In my last article, we had some good laughs over my new obsession with coupons, but now it’s time to get down to business. In just 3 months, I have cut my grocery budget in half, and I know you can too! Stay open-minded – you might have to try a different brand or alter your shopping schedule a bit, but the pay off is worth it.
No, I am not talking about using the services that cut the coupons for you (in fact, in some couponing circles that is really frowned upon). I am talking about letting the coupon experts that make a living blogging about deals, coupons and grocery budgets, be your guide.
Multiple times a day, they post current deals or newly-loaded printable coupons, and every week they will give you a breakdown of the deals – matched with coupons – for every major drugstore, grocery store and big box store chain. That’s half the work right there – no need to try and scour through the paper Sunday morning to figure out what the good deals actually are regardless of the advertising tricks.
These sites are also perfect for finding explanations of how to stack a manufacture coupon with a store item or how items really end up being “free.” Example: if a razor is on sale for 8.99 and you have a $4 off coupon, you pay $4.99 out-of-pocket and a $5 voucher prints out for you to use at your next trip to the store (most with no minimum purchase required), which means that technically you just got to take home a razor for free (they aren’t going to give you that penny, FYI). Another example, if hand soap is on sale for $1.00 and you have a $0.50 manufacturer’s coupon and a $0.50 store coupon, then you get that soap for free.
Most of these sites will have a coupon database. If you really need toothpaste and you don’t have any in your stockpile (more on that later), you can search the database to see all available coupons out there in circulation. It will tell you what coupon insert it came from and when (ex.: Smart Source 7/31 insert) or it might even direct you to an available one to print.
Quick tip: set up a separate email account for all the “coupon-related” emails (or subscribe to the RSS feeds). You can sign up to get info on the latest deals, new coupons to print, new coupon policies, but if you have them coming to your personal or work email it will drive you mad. Have them sent to a separate email and set a time to check the emails that works for you (once a day, twice a week – whatever fits in your schedule).
Here are some sites I find useful:
Don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to these sites – feel free to explore. It is the internet, after all. And don’t forget to check for regional couponing sites – I Heart Publix gives deals specific to my local grocery store and Southern Savers is more focused on… well, southern stores, obviously.
Stay tuned for advice on how to build a stockpile and organize your coupons!