MoneySavingMom.com
FREEBIE LIBRARY!
Join my email list and get FREE ACCESS to the MSM Freebie Library, including my top printables & eBooks.

Category: Coupons

31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Everyone Should Use Coupons

Missed the first posts in this series? Read them here.

I’m going to make a bold statement: I believe everyone should use coupons.

There. I said it.

Wait. I take my statement back. If you are one of the .0002 people in America who have never touched food unless it was grown in your own yard, you make toothpaste out of tree bark and use cloth toilet paper, then I’ll exempt you.

But the rest of you? You’re non-exempt.

And I know some of you are making excuses right now and explaining why you’re the exception to my rule. Well, give me a chance to address your excuses and see if I can’t change your mind just a tiny little bit.

Excuse #1: I Don’t Eat Processed Food

Newsflash: Coupons are not just for junk food.

In fact, there are often coupons available for fresh fruit, vegetables, milk, flour, baking soda, toothbrushes, razors, toilet paper, and light bulbs.

Like I said earlier, unless you literally grow all your own food, make all your household products from scratch, and you use cloth instead of disposable for all paper products, there are likely at least 10-15 items you routinely buy which you could get for much less if you used coupons.

In addition, once you become adept at using coupons, you will usually regularly happen upon deals which give you overage. Even if your family doesn’t use the item which gives overage, you could buy it to donate and then use the overage to purchase items your family does use.

Excuse #2: I Tried Using Coupons and Didn’t Save Any Money

If you buy your Sunday paper, clip all the coupons and then use them all on your next shopping trip, you’re not going to save any money. Instead, you’d probably end up buying  a lot of over-priced items you won’t use or wouldn’t normally buy and end up spending a considerable amount more than you save.

That’s not how to use coupons.

Using coupons wisely requires strategy and patience. In most cases, it involves waiting until an item is at its rock-bottom price and then pairing it with a coupon (and perhaps even a catalina deal!) so that you get it for pennies on the dollar–or even more than free!

Excuse #3: I Don’t Have Time to Use Coupons

Life is busy and there are constantly a hundred demands pulling us in different directions. The thought of adding in something extra like clipping coupons might be overwhelming–but it doesn’t have to be.

How Much Is Your Time Worth?

One of my favorite ways to evaluate whether a money-saving idea or technique is worth my time is to evaluate it in terms of an hourly wage. For instance, if it saves our family $30-$50 and requires an hour’s worth of work, it is totally worth my time.

Coupons are worth my time because when I put in an hour’s worth of time, I’m usually saving $40-$75 for doing so. That sounds like a pretty good hourly wage to me!

Yes, it takes a bit of time to learn the ropes. Don’t expect that you’ll go out tomorrow and save 90% off your grocery bill if you’ve never used a coupon in your life.

However, it doesn’t have to take hours of your week. In fact, I think that you can see significant savings by committing to spend an extra hour each week to checking the sales fliers, making a menu plan and grocery list, clipping coupons, and mapping out your shopping route.

Over the next two weeks, I’ll be sharing tips and techniques for obtaining, organizing and using coupons effectively to make the most of your time and maximize your savings. Slowly implement the ideas I share, find out what works best for you and reap the rewards of money saved!

Do you think everyone should use coupons in some way, shape or form? Why or why not?

Get the latest coupons delivered right to your door for
as low as $1 per week with Discounted Newspapers!


Double Dollar Coupon Shopping Trip

One of our local stores is running a Double Dollar coupon promotion so my mom and two sisters and I had fun getting quite the haul of deals. It’s hard to see just how much food we ended up with and these pictures don’t really do it justice.

Let’s just say I think we’re well-stocked on applesauce, pineapple, and Kashi cereal for awhile!

All of our orders combined, the four of us together spent around $79 out-of-pocket for all the groceries shown above. Considering that before coupons, it would have cost us around $400 for all those groceries, I think we got some great bargains!

And here’s specifically what I bought:

Before coupons, my total was $116.66. After coupons, I paid $18.82!!

Reader Tip: Put Your Expired Coupons to Use!

Devon from Mama Cheaps sent in this great tip for putting your expired coupons to use:

Just when I think that I cannot possibly cram another coupon insert into my large file box, a new round of those precious coupons expire and must be harvested from the collection. What do you do with your expired coupons? Throw them out? Recycle them? Make pretty mosaic collages with them?

Well, did you know that you can send your expired coupons to U.S. military bases around the world? The coupons are placed in various common areas throughout each base and families can use them for up to 6 months after they expire! We have family friends currently stationed in England who have confirmed to us that the coupons really do make it into the hands of the military families and are valued and appreciated.

