Over the past several months we have tested the waters with clipping coupons. We got ourselves a Sunday paper and even started getting the coupons from my mother-in-laws paper each week. It is amazing how much money you can save if you can come up with a system that you can dedicate the time to. It gets very time consuming and confusing and, at times, even stressful. With our current system we are struggling. Each week we sort through the paper and clip coupons for items we typically buy. We sort them all by isles in the grocery store. Then each week as we plan our grocery list we go through our coupon notebook find coupons for the items we need.
There are a couple of downsides to this method. First, it is hard to keep up. We’re now to the point where the notebook is hardly organized and half the coupons are expired. Another portion of the coupons are for items we thought we would need before they expired but we didn’t. Second, coupons are usually for name brand items where if we just buy generic we usually save more money anyway.
We are looking into how we can improve our system. We signed up for an account at couponsense.com which is a service that you can use to create your shopping list each week and it takes each grocery store’s weekly ads and makes them searchable so each week you can see which products are on sale at which stores. On top of that the service shows you which sale items also have coupons that are available. Each week there are items that you can get for free if you have the coupons. My last trip to the store was about $97 after $95 of savings!!! (most of the savings was from stocking up on items that were extremely discounted). And I wasn’t even using the system fully.
The next key component of a good system is getting more coupons. Right now we only get one Sunday paper. The best couponers get several Sunday papers and trade coupons with friends. I’m thinking we should start a coupon trading group within our ward/family.
The best couponers usually go to several stores each week to do their shopping. This almost makes it not worth it but when you consider that the reason you do is to get food practically for free I think it is worth it as long as the stores are fairly close together.
The next component is not shopping on a need basis. If you are only shopping for what you need that week then the chances are that most of the items on your list won’t be on sale and your savings will be limited. What you need to do is build up food storage when items are extremely discounted and continue to buy non-perishable items when you can get them for 50-100% off regular price. Produce and Milk become your biggest weekly expense. Meats and Breads can be frozen.
If you get good you can become like the coupon queen, Susan Samtur. She showed a reporter how she a $153 grocery store visit cost her under $10!!!