Sunday, July 3, 2011
Coupons = Savings...Should They be Treated as MONEY IN YOUR POCKET?
COUPONS, COUPONS, COUPONS...every where you look and if you listen to a lot of conversations they are all about coupons. In today's economic times everyone is looking for a way to save money. Every little bit helps, right? With TLC's Extreme Couponing,
all the talk is about coupons. Clipping coupons is a hobby I started in January as way to try to save some money going out of my house. Grocery shopping was something I hated! I hated it with a passion. It was disheartening for me to leave the store with $100 - $150 a week being spent on groceries and very few items in my cart. It was plain depressing. The cost of groceries and gas are steadily increasing and my income wasn't keeping up with that increase. We had to do something different just to survive! Not only survival for ourselves, but I have a heart that deeply desires to help others. How can I help others if we are barely able to survive? My answer....COUPONS!
A friend of mine introduced me to coupons. I had tried using coupons before over the years and I truly didn't see any real savings. Why would I think this time would be any different? This time was different because I had someone teaching me the right way to utilize my coupons for the maximum savings! Now, I am NO extreme couponer. I will be the 1st to admit that. I do NOT know all of the secrets of couponing. I am learning as I go. What I do know is that since January I have saved $1200 on my grocery bill!!
First I learned how to get more products for basically the same amount of money I was spending. I did this for quite a while. I went from wondering if my groceries would last to the next pay check to having things in the freezer all the time. I went from wondering how I could help someone in need to helping several people who were on fixed incomes or facing layoff. I do not think I will ever have extra rooms filled with overflow items from stockpiling because each time I save, I look for someone to help.
I am not faulting or putting down anyone with extra rooms. I believe they also help others from their stockpile and they can give more in bulk than I could.
How do you do it? How do you save so much money on coupons? The first thing I had to do was change my thought process. I could not go into the grocery store with the same thought pattern. I had to learn to shop differently. Before couponing, I would look into the cabinets and decide what we needed. I would attempt to plan my meals for the next week and go to the store. There were times I spent more than I planned just to get what I needed. That was depressing and took money from somewhere else it needed to go.
My friend called me and began teaching me. She told me about some sights to go to in order to print coupons such as: WeUseCoupons, Koupon Klipper, and Southern Savers. There is also Coupons.com.
Visiting these sites allowed me to print coupons and start learning ways to save money. Each of these sites have very valuable tips on couponing. A couple of things I strongly encourage if you are beginning to coupon is to KNOW YOUR STORE'S COUPON POLICY and AVOID COUPON FRAUD. If you are reading tips and something feels unethical, don't do it. Listen to your conscience. Most of the sites I have come across are legitimate and just want to help you save money. Some people will do anything to save a dime. If someone is using coupon fraud to gain extra savings it is the same as STEALING and it hurts everyone using coupons. I also encourage you to be a courteous couponer. Don't wipe the shelves out. Save some for others. Everyone needs to save all the money they can, we don't have to be greedy.
Success with coupons comes just like success with anything else, you have to PLAN. Don't be so loyal to one store that you knock yourself out of savings at another one. Don't be so loyal to one product that you miss savings on another one. Compare the sales at your local stores. Look at the coupons you have available and plan your trip. Make a list and stick to that list. Do not go to the store hungry because you will spend more money by putting more in your cart than what is on your list. Avoid impulse buying. Stores put candy, magazines, and such at the check out to encourage impulse buying. Set goals and track your savings.
If you come to the checkout with two or more full shopping carts, your loyalty card, and an envelope full of coupons; you may want to break your order down into multiple orders to prevent the cash register from locking up on you. Ask me how I know this one. I learned, the hard way, that cash registers operate on a spreadsheet type system. They go by line spaces. Once you use all of the line spaces the register locks down.
Coupons are as valuable as the cash you have in your hand. Coupons = Dollars. Some stores will double coupons. I know my store will double coupons up to about 50 cents. What does this mean? If you have a coupons for 50 cents off of one item and your store doubles 50 cent coupons you are actually getting $1 off of that product.
Couponing can equal the amount of time of a full time job. It can be addicting! Do not let it run your life. You have to keep it in balance or it will take over. It can also lead to hoarding. These are things a lot of people do not consider or think about it, but they can happen. Keep this in mind as you start your couponing hobby and savings.
Blessings and happy savings to all!