Savings Tip of the Day - Extreme Couponing 4 Life
Ok yesterday I gave some tips on getting onto the extreme savings bandwagon. I've learned necessity is the mother of invention. Before my DH was laid off I occasionally used coupons - and i got a little savings but my complaint was "I never have coupons for the foods we eat!" I never knew I was going about savings backwards!
Here's the thing. Whether you live in an area that allows for doubling of Manufacturers Coupons or not, the step by step process of couponing is exactly the opposite of what was taught to me growing up.
I was taught that I should make my meal plans for the week (if not month) and then make my grocery list for those items - making sure to not allow hungry tummy's to add anything to the cart that is not on the list.....this is WRONG for extreme savings.
In order to get the most savings you can, you need to follow these steps:
1) Walk the store isles, and make a list of prices. This will let you know which store has the best sale price - as not all sales end up in the store flyer.
2) Once you have lists for ALL the stores in your are, start hunting for coupons to match the sales. When using coupons we especially love BOGO or 10/$10 sales. In the extreme savings world the 10/$10 sale means each item is only $1. So you can find a coupon for $.50 (if you are in an area that allows double coupons) or $1 and that item is FREE.
--NOTE--not many stores allow coupons worth more than the cost of the item. This means that some stores will not allow you to use a coupon for the 'free' item in a BOGO sale, or if the item costs $1 and you have a $.55 coupon which doubles to $1.10. In the case of the coupon that is worth more than the item, the store will USUALLY decrease the cost of the coupon to match the item - so the item is Free but the store does not owe you money. Some stores will allow the store to 'owe' you money but only if that money is applied to the same transaction - so in the event of that $1.10 coupon on a $1 item the store would 'owe' you $.10 per item....most stores will not give you a gift card or give this to you as money, but they MIGHT apply that $.10 to the balance you owe them at the end of the transaction.
**I get coupons from 4 Sunday papers, family/friends AND online clipping services - where you pay (like $.05 per coupon) and you can get as many (like 100) of a single coupon as you want!
3) Once you have the coupons to match the sales, then you buy the smallest size of the item you can find.Errrr, seriously?! YES!! Buying in bulk is only frugal if your do NOT use coupons....think of this. Rice in the big package costs $12.99, if you have $1 off that is still $11.99. If you have $1 off of those little bags of rice that only cost $1.25 = only $.25 each and you purchase 20 of them - you are getting even more quantity of rice but at only about $4!!! So no more buying in bulk!
4)No more buying generic- rarely will you come across good coupons for generic items. Lets take pasta. Yes Big-Y pasta may go on sale for 10/$10, which is $1 each....but there will be no coupon. Whereas the Rizoni pasta is also on sale for 10/$10 aka $1 each, and I have a coupon that doubles for $1 making each box FREE= trust me Free always tastes better!!! I have some things I might buy generic, simply because there are rarely coupons - like meats - but I usually will shop at a store that will allow coupons to be worth more than the item, which will be applied to my cart - So for those Rizoni pasta I would use a $.55 coupon, which doubles to $1.10 which means for every box of pasta the store will take an extra $.10 off of my transaction......so if I buy 100 of those boxes of pasta with the coupons, then the store will take $10 off of my transaction - which essentially allows me to get some hamburger essentially for free as well.
ORGANIZATION is the name of the game!! Last week I did a major pantry stock - I think my grand total was over $700 but I only paid $85 out of pocket -- I got milk free, meats free, laundry detergent free, etc without actual coupons for those items - but because I organized the savings to cover these things as well.
5) Stocking up - Getting off the ground. Seriously, you can't just roll over and decide today is the day you too will save nearly $600 in groceries. It takes planning (sometimes a month of planning) and hitting just the right sale with just the right combination of coupons, in order to achieve it. My advice is to figure out how much money you can afford each in in stocking up your pantry. Do this until you have a month or so (at least) of food. Then STOP SHOPPING. Extreme savers only shop when they have that sweet spot of sale/coupon. We don't hit the store at any other time - we instead live off of the stock. (well, when you're buying 100 boxes of pasta at a time, that's easy to do!). A dedicated frugal extreme saver will only go to the store when they will be spending less than $100 out of pocket (and get several hundred dollars of groceries for it).
This is my part-time job (my full time job is homeschool/mom). But I spend about, jee, maybe 6 hours a week on couponing, and 6 hours at least BEFORE hitting the store on a grocery day. I go to the store with my father weekly where I purchase dairy - I don't like frozen milk and eggs don't freeze (during coop for HS then we trade many mom's bring in extra eggs from their farms and such and I bring in extra coupons!). It's NOT easy, I shop at about 10 stores (sometimes on the same day), I'm not loyal to a brand or store, I'm loyal to the savings. I love KMart because they have special triple coupon days (where they will triple a coupon up to $2!) and I love Big Y for their 10/$10 sales, and I love shopping at Walmart/CVS for bathroom/laundry items. But I'll travel 45 minutes to get a great sale - for me that means going to Mass from my house in central CT in order to get the best savings I can!
I'm hoping to do some more of these posts if you're intersted. I hated that when I went to get started I had no place I found that had good 'getting started' advice.