Couponing – Part 1

Couponing – Part 1

A continuation of our money talk – let’s talk about the grocery store! This will be part one of what might be a few couponing talks. Sorry today is long!

As Americans we spend about 10% of our income on food. While most of us are trying to get our grocery bills DOWN, keep in mind that many people in other countries spend 50+% of their income on food. Bottom line – be THANKFUL for how much less expensive our groceries are than in other countries. On to saving more…

Principles of couponing…
– Most grocery stores have sales that circulate. For example, Kroger puts its cheese on buy 1 get 1 free every few weeks.
– So, following this principle, I would want to purchase, for example, cheese when it’s on sale and only when it’s on sale.
– Furthermore, if, say, I had a coupon for Kroger cheese, I want to use my coupon while it’s on sale to further increase my savings.
– To take this a step further, this is where the principle of stocking up comes in handy. If I know that my family goes through about 4 bags of cheese per month and I know that Kroger puts their cheese on B1G1 (buy one get one) once per month (it may be different from this, I’m not sure) I know I need to purchase enough cheese to get me from this week to the next time it runs on sale (not just enough to “get by” today) – so I would need to go home with 4 bags of cheese.
– Now, an aside note I should give you – “Box Stores” (A.K.A. Walmart) do not necessarily do this circulating sale stuff. So, if you shop at Walmart in general the price you see is the price that will be there next week. If you haven’t, I encourage you to be willing to at least try couponing at other stores as well – I’ve come out pretty good switching, I just shop sales!

OK, so let’s get this down practically – how do I know what’s on sale and when to use my coupons?

More principles…
– You will NEVER use all the coupons. If, say, I purchase a Sunday paper and get the coupons I may only use 3-10 per week max. So, just because you have a coupon for something doesn’t mean you need that thing! Unless the item is going to be FREE I generally do not buy something I would not normally purchase already.
– You can get coupons in the following places: The Sunday Papers (paper coupon inserts (P&G Saver, Red Plum, Smart Market, etc) generally cycle through the papers on Sundays); Website Coupons (Shortcuts Online, Shopping Bargains, and MANY other sites offer online printable coupons); E-Coupons (Shortcuts Online, Store Websites like Kroger.com, etc) where you load coupons to your card; & Other sources – this would include, say, coupons that print with your receipts, coupons from manufacturers and their websites, etc.

With coupons, you save the amount of money specified for a specific item. Here are some helpful additional tips:
– Paper & E-coupons can be used together (last week I bought some Truvia sweetener – I had both a paper coupon for $1 off and a coupon for $1 off loaded onto my Kroger card – both applied and I saved $2!)
– Some stores will double paper coupons. I think Kroger doubles to $0.50. So, if I have a $0.40 off coupon its value (which gets doubled) is worth more than a $0.60 coupon which is not doubled.
– If something goes on a Buy 1 Get 1 Free (B1G1) Sale and you have a B1G1 coupon you get both items free!
– If a coupon goes on a B1G1 sale and you have a $$ off coupon, it still applies (for example – last week Kroger had sundown vitamins on B1G1 free plus I had a coupon for $3 off. That means I could get the most expensive one I pick for $3 off plus the lesser priced vitamin for free!)
– Sometimes Kroger will run a Mega Sale (other stores may do the same). If there’s a mega sale, you get, say, $5 back if you purchase, say, 10 of the items on the listed sale. If you purchase 9, you DON’T get your $5! If you purchase 14, you only get 1 $5 back. If you purchase 20, you get $10 back. So, it’s important to keep track.

So, I’ll give a few scenarios…
– The other day, I went to Kroger and saw that they had vegetables, as well as other things, on their Mega Sale. I did not need frozen pizza, lean cuisines, or any of the other items listed on the mega sale – I just wanted the frozen vegetables and 1 bag of meatballs that were also on the mega sale. So, here’s what I did… I found some e-coupons for the vegetables that were on sale and loaded them to my Kroger card. Then, I found some paper coupons for the vegetables that were on sale and printed them off the computer. Lastly, I bought 9 bags of vegetables and 1 bag of meatballs to get my $5 off. When I checked out, both coupons plus the mega sale applied, bringing down my total.
– Another example… My friend Natalie went to Kroger a couple of months ago. She found they had a whole wheat pasta on the mega sale and also yogurt. I think Natalie said that the pasta was $1 with the mega sale and then she had a $0.50 paper coupon (which was doubled) PLUS a $0.50 e-coupon so she MADE $0.50 on each box of pasta. She picked up 8 boxes of pasta and then went and got 2 cartons of yogurt (the big cartons). I think she had a coupon of some kind for the yogurt. She got to the counter and paid $0.17 for the entire order – 8 boxes of whole wheat pasta plus 2 large cartons of yogurt! Now, there’s a reason to coupon!

A few notes…
– I used Kroger in my examples because I shop at Kroger which works for me. Don’t feel as though you must use Kroger specifically – you can find great deals at all stores
– Now, you could grab a sales circular from your favorite store (I go to Kroger’s website and look at theirs online) and one-by-one match up sales of the week with coupons you have. But that’s alot of trouble and time so watch for next week’s newsletter on helpful websites and application tips for this info!
– Thanks to the following for being my insight, advise, and inspiration… Tanya, Terrie, Susan, Mom, Natalie, and all my other great money-saving friends! ๐Ÿ™‚