Kroger offers. This is one of Kroger's little secrets, and I don't know many people that use this, let alone even know about it. Did you know that Kroger runs promotions like: If you buy 3 boxes of Kellogg's cereal, we'll give you $2 off your next order? Some of these are marked with a red and white tag next to the item, but most of them they're not. You will want to regularly check http://mommysnacks.net/snack-summary/kroger-catalina-offers/ and http://www.hotcouponworld.com/forums/kroger-catalina-deals-post-them-here/ to see the current Catalina promotions. This is great because they are actually PAYING you to buy their products...on top of this, you can roll this "coupon" to buy more of their products. For example, on the Betty Crocker Potato deal, they are paying you $3 when you buy 3 pouches of potatoes at $1.15 each. My 3 e-coupons will knock them down to $.75 each and then I will use 3 $.40 off paper coupons (doubled to $.80) and MAKE $.15 for buying these three bags. On top of this, they'll spit out a coupon for save $3 off your next order. I can turn right around and buy 3 more bags of potatoes (using no coupons at all if I don't have any) and spend $.45 on three bags of potatoes and it will spit out ANOTHER $3 coupon. This can go on and on forever. When I find a good deal like this, instead of using the $3 to buy more, I'll use my coupons and pay next to nothing for it and hoard the $3 coupons off my next order. Once I get to about $30 off or so, I'll take them in and buy a bunch of meat for free!

Next up....Change the way you MAKE YOUR GROCERY LIST. In the past, you've probably kept a running list during the week, just adding things as you ran out. Then, once you had thought about your needs for the week, you added those items as well. Then, while at the store, you threw in a few extra items that appealed to you as well. I used to shop that way, but now I shop a little differently. I have an excel spreadsheet for my grocery list and it looks like this:




As items come up that I need (milk, bread, sugar, etc.) I check the ads to see if anyone is running a special on that item. If not, I will usually pick it up at Kroger and I'll find any coupons I can for it, and list it in the proper category. Then, once my blogs come out with the weekly sales, I spend a lot of time looking it over to see which sales appeal to me. The blogs will have coupon match-ups with each item that has an available coupon and they'll tell you where to find it. For example, if Bryan Hot Dogs are on sale for $2, they'll tell you that you can find a coupon for Bryan Hot Dogs in the 3/28 RP for $1 off of 2 items. This keeps me from searching through tons of coupons. I just go straight to it, clip it out, and put it with my pile that will be going to the store with me. While going over the weekly ad, I will also print out my shortcuts, Kroger.com, and Cellfire accounts so that I can see what coupons are being held on my Kroger card. I also go to the Catalina lists to see the "hidden" deals that Kroger doesn't go out of their way to advertise. This way I can see all of my savings and I know what to expect to spend.


I usually try to spend no more than $50 on "need items", $20 on "stockpile" items, and $10 on toiletries/household items per week. This keeps my weekly spending around $80. After I see what I will be getting, I review what I have and then I sit down and make my menu plan for the next week. So I'm making my plan based on what I have, not on what I want.

Hopefully, this post will help you get to the second level of couponing...going beyond cutting a few coupons out of the paper. If you plan and get yourself into the habit of committing to saving, you will be able to: Organize your coupons and keep them organized, learn about and utilize e-coupons, learn about and utilize catalina promotions, and change the way you make your grocery list. I know this seems like a lot to do, but I always tell people...there's a lot to do in the beginning of this process, but the maintenance is a piece of cake! You will be so glad you did this once you get started!

I was going to post about keeping track of your savings in this week's post, but I think I'll save that for next week's post. At that time, I'll also be posting about buying coupons on EBAY, free samples, shopping at Walgreen's and shopping at Target.

1 comment:

Leslie, the Home Maker said...

Wow!
You really take your job seriously ;)
(I do too!)
On my daughter's college campus, the Sunday papers are free.
I usually pick her up on Fridays (she lives on campus here in town) and drop her back off at the school on Sunday night. The newspapers that are leftovers are recycled (with the coupons still inside them! YIKES!) So, I go around and collect the leftovers for my friends that use the coupons.
Fortunately, we have an Amazing Savings (I posted about it) here in town, and I no longer need to cut coupons, as the prices are cheaper than any coupon deal wold be (this saves me time).
I loved your post, it reminded me of why I bargain shop.
To be resourceful and a good steward of my and my hard-working hubby's $.
Thank you!
Also, thank you for stopping by my blog home yesterday and for your sweet thoughts!
Come back any time!
Blessings to you as you make your home!!