If necessity is the mother of invention, then raising a family on one (not very large) income is the mother of couponing. Over the past 18 months, I spent 4 months on bedrest awaiting Lennon's arrival, then 3 more months on maternity leave. Upon our move to Northern Kentucky, Josh was unemployed for 7 months. This took a toll on our savings account and we learned how to be frugal. Very frugal. We have cut back in many ways. I frequent consigment stores, thrift stores, and yard sales. My sewing machine has been put to good use. We have become cloth diaper fanatics. But, I was very reluctant to dive into couponing because I was under the impression that you could only use coupons to buy junk food. I was wrong!
Today I got soy milk, bagged salads, fresh artichokes, grapes, frozen green beans and broccoli...all using coupons. I won't be on Extreme Couponing any time soon. I didn't "buy" 150 candy bars or 80 boxes of cereal. I only bought what my family would eat in a reasonable amount of time. Where in the heck would I put 80 boxes of cereal? I didn't get $200 worth of groceries for $3, but I did save over 70% on my grocery bill.
How? I'm so glad you asked...
First, research. There are several websites (savingslifestyle.com is my personal favorite) that show you how to use your coupons and your local sale bills to get the most out of your money.
Second, organize. Take that wad of coupons in your purse and get a binder. I use a small zippered binder that is for holding business cards. I have seen others with 3 ring binders filled with trading card pockets. Just make sure that your coupons are easy to find.
Third, be ethical. Don't try to cheat the system. Why do you need 150 candy bars? Even donating them to charity doesn't fly with me. I mean, what sort of nutritional value do Butterfinger bars carry? As a wise cricket once said, "let your conscience be your guide."
Finally, reasearch some more. Talk to your cashier. Today I learned that Meijer doesn't publicize it but cashiers have the ability to price match competitors' sale ads. Also, my local Meijer will accept competitors' coupons. Ask for a copy of your store's coupon policy and then follow the rules.
Even if you don't have a Meijer or Kroger in your area, ask if your local grocer will match competitors' sales. You never know until you ask.
Some of the highlights from my shopping trip today include FREE Dole bagged salads, FREE gallon of milk, FREE Dannon yogurt, FREE Green Giant steamables frozen veggies, Silk soy milk for $0.50 per 1/2 gallon, 5 boxes of cereal for $4.75, and Perdue naturals all white meat chicken nuggets with whole wheat breading for $0.75.
Here is my full list:
Chicken nuggets (24 count)
Almond Milk (1 gallon)
Bertoli Pasta Sauce
Frozen Juice Concentrate (4 cans)
1% Milk (1 gallon)
Dannon Yogurt (4-6oz cups)
Seedless grapes (2lbs)
Frozen Green Beans
Frozen Broccoli Rice and Cheese
Dole Bagged Salad
Shredded Italian Cheese
Peanut butter (2 small jars)
Cereal (5 boxes)
Hormel Compleat Meals (3 Chicken and pasta w/ veggies)
And a 20oz Coke that my dear husband needed
TOTAL (before coupons) $72.33 (after coupons and store discounts) $21.17 71% SAVINGS!