Sunday, July 24, 2011

Coupons Part 3: How We Do It

This is probably the most important, yet complicated part of the process. I don't have the room and don't want to bore everyone, but I'll try to make this as comprehensive as I can without putting everyone to sleep.

When Sunday mornings arrive, I grab the sunday paper outside our front door, and I will briefly check the Kroger, CVS, and Walgreens ads as well as the coupon inserts (Smart Source, Red Plum, P & G). I also try to briefly browse the Southern Savers website which lists deals for all kinds of stores. Many times the website will have links to printable coupons so you can get deals even without a paper using,, to name a few. I stress the word "briefly" because I try to gauge whether I should buy another paper on the way to church at 8:30 AM. If the coupons have items we commonly purchase or if there are obvious good deals, we'll decide to purchase a couple extra papers. I've gotten much more efficient with this process and can complete it in about 15-20 min. (FYI: Publix changes their sales every Wednesday, so I don't check their ads on Sunday).

After church, I will cut coupons and Kelly will file them for items that we commonly use. We keep the actual coupon insert for about 3 months because the Southern Savers website will reference the weekly insert in which a coupon is located for a specific deal. For example, Chex Mix may have a coupon in last Sunday's paper. When Chex Mix goes on sale at Publix three weeks later, Southern Savers will remind us of that coupon from the coupon insert sent out three weeks ago. We then go back to the stashed inserts and find and cut the coupon. Since coupons do not expire for 2 or more months, this process works well. Plus, I don't have to memorize the coupons in each week's paper. A website does it for me.

In general, we plan our grocery list on Tuesdays and try to go to Publix on Wednesdays. If there are specific deals during the week, we'll stop by another store, but only if it is worth our time. Here is an example. This week, we saw that Smart Balance milk is on sale for $ 2.50/half gallon at Kroger. We have 4 coupons for $1.50 off so we'll buy 4 at $1 each, one day this week.

Here is a non-food related example. Our church is doing a backpack ministry for local school kids, so we started checking the sales ads for school supplies. Sure, we could have gone to Target and bought everything there for $40, but we wanted to be responsible with this just as we are with our other spending. If we can donate two back packs instead of just one, we've maximized our giving and helped two children, for just a little extra effort. For example, we saw that glue sticks were available for 28cents with the deal below. Scissors were on sale for buy one get one free for 1.99 (or $1 each). We used a $1 off coupon for each to get them both for free. Back packs were on sale for 3.99 at Walgreens.

The take home message:
1. To maximize your savings, buy items when they are on sale AND you have a coupon.
2. Save your coupons and obtain extras for good deals that you know about.
3. Utilize couponing websites to alert you of deals so you don't have to do all the leg work.
4. Stock up when you find a really good deal on items that won't go bad

Hope you found this useful, and stay tuned for the final part of our couponing series: Part 4 Practical Ways to Apply

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