A couple of weeks ago we talked about the most common excuse I hear when I talk with people about saving money – that they don’t have time to look through the sale ads or cut coupons. I took last weekend off because of the holiday weekend but we’re back to savings today to talk about where to start saving money for those who want to take the plunge into trying to find some way to save money. Today I’ll share how I got started along with a few tips to help you take the plunge into saving money with coupons.
When someone looks at shows like Extreme Couponing or see the news stories about people who get paid to walk out of the store or pay only a few dollars for cartloads of groceries, they immediately thinks a couple of things: 1) it’s impossible, 2) they don’t have room for all the stuff and 3) they might not use some of the things the couponers have purchased. I can tell you that it’s not impossible (I’ve done it on several occasions and the high from knowing you’ve saved so much is unreal. Don’t worry – we’ll get you there too without spending too much time on it, I promise!), it’s amazing that you can find room when you need it (this encompasses another way to make some extra money that we’ll touch on) and you don’t have to buy all of the things they purchase (you’re not saving a penny if you’re buying stuff you’ll never use!).
I’ve always been interested in saving money (I grew up fairly money-challenged) but have always been involved in working, volunteering and trying to have a life that I never put a ton of time into clipping coupons and matching them to sale items. In a very simplistic way, I was doing that when I bought groceries. I would look through the local grocery store ads and make a list of the things we needed. I’d then flip through the coupon inserts and see if there were coupons for anything I was going to buy. That’s about where it ended. I didn’t really keep a coupon book, box or anything like that. Over the past couple of years I really started to learn more about couponing and how to get the most from your money. I thought I needed to attend a coupon class or something to learn. I couldn’t find a class or workshop near me or much feedback from people who’d attended classes or workshops to know if it was worth my time to sit through one so that’s when I just started doing some research on my own which I’ll share with you throughout our weeks.
For me, it was making a decision to put in a little bit of time each week to start and see what I could do. I’m an “instant gratification” person so if I wasn’t saving money to make the time worth it, I knew I wouldn’t stick with it for long. I started out by clipping local coupons from my Sunday papers. I was still going through the ads and matching coupons with sale items. The difference this time is that I looked for a coupon match up list for my local stores to help me get the most of the sales and my coupons. I also started cutting out every coupon in the paper and taking it with me to the store. (I’ve been through a variety of coupon organization methods and we’ll touch on those in a future post) In the little bit of time I spent to cut coupons that week, I was able to save some money. (My inner hoarder is going to come out for Savings Saturdays…I’ve got receipts from years ago so I’ll have to dig them out and show you my savings) The time I put in was worth the money I’d saved which made it worth spending the time the next week and the next week and…
A couple of tips:
- If you’ve got more than one local paper near you, buy a copy of each paper available. Different markets have different coupons.
- If the coupons are good in the paper (meaning there are lots of coupons you’ll use), buy more than one copy. The amount you’re saving with the coupons will be more than the costs of the paper.
- There is nothing like the lack of pressure to go to the grocery store some days! From about Halloween to the beginning of January I was only going to the store for perishable items like bread, milk, eggs, fruits, veggies, ect. It was awesome!
- Couponing is a great way to make donations to local food banks or friends who would appreciate a few extra things for the pantry.