Learning the Fine Art of Couponing

I've never thought I had much use for grocery coupons. I didn't even get the weekly ads in the mail because I unsubscribed myself from all the major junk mail distributors. I never knew what was on sale at the store until I got there, and I never had a coupon for anything. The main ways I saved money on groceries were by shopping with a list and setting a monthly grocery budget. I also had a few other tricks that you can read about here and here.

Then I saw a woman who calls herself the Coupon Mom on Oprah last week. I really didn't think she would have anything to teach me. I thought I knew everything about saving money on groceries, and I thought that coupons were a waste of time since they are usually for brand-name items and I usually buy generic items that are cheaper than the brand name, even with a coupon. Well, I was wrong.

The Coupon Mom showed viewers how she took a $172 grocery bill and slashed it to $37 using her strategic shopping methods with a combination of the grocery store's club card discounts and a slew of coupons. Even when you set aside that club cards are a huge scam (in my opinion), the savings were still impressive.

For those of you who are lucky enough to not have to deal with club cards, here's my opinion of how they work. The grocery store significantly overprices everything in the entire store. To get a decent price on anything, you have to a) wait for it to go on sale, and b) have a club card. It's free, but you have to give them your name and address to sign up. You can't get the store's sale prices unless you have a club card.

In my opinion, the "sale" price you get with the club card is the fair price, but it is rarely a bargain. Case in point, last week I bought several pounds of ground beef. The tab was $13 regular price, or $6 with a club card. $6 I felt was a fair price, while $13 would have been highway robbery. That's why I prefer to shop at stores that have low everyday prices and no club cards (not Wal-Mart, at least not yet), but sometimes I need something I can't get at those places.

Anyway, the idea is that you don't just buy something when you have a coupon for it or when it's on sale. Instead, you wait until you can take advantage of both simultaneously, then you stock up on that item as much as possible. I made my first foray into this tactic today, and here's what I did.

1. Looked through the grocery ad I got in the mail. Wrote down the items I was interested in buying and their sale prices.
2. Went to the Coupon Mom website and followed her link to another site where you can print grocery coupons from home.
3. The only items that coincided were Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal (on sale for $1.88) plus a coupon (55 cents off). So I printed two coupons, one for me and one for my boyfriend.
4. I didn't know this ahead of time, but the grocery store seems to double certain coupons up to $1.00, so we each used a coupon, each got an extra 45 cents off, and each got a box of cereal for 88 cents that normally costs $3 or $4. Now I have one box to eat over the next couple weeks, and one box for my emergency food stash.

I think the savings may start off slowly, but over time I will get better at getting lots of deals like this and slashing my household grocery bill. Currently it's about $300 for 2 people, which I think is already pretty good, but why should I pay more than I have to?

To learn more about this technique, I recommend visiting the same site I did, CouponMom.com. Read her free e-book to get started. Everything on the site is free.

Photo by qmnonic

Related Posts:
Frugal Tips for the Home Cook
Cutting Grocery Costs
Save Money by Shopping at Farmers' Markets
Saving Money on Restaurants
How I Saved $120 at CVS

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for telling your experience. I am never thought anyone could teach me anything about couponing but I was so wrong! I follow couponmom.com also. I now can feed my family of 7 on a monthly budget of $400!