As our kids started growing (in number and in physical size), my husband said that we needed to start using coupons to save money. I’m always up for a challenge, so I was fine with the idea. I started out spending HOURS a week on my “coupon game.” I was saving money like crazy, but it almost became a full-time job. Too much. Now, I literally spend about ten minutes per week on couponing and saving. No scissors. No coupon binders. In this series, I’m going to teach you how I do what anyone can do.
The most important thing is understanding the shopping mentality of a coupon shopper. If you don’t understand the mentality, you will fall flat on your face on your first shopping trip , say “it just isn’t for me” and never try again. Here we go (so stop rolling your eyes and being skeptical):
- I have no grocery store loyalty. There are grocery chains out there that have brands built on the value and savings they offer. Believe it or not, other grocery stores may offer much better value and savings through generous coupon policies and weekly sales. Start paying attention to other stores and the sales they offer. BOGO (buy one get one free) sales which is another name for “half off” are THE BEST. I’ll teach you more about how to easily find these deals so don’t stress. The point is to just be open to the idea that you may have to break up with your favorite store. (So what if you know everyone’s name and you “know” the store. You’ll make new friends. Trust me.)
- I buy stuff before I need it. The biggest downfall of folks who don’t coupon is waiting until they need stuff to buy it. You need it so you can’t be picky about price. If toothpaste is on sale AND I have a coupon, I will stock up (but not too much because I’m not a hoarder… and it will go on sale again) to last us a while. Over time, you will develop enough of a supply of certain items (toilet paper, toothpaste, cleaning supplies, frozen foods, kids snack foods…and other shelf-stable stuff ) that your “emergency” grocery runs will only be for perishable items. Trust me. I’m going to show you. (Nobody thinks about toilet paper until they’re in the bathroom screaming for someone to bring them something to wipe with only to find out that there IS no more! You know it’s true. Worst and most desperate feeling…and we have ALL had it.)
- I’m not like the “extreme couponers” on TV. Listen, if you have the garage space to store tons of stuff that you can’t possibly use in a lifetime, knock yourself out. In reality, a routine couponer need only store about a six to eight week supply of items to last until the items go on sale again. Avoid the urge to over purchase items that could ruin before you get to use it.
- I get great deals on name brand items. If you shop wisely, you will be able to get some of your favorite brands for amazing prices. Remember #3. (No, you don’t have to buy generic, no-name stuff.)
- I DO buy things that don’t go on sale and I DON’T buy stuff that I won’t use just because it’s a “good deal”. I CAN spend more on the more expensive items I love but don’t go on sale or rarely have coupons because I save so much more on other items! I DON’T buy things my family won’t use because I’m paying TOO MUCH for something if we’re never going to consume it…even if it is $1.
- I find out about the sales BEFORE they happen and I check coupon match-up for those sales! In the an upcoming post, I will give you resources for finding out about sales in advance so you can plan ahead. I rarely use coupons on stuff that’s not on sale. That’s the secret to saving big. I’ll show you. (I promise it isn’t illegal…maybe. Just kidding…or am I?)
- I don’t EVER pick up a pair of scissors. If that excites you, by all means, clip away! I just don’t have the time for that. I will show you how and where I get my coupons.
- I “make nice” with other couponers. The next time you are in the store, don’t roll your eyes and go to another lane when you see a couponer checking out. Stand there and watch their process! Engage them in the grocery aisle. Trust me, they will be more than willing to tell you their routine and they might even hook you up with a coupon or two. You might learn about some tips and resources. Have you ever been in the store and seen coupons just randomly sitting on the shelf? Couponers do that when they have extra coupons for stuff.
- I was patient when I got started. It took me about two months to build up my “staples” before I didn’t need things that weren’t on sale. It is a gradual process. Everything is not on sale every day!
- I know my grocery store’s coupon policy. When I show you my routine, I will show you the different ways this can work. This is super important because some stores will give you credit for two or even three times the face-value of a coupon. You might luck up and get some stuff free. When that happens, you will be hooked. (Nothing beats the “free 99”)
There you have it. My “Top Ten” for preparing your mindset for couponing. I have a large, active family and my husband and I are BOTH small business owners. If I can do it, you can too! You should at least give it a try! See you on “Step Two”!
I’m Joslyn Jackson. I have so many kids that I have to stop and take a headcount sometimes. This is my blog. That guy is my husband and he runs the circus. I am also a lawyer who loves to write about the absolute insanity that is my life. I started this blog to embarrass my children. That is my number one goal. If you are entertained in the meantime…great.
Today, my goal as a mother is to help other mothers learn ways to feed their greedy children without going broke.
That’s it! Love, Peace and Souuuuuuuuuuullllllll!