Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I've Become a Coupon Mom

Since I am a stay-at-home mom and we live off of one income, I'm always thinking of ways to make our dollar stretch to our benefit. I always considered coupon clipping to be a grueling, time consuming task and yet one more thing to add to my "things to do" list. Quite frankly, I wasn't feeling it. I tried it before and I couldn't remain consistent. But then I started to view coupon clipping as a responsibility - a good responsibility. One that I needed to do. So about 3 months ago, I gave it a go again - with a whole new mindset. And after seeing our monthly savings, I will be a coupon clipper for life.

Let me say that I like to save money, but I am NOT a nickle and dimer. I might literally go insane if I hunted and scoured every paper known to man, and spent endless hours online to find coupons. The process of printing, clipping, matching and stacking {lions and tigers and bears, oh my!} coupons can be a tedious one, especially if you want to get items for free. If I pull out some coupons that equate to a free item, great. But I don't play the "strategic coupon game". It's a lot of work; I'll leave that to the pro's.

I'd say that I'm more than a minimalist {I certaintly have a watchful eye for a good deal/ie: a sale item combined with a store coupon + a manufaturer coupon can sometimes equal paying cents for a brand name product, if not actually getting it for free}, but I am certaintly not the Queen of coupons. Just the savvy cost saving Matron of our home! : )

I won't ever get down to the astonishing low numbers I see other people spending {a bill coming down to $18, when it was originally over $200}...and I'm totally ok with that. To me, a little savings is better than none. Middle of the road is where you'll find me.

When I first started coupon clipping a few months back, my savings seemed just like cents - but I watched them turn into dollars...which now {because practice makes perfect} turns into hundreds of dollars in savings per month....which turns into thousands per year. Which is why I do it and will continue to do it. Surprisingly I have found coupon clipping to be fun and it has turned into being rewarding as well. I look forward to going through the Sunday paper and clipping out the coupons for things that our family needs and uses and I know we will save money on.

I've developed the habit of meal planning, which means that I no longer just go grocery shopping and fill the cart with "stuff". First I see what items I already have in the freezer/refrigerator and in my cupboards. I can usually make a few meals from what I have on hand and then I meal plan for the next few weeks, writing out my grocery list based on what things are needed in order to make those dishes. Do we ever detour from our list? Hardly. But yes, sometimes. Because treats make a heart happy : )

When I go through my Sunday paper, I weed through all the pages of coupons and only keep the ones that I know I will use. Using The Coupon Mom's method, I pull out the Smart Source and Red Plum coupon books {occasionally there will be a Proctor & Gamble coupon booklet too; love those!}. I date the coupon booklets and set them aside and go to her site weekly to check in on her grocery deal findings and match them up to the coupons in the booklets.

Before I ever buy anything now, I look for sale items, Buy 1/Get 1 Free items, and am mindful of using a manufacturer’s coupon in addition to a store coupon to get an even lower price. The grocery store that I shop at {Kroger} also double coupons that are .50 cents or less so I keep that in mind while I'm shopping there. I also take a few minutes to visit the stores website before going there to not only see what items are currently on sale but also so I can prepare my coupons in advance, and because the store has separate coupons that I can load directly to my Kroger card and not have to print!}. You can go here to see what stores double coupons in your state.

For items like hygiene and beauty, and household cleaning supplies, I go to my local Wallgreens, CVS or RiteAid store. All three stores are all about a mile from my house. There is always an insert in my Sunday paper from these stores advertising their deals of the week - and each store has their own coupons. I obviously only clip the ones that I need, and when I combine a manufacturer's coupon with their sale item, or match it with one of their coupons, the deal gets even sweeter : )

When I go through my Sunday paper and clip out coupons, my pile initially looks like this.....

Then I stack the coupons into piles {canned goods, frozen food, baking goods, beauty/hygiene, etc.}....

And then I put them in my coupon organzier. The green one is mine...and I got the small cute one for my mom : ) I just started to help her out with the coupon saving/coupon cutting process.

Just $1 at Michaels!....

I wanted a coupon file folder that I could fit in my purse. The one I currently use has 12 tabs so my labels look like this....

My categories are:
  • Household Items
  • Snacks
  • Frozen Foods
  • Dairy/Refrigerated
  • Condiments
  • Baking Products
  • Pasta/Rice/Bread
  • Dry Food
  • Canned Goods
  • Hygiene/Beauty
  • Health
  • Baby
  • And in the front section of the binder I put coupons for restaurants, department stores, cleaners, car rental, etc. Basically, "Miscellaneous" things.

Now, let me share my love for Aldi!

I used to be brand loyal. Nothing but the brand names would do. But then along came Aldi. Products are much less than grocery store prices {even when taking coupons into consideration} - and we have found that their brands taste SO GOOD - superior to even the brand names. Aldi does have some name brands in their store that you are familiar with {Dole, Uncle Bens, etc.} but after trying their own label, you will soon start to just [intentionally] skip right over them. At first I wasn't sure how I would take to this store {because I was so familiar with shopping at a large grocery store chain} but I really love going there. If you've been to small market stores in Europe, this is exactly what the shopping expierence at Aldi feels like. Eve if I never cut coupons, our family is still saving a good amount of money by me shopping at Aldi.

Their shopping process is unique. For starters, you pay a quarter for a shopping cart {you get that quarter back if you return the cart}, and you bring your own bags to bag your own groceries...

We went to Aldi this past weekend and filled up 3 bags of food for $73. This is just one of the bags {I love this black canvas shopping bag! So large, so convienent to take to aldi! You can get one at Bed, Bath, & Beyond}....

I don't want to rant about how much I love Aldi {well, actually I do but this post is already pretty long!}. If you want to know all about Aldi, go here {and then scroll to the middle to get past all the boring stuff! Ha!}

We also have a membership to Costco....

I buy certain items in bulk....chicken, steak, toilet paper, paper towels, plastic cups, and some other things.

I don't try to follow every money saving site on the net. And I suggest that you don't either. You will get very overwhelmed feeling that there is so much to keep up with and it will only make things more complicated than they need to be. I have a core group of sites that I check in on and use for my source of coupons, aside from the newspaper:

Red Plum

Smart Source

Coupon Mom

Mommy Saves Big/Printable Coupons

Sunday Coupon Preview: If you join the mailing list, they let you know early what coupon inserts will be in that Sunday's paper so you can determine if you should buy additional Sunday paper for the extra savings. For local savings on things in my area {restaurants, entertainment, beauty & spa, dry-cleaning specials, etc.}


Want even more? lists several other money saving sites that you should check out! Go here to see the list!


I'm not a seasoned couponer but these lovelies are. Check out their sites for great tips!....

Coupon Mom

Jenny at Southern Savers

Shelly at Coupon Teacher


Lastly, coupon cutting can sometimes cost you so be careful as you go! Here's a good article how to not get sucked in by all the savings that seems to be thrown at you online and in mailers!


There are other ways to save money aside from coupon clipping. Here's what I've done over the past few months:

  • Called up the Gas Company and got our price per therm lowered. Now our gas bill is half of what it used to be!
  • Called our Insurance company about lowering our car insurance premium with no changes to our existing policy. Now we're saving $50 per month! All because I just picked up the phone and inquired.
  • Switched from Directv to ATT U-Verse...More for less! {and got a $250 visa card for making the switch!}
  • We have just 1 credit card now, with a 0% interest rate for 18 months, by which time all debt will be paid off. The only thing we will then owe on will be our house.
  • Our bank is now offering a DELTA debit card that gives you 1 mile for every $1 spent. I see free flights in our future!


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