Monday, March 15, 2010

Becoming a COUPON DIVA - Part 4 in a Series

Anyone can be a coupon diva BUT I will warn you that it takes a good amount of time on your part. You are not going to be able to shave 25% or even 50% off of your grocery bill if you view take it nonchalantly. You have to invest time into couponing and the rewards will pay off every time you go to the store and come home having spent significantly less.

I have tried many time in the past to become the coupon diva that I see others being but it just seems too complicated. I am going to make it work this time though. It’s not hard, it is just a commitment. To me it’s worth it because I truly HATE going grocery shopping and spending most if not all of the money I have budgeted only to need more groceries before my next check arrives. I am literally sick to my stomach every time I leave Wal-Mart now just because I am amazed at the amount I spend there on groceries that in one week will be GONE.

Here are some statistics for you:

  • If you invest 2-5 hours per week you can look to shave 15-25% off your entire year’s grocery bill.
  • If you invest 5-10 hours per week you can look to shave 50-75% off your entire year’s grocery bill.
  • If you invest 30-40 hours per week you can look to shave 90% off your ENTIRE year’s grocery bill.

If you’re like me, I can’t spend 30-40 hours per week on my couponing. I will considering invesing 5-10 hours of my time though. This time spent includes looking for coupons, traveling to the stores, actually grocery shopping and creating menus. If you really think about that then 5-10 hours can add up pretty quick.
First things first.  You need to check your stores policies and guidelines regarding coupons. When do they offer Doubles, Super Doubles, Triples? These are they day that you want to shop with your coupons. A lot of companies don’t advertise these dates but if you ask they will tell.

Here are all the ways that you can get coupons:
  • Circulars - this is the Sunday paper. Buy more than one – it is a great way to get lots of coupons for a small investment. Red Plum and Smart Source are the two major circular coupon companies.
  • IP – Internet printables, this is becoming a very easy way to get coupons. Sign up with a few sites and they will send you coupons all of the time. It’s a great thing!
  • Catalina’s – these are the coupons that print out at the register when you get your receipt. These are GREAT simply because they are usually for an item that you bought therefore more than likely will buy it again.
  • Blinkies – these are found in the stores next to the item it is for, you know the ones that all the kids like to take coupons from (or is that just my kids) 
  • Tear pad – found on little pads near the product.
  • Peelie – these are found on the products themselves such as Grands biscuits.
  • Wine tag – these are found on the bottle neck of a bottle and are mostly in the soda pop section which is a section I am TRYING to avoid.
  • Rebate – this is a coupon that you mail in and receive money back. (Your hours per week spent couponing should also include filling out rebates. The woman saving 90% of her grocery bill will be using these to their fullest potential.) Don’t ever throw rebates away!
  • Ask family and friends! There are a million coupons that get thrown away every year! Tell everyone you know that you will take any coupons that they don’t use. Pass them on when you sort through what you want.

Make sure that you have a loyalty card and that you use it for stores that you frequent. Also take advantage of stacking. That is using a store coupon such as one that can only be used at Target and stack it with a manufacturer coupon. TWO COUPONS on one item!

Your ultimate goal would be to use coupons on sale items ONLY. If you build your coupon stash and only buy when things are on sale, this is where you will see the biggest savings. You can typically use 3 coupons per item. I did not know that.

Here are some secrets!! 
  • If the coupon says do not double at the top it WILL still double if the store you’re at doubles and it starts with a “5” in the barcode area. If it starts with a “9” it won’t double.
  • If ANYWHERE in the barcode there is an “8100” you can use this on ANY item. For example there are a lot of coupons for Cream of Mushroom Soup by Campbells. It says it is for Cream of Mushroom only, BUT if there is an “8100” in the barcode it will scan and be accepted.

These are legitimate ways to use coupons and you are not doing anything illegal by simply knowing how to use them.

There you have it!! Now get to working and scour the earth for coupons and USE THEM! Let me know how your next grocery trip goes.

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