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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Couponing {August}

I started couponing back in March and since then I have learned so much and saved A LOT.  Yes, it takes some effort and time, but it is something that I am willing to do for our family in order to contribute. And I am happy to say that I have become much more efficient time wise, and I have learned what works for us and what doesn't. Here is some advice and things that I have learned since starting five months ago:

1. Don't let the Extreme Couponing show discourage you.  Those are very "extreme" cases and probably very staged as well.  I don't know many women who would even think about spending 30-60 hours a week couponing, much less, have the time to do it. Figure out what works for you.

2. This is what works for me: I clip my coupons on Sunday afternoons while the boys are napping and I search the advertisements for the best deals and sales of the week.  (Don't forget to print coupons from too)! If I see a great deal that I also have coupon(s) for, I figure out exactly how much I'm going to spend on that item(s). If it's not cheap enough for me, I just hold on to that coupon in case a better deal on it comes up before the coupon expires.  Unless, it is something that I need immediately, of course! Oh, and don't hesitate to ask people for their coupons.  Most people just throw them away and are more than willing to just give them to you.  But if you can't find anyone, a lot of stores will mark their Sunday papers down to $1 on Mondays. Our Country Mart stores here in Lawton do this.

3. I make a list for each store.  This greatly minimizes the time spent shopping.  On Mondays, Jordan's off day, I hit up Walgreens and CVS.  I usually have better luck at CVS because of their "extrabucks" rewards system.  This hardly ever takes longer than an hour to hit up both stores.  On Wednesdays, our Country Mart comes out with their weekly advertisements.  (why can't they do it on Sundays like everyone else!?!) So I normally do my Country Mart shopping on either Wednesdays or Thursdays.   So in total, I spend about one hour clipping coupons and price matching per week and about two hours actually shopping per week.  A total of three hours per week! Not too bad!

4. Also, just from the few episodes that I have watched of Extreme Couponing, most of these "extreme couponers" are overweight and fill their buggies with mostly processed/junk foods and the likes.  The truth is, you can coupon and get healthy food at great prices too.  I've been doing Trim Healthy Mamas for two months now and our grocery budget has not increased at all.  (I will add that I do still buy a few junk few items for the kids, which you will see from the pictures...I'm slowly trying to replace these items with healthier doesn't help that my oldest gags at the sight of just about any food item that is healthy!)

5. Most of our grocery budget is spent at Country Mart.  I rarely shop at Walmart anymore unless I can't find what I need at Country Mart.  My main reason: Country Mart always doubles coupons up to $1.  So if you have a $1 off coupon, it automatically becomes $2 off! Plus, they have fuel rewards! And during the month of August, they double your fuel rewards.  So the next time I put gas in the Suburban, I will pay 70 cents less per gallon! So with all that said, I would encourage you to find a grocery store that doubles coupons.  This is where the big savings come in.  You'll be amazed at how many items you can even get for free! Even if your nearest store that doubles coupons is 45+ minutes away, it would be worth it to go every 2-3 weeks and stock up.  Thankfully, we have three Country Marts here in Lawton.  The nearest one is only about 8 miles from our house but I prefer to go to the one that is about 20 minutes away because it carries all the healthier, specialty items that I need for our THM way of eating.

And just so you can get an idea of how much money you can save by finding a grocery store that doubles coupons, here is my total spending/saving at Country Mart for the month of August:

Spent $270.51 (after taxes)
Saved  $264.33

Before starting couponing, I could easily drop $150-$200 per week just on groceries at Walmart! And that would barely be enough to get us to the next week. Now, not only am I spending WAY less, but my cabinets, deep freeze, freezer, and fridge are completely stocked.  We could live off of what we have (including toiletries), for months without having to buy anything. (except, of course, for the basic things that spoil quickly like milk, etc.)

Okay, so here is the fun

spent $40.94 saved 44.00

spent 67.76 saved 67.00

spent 85.74 saved 83.00

spent 76.07 saved 70.33

Once again, my total spending and savings at Country Mart for the month of August:

Spent $270.51 (after taxes)
Saved  $264.33

You may have come to the conclusion after looking at my pics that we aren't eating enough meat, fruits and vegetables.  But that's not the case at all! Like I said earlier, my cabinets, fridge and freezer are fully stocked...Last month I took advantage of the sales on salmon and chicken and stocked up.  Plus, we still have ground venison from the deer that Jordan killed last season.  And my freezer is packed full of frozen veggies and fruit.  And my cabinets are full of canned veggies.  When items you know you will use go on sale, STOCK UP!

My plan is to start taking pictures and keeping a running total of my spending and savings at CVS and Walgreens each week too.  But that might not happen for the month of September.  Addy will be here on Tuesday, Lord willing, and I plan to take full of advantage of our stocked groceries this month.  The less shopping that I have to do with a newborn the better!!!

I hope you found this post encouraging.  If you have any questions about couponing, don't hesitate to ask! : )

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