Tuesday, April 3, 2012

the big deal

So what's the big deal about couponing, you ask?  Well let me tell you...

It's a big enough deal to make Wednesday mornings a highlight of my week.  If you'd told me as a senior in high school that a highlight of my week in 13 years would be going couponing at the grocery store, I may have sunk into a deep dark depression.  BUT - here I am now, living in full blown mommydom, and I love couponing.  I save money, have some alone time (I go alone bc the last time I took the kids we entered with 6 shoes between the three of us and left with only 4 - not a successful trip!), and I walk away with a feeling of accomplishment.  Tell me what's not to love about that?

It has taken me a while to be able to say I feel like I've mastered the art of couponing, and if I'm telling the whole truth, I fell off the wagon for about 9 months.  (Oops)  See, when I first started I was trying to be one of the coupon divas or The Krazy Coupon Lady...and although they are rocking the coupon world...that's just not me.  (I am feeding a family of four not an army.  I'm also only bathing a family four - I can't figure out why they need 58 bottles of body wash, even if they were 25 cents each?)  When I was starting out I thought I needed to buy EVERYTHING that was a good deal.  Yes, I got some amazing deals, but I couldn't figure out why I wasn't saving any money.  Turns out, I wasn't saving money because I was buying WAY more stuff!  (Funny how that works, huh?)

My system these days isn't a large scale operation, but it's working great for us.  Here's my plan:
Sunday - Buy a Sunday paper, preferably from the largest town around (if you have a large family you may want to buy two.)

Sometime between Sunday and Wednesday morning - I hunt for the coupon flyers in the massive Sunday paper (they like to hide) and go through them.  I ONLY cut out the coupons of items that I would normally buy for my family. (This is the key to not buying way more stuff than you need and therefore not saving any money)  I leave the rest in the flyer and throw them away.  I take the coupons I've cut out and file them in my notebook (I have a three ring binder with baseball card sleeves.  I also have different sections tabbed off such as: meat, dairy, baby, etc.  However, I've seen so many different filing systems being used by fellow couponers...I'd encourage you to do whatever will be easiest for you to maintain and quickly find your coupons while you're at the store)

Wednesday morning - I get up as early as I can make myself (my bed and I have a tight relationship and are not easily parted) and I check my email for the grocery store ad that was sent to me during the night.  The ad tells me what things are on sale.  I then match up what's on sale to my coupons, giving me the most bang for my buck.  (Most stores run their sales from Wednesday to Tuesday of the next week.)  After making sure I have my list made out I hit the store.  In my area it's imperative that you go to the store asap because all of those great deals will snagged (you know all that early bird stuff...) and you never know when the store will restock.

Other free tidbits because I love ya:

  • My preferred grocery store is Harris Teeter, and I'm in no way paid to say that. (wish I was though...anybody out there have any pull with HT advertising???)  They not only have great sales, but they have one of the most pleasant store atmospheres.  That may sound crazy, but after wrestling two preschoolers all week, a calm and peaceful atmosphere pretty much rocks my world.  PLUS, they have complimentary coffee, AND.....wait for it....a cup holder built in to the cart.  Oh yes.  (that's why we mothers all love minivans, because they have a bazillion cupholders....I'm convinced heaven will have more cupholders than a minivan - watch out!)  In the beginning I tried to go to several different stores to coupon, but that boggled my simple mind and quickly overwhelmed me.  Now I only go to HT to coupon and then go to a cheap store (Wal-Mart, Aldi, etc) to buy whatever else I need for the week that I didn't find couponing.  

  • Whatever store you choose, make sure you sign up for their emails and preferred member card (both are free).  These both get you extra deals and/or coupons.  For example, at HT they have electronic coupons that you can save to your preferred member card.  Not only that, but you are allowed to use one paper coupon AND that electronic coupon for the same item...and then if the item is on sale...it's enough to have a couponer hyperventilating.

  • Before you go for your first trip find out about their coupon policy.  HT will double all coupons whose value is 99 cents or less.  That's pretty awesome.  (BUT - some stinky coupon makers put a "Do Not Double" label on their coupon, and, yep, you guessed it - those won't double.)  Find out how many coupons you can use on the same item and how many coupons you can use a day (20 at HT).  It's also sometimes helpful to find out if they do rain checks for items that are out of stock.  This is a price guarantee that you can come in next time and get that item for the sale price that you missed because they were out of stock.  Usually these do not expire - they're pretty much like gold :o)

Mmmmm...I'm gonna go to bed now and dream of my amazing couponing trip tomorrow morning.  Maybe I'll even follow up and show you what I got...(I know you're hoping that you could only be so lucky...)

What about you - how do you feel about couponing?  Fellow couponers - what did I leave out that newbies need to know?


  1. Check out -- www.southernsavers.com -- it does all the matching for you for the good stores. Might save you some time and she posts the ads ahead of time so you don't have to do it Wednesday morning!

    Love me some good cheap stuff-- but only if it is something I would buy to begin with!
    Nice job!

  2. We need to get together and share coupon ideas.
    Don't forget HT Saturday specials and the Friday email specials.
    BJs is a great place to buy in bulk and they accept all coupons too.

  3. Very informative! I've tried to get into couponing...but sometimes the major coupon mom websites kind of make my head want to explode, they have great information but it can be a little overwhelming...you did a good job of simplifying it! I don't have kids, but I'm with you on HT - even if it is a little pricier than say WalMart, the better atmosphere makes it completely worth it!