Thursday, June 20, 2013

Coupon Quest

When Mike and I were going through our finances a few months back to come up with a budget, I was shocked at how much money we spend on groceries!  We typically spend upwards of $150 every week!  That's crazy!  And since we are anticipating moving very soon, we have taken a hiatus from the cloth diapers so that it would be one less thing to worry about.  But that is one GIANT expense to tack on to our grocery bill.  Diapering two children with disposable diapers costs around $150/month!  I am so glad that we are not paying that on a regular basis, and after these few weeks of disposables, I am itching to get the cloth diapers back out to save some serious dough!  (I could make a whole post about how much money we have saved by using cloth diapers!)  I also don't have to buy formula or baby food, and my weekly bill is still around $150!  After talking with some friends who are in the same boat, we decided to do something to remedy it.

So we took a couponing class last week, and the title of it alone gave me the motivation to get back into couponing:

I took a class a little over a year ago, in which I bought this awesome binder:

Yup, you wish you were as cool as me, right?  I have no idea why I felt the need to write my name on the outside.  (And I didn't center it, which drives me crazy on a daily basis.  OCD much???) As if having said binder isn't nerdy enough, now my name is on it... right next to Coupon Pro.  Really wish it didn't say that either, but that's how the binder came.  

I love the inside because it keeps everything organized.  And the best feature is that it zippers up.  Essential when you have little ones that knock it over all the time.... or if you are clumsy and drop it constantly like I do.  

It has these fun little colored tabs to keep everything categorized and easy to find:

I use two different sized pockets.  Baseball card size:

And larger pockets for the bigger coupons:

And yes, I tote this thing with me to the store :)

Anyway, I bought it and kept up with it pretty well last year until Emma was born.  Having two children under the age of two threw me for a loop, and I fell off the couponing wagon.  Because although it can save you TONS of money, it can also be pretty time consuming.  But I have decided that I'm ready to hop back on that wagon.  I mean, I should probably be doing something productive every evening while I veg in front of the TV right?  That is the perfect time to organize my coupons and my meal plan for the week.  (I'll make a separate post about meal planning.  It is 100% essential for us!)

So I got everything organized and headed off to the store.  I went two separate times because my grocery store doubles coupons, but only 20 per day.  So I went both yesterday and today.  Not too big of a pain for me because the grocery store is only 5 minutes away.  Plus, I typically go when Mike is home so that I don't have to tote the girls along with me.

Now, I am by no means ready for Extreme Couponing or anything like that.  I don't leave the store with a cart full of free groceries, but I am pretty proud of how I've done for just starting out (again).

Yesterday I got $110 worth of groceries for $39.50!  Yup, I saved over $70 with my coupons!!  Not bad for my first day, right?  I get so excited to see all of the money falling off my receipt at the register!  

The key to successful couponing is pairing your coupons with items that are already on sale.  That is how your really save money.  All of the bold print is money that was deducted because the item was on sale:

So you can see that I didn't buy anything that wasn't already on sale.  Then when I paired those sale prices with coupons, I got some amazing deals!

The idea is to stock up on things when they are on sale so that you rarely have to pay full price for anything.  If you stock up when it is on sale, you shouldn't need it again until it's on sale again.  Typical sale cycles are every 6-8 weeks.  So you want to try to have enough to last you that long.  Obviously this doesn't work for produce and other things that go bad quickly, but it does save you lots of money on household staples if you have the time for it.

Here is my favorite part of the receipt:

Right there in the middle.  
Coupons tendered: $70.17  That is the total amount saved with sales and coupons :)

This morning Emma and I headed back to the store while Addy was at camp and picked up a few other great deals, including lots of freebies!

My total for this order was $11.43!  I saved $54.22 with sales and coupons!  Plus I am getting about $2.00 back on my grocery store rewards card from some electronic coupons that I had.  So the total for all of this food ended up being under $10!!  

In today's trip I got:

-1 Pantene shampoo
-1 Pantene conditioner
-4 boxes of General Mills cereal
-1 frozen pizza
-2 boxes of kids yogurt
-2 bottles of soy sauce
-2 avocados
-1 bag of Chex Mix
-3 packs of Stride gum
-1 box of Motts fruit snacks
-2 bottles of Head and Shoulders shampoo

Pretty good for less than $10, if I do say so myself :)  And it's all stuff that I use.  That was one of my concerns when I got started.  I thought that serious couponners must just buy a bunch of random crap that no one uses just to save money.  And I could see where it would be easy to fall into that trap... and easy to become a hoarder, ha ha!  But don't worry, that hubby of mine would NEVER let that happen ;)

Now, I realize that it's pretty darn hard to save this much on every shopping trip.  Especially if you are getting things like meat and produce.  Those things are expensive and there are very rarely coupons for them.  To be honest, it seems pretty tough to eat healthy on the cheap.  But I'm going to try!  By putting in a little bit of time, I am going to be able to stock my pantry for so much less!


  1. YES! I need you to teach me how to do this:) I'm so bad at it! Groceries can be SO expensive. I have a friend that only eats organic, healthy things and for their family of three she spends $350 a month on groceries. She said she's going to get a post together about how she saves, so I'll have to share when she does! Don't get sucked into the "Buying useless crap" like I did. Those high heel inserts are still in my cabinet. 0_0

  2. You're a coupon marvel! I use coupons too, but I never save that much. I'll have to look into getting one of those binders.