Who likes to overpay for something? Who likes walking out of a drugstore with one small bag of toiletries and being $35 poorer? Who likes spending as much on diapers as you do on college tuition? Anyone? Anyone? No one. Think this is just price you pay as a busy mother? It doesn’t have to be. Let me show you how to take some simple steps in couponing to save you a lot of money. Now, this is the beginners class. This post is not going to show you how to become a weirdo hoarder who spends 70 hours clipping coupons. These are tricks I learned and the resources I used in the journey to save money on things my family needs and wants.
Where do I get coupons?
The Sunday paper is one source for coupon inserts. They are found in the section mixed with all the ads for the week. Our papers in the Quad Cities have really lame coupons. Coupons are better in papers serving a higher population base. My mother in law will save her coupons from Madison and pass them on to me. Score! Even if you don’t have someone who can do that for you, there are a ton of coupons (really great ones) available to print off from a few coupon websites.
coupons.target.com (specific to Target stores)
There is also a magazine sold at Wal-Mart called All You. This magazine is filled with high value coupons to clip. You can also get a subscription and have it mailed to your home.
Where do I use my coupons?
Most stores that sell groceries or cleaning supplies take coupons, even Dollar Tree, Staples, and Menards! There are three notable local stores that don’t take coupons- Aldi’s, Sam’s Club, and Big Lots. It is helpful to know a store’s coupon policy before trying your first big coupon trip. Coupon policies are easily found on store’s websites.
How do I get started?
Don’t try to become an expert at finding all the deals at all the stores. You will get frustrated, overwhelmed, and quit. Pick one or two stores and become an expert at how to best use coupons at that store. This is where I am at right now. I used to go all over town each week rocking coupons at five different places. Now, I focus on a few stores and only deviate from those for a super deal (Example from last week- Kashi cereal at Dollar Tree! I am so there!) There are websites created just for working the deals at a specific store.
www.totallytarget.com Target Stores
www.wildforwags.com Walgreens Stores
www.iheartthemart.com Wal-Mart Stores
HyVee puts a list of sale items to pair with coupons to score a deal a their stores on their website under the heading “Helpful Ideas.”
My very favorite website to guide you in your coupon adventures is www.hip2save.com! This website has a tab for store specific deals as well as tutorial videos. Digesting all of the helpful information can be like trying to drink from a fire hose at first, but the “Coupon Newbie” tab is super helpful! Their Staples and CVS deal workups are better than any other site.
Do coupons just trick you into buying things you don’t need?
This is where my competitive streak comes out. I want to win at this coupon thing. I don’t want to be a coupon sucker. Therefore, I may go for a deal with coupon in hand, but I don’t blindly throw that product in my cart. I scan the prices of that product’s competitors. Is my original product still a good deal? Sometimes yes, and sometimes no. Don’t be afraid to ditch a “deal” if it turns out not to be a real one. Another trap to avoid is stocking up without checking expiration dates. A good deal is only good if you can use it all up before it expires. Throwing out expired food or toiletries is like throwing out money.
A few points on coupon courtesy..
1. Try to avoid clearing the whole supply of a great deal. Moms, it is always good to share. The only exception to this is when the stock is already low- taking the last three cereal boxes doesn’t make you a horrible person.
2. Don’t be sketchy in how to work a deal. Don’t try to talk the cashier into breaking rules or risking their job. Pushy and dishonest couponers give us all a bad name. Your integrity is not worth saving an additional 75 cents.
3. However, sometimes the cashier is wrong because they have been poorly trained or the coupon policy has changed. This is where knowing the store’s coupon policy comes into action, as not all of the cashiers are in the know. Sometimes you need to politely educate.
4. Use coupons to bless others. We have been able to give more to those in need because of couponing. Food banks, women’s shelters, local schools, and homeless outreach centers all can benefit from products that you can score for cheap! Your giving can go farther by using coupons.
I am raising up another generation of coupon users. My kids will see something in the store and ask if we have a coupon for it. When they want something, they will ask if it is a good deal. Coupons can teach math skills, delayed gratification, and compare/contrast skills. Getting a good deal is just the tip of the iceberg, mamas. I hope this inspires you to go out there and find some deals. Let the coupon fun begin!
Are you a couponer? What are your best tips and tricks for busy moms?