Friday, April 5, 2013

Frugal Friday: Seven Simple Steps to Couponing

Happy Friday!

Well, last week I promised to post my top ten tips for couponing. Well, as I started my list I realized that I actually only have seven. So here they are. 

Now, these are in no way the "Holy Grail" of couponing. These are just some simple principles my family and I try to live by to save money with coupons. I do not consider myself an expert in the field of couponing. I am just a Mommy trying to live healthy on a single income. ;) 

Share your favorite couponing sites and tips below for others to try!

  1. Budget Budget Budget!  After nearly 10 years of clipping coupons I have come to realize that to save the most money you MUST have a budget!
      • What is a budget? Simply put- knowing what money is coming in and where each dollar is going.
      • Where do I begin with a budget? Start by listing what your monthly income is. Then make a column of all your bills. Second add all the things you want to buy. You can only balance a budget where what you are spending is within what you are bringing in. Look over this list, talk it over with your partner. Is there anything that can be taken off the list (or lowered) to help you save money?
      • Additional Resources for Your Budget:
  2. Create a Price List: Not all sales are good deals so it is important to keep a list of what prices are really good for what you are buying.
      • Buy Price List (from
      • Examples from my Price List:
        • Milk: under $3 a gallon (and yes! this is possible w/ almond milk too- we often drink almond milk. Organic will be closer to $3.50/4)
        • Cheese: under $2 for 8oz package (stock up when it is on sale and freeze what you are not going to use right away)
        • Toilet Paper: $1 for a regular 4pk (Look at the numbers: If you are buying Charmin mega 12 pack but it says it is the same as 36 regular rolls than a good price is $9 or less.)
        • Boneless Skinless Chicken: $2 a lb (I find great deals on organic chicken at our Super Target for closer to $3 or $3.50a lb.)
  3. Pick a few favorite stores (max of 3) to do your weekly shopping and find their coupon sites! I honestly shop at one, maybe 2. It comes down to the time you have and the distance stores are from your house.
        • Also be sure to know your store's coupon policy. You can find this directly on the store's website and on whatever couponing site you choose to use to create your shopping lists.
  4. Create a "wish" list Shopping List: When the sales first come out I go immediately to the site and start creating a list of what I "want" to buy. :) You can create a shopping list by using one of the sites I listed above. Here is an example of what I do with

      1. Visit your couponing site and find the "Weekly Ad" section for
        the store you are wanting to shop at.

        Next you will be brought to a site with all the past week's sales
        from that store. Click on the text for the week you are wanting to
        shop for.

        Scroll down on the page to find all the weekly ad deals. Here is where
        the couponing sites post the entire store ad with links to available coupons.
        If there is an icon (like the check) by the item listed that indicates it is a
        great price.

        Look at all the deals and click in the box to the left of the items you
        want to purchase. Scroll through the entire list until you get to the bottom
        of the ad. Click the button to create your shopping list.

        I now have my "wish list" for shopping. I will later come back to this
        and "x" out the items I really don't need to buy or do not have the money in

        the budget to buy. :)
        When I am done I print this off and take it to the store w/ my coupons.
  5. Create a menu: Another key to making your money go the farthest is to decide BEFORE YOU GO TO THE STORE how and when you are going to be using the food. No one wants to spend money on food just because it is on sale.
        • I have a Menu list on the side of my fridge. Before I go to the store I look through what I already have at home and what I am shopping for to come up with a menu for the week ahead.
        • This helps to eliminate any wasted gas and time later in the week that I often spend "running to the store" to grab a tomato, can of soup, or whatever it is I need for cooking.
        • KEEP IN MIND: Creating a menu should revolve heavily around what you already have and items that are on sale/in season. If asparagus is $5 a lb- it is not in season. Do not use it for a meal. Wait until it is $2 a lb and in season. It will taste better then anyway. :)
  6. Finalize your shopping list: Now that I have my menu planned out I go back to my "wish list" for the shopping. 
        • I eliminate items that I just want to buy but do not need.
        • I make sure I am not spending more than what I have budgeted for groceries.
        • There is a section of the shopping list where I can also type in additional items that I need to buy. Maybe these items are not on sale but I still need them for my menu that week.
  7. Clip/Gather all the coupons you need for your shopping trip: Set aside some time when kids are in bed or at school. Go through your shopping list and click on the links for coupons that you need to print and go through the coupons you already have to find the ones you need for this shopping trip. The couponing site you are using will tell you 
    1. If there is a coupon for the item 
    2. Who printed it (is it coming from your Smart Source [SS] ad or Plum...etc 
    3. When it was in your newspaper. For example: in my shopping list it says that there was a Juicy Juice coupon in the Sunday coupons on 2/10.
        • May couponers choose to organize their coupons based upon when they get them. To make this part of the process easier.
        • To check out how I organize coupons check out the Saving Money Page.

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