Friday, December 30, 2011

Is your New Year's Resolution to Save More Money? Use Coupons!

Are you hoping to save more money this year?  Overwhelmed on how to start?  Here are some tips for beginning savers!  

1. Start small.  You will not be able to walk into your grocery store and get 90 % savings right away.  I rarely get 90% savings at Price Chopper.  On average, I can now save about 50-70% at the grocery store, (much more at drug stores). Shoot for 10-15% savings, and you will get better as you go.

2. Collect coupons! This one is huge.  It is very hard to get most of the deals I post if you do not get a Sunday paper with coupons.  I can usually get my hands on 10-15 coupon inserts with the help of generous family and friends, but you can usually get good deals if you have 1 or 2 coupons on an item.  (I have found that friends and family are more generous when you share your good fortune!)  You can also print coupons from the links I provide...most will allow you to hit the back button and print 2!

3. Utilize your drug stores.  Most of my free or close-to-free trips happen at Rite Aid, CVS, or Walgreens.  There is a common misconception that it is cheaper to shop at BJ's or Sam's Club.  The key is to buy when an item you use is on sale, EVEN IF YOU DON'T NEED IT.  I have 6 bottles of Theraflu and 4 bottles of Children's Advil.  None of us are sick, but when we are, I won't be shelling out $12 for medicine. 

4. Pick one drug store, and master it.  It can get way too confusing to try to remember the rules at each drug store.  Pick the store that is most accessible to you, and shop all of the deals for a month.  Get your feet wet.  Practice doing multiple transactions.  Check out my Drug Store How-Tos page, choose the store that you want to start with, and try it out!  Once you 'master' the store, you can save 75% or more every week!

5. You will not get everything you need on sale at first.  When I first started couponing, we had a HUGE supply of razors and toothpaste....and nothing else.  My hubby used to ask why I couldn't get shampoo, or soap, or other necessitites!  Now, we have a TON of the products we use daily.  Get what you can when it's on sale, but understand that not EVERYTHING is on sale every week. Eventually, you will accumulate free or really cheap soap, razors, shaving cream, toothpaste, body wash, shampoo/conditioner, dental floss, mouthwash, dish detergent, cough drops, gum, candy, medicines, vitamins, cosmetics, feminine products, pasta, sauces, canned veggies, soups, bbq sauce, ketchup, mustard, toilet paper, and paper towels!

6. Stockpile smart. If there is not a limit on an item (some stores like CVS will set limits), you can buy as many as you think you will need for a 3 month period.  Stores usually run the same sales cycles every 3-6 months.  If you go through 1 bottle of shampoo each month, buy 3 when they are less than $1!  If you use a ton of laundry detergent, get 6 bottles next time they have a promo.  You may pay a little more out-of-pocket at first, but over a 3-6 month period it will cost you a lot less!

7. If it's free, its for me!  We used to be very picky about what brand we would buy.  Couponing has allowed us to find really great products we never would have otherwise purchased!  We have found that Olay soap is great (and FREE at Price Chopper with the $1 coupon that usually comes in our monthly P&G coupon insert), that my daughter LOVES Colgate Total (and hates minty-fresh Crest), and my husband prefers Bic razors over the Gillette he used to buy!  Whenever we can get a product free, we will try it out!  It's actually a lot of fun!  ***A word of might not want to stockpile a cheap item you have not tried yet...a friend stockpiled 10 bottles one type of detergent, and realized her daughter was having a reaction to it.  No biggie if it was free, (it can always be donated), but she paid $2.50 per bottle which is a great price, but she couldn't use it!  Wasted $25.  So test first if its a new product that is not free.

8. Ask questions!  I LOVE LOVE answering comments on here.  You guys keep me busy!  Couponing is my hobby and passion!  Please ask if there is something I need to explain further!  You can post comments on my facebook page or here, and I'll try to respond that day!

9. Have fun!  I was very frustrated when I first started, and I would run around like a chicken with my head cut off...only to find that Rite Aid was out of an item....darn!  Or I had my Walgreens transactions planned out to the cent and one necessary item was out of stock....I'd regroup and make huge errors, costing myself a few dollars here and there.  RELAX.  You will make mistakes.  I still do!  Couponing should be fun, and something you can get a rush off of sometimes, but NEVER stressful.  Life is too short.  You don't need to beat that old woman over the head when she takes the last free Ivory bar soap 3-pack.  LOL

10. You won't get every deal...and that's ok.  I remember when I first started couponing, and I had this huge Price Chopper trip planned, coupons clipped, etc.  I was all set to head out on Saturday afternoon, and woke up that day with the flu!  I was totally bummed, not to mention I had wasted my time.  After trying (and failing) to convince my husband to go in my place, (he refuses to do more than one transaction!) I had to let it go.  Sometimes items are out of stock.  Sometimes people get sick.  Sometimes you have no money!  The great thing about couponing is, there has never been a sale that I haven't seen repeated.  You will always have a chance to get the same deal another time.

If you or your friends are really hoping to save money this year, I wish you the best of luck!  It takes time, but you will succeed!  Best of luck!  When you have some extra time, check out my informative posts HERE.  Happy Couponing!  :)

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