Couponing for the Rest of Us

My Couponing Confession: I Haven’t Used Coupons in a LONG Time!

Kasey here, I haven’t used coupons in a LONG time. Maybe once or twice  in the past 6 months. There, I said it. I was so busy with my book release earlier last year, I think I just needed a season afterwards to breathe. Also, if you have read my book or know me then you know I have never loved coupons. I’m not one to get super excited about deals or coupons. They have just been necessary. My husband has gotten laid off unexpectedly 3 times in the past 5 years, the most recent last January. Coupons were never a choice for us, we had to use them to get by financially. Plus, we completely changed the way we eat last year, cutting out most processed foods which made it even more difficult to coupon.

The past couple of months I have still saved on my grocery bill by shopping at ALDI and taking advantage of deals on things like toilet paper and paper towels on Amazon. As I watched our stockpile dwindle on other grocery, household, and personal items I knew I’d have to make a decision.  Even though, there are very few grocery items I can use coupons on (since we changed to a healthier eating lifestyle) there are still some items like condiments, paper products, and a few other items that we can buy with coupons.

So, on Friday I decided it was time to get back in the saddle. I don’t usually go to a bunch of different stores, but since I hadn’t couponed in so long and my husband and kids were up for the challenge we went to Target, Publix, and CVS. I have included my shopping trips below along with our savings. Was it worth it? Yes, we saved money and it was less stressful than I thought it was going to be. With homeschool and two home based businesses my hands are pretty full.

If couponing has become a drudgery to you, or you feel like it has to be all or nothing….it doesn’t. As I’ve always said do the best you can. Seasons of life change, during some seasons it’s less feasible than others. The biggest thing, don’t be hard on yourself if you aren’t saving “as much” as you think you should or “as much” as someone else. Instead, celebrate YOUR victories!!

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There were tons of items on sale at Publix this week. However, since we really try to eat as healthy as possible I rarely buy anything boxed or pre-made anymore. We really try to stick to eating as clean as possible. Although, sometimes I make my own bar-b-que sauce I don’t make the rest of our condiments homemade.  You can find this weeks Publix Match-ups here.

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This was my favorite trip! We have been out of body wash and have been paying for toothpaste (gasp) I know, crazy. With coupons, and ECB’s the toothpaste was free, Dawn only $0.49, and Body Wash just $0.67.  You can find the current weeks CVS deals here.

target shopping trip
My daughter is a type I diabetic, so we have to keep juice boxes with us all the time in case she has a low blood sugar. With the sale last week at Target combined with coupons, each pack equaled $1.19. You can find the current weeks Target deals here.

Not bad for our first couponing trip in a long time.


Printable Coupons:Frequently Asked Questions

printables frequently asked questions

Why does it sometimes say “Print Limit Reached” on the internet when I haven’t printed that coupon?

Internet coupons have a certain number of “prints” that are allowed by the manufacturer.  If a coupon reaches that many prints (usually in the thousands) the manufacturer will either pull it and replace it with another coupon or display a message that says the print limit has been reached.  Sometimes the limit will be reset within a few days and other times you have to wait longer. [Read more...]

New Couponing Questions | What’s a Catalina?

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Lately we’ve posted a couple Catalina deals – and while you “old timers” out there already know what these are, I thought it would be good to pause and explain for everyone else!

* You can also watch this video of me getting a Betty Crocker Fruit Snack Catalina.
* If more “Coupon Lingo” has you scratching your head – head over to Learning the Lingo!

What is a Catalina?

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Ask Time 2 $ave: Do You Only Buy Items if You have a Coupon?

couponing 101 q&a

Do you only buy items if you have a coupon?

I remember one of my first big couponing trips. I came home so excited about my savings and I couldn’t wait to spread it all out on the table and show my husband. He only had one question, “Where’s the Diet Coke?”

This was NOT what I wanted to hear. I wanted him to be excited as he “ooh’d” and “ahhh’d” over what an amazing job I had done. Nope, instead I got, “Honey, that’s great. Where is the Diet Coke?” My answer? “It wasn’t on sale!” To me this statement explained everything. To him it meant grabbing his keys, driving back to the store and buying some Diet Coke! [Read more...]

Ask Time 2 $ave: What Does it Mean to Shop Differently?

 

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I’ve tried couponing before and it just didn’t work for me.  My friends keep telling me I have to learn to shop differently.  What in the world does it mean to shop differently?

First, let me ask you a question, what determines what goes in your grocery cart?

