I've had some questions, comments, concerns, blah, blah, blah sent my way about coupons. I find this quite hilarious. I am no guru. That is for sure. I make mistakes every single time those automatic doors slide out of the way at the grocery store. But I'm learning. And we've(and by we I mean me) seriously slashed our grocery budget in the last 2 1/2 months. It's a lot of fun. A lot of time and energy. I don't do most of the really hard leg work myself. I let some else do that for me.
- Organization. I have discovered this is the absolute most important component to couponing. Knowing what you have and how to use it help me more than anything. I use the 3 ring binder approach for storing my Q's(that's what we're gonna call 'em for here on out). You can google coupon binder and you will find that you can purchase these pre-made from various places for a tidy sum. Think upwards of $40 or more. I simply bought a binder I liked with a zipper(that seemed important to me because I'm a tad bit clumsy), tab dividers, and baseball card holders. I had $21 in the Q binder. That's a savings of 50%.
- Consistency. You either have to do it or not. There is no straddling the fence in the Q world. If you're gonna do it,then go all the way. Completely rethink your spending lifestyle. That's what we had to do to make it work. I consistently buy 3 Sunday papers every week. It's important to buy the largest paper that circulates in your area. For us that's the Charlotte Observer. Our local paper is like comparing the Walmart circular to the Sears and Roebuck catalog. Why do I buy 3 papers for a family of 3? The secret to Q's is striking while the iron is hot. You want to purchase the item at it's rock bottom price and then use your Q on top of that. If you can get mustard for .25 then why not get 3 mustards for .25 and stock up for a while. Then when you need it you don't have to go to the store and pay $2.25.
- Time. Qing does take a lot of time. It takes time to clip, organize, weed through, plan your shopping list, and even shopping takes extra time. I have discovered it's easier to do when I can go without Clayton. But that rarely happens. After attempting to ingest raw chicken and tortilla shells all in one trip I decided to try those goofy looking kiddy friendly buggies. They are a pain to drive(I may or may not have toppled over a partial display of Ritz Crackers) but a life saver for Qing.
- Humor. Enjoy your adventures. Mom and I have some crazy stories. Especially about trying to figure out Glade Candles at Christmas. I kindly requested that Chad stop at a different store(because it was more convenient) than where the best deal was so he could help me figure out exactly which candle was on sale. He groaned but I saved $$$$$.
- Help. Don't try this game alone. Either learn the ropes with someone, use the web, or get yourself a Q mentor. Just get help or you will get frustrated. Mom and I work together to find the best deals. I also use a variety of websites. Southern Savers is my favorite. But I do have links on the right sidebar.
When I was made to be unemployed I self imposed a grocery budget of $200/month. In addition to food that amount also includes diapers, wipes, cleaning products, and toiletries. The first month I hit it dead on. Month #2 I went $6 over. And for March I was $24 over. But Harris Teeter was running Triple Coupon so I had to hit that up as many times as possible. I did reduce my April grocery budget by $24 to compensate for the overages in March.
I hope this helps.