Casual Couponing – how to start using coupons!

Have you ever watched Extreme Couponing on TLC? The mother of my ex in high school was like that. She had a full basement stockpile & everything! It was insanely interesting to watch her method. She’d walk out of stores with carts full of stuff for $3.00, just by clipping coupons. She was a pro!

That’s not what I’m talking about today.

While that’s all great, I don’t have the time, energy, or space for any of that.

What I do have time for is a low-effort, relatively simple approach to using coupons to have a small stockpile of the things my family needs. I like to stock up on laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, paper towels, and personal care products.

Most of the work is already done for you. It’s just a matter of using the resources I’m about to give you!

First, we get a newspaper every Sunday.

I take a quick flip through the coupon inserts while my daughter tears apart the actual newspaper. I quickly cut out coupons for anything I may use, then put all the others aside. This just makes it less chaotic for me, so I can recycle everything before my 10-month old starts putting paper in her mouth. (Does anyone else’s baby do that?)

By cutting out coupons ahead of time, only for the things I’d typically purchase, I eliminate the temptation to buy EVERYTHING that’s a good deal. While a good deal is exciting, saving money is our focus.

Reminder:

Just because something is a good deal, doesn’t mean you have to buy it. You don’t save any money buying a product you usually wouldn’t buy. You may have gotten a good price, but that’s more than you’d normally spend. Keep that in mind.

Next, I take a look at our grocery store’s sale ads.

You can do this at the same time as you’re checking out the deals for your weekly grocery shop, if you follow my system for saving money on your grocery bill.

If there’s something that I want to stock up on, and I have a coupon AND its on sale, I’ll add it to my list. We call that a match-up. This is where your real savings are: when you wait to buy something with a coupon when it’s already on sale.

In addition to grabbing good deals at the grocery store, one of my favorite places to check is Dollar General. Download their app & create an account, seriously! They offer digital coupons so you don’t even have to buy a newspaper or cut them out. Take a look at Dollar General’s sale ad. Every week, they spell the coupon match-ups out for you!

They list the final price with coupon for you! You don’t even have to use your brain. Score.

If there’s something that you want to purchase, you go to the “Digital Coupons” menu and hit the plus button on the coupon the ad told you to use.
On top of the match-ups in the ad, their app sometimes has threshold coupons. A threshold coupon is a discount of $X off, if you make a purchase of $X.

Type in your phone number at checkout, and boom! Money saved. Your stockpile slowly grows.

Another reminder: keep unit prices in mind! Next, we’ll do a quick breakdown of how to find unit prices.

In the screenshot above you see that Tide Pods are on sale for $2.95 for the 12-16ct packages. In this example we’ll assume they have a 16ct package.
To find the unit price, divide the price by the unit. In this case, 2.95÷16. Each pod is $0.18.

For this same week, Meijer had Tide pods on sale as well. You typically assume that by buying a larger amount of something, you’ll get the best bang for your buck. At Meijer, Tide’s unit price is even more expensive than Dollar General, at $0.22 each.
By comparison shopping, you’d save 4 cents per unit. This may not seem like much at first, but consider the effect multiplied by the number of things you have to buy. I’d rather spend an extra few minutes at home planning, so I can save my money. Wouldn’t you?

It’s important to note that coupon policies vary, and are subject to change. At Dollar General, you can use store coupons WITH manufacturer coupons for extra savings. You can’t stack manufacturer coupons, even if one is paper and one is digital. While most store policies are similar, you should check out the stores’ website for specifics!

And that’s it!

Don’t you feel ready to start? Be sure to grab your newspaper on Sunday & start your couponing journey.
Leave any and all questions in the comments! If there’s anything else you’d like answered, or if you’d like to see an example of what one of my couponing shopping trips look like, let me know!

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