I have been couponing it for years, since we lived in Los Angeles and, after having a daughter and stopping my job, I had to learn how to budget for food.
I began at that point by going to a website that I had to pay to use. On the website the creator told me what was on sale where and what coupons I should have to go with that sale item. For instance, she would say Ralphs had Nabisco cookies for $2.50 and I had a $1.00 off coupon, which would be doubled, so the coupons would be $.50.
I decided along the way I could do this on my own, dropped the site and the monthly payment, and began to do so. However, couponing can be quite time consuming, particularly when you take into account the amount of time you have to spend not just clipping but then matching that coupon with a sale. You see, it doesn’t make sense to only coupon – if you are buying full price, you are really paying too much.
The new rage in the south for couponers is www.southernsavers.com. This free website, run by a fantastically bubbly lady named Jenny, teaches one what is on sale and what coupon you can use but she goes one step further by listing printable coupons next to sale items as well! And, if you are a facebook fan you can get great promotions by becoming a fan of her Southern Savers site.
I recently attended a seminar put on by Jenny where she demonstrated how to best use her site, or how to do this on your own if you have the time and gumption, and I thought I would pass along a few tips.
- Watch the sales cycle on the items you purchase. According to Jenny, a product will go on sale at its lowest price one time in 6-8 weeks. So, just because cereal is $3. a box doesn’t mean it is at the lowest; it will probably go to $2.50 at one point in the next two months. At that point, match it with a coupon to get it under $1.
- Don’t buy in bulk or at big named stores that sell their generic food plus electronics and clothes. Why? Because by pairing a deal with a coupon you can buy the name brand cheaper. Don’t believe me? Imagine this scenario: The store has a knock off brand of cookies for $2. The name brand item is $3. But they put the name brand on sale one time every eight weeks for $2.50 and then, with a $1.00 off coupon, the price becomes $1.50. Even better – you have a double coupon deal in your store (check the policy, some do and some don’t – our Publix will double everything up to $.50)
- Shop at CVS. You can find fantastic deals there if you shop when they offer sales with coupons AND extra care bucks, which is like getting cash back. Purchase an item that gives back $5 in extra care bucks and you’ve just made $5.
- Don’t stockpile 85 weeks worth of foods – you don’t have to. You need to buy enough to get you through eight weeks worth, so you hit the sales cycle the next time. If you aren’t picky you might buy a variety of cereals during that time, so you aren’t buying 12 boxes of Captain Crunch but two boxes of one, two boxes of another.
- You can stack coupons! What does this mean? In MOST stores (ask first!) you can use a store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon on the SAME ITEM! So this week I bought an air freshner kit that is normally $8 and went on sale for $6. I had a $5 off coupon from the Sunday paper and I had a $1 off coupon that I printed from the store’s site. It was free! So now my house smells good and I didn’t have to pay for it! (In that trip I also got free toothpaste for my kids, shampoo and bandaids and I got a $5 card back, after spending just $7 total).
Does it work? Absolutely.