Monday, April 18, 2011

Couponing- That's not junk mail!

I'm pretty sure that the cashier at my local Safeway is not a big fan of me, because every time I go grocery shopping (which is about every two weeks) I use a lot of coupons. Yet I frequently get mailings from the store itself for discounts of $10 or more. Frequent shoppers FTW!

It started out innocent enough. A coupon here, a coupon there, a register reward that was something I would actually use. I tried the grocery game, but to be honest, I'm too scatterbrained to pay attention for long periods of time, and I couldn't justify the expense. It's a good program for some, but it wasn't for me- but it was enough to jump start me into hardcore couponing and turn me into a monster.

Do I have an obsession with coupons? Yes. Will I change brands if I have a coupon for something? You bet your hiney I will, if I know that quality won't be compromised.

People ask me where I get my coupons from. You know that junk mail that's in your mailbox? Have you ever looked through the papers in there? Actually looked through them? You'll find a coupon insert usually about once a week. That's free money in your mail box that you've been throwing in the recycling! What kind of coupons you get varies depending on your market (where you live), which is why coupon exchanges have become popular. I get a lot of coupons for hair dye. Not useful to me. I also get a lot of coupons for very useful food items that we eat on a regular basis.

One of the best places to get coupons is from the Sunday newspaper. You'll get at least one, if not two or three different inserts, unless it's a weird week. If you're in an area where you have two papers, they will probably have slightly different coupons in them. You can check the insert schedule here.You can usually subscribe to just your Sunday paper if you don't feel like going out and buying one all the time. I save more money from a single paper than spend on it for sure, but if you discover that couponing isn't for you then you probably don't want a subscription.

You can also print coupons off the internet. I haven't yet done this. Some people swear by it. To be honest, I'm a little scared of it because I've heard of some people having problems, but don't let that scare you! Try one or two, see how your store accepts them. And remember- if a coupon seems way too good to be true, it probably is. Only print coupons from reliable sources. Most will only allow you to print between one to three of a coupon. If you're not sure of your stores couponing policy, look it up online.

Another way to get coupons off the internet is from the manufacturers website. Usually you can't print them- they will send you a coupon book with some pretty valuable coupons. I got one from P&G a couple weeks ago with coupons ranging from .50 to $5 off, so it was well worth it. Remember to always be careful with your information! If the site looks sketchy, don't give them your information, and if it asks for a phone number I would recommend making a number with Google Voice to avoid telemarketing calls.

How much do I save couponing? It really depends on the trip, how much I plan it out, and what we're buying. Since I shop at Safeway, I use their store coupons too, which unfortunately show up as "club card discounts" and not coupons (at least I'm pretty sure). My last shopping trip breakdown was this:
We spent $121 total on groceries with $46 in savings. The savings is broken down to $15.05 in manufacturer coupons and $31.61 in "club card" savings.

I think that's pretty significant, as that's $15 we wouldn't have had before, I forgot my $10 off coupon, and our trip was pretty last minute. So in my humble opinion, coupons are your friends.

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