For over 17 years, the Overseas Coupon Program has facilitated the transfer of coupons to U.S. military bases. To sign up to send coupons, just visit the website, and click on Base Adoptions to browse the list of bases that you can mail your coupons to. After you choose a base, send an email to adoptions@ocpnet.org to let them know you will be participating. You can find more details and information here.

It only takes me about 20 minutes once a month to go through my coupons and get them packaged to send to my adopted base in Sicily. And since the packages ship to APO/AFO addresses, the cost to mail the coupons is the same as sending a card to Grandma in Texas. You can drop your coupons in the mail for the cost of a stamp or two and you will help our wonderful service men and women (and their families) at the same time!

photo credit: MissMessie

“But I’m too busy to clip coupons!”

Ever felt like clipping coupons was for people who were sitting around twiddling their thumbs with nothing better to do? Well, here’s some good news: clipping coupons can even be done by very busy folks.

In fact, my friend, JessieLeigh, over at Parenting the Tiniest of Miracles, is doing an excellent series to dispel the myth that you don’t have time to clip coupons. She has some fabulous suggestions, including:

::Ideas for clipping coupons while in the car–no, not while you drive!

::Ideas for clipping coupons while at work–she includes ideas for both stay-at-home moms/women and work-outside-home moms/women. And if you’re a guy who’s a coupon clipper, I’m sure some of these suggestions could work for you, too.

::Ideas for including young children in your coupon-clipping–I need to try out more of these suggestions!

There, now you have no excuse! Go multi-task and get those coupons clipped!

When do you clip coupons? Tell us in the comments.

31 Days to a Better Grocery Budget: Menu Planning on a Budget (Part 1)

Missed the first posts this series? Read them here.

So now that you know some of the benefits of menu-planning, I thought it’d be helpful to share some suggestions for planning a budget-friendly menu. However, please remember that there is no right or wrong way to plan a menu. These are just suggestions–take what works for your family, and leave the rest!

1) “Shop” Your Cupboards

I always start menu-planning by looking in my freezer, refrigerator, and cupboards. This simple exercise often yields a great deal of inspiration.

For instance, last week I discovered that I had cream cheese, canned tomatoes, and noodles on hand. So I made this lasagna as part of Freezer Cooking Day.

Maybe you open up your freezer and find chicken and frozen broccoli and you open up your cupboard and see a bag of rice. Well, you have the beginnings of Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole. Just add cheese and cream of chicken soup  to your grocery list (or make your own Homemade Cream Soup) and you have everything you need for one dinner that week.

One great resource for coming up with recipes based upon what you already have on hand is by using the Ingredient Search feature from AllRecipes. Type in the ingredients you have and those you don’t have, and it will pull up a list of recipes you can make.

Two other websites you can consult for recipes based upon ingredients you have on hand are SuperCook and Recipe Matcher.

2) Consult the Sales Fliers

Once you feel like you’re getting the hang of planning your menu based upon what you have on hand, you’re ready to move onto the next level of menu-planning–planning your menu based upon what’s on sale at your local store(s). This is where you really start to see the savings happening!

Most grocery store chains have their weekly sale fliers available online. If not, you will often receive a copy in the mail. Or, you could even pick one up at the store if you’re going to be driving right by it.

When you’re in the middle of planning your menu and grocery list, quickly browse through these sale fliers and see if there are any exceptional deals on things you need or things you will use in the next few months. Most of the time, the hottest deals of the week are listed predominantly in the front page of the flier. Oftentimes, these front-page deals are “loss-leaders”. (“Loss-leaders” are deals which the store is actually breaking even– or losing money on! They are designed to be good enough to “bait” you into shopping at that store.)

Don’t neglect to look through the full flier, though. Sometimes there are great deals which are hidden on the middle pages. However, remember that just because something is listed in the sales flier it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a great deal. Over time, you’ll start learning what are the “rock-bottom” prices for items you buy and how often they go on sale in your area.

3) Survey Your Coupons

Once I’ve gotten a good idea of what I have on hand and what’s on sale at my nearby stores, I pull out my coupon box to match up coupons with the sales and see if I have any other coupons I want to be sure and use (such as high-value coupons or coupons for free items). I put these coupons  in a stack and then it’s time to make my menu plan–which we’ll talk about in more detail in the next post in this series.

What are your best tips for menu-planning on a budget? Comment and tell us!

Get the latest coupons delivered right to your door for
as low as $1 per week with Discounted Newspapers!