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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Couponing 101.....Addicted to Saving

If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting.
 Benjamin Franklin

 Hi ya'll.  So much to catch you up on!  I am all about saving money whenever I can.  Even Simple Living folks have to eat and feed their animals (hard to believe since many people think we are a different species)!  So, there is a new money saving hobby on my horizon.....wait for it......wait for it......extreme couponing!  There I said it.  This is something that I thought only a special kind of person could do.  Ain't so!  In the time it takes me to sew a new pillow, I can clip and organize my coupons (with Becky's help of course). 

Sorry, we'll have to continue later.  Boss just called and needs me to work today and I still have to run into Muskogee and then feed animals, shower, dress and find a good attitude before I go.  Talk to you later.

Sorry folks! "Talk to you later" has now been a couple of weeks!  My world seems to be spinning faster and faster (and I like slow and easy).  Anyway, back to my "adventures in couponing".  I love it!  I so love it!  Hello, my name is Linda and I am absolutely, positively, unquestionably addicted to couponing! 

This not so new (but the cool thing to do now) kind of currency is even better than the American dollar because my store (Homeland) doubles the face value of the manufacturer's coupon up to one dollar.  So, if I have a coupon for one dollar, it magically becomes two dollars when I use it according to the fine print on the coupon and before the expiration date.  Ain't that peachy?  Just a note if you are new to couponing:  under no circumstances can you photo copy the coupon.  It is illegal and will bring down the wrath of the legal system upon your head.  Bottom line:  don't do it!  There are far too many legal ways to optimize the coupons without going to jail or paying a huge fine.

I have two favorite sites that I visit daily.  krazycouponlady.com got me hooked!  She has all the basic free down loadable binder categories for creating your very own coupon binder (my household savings Bible). Then we have the local (Tulsa area, Sarah Roe) moneysavingqueen.com which has matchups (weekly sale items matched up with coupons) which saves me a lot of time.  There are also weekly menu plans using the items purchased with coupons.  What a deal! What a deal!  It is like pushing the easy button on savings. 

My first week of serious couponing, I saved over 50% on my groceries and banked (savings account) over $75.  Can somebody give me an "atta girl"? I rock!  I consider couponing my second part time job and with a far better reward for my efforts and a really nice boss (me).  Then there is the "helping others" aspect of couponing.  When I use coupons and store rewards to "purchase" free tubes of toothpaste, shampoo, razors and many other items, I then can donate them to family, friends, church and other non-profit organizations without blowing a hole in my budget.  It's a little bit more complicated, but Walgreens is the best place for these items (they do not double coupons). If you aren't excited about couponing yet, someone needs to check you for a pulse. 

You know by now that I love books.  Hold in my hand, made of paper, feel the love real books.  To increase my knowledge of couponing, I bought and strongly recommend the following book to help you get started:

There is also the magazine for couponers called All You available at Wal Mart or by subscription. There is also a website allyou.com  Look in your Sunday Newspaper for coupons and store sales flyers.  Our grocery sales begin on Wednesday, so I look online at the sale flyer for Homeland.  The moneysavingqueen.com does the matchups for me.  At the grocery store the coupons that print out at the end of the sales (white with red stripes down both sides) are called catalinas and are based on what I purchased.  Look at the fine print because one of mine said $2 off 2 coconut milk but in smaller print it also listed Almond Milk which is what I had just purchased.  I also have two $1 off single item of the milk which will make my next purchase 2 x $3.89= $7.78  without coupons.  Then I apply my coupons.  $2 off  for 2 half gallons of milk catalina coupon = $5.78  Then I use my two $1 coupons which are then doubled to equal $4.  So my final cost for two half gallons of almond milk is  $5.78- $4.00 = $1.78 or .89 cents each.  How cool is that! Some cashiers say I can do this, some say I can't, so I need to check the store coupon policy before I go again. (I use a handheld calculator because the side of my brain that is suppose to do math does not work very well).

Stay with me here, and I will show you how to use coupons much more effectively.  Shopping with coupons has quickly become a Simple Living mindset.  My favorite savings (and there have already been many of them) was buying Pilgrims Pride chicken breast.  Homeland had the chicken on sale for $1.29 per pound.  The Queen did the matchup for me and provided a link for a $1 off coupon (they will usually allow you to print the coupon twice).  So here is the math:  Package #1 was $2.88. My pilgrims pride coupon for $1 is doubled to equal $2.  My first package cost me .88 cents.  Used the same method for my second package priced on sale for $2.90.  Apply coupon (which magically doubles) and my final cost for the chicken was .90 cents. 
So  4 1/2  pounds of chicken breast for $1.78.  Are you feeling the obsession yet?
Like anything new, I wanted to take it for a test drive.  So small purchase first to find my footing.
4 boxes of chocolate cheerios, 4 cans progresso soup, 2 laundry soap, 5 lbs apples, 1 small bunch of bananas.
$16.99 (taxes included in this) until I added fruit which rarely has coupons available.  Saved 56% on this one!
Plus a Catalina coupon for $2 off two almond milk and $1 off four lean cuisine (will use this one when they go on sale again, usually 4-6 week cycle).

Saved 52% on this one.  Banked $75 in savings account from both of these!
This is not really magic.  It just feels like it.  If a math idiot like me can do this so can you.  If you are willing to learn a new way of saving money, take the time to clip and organize, shop with a new mindset, then you too can be a money saving queen in your household!  My coupons can let me be in control of how much money I spend on groceries, beauty supplies, household items and much, much more.  You can do this but you can't do it effectively if you only spend 5 minutes preparing for your shopping trips.  Take control of your money and then you can take control your life (at least financially).  Happy couponing from Harmony Acres and Simple Living! 

If you can, you will quickly find that the greatest rate of return you will earn is on your own personal spending. Being a smart shopper is the first step to getting rich.

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