I'm pretty convinced, now, that I was wrong. This past month, I've started making cautious steps into the world of couponing and I'm beginning to see that I can save myself a fair amount of money.
When I started looking into it, I was determined that I would not
- Take the newspaper (I hate the smell and the feel of newspaper, not to mention paying for it to pile up in my house)
- Buy things I wouldn't have bought otherwise
- Spend a lot of time on it
First, I can get enough coupons online. I like coupons.com, redplum.com and smartsource.com. I would also use the mystical power of Google to find coupons for specific items. We use soy milk instead of regular milk because we can't get through regular milk before it goes bad - half a second of Googling gave me a coupon for 75 cents off any Silk soy milk product. Ta-da! (I also use the backside of paper we get in the mail or from work and school so I don't have to use up my precious good paper and I set my printer to fast-draft so it uses very little ink).
Second, figure out what your store's policy on doubling coupons is. It was one of the FAQs on my grocery store's website, so it took me approximately ten seconds to find out that they will double any coupon that is 99 cents or less. So, if you have a 75 cent coupon, you'll really get $1.50 off. I discovered that they double ALL the coupons under 99 cents, even the ones that say "Do Not Double."
Third, you need to time your coupons to go along with sales. For instance, we go through a humiliating amount of sour cream because, well, I love sour cream; I firmly subscribe to my mom's cooking rule "if it tastes bad, add sour cream." But I don't even wait for it to taste bad. This week, when my grocery store's circular came around, I noticed that Hood sour cream was on sale for 99 cents a container, which was a good deal to begin with. Then, thanks to RedPlum, I got a 50 cents off coupon, which doubled, meant my sour cream was free. No way was the store brand cheaper than FREE! Same thing with the yogurt - it was on sale for $2 (for a pack of four), and I had a $1 off coupon. And if you bought a certain amount, you got a $10 off coupon for your next shopping trip, which took it down to about 12 cents a cup. Much cheaper than the store brand at 50 cents a cup.
Fourth, take advantage of your store's weekly deals and specials. For the last four or five months, I've bought the off-off-brand of Cheerios because they were only a dollar for an eight ounce box (which is about 2/3rds the size of your average box of cereal). This week, if you bought four boxes of General Mills cereal, you got four dollars off, plus 10 cents off every gallon of gas. Combined with my four cereal coupons that I'd printed off (one for each box) and were then doubled, I got my cereal for 89 cents a box. Bigger boxes, less money spent. Plus cheaper gas.
I saved $18 last week with my coupons, bringing my total grocery bill to only $28 for the week. My poor husband heard about it all afternoon.
I'd say it's about thirty minutes of work a week, once you figure out what sites you like and get the hang of reading your store flier. Definitely worth my time.
Anyone else have tips for making coupons work without it being a huge production?