I am sure by now many of us have seen shows on television with people saving ridiculous amounts of money using coupons. Well I am here to tell you it is not a lie. Just the other day I saved 98% by using coupons and that 2% was the tax. Now this is not the norm for me, I usually sit around the 75% mark with tax. That means my $400 per month budget turns into $1600 worth of supplies. You have to look at coupons as money; every $1.00 coupon is like having $1.00 in cash.
Do I spend 40 hours a week clipping coupons, comparing sales, scouting the stores? Heck no.
First I have to get the coupons. Where I live there are coupons available on Sunday and Wednesday. Most of the time they are the same coupons. Occasionally I get something extra special in one of them. Like free Dr. Pepper 10, or free protein bars, or $1.00 off of an item the store usually sells for $0.99. My neighbors all seem to have too much money because they just give me the coupon inserts. Sometimes I can pick up 20 of them in a single day just from the block I live on. Of course I could buy the papers on those days, but why if I can get them free?
After I clip them I organize them into categories like dairy, or fridge non- dairy, canned, frozen, etc. This is important because when you have 2000 coupons it is hard to keep track of what you have if it is not organized in some manner. I further put all the same coupons together then put them in the envelope by expiration date starting with the one that will expire first so I see it every time I open the envelope. There are also a bunch of coupon clipping services out there that will clip them for you and mail them for a portion of the coupons value, usually around 10%.
Be sure and read the coupon carefully. There are some that say you must buy 4 of an item to get the deal. Some say it must be a certain size or quantity in the package. Some are limited to 1 coupon per item per transaction, the stores love this one.
Wednesday is when I get the local sales flyers. My local store actually runs their sales for 8 days instead of 7days so the sales will overlap which is very nice. After comparing the deals for all the sores around me I am ready to make a list.
The list is pretty important because for those of you who are impulse buyers this will help keep you on track. The list also helps you to optimize savings and to double check at the register. When you make your list ask yourself; do I use it now, will I use it, or can I trade it to somebody else? Take diapers for example; none of my kids wear them but at some point they will probably have their own. If I can get them for free now that will save a ton of cash in the future. It is not like they will go bad.
Store coupon policies, ugh! What a pain they have become since these shows came out. One store I shop only lets me use 2 of the same coupon per transaction up to 20 coupons per day. Now because I am polite, I ask if I can do 10 transactions of 2 coupons all at once. They always say yes, but your store may say no. Well that is ok just buy your 2 items put them in the car and do it again. One store said I had to leave the premises before I could do it again so I drive out the parking lot exit and come in the next entrance. I did what they required and after they laughed about it for a while they were cool. Recently one of the larger chains changed their coupon policy by cutting the quantity of coupons I can use in half. Let me tell you finding this out when you are at the checkout is a real pain. Be sure and know your stores policies, get a copy and take it with you every time.
One of the mistakes I used to make when I first started couponing was thinking “oh I have a coupon it must be a deal so I will buy it”. Did not take me long to get over that. My goal is to get stuff for free or as close to free as possible.
Some people will say that we are some sort of freak or evil because we are stocking up. To me it is an insurance policy. What if you were in a wreck then lost your job? I had this happen to me and if I had not been stocking up for most of my adult life we would have been in a bad spot. Most of the people I know would run out of food completely in 7 – 10 days if they could not go shopping. The people I know that stock up would be good for 1–3 years without shopping. Ask yourself which one you want to be.
Another thing I often hear is that the food will go bad. I just shake my head at all the sheep that believe the expiration date on the can is the last day it can be eaten, such foolishness. The few people that I have let see my stock are often amazed at the quantity and then the age of the cans. The canned goods I buy today will most likely not be eaten for another 5–6 years. Are there foods that will go bad that make buying massive quantities a waste? Of course there are; oils or anything with a high oil content, such as walnuts will eventually go rancid. Rice, pasta, grains all need to be packaged in bug and rodent proof containers. It would sure suck to lose all that stock to vermin. Everything must be stored in a cool, dry, dark place for optimum storage life.
Start slow and work your way up or just go nuts with couponing. It is possible to build a full year supply of goods in 3 months without any real effort. Imagine a 4 year supply in 1 year of shopping and the only thing you did was add coupons to your life without increasing the amount of money you actually spend. Or spend 25% of what you used to and use the rest for other preparation items such as; medications, ammunition, firearms, a good knife, a bug out vehicle, or just save it.
Here are a few coupon clipping services that I have used: