Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thrifty Thursday - Coupons

I've mentioned in the past that I use coupons to help save on our grocery budget. I don't usually save more than about $5-10 in a week using coupons, but am working on it. I am also one that doesn't focus so much on the amount saved - as often, it isn't as much as the coupon if I compare to a like store brand product. The easiest example is cereal as I tend to use more coupons for cereal than anything.
For the comparisons, please assume the box sizes are the same. I know I can get store brand "tasty o's" for $1.99 regular price. Cheerios are often in the $2.50 range. If I have a coupon for $1.00 off Cheerios, my receipt will show that I saved $1.00, however, since I would have spent a maximum of $1.99, I really only "saved" $ .49. Big brand cereals often go on sale for anywhere from 3 boxes for $5 to $2 a box. I watch and combine coupons with these sales for the best deals - getting cereal for between $1.25 - $1.50 a box most weeks. We're pretty picky about cereal (frosted mini wheats is about as "sugary" as we get) so stock up when I can combine coupons and sales.

Where do I find these coupons. Yes, I do get some from the Sunday paper. But only when I can procure one free. We can get a free paper when we spend at least $15 on gas at a local station, usually one of the vehicles needs gas on Sunday. Also, I sometimes get my dad's coupons too. Most of my coupons are now found online. and Smartsource are two great resources for coupons that I check weekly. I have also recently heard about Redplum as another site - although it doesn't look like they have as many grocery coupons. If there is a product I regularly buy, I will check their website for printable coupons. Please let me know if I'm missing a great site by leaving a comment below!

If you are truly being frugal, it's important to remember that Coupons don't always save you money! When don't you want to use a coupon?
  • If it's a product you wouldn't purchase anyway (or if it's not replacing a similar product on your list) $1 off poptarts isn't a bargain since we don't purchase poptarts.
  • If you can get a similar product for less. A lot of times, when I can't combine a coupon with a sale, I'm still better off getting the store brand product if there is one. $ .50 off Kraft shredded cheese, if it's not on sale, still doesn't make it cost less than the store brand.
Maybe I'm a bit of a frugal nerd - but there is nothing like the feeling of combining a sale with a coupon, and if you are really lucky, a sale, store coupon and a manufacturer coupon. No, I'm not saving enough for a Mediterranean vacation by clipping coupons, but what I am saving is true savings.

Of course, one consideration is that you have to have a system so that using coupons doesn't take too much time. Last Christmas - my stocking had a coupon sized accordion file in it! I've organized it with the aisles in the grocery store I do the majority of my shopping at, the same way I do my shopping list.I leave the front pouch open, and move coupons I'm going to use there after I put the product in the cart. I check the online sites once a week, after the sale ads come out - and only print the coupons I think might get used. Printing, cutting and sorting into the file takes about 20 minutes - maybe 30 if I'm getting "help" from the Chewy tot! I save the Sunday coupons to deal with at this same time so I'm only cutting and sorting once.

I'm a bit competitive, so the whole coupon thing becomes a game - and sometimes I get a pretty good score. Once, I had a manufacturer coupon for $1.00 off 2 packages of breakfast sausage. I waited until they were on sale for $1.00 each and used my coupon. Now they were $ .50 each. But I also had a store coupon for $ .50 of any meat item. So my total paid for 2 packages of link sausages was $ .50 or only a quarter apiece!

Please let me know about a super coupon deal you've had, or if you have any other sites to check for coupons.

No comments:

Post a Comment