Couponing Basics

piggy bank

I have memories of my frugal mother with her elaborate filing system for coupons.  As a stay-at-home mother, she needed to make ends meet.  I thought we were poor. Anything purchased had to be on sale. My brother and I never received anything during the year unless it was a birthday, Easter, or Christmas. Anything else we wanted needed to be purchased by saving enough money through our allowance. My mom pinched a penny until it screamed! I am glad she did. It taught me to value a dollar. Recently, have I adapted some couponing efforts myself. About a year ago now, I began to explore couponing as a hobby. I look at it as a game, because it is, if you play wisely. Although time consuming, rush at the end, when you walk away with two bags of goodies and paid $.50 is awesome!

It can be done, because I have done it. My stock pile mostly consists of disposables like personal care items and household products. The purpose of the stock pile is to purchase items when it is on sale.  The items are stored until needed and instead of purchasing the needed items when they may not be on sale, you shop at your own store....the stockpile. So far it has worked well for our family of five.  With college age daughters, they love to browse the stock pile for goodies.  I have also purchased baby care items when the price is right to use for baby showers.  Coupons for toys appear from time to time, and if there is a sale and I have a coupon, I'll pick it up.  Birthday presents already purchased. This past Christmas I was able to purchase several toys and games with combined sales and coupons to donate to the local toy drive for less fortunate children. Because I had coupons and took advantage of the sale, I was able to purchase more with the money. My husband changes the oil in our vehicles. Every now and again coupons for automotive items appear.  I remember going, with my husband, to one of the discount box stores to purchase oil using the coupons.  Even he got excited about the savings.

Now it doesn't make sense to purchase items you won't use just because they are on sale. Saving money is purchasing items you will USE that are on SALE and you have a COUPON. Sale items are cycled through about every three months, so if you don’t have many coupons in the beginning, don’t worry. Begin by collecting coupons in the weekend newspapers. Depending on the regions, it could be the Saturday or Sunday that have the most coupons. Typically, papers like the Washington Post will have the most coupon inserts compared to a smaller-town paper. Purchase at least two papers. Many times sales are buy one get one free or 50% off. Believe it or not, you can use a coupon on a free item….crazy, right? I highly recommend printing coupons that are found on-line. Coupons.com and Redplum.com are two sources to use in printing coupons. I would also advise purchasing an inexpensive laser printer. I got a Brother laser printer for less than $100. The ink cartilage savings off-set the cost of the laser printer, and I use this printer a lot. I also use recycled paper. If someone in the family prints something and needs to re-print, I don’t throw away the paper. I turn it around than print coupons on the blank side. Stores don’t care if there is something on the back. The bar code is all they need to scan.

Organize the coupons according to what you need. I used 4x6 index cards as dividers and sorted them accordingly and filed the coupons into each category. There is some time in the start up. I spent a few weeks getting organized and learning about the way each store works with coupons. There are ladies out there that make saving money their full time job! Here are a few to check out:

http://thekrazycouponlady.com/

http://yeswecoupon.com/

Health-bite: saving money through coupons and have fun!