Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Coupons! Oh how I love thee!!!

Paul and I have been "couponing" now for about the last 4 months. What started out as a little stressful and totally overwhelming has turned into a fun game we look forward to on the weekends. Seriously. We have stocked up on all things nonperishable, as well as paper goods and toiletry items.

It's gotten to the point where we have well over a year's supply of toiletry items, most of which we either paid 25 cents for, got for free, or even made money on it. For example, on Monday I went to CVS and they PAID me $2 to get 2 tubes of Colgate toothpaste. I got a bag of candy corn for free. I got mascara for $1 a week before, the good kind. We get free razors, body wash, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, etc, etc. Last week I could have gotten 6 free bottles of Loreal nail polish, but couldn't seem to get to the store. It was a crazy, out of town week. I like free stuff!

Anyway, for those of you who might be interested in saving a little money, I put together a little coupon help sheet for a friend and thought I'd share with all my friends. I LOVE saving money!!!! It is addicting!! Ihope someone finds this helpful!


Here are a few useful things that helped us when starting to coupon:

The Biggies

1) The Grocery Game

http://www.thegrocerygame.com/

This sight is where Terri does all the matching work for you! She lists the sales with Sunday paper coupons, digital coupons and printable coupons. She sometimes even gives links for other coupons. She gives you a final price of what each item would cost after all possible discounts (including possible double and triple coupons). VERY helpful!!!

2) Shop at Kroger

They allow you to combine digital coupons loaded onto your Kroger card with manufacturers coupons. They also triple any manufacturer’s coupon up to $0.30 and double anything up to $0.50. This allows for TONS more money saved! Some people say the only place you can save money at is Walmart, but Paul and I totally disagree! Walmart does have low prices on some things, but not all. When you are only buying what is on rock bottom prices, plus your dairy and produce, you are saving a ton of money.

3) The Grocery Shrink

http://groceryshrink.com/

Angela at the Grocery Shrink is as extreme as they come…like reusable toilet paper!! Oh…yes…they …do!! I’m no where near that extreme, but she does have TONS of great ideas! She encourages a mostly paperless kitchen, making your own cleaning products and stocking your pantry to the point where you are planning your meals around what you’ve bought on sale instead of buying what you need based on your menu. She has an e-book that gives way more detail, but if you subscribe to her newsletter she gives you all the cleaning product recipes for free! She swears you can shop spending only $50/person in your family/month. For our family of 4 that equates to $200. I really don’t see how that’s possible, but hey, if I could even lower my bill by $150-200 a month I’d be thrilled!! Think of what that would equate to at the end of the year!! She says take your first three months and don’t cut your budget, but use the extra to stock up on everything you can. In three months we stocked up our pantry, our freezer, looking for meat on sale and had a year’s worth of toiletry items that we got mostly for free. Seriously! We’re talking top of the line razors, deodorant, body wash, feminine hygiene items (not free but VERY cheap), shaving cream, make-up, etc.


Some other great sights for reference:

http://thekrazycouponlady.com/

This is a very useful sight where she lists the deals for each store (not Kroger, but most others). This is a great sight to go to if you don’t want to buy every list for every store from The Grocery Game. I usually look over Walgreens and Target here since I don’t buy their list on The Grocery Game.

Here are some similar sights as well…

http://www.becentsable.net/

http://www.passionforsavings.com/

So, this is how we set it all up. We started by reading the info on The Grocery Game, The Grocery Shrink and a 10-step post tutorial from The Krazy Coupon Lady you can find here: http://thekrazycouponlady.com/beginners/ This information was so valuable!

So, after we made ourselves familiar with the process we decided to give it a test run. What a flop the first week was!! I could have quit after the store being out of what was on sale and me being not as organized as I had originally thought I was. Paul made me stick with it though, and with his immense help we figured this process out. It really is like a game and we actually look forward to it every weekend! Call us dorks if you will!

So here’s what our process looks like:

1) All week take e-mails that come into my in-box for coupons and either print them or load them to my Kroger card. I usually do this once during the week and it takes all of 10 minutes. Most of the time those coupons are doubles with your printed coupons, so you can really get great savings! Kroger will take a digital and a printed coupon together for the same item. They wills till double or triple the coupon. We get so many free things this way!

Couponmom.com will send you weekly e-mails with a link to cellfire (digital going onto your Kroger card), coupons.com (printable) and a few other printable sites. There’s also a site called shortcuts.com that send weekly e-mails with printable and digital coupons. Remember that the digital can be combined with the printed for double savings!!

