Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Random Picks: Coupons

Over the last many years I have been trying to be frugal and find some good deals and try to pay attention to who is selling the lowest prices. I will often make a list of things I need and stop at Goodwill to see if they have the items. This takes patience and may take a few of trips before I see an item on my list, but overall, I have been very successful.

Since we recently bought a house, I have been trying to keep track of the bills that come in and how much they are. I have also been tracking our Eating Out Expenses and Grocery expenses in a simple excel spreadsheet I created. It just gives us an idea of how we are spending our money and gives me ideas on where we can do better at saving or cutting costs.

I recently attended a 1 day conference for work. One of the sessions was titled “Dollars and Sense” and was all about couponing, saving money, and never having to pay full price for anything ever again. I was completely inspired and got some really good Web sites and tips during this session. Since I have been trying to save money for our family I left with a whole different attitude about coupons. I rarely, more like NEVER, use coupons. I have cut a few out, and when I do that, I usually forget to use them. After listening in this couponing session, I look for them everywhere I can. I got so inspired listening to the presenter!

Here are a few places to look for coupons: Sunday newspaper, weekly grocery ads, register coupons, on product coupons, online/printable coupons, Entertainment book, Val Pak, Smart phone coupons, online coupon codes, social media.

One thing that was discussed is it is so important to get organized first. In our session we were given a small coupon organizer with 6 tabs. Every family is different on what they do, their activities, and how they shop, but here are a few examples of sections you could use: Groceries, Frozen Food, Household, Restaurants, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Kids, Crafts, Retail, Car, Spa, Events, Receipts.

Treat coupons like cash. Always keep your coupons with you – not in your car, not in your kitchen. Always keep your coupons next to your wallet. That way wherever you go you will always have your coupons for savings.

One thing that was highly suggested, is to open a separate email account only for your coupons you get online and Web sites you sign up to get updates with. It keeps this email address completely separate so your everyday email account doesn’t get cluttered with an enormous, overwhelming amount of emails to go through. I personally did this and opened a separate email account then started signing up on coupon saving Web sites to receive printable coupons. It was also suggested to register products you use regularly. For me some of those products are Neutrogena, Air Wick (the air fresheners), and what do you know, at the end of registration there were coupons to print, and they also send some to by inbox.

Check out deals for yourself at these Web sites that were mentioned in the couponing session I attended.,, Saveology, Amazon Local, KGB Deals. If you have a smart phone, I’m sure there are some couponing apps available as well.

The day I went to the couponing session, it was Friday. I had intentions of cooking, at least had the meal planned out. I got this craving for Mexican food instead. I had a coupon for dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant for $6 off. My dinner that night only cost me $3.95 for a small combo plate of a cheese enchilada, ground beef taco, rice and beans, when regularly it would cost about $10. Although it might not seem like a huge amount but every little bit helps and pretty soon you have saved a hundred, or more saved, by the end of the month. Think about what that means in a year!

We are a family of 4 – two adults and 2 elementary aged children. Depending on the place we chose for dinner, sometimes our kids will order from the kids menu. Other times we will order one entrĂ©e plate and the kids will split it. My point is by the end of dinner, our bill is usually well over $30, sometimes $40, not including a tip. The dinner at the Mexican restaurant came to $28, just by using the $6 off coupon. There are so many deals like that, you just have to look for them.

My recommendations are to start small at first and get comfortable with two store's prices. Start looking for coupons and start organizing them and building your system. I also highly recommend you buy things you only really need at first. A really good Web site I came across is called The Krazy Coupon Lady. She lists some amazing and very helpful tips on couponing, especially if you are a beginner.

I haven’t been so excited about something like this for a long time.
Happy couponing and saving!

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