"Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart." -Winnie the Pooh

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Coupon Clipping

Not your typical blog entry.  I've gotten a lot of questions recently on my coupon saving.  If you are interested, read on.  If not, disregard!

I keep referring to Jenny Loving for teaching me how to coupon shop.  Basically, I ask her all of my questions!  She's been doing it awhile and is really good at it.  I'm getting there.  

When I first started out, Jenny told me two things. 1.) Learn to use Kroger and CVS and 2.) Kroger doubles coupons everyday.  EVERYDAY.  Remember that.  For those of you who don't have a Kroger where you live, stop reading. I honestly don't know how to help you.  David and I agreed that it made sense for me to master one place before I moved on to another.  So we started with Kroger.  I'm getting to the point where I may try to start learning CVS. Which means I'll have a billion new questions for Jenny.  That's okay. I know her and she'll answer all of them for me! :)

First, I found a website called Coupon Mom.  If you go there, she has videos teaching you how to shop.  Now, she can get like $120 of groceries for like $10.  But let's be serious.  If you did that, you would live on awful things.  You'd never eat a healthy thing in your life.  Most of the things there are coupons for are not fresh items like fruits and veggies.  So...I don't know that I'll ever be THAT good at the expense of our health.  Also, you need to use a little common sense.  Should you buy 18 packs of crescent rolls just because you can? No.  If you eat crescent rolls for every meal?  Maybe.  Coupon Mom has a section called Grocery Deals By State.  I pick Mississippi and I pick Kroger. She will tell you what is on sale and how much you can save.  I started out using this.  I don't really anymore.  She was definitely a lot of help to get started.

She also has a tab called Printable Coupons.  You just pick the ones you want and print them off.  Make sure you go to all the sites.  When you print them, you usually have one month to use them.

A few things that you need to know that you didn't know you needed to know:

1. Always shop sales.  Use your coupon to get it even more off of sale items.  I bought 12 boxes of cereal from Kroger this week because they don't go bad.  After the sale Kroger had and my coupons, I calculated that I spent $0.83 a box.  Of the 12 boxes, I bought Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Honey Nut Cheerios, Apple Cinnamon Cheerios, Reeses Puffs, and Lucky Charms.  All brand names.

2. Kroger doubles coupons everyday if they are equal to or less than $0.60.  That means a $0.60 coupon is better than a $0.75 coupon.  A $0.60 coupon doubles to $1.20.  A $0.75 coupon stays at $0.75.  The coupons you print offline will say Do Not Double or Triple at the top.  Kroger will still double them. So don't let that deter you.

3. You can go to Cellfire and Shortcuts and add coupons to your Kroger card.  You can use these in addition to your paper coupons.  In other words, if I have a paper coupon for $0.50 for Cinnamon Toast Crunch, it doubles to $1.00. Then if I have a $0.50 coupon online for Cinnamon Toast Crunch, I can use it as well, but the online coupon will not be doubled.  That totals to $1.50 in savings.  When I went to Kroger the other day, Cinnamon Toast Crunch was $1.49 per box.  That means I got it for free (duh).  Rule: You can use one paper coupon and one online coupon per item. 

4. Kroger has multiple coupons on their website you can add to your Kroger card.  Then you don't have to actually have a paper coupon.  However, you cannot use a Kroger coupon and paper coupon.  I think Kroger's reasoning is that they are already doubling your coupon so they won't give you both.  However, this is good for things that you don't have paper coupons for.

5. Watch the weekly flyer on Kroger.com, but know that Kroger puts things other than just what is in the flyer.  Best way to shop is to walk through the store aisle by aisle.  Sales change on Wednesdays.

6. Take a calculator with you to the store. You're going to be there awhile.  Allow an hour and a half. More if it's your first time.

7. After about six weeks of coupon clipping and checking the flyer, you'll notice a pattern.  Sales rotate about every 3-6 weeks.  So if you have room to stockpile, do it. If not, wait till it's on sale again if you can. 

8. As my mom says, I have time to do this at this point in my life. It's very worth it to my family.  BUT it is time consuming, and I won't always have time to do it.  David usually helps me clip coupons all at once, and I've gotten to a point where I know what coupons I have and I don't have to make a shopping list with what coupons I have anymore.  I know what a good deal is because I've been watching long enough.  If you don't have time to do it, don't do it. Don't let it frustrate you.  As a friend told me this week, her "time is more important than the money [she'd] save."  So true. 

9. Use your common sense. 

Hope I've shed some light on how I can save that much.  And for those of you wondering what I bought last week when I got $120 of groceries for $52, this is what I bought. 

12 boxes of name brand cereal
6 small bags of Fritos Scoops (for our Captain Rodney's obsession)
3 packs of cheese (2 cup bags)
7 boxes of Tostinos Pizza Rolls (15 count) for David's lunches
1 pack of Pillsbury break and bake cookies
6 Yoplait yogurt cups
4 packs of crescent rolls
2 packs Pillsbury sweet moments (The ones with the cheesy commercials. They were $0.50 each and make a great sweet snack)
2 place settings of fall dishes (David's mom got us 4, they were 10 for $10 so I bought 2 more)

Now mind you, this isn't the healthiest list. I was simply trying to use my coupons that would expire October 31st. But, breakfast is covered for the month of November, Captain Rodney's is covered for the rest of football season, David's lunches are covered for at least half of November, and we use crescent rolls in recipes not as bread with meals.  Plus two place settings of fall dishes! All for $52. 

Coupons are worth it if you have the time!  Feel free to ask questions. If I don't know the answer, maybe Jenny will!

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