2) On Thursday I make my menu based upon what I have in my freezer and pantry. It’s fun being creative. Add anything I need to the grocery list. That list should be minimal after your three month stock up phase.

3) On Saturday night The Grocery Game lady comes out with her lists. Go down the list and check the items that you might want to buy or stock up on for the future. The goal is to buy things before you need them and buy multiples so that you don’t have to buy them in a pinch at full price.

4) After we narrow our list of what we want, then we pull out the coupon binder!! This is a big-ole binder with page protector sleeves and dividers for each week. We get 4 papers each week (Krazy Coupon Lady will tell you why!) and we sort them and slide them into these page protectors for easy viewing. NO CUTTING yet! The reason for this is that The Grocery Game lady tells you what coupon to use by the date. You just flip through the binder to that date and find your coupon easily. I also keep a small accordion coupon filer for coupons I printed off the web or ones I had floating without a home.

5) We match the coupon she says we need with the coupon we have. If it’s not a Sunday coupon that she’s talking about then it might be one they printed for you at the register, one that you loaded to your Kroger card digitally or one she will send you to another sight to print. She has codes for these and we learned them after one week. Easy. It helps if you’ve already printed the coupons off the web you’re interested in earlier in the week. Sometimes they go away.

It helps to have two accounts on these sights. Do one for your hubby and one for you both linked to the same Kroger card. This will allow you to load multiple coupons.

6) As we’re going through finding the coupons for items we’re buying for the week or for stocking up on for later, we stick that coupon in either the Kroger or CVS envelope. CVS is our next favorite store. We come away with TONS of free items every week, sometimes they even PAY us for what we get. We make money!! It is a rush, people!!

7) So before we leave home we have these things all organized:

  • The sales add for the paper for each store we’re headed to
  • The envelopes of coupons for each store.
  • The grocery list (noted with which items we’re using coupons and how many we have to buy)
  • A clipboard and pencil
  • In my wallet I make sure I have my CVS card and Kroger card. I also keep my Extra Care Bucks from CVS in my wallet so I never forget to use them. They have also been printing a coupon every week at CVS for $5 off a $20 purchase. This purchase is pre-coupon of course! Now they also have a coupon machine in the store that will print you random coupons. Today I got a bag of candy corn for free. This is where you really start to make money! Love it!

I hope this helps a little. Let me know if I can answer any questions for you or help you get going. I'd love to help you like friends helped me! Happy saving!!!

6 comments:

ann clary said...

Tamra,
I too, LOVE to save money (hence my addiction to garage sales) but it all sounds so complicated and involved. If you were going to give me advice on how to get started, what would you say to do first? Can I ease into it, or is it something you think should be done all the way from the get-go?

Megan said...

I would LOVE to be able to save more when it comes to groceries. But I'm way intimidated to even start trying like this. I use coupons on occasion and usually only buy things that are on sale at Kroger. But, there's always room to improve. Even your simple instructions are overwhelming to me. :) I need someone to literally sit next to me and show me how it's done using my computer and at my house. :)
Many props to you guys for being so frugal!!!!

Tamra Lewis said...

Ann-

The Grocery Game is the way to start. She really does all the work for you. Also, the Krazy Coupon Lady has a 10 step tutorial that really helped me. Maybe I should get some girls together and do a little quick start class. SO fun!

Megan - if you just do one element for a few weeks and get good at that, then you can add other things as you go. Start with the Grocery Game and add other things as you get more confident! I'd love to help you even though I'm a little far. Maybe over the phone? Seriously, I'd be glad to help. The Krazy Coupon Lady has that 10 step tutorial and that's where I started. It was great!

Carol said...

I thought I was the only crazy couponing mom that I know. It is fun... it is addicting... you do save LOTS of money. I love, love, love, The Grocery Game and it is the easiest was to get started! We have a closet in our house (where we stockpile)that we call "the store" when I need something I will ask one of the kids to please "go to the store and get me xyz... they think its fun!"

Jen Patterson said...

How exciting! I would love to see the coupon binder you've made!!!!

Anonymous said...

Tamra, I don't know if you remember me, I was at the ladies retreat earlier this year, I'm a friend of Danyel's. When she and I were visiting the other day she told me about your blog. I just stared the free trial for the grocery game. I have paper's from weeks before but for the coupons I've already used or just can't seem to find anywhere, do you know of a good site to print from? I've looked at coupons.com but am having trouble finding certain things. I would love to know of any advice or ideas you would care to share. My e-mail is asbandr@yahoo.com. Thanks so much girl! You're blog was a total inspiration to me!
Serenity