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Archive for June, 2010

The most frequent question I receive when people find out I coupon is, “Where do I start?”  True, it can be kind of overwhelming.  Hopefully I can shed some light on this issue and give you the tools you need to start couponing and saving money.

I am going to say something that most couponers probably don’t want to hear:  coupons themselves don’t actually save you a ton of money.  They save you a few bucks here and there and allow you to sometimes get things for free or almost free.  Once in awhile you can even make a few cents by using coupons.  However, the things that will save you the most money are the good shopping principles that smart shoppers and couponers use.  Now don’t misunderstand.  I LOVE coupons and I am a huge advocate of using them.  I just think that they are more of the icing on the savings cake rather than the foundation of it.  For those of you who have tried couponing before and feel like it was too overwhelming, this should be welcome news.

If you want to start saving a bunch of money today I would suggest you implement the following habits into your shopping routine:

1.  Buy the things that are on sale and stock up on those things so that you never have to pay full price for them.  (See my posts on shopping the ads and stocking up.)

2.  Plan your meals around the things that are on sale and the things you already have in your pantry.  Planning your meals will also make it less likely that you waste your money going out to eat so often.

3.  Stop buying toiletries at grocery stores and get started on learning how to play the drug store game (Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid each have their own version of the game.  If you play it right you should be able to pay pennies on the dollar for most if not all of your toiletries and over-the-counter medication.)  Here are a few good links to learn how to make the most out your shopping at Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid.

4.  Match the coupons you have to the sales to increase your savings.  Most coupons are available in the Sunday paper and online.  There are tons of free blogs out there that have grocery store coupons match-ups every week for stores all over the country.  Here are a few of my favorites:  Surviving the Stores, The Thrifty Mama, Couponing 101, and Saving Cents With Sense.

5.  Don’t stress.  Couponing is a skill and it has to be learned.  There will be times when the learning curve seems pretty steep, but hang on and it will get easier.  I remember when I first started couponing I didn’t sleep well for a few nights because it was such a paradigm shift for me.  It was a completely different way of shopping than what I was accustomed to.  But as you practice and learn you will get better at it and it will seem easy in no time.

This blog is not meant to be a couponing blog with coupon match-ups.  I feel that there are plenty of well written blogs out there that meet that need (I listed a few in point #4).  This blog is meant to teach you sound shopping principles that will become money-saving habits, and couponing is  just one part of those habits.

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