Saturday, April 3, 2010

Coupon Questions

Christy~I'm so glad you sent me another comment.  How exciting that you are headed back into the world of higher education!  It took me 13 years to finish my degree and I am glad I did.  That is a great goal to have and without your income along with the extra expenses of heading back to school, saving money on your grocery bill will be a wonderful way to cut corners.


I hope you have given yourself a little time before heading back to school but if you are starting the Summer Semester then we can still work with your timeframe it will just be more difficult.  I was seriously couponing for several months before I entered into this year long personal challenge.  That gave me time to learn the ins and outs of each store, their coupon policy, and how the best way for me to organize my coupons.  I am going to do this post as if you haven't started couponing so that others who may not be where you are can follow along.

First things, first:  start collecting coupons!  I have posted HERE and HERE and HERE on where I get coupons.
Second:  Once you start collecting coupons find an organization method that works for you.  HERE are some examples.
Third:  What are staples around your house?  Make a master list (if you are computer savvy then having a spreadsheet might work for you).  Put all the things you buy at the grocery store on it.  For example:  toilet paper, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, cereal, taco season packet, salt, pepper, milk, eggs, boneless skinless chicken, etc.  I would start with bathroom items and cleaning supplies.  Then I would choose 5-10 of the most cooked meals at your home and add those ingredients to your list.  Bubba and I eat spaghetti nearly once a week!  I enjoy making tacos or taco salad, and in the spring/summer, we eat a lot of cereal for dinner because it's so hot around here.  Those are the kind of things you need to sit down and think about before you really get into couponing.
Fourth:  Once you have your master list, you will start stockpiling using coupons.  There are a few schools of thought when it comes to stockpiling.  My favorite blogger, Jenny, at does a 6 week stock up of most things in her home.  She's a pro and keeps her family of 4 or 5 within $50 a week including diapers!  She is one of my coupon heroines.  Other folks will buy as many of the item as they have coupons for which may translate into 6 months to a year's worth of supplies.  I don't have an extra freezer so I am limited on space for perishable items.  If you have the room and the coupons then stock up!
I gradually built up my stockpile by setting aside $5-15 each pay period that was ALREADY a part of my budgeted grocery amount.  For example:  I had budgeted $170 every other week for groceries.  I would continue to shop as I always had but within that $170 I would set aside $10-15 just to buy a bunch of a couple of items.  One of the first great deals I got in on was toilet paper.  I STILL have toilet paper from that deal about 6 months ago and have enough to go through a couple more months.  Other items I stockpiled during those first few months was body wash (I don't need another bottle of body wash for at least a year) and cleaning supplies.  Then I started stocking up on cereal, oatmeal, mac-n-cheese, etc.  The most recent stock up item was Powerades for the hubby.  Today I stocked up on chicken broth and canned veggies.
Fifth:  Once you have a decent stockpile of several necessary items then you can start reducing the amount of money you spend each week, bi-weekly, or month.  If you are anything like me, you will run out of room to store everything.  I have cereal on shelves in the garage.  The Powerades are stacked in the kitchen against one of the counters.  I wouldn't reduce what you are spending until you have a comfortable stockpile and that word "comfortable" means something different for everyone.

Here's my final bit of advice:  is the supercenter the only grocery store near you?  If not, then I would check out to see if your grocery store is listed and check back often for the deals at that store.  It has been my experience (and that of other frugal bloggers) that the supercenter is not the place to find the best deals.  If the supercenter is your only option then you will run into several situations that you will need to learn to cope with:  1) The customer service is typically nonexistent, 2)  They don't double coupons and the cashiers, typically, have a bad attitude towards folks who use them, 3)  I would go to the supercenter's website and print out a copy of their coupon policy and keep it with you at all times (this is good advice for all stores since you will run into new employees who just don't know),

4)  Manufacturer coupons have 2 sets of barcodes on them:
      a)  One barcode is for the "clearing house"-the place the store sends the coupons too in order to get paid back for accepting the coupon
      b)  The other barcode is for the cashier to scan

***The problem I have run into at the supercenter type stores is when the cashier doesn't know that you need to cover up the "clearing house" barcode in order to scan the coupon.  The computer cannot read both barcodes so it will refuse to accept it unless the cashier physically covers up the other barcode.***

Christy~I hope this is helpful.  Please feel free to ask any other questions you may have!  I would absolutely love to know how the couponing and school adventure work out for you.  If you think about it, send me an occasional update at hagcoupons at gmail dot com.

Standing on His promises,
Mrs. Bubba

1 comment:

  1. Thanks.This does help alot. I have not quit my job yet and I am going to school part time now, its just so hard to o both. I am in school for nursing and its hard anyway, but working fulltime and going to school is killing me. I am looking for part time work while Im in school. I dont think that will be as bad for me to just work part time and that will ease the burden on my husband a lttle too. So if youhear of anything part itme please let me know. I can send you a copy of my resume if you wanted to see my experience. Thanks


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