Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thrifty Thursday: Couponing

As most of you can probably tell from my CVS posts, I am learning how to use coupons. Coupons have gained popularity lately due to the TLC show "Extreme Couponing," but some of the people on that show are crazy! They have stockpiles large enough to feed their families for years and many of them could probably be classified as hoarders. I did not start couponing to build up a large stockpile, but simply to help our family save money when I quit working.

When I set my sights on couponing, I thought that it would be easy. But I quickly learned that couponing is an art form. The best way to get deals is to match your coupons up to the sales at your local stores to get items for pennies or even for free. This can be extremely overwhelming for someone just starting out!! Luckily I found some excellent resources to help me get started!

First, I have a friend who runs a local deals site called My Kansas City Mommy. She has guides on how to coupon at each store and she also puts up the coupon matchups for CVS, Walgreens, Aldi, Target, and Dollar General. She also highlights high dollar coupons available online and often I'm able to plan my shopping trips straight from her website. I love having a local resource to use and she often has giveaways that I really want to win!!


Second, I found a great resource called The Krazy Coupon Lady. This site is run by a lady who is a master of couponing. She has a great area for beginners that helps teach you everything you need to know about how to get started (including the couponing lingo which can be quite confusing for a beginner, there are a ton of acronyms!) She also features coupon match ups, including Target, CVS, Walgreens, Walmart and many others. She frequently posts deal scenarios to get items cheap or free. 

These are just two of the sites I used to help me get started. I decided to start off slowly and it does take some time to figure out how to put everything together. 

To get coupons, many people buy their papers on Sundays, but I discovered that it would be cheaper to subscribe to my local paper then to buy weekly editions. For $62 a year, I could get Thursday- Sunday delivery of our major Metro paper, The Kansas City Star. However, I found out that I could get my local Lees Summit journal delivered for $48 a year on Wednesdays and Fridays with a free Kansas City Star on Sundays. I decided this was the best deal for me, because all I really wanted was the Sunday paper! Well, unbeknownst to me, my Wednesday and Friday Lees Summit Journal comes with the inserts for the following Sunday paper. So for $48 a year, I am getting 3 sets of inserts a week!!

Many of the match ups that are posted require you to have a back log of coupon inserts. It can be frustrating to read about a great deal, only to find out that the coupon it requires comes from an insert 3 months ago that you don't have! Now that I've been doing this for several months, I have most of the coupons I need. 

I will never be an "extreme couponer." I won't have a huge stockpile. But I do get a sort of high when I see my total price on my shopping trip keep dropping as the coupons are scanned. It's fun to watch the cashier's face as they realize you saved more than you spent. I have learned to use coupons at CVS pretty well, but I am still learning how to use them at the grocery store. My local stores do not double coupons, which is how many extreme couponers get their great deals. I average a savings of about $15 on my grocery trips. While this originally seemed low to me, I came to the realization that any savings is better than no savings and that even saving $15 a month adds up to $180 a year! Every little bit helps!

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