I used to think coupons were great, if you wanted to save $.55 on a box of Toaster Strudel or .$30 on a can of Hormel Chili. Big whoop.
But coupons and healthy living are not mutually exclusive. You can eat well and still save big at the same time.
Step 1: Know your store's coupon policies.
If you live in the southeast, Publix and Kroger are probably the most prevalent chains in your area. The majority of Targets and Walmarts are of the "super" variety as well, meaning they basically contain a full grocery store with fresh produce, meat, and bakery items.
Points to know
All these stores accept manufacturer coupons
Publix and Kroger will automatically double manufacturer coupons ≤ $.50 in face value.
Publix, Kroger, and Super Target also issue their own store coupons (on their websites & in-store)
They will allow you to combine one store coupon with one manufacturer coupon per item
Publix (at least in the ATL metro) will also accept competitors' store coupons (e.g. Super Target & Kroger)
Kroger lets you stack e-coupons (that you load on you club card via kroger.com, cellfire.com, and shortcuts.com) with paper coupons
Publix and Kroger run Buy One, Get One Free (BOGO) sales on a long list of items each week. You don't have to buy 2. This just means each item will ring up as 50% off at the register. Combine a BOGO item (50% off) with a manufacturer's coupon AND a store coupon; now you're talking big savings.
(Note: If you live in Florida, BOGO is just that. The first item rings up at full price, the second one rings up as free...whether you actually take it or not. So your out of pocket totals will always be a little higher.)
Use drug stores deals to nab toiletries and diapers for free or close to free. Rite Aid, CVS, and Walgreens will combine store coupons and manufactuer coupons as well. They also issue register rewards ("Up Rewards" at Rite Aid, "Extra Care Bucks" at CVS, "Register Rewards" at Walgreens) when you purchase certain items each week. These "rewards" print out on your receipt and act like gift cards that you can use towards anything on your next purchase. Make separate transactions at the register to "roll" these rebates towards the next item, and walk away spending very little out of pocket.
Be sure to sign-up for your store's member loyalty cards, and scan them every time to get all the advertised discounts.
Step 2: Know where to find coupons
I always buy two Sunday newspapers, so when I find good deals I can get at least two of them. But there are many more resources for coupons then just the newspaper.
There are many more tips and nuances to couponing. The is a comprehensive place to get started. Also do a google search to find couponing workshops in your area.
I’ve seen my monthly "stuff" bill (grocery/toiletry/diapers/cleaning products, etc) go from over $600 down to $325 a month since I started couponing seriously in September. No more buying generics and shopping exclusively at Wally World . It’s all name brand stuff from regular stores now.
And don't forget, tis the season to help others. There are a lot of good sales and coupons out now for the holidays. It's a good time to stock up on toiletries, non perishables and baking items for donating charity.
Here are some samples of my recent shopping trips:
Sorry this was taken with my old cell phone. I was so excited with my bargains I had to email a picture to M when I got home. He replied ecstatically with "Ok, cool."
To decipher the picture for you, included here are things like two huge containers of organic baby spinach, organic milk and eggs, greek yogurt, organic pasta sauce, organic tofu, Kashi bars…not exactly the cheapest items at the grocery store.
By combining Kroger specials and coupons my total went from 69.64 to 36.68 (including tax). A 47% savings.
And my biggest deal to date. I purchased everything on this table for $2.42 out of pocket...including the prescription and tax.
I filled a generic prescription that cost $5, and used a coupon to get the $25 gift card they were offering for transferring it from another pharmacy. I bought the diapers using coupons and the gift card, and paid nothing out of pocket. Then I the used the register rewards they were offering on the diapers that week, along with more coupons, to pay for everything else pictured in a second transaction.