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The Art of Couponing

Posted Feb 09 2010 10:30pm

Frugal Living

When some hear the word couponingthey picture hours of time spent clipping and shopping. It seems overwhelming and leaves one wondering it it's really worth the time invested. Lindy Abbottcolumnist for Take Root and Writefelt that way at one time. Howevershe changed her mind. Lindy joins us today to share the art of couponing.

KarenLindywhat changed your mind about couponing?

Lindy:  I heard about my friends going couponing crazy. I saw their big binders and tables full of coupons that they would bring to monthly gatherings for swapping and I was totally overwhelmShopping Carted. I told people over and over"Couponing is not for me." I tried it years ago. It took too much time and I barely saved anything. I was doing good getting to the grocery store much less trying to coupon.

Finallyone day I was at a friend's house and very sheepishly asked to see her coupon book. Seeing it made all the difference. The concept that revolutionized the ease of couponing for me was that binder method.

Karen: Lindyyou mentioned to me how you knew many of your friends were saving a LOT of money using this method. They were also building a large stock of items in their pantries. Those two reasons alone captured your attention. Howeverthe binder method sealed the deal. You have been couponing now for almost a year. How much do you save per month on an average?

Lindy:  $400 - $500

KarenWow! That's some serious savings! Would you share with our readers what couponing is and how they can begin?

LindyCouponing is really a catch-all category for finding ways to save money on anything you buyespecially groceries. Clipping coupons is just one small way to save. Howeverif it is not combined with other tipsclipping coupons won't save you a whole lot of money.

So if couponing is not just clipping couponswhat is it?

  • Saving money will include clipping coupons from one or more Sunday newspapers each week. Most top couponers say to have one Sunday paper per family member. HoweverI only have two for my five-member family. 
  • Store coupons in a binder in a transparent business or baseball card holder. Fold the coupons so you can see the itemthe amount savedand the expiration date. Each slot in the transparent holder has a different coupon. Put only identical coupons in one slot.
  • Put transparency sheets of coupons by type of item or grocery store row. Some people put them behind tab dividers and organize by items like paper productscereal/breakfastbreadsnacksdrinksdairypersonal itemsetc. I arrange them by the aisles of my favorite grocery store. For exampleaisle one is fresh fruitvegetablesand juices. Aisle two is beanscanned vegetablesand spaghetti sauce.
  • Every Sunday, look for sales flyers in the newspaper. That way you can prepare for what items are on sale which you also have a coupon for. Basically with couponing, you only buy an item if it is buy one/get one free or at least 25% off AND you have a coupon to use with the sale. This is how you really save lots of money. On a buy one/get one free dealyou can use a coupon for each item. So let's say a tube of toothpaste that normally costs $2.00 is on sale for buy one/get one free. You have a matching coupon. In factyou have several from getting two or more newspapers. Let's say the coupon is for $0.25 off. Most grocery stores double coupons up to $0.55. If you use two $0.25 couponsthat will be doubled to $0.50 each.  The tube of toothpaste that was originally $2.00 is already $1.00 because of the buy one/get one free sale. Because of the coupon you had that could be doubledit is now $0.50. In totalyou saved $3.00 or 75% off each item. The thing to realize is that even if you purchase a buy one/get one free item without a couponyou still save 50%. That alone is a great deal and can go a long way to saving lots of cash.
  • Don't buy something you will not use, even if it is under a dollar. The exception to this is if you think the item can be given to someone else to use.
  • When items you regularly use are on sale (at least 50% off)stock up as much as your budget will allow. My husband likes one cereal that is rarely on sale. When it does go on saleI purchase about fourteen boxes. Because he eats this cereal weeklyI can save over $22.00 just by stocking up.
  • Blinkie coupon machines at the grocery store have great coupons and you want to take about four of each that you would like to buy. Nowusually when these coupons are availablethat particular item is not on sale right at that time. So take the coupon(s) home and keep in your binder for when it goes on sale.
  • Manufacturer and store coupons can be used at the same time.

KarenWhile this may not be for everyoneLindy has helped us all understand more about the art of couponing. Thank you Lindy! If you are interested in giving this method a trythere are many sites on the internet that have plenty of resources. Below are just a couple:

Couponing 101
This site contains tons of information including how to get started couponing and places to find coupons.

Keeping the Kingdom First
The author of this site has a mission to honor God with her finances. Couponing is one way she tries to do so. The site includes a coupon databasea $5 challengedeal alertsfreebiesand more.

Karen Lowe

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