No matter how many times I ask this question I always hear:

1.      What my family needs or has run out of.

2.      What is on sale or what I have a coupon for.

3.      Items on my meal plan.

This is how the majority of us shop, right?  We’ve been trained to shop out of need.  Meaning I’m out of cereal, so I’ve got to buy more.  Or we just used our last box of pasta, I’m adding it to my grocery list.

The problem with shopping based on what we need or have run out of is that we are willing to pay a higher price.  Think about it, what happens when you run out of toilet paper?  I can only speak for myself, but when we are out it doesn’t matter to me how much it costs – I’m not leaving the store without it.

Change Your Mindset, Change Your Cart

Basically, we’ve got to learn how to shop differently.  We have to change our mindset and start buying what our families use…not need.

For example, if pasta is on sale this week for a great price and there just happens to be a coupon that makes it $0.15 per box ask yourself does your family use pasta? Whether you need it or not buy…buy…buy.  And not just one box!  No, you want to buy enough to last until the next sale cycle about 10 – 12 weeks.

How many?  That depends how much your family would use over a 10 – 12 week period.  If you use a box of pasta every two weeks, then buy 6 boxes.  At only $0.15 a box, I’d like to encourage you to pick up an extra box or two to donate.

Learning to shop differently will help you save time, effort, and lots of money.   Keep in mind that it will take a while to get used to an entirely new way of thinking, and it will also take time to build up a sensible stockpile.  However, after just a few weeks of shopping differently, you’ll start to see your savings grow, and grocery costs shrink.

Couponing is a great way to save money!  Whether you save 5%, 15% or 50% you are still saving your family money.  Having a hard time getting started?  Check out my current workshop schedule, or buy my new book, “Couponing for the Rest of Us” on Amazon in paperback or Kindle.  You can even read the first chapter online FREE!

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Is Price Matching Worth it? How I Saved $6.15 on Produce!

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Since we started eating healthier this year, a large part of our grocery budget goes to fresh fruits and veggies.  To keep our grocery budget under control I typically make an Aldi run since they have such great prices on produce.  Since we had a list a mile long of projects we needed to tackle in our back yard I didn’t want to spend my afternoon running errands.  We had to go to Walmart to pick up light bulbs and a couple other items so I decided to price match the produce in this weeks Aldi’s ad.  I was surprised to see just how much money I saved.

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Ask Time 2 $ave – How do you find balance when using coupons?

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Q: I’ve heard couponing is like a full time job. I’d love to learn how to save my family money but not if it takes tons of time. How do you find balance?

A:  We’ve all heard the stories and seen the pictures. Overflowing shelves. Toilet paper stuffed under the bed. Hours and hours spent planning and organizing for just one “quick” trip to the grocery store.

It’s more than a little intimidating!

But here’s the thing. Couponing does not have to become your life. You don’t have to spend days planning for a single trip to the store. My hope is that you learn to coupon effectively in a way that you will be able to maintain. One that allows you to save money, shop wisely and find that all important balance. The bottom line? Couponing needs to fit into your life….not become your life. The truth is that the most important roles in our lives lie far beyond the grocery cart. But it is far too easy to get pulled into a mindset where clipping and planning claims more of your day than you ever intended.

So where is the balance?

It is in you. It is in finding a system that works and one that allows you to achieve your savings goals without giving up time with those you love. With that in mind here are three quick balance tips to help you keep things in perspective.

1. Limit Your Stores

It can often feel that if we want to make the most of our savings, then we are going to have to hit every store every week. This is far more than any one person can sanely take on! So choose one or two stores with the best deals of the week and stick with them.

 

2. Find Your System

There are tons of different couponing and organizational systems out there and they all have their strengths. It doesn’t so much matter which system you choose, only that you pick one that works for you and stick with it. This will save you time each week not only as you plan but also once you get to the store.

 

3. Enjoy Your Savings

Too often I hear people getting caught up in how much other people were able to save. This is not a competition! It’s about making a difference in your family’s budget. So enjoy the savings you snag and don’t worry about what others are doing. Whether you save 5% or 50% you still saved money.

 

If you’d like to learn how to save BIG without investing all your time, order my new book Couponing for the Rest of Us: The Not-So-Extreme Guide to Saving More.  You’ll learn step-by-step how to reduce your grocery bill!

*HOT* Coupons & Rebates in the Beer Aisle!

Coupons in the Beer Aisle?  You bet!

[Read more...]