Stretching your Dollar
I’m in New York City this morning doing The Today Show.
Here’s a guest post from Faith Hansen who post at her own blog http://www.frugallyfabulousmom.com. Since Faith is an American, a lot of this will only be applicable south of the border. But up here in the great white north, we too have opportunities to use coupons to stretch our dollars, which many of us never really take advantage of. Here are a couple great Canadian sites that you may want to visit if Faith turns you on to coupon shopping. If you’re planning your shopping list anyway, why not make a pit stop at these sites to see if you can save a few bucks by extending your planning to gathering coupons?
At at www.dealstreet.ca, you can enter your postal code to see what’s on special in your neck of the woods.
Thanks again to Faith for her contribution, and if you have something that you’re passionate on writing about, drop me a line and let me know.
Now, here’s Faith:
I don’t know about you, but I love to stretch each and every hard earned dollar to the max. The more money I can save, the better I feel. Spending money on frivolous items can be quite painful for me. In fact, the thought of losing a quarter in a slot machine makes my tummy turn. Don’t get me wrong, I do love a nice vacation, or a beautiful pair of shoes every once in a while, but I have to think long and hard before I spend the money.
Out of my need to spend money wisely, I came across the world of coupon shopping. My first thought was, “This is not for me.” Who wants to spend time clipping, sorting, and filing little pieces of paper all to save 50 cents? Well it only took one shopping trip to figure out that there was something to this coupon phenomenon. I walked out of the store with $30 worth of groceries (that I needed) for just $6! My 50 cent coupons had really added up! I was hooked, and my savings account was thankful.
Over the next few weeks, I discovered that it really only took me one to two hours per week to get my coupons in order. And, in investing that amount of time, I was saving over 50% on all my daily household needs! It was, and is, definitely time well spent!
Couponing, along with Gail’s budgeting program has helped my husband and I climb out of debt. Obviously, when we sat down to create our budget, we had to cut money somewhere. Food, health and beauty items, household items, and pet items were all areas that had room for improvement and so it was the first area to get cut back. By using coupons, and being a smart shopper our grocery bill is cut back 70% of what if used to be and all that extra money goes toward paying of debt!
I am happy to say, that we are getting very close to being debt free these days and we could not be more excited! If you have ever thought about seriously stretching your dollar at the grocery store, then you need to know the tips and tricks of the trade.
1. No Brand Loyalty! – Be willing to try new things! Coupons change and if your willing to branch out a little bit, you can get some great deals! The same goes for store loyalty. When you start couponing, you will want to go where the best deals are. Now, I don’t mean drive 100 miles to get free ice cream. But if you have a few stores within a couple miles of each other, it would be worth it to make an extra stop.
2. Stockpile – This is key to paying the least amount on your grocery bills. When you find a product at it’s rock bottom price stock up! And I don’t mean buy 2 or 3. If it’s something you use often (like pasta sauce) buy 8, 10, or more! Buy enough to hold you till the next sale (usually 6 to 8 weeks). Of course the amount you need will depend on how big your family is and how often you use a product. Also, remember that you can always get rain checks. If you know your going to buy a large quantity, most stores will let you call ahead and place your order so you don’t wipe out the shelves (your fellow shoppers will appreciate it!).
3. Match Coupons with Sales – This is a must to maximize your savings. If you use a coupon while something is on sale you will save WAY more than if you use your coupon on a regularly priced item. Make your coupon work for you! For example: Cereal is priced at $4.39 a box and you have a $1.00/1 coupon. If you use it on the full priced cereal you will still pay $3.39. If you wait for the sale when cereal is 2 for $3.00 and then you use your $1 coupon it will only cost you $.50!
4. Meal Plan – This goes along with tip #3. Meal Planning with the weekly sales ad can save you massive amounts of money. It will also help you make healthier choices. You won’t be standing in front of the refrigerator, with a blank look on your face, trying to figure out what to make and then just grabbing a burrito. Every week your local grocery store will have a sale on different kinds of meat, produce, etc. If you can plan your meals around what is on sale your savings account will thank you!
5. Sunday Papers – Buy your Sunday Paper! It will have all the local sales ads and coupons in it.
6. Organization – Being organized will not only make couponing easier, it will save you money. There are many different ways to organize your coupons. The key is to find the way that works for you. Some people use and envelope system, others use the box method. I prefer the coupon binder.
7. Be Willing to Buy Products You Don’t Need – Sometimes in order to get products you need for free or cheap, you need to buy products you don’t need. For example, when I first started couponing, there was a deal on blood sugar testing machines. They were priced at $30 and I had coupons for $30 off of 1 machine. Also, for every machine that I bought, I received a $10 RR (Register Reward) from Walgreens. So, they payed me $10 to buy each machine!! I didn’t need them, but I bought 10 of them and donated them to a local Dr.’s office. Then I used the $100 in RR to buy diapers!!
8. Pick Your Cashiers Wisely! – Whenever I go to the store, I always look at the cashiers. All cashiers are not created equal! For the most part, they are all very friendly and helpful. But, occasionally you will find a cashier that gives you a hard time. Don’t let them make you feel bad. Sometimes, they are hesitant because they don’t know too much about coupons. Other times they just might be having a bad day. Then there are the cashiers that love to watch your total go down and are amazed at how much you saved! As you start to do more couponing, you will remember whose line to go through, and whose not to. If you have a bad experience, don’t get discouraged. Your next cashier might be as excited as you!
9. Go Slow – As a new couponer, things can become overwhelming. I still feel overwhelmed at times. Just try to slow down and ease into things. Also, don’t try to get every deal out there. If you miss one, it will come around again. If you need a break, take it! Make couponing work for you. If you have kids old enough, have them help you clip coupons. I clip coupons on Sunday nights while I watch Desperate Housewives. Just have fun, and do what works for you and your family!
Have you ever thought about coupon shopping? Do you think you could spare an hour or two a week to stretch your dollar?